Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Southern Poverty Law Center RPG Charity Bundle

There's a charity bundle over at the OneBookShelf sites to help raise some money for the Southern Poverty Law Center. As disclosure, Battlefield Press is one of the participants in the bundle.

Edit: I linked to the SPLC donation page, rather than the Bundle. Here's the link to the charity bundle.

From the Southern Poverty Law Center's website:
In the decades since its founding, the SPLC shut down some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist groups by winning crushing, multimillion-dollar jury verdicts on behalf of their victims. It dismantled vestiges of Jim Crow, reformed juvenile justice practices, shattered barriers to equality for women, children, the LGBT community and the disabled, protected low-wage immigrant workers from exploitation, and more.
It is a charity that is worth helping out. Find out more about them on their website.




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Kieron Gillen On Diversity


Kieron Gillen has written some of my favorite comics over the last few years: Phonogram, Young Avengers and Wicked + Divine. He's also work on Thor and other properties around the Marvel Universe. Some of the things that he writes resonates with me, particularly because of his use of pop music as a thread through his writing. I've found a few good indie bands because of his comics (and I rediscovered my love for the unappreciated British power pop band Kenickie).

In the wake of Warren Ellis' long-running email newsletter, I've started following the newsletters of a couple of other comics creators, and Gillen's newsletter is one of them. If you know of any comic creators doing email newsletters like this, let me know. I'd love to see more. I would love to see more RPG creators doing something like this as well.

In my recent post from Warren Ellis' newsletter about privacy, one of the links was to setting up a free email newsletter. I think that it would be interesting to see people like Steve Kenson, or some of the OSR people even, give this a shot. It is sort of like a private blog. I've been considering it myself.

However, I digress. This post was going to be about Gillen. In his newsletter of today he posted a quote from his self-introduction to a panel about diversity that he was a member of a a comic convention. I thought the words were good ones, and helped sum up why people like myself call for wider representation, and a greater diversity of views, in comics, role-playing games, and other forms of media, geeky and otherwise.

I hope that you like what he said as much as I did. I think that it should be provoking some conversations.
Here are a selection of diverse thoughts about the state of diversity.
Perfection is impossible. Relax. “Progressive” imply change. There is no utopia, no stasis. Even the most radical in the room will be Germaine Greer one day. In 20 years time, almost everything all of us are about to say will be problematic. Especially, I suspect, the word “problematic.”
Hearing about girls sitting down and reading Ms. Marvel in the middle of a comic shop and breaking into tears would move anyone. Even a monster like me. However, as important this is, we must not forget the powerful effect on people other than those depicted. By consuming culture about people other than ourselves we flower, and our capacity for understanding and empathy expand. Diversity of culture we consume is one of the the best weapons we have to improve the world. In as much as I was saved, I suspect was saved by Tenar in Ursula Le Guin’s Tombs Of Atuan. I think that Rey may yet save a generation of boys.
It is heartbreaking when I speak to my female peers and say they’ve never had a female role model.
I often wonder how having female heroes effected Jamie McKelvie and my own work. We’re monsters, but I suspect less so.
Diversity is not just a social justice issue. Diversity is a formalist issue. Diversity makes better art, as it is truer to the world. The world is diverse. If the art our culture produces does not have the diversity of the world it pertains to show, the art is failing us.
As a creative community we are in a position where all but the biggest dinosaurs agree that diversity is good. We are all pro diversity. This is a problem, in the same way that almost everyone expresses anti-racist sentiments in a world when everyone, via the background radiation of society, is to some degree racist.
To quote Jordie Bellaire’s campaign, Comics Are For Everyone. However, that should not be confused with All Comics Are For Everyone. You cannot please everyone. That is both a truism and a directive. You should not be trying to please everyone. Ironically, the self-censorship makes less diverse art including less diverse world-views.
Creatives are not just a machine to deliver diversity.
Creatives are petrified in Writing The Other. To be honest, Creatives are petrified of Writing The Same.
I have a test for diversity. If you are using the Bechdel test in any seriousness, your writing about diversity is almost certainly pretty poor. This is surface level reading of culture. Really thinking about sexuality, about gender, about race, about everything needs to be deeper.
In a single work of art, Diversity is a zero sum game. To write a love triangle between men in Young Avengers I had to include more men. As such, I had less women than I’d like in Young Avengers. An expectation of full diversity inside any individual work actually limits the stories you’re able to tell.
Diversity is necessary but not sufficient. Treating bad art with good diversity kindly is worse than useless, because if we do then we are reducing the value of our critical opinion’s coin. As such, it worries me when I see articles about my books which have the #1 reason to read it being the diverse cast. That petrifies me.
The biggest problem in comics is the lack of diversity in the talent pool. Frustratingly, there is no quick fix for all manner of tedious economic reasons. There is a medium term fix. I believe in five years, the industry will be almost unrecognisable. I am optimistic, god help me.
I think white men should probably shut up more. So I will.
He also mentions "formalist" in this introduction, and in case you're wondering what that means, he had some talk about it over here.

I hope that his words spark something in some of you.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Spooky Empire Appearances


I am going to be an author guest at the rescheduled Spooky Empire the weekend of December 2-4. A couple of the panels on my schedule are voluntary or tentative, but if you are going to be in Orlando that weekend, looking for something to do and want to talk gaming, you'll find me wandering around the convention center.

Check the program and on-site information for the panel locations.

Friday
7 pm
FBI Most Wanted
9 pm
Sick and Twisted

Saturday
12 pm
The Author's Network
1 pm
Writing and Publishing 101
3 pm
Multimedia Horror
4 pm
Stranger Things
8 pm
Sympathy For The Devil (moderator)

Sunday
2 pm
Intergalactic Terror (moderator)


FBI Most Wanted: Our Google search history definitely has our authors on several Watch Lists. Authors discuss research and the joys of clearing your browser history.

Sick and Twisted: This panel is 21 and up due to disturbing behavior, offensive ideas, drunken authors, and likely a piñata. No filters allowed. If you’re not offended, you’re in the wrong panel.

The Author's Network: Come sit and chat with our authors in an informal setting. Get to know what makes these weirdos tick.

Writing and Publishing 101: We discuss how to navigate the world of writing and getting published.

Multimedia Horror: Writing for gaming, stage, radio and just about any medium you can shake your pen at.

Sympathy For The Devil: We love to root for the bad guy and we love good guys with problems. We discuss why audiences adore scoundrels.

Intergalactic Terror: SF and horror, horror in space. Fun stuff like that.



Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Peek At Warren Ellis' The Wild Storm

From Ellis' newsletter Orbital Operations again:
Hey, Jon Davis-Hunt did a promo piece for our forthcoming project THE WILD STORM and DC forgot to use it during the announcements, so I'm going to run it here because I feel like it deserves to be seen.  Copyright DC Entertainment of course, and please link to orbitaloperations.com if you use it on your website.
I probably shouldn't be doing this. But I really wanted Jon's work to be seen.
It looks intriguing. I'm guessing that is Zealot in the bottom panel, and Sentinel in the second from the bottom?

Edit: Apparently that is the revamped version of Warren Ellis creation Jenny Sparks. It looks like she is getting upgraded to being the Spirit of the 21st Century now. That's a bit of a disappointment. I would have liked to have seen Sparks kept as the Spirit of the 20th Century, and have them keep the character of Jenny Quantum as the Spirit of the 21st. I liked that the Spirit of the 21st Century wasn't a white person.



The Fate Of Airboy


This was originally inspired by a post by Mark Ellis on Facebook, talking about his interest in revitalizing the Hillman Comics aviator characters. I'm a fan of aviator pulps like G-8, and the Eclipse Comics relaunch of Airboy in the 80s introduced me to that family of characters. What Mark's post sparked in me was the idea to build an RPG, or at the very least a game that I can run for friends, around the public domain characters like Airboy, but in an updated format.

I love the pulps, but running a game in a historical era isn't always my thing. I'm not much of a stickler for the details, which can bother some who are playing in a historical game. This is why the idea of pulling the characters into the present appealed to me.

The other thing is that, frankly, games that spend a lot of time with the characters engaged in air combat in their airplanes can be boring. Breaking everything down to a series of dice rolls is kind of boring for me. This presents the second challenge with this property…how do I pay homage to the fact that these characters were aviators, without making everything about airplanes? I've been rewatching the TV show Burn Notice on Netflix recently, so an idea popped into my head.

My first thought to update these characters was to turn them into private security/military contractors. The characters would be part of a military security corporation like Blackwater USA, which would give them slightly more freedom than a strictly military campaign would have. Then, the story of Burn Notice swept in. What if David Nelson (the real name of the Airboy character) was a "burned" former military contractor? All of the equipment that he developed (including his signature airplane "Birdie") would be in the hands of his former employer (most likely the company he founded), the Air Fighters, and any security clearances that he had would be gone. You turn David Nelson into a Michael Westen type of character who 1) wants back what he believes is his life and 2) still wants to help people.

The characters in the campaign would be the people that Nelson has gathered around him on various "missions," that he feels that he can trust. That would be the player characters. Someone could play the part of Nelson, or it could be an NPC run by the GM. If the latter, you would, of course, have to resist the temptation to have him do all the cool stuff and leave the PCs to watch what he's doing.

I think that it could make for an interesting game.

The "keeping the aviator angle to things" could be as easy as having Nelson develop a new kind of drone technology, perhaps one with a highly developed AI that make the drones into the equivalent of his Alfred or Doctor Watson. If Nelson has trust issues, due to his being "burned," it could be that computer intelligences created by him would be the only "people" that he would be willing to trust for a long time.

Here is a write-up of David (Airboy) Nelson in a Fate Accelerated hack that I have been working on. I made my version of the character into more of a tech person, he created his plane instead of inheriting it, because I think it makes the character stronger and more "modern." He isn't a comic book super scientist, but he knows his way around avionics and aircraft technologies. He obviously knows a bit about computers (since he probably created the AI software himself), so he could probably be a bit of a hacker as well.

David "Airboy" Nelson
High Concept: I Can Trust The Technology That I Can Create
Trouble: Don't Call Me Airboy
Other Aspects: Military Background, Not The Person I Used To Be
Approaches: Careful +2, Clever +3, Flashy +0, Forceful +1, Quick +1, Sneaky +2
PowersCreature Summoning (Flying Drones, named Birdie Two through Four). Basic Creature Summoning, Tough Little Thing, Menagerie.*

I didn't give Nelson any stunts yet, but they would likely give him an edge in military or technical matters.

Nelson wants to be left alone mostly, but not as much as he wants his old life back. He doesn't really want the life of the military contractor, or technology think tank, back, but he wants it to be known that he really didn't do what cost him that old life. He's trying to find out what exactly that "thing" is, and how he can fix it. Nelson's approach to people tends to be like his approach to technology: tinker with the machines until you find out what isn't working right, then once you know you can fix it or you can bypass it. He's realized that a big part of why he joined the military in the first place was because he wanted to help people, so over the last few years he has started doing that again on a smaller scale. A couple of his old friends from the Air Fighters still keep in touch, on the QT.

*The powers rules that I am working on are a hack of the Venture City SRD, so if you have a copy of it, you can eyeball what I did in this write-up until I have something official. If you like Fate and super-heroes, this is something that is good to have anyway.



Monday, November 14, 2016

Getting Some Privacy Online


This comes from Warren Ellis, in the latest issue of his newsletter Orbital Operations, a couple of suggestions for privatizing your online persona in the coming years.
If you have access to a Windows machine, there's an excellent Twitter archive eraser called Twitter Archive Eraser, haha.  All you have to do is request your archive from Twitter, install Eraser and feed your archive to the machine. I mean, if you don't want to delete your Twitter account entirely, which I totally understand, but.
(You may want to do something with your LinkedIn account for similar reasons.)
Also, iMessage and WhatsApp are okay, but get Signal. If you're going to organise, try to form IRL spaces and try not to use Facebook right now.
Keep an eye on Safecast - as they build out their systems, their open environmental data may prove very useful in the coming years.
You may want to consider private newsletters - Tinyletter is a very good free option if you intend to speak to less than a few thousand people - and, despite being Facebook-owned, a private Instagram account may be better for you than a public one right now.
To the fine human beings whose politics lean to the right - do not assume these are suggestions purely for the weeping lefties, or that I believe they only apply now that the UK and US are under far-right governments. They applied before. I used many of them before.
If you are a fan of Ellis' work and you aren't a subscriber to his newsletter, give it a chance.

And remember, having a measure of privacy is always a good thing, no matter what sort of politics that you hold. The idea that having anonymous accounts means privacy isn't a good idea.



Saturday, November 05, 2016

Doctor Strange And The Shifting Marvel Movie Paradigm?


I think that (inadvertently) this article says more about the Marvel Comics formula back in the day, than it might say about the Marvel movies formula. This is actually something that I thought about while watching Doctor Strange, was how these characters had a similar arc from "asshole" to hero as a part of their journeys. Iron Man. Spider-Man. Dr. Strange. They all started as sort of jerks who had a life changing moment that put them onto the path of being heroes. Partially it is that Stan Lee Doctrine: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.

