It’s not clear who or what is positioned dead center on a suburban street in the initial overhead shot, but as the panels zoom in to reveal bright-eyed children – two holding hands, stares locked – we consider the written message: “And we never got tired. And we never got old. We just ran through the streets forever. And everything was perfect.”
The average viewer might see the comic as a charming ode to the carefree naivety of youth; of first loves and curfew-skirting dalliances with neighborhood pals. But for those who recognize the leads of the seminal Super Nintendo RPG Earthbound in the faces and apparel of these rapscallions, the message may suddenly feel highly personal. It’s not a specific narrative moment from the game, nor does it utilize familiar dialogue, but its tone is that of how players may have romanticized the adventures of these beloved characters in their minds, or how they imagined they might feel in that setting. Perhaps it’s how they felt once upon a time. Whatever the case, the voice feels authentic, and as such delivers an emotional wallop in just four sentences and seven panels.
For little more than a year and a half, cartoonist Zac Gorman has strived to locate that little pocket of feeling between the events of a classic game and the emotions triggered in your mind while playing it – and then translate that into one-off comics under his Magical Game Time banner. With subjects as varied as The Legend of Zelda and Costume Quest, Gorman has amassed a fan following by pairing common and universal themes with memorable characters and scenarios.