1 feeling or showing worry or solicitude; "concerned parents of youthful offenders"; "was concerned about the future"; "we feel concerned about accomplishing the task at hand"; "greatly concerned not to disappoint a small child" [ant: unconcerned]
2 involved in or affected by or having a claim to or share in; "a memorandum to those concerned"; "an enterprise in which three men are concerned"; "factors concerned in the rise and fall of epidemics"; "the interested parties met to discuss the business" [syn: interested]
3 in relation (or in regard) to; especially as in the phrases; "as far as x is concerned"; "where x is concerned"
4 culpably involved; "all those concerned in the bribery case have been identified"; "named three officials implicated in the plot"; "an innocent person implicated by circumstances in a crime" [syn: implicated]
- in a manner showing concern.
- past of concern
Concerned (Full title: Concerned: The Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman) is a webcomic by Christopher C. Livingston, parodying the popular first-person shooter computer game Half-Life 2. The comic was constructed from game screenshots, with characters posed using Garry's Mod. Livingston originally released issues on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday basis, but changed the schedule to two new issues every week on Tuesday and Thursday, citing his job. In addition, the comic's plot had become incompatible with Episode One.
In Half-Life 2, the player takes on the role of Dr. Gordon Freeman. Throughout the game, the player follows the story of a dark, dystopian future in which mankind has been enslaved by the Combine, a mysterious alien enemy.
In contrast, Concerned follows the same general path through the story established by Half-Life 2, but instead follows the adventures of Gordon Frohman, a hapless, lethally clumsy oaf who arrives in City 17 a few weeks before Freeman. Frohman is incredibly naive and, unlike the other citizens, seems to enjoy living under the rule of the totalitarian administrator, Dr. Breen and the Combine. He holds an insane reverence for the latter, even going to the point of having a plush doll of a Combine soldier. Indeed (as happened in Ravenholm) he finds it hard to cope without their omnipresence, and goes to the lengths of building his own Citadel out of crates, a telescreen for watching Breencasts and an apparently fully functional Strider (although he never turns it on).
The early phases of the comic has Frohman excitedly arriving in City 17, eventually landing a job in the Citadel, under a Combine Elite named Mr. Henderson. As most of his human colleagues became Combine soldiers, Frohman realized that Henderson has no immediate intention to do the same for Frohman (citing his incompetence). Demanding that he become one with the Combine, Frohman willingly sets off to Nova Prospekt for invasive surgery to join the Overwatch. Meanwhile, Frohman selects Ravenholm as a residence where he can commute to and from City 17, but lacks proper transport to visit the town. After a failed attempt to reach Ravenholm using Dr. Isaac Kleiner's teleporter (leaving him stuck on a Counter-Strike server for a week), Frohman, in frustration, chooses to seek Ravenholm by foot instead.
Traveling through City 17's canals, Frohman lands himself in trouble by meeting several Civil Protection units and a female Resistance member, Sandy, only to have her abandon him later for her own safety, as Frohman is accident prone. (Sandy ends up consumed by a Barnacle a few seconds after she abandons him, without Frohman's accident nature) Frohman continues by obtaining a small boat that aids his travel along the city's wider canals and rivers, and finally arrives, badly injured and dazed, at Black Mesa East, where he is welcomed as a helper. His stay there is cut short after causing trouble in the base, as well as his irritating overuse of the gravity gun. Frohman is fooled into leaving the place, and finally heads toward and reaches Ravenholm.
During Frohman's arrival, Ravenholm is depicted as a peaceful, bright and cheerful place devoid of any Combine elements, but "terrorized" by Father Grigori. After adjusting, Frohman becomes accustomed to the town, but unintentionally discloses the town's location to Dr. Breen, allowing Breen to order a headcrab shelling of the town, killing many. Frohman himself is attacked by a headcrab and turns into a headcrab zombie (but retains his free will). But in time, Frohman's headcrab dies of malnutrition (attributed to his lack of intelligence), allowing him to retrieve a first aid kit and completely recover. With Father Grigori's help, Frohman escapes Ravenholm, now the zombie-infested nightmare seen in Half-Life 2, and presses on to Nova Prospekt.
