Webcomic: Concerned

No, Frohman.

Concerned: The Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman is a Machinomic by Christopher C. Livingston based on Half-Life 2. An Affectionate Parody, it blurs the line between machinima and webcomics: all images are in-game screenshots taken from Garry's Mod, which allows the user to pose ragdolls and play around with the scripted events of the game, that have had speech bubbles and whatnot added. The name of the strip comes from a letter from "A Concerned Citizen" read in the game by the administrator of Earth, Dr. Breen, which the comic provides an explanation of.

The story follows the misadventures of Gordon Frohman, happy-go-lucky if none-too-bright resident of City 17 and former file clerk at Black Mesa, as he precedes/follows in Gordon Freeman's footsteps and attempts to ingratiate himself to the Combine overlords, catch Dr. Breen's latest show, cleanse the city of evil Vortigaunts, find an apartment, survive the horrifyingly friendly residents of Ravenholm, get his trans-human surgical upgrade, and stop that crowbar-wielding jerk from ruining everything. As the comic's name suggests, Frohman dies at the end.

If you're at all familiar with Half-Life 2, or even if you're not, you may want to check it out. Expect some spoilers, though.

Despite the fact that Frohman did actually die at the end, an unofficial sequel titled ''Concerned 2: A Concerned Rip-Off-The Continuing Adventures of Gordon Frohman'' by Norman N. Black demonstrates that our loveable dumbass survived due to Frohman reloading a save point from before he died.


Concerned contains examples of:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Frohman manages to take out three metrocops early on with three shots from a pistol, blind-firing from behind cover. He also manages to accidentally kill all three of the rebels in his squad at one point with a single launch of the pulse rifle's secondary fire.
  • Action Girl: Sandy, Frohman's unfortunate temporary traveling companion, who wisely decides to abandon the sole being who might get them both killed in bouts of stupidity.
  • Affably Evil: Subverted. A Elite Combine soldier sits behind a desk while he interviews Frohman for a job, with questions like, what is your worst quality and Where do you see yourself in 5 years?. However, he's looking for answers like That I am a disgusting, pathetic human, barely evolved from ape level, and In an off world combine enslavement colony, or dead.
  • Ambiguously Jewish. Gordon Frohman calls himself a "more synagogue kind of guy" when the fisherman from Lost Coast tells him about the church atop the cliffs, but otherwise shows no real signs or makes any mention of being Jewish; for all we know, it might simply just be an aversion to churches after the trouble he went through trying to meet Grigori at the one in Ravenholm.
  • Amusing Injuries: Happens a lot, although it's still usually fatal to people besides Frohman.
  • Animal Athlete Loophole: In a flashback to the first Half-Life, for Frohman's pet Gargantua:
    Frohman: There's no rule against having a Garg play soccer! This is gonna be the best season ever!
  • Anti-Villain: Frohman is type 3, although no one really notices because he's so terrible at helping the combine. Anyone he does manage to kill is usually an accident... and usually a member of the Combine.
  • Anyone Can Die: Well, almost everyone.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Frohman quit his job at Black Mesa because ravenous creatures from the Xen borderworld invaded, killing nearly everyone in the complex. Soon the military arrived and they killed everyone else. Then the facility got nuked. "Plus, they were dicks about paying overtime."
  • Art Shift: When Frohman has a flashback of the good ol' days back at Black Mesa, everyone and everything - except for Frohman himself - is using a model from the first Half-Life.
  • Author Appeal: The reason the strip exists is precisely because the creator loves a great deal of the things Half-Life 2 does. Read his notes for more in-depth information.
  • Bad Liar: Frohman, in spades.
  • Battle Couple: Frohman thinks of Sandy as his girlfriend. Sandy thinks of Frohman as a liability.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Nearly everything that Gordon Freeman has to deal with in Half-Life 2 was directly or indirectly caused by Gordon Frohman.
  • Berserk Button/Tranquil Fury: "He's... got... my... gravity... gun."
  • Bilingual Bonus: Froh means happy in German.
