The Half-Life and death of Gordon Frohman
Welcome. Welcome to City 17...
Today I wanted to talk a little about one of the greatest comics I've ever read and how I made hard copy of it using one of those holiday album websites. Back in the day I completely fell in love with Half-Life 2, the story, the graphics, facial animation, the PHYSICS. Everything was and still is amazing. Half-Life 2 Deathmatch was my daily bread back in the days, co-founded the E=mc² Clan with a frenchie called Cynyx, getting together an amazing group of people from all around Europe and made many Maps on the Source Engine. This comic is one of those things that made me enjoy those times around Half-Life 2 even more.
"Concerned is the story of Gordon Frohman, former Black Mesa entry-level employee, survivor of the Portal Storms and the Seven Hour War, who arrives on the scene a few weeks before Doctor Gordon Freeman -- scientist, hero, anti-citizen, and star of Half-Life and Half-Life 2 -- first appears in City 17. Here is where his journey begins..."
Over the course of one year, between 2005 and 2006, Christopher C. Livingston and his friends used the Garry's Mod so they could use images from the in-game engine to set up all the scenes present in this comic, thus giving it that unique, fresh and immersive feeling. Knowing how the Garry's Mod works, I can't even imagine the amount of work that went into that process.
I have read this comic countless times, and I still laugh at all the dumb situations Gordon Frohman gets into. As the premise says, the story is all about this entry-level Black Mesa employee. Frohmans goal is to get assimilated by the Combine, get to be a part of them and finally meet Doctor Breen, but he is so dumb and clumsy he can't get anything right.
The best thing Livingston made with this story, is that Frohman takes the exact same path as you do with Gordon Freeman in the actual game, not only making the story in the comic more immersive and understandable, but also giving absurd explanations to things that later happen in Half-Life 2. Without spoiling anything, if you read the comic you'll find out, for example, why there are so many explosive barrels around, or what of a nice town Ravenholm was before Frohman arrives there.
I made it my mission to make a comic book out of the online version, and the best looking and cheapest way of doing it, was using a tool from Ifolor (Switzerland), one of many companies that allow you to create your custom photo album and then get it printed. The story is composed of around 200 strips, so I copied them from the website and began with the work.
Every image had a white background and a credit line under each strip. I know that when posting stuff on the internet I shouldn't (and I wouldn't) erase the watermarks, but in this project it would just look messy, and I credited him on the cover. I mean it's supposed to look like a normal book, so I added transparency to every strip, erased the credit line, and cut around every speech bubble that got over the gutters. I didn't want no white in there.
Then I had to place the strips in such a way so it was pleasant to read, for example to place the chapter endings at the end of a page, so the next page shows the new chapter. This also made it possible to add fitting backgrounds to each page that match the scenery of that part of the story you are reading; the beginning of the story shows the train station, or when he gets recruited by the Combine, the background is the Citadel. After that I decorated empty spaces with props from the game, like guns, NPCs or spray decals to make it a little more pleasing to watch at.
Over 250 individually modified images and 132 pages later, my rendition to Concerned was finished. The last pages contain some pictures of the cast and monsters making an appearance in the comic, a full credit to everybody involved in creating it and a note from me. Making the book has made me read it again every time I see it in my shelf and I still love it, if you played Half-Life 2 I strongly recommend you to read it too, it is still available online at http://www.hlcomic.com/
Again a huge thanks to Christopher C. Livingston, who I tried to make contact with back when I made the book but was to dumb to find the appropriate channel, I'll send him a tweet with a link to this for sure :D Thanks for the read and...
PS: Chris Livingston actually replied :D