After crossing mine shafts filled with headcrabs and a railway line guarded by Combine snipers, Frohman reaches the Coast and obtains a rusty bicycle from another Resistance base (although they tried to offer him a car he was too incompetent to listen to them). En route, Frohman stumbles across St. Olga (the setting of Half-Life 2: Lost Coast) and another Counter-Strike server, as well as dressing up as a Combine soldier. After passing Lighthouse Point and an Antlion-infested beach, Frohman encounters an Antlion Guard, which would be killed by a Vortigaunt from a nearby base. This allows Frohman to retrieve "bugbaits" (although an earlier try resulted in him retrieving an Antlion Guard's feces), and control Antlions.
Frohman, accompanied by several "bugbait"-controlled Antlions, eventually reaches Nova Prospekt, only to be turned away as he did not have an appointment. Frohman gives up and returns to City 17 in the following strip, content of the city's provisions, as Gordon Freeman finally arrives in the city, linking the comic's time frame with the start of Half-Life 2.
Frohman is recruited into the Resistance (handled by Barney Calhoun), failing to disrupt their operations. He unintentionally signals the start of the Resistance's uprising after accidentally killing a Civil Protection unit using one of his Antlions. During the fighting, Frohman settles into the role of Resistance medic, running his own medical practice (for a brief period), accompanying Freeman himself and mingling with Resistance members, aiding the Combine in the capture of Alyx Vance, reuniting with Norman Frohman (Gordon's long-lost assassin twin brother), and witnessing Norman's death.
Following this, Frohman returns to the Citadel, unwillingly aiding Freeman in his journey up the Citadel and influencing the plot of the game, with Overwatch Elite soldier Henderson fired in the process. After Freeman is captured, brought to Dr. Breen, freed and pursuing Dr. Breen to his teleporter, Frohman attempts to kill Freeman, donning his old rebel clothing and arming himself with a crossbow. He spends too long trying to come up with a one liner, and Dr. Breen's teleporter explodes. Frohman falls off the Citadel peak, flung off by the explosion.
Dr. Breen is also alive, having fallen from the Citadel onto a pile of dead Combine soldiers. However, Frohman falls right onto Breen, killing the latter, but remains alive (although seriously injured). Baffled by his ability to survive, Frohman realizes through a flashback that he has been under "Buddha Mode" (a variation of god mode which prevents his health point from dropping below one) through the comic's duration. Frohman inadvertently turns off the mode, and even spoils an opportunity to be rescued by a group of purple Vortigaunts (as both Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance would at the start of Episode One). In the end, Frohman dies unceremoniously, while survivors of the City 17 uprising head to the train station for episode 2 after saying Frohman is 'Totally dead'.
Much of the comic's dark humor is derived from its contrasts with Half-Life 2: in a depressing, dark vision of a conquered humanity's future, Gordon Freeman becomes a hero and savior; the similarly-named Gordon Frohman, on the other hand, is just an average guy, improbably cheerful to the point of stupidity, and somewhat naïve as to what is actually going on around him (for instance, Frohman fails to realize that his return-addressed letters to Doctor Breen reveal his location, and so result in that location being invaded, bombed or otherwise compromised).
The comic contains many references to events and objects in the game. In one comic, Frohman makes a clerical error that causes the Combine to order far too many explosive barrels, thus suggesting an explanation for the barrels' ubiquity throughout City 17 and beyond. In another strip, he writes a letter to Dr. Breen asking why using his flashlight reduces his ability to run, a reference to Half-Life 2s flashlight and sprint functions using the same power source. In another, his presence in the town of Ravenholm ends with it becoming the headcrab-infested ghost town seen in Half-Life 2 (after he wrote to Breen expressing his happiness with being there, giving away Ravenholm's location). Indeed, Frohman seems to (intentionally or accidentally) cause many of the disastrous circumstances that Gordon Freeman runs across, as he accidentally gives Breen the idea of headcrab shells while on a radio, and sets up all of the traps in Ravenholm himself in attempts to catch or kill Father Grigori. Along with that, it is revealed that, at the Black Mesa Research Facility, he caused the Black Mesa Incident by accidentally delivering a wedge of cheese to the test chamber, giving the explanation that the borderworld is apparently very "lactose intolerant." Other events that had resulted from Frohman's intervention and developed into the scenes seen by Gordon Freeman include:
- Frohman writing a letter to Dr. Breen, in which he complains about not feeling any sexual desire for the beautiful women he sees around, blaming the Combine reproductive suppression field, which later resulted in Breen personally reciting "part" of the letter early in Half-Life 2 (the origin of the strip's title).
