Comics vs. Blockbusters vs. Games vs. Chicks

MY FRIEND MINERVA’S OVER. She’s returning some comic books I lent her. They’re to prep her for the upcoming Avengers movie.

“Did you like them?” I ask her.

“Yeah,” she replies, a little surprised, almost as if she can’t believe it herself. “They were very real,” she continues, “I mean, for superheroes. Very grounded. I was pretty shocked by that domestic violence scene.”

I laugh and nod. “Yeah, that was pretty intense.”

A week ago I gave Minerva the Mark Millar run of The Ultimates I and II. She devoured them. They’re pretty great so I can understand why. The scene she’s talking about is between Ant-Man and the Wasp. They’re in a completely dysfunctional relationship, and it plays out quite horribly. We don’t often see it in comic books when heroes who aren’t evil do something all too human with their superpowers – losing their temper, and hurting the ones they love.

Minerva flops down on my bed and squeals. “Ohmygod I can’t wait to see this movie!”

“Just to warn you, Ant-Man’s not in it.”

“Oh I don’t care about that asshole,” she says dismissively, waving her hand in the air. “Just if the movie’s as good as the comic books, I’ll be happy.”

“I guess summer’s here,” I say. “First of the summer blockbusters.”

“What else is coming out?”

“I can’t remember off the top of my head,” I tell her. “Um. James Bond? Amazing Spider-Man?”

Minerva wasn’t ever much of a geek but as her best friend I’ve had a corrupting influence on her over the years, though she still doesn’t play videogames. While I couldn’t tell her what the summer blockbuster season would look like in movies, I could tell her what the big games coming out were. But I wasn’t sure if she’d be interested.

“I don’t know what movies are coming out, but do you want to hear about the games?” I ask hopefully. I love talking about upcoming games.

Minerva frowns. “Not really,” she says. “I don’t know if I’d recognize any of them. What’s the, um – what’s the biggest summer blockbuster game coming out though? Would I have heard of it?”

Now it’s my turn to frown. “There isn’t really…” I scratch my head, “Maybe Diablo 3? Max Payne 3 is looking pretty good. I mean, all the huge games come out in the fall, leading up to Christmas. Like, Call of Duty. They always come out around November. Gaming doesn’t really have a summer blockbuster cycle.”

Call of Duty.

“Well that’s weird,” Min says, “Why not?”

I think about this for a second.

“Fashion has spring and fall collections…” Minerva offers helpfully. “Movies have the summer. What does gaming have?”

“It’s just that games cost so much… you’re not just going to buy one on a whim. Like going to see a movie.”

“I don’t see movies on whims,” Minerva rebuts. “I only like the good ones.”

“No, I meant – like, summer is the time to be out and flirting and going on dates. Summer is ‘mating season’ and movies are part of that. That’s why summer is a great time for movies. Gaming is, well, insular, and expensive, and you need long stretches of uninterrupted time. Christmas holidays are good for that.”

“Ha!” Min says. “Not in my house. At Christmas everyone’s always screaming at each other for some stupid thing or another.”

I remembered. One year Min invited me over for Christmas dinner because my family doesn’t celebrate it (long story). They’re rich and they have this huge house and everything’s very nice but you never heard so much shouting in your life about stupid shit. People were practically picking fights with each other. Also they all drank too much, but I shouldn’t talk. Sometimes I get so drunk while gaming that when I start up the game again the next day I can’t remember how I got to that save point.

Mass Effect was released in early March, avoiding Christmas altogether.

But not all games were stacked up in the Christmas corridor. It makes sense that publishers want to be in that space because I heard somewhere that a game will sell something like five times what it would normally sell at any other time of the year. But in recent seasons, that avenue’s gotten so crowded with releases it’s been difficult for each individual game to get the attention it deserves, so big companies have been taking a chance on early spring. Mass Effect 3 released this year in early March, avoiding Christmas altogether. I thought about the other two biggies – Diablo 3 and Max Payne 3. Both huge triple-A titles. Both with rabid fan bases. Both years in the making. Both sure to sell millions. You had to be a real contender in the first place to take a chance on losing the Christmas sales.

I can tell Minerva’s already tired about talking about games. She flips idly through the comics she’s just returned to me.

“I loved these books, but crazy big boobs on all the chicks though.”

Sherwin Sullivan Tjia is the author of five books: Gentle Fictions, Pedigree Girls (Insomniac Press), The World is a Heartbreaker (Coach House Books), The Hipless Boy (Conundrum Press). His latest is a choose-your-own-adventure story told from the perspective of a cat. It’s called You Are a Cat! (Conundrum Press). His most recent invention, the E-Z-Purr, is a CD with over an hour of cats purring! and is available for purchase from CD Baby.

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