Stolen Pixels #79: Left 4 Dumb Part 1

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Apr 7, 2009

Filed under: Column 19 comments

These Left 4 Dead comics are fun to make.


I’m sometimes hard on Garry’s Mod and occasionally express frustration at its capricious tools, but it really is indispensable for making a comic with the Source engine. Most of the work I do is is set in stone before I even conceive of the joke. I can only snatch moments from the game and try to bend them into a shape that will serve my purposes. The characters, the sets, the props, the expressions, and the lighting are all handed to me by the game. This is not a complaint. It’s a unique sort of challenge and I seem to have carved out some kind of niche in in doing it.

But Garry’s Mod lets you take art assets from Portal, Team Fortress, Counter Strike, or any of the Half-Life 2 libraries and put them into a scene together. It lets me make jokes that simply would not be possible when working with the in-game scenery. There was a special on Steam a few weeks ago where you could get Team Fortress for $25 and they threw in Garry’s Mod for free, although I viewed the transaction the other way around.

98% of the stuff made with Garry’s Mod is screenshots of Alyx having sex (through her clothes) with various implausible partners offered by the ragdoll library. But in capable hands Garry’s Mod is a potent tool that can generate weapons-grade funny. Christopher Livingston used it to create Concerned, a webcomic that would be in a position of dominance on my reading list if it was still ongoing. It starts off as a “oh isn’t that nice” sort of gag strip, but a few strips in Livingston strikes gold and then spends 200+ strips mining the concept for hilarity. Like DMotR, it ended when it needed to, and was likely better for it.


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19 thoughts on “Stolen Pixels #79: Left 4 Dumb Part 1

  1. Jeremiah says:

    aaaaand now I’m going to have to read Concerned in its entirety. Thanks. Thanks alot. There goes what little productivity I started the day with.

  2. Henebry says:

    This new strip was a very funny beginning to what I hope will prove an ongoing series. Love the movie poster mockup, by the way. Keen sense of the right fonts and visual style.

  3. JT says:

    Thanks for posting a larger, readable size of the movie poster so those of us with normal vision could read the funny stuff at the bottom – you read my mind.

  4. Pederson says:

    Man, I loved Concerned.

    Liking Left4Dumb so far. Nice job!

  5. Rutskarn says:


    Looking forward to it.

  6. James Pony says:

    Is Gary’s Mod anything like Garry’s Mod or do I need to have you shot for incorrect spelling?

  7. Mr_Wizard says:

    Not to mention the innumerable add-ons for Garry’s Mod, Wiremod being the most indispensable. I love to make a platform that only uses thrusters and loads of sensors to keep itself upright, then put a player sensor and a turret on it so it hunts my friends. Its the only game that can cause me to lose track of time.

  8. LintMan says:

    @Jeremiah: Concerned is well worth the time spend reading it, there’s some really funny stuff there. Though it’s worth mentioning that you’ll probably want to have played Half-Life 2 to get the maximum enjoyment from the comic.

  9. R4byde says:

    Dammit, Shamus! I’m in the school library! I’m in the library, with the usual assortment of severe looking gray haired librarians. I read Concerned strip number five, and I laughed out loud! Now they’re looking at me, with those horrible cold looks, and, and I’m afraid! What if they eat me?

    Thanks for the link, at least I’ll die laughing. ;)

  10. Kell says:

    Hail Concerned! Best webcomic I ever read, and one of the best pieces of fan content for a game. Your Half-Life 2 experience is not complete without it.

    Please, Sir…call me Gerald.

  11. Zaghadka says:

    Where do you find this stuff? :D

  12. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Awww… :(

    This whole comic serie reeks of win and awesome. You changed Shamus. Why did you changed your good old suckage in general for such greatness? You sold out, man…

    ( ;) )

  13. vdgmprgrmr says:

    Erm… You misspelled Garry’s Mod in the comic. And in the article you mostly spelled it right, but you seemed to randomly place the “r”s around the end…

  14. Thanks Shamus. I was supposed to write a thesis paper today. Instead I read ‘Concerned’ all the way through in a single sitting…a single 5 hour long sitting…

  15. Ah, yes, Concerned. The comic that convinced me to buy the Orange Box. I was surprised that the games were nearly as funny as Mr. Livingston’s comic itself! Those unique to the Box at the time, anyway.

    I am a bit sad that Concerned-canon Frohman never lived long enough to get his hands on the Magnusson Device.

  16. lplimac says:

    Oh this is going to be good.

  17. Sam says:

    I don’t normally say certain phrases like the word I’m going to use to finish this sentence, but your comic made me lol.

  18. Lluewhyn says:

    Concerned is an AWESOME comic, and is a rarity amongst epics- it tells its tale over a long period of time, and then ends with a surprise plot twist that is not only satisfying, but was telegraphed the whole way through. Many arc-based television shows could learn a lesson from it.

    My only complaint with that web-comic is that the name is rather….unremarkable. I had to search for it one time on Google with “Gordon Frohman” or “Half-Life 2 comic” or something.

    And yes, if you haven’t played the game, it is not nearly as funny. If you have played the game, you NEED to read the comic.

  19. Teron says:

    Just great. I’ve read it before, but this post has made me read it again. There goes my study time!

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