A few people don’t know this: I am the inspiration for a comic book character. In John Kovalic’s Dork Tower, he occasionally features a fellow named Bill Blyden who manages Pegasaurus Games, a local game shop. If you know much about me, it isn’t a stretch to figure out that the character is based on me. This goes back to the days when Pegasus Games had a storefront on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin, where I was the manager for several years. John would stop into the shop more regularly than he’s able to now, mostly to chat and to browse, but on very rare occasions, John would be pondering a story idea, and sometimes he ask us for suggestions. Every once in a while we’d come up with something he could use, and eventually, several staffers made it into the pages of the Dork Tower strip as supporting characters.
The strip is still going strong. In fact, John adds regular content as he is able. I’ve heard that he’s working on a few new things to add to the Dork Towerverse, but more on that at another time; I don’t want to spill the beans for John before he’s ready to make any announcements!
It’s been a mixed blessing, having a comic book character based on me. For one thing, most people want to know more about the real person behind everybody’s favorite Dork Tower character, Igor. John said it best when he mentioned on a panel at one convention that he had to tone down the things the real-life “Igor” does when including them in the strip, because no one would believe them. I can personally attest to a certain amount of truth in this statement, having spent time gaming with Igor’s alter-ego, Scott Olman. For another thing, it’s tough not to insist, every time I see John, that “Bill”, a secondary character in the strip at best, should get much more time “on screen.”
In spite of this, John has been ever so gracious about giving me a few vicarious moments in the spotlight through my alter-ego, even going so far as to immortalize a caricature of my wife in the strip as “Bill’s” wife “Stacy”. Heck, “Bill’s” likeness, though he isn’t specifically named, is featured on a Munchkin card, “Mug the Shopkeeper.”
I was surprised a number of years ago to see that the Dork Tower characters — including “Bill” — graced the entrances to many of the gaming rooms at Origins Game Fair as free-standing, cardboard cut-outs, and I’m kicking myself for not at least getting a selfie standing next to the full-sized, cartoon version of me. However, my wife insists that I’m kind of a toon in real life anyway, so it might be difficult to tell us apart.
I owe John thanks for bringing “Bill” into the world of Dork Tower. It’s been a fun experience, I’ve been asked for my autograph a couple of times because of it, and John’s friendship over the years has been a great blessing. Even if he consistently thrashes me at Blood Bowl.