  • Black Comedy
  • Black Comedy Rape: Frohman reminisces about a creepy old guy giving him the "Buddha" code, then having Gordon take off his pants.
    Gordon: Huh! Also forgot that guy totally molested me! Boy, was that awful!
    • According to the comic note:
      I had no intentions of including a joke about Frohman being molested in this comic until after I'd posed it and was putting it together in Photoshop, when it suddenly seemed a little creepy that some dude on a train was offering the glassy-eyed bumpkin a cheat code. If I'd planned it from the start I'd probably have use the old wrinkly guy model, 'cos he looks kinda weird (apologies to the actual human being the old wrinkly guy is based on).
  • Black Shirt: Frohman is staunchly pro-Combine and an avid fan of Dr. Breen, but is fortunately such a screw-up that he ends up helping the good guys by accident. How big of a screw-up? He's so terrible at being pro-Combine that he's one of the Resistance's best assets.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Used frequently by Frohman. See Suspiciously Specific Denial, below.
    • Also in "The Combine Advisor" newspaper:
      NOVA PROSPEKT - Everything is fine here in Nova Prospekt, according to everyone here in Nova Prospekt, sources inside Nova Prospekt said today. There is absolutely nothing about the situation in Nova Prospekt that is anything but totally fine. "There have been no unusual events or circumstances inside the former prison, now a theme park for humans, with rides and candy and cute puppy dogs and soft pillows," said Doctor Breen, the very handsome, smart, and kind administrator of City 17 and Nova Prospekt. "Really!"
      • Of note is that the obituaries run from pages 14 to 38.
  • Bond One-Liner: You got Frohwned!!!
  • Boss Room: Confused for "a perfect place to rest" by our hero.
  • Brick Joke: In the very first comic, two members of Civil Protection comment that the train is running late. In the very last comic, the rebels comment that the train to Episode Two is running late, with one of the group commenting "again?"
    • The T.G.I. Friday's is turned into one with the unofficial sequel.
  • Call Back: A lot, but especially here.
    • Don't forget how at the beginning when Frohman leaves the train station, he cannot find any TGI Fridays. Then, in the sequel, he passes by a TGI Friday as he's evacuating the city. Too bad it would explode even if Frohman got to stop in.
  • Call Forward: In Half-Life 2, Barney implies that when they first tested the teleporter with a cat it...didn't go well. In Concerned, Kleiner tell Barney to get the cat for the test, insisting it will be fine.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Wallace Breen fulfills this role basically.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Described here. Or lampshaded. Or both.
  • Cigar Fuse Lighting: When Frohman meets his squadmates at the start of the revolt (who all introduce themselves by their character archetypes), one of them claims to be a demolitions expert who'll do exactly this.
  • Continuity Nod: Several jokes in Concerned 2.
  • Companion Cube: Gordon's *ahem* forward relationship with the gravity gun, coming to a head *ahem again* in strip #77.
  • Cool Ship: G-Man's magical hovercraft.
  • Crapsack World: It wasn't great to begin with, and then Frohman helped make things worse...especially Ravenholm.
    • Heck, before our hero got there, Ravenholm was nicer than most of the real world.
  • Demoted to Extra: While Frohman quickly falls in love with Judith Mossman and a random female rebel, he casually pushes past Alyx Vance, who almost never appears for the rest of the series. Of course, when she does next appear, she gets caught by the Combine and it's Frohman's fault.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Medical Doctor of Medicine".
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Frohman is not the least bit intimidated while making sure he got the Combine Advisor's orders right.
  • Downer Ending: Read the title.
    • Given Frohman and Dr. Breen both pretty well deserved to die, the ending could be seen as a subversion.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Frohman disguises himself as both the combine and the rebels. It doesn't work either time.
  • Dumb Is Good: ...Sorta.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Used here, here, and here. Made all the more jarring considering Frohman's utter stupidity.
  • Eleventh Hour Super Power: The truth behind the blue gravity gun revealed!
  • Everything Fades: Lampshaded with the medkit, which apparently has a disclaimer claiming it is "eco-friendly and will completely and instantly biodegrade upon use".