So, yes, there is a bit of sameness to the characters of Tony Stark and Stephen Strange. That's not a coincidence with the characters that Stan Lee was crafting with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

Does that need to change in the Marvel movies? Absolutely. I think that we saw Strange's transition from egotistical jerk to hero happen pretty quickly, in the course of this movie, while with Tony Stark, the journey is still going on. I don't think that the plot of Civil War would have happened if the heroes had stopped thinking about themselves for a minute and thought more about what was happening around them. Is Dr. Strange the start of a trend within the MCU to make heroes who are able to overcome their egos? The ego of heroes has been an integral part of the MCU so far (and you could probably argue that it is the same for Marvel Comics), so are we seeing a transition from that?

Dr. Strange has been one of my favorites of the MCU so far. I rank it up there with Ant Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Winter Soldier as the Marvel movies that I have most enjoyed.

I'm a fan of heroes being heroes (which some may wonder about in regards to my enjoying the recent Superman movies), and I would like to see the heroes of the Marvel movies transcend the cynicism that we get in comic movies a lot of the time. It is this heroism that appeals to people in the native form of super-heroes in comics.

Go see Doctor Strange, it is a well-made super-hero movie that has some pretty mind-bending special effects.



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mongoose Publishing 2000AD License Expiring


Update: It was pointed out that the sale, and the license, end at the end of October.

Mongoose Publishing's license to produce games based on the 2000AD comics properties is ending. They aren't specific with a timeline, so it could end at any time. While the license lasts, all 2000AD properties are 75% off at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. If you wanted any of these games, get them now, while you can. Grab them now, if you want them.

The 2000AD collection at DriveThruRPG. [Update: Link removed because the sale is over and the items are gone.]

Does this mean that we might see a new license holder do some new 2000AD tabletop games? Will we finally see Nemesis: The Warlock get an RPG? Let's watch and find out.



Monday, October 24, 2016

My Necronomicon (FL) 2016 Schedule


Once again, this weekend I will be a guest at Necronomicon in Tampa Florida, October 28-30, 2016. The real guests will be Steven Barnes & Steven Brust.

My appearances are just on Saturday, so my availability will be limited (at best). If you're interested, contact me via the various social media. Hopefully some of you gaming-type-people in the Tampa Bay area will be around for the fun.

Here is my schedule:

12:00:00 PM
Audubon F
What's New in Gaming? 
4:00:00 PM
Audubon F
Characters That Aren't a Reflection of You

Only one of these is directly gaming-related, but I will find my ways to relate things to what I know. I hope to see some of you that weekend. The "What's New In Gaming" panel with myself and Hal Greenberg is always entertaining.



Super Crawl Classics: An Elevator Pitch

Michel Fiffe's COPRA.

Please Note: This is not an announcement of any sort or form, nor should it be construed as being indicative of any sort of game book coming from Goodman Games. It is entirely a flight of fancy. However, if any powers that be would be interested. You know where to find me.

Super Crawl Classics would be an adaptation of the rules used in the Dungeon Crawl Classics and upcoming Mutant Crawl Classics RPGs for super-hero role-playing. This is just a loose pitch, and it would undergo some serious work to make things fit best with the rules. There would likely have to be some changes to the paradigms of the rules used (Funnels, for example, wouldn't work well in making a super-hero game in my opinion).

There would be classes for different sorts of super-heroic archetypes, and there would probably be races as a separate thing built around some of the concepts often used within super-hero comics.

Super Crawl Classics wouldn't be a generic super-hero game. The idea isn't to make a universal system that would allow you to create and play any sort of comic book super-hero character. In fact, Super Crawl Classics would focus on weird heroes, making a super-hero game that has a vibe similar to the weird fantasy feel of Dungeon Crawl Classics. My elevator pitch of the concept of the game would be that it would be Fletcher Hanks meets Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol meets the early issues of Rob Liefeld's Youngblood. Add some hard men/women from Warren Ellis' comics for seasoning.

You can't not have the influences of Jack Kirby on Super Crawl Classics either. His ideas of ancient and new gods, ancient aliens seeding the cosmos with being of powers, and cosmic entities vying for superiority against the back backdrop of time and space is too important to ignore.

Thematically, Super Crawl Classics would draw upon the looseness and energy of the Golden Age of comics, with the surreality of Morrison's classic Doom Patrol run and Peter Milligan's incredible Shade The Changing Man reboot, and the insanity of Rob Liefeld's comics. Heroes and heroines would be raw and primal, powerhouses that change their worlds merely by existing in them, and the menaces that they face would be weird. These are people with great powers and abilities, who are saving the world, but they don't always have to like what they're doing, or who they're working with.

It would also draw heavily on the public domain characters of the Golden Age of comics for world building. There are are great concepts tucked away in the pages of comics from the 30s and 40s that never had copyrights or trademarks registered for them, and they can be the basis of the world within which your super-powered characters will seek out adventure.

Benjamin Marra sketchbook pages.
The art for Super Crawl Classics would be raw and powerful. I would want to get more "underground" super-hero comic artists like Benjamin Marra, Michel Fiffe and Tom Scioli to fill the book with the sort of vibrant and unusual art that fans of Dungeon Crawl Classics are already fan of. If Steve Ditko could somehow be convinced to do the endpapers for the book (drawing whatever super-heroic epics are exploding in that man's brain) that would be awesome as well. It would just be a matter of someone figuring out how to contact the man.

But, the important thing about Super Crawl Classics would be that, like with the Dungeon Crawl Classics book, the people picking up the game would know instantly that they aren't just picking up your typical super-hero role-playing game.

Obviously filling an RPG book with this sort of mind-exploding art wouldn't be cheap, which is why it would take a Kickstarter to raise this up to what it would need to be.

Now, it is a fact that I'm not a fan of the whole "Appendix N" concept, because I think that a lot of people take the books listed in them to the exclusion of the broader world of fantasy fiction. The bibliography of comics would have to be extensive and highlight some of the many strange comics and characters that have come out during the 75+ years of super-hero comics.

Tom Scioli's Super Powers backmatter for Young Animal
All in all, Super Crawl Classics would be about the dirty and dangerous, psychedelic and strange underbelly of super-hero comics. The characters would be big, modern day myths in a weird world of evil villains and strange menaces from beyond time and space. I think that the Dungeon Crawl Classics rule set would make for a good framework for this sort of game.

I would probably beef up the Luck ability into something akin to how the classic Marvel Super-Heroes RPG had Karma. Characters could earn Luck, in the same way that they earn XP, and that would go into a pool that starts out like the other abilities, but grows through heroic actions. Luck is something that super-heroes would need a lot of to survive and succeed as they go along.

