One of my favourite parts of the mid-noughties Internet was the thriving Half-Life 2 (opens in new tab)comics scene. Through a combination of Garry’s Mod’s model posing function and a rudimentary knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, it was possible for artistically inept people like myself to create thrilling, amusing, or just plain bizarre comics revolving around the Half-Life 2 universe. Originally posted in places like the Facepunch (opens in new tab)forums and the defunct website PHWComics, some of these comics established a cult following, such as PC Gamer writer Chris Livingston’s own comic series, Concerned (opens in new tab).
Now, over 700 of these comics have been rescued from the recycling bin of history and archived onto the website Metrocop (opens in new tab). It’s an impressive collection that includes most of the major HL2 comic series, such as the comedy adventures Kenny the Cop (opens in new tab) and Jeff (opens in new tab), the horror epic My Last Night in Ravenholm (opens in new tab), and of course, Apostasy (opens in new tab), probably the most professional Half-Life 2 comic ever made.
The site is operated by Mythos, also a prominent Half-Life 2 comics creator. “The old website started in 2012 basically as just a way for me to keep posting my Half-Life comics online, but eventually evolved into an archive of other people’s Source engine comics,” he told PC Gamer. “I ended up having the idea one year later of recreating it from scratch as both an archive like before, but with even more content, and a website for Half-Life themed articles.” It’s worth noting that all available comics have been hosted with permission from the original authors.
Metrocop is certainly a much slicker operation than the websites these comics were originally hosted on, with a clean layout, dynamic thumbnails, and a great reading experience. “I prioritised simplicity, accessibility and speed, so that every page loads up nearly instantly,” Mythos says. The site is also being frequently updated, having recently received accessibility options such as alternative text for every archived comic, and tabbing for keyboard navigation.
It’s great to see these comics being preserved in this way, as wonderful artefacts that highlight the intense creativity that spun up around Half-Life 2 and Garry’s Mod. If by any chance you’ve got a Half-Life 2 comic lingering on a hard-drive somewhere that you’d like added to the collection you can drop the Metrocop team a line here (opens in new tab).