- Devastates a Resistance outpost, Station Seven, by unintentionally disclosing their location and inspiring the Combine to develop headcrab shells (one of which is also seen in Station Seven during Half-Life 2).
- Angering Antlions in the Coast by running over a few of them using his bicycle. The comic claims that Antlions are "normally fairly docile creatures."
- Stranding two citizens in the middle of an Antlion infested territory near a beach.
- Accidentally aiding the human Resistance in obtaining large amounts of weapons for their uprising.
- Inspiring Breen to keep the security alert going despite the fact Freeman had sealed himself in a metal container that he cannot open from the inside or control where it goes.
- Causing the weapon confiscation field to "upgrade" Gordon Freeman's gravity gun with increased power and the ability to manipulate organic matter (namely, Combine soldiers).
As such, the comic is chiefly targeted towards those who have played the game, but short "notes" sections appended to many of the comics attempt to give non-players some context. Since Concerned follows a similar path through the Half-Life 2 universe as the game, the comic contains spoilers for those who have not yet played it.
It is also apparent that Frohman may be aware of his existence in Half-Life 2, and also referenced the time period and linearity of the game, breaking the fourth wall of the comic to an extent.
- Frohman is implied to have been assigned to deliver a test sample to a Black Mesa Research Facility test chamber, which triggers the Black Mesa Incident.
NameConcerned derives its name from one of the propaganda broadcasts by Dr. Breen in Half-Life 2 in which he is reading a letter supposedly written by a citizen: "Let me read a letter I recently received. 'Dear Dr. Breen. Why has the Combine seen fit to suppress our reproductive cycle? Sincerely, a concerned citizen.' Thank you for writing, Concerned."
Frohman is a big fan of Dr. Breen, writing frequent letters to the administrator and calling his broadcasts "The Dr. Breen Show." In one letter in which Frohman complains "I got no angle in my dangle! You feel me?", he finishes with the part Breen reads in his announcement (but not without adding a postscript, "PS: Seriously! Frohman gots to get his freak on! PPS: I love your show! You rock! TTYL!"). Thus, Frohman is intended to be "Concerned".
Combine funeral and mourning stripsIn May of 2006, a series of comics were published depicting Gordon Freeman's run through Highway 17 as seen from the Combine's perspective in the game. After Freeman's killing of a Combine soldier named Frank with a lawn chair launched from the gravity gun, several follow-up strips tracked his funeral and mourning by companions (and his two children) in a faux-serious style. Livingston subsequently received a number of emails from readers who took the narrative tangent seriously. In response, Livingston issued a statement clarifying that the comic strip was never intended to be serious, deep, meaningful, or poignant, noting with curiosity that it was the death of a Combine soldier which resonated with readers, while the destruction of Ravenholm and the character Sandy being unceremoniously devoured by a barnacle garnered no such emotional response.
Recurring gagsChris Livingston often makes references to earlier strips of Concerned, once noting: "Here at Concerned, we care about the environment. That's why we recycle jokes as often as possible." Some of these recurring themes include:
- Shooting vortigaunts - In Half-Life, vortigaunts are a common alien enemy of the main character. However, in Half-Life 2, the vortigaunts are now allies. Gordon Freeman ends up working with the vortigaunts, while Gordon Frohman has a hard time accepting this, and his first impulse upon seeing a vortigaunt is to shoot it. However, it is impossible in Half-Life 2 for the main character to kill friendly units, and Concerned mirrors this. This particular behavior led to Frohman's downfall. As he lies dying, purple Vortigaunts emerge to save him (in the style of Episode Ones opening scenes). However, Gordon attempts to kill them, and they change their mind.
- Ordering 100,000 _______s - Frohman tends to work at keyboards where he claims "the zero key sticks," resulting in him ordering large number of items abundant in Half-Life 2, including explosive barrels and scanners. However, during Frohman's time in Black Mesa, he is revealed to have done the opposite for long-jump modules on HEV suits, by ordering only one instead of 100 of them.
- Counter-Strike - Counter-Strike (CS) is the most popular mod of the Half-Life series, spawning its own community. While events in the CS universe is intended to happen on a completely separate plotline from Half-Life, Gordon Frohman has been teleported to a Counter-Strike: Source (CS:S) server from Doctor Kleiner's lab, and launched from a headcrab shell launcher in Lost Coast into another CS:S map, inadvertently, and lethally, crushing a hostage NPC. Livingston says that he's not much of a CS person, and ends up making jokes on the lesser points of the game (for example, exaggerating the fact that many players are immature and type in Leetspeak).
