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Photo via Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock (Licensed)
Sometimes, the past should stay buried.
The video game-themed webcomics of the mid-2000s were, for the most part, very bad, but there were so very many of them. Collectively, they seemed to stand for the propositions that women are incomprehensible breast-having space aliens and that one’s preference in gaming console makes any difference whatsoever. Their heroes were often thin stand-ins for the authors, their dialogue was often very bad, and their portrayals of relationships were unrealistic. It would be great to bury that shameful chapter of the internet, but we can’t, because Twitter just dredged it up. Now everyone’s looking back on the dripping piles of webcomic garbage they enjoyed just 10 short years ago.
The unsealing of the bad webcomics time capsule began with this wildly popular tweet from @ABigBagOfKeys, who wrote, “[in this thread] post the most mid-2000s video game webcomic you can find.”
itt post the most mid-2000s video games webcomic you can find pic.twitter.com/AT7f0jvK8o
— Dr. Online (@ABigBagOfKeys) June 26, 2017
His own example is a “Girlz n Games” strip that leans heavily on the overused “the cake is a lie” punchline from the game Portal. If video game references make no sense to you, just think of quoting “the cake is a lie” as the gaming equivalent of wearing a Napoleon Dynamite “Vote for Pedro” t-shirt. It overstayed its welcome in precisely the same way.
The tweet has been shared thousands of times, and the thread now contains at least 50 shining examples of the mid-2ks gaming comic aesthetic. Most of them had bigger problems than just a dated reference or two. Characters spent a lot of time insulting one another in ways that were more embarrassing than creative or funny:
— Axel Shepherd (@TheHissingMeat) June 27, 2017
Has anyone brought up LICD yet?
(Rape mention) pic.twitter.com/7s8RnNzrqM
— Indigo W (@IndybotGo) June 28, 2017
— han ✨ (@geeezrick) June 28, 2017
They also spent a lot of time objectifying women. Especially their breasts:
— Garbageboy Stinkman (@negadiz) June 27, 2017
— Fester's Quest (@spoocecow) June 27, 2017
— Ciaran Conliffe (@shinyemptyhead) June 27, 2017
— flesh pile (@FleshPile) June 27, 2017
— 🅱️ustin (@emperorkuzko_o) June 27, 2017
— Al Smith (@alsmith208) June 27, 2017
— Bryan Provencher (@advencherer) June 28, 2017
I know I'm late, but pic.twitter.com/eXWa9qjWMm
— Stanks (@bmore_concetta) June 28, 2017
— Kate Barrett (@thewaether) June 28, 2017
And with advocating their favorite consoles, or attacking competing systems:
— C:Fxy (@jv9ufxcy) June 28, 2017
I'm supposed to be in bed but I just spent half an hour looking for this garbage. I hate you. This is GOD MODE. pic.twitter.com/fOBrTF1qKX
— Foxhack / Dave Silva (@Foxhack) June 28, 2017
They also spent a lot of time attacking conservative attorney Jack Thompson, the anti-gaming bogeyman of the time. Ultimately, he proved no threat to a multi-billion-dollar industry, but webcomics creators insisted on passionately defending their hobby anyway.
— Winton Churchdril (@forpush) June 27, 2017
Anything with Jack Thompson in it has to come real close to peak 2005 webcomics pic.twitter.com/cUs3uWd3XI
— Matthew Tynan (@MattTynan) June 27, 2017
A lot of people on the comics thread shared the same sentiment: Why did anyone bring these strips up again? It’s an uncomfortable look back at a culture that hasn’t really come as far in the intervening decade as one might hope.
I'm very upset about this thread and its contents
— _daniel (@underscoredan) June 28, 2017
this thread is violence
— Max Read (@max_read) June 26, 2017
I was so proud of our history as video gamers… then I saw this thread. Now I'm sitting in the shower crying… it won't come off… *sob*
— Mad Fellows (@MadFellowsGames) June 27, 2017
i have become lost in this thread's awful sauce help meeeeeeeee
— Joe (@JC_Esq) June 27, 2017
Well, it’s been, uh … fun? … to reexamine this unfortunate phase in internet history. Now, let’s hit the showers.
i can't believe i went through this whole thread and no one posted LET'S HIT THOSE SHOWERS pic.twitter.com/1aCuq9pPom
— cashew ◎ω◎ (@cashewmonsters) June 28, 2017
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.