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Web Comic Wednesday: 8 Bit Theater

In this inaugural outing of Web Comic Wednesdays, I find it only fitting that we talk about the first web comic that I ever read: 8-Bit Theater on

A parody of early Final Fantasy games, 8-Bit Theater follows the adventures of Fighter, a delightfully naïve buffoon that also happens to be an amazing swordsman, as well as his only semi-willing traveling companion: Black Mage. Probably the most famous character of the comic, Black Mage is a proudly evil sociopath with not at all hidden aspirations of conquering the world.

The two (mainly Fighter) decide to form a heroic questing party to become the Warriors of Light, and end up recruiting an elfish thief named Thief (sensing a pattern yet?) who is every con-artist rolled into one, and a red mage know, I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count. Red Mage is modeled after a hardcord D&D player, complete with his own character sheet, which somehow actually effects his real-life skills.

Along their quest, they meet several other characters, such as the straight-man (or woman) character White Mage, her bodyguard Black Belt, who is basically like Fighter but with martial arts, and a wide variety of villains and NPCs, all on their quest to obtain the four elemental stones and save the world. At least, that's what the rest of the world thinks.

The Good
As the first web comic I read, and the number of years ago I read it, it's very possible that I just have nostalgia blindness here, but at least the first half of the comic's story and the characters are the best parts of this. Fighter is the buffoon, but he can range from being strangely insightful to the “achievements in ignorance” trope, such as when he invented and implemented “sword-chucks.”

That trope also applies to Red Mage in spades. In this universe, the Red Mages dedicated their whole order to understanding the mechanics of the world, so somehow, against all odds, through his stat sheet, Red Mage achieves the absurd. This includes surviving having his skeleton forced out his mouth, because he lost his pencil and couldn't mark his damage taken.

Black Mage is delightful in his cynicism and just all-around pathetic nature. He's an extremely powerful wizard in his own right, but the world just won't give him a single break. Black Mage is the first character to chastise anyone else's shortcomings, which is made better by the fact that we all know one of his own is about to become glaringly obvious.

If there's one main character I'm “meh” about, it's thief. I've played in games were one person grinds the story to a halt to try and steal everything, and it was as boring then as it is now. I enjoy that he can steal anything that isn't “nailed down or on fire”, to a point that he steals the soul of a Lich, but I'm still lukewarm.

The Bad
The comic takes a long while at the beginning to find its comedic voice and its identity, but that's to be expected. The story drags around a fair bit, and just sort of peters out near the end. The jokes get less frequent and frankly less funny, and the bits I just stop caring about become more and more often. Happily, this is probably due to the creator, Brian Clevenger, becoming more of a real world cartoonist and not having as much time on his hands. In terms of the comic alone, however, the second third to half is frankly mediocre and uninspiring.

However, there's still nothing exceptionally “bad” that I can think of about it, it's just not as good. If you have a free day or two, I still recommend checking out 8-Bit Theater, once again on