A lot of the options for powers would come from the various classes (or races), but there would be some more universal powers and that characters could draw upon as well. You would have to have magic, because of the Doctors Fate and Strange. Characters would be powerful beings.

The ability score modifiers would have to be increased to handle the increased range. You would still use 3d6, but your character's ability scores would also be modified by class and race to beyond the capabilities of mere mortals.

This is just the pitch. Super Crawl Classics would be a game of goddesses and monsters, heroes and villains, all played out against the tableau of all of time and space. It would be a big, powerful game. Probably the most powerful of the * Crawl Classics RPGs. They've got fantasy with Dungeon Crawl Classics and the post-apocalypse with the upcoming Mutant Crawl Classics, and then this can be taken as bigger with the Super Crawl Classics RPG. Maybe we could get Becky Cloonan to draw the cover.

If you can make this happen, you know where to find me.



Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Barbarella Comes To America


With the New York Comic Con this weekend, announcements from the comic publishers are starting to come in fast and furious. All of the comic sites will be full of interesting (and maybe not so interesting) announcements from publishers.

Something that I'm surprised that I'm not seeing more of is the announcement from Dynamite that they will be doing an original American, English language version of the classic French comic. Many American comic fans may only know of the comic via the movie adaptation staring Jane Fonda, made years ago (or perhaps through being fans of the vintage New Wave band Duran Duran). I think that this is a pretty big deal, second only to when IDW started doing original Judge Dredd comics. Just, I know that DC Comics did Judge Dredd for a bit, but never to this extent.


From Dynamite's press release:
The character was introduced at the heart of the sexual revolution of the 1960's, and is forever ingrained in pop culture after Jane Fonda's unforgettable portrayal in the 1968 film. She was a key figure in the fertile battleground of French comic books and the struggle for sexual freedom in the medium, and has not appeared in a new series since her last appearance in the legendary science fiction publication, Heavy Metal.


French comics have always been a little less, shall we say, restrained than their American counterparts. Typically to see the sort of sexuality that you would see in Barbarella in American comics you would have to go to underground, alternative or small press comics. Mainstream publishers like DC Comics would dabble in more "adult" fare through imprints like Vertigo Comics, but due to the cultural differences between America and Europe you didn't often see explorations of sex and sexuality often.

Also from the press release:
The new comics will be supervised by Jean-Marc Lofficier, who worked in the mid-90s with Jean-Claude Forest, the character's creator, on a sequel project.
"This is the first step in a multimedia approach designed to herald the return of Barbarella," says Jean-Claude's son, Julien Forest. "We are particularly happy and proud to take that step together with Dynamite, which has showed great respect for so many other classic characters."

Dynamite has take flack in the past for portrayals of characters like Vampirella and Red Sonja, so it should be interesting to see how American comic fans take to Barbarella.



The Dynamite book won't be out until some undisclosed time in 2017. While I think that the company's licensed work can be hit or miss, they have put out some spectacular work in their pulp lines, particularly with their Shadow and Green Hornet books. Their Vampirella, Red Sonja and Mars lines have been the spottiest, but there was an uptick with the Swords of Sorrows crossover. Regardless, I am interested in seeing how an American publisher tackles the property.



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Donation Fund


Normally, this is something that I would post to social media (because of its immediacy and short duration), but I was having trouble with getting the links to work...so off to the blog.

+Jerry Grayson of Khepera Publishing has put together a gigantic bundle of gaming material, crossing back and forth between indie and traditional games, in order to raise money to help the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight against the Dakota Access pipeline. From the bundle page:
You can support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its fight to protect its waters and sacred places by purchasing this RPG bundle. All proceeds go to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe - Dakota Access Pipeline Donation Fund 
http://standingrock.org/
You get full games like +Meguey Baker's 1001 Nights, the English translation of the Spanish retroclone Adventures in the East Mark, Age of Arthur by +Paul Mitchener and +Graham Spearing, Reign by +Greg StolzeAMP Year One by +Eloy Lasanta, Grayson's Atlantis: The Second Age and Mythic D6 and others.

You also get support for White StarLabyrinth Lord and Adventurer, Conqueror, King and other games.

You get fiction from Evil Hat Productions and other publishers.

You get all of this for $40 from RPGNow.

There is so much good in this bundle, and $40 for all that you get is a steal.



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Warhammer 40K Comic From Titan Comics


After a thousand years, violent warp storms have receded from the Calaphrax Cluster, and an ancient battlefront in the war against Chaos has again been opened to the universe.

Now, multiple forces risk complete immolation to attack the sector – drawn by the lure of ancient relics, lost knowledge, and powerful megaweapons, buried for aeons. Chief among those forces, the fearsome Dark Angels, emerald-armored Space Marines, shock-troopers of the Emperor’s Imperium and indomitable defenders of humanity. But Chaos stirs in the warp, and the Dark Angels will not be alone for long!

Based in the universe of the ever-popular miniatures game, novels, and videogames, this new ongoing series is perfect for both the hardcore Warhammer 40,000 fan and the complete newcomer!





Hitting stores on October 12, 2016, the new Warhammer 40,000 comic sees writer George Mann (Dark Souls, Warhammer Black Library, Eighth Doctor) and artists Tazio Bettin (Independence Day, Sally of the Wasteland) and Enrica Eren Angiolini, take the series to new heights with the first adventure, entitled “Will of Iron”. The story follows Baltus, a Dark Angel newly-elevated to the rank of Space Marine, as he is baptized on the bloody battlefield and uncovers the price his Chapter has paid for victory! Secrets as old as the Horus Heresy are on the verge of being revealed...






Titan Comics has released a variant cover that will be specific to comic shops that are taking part in Local Comic Shop Day. Check the event's website to see if your local store is participating.




Monday, September 12, 2016

Lucky 13: The Thirteenth Anniversary Of The Dorkland! Blog


Typically I just let the anniversaries of the blog come and go. For the 10th Anniversary I launched the short-lived Geeky Voices Carry vidcast/podcast. It was short-lived because of scheduling, and because doing that sort of thing was a lot of work.

I just thought that I would commemorate things with a quick post for the 13th Anniversary of the blog.

I started the Dorkland! Blog in September of 2003 because there was a lot going on in my life at the time and the blog gave me a place to talk about things that were unrelated to all of that, and give me a little bit of mental breathing space that I might not have had otherwise. The blog has always had a general "geeky" focus to it because I felt that would give me the most space to talk about whatever it is that I want to talk about. I drift around between comics, gaming and music mostly, because these are the topics that most interest me.

I've never really been a constant poster. My idea has always been to post when something grabs my attention, and I want to talk about it, rather than because I think that I have to have X number of posts in a day, or a week. Honestly, I think that is a big factor as to why I have kept the blog going for so long.

