Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Exploring Comics by Genre: Crime

What's this? Yes, I'm going to write about something other than SFF and games.  I have good reason: many in the SFF realm seem to be unaware of comics outside of hero books. Brian Neimeier kicked this off in my head with a tweet:
And I think, I know of plenty of good comics that do that. BUT, for the most part, you have to look outside the superhero genre. I've gone through my library, and picked out selections in a few genres. These lists are by no means definitive, and just have some of what I believe are the best examples of graphic storytelling.

Onto today's genre: crime. This is an offshoot of the mystery genre, and includes some detective stories, but is inherently on the more violent side of things. Crime comics have been around for a long time, and they died out for awhile with the advent of the comics code. I don't have any of the old crime books, nor have I read them, but the panels I have seen were brutal. This is not a kid's genre, and moreso in graphic format.

Vertigo, king of modern crime books

I know, some are thinking Crime and Vertigo? I thought they did horror and such. Let's look at the list.

Road to Perdition: Max Allan Collins is one of the most underrated comic and mystery authors. This is the start of a great story set. There are two graphic sequels, Road to Perdition 2 and Return to Perdition, and two novels, Road to Purgatory and Road to Paradise.

A History of Violence: Good grief, this story's good. Please don't think the movie's like it; there's so little similarity, it's ridiculous.

100 Bullets: Azzarello and Risso's masterpiece of conspiracy, crime, and death. Each volume contains it's own symphony of violence.

The Kitchen: A crime story following the wives of Irish bosses in jail. Yes, there's plenty of death and betrayal.

Scalped: An FBI agent returns to investigate what's going on at the reservation he grew up on.

And, for awhile, there was the Vertigo Crime line. Some were meh, some were great. Here's two standouts: Rat Catcher and The Bronx Kill. But seriously, track down the line if any of the above worked for you.

Other crime books

Now, that's not to say there aren't significant works outside Vertigo. Here's some of the good stuff outside the hands of DC.

Sin City: I would be remiss for not mentioning these. Honestly some of Frank Miller's best work, especially by himself. You don't NEED to read the volumes in order.

Criminal: Brubaker and Philips write some mean comics together. This series is largely standalone volumes, but some are better having read previous ones.

Hawaiian Dick: An actual detective book? Yep. Stylish and filled with atmosphere, these stories even cover some of the folklore and superstition of Hawaii. Also, no sex within the books, and one of the earliest read for younger ones here. Still not for kids, but teens, YMMV.

The Last Days of American Crime: A near future where the US government is going to turn on a signal that will stop thought of wrongdoing. Last chance for a heist.

A Dummy's Guide to Danger: A private detective with a ventriloquist's doll for a partner. Definitely fun. Plenty violent(not over the top), and there is some nudity(corpses), but otherwise it might be okay for teens.YMMV.

Please keep in mind these are only selections, and ones that I personally consider good. These are crime books, the world is filled with nasty people, and even the protagonists have the potential to be mean if not sadistic. If crime books don't work for you, next we look at Spy comics.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Injustice Book Review: Chasing Freedom

Cower not, fierce reader! Today, we have a new book to review: Chasing Freedom by Marina Fontaine.  This is a fine work exemplifying the lengths that Social Justice should be striving for. But that is the setting, and not our story. Our story indeed commits many sins against Social Justice. Let the darkness of Injustice come forth!

To begin with, our story is one of rebellion against oppressive government. Cities in the United States have been abandoned to the Earth, in favor of Megalopolis living. Government determines your fitness for college, and assigns most jobs. Simple protesting is illegal. Mexico has walled off the border, and Canada is willing to take those that can make the trip.

Our rebels are generally more interested in disseminating information than fighting, though they do when necessary, to rescue their own from prisons kept secret, among other things. Workers at these prisons are usually only injured or hurt for resisting raids. Places are found for the inmates, to bring them back to life.  Restoration and mercy are worthy goals of Injustice.

Children and religion even have their places in this rebellion. Religion has been shunted to the side by government, and eventually persecuted.  Some of the rebels have faith, all respect it, and there is a sense of loss among those without. Children are protected at every cost by the rebels, first by getting them to homes they will be safe, and eventually establishing their own facilities to care for them nearby.

This book is not a perfect act of Injustice, but it does rather well. The setting focus on extreme environmentalism as having taken over the policies of government is a weakness, but it does explain some of the later moving pieces well.  As a work of fiction, I found it enjoyable and recommend it thoroughly. As an act of Injustice, it merits 7 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The play's the thing

From my friend over at Walker's Retreat:

It sounds nice, doesn't it? "Gaming is for everyone!"
And that first time shooting up heroin is fantastic too, as all the addict testimonies proclaim, but there are consequences that can't be avoided. Changing your medium--gaming, comics, etc.--to attract and retain an audience greater than what it historically acquired requires that you make changes that drive away that audience, which means that you either stop your self-destructive behaviors or you turn hostile to the audience you rely upon to stay afloat.

