Saving the World # 1 Review

Greetings, I am back again with another comic review of Saving the World # 1 and it’s companion volume Saving the Universe # 1 by Tonic Mole.

Though I really like the creators on these two books I will strive to be fair and not allow my biases cloud my judgment.

Starting with Saving the World you have a stunning front cover by the Illustrator Monk and a fun back cover by Ryan Foust.

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Breaking open the comic you are greeted with a black inner cover with some gray images topped by white text of the credits for the issue. An interesting choice.

Next you have the first page with the main character in her hero garb with the city in silhouette and the Saving the World logo.

Tonic has a distinct style and one I enjoy. That said it isn’t for everyone. Sure you could say that for all comic artists but some artists have broader appeal than others. I grew up with indie/underground comics so Tonic’s art is in my wheel house.

Layout of the book is traditional – multiple square or rectangle panels. Each panel is full but not chaotic so easy to read. I am not a fan of empty space on a page and Tonic uses space well.

This issue is basically the origin story and attempts to introduce the two main characters Kiera and Nora. It does a fine job doing that as well as giving a bit of drama and action too boot.

Tonic is not afraid of showing a bit of T & A, something that I really appreciate. He also isn’t afraid to have a curvy female character which seems to becoming verboten in mainstream comics especially Marvel. (*cough, cough – Captain Marvel – cough, cough*)

My main criticism of this book is large blocky thought boxes showing inner monologue.

They could have been drawn smaller with smaller text. They take up unnecessary space in the panels and hide some of the background details.

The same goes with the speech bubbles in some of the early panels. But in general most of the speech bubbles were better sized and placed in the panels.

Overall I really enjoyed Saving the World # 1 and I am looking forward to future issues. The crowdfunding campaigns for Issue two is now active on both IGG and Kickstarter.

Now to Saving the Universe # 1 by Tonic Mole, Tony Sizzle and Peter Palmiotti.

First off are the black and white covers by Tonic Mole. I think the black and white covers were kind of a misstep on Tonic’s part.

I understand that Saving the Universe was initially meant to be a smaller ashcan where the black and white cover fits. But once the decision to make StU a full comic the cover should have been given the color treatment – at least for the back cover.

The front cover is fine but the back cover feels it is missing something and it is color.  The cover images are fun but that back cover is just doesn’t pop.

Now let’s break this book open. First thing you get is great use of the inner covers. The front inner cover has the contents page and I like the dynamics of it. A definite improvement compared to the StW front inner cover content page.

Saving the Universe is an anthology with three stories focusing on three characters that share the same universe with Kiera and Nora.

Tonic has been clear that he wants to introduce several characters thus creating a vibrant shared universe.

First off you got Gypsy written by Tonic and illustrated by Tony Sizzle. Of the three stories this one I was looking forward to the most, as I really enjoyed Tony’s previous work.

Though I did enjoy this story well enough I have some issues with it. One is the empty horizons, the art seems to lead to a white void. And the last panel on page three feels unfinished. It is like the figures and car are floating on a white void untethered by reality.

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In panel one on page three the main character is posed in a way that makes you feel she should be falling over.

Tony can illustrate backgrounds like nobodies business. The dude has talent. His characters need work but Tony has potential.

Another quibble is the choice of bad guy on pages six and seven – a Nazi Skinhead. Lazy.

As an ex-White Power Skinhead and now reformed bohemian misfit, the idea of yet another Nazi attempting to kill some lone white woman apparently by random just feels lazy.

Overall the story is fine but could have been polished a bit more and the unnecessary “Nazi” bad guy trope could have been missed.

I have zero problem with Nazis as bad guys, in fact I like Fascists as bad guys and a few comic ideas I have have them. But in this case it seemed unnecessary.

Next up is Lilly & Wepwawet by Tonic Mole himself.

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This story is brief and introduces two characters to the universe and I really enjoyed it. Though there isn’t any background details in the panels they don’t look like empty white voids.

Tonic knows how to fill space in a way that gives a feeling of volume even with negative space. This shines in this story.

Lilly is gorgeous. And I really hope to see more of her in the future as well as Wepwawt. The interchange between both characters was well written and drawn. Kudos Tonic.

Now onto the last of the three stories in this anthology. Stratus written by Tonic Mole and illustrated by Peter Palmiotti.

This story is laid out in a conventional way and is the most traditional looking “superhero” of the stories in the anthology.

