A long time ago — say, 1999 — in a galaxy not so far away, the history of interlocking bricks was altered forever when, for the first time, LEGO licensed an intellectual property. X-Wings, TIE Fighter, and AT-ATs had been designed and assembled by hobbyists for years, but now you could put together a design that was blessed by both LEGO Corporation and Lucasfilm! Complete with actual minifigs! The agreement managed to coincide with the rise of several nerdier properties, and the once unthinkable was now possible. What a glorious future we live in to have both a LEGO Gandalf and a LEGO Rocket Raccoon?
But this world isn’t always met with open arms. As Professor Cane on Community once lamented, “What happened with LEGOs? They used to be simple.” Some fear that the focus on licensed merchandise — and the specialty parts that it takes to make, say, the Batwing — places limits on a child’s creativity. The diversity of available parts seem to be a godsend for Internet content creators, however. How It Should Have Ended’s parody of The LEGO Movie looks like it could have come straight off the screen. Meanwhile, some enterprising souls put together a LEGO version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens just one day after the official trailer debuted.
LEGO is also popular in webcomics. While not as prevalent as the sprite comic, LEGO does provide those who aren’t quite as gifted in illustration with an outlet for their creativity; it’s a completely different skill set from pen and ink. Using a camera and a pile of pre-made bricks requires a sense of composition, lighting, etc. (some can be impressive, such as I tutorial I once ran across on how to make objects appear as if they’re suspended in mid-air).
One of the longest-running LEGO-based webcomics is Irregular Webcomic by David Morgan-Mar The comic has been on something of a hiatus as of late, with Morgan-Mar only updating with blog posts and travel pictures in between reruns. That’s to be expected, considering he’s created more than 3,000 comic strips since 2002. (Not to mention that this isn’t even his day job. How do you squeeze in making webcomics about LEGO figures when you’re a physicist at the University of Sydney?) Morgan-Mar took full advantage of the sets, using Indiana Jones for his own cast of adventurers or collecting every tuxedoed minifig torso available to put together a James Bond pastiche. And, of course, Star Wars (whose robes can be reused for Imperial Rome). Setting Morgan-Mar apart was his incredibly, um, irregular sense of humor, which walked the line being plain silly and elaborating on some dry college textbook material. Kids: This is why you don’t let your professors write webcomics.
Irregular Webcomic is hardly the only name in the LEGO game. Legostar Galactica has been running even longer than Morgan-Mar’s project, providing a sci-fi story cobbled together from various space-themed sets. Of more recent vintage is Bricks of the Dead, a LEGO series based on the zombie subgenre. The behind-the-scenes look does make me wonder at the time spent on such an endeavor. Then again, what are you going to do with those LEGO sets? Let them rot unseen in your basement, or tell stories for others to enjoy?