This Mortal Coyle

Joy Johnson-Johjima from Monster Camp

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #134. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.

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Fictional companions and goth concerns.

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Remember when I played Monster Prom and couldn’t get the ruthless, snake-haired Vera Oberlin to be my date? Remember when she said “I’d shoot you, but I’m saving these guns for my wedding night”? That kind of ice cold rejection might keep some people from going back to the Monster Prom universe, but not this idiot. I was born to date monsters, baby.

In Monster Prom 2: Monster Camp, you get on a bus with a bunch of over-eighteen supernatural cuties to attend a three-week summer camp. Vera, apparently, does not attend summer camp. So what was I, a blue-skinned, bolt-necked Franken-girl (“I think you mean Frankenstein’s monster-girl”) supposed to do, not have a romance for the three weeks of summer camp? No, I was supposed to seduce Joy Johnson-Johjima, a twenty-three-year-old world-saving goth witch who stars in a TV show called The Coven.

Despite my long-term affection for Vera, I have a lot more in common with Joy. Vera wears designer blazers; Joy wears fishnets. Vera is a cutthroat capitalist; Joy is a Stevie Nicks-obsessed witch who loves to read.

I can’t imagine voluntarily attending summer camp, but if I did, I would definitely want to be left alone with a novel. In one fireside chat, Joy said, “I’m not busy at all with this book I’ve been trying to finish since I got here and am only on page fifteen because people keep interrupting—” Of course, she had to save the world and find romance (preferably with me), so interruptions were inevitable. I guess a game about watching another character read books would be pretty boring… or would it? What if the character read aloud from The Tome of Bakunin, “the most powerful collection of anti-capitalist magicks ever assembled”? If you wind up on that adventure with Joy, here’s a helpful spoiler: summon the invisible hand of the market. Joy will love you for it.

Thanks a lot, Deirdre. You were super chill about my clingy, centipede-person ex. You’re pretty great, huh?

At one point, I also borrowed (or stole?) a book from Joy called How to Be a Slightly Better Friend Despite Your Suffocating Horniness by Dr. Hugh G. Boner, MD. Joy reads books by doctors. Literature abounds in her questlines.

Now, let’s get back to Joy’s Stevie Nicks obsession. In another thread, I found myself helping Joy liberate a Fleetwood Mac t-shirt from one of her evil exes. “It was vintage from the ‘78 tour. Stevie Nicks blessed it herself!” Joy got a bee in her bonnet about this shirt and called the toxic ex who had it in his lair. As I patiently waited for Joy to pay attention to me, a “magical evil centipede person” named Axarax appeared through a portal and tried to get Joy back right in front of me. Fortunately, Joy didn’t want to engage with him, and I had to help her. So I created a black market specifically for buying and selling Joy’s things (an extremely normal way to get a date). This black market ploy succeeded, and I was rewarded with Joy’s affection: “I can feel Stevie’s powerful witch blessing radiating over me. Thanks a lot, Deirdre. You were super chill about my clingy, centipede-person ex. You’re pretty great, huh?”

I don’t think Vera would ever have said that to me.

Not that Joy can’t be cruel when you fail her quests. In one playthrough, I asked her to attend the romantic meteor shower with me, and she said, “Is it ‘cause you heard I usually end up dating the villains I fight, so you assumed I have very low standards and you might have a chance? Well . . . I can still tell you there’s one rule: if you’re a bad dating choice . . . at least you need to be hot.” Ouch.

Still, the brutality of failure in Monster Camp is part of what makes it so metal. There aren’t really any soft landings in these stories: you either win the heart of your beloved, or you get shit-talked into the ground.

All of that said, maybe some of my affection for Joy is simple narcissism. Joy and I have similar musical sensibilities, similar wardrobe color palettes and similar proclivities towards the occult. If I overheard someone talking about a bookish goth who listens to Rumours on repeat too much, I’d assume they were talking about me.

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Deirdre Coyle is a goth living in Brooklyn. Find her at deirdrecoyle.com or on Twitter @deirdrekoala.

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