  • Evil Laugh
    Roommate wanted for 2 bedroom, 2 bath home. Hardwood floors, tool shed. Close to church, schools, and public teleportation. Cats, robotic dogs okay. $325 a month. Ravenholm area. Contact F. Grigori.
    Note: Non-smoker preferred. Must enjoy sermons and shotguns.
    PS: Heh heh! Hah hah! HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!
    • Also:
      Welcome. Welcome to City 17... also known as... HELL! HELL! YOU'RE ALL GONNA DIE! YOU'RE ALL DEAD!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA!
  • Evil Twin: Subverted with Norman Frohman, a former special ops agents working for the Resistance and who is actually effective in combat—the total opposite of his twin.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin/What Did You Expect When I Named It?: There was a big outcry by fans when Gordon was Killed Off for Real. Christopher C. Livingston pointed out the name of the comic was Concerned: The Half-Life and Death Of Gordon Frohman.
  • Exploding Barrels: And Frohman, being Frohman...
  • The Faceless: The shots are always taken so that Gordon Freeman's face is never seen.
    • To the point where his picture on the character page is a broken jpeg.
  • Fauxtivational Poster: Frohman made a few in an attempt to liven up the Combine Citadel. Incidentally, if you save the comic JPG and crop them right, you can make some kickass custom sprays.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: "There's nothing worse than having to pose the same scene twice. Well, maybe genocide. But posing the same scene twice is pretty lame, too."
  • Flashback: Nicely lampshaded. See the page quote on its page.
  • Fourth Wall Observer: Early on in the comic, Frohman occasionally makes it clear that he's aware he's in a video game.
    Civil Protection Officer: Pick up that can.
    Frohman: How the heck do I do that?
    [Hot-tip appears: "E Pickup object"]
    Frohman: Oh. Whoah! I can pick up things in this game! I mean world. It's a little odd that I don't actually have to use my hands, though.
    Civil Protection Officer: I was just thinking that myself.
  • Funny Background Event: #120 will leave you in tears.
  • Genius Ditz: When Frohman suddenly comes across something that does not make sense in terms of game logic, he suddenly launches into a long-winded explanation of what is wrong and how it could be fixed, and goes back to picking his nose in the next comic. Author Filibusters have never been so subtle.
    • He also once built a fully-operational Strider (though he never turned it on) because he didn't have enough dystopian oppression in his life in Ravenholm. Which doesn't even make sense since Striders are modified alien creatures, and probably don't exist in their natural form on earth.
  • Genre Savvy: The Rebels in strip 160, before Frohman accidentally vaporizes them with the pulse rifle's secondary fire.
  • Heal Thyself: Medkits are capable of not only healing everything and anything, but also instantly removing any blood stains from clothing. They are also Eco-Friendly and will completely and instantly biodegrade upon use. This doesn't stop Frohman from trying (and failing) to use surgery instead, only giving out medkits when he gets impatient because his favorite show is about to start.
  • Hellish Copter: Some time in Bike Lane 17, Frohman attempts to discreetly dispose of his Combine disguise by tossing it off a cliff. The body gets caught in the rotors of a passing Combine Gunship, which then proceeds to cause a hilarious case of Disaster Dominoes.
  • Here We Go Again: The series' bookends are snide comments on Valve's missed release dates.
  • Hope Spot: In the final comic, two medics revive one of the rebels - but it's not Frohman, who's lying dead on top of Dr. Breen.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Frohman has a kill-on-sight response to the friendly Vortigaunts and wants to join the Combine.
  • I Call It "Vera": Gordon becomes quite... attached to the Gravity Gun.
    Frohman: There is no Gordon, Judith...There is only...The Claw.
  • Imagine Spot: Frohman imagines himself killing hundreds of the combine, him abandoning Sandy, and later him carrying Judith Mossman. In reality, she's carrying him.
    Judith: He just staggered in, crying and bleeding, and fainted.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Norman.
  • Improvised Weapon: As Freeman had his crowbar, Frohman wields a shovel.
