Webcomics Feature: Virtual Shackles

If you knew how the gaming industry actually worked, would you still look at it with such lustful eyes?

Such is, essentially, the question that Virtual Shackles tries to answer.

At the helm of this business-class yacht are Jeremy Vinar and Mike Fahmie (Names I’d almost draw for a science fiction epic, really), two game developers working for [Faceless Corporation #12] who first met up over a glass of Superman Returns DS. Fortunately that doesn’t seem to have coloured their friendship and so a couple years later Virtual Shackles burst into being in March of 2009.

Virtual Shackles is all about video games, whether it be their inner workings, the ramifications of certain aspects of them, or the pop culture and news surrounding them at any given moment. Comics usually take the form of the classic three-panel comedy, with a setup, a gag, and a punchline.

Over the course of just over 2 years, we should expect some degree of artistic development and indeed Shackles delivers. Unusually however, Shackles began with a pretty decent level of developed style, owing to one half of the author team working in games as a graphic artist, and has simply improved and straightened out the odd kink or two in the art over time. Certainly the level reached now can be considered iconic of the…comic…huh.

Writing as noted is pretty standard, along the three-panel format we’ve enjoyed since long before the web took hold globally, typically in the Funnies section of newspapers. With their knowledge of the industry they routinely lampoon and a keen interest in the source material, Vanir and Fahmie manage to do a lot of fairly media-saturated topics without running over old ground, always having a fairly unique take on things. Whilst this doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a laugh riot gag every time, it does mean you’re always going to find something new and different at Shackles.

In all, I don’t really have much to say, this is a well-drawn comic with good writing and it has maintained that level throughout its output (updating twice weekly), if not improved on it. Whilst there is a certain degree of background knowledge (namely, video games) that a reader needs to know to get most of the jokes, there is no significant storyline to hinder new readers at all, each page is standalone. Barring the odd time-sensitive joke, you can hit the random button on their archives and have yourself a merry time.

If you like video games, or general nerdery, or are just looking for something a bit different, check out Virtual Shackles and hit up its creators on Twitter!

Posted by: Lying

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