The art by Peter is chaotic. It looks like Peter is still trying to figure out his style. In one panel one of the characters looks like a poor manga drawing whereas in a following panel the same character is drawn in a more western style.

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I think Peter needs to figure out if he wants to do a more traditional Western superhero style or a more humorous cartoony style. The the shifting back and forth is at times off putting.

Peter has talent but needs to find a style that he can stick with throughout a story.

Some of his art reminded me of early Timothy Vigil’s art (not a bad thing in my book) and at times a cartoony artist from an Aicel Comics book I read a backup story by.

Peter could pull off both independently depending upon the needs of a book/story but when both styles mix they are jarring.

The story as written is fine and overall Saving the Universe # 1 was a fine read. A bit chaotic but full of potential.

Of the three stories the second one “Lilly & Wepwawet” was the stand out tale for me. Both these characters just beg for future stories and I will be looking forward to them.

Well this is all for this review. I will post my next review in a few days. Take care and fin.

Napalm Brothers #1 Review

Greetings and now to something completely different – a comic book review!

A while back I backed three comic book crowdfunding campaigns and the first two arrived recently.

Toss in stress over my upcoming move and very recent gallbladder surgery I hadn’t the time or wasn’t in the frame of mind to do the reviews.

My pain has lessened and I have some time to search for a new place to live I figured that I could do the reviews now.

First up is today’s review of Napalm Brothers #1 by Sixth Scale Combat. Both Sixth and I share some similar interests especially when it comes to art & film.

I will be reviewing both the main comic as well as the Ashcan that came with issue #1.

Napalm Brothers is a homage to 70’s action films and an ode to Vietnam War vets like my dad, a retired Marine. Both of these things really appealed to me on a primal level.

The art is in part inspired by R. Crumb and other 70’s underground comic artists and graffiti art. Again things that really appeal to me. This book was made for a person like me.

That said I will try to keep my biases to a minimum and give Napalm Brothers a fair review.

Now to the review – Wow! The front cover just oozes atmosphere and style. It looks like a film poster and has everything I am looking for in a cover image. It hooks you right away and says, “please pick me up and flip through me”.I

The back cover is striking and looks like something off nose art for a jet or a playing card. For those in the know there is a not so subtle dig at some Twitter drama queens.

Now to break this bad boy open and see what we got. First is the black inner cover with the Napalm Brothers logo & Sixth Scale Combat’s personal logo as he was the sole creative involved on this comic.

The first two pages are vibrantly colored dream/flashback  with some narration to get you up to speed.

The pdf file was corrupted thus the lines in the art above.

The basic premise of this comic is two vets – Brothers in Arms, retired Marines are heading to a friend’s funeral.

The story involves a few brief alterations, the first shows that in the 70’s Vietnam Vets didn’t get the respect they deserved. MBut the second conflict hints at events to come in issue two.

I can’t think of any criticisms except one that another reviewer mentioned and that was the lack of introductions to the main two characters.

I understand that this book will not appeal to general comic book audiences. It is aimed at a specific audience…. politically incorrect misfit creative types. People into 70’s Underground Comix/Art, Acid Rock, 70’s action films, graffiti and street level subcultures. Basically people like me & Sixth.

Now to the Ashcan Charlie in the wire.

The first thing that will hit you are the striking red, black & white covers. Stunning!  Sixth did Front cover while Tony Sizzle did the back cover.

As you open up the ashcan you are greeted with a blank interior front cover. My only criticism is that the image on the front page should have been place there to match the one on the inside back cover.

The first page could have been a front page introduction to the two stories and artists. A quibble but hopefully if Sixth creates another ashcan with issue two he will keep things a bit uniform – blank pages should be avoidable especially since the back inside cover has content.

The ashcan is black and white and it does not suffer. This is what I have been missing outside manga – quality black and white comics.

Sixth starts us up with an 11 page story that introduces us to a pivotal background character Duane. This gives you plenty of background that fleshes out the story in the main book. Is it required to enjoy said title? No, but it is a welcome addition to the overall story.

This story is followed by a textless 4 page comic by Tony Sizzle starring Bongo the purple Gorilla. It is likewise black and white.

Tony’s art is very distinctive and in this ashcan reminds me of R. Crumb and Vaughn Bodé’s tendency to exaggerate movement of their characters when walking.

Tony can tell a story with pictures alone and I wish more comic artists utilized the technique more often. Comics are not novels, the art should be the main vehicle to tell the story with dialogue and thought balloons being used when required only.