  • Informal Eulogy: "I'll never forget the day I met him. It was today. About a minute ago, when my head collided with his neck, breaking it. His neck, I mean. Not my head. My head is fine, not that anyone asked. Anyway. He seemed like a great guy with a lot of strong traits. Except for his neck, which was as brittle as glass. Amen."
  • Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Lampshaded, of course.
  • Is This Thing On?: See Evil Laugh above.
  • Jerk Ass: Gordon Freeman looks like this, mercilessly killing an innocent Combine soldier, and even taking the ammo from his not quite dead fellow rebels.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Damn near everything.
  • Lethally Stupid: There's a reason he currently provides that page's image.
  • Locked Door: Lampshaded.
    Frohman: He's using my Gravity Gun to punt a car out of our way. But a wooden door, well. Let's just run 8 miles through soldier infested, mine-littered streets to avoid it.
  • Magically Regenerating Clothing: Lampshaded.
  • The Millstone: Frohman tries to help the Combine at every turn, but fails at all of said turns - and more besides.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: Frohman is fascinated by the Combine Elite outfit that somehow renders everything in 2D. He then exclaims things are 3D again when he stares at Judith Mossman's breasts, causing Judith to state the trope.
  • Mythology Gag: Frohman, at the beginning of Sandtraps, states that "jumping puzzles are for effeminate Italian plumbers". This is a reference to the author's original site, Not My Desk, where he once did an article suggesting that Mario was gay.
  • Name's the Same: invoked Not quite the same, but almost every time Frohman's last name is brought up, at least one person thinks he's claiming to be Freeman.
    • Conversely, once Freeman actually does show up, the first time anyone mentions this causes someone else to think they're talking about Frohman.
  • New Ability Addiction: When Frohman gets hold of the Gravity Gun, he starts using it for everything (parodying the way a lot of players became obsessed with it). Eventually, everyone at Black Mesa East gets sick of this and takes it away. This becomes a Brick Joke when it turns out that he was the one who caused it to become the dark gravity gun near the end of the game (because he tried to stop a confiscation field from deleting it).
    "There is no Frohman, there is only...THE CLAW!"
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Where to begin...?
    • Ravenholm. It used to be a peaceful sunny community, with only one whackjob priest who is ignored as a loon. Then Frohman comes by...
    • Frohman gets rebels killed by ignoring the radio cry for help, and then proceeds to broadcast their hideout to all rebels. Not only are the combine listening in, they approve of some ideas for weapons that Frohman mentions.
    Dr Breen: Headcrab Rockets? Now there's an idea.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Subverted.
    "Working with live seagull spawns is no picnic, either, as they're very fragile. Brush them with the physics gun beam or an object and they squawk and die immediately. Many, many seagulls were killed in the making of this comic."
  • No Bikes In The Apocalypse: Averted. Frohman uses a bike more than any other vehicle. Even when he's disguised as a soldier.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Referred to by name.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: It's evidently the ruptured organs and internal bleeding.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: Well, he tried.
  • One Comic Chapter: No Prospekts, a parody of the chapter Nova Prospekt is one comic; Frohman goes to Nova Prospekt to get combine surgery. He is denied access because he does not have an appointment. He leaves.
  • Orphaned Punchline: "So anyway, I said to Tony, 'Strider? I hardly KNOW 'er!'"
  • Ow, My Body Part!: Ow! My health points!
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: A Combine soldier sees a fellow soldier on a bike talking about rebels as very suspicious. Somehow this doesn't blow Frohman's cover.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Gordon's brother Norman is an expert.
    Gordon: (thinking) Same old Norman, still thinks he's some bitter, world-weary action hero, spitting out sardonic, overly dramatic responses, and acting like a camera is doing close-ups on him. Hm... bet I can trip him up. (aloud) Golly! I've got terrible hemorrhoids! All up my butt! What say you?
    Norman: You think it's painful sitting down? Try taking a stand.
    Gordon: (thinking) Damn he's good!
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Frohman nearly succeeds in assassinating Gordon Freeman and saving Dr. Breen, but takes so long coming up with one of these that the battle is over by the time he's ready.
