Hey, you know how I said, way back in the distant past of Monday, that this week I wasn’t going to mention Real Life?
I blame Greg Dean, however, because today’s comic demands I discuss it. I have no choice in the matter, because Greg has managed to capture a moment so true to life as to be utterly undeniable and inescapable.
The strip is about obsession, and that is something that has defined my life for as long as I can remember.
It has largely manifested in my gaming habits – I will find a game, and attach myself it to a year, or two, or three. I’ll spend probably more money than I should on the game’s behalf. I will hone my skills, play as often as I can, become a force to contend with. It happened with Magic, with Warhammer, with Warcraft, with Anachronism, and with Warcraft once more. D&D has been a contender pretty much non-stop for the last decade.
It certainly manifests when I’m reading, in the same fashion as demonstrated in today’s Real Life. I find a fantasy series, and devour it in a handful of days. I’ll bring books to work, reading throughout lunch, during breaks. I read while I have breakfast in the morning, and just before getting ready to sleep. When I was younger, I would read – nonstop – on car rides, or when on the school bus. Nowadays, I have to drive myself places, and don’t have that luxury, and I keenly feel that loss when on the road.
The Dresden Files are certainly a guilty culprit – and it isn’t just books, either. Comics, certainly. Webcomics, most definitely – my ability to find a comic and devour its archives is one of the reasons I’ve ended up with so many on my list. My enthusiasm over them is a very large part in why I keep this blog!
My obsessive nature isn’t something inherently bad, of course. I’ve never let my gaming habits overtake my life, or cut me off from my friends. Indeed, with several friends who with the same traits, the same addictive personalities, we often end up focusing on the same games and are able to enjoy them collectively. It isn’t any different than fans of any variety, whether sports or movies or television. It is simply an aspect of how I’m wired – when I get into a hobby, I give it my all.
It helps that I’m aware of it, of course – it certainly has the potential to be bad, as all addictions do. But there are far worse ones out there, and I’m able to keep mine in line.
Right now, I’m between obsessions, for the most part. I’ve recently managed to kick my MMO habit. This freed up a lot of energy and time, which I’ve managed to redirect into my writing, and other forms of productivity – but none of them ones that have taken hold of me. I’m simply moving along, waiting for the next craze to come along and draw me in, because I know it will inevitably happen. It is just part of my nature, part of who I am.
And, given that it is a key part of who I am, I feel a very strong connection when I see it so very aptly demonstrated. Sure, my obsessive personality is just a part of life – but it always resonates to see parts of me reflected back in a story, a movie, a comic. Real Life isn’t the first comic that has connected with me, and it isn’t even the first to make this joke – fans are fanatics, after all, and it is something many stories have touched upon.
But just because the joke has been made once doesn’t mean it can’t be made again, and Greg has captured it here as well as I’ve seen it done. That’s the heart of the strip, in the end. I said it a while back, and it holds true – throw out the space junk, the time travel, the mad scientists. Real Life is at its best when living up to its name. Capturing the little quirks of everyday life, of people, of gamers, of nerds, of fans. Forging a connection between the strip and the reader.
Letting us laugh at ourselves, letting us recognize the little truths of who we are.
That’s what makes Real Life such a damn good comic.