I hope that both Sixth and Tony work together again in the future. They make up a dynamic duo. See you later, fin.

Greetings, it’s been awhile since I have posted on this blog. Life happens and I am in the middle of a move so won’t post much until I get settled in.

Though I said that I won’t post political topics and be negative there is a schism in the RPG hobby that I feel compelled to discuss. I will try to keep this post on point and not get political as I present my take on this topic – Alignment and Race in D&D.

On the hell-scape known as Twitter and other social media you will inevitably run into the idea that there are “Evil Races” that D&D is racist and if you defend the concept of “Evil Races” you are racist.

Tied to this is the concept that Orcs (and other humanoids) are stand-ins for “POC”. Wow! Take in that statement for a minute.

I am “White” and through my decades of gaming I cannot remember one instance my fellow “White” gamers EVER equating Humanoids with POC.

In fact most of the official D&D settings have POC cultures that players could play and interact with. Humanoids were portrayed in art and text in ways that they were either beast-men or green, red or orange skinned fanged bestial creatures.

I follow an account on Twitter called Black Dragon Games and he has a wonderful blog found here. Though I deeply respect him I do not always agree with him.

He posted about Alignment & Race in his latest blog entry. Though I agree with him that alignment in AD&D (and by extension D&D in general) isn’t racist or essentialist in nature, I do disagree with his stance that Orcs (and Humanoids) are coded as POC.

That is one huge leap in my opinion and one I disagree with vigorously. The only evidence that I see that informs BDG of this “truth” is that he is a Historian and historically POC have been othered and still are in some sectors of society.

have studied enough history to be able to say yes Western Civilization has had a history of othering POC. (I am a amateur compared with BDG concerning my historical studies). 

Let’s take the British, they othered the Irish, Anglo-Americans also othered Irish, Italians and French Cajuns among others.

The Romans saw my Celtic and Germanic ancestors as violent savages that needed to be pacified and given “culture”.

My ancestors were pacified, oppressed, enslaved and used for both labor and pleasure. POC are not unique in this, nor are their oppression and the harm done to them lessened by the above fact.

Now toss in the Han Chinese, they have a long history of Imperialism, colonialism and othering non Han Chinese. One word for you – Tibet. That is just one example of POC Imperialism and Colonialism throughout history.

Add to that the Assyrians, Babylonians, ancient Israelites, Egyptians, Nubians, Aztecs, Mayans; and the Japanese prior to and during WWII.

All these people used similar language and othering to those that were deemed lesser than, who were deemed primitive and savage compared to their culture.

This not excuse Western Culture of doing these things but gives context that they are just as flawed as all humanity. They just were more successful in their Imperialism and colonialism in the modern era.

When I see Humanoids I see them as they are intended – monsters with no real world analog.

Just because historically certain words were used in context to POC doesn’t mean those same words mean anyone they are applied to are equates to POC. That is silly and insulting.

In most official and home brew settings you will have human ethnic groups that are analogous of real world ethnic cultures. Another thing that pisses off certain people and leads to Racist Reeeeee response online.

But in most cases these analogs are done tastefully. Yet they are seen as racist. In Forgotten Realms the critics rail against the Sub Saharan inspired tribal societies in Chult yet ignore the Mahogany skinned human ethnic cultured Turmish – a advanced culture of traders and warriors.

There are numerous human ethnic groups that can be labeled as POC in FR alone – the Calimshites, Amnites, Thayians and numerous others. Some of these as BDG stated fall under the Colonizer label.

They mirror their real world counterparts throughout history.

You simply cannot get away from the tropes of colonialism and imperialism as they are part of human history and fiction that influences & informs our games and setting design.

All we can do is strive to be respectful and honor the cultures that we draw upon as we develop our campaign settings and role play these characters.

Orcs and other Humanoids are NOT coded as POC. If you see Humanoids as coded as POC I think you need to do some serious self analysis. Figure out why you do so?

I am an ex-White Power Skinhead and even during that period of my life I never equated Orcs and other Humanoids as POC. Orcs were Orcs, Black folk were Black folk.

Are there racists who see Orcs as POC? Maybe. I definitely believe some so-called anti-racist critics of “Evil Races” do so and I have seen tweets that say “All White D&D players see POC as Orcs”. That is a racist statement.

Alignment isn’t racist nor are “Evil Races” racist and Orcs/Humanoids are not coded as POC… in my opinion. I have never seen evidence of such things in my decades of gaming.

I will end this post here, in my next few posts I will be doing comic reviews on a few campaigns that I backed. Fin.

