Saturday, February 14, 2015

MISC. MANGA, *Reality Check

While a lot of indy American comics publishers were doing their own "Amerimanga" titles in the mid-90s, Sirius Entertainment went a little further with picking up the self-published comic Reality Check which was first done in black and white, and turning it into an ongoing full-color series. Tavicat Studio was the original studio that printed it, comprised of writer/graphic artist Rosearik Rikki(aka: the voice of Gir on Invader Zim)and artist Tavisha Wolfgarth, who are actually a couple in real life. After doing some work on Academy Comics' Robotech line, they printed some vampire comics under their own Tavicat label, and then two issues of their original title, Reality Check. Sirius acquired it and reprinted the first two issues in color along with ten more. This comic came out at the dawn of the internet, otherwise known back then as the "information super highway".

Set in the far off alternate future of 2012(at least as was envisioned back in the mid-90s)the internet is now a large virtual reality landscape where anyone can plug into with their VR helmets. Collin is a regular teenager with a truly apathetic family who are each in their own little virtual reality, but he finally manages to get enough money together to get his own VR helmet. Collin finds out that his frisky cat Catreece can login to the net on her own through his helmet and manifest in it as a humanoid feline, which Collin has to at first explain to his friends that she's an expert hacker that created her own online catgirl avatar. Collin's friends, Erk and Maiko, buy this, and end up going on a few internet adventures together, including wandering into the the first internet sci-fi sitcom completely done by an AI titled "Ranklechick And His Three-Legged Cat"(which actually produced its own spinoff comic!), the two main characters of which become regulars throughout the series. They also meet Maiko's younger sister Lili who is the internet superhero La La Loopy, who learned all her online tricks from her cat Mimi that only happens to be Catreece's sister that also takes on a catgirl persona while in the virtual world. After staving off the dreaded Puffy Cat Virus that nearly devoured VR France, our heroes form their own online task force called Bullet Cats Inc., and get hired by an escaped video game rabbit that became sentient to seek out its creator who's locked up in an online insane asylum. But first, they must defeat an evil panda!

Sound crazy enough! It actually holds up pretty well by today's standards, including all the conceptions at the time of how the internet might be two decades later, minus the VR helmets. The series ended on a conclusion of sorts, although there was plenty of room for more. Sirius did their twelve issues, and then reprinted the first half in a single colored graphic novel, but not the second half of the series. Reality Check was also later picked up by Tokyo Pop and reprinted in two manga-sized graphic novels, but unfortunately in black and white which denies you the sweet color scheme Tavicat had playing out in the comic. Tavicat does now have the entire series available online in certain places, but do yourself a favor and try to track down all of the original Sirius comics run in all their full color glory!

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