A night out led to a pleasant surprise

Cristian Vasquez

A night out led to a pleasant surprise


The Editor

So this weekend I did something I haven’t done in a very long time. I stayed out until 3 a.m. Yes. It might be hard to believe that my social schedule entails being home by midnight…1 a.m. if I’m pushing the limits. The main reason for the shortened weekend outings that end in me rushing home to read, write or catch up on television is that there is less and less of an appeal to staying out late. I don’t mind being awake but being out and about that late is not as fun anymore. Especially when I have to be awake the next day to do work.

However, this Saturday was a bit different. I joined my friends Jesse and Anna for a musical performance of the 1990s’ movie “Scream.” Yes, a group of actors and creative writers put together a comedy-version of the slasher film in musical format. After the musical we made our way to a brewery in Downtown L.A. only to hop over an hour later to “82,” a modern version of the classic arcade-game locations that as a kid I would visit with friends whenever we had $5 and a chance to sneak out of the house. The retro video games and pinball machines were a flashback to my childhood. Except that instead of sodas and chips, they sold beer and mixed drinks.

As we stood there playing the “Walking Dead” pinball machine, I noticed how much fun my friend Jesse was having; and it wasn’t because of the extra drinks that he had consumed. My friend Jesse is a gamer. He works in the video game industry as a game tester and has been developing his own video game for a while now.

So video games, animation and comic books are his passion. In essence I was watching Jesse in his element, if you will. He was the “kid in candy store” having the time of his life and I was excited to be a part of that moment.

Jesse, Anna and I met at El Camino College so we have been friends for 10 years now. When we all met, we didn’t know what we were really going to do the following day, let alone 10 years later.

As we became closer friends, I learned that Jesse’s dad was an artist that worked on animation for cartoons like “The Animaniacs” and several comic books. Growing up in that environment made easy for Jesse to follow in his dad’s footsteps. So when Jesse and I became friends in the El Camino Union Newsroom, he was working on a comic strip he titled “Koo- Koo and Luke.”

His comic strip follows the lives a bird, Koo-Koo, and worm, Luke, that are best friends and what type of shenanigans they encounter. I fell in love with the idea and became a fan from day one. Eventually, the comic strip would end up in the student-operated newspaper and grow from an idea in my friend’s notebook, to a comic strip with its own website. Not too long ago Jesse hosted a book signing for Koo-Koo and Luke: Get Outta My Head!” Yes, my friend’s fun, college idea has been turned into a published book.

So Saturday, as we battled to become the masters of the “Walking Dead” pinball machine I understood why Jesse’s Koo-Koo and Luke idea went from a thought scribbled in a notebook to a published work of art. He is passionate about his art; Jesse loves video games and comic books. The creative process in his mind doesn’t stop.

Watching Jesse have fun in this arcade room surrounded mostly by younger, trendier people who for the most part ignored the video games and focused on their drinks, made me happy to be out past my bedtime.

The drive to North Hollywood to drop him off, along with my commute back to Torrance, was brutal but catching a glimpse of a friend having unfiltered fun was priceless. I’m not really good at video games and I just began reading comic books (thanks Mike Wellman at the Comic Bug) but I understand why this demographic is so passionate about their art. That is something I would have never discovered had I rushed home to be asleep by midnight.