A Brief Update

Greetings, as I said on my companion blog (Adventures in Original Edition Gaming) I haven’t been able to post new content because: 1) I was having issues with my computer and internet access and 2) my mother’s health and eventual passing on Sept. 21st. I’ll be posting more in the near future as I need a creative outlet, as I am now in a better head-space.

As my post about my soft reboot stated, I’ll be staying away from political BS and drama here going forward. In addition I will be covering Cyberpunk 2020 and the upcoming Cyberpunk RED RPGs as well as Classic Traveller and other rules-lite RPGs. I love the Cyberpunk genre in general be it in art, film, literature & in games. I have had a long abiding interest in near future Dystopian and Post Apocalyptic themes in these creative spheres, so it is only natural that I’ll cover them here in some fashion.

Well this is all for now, see you again soon.

Soft Reboot of the blog announcement post

Greetings, it’s been quite awhile since I last posted on this blog, frankly I just didn’t have much to say. I had considered posting about the politicalization of the RPG/gaming hobby by Cultural Marxists, as is also happening to video games and comics, but frankly I didn’t want to go political on my blog. I wanted to keep this blog positive and not get mired in click bait as a lot of such blogs have become. As such I don’t want this blog to be all about bitching and moaning about the industry and state of the hobby.

I game to have fun and escape the real world and the issues we deal with in it. Whereas in comics and video games where you have corporate cultures and outside pressure groups vying for influence upon the mediums at play there; Tabletop RPGs are largely immune from them because of their very nature. Once you buy a RPG (especially a somewhat older one) you can play it as is and ignore any of the politicalization the corporation chooses to include in their future products.

This is something I love about the hobby and older editions of Dungeons & Dragons especially; they are largely immune from such BS. As long as you surround yourself with fun & and engaging people who share similar values & outlook you are golden. All the chatter on Facebook, the forums & Twitter is just noise that you can tune out if you choose to and have fun. I want this blog to be about having fun, not just another venue for politics and moaning about said politics.

Instead of bitching about things I cannot change in the industry I will be focusing on celebrating things I like about our beloved hobby. I’ll also be shifting focus from just general RPG discussions to also discussing other games I will play and even discuss non-gaming geeky pursuits I also enjoy. As such I’ll be rebranding this blog to ‘Musings of a Maverick Referee & HooliGeek’. This way I’ll have more to discuss while leaving my core RPG content for my ‘Musings about Original Edition Adventures’ blog. That doesn’t mean I’ll be dropping RPG content from here but the content I will post will be focused on RPGs like Classic Traveller and any other RPG I try out, like the Index Card RPG, Maze Rats and other rules-lite rpgs.

I want this (and my other blog) to be about celebrating having fun with the games and geeky hobbies we enjoy. We can make more positive change by supporting content we want to see from all mediums than just bickering online over things that are supposed to be escapist fun. So instead of being part of the cycle of drama I’m going to opt out of it and focus on the positive. This will apply to all my online discourse including that toxic cesspool called Twitter.

If there is something I don’t like going on in the industry or hobby, I’ll counter it by not fanning the flames but creating (hopefully) fun quality content and celebrating the content of others, if I can’t do so myself. I want you the reader to not have to worry about “will Matthew jump onto discussing some “controversy” or another?”. No, you’ll get content about things I enjoy and want to share, of which I’ll hope that you’ll also enjoy and choose to share with your friends. That means I have to step up my game, improve my content and try to be more frequent on my postings. Please take care and have fun, cheers.

A compiled list of Blackmoor Week 2018 posts

El Borak the current Admin at Ruins of Murkhill compiled this useful list of all of the Blackmoor Week 2018 and Dave Arneson Birthday posts culled from across the interwebs & I am sharing it here. Take a look and give them a read if you have time.

Compiled Complete List (of everything we can locate)

Pre-Announcement of Dave Arneson Game Day October 1, 2018 posted on 9/22/2018

Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 Coming Up!

(Eight Days a Week)(Google if you don’t get the reference  ;) )
Blackmoor Week is September 24th through October 1st (yeah we know that is eight days) and October 1st is Dave Arneson Game Day. Several people who have blogs are posting in celebration of the Week and of The Day.

