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Joystiq Interview: Concerned's Chris Livingston

Ross Miller

Yes, Gordon Frohman is dead. Super dead. As the popular gaming comic Concerned said its goodbyes, creator Chris Livingston took some time to trash talk Frohman posthumously and, for reasons unknown to us (or caused by us, actually) talk about underwear. A lot.

Let's get through the basic (read: boring) questions first: why'd you start the webcomic?

Well, I thought Half-Life 2 was a great game, but there simply weren't enough jokes about toilets in it. So, I thought a comic would be a good place to get some humor into the game. I came up with the idea for Frohman, a complete idiot, to play all the way through the game, just like Freeman only instead of being a hero, he'd be a complete tool.

I waited for a while but no one else started the comic, so I went ahead and started it myself.

So Frohman is dead and gone, right?

I've been asked this a lot in the past couple days. I guess it seems pretty obvious to me that he's dead, what with the title of the comic mentioning that he is going to die during the series, plus the Epilogue indicating that the series is over, plus the fact that he's lying there dead and people in the comic are saying that he is dead. And one of the people is the medic who would know if someone was dead. So, I guess it's left as an exercise to the reader. But, yeah, he's totally dead.

Did you always envision it as finite story? Why'd you quit?

Yeah, I always envisioned it as something that would have a clear beginning and ending, and run along the same lines as the game. When the game was over, so was the comic, was basically my approach. So, I didn't quit, I just finished. I'm sure I could have dragged it out a lot longer than I did, but I was already feeling that I'd dragged it out too much, so it was time to wrap it up and move on to something else.

What do you do in your "other" life?

I'm sort of an office manager for a commercial plumbing and piping company. Boy, does it suck.

About Frohman: boxers or briefs?

Come on. You know Frohman goes commando.

Any chance of a ghost Frohman down the line? A "revert to last save" second chance for him to live? A side story with some Alyx variant?

I think I'm done. I mentioned at one point doing some "lost episodes" but I think I'm really done. Frohman was fun but I think I'll let him rest in peace.

Many people have opined how abrupt the finale was. How do you feel about everything ending? Are you relieved, saddened, jovial, crying, lonely, ...?

The finale was supposed to be a bit longer. He was going to be plunging from the Citadel for a couple weeks, then lying in the street for a couple weeks, with a bunch more fake-outs to make you think he was gonna survive. Like, he was going to spot a medkit up on a ledge, and try to dislodge it with a shot from his pistol, but then accidentally shoot an explosive barrel, and so on. So it was going to take a bit longer. But I never intended on actually showing him dying, because that would be a bit sad.

As for how I feel, I'm very neutral right now. I feel like I told as much story as I wanted to tell. It wasn't all as good as I wanted it to be, or as funny as I hoped it would be, but I think there was some good stuff there, and a lot of it was fun to do. I can't say I'm really sad, since I've known his fate since I came up with the idea. Poor bastard never had a chance. Same day I invented him I knew he'd crush Dr. Breen at the foot of the Citadel. Now I know how God feels when he kills people: friggin' awesome!

What gaming comics or machinima do you read and / or recommend?

Well, I read this obscure little gamer comic called Penny Arcade, and also one called Order of the Stick. That's about it, really. I read VG Cats from time to time, but I rarely know what games the comics are about. I'm a very narrow-minded gamer: I really only play a couple FPS games and the occasional masterpiece that is Oblivion. I don't get all that Japanese console stuff or World of Warcraft or FF XII or anything. I just like shooting.

Would Frohman ever make a cameo in Halo? Hypothetically, how would he screw things up?

I have to admit, I've never played Halo. I don't have an X-Wii or anything. About all I know is that they have glowing swords and drive warthogs or something. So, with that limited knowledge, I'll say Frohman would drive a warthog into a glowing sword.

You are standing still when I a pedaled along at a speed of 1.3e, where e = the speed of light. I blink two lights simultaneous at time t = 0. Using Einstein's theory of relativity, do you prefer boxers or briefs?

I prefer panties, actually. Don't worry! It's nothing weird or anything. I only wear them because I'm a transvestite.

Anything you want to say to your adoring fans? To everyone else?

My adoring fans already know how I feel about them. I hate them. To everyone else, please read my comic and send me money.

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