  • Product Placement: Parodied in the notes for this comic.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Most of the Combine. As is Gordon while he's working for them.
  • Quip to Black: Gordon's brother Norman is fond of doing these.
  • Redemption Equals Death: The rebel Clay introduces himself thusly:
    I'm shifty-eyed and untrustworthy. I'll probably ditch you guys when the combat gets too intense, which is in keeping with my selfish, cowardly nature. Of course, I'll redeem myself later, after being wounded, and telling you to go on and leave you behind. Then I'll detonate a grenade, killing myself but taking out some Combine soldiers too, allowing you to escape safely.
    • Being a squadmate of Frohman's, naturally he doesn't make it long enough to do either of those things.
  • Running Gag: Whenever Frohman orders in bulk, he ends up ordering far more of the item in question than needed, usually 100,000. He blames the keys being stuck.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Tired of being shot at by both sides, Frohman attempts to adopt neutrality by dressing as a medic. It doesn't work.
  • Shout-Out: To Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
    Townsperson: You're not Gordon Freeman.
    Frohman: No.
    Townsperson: You're... Gordon Frohman.
    Frohman: Yes.
    Townsperson: The Sausage King of Chic—
    Frohman: No.
    G-Man: Look out! An Archvile!
    Frohman: Archvile? Where? Where? Wait, an Archvile? They aren't even in this-- hey, where'd you go?
    • Gordon Frohman's grandfather, who fought in World War II, was apparently called Morgan Frohman.
    • Also, a Metal Gear Solid reference in #100 and a Zelda one referencing the cuccoo catching sidequest in Ocarina of Time in #82.
  • Shovel Strike: Frohman's trusty shovel.
  • Shur Fine Guns: Mr. Henderson's pulse rifle.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Frohman's letter to Breen about the Combine's anti-reproduction field is filled with excessively casual language, idioms, and slang, up until he actually asks the question, which is exactly as it appears in-game: "Why has the Combine seen fit to suppress our reproductive cycle?"
  • Spanner in the Works: From the abundance of medpacks to aid the resistance, to the surplus supply of Exploding Barrels the Combine is forced to take cover behind, Frohman is his enemies' greatest ally.
  • Speak of the Devil: Subverted.
    Kleiner: What choice do we have? I hardly expect some dim-witted dolt will show up and volunteer to test our highly unstable teleporter!
    (beat)
    Kleiner: Hmmm. I was sort of expecting some dim-witted dolt to show up and volunteer to test our highly unstable teleporter.
  • Springtime for Hitler: When ordered by Barney to order a shitload of guns online for the Rebels to use in their uprising, Frohman attempts to fake said order and surreptitiously send a distress call to the Combine...only to accidentally place a real order for guns.
    Frohman: Why oh why can't I ever do anything wrong?
  • Sprint Meter: Lampshaded along with the Ten-Second Flashlight.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Sometimes Frohman gets the better of the G-Man, and sometimes he doesn't.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial
    Judith: What? What? I don't know Dr. Breen! Who told you I know him? I don't! I've never met him! I've never even heard of him! I don't sleep with a picture of him under my pillow!
    • Frohman does this. A lot.
      Frohman: No need to come here and look over my shoulder or anything! Even though it looks like I'm just slapping my hands randomly on the keyboard, I'm actually placing the order! For GUNS! You're not being duped or lied to like you might think! Ha ha! Hey, everyone, I think Barney here thinks I'm not actually placing the order for guns! Okie dokie, the real order is placed and isn't fake at all! If the guns never show up then I don't know who to blame except that it's not me because I ordered them and didn't fake-order them like you seem to think for some reason!
      Computer: Your real order for guns has been placed. Thank you for using Citadel purchasing. (Gilligan Cut)
      Barney: Wow! Sorry I doubted you, Gordon!
      Frohman: Why oh why can't I ever do anything wrong?
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Lampshaded.
    Rebel: And if you come across a huge cache of ammo, weapons, health packs, and armor chargers, what does that mean?
    Frohman: That I'm about to get my ass kicked?
    Rebel: Bingo.
