Probably most of you don't remember Dick Tracey, the Chester Gould comic strip that started in 1931 and grew to huge popularity in the '40s and '50s, expanding to live action TV shows and cartoons in the '60s. You might remember Fearless Fosdick
, who was Al Capp's brilliant take-off of Gould's Tracey, in the perennially popular comic strip, Li'l Abner. Fosdick was Abner's hero, and Li'l Abner often tried to pattern himself after his hero, with often hilariously tragic results. Fosdick was given to saying, as he was running from a thug who was pumping him full of holes, things like, "Chuckle! One more bullet, and then I'll turn around, kill him, and read him his rights."
Why am I bringing up comic strip characters? Well, because Fozzik's name has always made me want to say Fosdick. And there are other similarities. *nod* Fozzik is fearless…he often goes where I fear to tread, and he is always in pursuit of liberty, justice, and the Vanguardian way of life. I guess the similarities pretty much stop there, although it's a fascinating subject to ponder
In real life, Fozzik, after graduating high school in 1994, spent time in college as a physics major. He dropped out in 1997 to join the Air Force, where he served four years as a crew chief (aircraft mechanic) on the C141 (large cargo plane). Computers had always been a big hobby of his, ever since his dad had bought the family a Commodore 64 in the early '80s, and, when he left the Air Force, he decided to see if he could turn his hobby into a profession. He was successful, securing a job as an IT specialist, which he worked at for three years, finally turning to electronics. At 28, Fozz, happily married, with a 7-year-old daughter, currently works as an elecronics technician who programs automated assembly equipment to build printed circuit boards for all kinds of electronic devices.
Fozzik has been a part of the Vanguard community for about a year now. He came upon Vanguard sort of by accident and discovered that Sigil's, or more specifically Brad McQuaid's, vision for what an MMORPG should be like very closely matched his own.
"Sigil seemed to understand what was important better than anyone else...and they addressed almost everything in ways I agreed with," Fozz said. "I was very involved in several guilds in Everquest, doing everything from designing websites to creating signature banners, drawing maps, writing content, etc. Up until recently, I had been keeping a bit of distance from Vanguard (although I followed the forums religiously), because the game is a bit far from release and I figured I would go insane with the waiting if I became too involved early on."
The IGE buyout of a number of affiliated Vanguard fansites really pushed Fozz's buttons. In a turnaround, he wanted to become involved and was just about to email SV asking if he could join in the effort, when he got an email from Raya inviting him to join. That little bit of psychic experience really made his day, and he quickly wrote back with his acceptance.
Fozz's claim to fame in the Vanguard community is his winning the Fanfic Contest sponsored by Sigil. I asked him how that all came about.
"I was really excited when I read that Sigil would be hosting a Fan Fiction contest. I love creative writing, and have written many short stories," he said. "I even wrote a science fiction novel about 7 years ago, which I've never had the guts to submit to anyone."
He brushed away my suggestion that he go ahead and submit it and went on with his story.
"I thought the contest would be a great chance to see how good a story I could write, and I loved the challenge of only having 1500 words to work with," he said. "I very much wanted to write a complete story, which made the word limit even more of a challenge. I spent several days with no idea what to write about or even where to begin, and then I asked my seven-year-old daughter what she thought I should write about."
Apparently the whole idea behind THE COIN came from Fozz's daughter. "You should write about money," she told him.
Fozz asked her, "Money? What's interesting about that?"
She said (and Fozz assured me this was an exact quote), "People spend money, and then different people have it. Money changes hands...that's interesting."
"Her statement really set me to thinking, and in about 10 minutes I had the story in my head," Fozz said. "The idea of following an inanimate protagonist through an epic story...and showing an almost rags-to-riches saga in the process...it really appealed to me. There was so much I could do with it, and with little or no dialogue required, along with being able to tightly control the amount of detail, I had my 1500 word complete story."