A long time ago, around 2002, I found a book at the library by an author named Rebecca Blood. It had the weird title of The Weblog Manual, and it talked about something that I had never heard of before: blogging. The book is still in print (even available for the Kindle these days). Even though most of the information is rooted in those early days of blogging, it can still provide a valuable insight into where blogging came from, and what people thought that it would become.

When I started the Dorkland! Blog I was still living in Cleveland, trying to work out the path of a new "adventure" that I had started upon. Most of what I do here is opinion writing, my reviews and talk about trends and happening in geeky things, but that is because when I was studying journalism in high school and college, opinion writing was always my preferred style of writing. It could be more personal, and a better reflection not just of ourselves, but of the world that we wanted to see outside of our windows.

I still feel that way. Guest writers and semi-regular posters have come and gone throughout the last thirteen years, but each of them were picked because they fit into what I thought was the point of view of this blog.I think that is important, having a point of view, when doing something like a blog. Some use blogging to grab attention for themselves. Some use blogging because they are angry about something. For me, blogging and the Dorkland! Blog has always been about a desire to share the things that I love, and to talk about why I love them. However, just because I love something, it doesn't mean that I am blind to its faults or shortcomings. A lot of the problems that I have with geeky communities, online and off, come from the fact that I love these things and think that we can all do so much better than we are doing. Because I love these things, and I want to share them with as many people as possible, I don't want hate in our shared spaces: hate of race, hate of gender, hate of sexuality. Like Walt Whitman said in the epic American poem of Song of Myself: "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."

The geeky communities contain multitudes, a teeming mass of people defined not as much by the similarities but by their differences. It is these contradictions that give the communities their richness, because there is so much that we would not see or experience without those contradictions.

There is still a lot of work to be done within many aspects of these communities. I think that the first step is to realize that we aren't all the same, outside maybe of the "geeky" things that we like to consume. Even those things aren't all the same, nor are they consumed in the same way. We need to better see the contradictions within ourselves, and each other, so that we can find the commonalities that can shape communities, rather than doing it the other way around.

One of the things that has changed the most in the years that I have been a blogger has been blogging itself. You can see this by looking at the earliest posts on this blog. Then called a "weblog," the idea was mostly to keep a log of websites that you regularly visited so that others who shared the same interests as you could find sites and articles of interest to you. Search engines existed, but they were no where near as refined or ubiquitous as they are today, so often that meant that you relied on discovering others with your interests to guide your way through the internet.

Slowly, but surely, blogging developed into something akin to journalism, when in the right hands, and that was alright with me because of my background in journalism. But it shows that blogging isn't something static, and how you approach it should change with time. Let's see what happens in the next thirteen years.



Thursday, September 08, 2016

The Second Alternity Design Blog

Sasquatch Game Studio has released their second design blog for their new Alternity game, and this one actually has some meat to it, because they are talking about the core die mechanic for the new game. I think that this will also please a lot of fans of the original Alternity.

We do have to remember that they're still early in the design process, so this can all be subject to change.

The original Alternity used a roll under a target number mechanic. They used a "step die" mechanic to modify the rolls, where the total of other dice would be added or subtracted, according to the difficulty.

The new game is going to use an interesting flip of that idea. You have a target number. Attribute and skill ranks are subtracted from that number, making that the new target number. Then you roll a d20, add or subtract the step die depending on how it is modifying things, and if your roll is greater than the target number you succeed at the action.

While the thinking may take a little getting used to in play, it does seem like an easy enough way to handle resolution.This is going to have a degree of success (or failure) as well, and I think that this will add verisimilitude to the rolling. I am all for adding critical success and failure to game resolution because I think it can make the rolls more meaningful. I know that bidding mechanics can do a similar thing, but I think that you lose some of the uncertainty, and degree of success can add a thrill to a particularly well-done die roll.

So, we're starting to get an idea of how the mechanics will shape up for the new Alternity game, and I think that is good. Since the nature of this new game precludes using the old mechanics that means we need to see how the new game will work. I'd like to see some character creation information up next, hopefully a sample with enough meat to it that we'll get an idea of what characters will look like, and be capable of, in the new game.

It looks like science fiction/fantasy gaming is getting its turn at a resurgence, between the return of Alternity, EN Publishing's role-playing game N.E.W. and Paizo's science fantasy game Starfinder. Since science fiction is one of the genres that I enjoy most, I am excited to see that my tastes are getting some love from RPG publishers.


Saturday, September 03, 2016

Flashback: Empire of Satanis By Darrick Dishaw

A lot of people probably don't remember the indie RPG known as Empire of Satanis. There are some pretty good reasons for that, but I thought that on this long American holiday weekend that we could take a look at the "classic" game by Darrick Dishaw.

My capsule review is that Empire of Satanis is a jejune attempt at horror role-playing that draws upon the overused tropes of 80s and 90s horror movies that you have probably already seen used (often more intelligently) in a multitude of other games.

He might be better remembered as the guy who "cursed" RPGNet after he received some bad reviews for his game on the site. The "curse" is probably of better quality than some of the writing in Empire of Satanis, which is kind of disappointing. The curse is kind of funny and sad, and definitely worth repeating here:
Hail Satan! Lord of the Pit! King of Hell! Ruler of the Earth! Master of the Abyss! I open the unknowable doorways and touch the violet flame, drink the revitalizing blood and break the skulls of those who cross Him or His brothers. I call upon the most vicious demons of Hell to intervene. From this night forth, you will be plagued by self-doubt, weakness, failure, hopelessness, hunger, pain, loss, insecurity, and envy. Nothing can save you and no one will come to your aid. All who have befriended you will now desert you in your hour of need. 
In the name of the Ancient Ones, I curse those who tear down Empire of Satanis! May Satan have no mercy whatsoever upon your miserable souls. 
Hail Satan! 
So it is done! 
Darrick Dishaw 
However, it does help to demonstrate the mishmash of conflicting influences that went into the game, not to mention how the author seems to blur the lines between fiction and reality. Empire of Satanis is presented as a metatextual attempt at creating a religion that draws upon Satanism and the fictional worlds of H.P. Lovecraft. We will, of course, overlook the obvious inconsistency of using the writings of an avowed atheist as the basis for a religion.

This review looks at the revised and expanded version of the game from 2011.

The presentation isn't much to look at. It looks as though the PDF was made from a Microsoft Word file with minimal formatting and no art. This is DIY RPG at its most basic. The image above is apparently the front cover, but it isn't included in the PDF.

The ideas of this game: demonic forces powered by corruption, Satanic Hell dimensions and progressing through acts of evil are nothing new in RPGs. But games like the horror classic Kult and writers like Rafael Chandler have handled these themes in much more intelligent and entertaining manners.