  • Take That: Chris made more than one jab at Donnie Darko during the comic's run, both in-comic and in the notes.
  • Tempting Fate: When Frohman leads a CP to Kleiners hideout.
    Frohman: Now if you'll excuse me, I believe I hear a stun stick warming up...
    (CP removes helmet, revealing himself as Barney)
    Frohman: And for once, I won't be the one getting hit by it!
    • Narrowly averted by Dr. Breen rejoicing over Freeman's capture.
      Dr. Breen: Then it's over. Sheez, that was easy. Take the men off high alert.
      Henderson: Is that such a good idea, sir?
      Dr. Breen: Freeman is clearly an idiot, Henderson. How long do complete idiots usually survive? (Beat as both look at Frohman) ...Keep the men on high alert.
  • That Cloud Looks Like: Hmm, that thing in the canal looks like a guy in a little boat.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Frohman, who bypasses a puzzle by flinging him and his boat over an obstacle by shooting exploding barrels, nails boards to his feet to cross sandtraps without alerting antlions, and gets the "take pictures of you" and "chop you up with a whirling blade of death" flying drones mixed up at every turn. Also done with the first Counter-Strike server Frohman's accidentally launched into. And again, surviving zombification by having the headcrab starve to death on his head. He only stays alive due to a cheat code. He even literally fulfills this trope by being so dumb he turns off the code because he thinks "Buddha" is a funny word. And even that wouldn't be enough if he hadn't screwed his last chance by shooting at the Vortigaunts, who quickly give up on saving his life. Frohman dies soon after.
    Sandy: I feel like every time I around you're doing something stupid, like holding a live grenade while standing knee-deep in radioactive sludge and setting yourself on fire.
    Frohman: For the record, I'm only ankle deep.
    • Lampshaded here.
      Frohman: I don't have any idea about a lot of things.
  • Tranquil Fury. "[Freeman]'s got. My. Gravity. Gun."
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: In Concerned 2, Frohman threatens a barnacle with a lawsuit unless it lets go of his Breen Idol. Upon finding out that it's inedible, the Barnacle complies by dropping the bust...on Frohman's head.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist/Villain Protagonist: It's easy to forget because he's such a lovable goofball, but Gordon Frohman is actively trying to be the best traitor-to-humanity he can be. He's just terrible at it.
    • Though he's managed to cause just as much of a mess for the other side as well, also through sheer incompetence.
  • Vertical Kidnapping: Poor Sandy.
  • Voiceover Letter: Frohman "voice overs" his various letters to Dr Breen (if you consider writing outside of the letter to be a voice over). He doesn't seem to realise Breen's the bad guy.
  • Walking Disaster Area: Gordon, in spades. Everyone, everyone who comes in contact with him ends up ruined or killed. A rebel he's interested in, the entire town of Ravenholm, his brother...
  • Webcomic Of The Game: Though according to the comic, the events of Half-Life 2 are happening in Frohman's wake.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Unintentionally deconstructed with the "Frank Tangent" quartet of comics. Giving a faceless mook a life, family, goals and dreams, and a sympathetic point-of-view was intended for comedy, due to "the ludicrous concept of it all". It, uh, didn't really work out as expected.
  • Wreaking Havok: There's a reason Frohman loves the Gravity Gun so much.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: Lampshaded repeatedly, especially in Frohman's flashback.
  • You Have Failed Me: As much as Dr. Breen wants to, he doesn't actually have this power.
    Frohman: Well, my throat is sorta scratchy. But it could be all those SunChips I just ate.
  • Your Brain Won't Be Much of a Meal: After Gordon walks away with a headcrab on a head for the better part of a chapter, it eventually falls off, having died of malnutrition. Gordon provides a Lampshading in the background.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The idea of shelling beautiful, isolated Ravenholm with headcrab-filled artillery came from, you guess it...
  • Zombie Infectee: Frohman actually becomes one, but survives thanks to Buddha mode, so he just waits till the headcrab dies of Malnutrition and heals himself with health packs
    • He also suggests using a headcrab to revive a patient he killed.