Day One Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 24, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day One)
Blackmoor Week Day One and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day ONE
Blackmoor Week Day One
Blackmoor Week Day I
Let’s Celebrate Blackmoor Week 2018

Day Two Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 25, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Two)
Blackmoor Week Day Two and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day TWO
Blackmoor Week Day Two
Blackmoor Week Day II

Day Three Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 26, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Three)
Blackmoor Week Day Three and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day THREE
Blackmoor Week Day Three
Blackmoor Week Day III

Day Four Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 27, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Four)
Blackmoor Week Day Four and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day FOUR
Blackmoor Week Day Four
Blackmoor Week Day IV
T
he Mystery of Dave Arneson’s Engine

Day Five Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 28, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Five)
Blackmoor Week Day Five and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day FIVE
Blackmoor Week Day Five
Blackmoor Week Day V

Day Six Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 29, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Six)
Blackmoor Week Day Six and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day SIX
Blackmoor Week Day Six
Blackmoor Week Day VI
When Dave Arneson Changed the World (Murkhill’s tinyurl.com/DaveArnesonWeek )

Day Seven Blackmoor Week Blog Posts for September 30, 2018

Celebrating Blackmoor Week (Day Seven)
Blackmoor Week Day Seven and Dave Arneson Game Day
Blackmoor Week Day SEVEN
Blackmoor Week Day Seven
Blackmoor Week Day VII
Celebrating Blackmoor Week 2018

“Who in the World is Dave Arneson?” A Dave Arneson Homage, Part 1 of 2 by James Maliszewski posted at Goodman Games

Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 Blog Posts for October 1, 2018

Dave Arneson Game Day celebrated today on his birthday October 1st 2018
Dave Arneson Game Day (October 1st 2018)
Dave Arneson Game Day today October 1st, 2018
October First 2018 “Dave Arneson Game Day”!
At Last It Is Here – Dave Arneson Game Day!
Happy Birthday Dave Arneson

Learning from Dave Arneson’s Published Works A Dave Arneson Homage, Part 2 of 2 by James Maliszewski

Happy Dave Arneson Day! by Bruce Heard
Spooky Blackmoor: The Horseman of the North
David Fant, Baron of Blackmoor (Interview)
“WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?” — DAVE ARNESON’S LEGACY (Today is Dave Arneson’s birthday, also known as Dave Arneson Game Day.)

Other Posts on Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 October 1, 2018

Other posts by havard

Dave Arneson Game Day 2018!
Happy birthday Dave Arneson! (2018)
GS3 Castle Newgate Gazeteer by Greg Svenson (DA Day Release) (For Members only)
Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 – Coming soon!
Blackmoor Living World (DA Day 2018 Release)
Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 – Official Discussion!
Maliszewski on Dave Arneson Dave Arneson Game Day 2018
Living Blackmoor (DA Day 2018 Release)
Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 – Preparation Thread
GS3 Castle Newgate Gazeteer by Greg Svenson (DA Day Release)

A partial list of Dave Arneson Game Day Posts.

Dave Arneson Game Day 2018 Highlights!

Well I have plenty of reading to do & I hope that you take the chance to do so as well. Take care & game on! Fin.

Happy Birthday Dave Arneson

davearnesonbanner

Greetings, in today’s post I cap Blackmoor week by celebrating Dave Arneson without whom the RPG hobby and Dungeons & Dragons would not exist – at least as it currently is constituted. Could D&D and the RPG hobby exist without Dave Arneson? No for the former, but possibly yes for the latter, but we’ll never know about that what if?

Dave Arneson was born Oct. 1st 1947 and like many of his contemporaries he was an avid miniature wargamer and a fantasy enthusiast. It was through wargaming that he met Gary Gygax a pivotal moment that eventually gave birth to our beloved hobby and its flagship game Dungeons & Dragons. Though the Blackmoor Campaign was the catalyst through which the spark of inspiration was born, Dave continued building upon its foundations – his game was in constant flux as Dave would tinker with his rules to meet the needs of his campaigns.

After leaving TSR Dave co-authored Adventures in Fantasy with another stalwart of the fledgling scene, Richard L. Snider (Powers & Perils RPG) and founded Adventure Games in 1980 and eventually co-founded Zeitgeist Games in 2002.   Dave would eventually go on to teach both computer game design & game rules design at Full Sail University until his death in 2009.

As I said in my previous post Dave Arneson was barely a footnote in my book when it came to the history of our hobby and it is sad that more hasn’t been done to celebrate his career in gaming but our hobby in general. I want to tip my hat to Dave Arneson, thank you for without your contribution to the hobby and game (D&D) I love; my life would be far emptier. May you rest in peace, happy birthday Dave.  Fin.