Friday, August 31, 2018

The Path To Whimsy

A long time ago, back in the Stone Age before the internet was what it is today, there was a tool for players that was put out by White Wolf called StoryPath and Whimsy cards. Now, Nocturnal Media have relaunched the lines, and added sets of cards that were originally planned but never launched.




Top 10 Influential Books

There's one of those memes going around Facebook where people share the ten books that have been most influential on them throughout their lives. I'm not big on the whole "tag me and I will tag someone to do the same post" thing, so I'm just going to post here to my blog instead. Here are ten books, in no particular order or anything, along with a little blurb for each.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Go Into The Void With Horror Comic The Gentleman

There is a long history of the occult detective in horror fiction, starting back with characters like Carnaki and John Silence and stretching into the present with comic book characters like Doctor Occult and John Constantine. SFC Comics now brings a new character into this tradition in there comic The Gentleman: Darkness of the Void.

Oliver Solomon, the hero of The Gentleman, isn't just a Constantine of color. Like many heroes of horror, Solomon is haunted by his past. This aspect of the character is brought out in the story quickly, but it is handled in an organic manner by writer Greg Anderson Elysee. What could have been a cliched stereotype of a character is engaging and pulls you along deeper into the story, like a good antagonist should do.

The character of Solomon joins a small circle of male bisexual characters in comics. Sexuality can be an important part of both people and fictional characters, and sexual attraction can influence how people interact with each other. Solomon's sexuality is right on the surface of the character, and telegraphs his interaction with other characters in places. I think that this adds depth to the character and makes Solomon feel more real. Sexual attraction can make us all do stupid things, and in a world where supernatural horrors are real it can make a person do things that are really stupid. But, when the "smart" choice would be to not engage with a world of horrors, it is important to have a motivation that compels the character to act. Is sexual attraction a smart reason to do something? Not always, but I am sure that we can all think of times that we've done stupid things because of sexual attraction.

Obviously, this isn't an all ages comic book. There is nothing sexually explicit in this first issue, but The Gentleman's creative team is not afraid to jump head first into the mature themes that are often an important part of horror fiction.

The book is a bit of a slow burn, opting to build the tone and feel of the setting, but this isn't unusual for horror fiction, or comics. World building is important to horror, and Elysee confidently builds and reveals the world of The Gentleman without being heavy handed.

The Gentleman dives into the worlds of African and Caribbean mysticism, which is another way that the story sets itself apart from other horror comics. The use of this mysticism is a breath of fresh air because any other horror comic would have seen yet another retread of the Goetia and white mysticism that we usually see in comics. This is just one of the reasons why fresh voices, and fresh perspectives, outside of what we have seen again and again in comic book storytelling are so important. We need diverse voices in our entertainment because we need fresh perspectives and approaches to stories in our comic books. We've seen plenty of the same old voices, we need more of the new voices.

The art of Massimiliano Veltri is wonderful and has been given a vivid power by the colors of Marco Pagnotta. The art is bold and lifelike, and in a number of places I think that Veltri's art is very reminiscent of Tom Mandrake's work. As Mandrake is probably one of the best horror comic artists, this comparison isn't a bad one. The characters are well rendered and recognizable, and the art brings the world to life. Pagnotta's color palette is warm and restrained, and doesn't turn the book's shadowy world muddy.

This was a great start to the story of Oliver Solomon, and I look forward to seeing more of it. There is so much more story hinted at in this first issue, and in the capable hands of Elysee and Veltri I think that this comic has nowhere to go but up.

With the release of The Gentleman we should start the clock on how long it will be before Elysee is snatched up by one of the major publishers in comics. As a writer he has a strong sense of character and story, an innate storytelling ability that goes beyond the few comics that he has written. It looks like we have a lot of great comics to look forward to from Elysee's pen in the years to come.

The Gentleman was published via a successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. My review is based on a digital copy provided by the book's author.




Friday, August 17, 2018

Looking Back At Gen Con 2018

Now that Gen Con is a couple of weeks in the rear view mirror, I think that I can put down some of my thoughts about the convention. This is going to be a more or less random set of impressions that I have, in no particular order of importance.