With Empire of Satanis we get a regurgitation of imagery stolen from movies like Hellraiser.

The presentation of the material moves between first and third person. I would assume that this is an attempt at immersion into the setting of the game. Perhaps it could work with a more skilled hand, as it has with the many other games that have dipped into this overdrawn well of inspiration.

The game outlines a number of demonic races that can be the basis of player characters, as well as some very, very brief ideas on how they react to each other. There are some interesting ideas to be found in this section of the game, but the brevity with which they are handled makes them hard to utilize within the game.

Creatures that you will encounter aren't given writeups, however. Most of the pieces of the setting are only given a page or two of description at most. The information isn't going to be enough to be useful in running a game without a great deal of work on the part of the GM.

Mechanically, the game uses a simple d6-based mechanic. There is an interesting idea to it because, while you roll a certain number of six sided dice each time, you don't add them together. Instead, you just take the highest roll on all of the dice. This is the "success number" for your roll. If it beats the target number of the task being resolved, the character succeeds at that task. Rolls of a six are what is commonly known as an exploding die. Each six is rerolled, until you get something other than a six. Add all of those together for the "success number."

On the surface, this mechanic is simple and it seems like a good way to handle things. But, the problem is that there aren't any modifiers to rolls that will significantly impact the resolution checks. This means that, without an exploding die action, characters will never be able to succeed at tasks more difficult than the highest number on the six-siders. Ironically, this means that a character can't succeed at an average (target number of 7) difficulty task or higher. That sounds like it could be a problem for characters.

There are interesting mechanical ideas that fall flat because the implementation of them haven't been thought out by the designer.

The character creation rules are jumbled. Things that should be advantages, or special abilities, for characters are instead set up as skills. This means that a character's inborn ability to see in the "secret darkness of the universe" will as often as not fail. That kind of sucks for a character.

Now, the "indieness" of the game comes in the "story alteration" mechanic. Again, it is a good idea spoiled by a mechanical implementation that was not thought out by the designer. The player gets to "declare a basic idea" of what will happen, and then they roll a single d6. On a six, the player's idea occurs in the game. This is a popular idea that you see in a lot of indie games anymore. There is a sort of sacrifice that is built into the game, where you can spend points of the character's Social Standing attribute, or Hit Points, to modify the story alteration roll. These expenditures can change the chances from 1 in 6 to 3 in 6.

Magic is freeform in the game (which probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone). Damage is easy, you pick a difficulty for your spell, and that is how much damage it does. Of course, due to what I talked about earlier, your character isn't going to be able to get an Average difficulty success or better.

Basically, Empire of Satanis is a role-playing game like so many that has a lot more enthusiasm than merit, rending the game to be practically unplayable by gaming groups. The background could be of use with a gaming system that works, and it wouldn't take anymore work to get the setting material to work in that setting than it would to use it with the "system" presented in this book.

The book is also peppered with enough Thomas Ligotti quotes that he should get a cut of the profits.

Check out the links provided at the top of this post. The PDF is freely available at Lulu.com. I think that you'll find out that I'm not exaggerating about the lack of quality in this game. Empire of Satanis isn't even FATAL, because at least the awfulness of that game was original. You aren't going to find anything original in Empire of Satanis.

Dishaw is still nipping at the edges of the online RPG scene, these days under the uninspired nom du guerre of Venger Satanis. These days his strategies seem to be built around whipping angry, middle aged white guys into a frenzy over a world that has passed them by. Like a lot of "personalities" in the online RPG community, whipping up anger is easier than having creativity.

I await the flood of minions sealioning this post. I thank you in advance for the traffic to my blog.



Friday, September 02, 2016

Munchkin Grimm Tidings Comes To Walgreens?


Once again the people at Steve Jackson Games kick in a door and take some loot. This time the door that they're kicking in belongs to the retail drugstore chain Walgreens. Their latest Munckin game, Grimm Tidings, will be available exclusively at your friendly neighborhood Walgreens drugstore.



After getting their games into mass market chains like Wal-Mart and Target, as well as bookstores like Barnes & Noble, the company is looking to a place that you don't see many hobby games in: the drugstore toy aisle. Will it succeed for them and get Munchkin an even bigger market than it already has? Time will tell. But, say what you will about Steve Jackson Games, when many other companies are looking for new markets, they are making them.


Munchkin: Grimm Tidings is due to arrive in Walgreens locations in the next couple of weeks.



Thursday, August 25, 2016

The First Alternity Design Blog

Over at the Sasquatch Game Studio blog we are getting the first design blog post about the upcoming relaunch of the Alternity science fiction RPG. We still don't know a lot yet, unfortunately, because the rules are still being developed, according to the people at Sasquatch Game Studio.

I would really like to have something meaty to analyze in this post, but supposition is all that we have to go on at the moment.

This is one bit that stood out to me:
We also want to preserve some of the mechanical “feel” of the old game (remember rolling all the polyhedrals?) while updating the system from a mid-90s design to a mid-10s design.
One thing that I have talked about in podcasts, on social media discussions, and in other places is my dislike of a design choice that was popular in the 90s but has since diminished in popularity (but hasn't completely gone away). This design choice was the idea that, no matter how competent or ultra-competent a character may be, there was always a non-zero chance of failure in their actions. Sometimes, there was a chance that a highly trained character could have a significant chance of failure when trying to resolve a task. GURPS could be particularly annoying with this.

This doesn't mean that I think that characters should never fail at their actions. Far from it.

The thing is, I do think that characters should fail, I just don't think that spending half an hour, or even five minutes, rolling and re-rolling dice in order to be able to pick a lock, when your character is allegedly one of the great thieves of the world to be fun. I know that some do, and that's great. More power to them. This is why there are different games for different people.

While I don't like the idea of having to keep rolling at what should be a routine act, I do think that there should be some form of failure that makes things more interesting. Does the guard rotation notice the characters because they spent more time than needed in the hallway, due to the complexity of the security systems? Does a bad guy get away because the characters could be where they needed to be, when they needed to be there? Why can't we just add some drama to a situation, rather than having to keep rolling dice over and over?

Well, without more detail we don't know what they mean about "updating the system from a mid-90s design." I doubt that they feel the same way about this "whiff" tendency in mechanics, but you never know. There might even be other things that they don't like about it.

I am interested in finding out more, and I hope that these design journal posts are frequent (and that we start getting to see some hints about actual mechanics soon). Another thing that I don't like about that 90s school of design thought is having all of the information about a game, and how it works, wrapped up in mystery. Everything doesn't need to be wrapped up in an NDA these days. We're talking about tabletop RPGs, not state secrets here. To me, trying to divert talk away from how your game actually works says to me that it either 1) isn't as revolutionary as you want people to think or, 2) it just doesn't work the way that you want us to think it does.