And it won! (Go here
to read Fozz's prize-winning story, THE COIN.)
"I discovered that I had won while I was at work," Fozz said. "My coworkers already thought I was insane...so the leaping around and doing touchdown dances didn't really bother them."
The first-place prize, of course, was a guaranteed beta spot in the first public beta of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.
Fozzik is very excited about this aspect. "I'm looking forward to being very vocal and doing everything I can to make Vanguard the perfect game. Sigil has no idea what they got themselves into on that one," he said with a wink.
However, Fozz finds the second part of the prize even more exciting. "My story will be featured within the game world [of Vanguard]," he said. "It is absolutely an impossible thing to imagine...something I wrote being a part of a game that potentially millions of people will enjoy. If even a fraction of those read my story, and a fraction of those enjoy it... it's a humbling prospect."
I asked Fozz what were some of the highlights in his life…and winning the Fanfic contest was one of them. He explained some of the other highlights of his life rather eloquently.
"I lived in Berlin, Germany, for five years, and I actually met Ronald Reagan just after his speech at the Brandenburg Gate", he said. "That was absolutely a historic moment (not the meeting me part, but the speech), and I'll never forget being there."
Another highlight…"My daughter being born...she was premature and my wife was in labor for almost three days. The respect I felt for her, and seeing my daughter for the first time.... I was floored. Nothing really compares to that moment."
Another highlight… "In Basic Training for the Air Force, there's a day when you first get your uniforms...and get the patches sewed on to them," Fozz explained. "I remember looking in the mirror the first time, seeing my last name on one side of my chest and US Air Force on the other side...I was really proud. My father and his father served in the military, and although it was never something my dad pushed me to do, I really felt a sense of tradition and connection. It was just... right."
Another highlight…Fozzik explained that he and his wife had married very young and continuing education was a bit of a struggle. "During my time in the Air Force, my wife was able to attend college and graduate with honors and a degree in graphic art / design," he went on. "The day of her graduation was really amazing. She did the work, but I was overjoyed to be a part of proving that we could meet those challenges. It was really something that was important to her, and I was just so proud of her."
Fozzik has something of a dual role at Silky Venom. He is a staff writer – he is also the knowledgeable head and columnist for the Special Feature entitled Fozzik's Hardware. I asked him if he could fill us in on what Fozzik's Hardware was all about.
"I'm hoping to provide a place for people who are interested in computer hardware to find the most possible information condensed and in an easy to follow form," Fozzik said. "I'm a plain-english kind of writer usually, and I'm going to do my best to make it accessible to the widest audience."
He warmed to his topic with enthusiasm. "There are tons of gamers who are very interested in getting best performance in games for the money they have to spend, but just haven't ever been able to put together all the information needed to make the best buying decisions," he said. "I'd like to provide that to them, sort of a technical, factual website for everyone."
I asked him what specific kinds of articles he will be providing, wondering rather forlornly if they would be comprehensible to non-techies like me.
Fozz grinned and nodded. "I'll be doing articles on the state of the industry, like writeups on new and upcoming technologies. But I'll also be doing my best to write easy-to-follow how-to articles on building or upgrading a PC, and optimizing it for gaming. Along with those things, I'll provide a rant or two when I feel a need and also put down in print some of the truisms I've discovered about hardware that might be helpful."
As for specifics, he commented, "I'm planning a complete how-to guide on building a PC from individual components, and hopefully some interviews and specifics on hardware for Vanguard as the release date approaches."
Fozzik is also enthusiastic about Silky Venom as a whole. "I hope everyone enjoys what we're building here at Silky Venom," he said, "and I would invite anyone with a question, comment, or suggestion about computer hardware to post. No question is stupid except the one not asked, and I'll be learning right along with everyone else."
A talented and eloquent man, Fozz is going to bring the idea of the technology to us in understandable terms. Like Fearless Fozdick, he is a bit of an idealist, who would be very happy if he made the dreams come true.