A former virtual reality operator who’s perpetually drifting in and out of various addictions.
A prominent player in the local VR scene, Dan had to retire after suffering worm-induced brain damage. Nowadays, he spends his time working shitty jobs, struggling to adapt to reality, and occasionally hanging out with his
friendly neighborhood modder, Lin.
Existential crises, Beat Generation literature, being too picky about his goddamn coffee when he’s barely being able to afford instant noodles.
A med school reject who now makes her living installing illegal bodymods and providing medical care to the dregs of society. Lin loves cybernetics, but is somewhat less interested in the people they’re attached to. As a result, her methods of working aren’t particularly gentle.
Lin befriended Dan while he was still using VR, and saved his brain from being completely fried by the worm.
Organ trade, dodgy medical experiments, robots, intimidation, hentai.
AKA Cybernator. One of the sharpest (and cockiest) operators on the scene, which is no mean feat when you haven’t even hit legal drinking age yet. Thanks to indulgent parents and the wonders of mail order, Nate is neck-deep in the latest, shiniest tech, some of which might even work as advertised.
Despite going together about as well as nails and a chalkboard, Nate and Dan have teamed up on a number of VR contracts over the years. That partnership ended on something of a sour note after their last job left Dan with a nasty worm problem.
Hacking, violent video games, pathological gadget-hoarding.
Better known (and disdained) in Dreamspace circles by his operator handle, 666_Satan_666, Vlad Adsky is a natural-born opportunist. He often claims to be responsible for introducing Satanism to Unylsk, though strangely enough, most of the city’s actual Satanists want nothing to do with him.
Beyond acting as managing editor and figurehead of prominent scene ‘zine Fear_and_Loading, Vlad fancies himself as a Byronic poet, philosopher, and general renaissance man. Unfortunately, none of these pursuits have been terribly profitable for him; his long-suffering girlfriend, Tasha, is the one stuck paying rent and utilities.
As “Terminatrixx”, Mira is one of the Dreamspace scene’s most popular mindtrippers, and with good reason: her erotic and fetish sims are second to none. Nowadays, she mainly works for wealthier tourists who are willing to pay a little extra for the “forbidden trips” they can’t get at home.
AKA “Crystallyne”. An up-and-comer in the Dreamspace scene, Natalya specializes in opulent noveau riche fantasy scenarios that frankly would make even Donald Trump blush.
Or “Fixer242”, if you’re feeling formal. Top-tier mindtripper, hardcore rivethead, and shameless ‘tech elitist, Fixer has been a part of the Dreamspace scene for as long as anybody can remember. Don’t get him started on rigs or cables – you’ll be there all night.
You know you’ve got problems when even your fellow Dreamspace operators call you a weirdo. Though still a skilled trip developer, too many long hours in VR have started eroding her already-tenuous grip on reality.
Once upon a time, “The Shitparade” was Fear_and_Loading‘s most notorious columnist, eagerly racking up the hatemail with a weekly, gleefully ego-bruising roundup of the “worst of the worst” in mindtrips. Sadly (or thankfully, depending on who you ask), all that ended when the worm struck.
Dan’s ex-girlfriend. A straight-edge psych student, Eve became a prominent Dreamspace operator in the early years of the VR scene, and was responsible for Dan going independent. The two ultimately broke up due to Dan’s various drug issues.
Dan’s manager is a harsh taskmaster, but with a workstaff of junkies and petty crooks, you do what you have to.
Every once in a blue moon, Legit Deliveries would have to truck out a shipment beyond the relative safety of Unylsk’s city walls to the toxic countryside up north. That’s when they called Nagy, the only Legit employee willing to risk life and limb out in the “Dregs” – at least until he got banged up on multiple charges of dognapping. A prison stint doesn’t seem to have done anything for his attitude towards other people’s personal property, but at least farmers are getting their packages again.
Young, obnoxious, and obsessed with Western pop culture, Vitaly is the product of too much MTV and not nearly enough parental boundaries. He’d like you to think he’s pretty street, and hopes like hell nobody realizes that Mom and Dad paid for that sweet bling.
Sole heir to the notorious Dixon-Adriatica Paper Company, “MHF” took daddy’s ill-gotten money and weaponized it, becoming one of the world’s wealthiest individuals in the process. In the span of six years, her alternative investment fund has acquired, dismantled, and shuttered almost one hundred businesses running the gamut from aerospace to pork futures.
Snider (just… Snider) is MHF’s Director of Solutions – though even his personnel file won’t say exactly what those solutions are.
Vlad’s girlfriend, although there’s some spirited betting in the operator community as to how long that‘s going to last. Between letting Vlad live rent-free at her apartment, paying his bills, financing his various endeavors, and putting up with his endless womanizing, she’s probably in line for a sainthood somewhere.
Lin’s computerized surgical assistant. Arguably the only one at the Kutting Edge Klinik with any significant grasp on medicine, human anatomy, or common sense.
What is Drugs and Wires?
The year is 1995.
Grunge and alt-rock dominate the airwaves. Floppy disks are still the storage medium of choice. The mainstream media can’t shut up about this amazing new thing called the “Information Superhighway.” And in the shadows of glittering megacities, a loose alliance of cyber-anarchists, techno-pagans, and razorgirls is waging covert war against power-hungry corporations, sinister governments, and injustice and corruption in all of its forms.
This is not their story.
No, this is the story of Dan, pissy misanthrope and recovering VR junkie, now condemned to a dead-end job delivering sketchy packages in a post-Soviet urban hellhole.
This is the story of Lin, a cybernetics installer who treats concepts like “anesthesia” and “disinfectant” as annoying inconveniences, and likes to soundtrack life-altering surgeries with Cannibal Corpse.
And above all, this is the story of what happens when the future that never was meets the past that we occasionally poke fun at on VH1. Welcome to Drugs and Wires.
No, seriously, what is Drugs and Wires?
Drugs and Wires is a (hopefully) ongoing webcomic created by Mary Safro aka Cryo (original premise, art, writing, drug research) and Io Black (writing, editing, plot development). It doubles up as a sequel to Dreamspace, a trilogy of motion comics published between 2013 and 2014.
So, do I have to have read Dreamspace to understand this comic?
Nope. While Drugs and Wires picks up after the conclusion of Dreamspace, it’s ultimately intended to stand on its own. But if you haven’t read Dreamspace yet, why not take a few minutes to check it out? Word of warning: The comic features some flashing animation.
Hang on. Haven’t there already been Drugs and Wires comics?
Dan and Lin have featured in plenty of short strips and one-panel throwaways over the years, but the Drugs and Wires webcomic takes it to the next level by introducing radical new ideas like ongoing plotlines, character development, a coherent setting, and a cast that consists of more than two people.
Who should read Drugs and Wires?
Fans of old-school cyberpunk, over-the-top human misery, dubious ’90s nostalgia, outdated technology, dark humor, and entertainment you don’t have to pay for.
Who shouldn’t read Drugs and Wires?
This comic is not recommended to any reader likely to be offended by unapologetic drug use, body horror, questionable medical practices, existential angst, or unflattering portrayals of Slavic banana republics. In other words, proceed at your own risk.
I’ve read Drugs and Wires and I love it! How do I support you?
Drugs & Wires relies on its community and any help is appreciated! If you like our comic, helps us grow – make sure you tell your friends and followers! You can support us directly by buying D&W merch and pledging on Patreon. Patreon’s a big one as it directly affects how many updates and extra material we can produce. Even $1 makes a difference (and gets you things like early updates and commentary!) You can also send one-time donations through Ko-Fi
And for those of you preferring crypto – contact Cryo for BTC donations!