Don't insult us, or our knowledge of games.

Anyway, this last bit isn't directed at Alternity or Sasquatch Game Studio. It is just something from the 90s that lingers, and it bugs me.

So, let's see what the next reveal about Alternity will be.

 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The High End Of Gaming: Looking At Invisible Sun And The Gods War


It is interesting to watch the relative progresses of the two luxury table top games on Kickstarter right now. We have Glorantha: The Gods War from Petersen Games, and Invisible Sun from Monte Cook Games. I haven't back either, nor do I plan to, and the occasional analysis like this is part of why I don't back many Kickstarters.

This information is from Kicktraq, and current at the time of this post.

The Gods War
Backers: 1103
Average Daily Pledges: $113,012
Average Pledge Per Backer: $307
Funding: $339,037 of $100,000
Dates: Aug 16th -> Sep 15th (30 days)
Project By: Sandy Petersen

Invisible Sun
Backers: 903
Average Daily Pledges: $62,361
Average Pledge Per Backer: $276
Funding: $249,445 of $210,653
Dates: Aug 15th -> Sep 16th (33 days)
Project By: Monte Cook Games

It makes sense that Gods War would be more likely to fund first (it did), because its funding goal was about half that of Invisible Sun. It looked like Invisible Sun would fun on its first day, but it didn't until the second. Gods War funded on its first day.

Both of these games have pretty impressive names behind them. Sandy Petersen pretty much created horror gaming with Call of Cthulhu, not to mention work on seminal computer games like Doom. The Cthulhu Wars Kickstarter raised just over $1.4 million.

Monte Cook was one of the architects of the D20 System, and has worked on properties as diverse as World of Darkness and Call of Cthulhu. With the mega adventure Ptolus, he created what was probably the first successful boutique RPG supplement. The first Monte Cook Games game, Numenera, raised a little over half a million on Kickstarter.

These are both big producers, backed by designers with impressive pedigrees. According to Kicktraq, both are on a path to big numbers, just over $3 million for Gods War and just over $2 million for Invisible Sun. Of course, Kicktraq's projections are often wrong at this early of a point in a campaign.

I think that the important question from all of this is...Does this mean that we're going to see a spike in high end/boutique gaming items? Since both of these projects have funded, and are on track to make a good bit of money I think that is an easy guess that there will be more people will try to Kickstart high end gaming products. Will they succeed is an entirely different question. Sandy Petersen and Monte Cook are fairly unique individuals in tabletop gaming. There probably aren't a lot of creators with the cache to do what they do. I can see a lot of creators trying to create these types of products, I don't see many of them succeeding at it.

A lot of the conversations about Invisible Sun have revolved around the high price, but I think that can be a fallacious conversation. I get that people want games to cost less than $197 to buy into them. We have to get over the idea that all games are supposed to be cheap all the time. The fact that Invisible Sun or Gods War is successful in funding doesn't mean that all of a sudden everyone else is going to be charging more for their games. There is a good chance that there are a lot of publishers aren't paying themselves for the work that they do, or that creators are undercharging their fees because this is a "dream job." It is still a job, and if it is a job it should be what people are living off of.

I think that people forget that their beloved TSR games were made by people who worked every day in an office, and made a weekly paycheck for it. They weren't working for exposure, or to "live the dream."

I think that a big part of why Gods War is doing better than Invisible Sun, at least for now, is because the fans of board games understand better that if you want quality game designs and quality products, you have to pay for them. Meanwhile, role-playing fans still think that books with black & white art was good enough when they started, and is still good enough now. This isn't coming down on games with black and white art. I have games on my shelves with black and white art. I make games with black and white art, because they are what I can afford. I don't think that these games should be the standard for all the other games, however. I am perfectly fine with people like Cook or Petersen making games that I am not going to play. I don't expect my tastes to be catered to by publishers. The great thing about RPGs is the fact that, if games aren't being made that I am interested in play I can make those games myself.

So here we are as a fandom and as a business, standing on the edge of a cliff, with our toes dangling into empty space as we can feel the ground crumbling beneath us. We can decide that it is okay to embrace high end gaming items that we might not necessarily want, because that means that we will get better choices and more diversity overall in what is available. Or we can jump, cursing and screaming that it was somebody else's fault, and they are ruining the hobby, or the industry, or...something. I think it is time for growth.

There are always going to be a wide variety of tabletop games out there. From people who put books together on Lulu or the OneBookSheld sites, to companies like Palladium, to companies like Wizards of the Coast or Pelgrane, all the way up to companies like Petersen Games and Monte Cook Games. The existence of games like Invisible Sun or Night's Black Agents does stop Palladium from making more Rifts books. The existence of the D&D 5E books doesn't stop some guy with a computer, and a gaming group, from crafting a book from his play experiences and putting it up on Lulu with a few pieces of clip art. To think that Invisible Sun is ruining gaming, or making it more expensive, just by its existence is silly. We have a vibrant hobby. We have a vibrant industry. There are more games being produced now than probably ever before. We are getting games of all sorts of genres, playstyles and prices. And that is an awesome thing.

It is interesting to look at the numbers for Invisible Sun and for the Gods War and see where they are going to go. I'm sure, just in the time that it has taken me to write this article, that both of them have jumped in backers and funding levels. Even though neither of the games are for me, I wish them well and hope that both of them make a lot of money for their creators, and that allows them to make a lot of games for people. I hope that people have a lot of fun with those games, out in the world.

We need to stop worrying about what is going to ruin gaming, and spend more time thinking about how we're going to each make it better.



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Stranger Things


You can do this for yourself here.

Burlesque House Siege Pre-Release


Dungeons & Donuts blogger Kiel Chenier is looking to recoup his Gen Con 2016 expenses. Chenier is selling a pre-release version of the adventure Burlesque House Siege (the adventure that he ran at the con) to make up the money that he spent on badge and housing.
On the outskirts of town is the Maison Derriere, a bawdy burlesque house that's been providing entertainment and thrills to people for decades. You spent the night and had an amazing time...
...only to wake up in the morning to find the building is about to be attacked by a bandit army.
Join a group of dancers and performers in defending their home from waves of bandits and thugs in this LGBT-friendly adventure for tabletop roleplaying games. Compatible with D&D (all editions), Pathfinder, Dungeon World, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and more.
Kiel's details about the adventure:
This is a "Buystarter Release"
The adventure text and design is complete, but the layout and final art have not been completed. Buying the adventure now gets you the current version of the adventure, and the updated final version when it's released in September, 2016.
The final version will cost $8.99, meaning you save $3.00 by purchasing Burlesque House Siege! early.
Help out a fellow designer and GM.