- The G-Man - Throughout Concerned, Frohman has stumbled across the G-Man in a manner similar to which Gordon Freeman does in Half-Life 2; however, while the G-Man that Gordon Freeman knows is elusive and cryptic, Frohman has been able to converse or interact with him a few times; shattering his attempts at elusivity and "G-Peeps." The G-Man in Half-Life is known to disappear if followed, but The G-Man Frohman knows will appear to be gone when followed, but is really just hiding behind a box or up a lamppost. The G-Man has appeared at least once (obviously or otherwise) in every past chapter of the comic, except the prologue and epilogue strips. In Concerned-ish, a set of guest strips released during one of Livingston's hiatus, it is indicated that there are numerous G-Men (who talk and act like normal humans - albeit with superhuman strength - and perceive the G-Man accompanying Freeman and Frohman as abnormal).
- "Frohman"-"Freeman" confusion - Gordon Frohman's name is an obvious play on words of Gordon Freeman, the main character of the Half-Life series. It's also the subject of confusion by several minor characters, who mistake him for Freeman, and vice-versa. A later strip goes further to depict Frohman being mistaken by Combine soldiers to be Freeman, by simply donning the same glasses the latter wears. At one point, Frohman even mistakes his own brother's name, Norman Frohman, for Norman Freeman. Despite these similarities, Freeman and Frohman have very distinct personalities (in that Frohman has one) and visual appearances (Freeman is always depicted from a rear angle and wearing his distinctive orange HEV suit).
- Levitating objects - As an observation that when objects are picked up with the "use" key in Half-Life 2, they are held in front of the player without any visible means of support. Frohman is depicted with this odd ability while holding certain objects, and is apparently aware of this. and later they are seen as a replacement for all medicine and doctors in general (commented by an injured rebel: "You're not a doctor. You're jus a putz who hands out medkits") and are activated by touch. A medkit has even been revealed to help Frohman recover from fully developed mutations of a headcrab infestation.
- Photogenic - A running gag that started in the very first comic, the photogenic gag shows that Frohman is completely incapable of looking good in a photograph, to the point where he looks downright absurd. He has stated that he believes himself to actually be photogenic, but photos drastically prove otherwise.
- Flying shovel - In some instances, for one reason or another, Frohman is catapulted into the air, usually by means of potent explosives. However, he never carries his shovel on the way down. Because of this, it usually comes crashing down on Frohman or someone near-by.
Author's notesLivingston usually includes a set of notes at the bottom of each comic, which he started doing with the first comic. His notes range in length from one or two sentences to two to three paragraphs. When Livingston first started the notes, the idea was to use the notes to explain to his readers how he made the comics. This came from Livingston's love of director commentaries on DVDs that he watched. However, the notes' purpose had slowly changed, with the notes of the more recent comics pertaining to anything from commentary on new games to the ins and outs of Livingston's daily life.
Appearances on mediaConcerned has been the subject of articles or sidebars in the following publications:
- Computer Gaming World - January 2006 issue, page 52, in "Public Access" section. Article titled "Funny Freeman", which includes two Concerned comics made exclusively for the magazine. Comics #1-60 included on issue's coverdisc.
- PC Zone - January 2006 issue, sidebar, titled "A Little Concerned".
- PC Gamer UK - March 2006 issue, page 109, "Extra-Life" section, with an article titled "Concerned". Also, comics #1-100 were included on the issue's coverdisc.
- PC Gamer US - May 2006 issue, page 58, article from PC Gamer UK March 2006 reprinted.
- Half-Life 2: Episode One - An Easter egg sees two rebels converse with several humorous lines, including a possible reference to Concerned:"I don't miss Dr. Breen, but I do miss his show. Remember when they had the jugglers on?"However, the comic's author disagreed:"while I know certain people at Valve are aware of my comic, I just can't imagine them going out of their way to reference it in the game. (Plus, I've never had jugglers in the comic.)"
concerned in French: Concerned
concerned in Korean: 고든 프로맨
concerned in Polish: Concerned
concerned in Portuguese: Concerned
concerned in Swedish: Concerned: The Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman
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