About Arcade After Dark

The idea for Arcade After Dark originated back when I was doing Retrogaming Times on my other website, Tomorrow's Heroes.  In the newsletter, I always talked about video game characters as if they were real.  I talked about lives they had outside of games and what they did after their careers were over.  This made me think of a story about a group of characters who would meet after the arcade closed and talk about their day.  The games were their jobs, just like us humans go to work.  But instead of being doctors or plumbers or teachers, they were video game characters. 

So I started the original story called Arcade After Dark back around 2002.  The first character was Billy the Block, who appeared in a few different issues of Retrogaming Times.  After that, I slowly put together the rest of the team.  Like any arcade during the heydays, I would have new characters appear and some leave.  They would go on fun adventures and have a unique perspective to the world of video games.

I had lined up an artist to work on the story, but he never did any work.  He loved the story and thought the idea was good, but as with most artists that I have worked with over the years, the desire was there but the commitment was not.  So it remained on the back burner for years.

Then in 2005, I found a program called Comic Book Creator.  It allowed me to take screens from video games and create stories with it.  With this in mind, I had a way to create stories of arcade characters and their lives outside of video games.  The first one I did was "On Tapp" the story of the bar where all video game characters went.  It was loosely based on "Munden's Bar" from First Comics that was an intergalactic bar where all kinds of comic book characters would show up.  These would be one or two page strips that were humor based.

With those two set up, I figured I would need one more strip to start it off.  I wanted to do something with the long forgotten characters, Donkey Kong Jr and Jr Pacman.  I know they say that Donkey Kong Jr later became Donkey Kong and he became Cranky Kong, but I believe that was just a cover-up.  The truth is Mario was upset that he was having to play the villain and have the main character be an ape.  He threw a fit and soon he moved onto Mario Bros, while Donkey Kong Jr was pushed out the door and replaced by Stanley the Bugman (who also was given the boot).  So I knew with both of them being Jr's, I had to put that in the name.  But what could I do.  The first thought was the Jr. Detectives.  I envisioned them solving the great mysteries of video games.  But that was soon rejected.  The next idea was the Jr. Reporters.  They could ask the hard questions to video game characters.  But that also was canned.  Then it hit me, Jr Critics.  They could make fun of video games and have fun.  Sorta a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 for video games.  Only they were in the games, but not visible to the characters in the game.

So that was the start of Arcade After Dark.  I have ideas for other strips down the road.  Check back often to see what is new at Arcade After Dark!

Tom Zjaba

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Arcade After Dark Tom Zjaba

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