Friday, August 12, 2016

Q&A With Author Christa Faust About Peepland From Titan Comics


I was able to get to ask a few questions of iconoclastic novelist Christa Faust about her upcoming noir comic Peepland, to come out from Titan Comics on October 12th. Faust burst onto the fiction scene in the late 90s with the horror/crime/erotic novel Control Freak and then with the collaboration with Poppy Brite on Triads. More recently Faust has explored the noir genre with the Angel Dare mysteries for Hard Case Crime and the Butch Fatale, Dyke Dick mysteries.




The Hard Case Crime mystery fiction imprint is expanding into comics with Titan Comics. One of the first releases will be the autobiographical noir series Peepland, co-authored by Faust.


Dorkland! Blog: What is it about noir that makes it interesting for you as a creator?

Christa Faust: I’ve never been a big fan of “whodunnits.” I’m much more interested in the type of stories I call “whydunnits.” There may be a murder or some other form of crime that drives the plot, but the real story is about the characters involved in or affected by that crime, their inner struggles and the ways in which they come unraveled under pressure. I’ve also never been interested in saintly, flawless heroes and dastardly, irredeemable villains. Noir lets you explore those ambiguous, overlapping gray areas that exist inside of everyone.

DLB: What is it about noir that gives it a lasting appeal to audiences?

CF: I love to read noir for a lot of the same reasons I love to write it. We see our own flaws and foibles reflected in those kinds of gray-shaded characters. We’re living in dark and uncertain times and, for a lot of readers, stories full of darkness and uncertainty feel more authentic and relatable.

DLB: Does noir work better in a "historical" or contemporary milieu?

CF: I don’t see it as an either/or thing, because I like it both ways. The theme of ordinary, flawed characters who get mixed up in criminal endeavors, make bad decisions and get in over their heads is one that has an appeal no matter what the setting. I do think there’s an unfortunate perception that noir all is about fedoras and shadows and seamed stockings and that really needs to be debunked. See, there’s nothing wrong with those things, in fact I’m a huge fan of classic mid-century noir, but those things are ultimately just set dressing. You can write noir in which everybody wears fedoras or tricorn hats or trucker hats, but what matters is what’s going on underneath those hats.


DLB: What were some of the autobiographical elements to Peepland?

CF: I grew up in Hell’s Kitchen on 45th street and 9th avenue, just west of Times Square. I worked in the peep booths back in the late 80s and I always wanted to write about those days because I’d never seen that environment portrayed in a way that accurately reflected my own experience. The character of Roxy is a lot like me at that age, but more than that, Peepland is a love letter to the gritty, sleazy and long gone city that raised me and made me who I am today.

DLB: What would have been the best and worse parts to working a "peep show" booth?

CF: The best part was all the quirky characters and fascinating stories. By the time I left to start working full time as a professional Dominatrix in 1990, I had collected enough inspiration to write a hundred books. The worst part was being subjected to insipid pop music for hours on end. Also, I’m a little claustrophobic so long sessions stuck inside that tiny booth were a bit of a drag.


DLB: What does the voice of a female protagonist bring to noir?

CF: The female characters in so much noir fiction, film or comics exist primarily to arouse lust, require rescue or fuel vengeance on the part of the male protagonists. Always the Femme Fatale or the Lost Angel, but either way we never got to hear her side of the story. I think giving noir a female voice helps to reinvigorate the genre and ultimately broadens the audience. I’m always looking to find ways to appeal both to women who think they don’t like noir and men who think they don’t like female protagonists. I like to lure readers out of their comfort zones, make them question everything, and see the world through a different set of eyes.

DLB: What about Peepland would appeal to comic readers? What would appeal to fans of noir?

CF: I’m a newbie in the comic world, and Peepland is my first comic project, so I don’t really have enough experience yet to say with any kind of authority what does or doesn’t appeal to comic readers. I will say that it’s a very visual story that relies heavily on the evocation of its vintage setting and I hope that Andrea Camerini’s gritty, realistic depiction of the New York City streets where I grew up will appeal to comic fans. And noir fans like me are all about the story, so I know this story is right up their dark alley.


DLB: What part of Peepland are you most interested in seeing the readers react to?

CF: The setting, no doubt. So many young people have only ever known the gentrified, outdoor mall version of Times Square, so I really want to share my own personal memories and experiences with them. I also hope to hear from New Yorkers my own age who will remember and appreciate all the little details, references and in-jokes from that era.

DLB: What challenges are there to telling a story through a comic book that you don't have in a novel?

CF: All the usual stuff, like learning how to think in panels instead of scenes and trying to find ways to translate my vision onto the page in collaboration with an artist, but hardest part for me personally was the dialog. I love listening to people talk and I pick up on regional accents and verbal quirks like a parrot. As a novelist, dialog is my superpower. But I learned pretty quick that you can’t have long, nuanced conversations in comics. One character can say one thing, and then the other can say one thing and the first can maybe say one more very short thing back, but that’s it. You can’t fit a zillion word balloons into one panel and you can’t have panel after panel of talking heads. You need to get the point across in as few words as possible and then move on.

DLB: How different was your process for working with a collaborator?

CF: Of course it was different but in this case, it was absolutely essential. I didn’t have the first clue how to write a comic script before this project and my co-author Gary Phillips (The Rinse, Cowboys) is an old pro. He’s the crafty veteran while I’m the mouthy, impulsive rookie. Plus, a lot of his work deals with the same themes that I wanted to explore in Peepland, such as corruption and gentrification. I just knew he’d be the perfect tag team partner and by working together, we wound up with a much better story than either one of us could have created alone.

DLB: What is next on the agenda?

CF: I’m currently working on the third Angel Dare novel. It’s called The Get Off and is set in the world of rodeo bullfighters. I spent two years traveling around with those guys and getting to know their daily grind. It was a lot like visiting another planet for this New York City girl. When (some days it feels more like if!) I get that one in the can, I’m wide open to take on something new and different. Guess we’ll see…


Times Square, 1986: the home of New York’s red light district where strip clubs, porno theatres and petty crime prevails. 

When a chance encounter for Peepbooth worker Roxy Bell leads to the brutal murder of a public access pornographer, the erotic performer and her punk rock ex-partner Nick Zero soon find themselves under fire from criminals, cops, and the city elite, as they begin to untangle a complex web of corruption leading right to city hall.

Like The Naked City, there are eight million stories in The Deuce. This is one of them.

Be sure to pick up your copy of the first issue of Peepland by Christa Faust and Gary Phillips at your friendly local comic store brought to us by the Hard Case Crime comics from Titan Comics on October 12, 2016.