The Reset Button proves that there’s still life in what seems to be a played-out genre.
If you were a gamer on the internet around the turn of the 21st century, chances are you’ve seen at least one. Since the launch of the first ever gaming-focused webcomic—Chris Morrison’s Polymer City Chronicles in 1995—gaming comics have become a major-league genre, one that almost everyone with the slightest interest in geek culture knows about: ask someone who isn’t a “webcomic person” to name one webcomic; if they don’t stare at you in complete and utter confusion, chances are they’ll name something like Ctrl+Alt+Del.
But starting sometime in the mid-2000s, the genre also began to take on a bit of an unfortunate reputation: spurred by the runaway popularity of Scott Kurtz’s PvP as well as Jerry Holkins’ and Mike Krahulik’s Penny Arcade (both in 1998, with Penny Arcade arguably being the very first “gamer on a couch” comic) a host of imitators began to pop up in hopes of capitalizing upon that success. Many in number and questionable in quality, these comics tried and failed to capture what made the originals great; they often featured derivative, predictable casting alongside jokes that tended to fall flat—at best—or were misogynistic, tasteless, and shockingly offensive—at worst.
Enter The Reset Button.
The Reset Button lives up to its title in more ways than one. Originally launched in 2006, it was creator George “Geo” Gant’s first ever webcomic; this first incarnation, in Geo’s words, was “crude, but many people found it funny.” After drawing and posting close to two hundred strips, he made the decision to put Reset back in its case and focus on On the Grind, a slice-of-life strip about a man working in a coffee shop. Geo persisted with this project for six years, but after publishing two books and four hundred strips—almost double the length of Reset—he decided it was once again time for a change. It was in 2015 that he ended up pushing the reset button on… The Reset Button.
The Reset Button may be a gaming comic in the 2010s, but don’t roll your eyes just yet: its witty humor, kid-friendly nature, and pervasive appreciation for its own source material places it at the top of the tier list.
The endgame is a comic that is late to the party in the absolute best way possible. Its reboot comes at a time when the stereotyped awfulness of video game webcomics no longer seems immediate, and it allows The Reset Button to not only break new ground with its jokes and formatting, but revisit the same concepts that made the original gaming comics great. And it just works. A new comic it may be, but its humor and charm are easily comparable to the old webcomics that sparked an entire genre over a decade ago.
The Reset Button doesn’t just poke fun at games. Here, the concept of a Reddit-style AMA introduces the punchline: the elder Reset Boomtail (once again) comes to the unfortunate realization that he may not be as famous as he thinks he is.
From the very beginning, The Reset Button proves that its appreciation for video games goes far above and beyond the shallow appropriation that ran so rampant back then. The comic’s art style and format just bleeds 16-bit, relying somewhat on blocky shapes and pixel effects anywhere from the characters’ mouths to patterns on a wall in the background. Geo has made sure to place little nods and homages absolutely everywhere, and finding them all is almost like a game in and of itself. In one strip, a character casts a shadow in the shape of an alien from Space Invaders. Another strip has Reset Sr. having a crisis of faith about what’s on his plate after watching an anti-meat eating PSA… as a turnip from Super Mario gives him an accusatory stare.
Most importantly, The Reset Button was deliberately designed by its author to be for all ages. If you’re a parent (like the author himself) and the foul language and inappropriate humor in the likes of VGCats and Ctrl+Alt+Del turns you off, The Reset Button promises to provide a fun and addictive alternative. The jokes do get a little mean at times (the strip directly above is a good example and it’s honestly the meanest that the comic ever gets) but there’s absolutely nothing to be found like the infamous “Loss” strip from Ctrl+Alt+Del. And parents who are a little testy about having their kid glued to the computer, have no fear either: an official 78-page paperback anthology (The 16-Bit Collection) can be purchased on Lulu.
Fed up with the state of gaming comics? The Reset Button is exactly what the title says. You don’t have to be a pro gamer to realize this comic is worthy of a bit of attention… if not sixteen.
Can you pitch The Reset Button to a new reader?
- George: It’s what you would get if you mixed Sonic the Hedgehog with Tiny Toon Adventures. It stars Reset Boomtail Jr., the son of a hero who wants to be a hero himself… but he has to go to school first.
Do you have any particular favorites among the cast, and why?
- George: Hmm…that’s a tough one. As much as I would want to say that it’s Reset Jr., it might actually be Reset Sr., as I personally relate to him the most.
What prompted you to make The Reset Button, and what do you feel sets it apart from other comedy gaming comics? Also, what other comics and other pieces of media in general would you feel are your main influences?
- George: Creating cartoons is my life’s goal. It has been since I was about 9 or 10. I drew all throughout school and even won a few awards for political cartoons that I drew in high school. After school, I didn’t really know what to do, so I went to school for graphical design. At some point, I decided to pursue comics with the goal of going into animation. I am a gamer, and I’m very passionate about video games, so a gaming comic was a no-brainer, especially with Penny Arcade going as strong as it was (This was 2004.)
What sets The Reset Button apart from other gaming comics is that it’s a.) less a comic about video games and more a comic that happens to take place in the world of video games, and b.) this iteration of The Reset Button (This is a reboot of the webcomic I created in ’06) is one of the few gaming comedy webcomics aimed at an all-ages audience.
As far as the comic’s influences? There are a few, but Calvin and Hobbes is probably the comic’s largest influence. It is also influenced by The Simpsons, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Tiny Toon Adventures.
Can you describe your process when making a strip from start to finish? How do you come up with comedy material for the strips? Would you say you draw more from life or from outside sources (memes, things you see on the Internet, etc.)?
- George: Ha! Barely. I am a highly disorganized cartoonist. I usually come up with an idea for a punchline, then build the rest of the comic around that. Since this is a gaming comic, I try to focus on gaming logic when it comes to humor. It’s funny trying to apply things such as double-jumps and power-ups to everyday situations.
Let’s close with a fun question: If your characters all got into a huge console war argument, which position would each of them take, how aggressive would they be, and how would it all pan out?
- George: I don’t think they’d fight over them. The more ways to play games, the better each character’s chance for making his/her mark on the world.
Unable to resist pushing The Reset Button? Check out the comic here: