Fred "Piro" Gallagher's MegaTokyo is going to be out this holiday season. While I've voiced my opinions of Fred from time to time, I've never officially reviewed MegaTokyo. After reading of the pain Fred's going through for his sudden success, I decided I owe it to him to go back, read the original MegaTokyo strips and write a real review.
MegaTokyo is the story of two guys who love video games. Their lives are a messno jobs, no girlfriends, no moneybut they know how to live for games. As the story starts, our heroes, Piro and Largo, are tying to sneak into the fabled press-only game conference, E3. Soon, their attempts to infiltrate the conference turn into nothing less then a fiasco. Distraught with failure, Piro decides that the only true way to live for video games is to fly to Japan, hauling the clueless Largo along for the ride. Unfortunately, this impulse causes the reality of finance to finally catch up with the duo, and they end up broke and stranded in the land where games are born.
Reading the original strips, it is easy to tell that Fred and his then partner Rodney Caston didn't really expect MegaTokyo to be huge. They were drawing MegaTokyo to rival strips like Penny Arcade, so it looked much more like a topical comedy based on gaming culture then an epic and emotional adventure. The characters were less outrageous and more human in the beginning (case in point is the character Largo: In the beginning he seemed eccentric but rational, while in recent comics he is questionlessly insane). The genius of Fred Gallagher, however, was crossing video game culture with Japanese comic culture to create an adorable story that could be enjoyed by just about anyone who is even remotely involved with today's pop culture. Despite its less-then-epic beginnings, MegaTokyo has grown to be one of the most popular web-comic strips on the internet.
For long term fans like myself, publication of MegaTokyo is presenting mixed blessings. While it will be exciting to see Fred's comics on paper for the first time, it is looking more and more like it will mean the end of the old web based comic. If you were to start reading MegaTokyo now, you would most likely be frustrated with only one page of storyline a week. Preparing the original comics for print is clearly taxing Fred, as 2/3rd of his comics these days are thrown together an apologies for the lack of comic. Fortunately, MegaTokyo fans are forgiving. The truth is that, of all the web comics I read, no artist is more synonymous with apology comics then the great Fred "Piro" Gallagher.
MegaTokyo will be out this holiday season, hopefully in actual book and comic stores. You can pre-order MegaTokyo from Studio Iron Cat. While I may not be the biggest Steve Bennet fan, I really respect Fred for all the work he's done, and the success he's had in building and promoting MegaTokyo. Be sure to get yourself a copy.