Full Frontal Nerdity is the webcomic that I forget that everyone isn’t reading. In my mind, it’s a juggernaut, right up there with Penny Arcade and PVP – a perfect gem of nerd culture so exquisitely done that I just assume that everyone’s already glommed onto it.
But it’s come to my attention recently that the glory of FFN is a localized phenomenon. Oh, it’s got a print comic that gets into shops occasionally, but it doesn’t get nearly the cred that it deserves. And so today, my task is to convince you that Full Frontal Nerdity is the strip that you should be reading.
That is…. If you’re a nerd.
The concept of Full Frontal Nerdity is simple: Four nerds (one of them attending via webcam) hang around a game table, discussing the latest news in the gaming world and trying out their own games. There are no extended plotlines – just a straight gag-a-day strip about the deepest recesses of the nerd psyche.
FFN is relentlessly topical. Was there an announcement about the Fourth Edition of D&D? You can be pretty sure it’ll get a reference. GenCon’s in session? FFN’s on it. World of Warcraft CCG? They're on it. FFN has its finger on the pulse of the nerd heartbeat; in a sense, it’s like a newsfeed for What Nerds Are Talking About.
But to call FFN a simple “gag-a-day” strip doesn’t cover it. The great thing is that Aaron Williams is the undisputed master of throwing four or five punchlines into his strip at a time. Other strips might end on a single gag, but Aaron somehow manages to stack his Funny so that three or four pieces of zippy dialogue build on the last line until it just comes together like a miniature sitcom compressed into four panels. Aaron’s second panel is often a better laugh than lesser comics’ final panel.
That kind of writing is remarkably hard to pull off, because finding a single good gag is hard enough. It’s tempting when you find a good and satisfying line to just end on it, and have the other three panels leading up to that boffo laugh. But Aaron works overtime to make the first panel as amusing as the last – something rare in comics in general, let alone webcomics.
How does he do it? Well, mostly by selling zany concepts. The joy of FFN is watching four guys take an idea and watching them run with it all the way to the end zone – just as you think they’ve exhausted this particular idea, they’ve got some other ideas to spin on it.
It’s like the conversations you wish you had with your friends. Except Aaron’s are better.
Here, I’ll just highlight some of the better comics from the past eight months:
- The only White Wolf World of Darkness crossover that would actually make me play the game.
- Some much-needed advice on costumes.
- “I printed up these homebrew cards for a Warcraft CCG Pre-Game Game. It simulates attempting to log into Blizzard’s servers.”
- On the demise of Dragon magazine.
- “I can almost hear his childhood crumbling.”
- There’s a new author writing the Justice League.
- “Before we start tonight’s gaming, are there any developments we need to pass judgment upon?”
- What happens when nerds argue about pizza.
- Stephen King: The Roleplaying Game.
Honestly? FFN is one of the best comics I’ve ever reviewed here. (The other still-active ones that I’d consider “best” are Yet Another Fantasy Gaming Comic, DM of the Rings, Minus, and the tragically-underupdated Malfunction Junction.*) It honestly hadn’t occurred to me that FFN might have even counted as one of the strips that fell within my purview to review… But if I have the slightest chance to point you in its direction, I will.
It’s quality stuff. Go nuts with it.
(As always, if you have an underappreciated webcomic you think I should review, leave a comment and I’ll take a look at it. Reviews will be only for strips with less or equal traffic to the strip I co-created with Roni Pare, Home on the Strange, in order to highlight smaller comics; as such, the reviews will always be at least mostly positive. If you note any traffic I’ve sent your way and feel the urge to shower me with gratitude, feel free to plug HotS in your own comic. Danke!)
* - With a tip of the hat to The New Adventures of Queen Victoria, natch.