So, yeah. This happened. It’s not that he’s a YouTube star or that it is very entertaining to watch his Let’s Play videos, vlogs, challenges, etc., that I’m getting my San Diego Comic-Con International badge signed by him. It’s that he is Mark Fischbach, who goes by the pseudonym Markiplier, who, despite being extremely exhausted from this year’s convention festivities and duties, powered through all of the autographs, pictures, and video recordings for his fans. Beyond the celebrity, beyond YouTube and subscriber numbers, he has a qualitative following for his genuine dedication to his work and fans. And in the brief two minutes I spent time with him, it reassured me as to why I consider myself one of his fans. Read on after the break for more details.
My friend Wa shared with me one of Mark’s videos in early 2015, titled “Random Horror Reaction Compilation #9: Five Nights at Freddy’s, Outlast, SCP, and MORE!!“, and I found myself unable to control my laughter through the entire video. I for one am not too into horror movies and have only play a handful of horror games in my casual gaming career (F.E.A.R., Resident Evil 2 and 3, Fatal Frame 1 and Maiden of the Black Water, P.T. to name the few), so it was nice to see someone else play even more of these types of games than I ever knew about. On top of that, his commentary was easy and entertaining to listen to. A couple of hours later, and I found myself subscribing to his YouTube channel and watching even more videos he’s made.
When I stumbled upon some of Mark’s vlogs where he touched on his feelings about his success, his past, the challenges he’s run into, loss of loved ones; it really struck a personal chord with me. You can check out his channel for details about his life, and I’m not sure how everyone else relates to him or if they even care about that aspect of Mark as an entertainer. But his struggles, his achievements, his setbacks, and his efforts to continuously rise above himself to improve himself profoundly resonated with me, especially with his struggles to deal with time. As a part-time freelance photographer and full-time information technology analyst, I deal with this struggle, this balancing act every single day. Some days are better than others. Some days, I just want to sell off all of my camera gear. Some days, I feel like I could hire a photo team, open galleries, and travel the world taking photos.
Perhaps lately, it’s because it’s convention season and this year’s Comic-Con marks my third weekend in a row that I’ve traveled back and forth between Los Angeles and San Diego, and it really started to wear me down and outwardly show. And it’s not just the convention itself that has worn me down; I’ve lost friends and loved ones and dealt with an incredible amount of emotional stress around this late-July timeframe, so every trip to San Diego for this show since 2013 has been either very bittersweet or very nostalgic (for better or worse).
And yet here Mark is, powering through exhaustion, lack of sleep, probably complaining about being behind on posting videos, and probably remembering his own past; but still gathering the strength to stand on top of his chair, get everyone’s attention, ensure that whoever made it in this capped line will definitely get an autograph, picture, and/or video of/with him, dab, and then proceed to sit back down and greet more of his fans. It was a sort of Eureka moment for me. I instantly had the urge to log into my WordPress account, post these photos, write about what had just happened, and just start blogging. I don’t even remember the last time I earnestly felt like writing again.
I knew the two minutes that were coming up where I could say anything to him were quickly approaching. I had to think of something concise yet full of meaning. I had to whip out my business card so that he can at least take home something to reference me and perhaps some of the hard work that I’ve created. I needed to remember to stay calm and be collected, just like all of the times I met several Japanese guests of honor and industry guests face to face during my four years as a professional photographer volunteer for Anime Expo (Danny Choo, the Fate/Zero and KILL la KILL production team and voice actors, Wagakki Band, to name some of the most memorable). I had to tell him that I recognize his hard work as a fan and dedication to all of us, his passion for gaming and sharing it with the world, and that I’ve found a connection with him through my own challenges as a budding photographer.
And thus, the big moment began to unfold. I said what I said as he wrote his name on my Comic-Con badge and drew Tiny Box Tim. He picked up my business card and proceeded to exaggeratedly critique and question my skills as a freelance photographer in glorious Markiplier form, to which he quickly returned to a more subdued speaking volume and noted under his breath that my work was actually pretty good.
Achievement unlocked! After meeting Mark, I lost all desire to purchase anything else in the dealer hall. I just wanted to magically transport back to my computer back in Los Angeles, start editing my photos, and write about this experience.
I can’t begin to imagine the variety and uniqueness of memories each fan got to take home with him or her that day, so I can only verify mine: it was amazing. Mark is so down to earth, so caring for everyone that admires and follows his work, and it was an absolute joy to finally meet him in person. It was enough to inspire me to pick up this virtual pen and draft this entry after taking yet another long blogging hiatus. It is inspiring me to want to burn the midnight oil to pump out more of my own creative work. It is validating the years I dedicated my life to photography and blogging, volunteering, and meeting clients to help capture their own precious memories on digital film.
Above all, meeting Mark has helped me to believe in myself even more than ever before. In similar ways, I have been pretty tired, stressed, and struggling to pump out content and share among clients and social media. But seeing someone else validate their own hard work and dedication the way that Mark did really turned things around for me. And all it took was a simple handshake and hello, a name on a piece of paper, and a quick exchange of words among creatives.
To all of my friends, colleagues, family, clients, and readers past and present, thank you for sticking around and supporting my efforts. All I really wanted to say was that I met another amazing person and have yet another experience to strengthen my drive to continue delivering my creative work to the world. And to Mark, thank you for being you, for being genuine, for working so hard, and for being an amazing role model for success. You rock. And it was nice meeting you.