Obligatory Filler Update: Steve’s Upgrade
Hey all, I was really sick earlier this week (super high hallucination-inducing fever, weakness, insomnia, absence of never-ending hunger gnawing away at my soul) and I am more than a bit behind on comics. I had to skip Wednesday’s character sheet, and alas there is no comic for today… but, here’s a picture of Steve both before the current storyline and after. Why the changes? After the cut.
Steve, for the lack of a better term, is a bit of a mess. I originally made Steve as a complete and total vehicle for one-off jokes. Since he had slept the entire length of the internet’s existence – which was 15 years back in 2008 – he (and through him, the readers) could have all the joys of discovering all those old horrible internet memes all over again. Imagine… All Your Base jokes, suddenly made funny again. Rickrolling being a new and startling concept. Lolcats – what are those again? You get the idea.
Then the great “maybe there ought to be a plot behind this” thing happened, and Steve became a character. You can actually track the change – it’s when his tag file went from “coma-guy” to “steve”. Steve had to have a last name, and a family, and a reason to be in a coma in the first place, and wants and dreams and hopes and fears. Steve needed to become a person.
I think that what makes Steve so heartbreaking of a concept is that… well, he lost so much but still yet so little. I’ve seen speculative fiction written about people waking up after hundreds of years (like from cryogenic suspension) and re-adapting to a new world – from The Time Machine to Demolition Man, from Futurama to Idiocracy – but with those, there’s an element of release too. Those characters have wiped the slate clean, they’ve reset their lives to zero, they’re given an entirely new starting point on what is virtually a new world to them. Steve isn’t. Steve’s slate isn’t wiped clean – he wakes up when the last bell goes off and has to try and copy as much info from the slate as he can before the professor erases it all… and there’s a test tomorrow.
This is still the world Steve left, it just got older… darker… dirtier… sadder. And he feels that pain more than anyone else. Michael Jackson was a black man when Steve fell into the coma. The World Trade Center bombing was a couple of morons in vans in a parking garage, not a war-sparking massive loss of civilian life. 20oz soda bottles were neat new things. 2 liter soda bottles still had those little different-colored plastic things on their butts to make them sit straight instead of the 5 lumps – remember those? No? Well, Steve does. And those memories hurt.
So Steve became Art’s next door neighbor, bumming off his friend due to the lack of any applicable real-world skills (you know, because he didn’t even technically finish high school) or life experience (he was like… 14 when he went into the coma). Can’t drive, can’t work, can barely cook for himself. Steve is smart, and so he resents being treated like a kid but is still struggling to learn and adapt to the backflip the world has made, and that’s why Art is a good ‘mentor’ – because he’s really not trying to be.
But then the question comes up – why would Art, who is obviously busy already – take on Steve? Friend or no, there’s boundaries. There’d be no reason for Art to take Steve in and on… unless somehow this was all his fault. So it started as a joke in Steve’s bio (which has been removed, due to it being horribly out of date) that Steve went into the coma because of Art making him watch the “Super Mario Bros” movie. Repeatedly. In one day. At the end of which time Steve declared he needed to “think about some things”, then he fell over and didn’t wake up.
It wasn’t even a funny joke, really. I like the SMB movie. It’s terrible, but… a coma? Really?
But I said it, so I stuck with it, and it turned out to be a fundamental part of Art’s character as well. Because, see, the thing is… Steve doesn’t remember how he got in a coma. He remembers going out and doing… something… but the what is hazy. And guilty as he feels, Art has never actually admitted what he did. Not to Steve, at least.
So teenage Art, taking this blame upon himself, tries to use magic to wrestle the threads of fate into a pattern of his choosing, and accidentally breaks reality. That’s friendship – that’s stupidity, too, but it’s also friendship. And, though the comic is eventually going to get around to showing it, Art is responsible (in a legally pursuable sense, anyway) for the actions leading to Steve “waking up” too. And when we get to it, you’ll know why “waking up” is in quotes.
Of course, Art didn’t tell Steve any of this either. A good for a bad. Steve never knows Art put him into the coma, Steve never knows Art got him out… that’s an equal game, right? It’s not like he’s lying, he’s just neglecting certain facts. Of course, it’s a little hard to neglect to mention some of those things to someone who is poking around inside your head. The things he finds in there are going to have a lasting impact on him.