 This cry for "representation" deliberately ignores something that even we who are part of the scene sometimes forget: it's not for everyone. Gaming demands that you Git Gud. Science Fiction demands that you entertain big ideas as you explore their implications (Yes, even for the adventure stories.). The STEM fields demand that you step up and prove that you can master the knowledge and principles that drive their work. In every case, you must conform to it, and not it to you.

Please, go read the rest at your leisure. 

Let's expand that idea to the realm of tabletop gaming. There are basically strata of games in mass appeal, with wargames occupying the most rarefied air.  Why are there so few wargamers? Well, they remain insular, and quite willing to play games that take all day. There's also a measure of calculation that's further ahead of what minis require. Heavy Euros and Ameritrash games can come close, but they don't sell nearly as well as the light ones.

It's tiring to deal with people that call themselves gamers, and yet can't handle even a medium complexity game. Or to thoroughly go through a game explanation, and the card flopper has glazed eyes because you used words like worker placement and area control.

Which is part of why wargamers are so insular. They see the same things, and don't want to walk wusses up to the basic games they play. If they still don't get it by the end, it's wasted effort. So no, I don't have to be welcoming. I can be exclusive of people that only play light games, or that I find obnoxious. I don't care if the game doesn't have "womyn" represented, I care that it works well. To use the hashtag, #NotAtMyTable.

And just because you have an idea for a game, that doesn't make it good, or mean that it hasn't been done already, and better than you could. Boardgamegeek and RPGGeek are your friends for research. Maybe you'll find you don't need to waste months/years designing the game you want because it exists already. Or maybe you don't want a game, but a group activity.

Of course, if all you really want is to make money, clone CaH/Apples to Apples or make a zombie game with good minis. These don't require you to design a game that's good. 

When you play Social Justice, the world loses. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Injustice Book Review: A Pius Man Trilogy

Cower not, fierce reader! We return today with a review of not one but three books. This would be the trilogy by Declan Finn consisting of A Pius Man, A Pius Legacy, and A Pius Stand. Why review all three at once? I've read them all fairly recently, but not the auxiliary books, or it would likely end up being the whole thing. Let the Darkness of Injustice bring these books in contrast to the world's light!

These books have a multitude of sins against the culture of Social Justice, primarily stemming from the fact that they are unabashedly Catholic. By this, I mean they are doctrinally Catholic: prolife, against birth control, against euthanasia, against homosexual activity, against pedophilia, and others. This trilogy is also against the revision of history, specifically the interaction of Pope Pius XII and Hitler, whom the revisionists slander as Hitler's Pope, but in reality stood against the Nazi movement from it's inception.

This trilogy commits also the sin of questioning the current President of the United States. Interestingly, the first book was written in 2004: in the afterword for the third book, he requested reality to stop conforming to his fiction. The UN and "international law" are also criticized for their irrelevance and hypocrisy.

Another prime sin is the trilogy emphasis on Natural Law Theory as the only international law. The expectation that anyone be familiar with such an outdated concept is alone an act of Injustice. The precepts of Social Justice demand no existence of real thought before secular thought.

These books start with a slow build in the first book, then ramps up quickly after the first third. There is a plenitude of violence, with a large basis in the Krav Maga the author has studied. The presence of some structures left over from  the Soviet Union makes for antagonists it is quite easy to dislike. There are plenty of nominally Catholic actors who decide to join in the fun as events escalate.

I have one minor quibble with this story: the author underestimates the Protestant reaction. Certainly, some would crow,  and others would defend. But I personally believe a great number of our laity would not stand by, but rush to defend the Catholic Church. Many of us are sympathetic to Catholicism, and might consider conversion(though Francis has made this harder). I cannot speak for Orthodox, but I like to think they would see the same danger this would pose to all Christians. And while I am no fan of Mormonism, they are not stupid, and their preparedness is stereotyped.

Aside from the negligible amount of participation outside of Catholicism and Judaism, the series is an excellent document of Injustice. Nine of ten Fell Deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Monica, you don't get a pass

Monica Vanlentinelli, what part of the title of this blog did you not understand? This is not a safe space. Your comment here was fine, and I would have engaged to see about an interview via email. If you think I would act dishonestly, feel free to read from Bruno Faidutti, a real industry insider. Or email him, he's an honorable opponent ideologically.

Monica's comment:

Not offensive, perhaps aggressive and lacking logic skills, but  I could have worked with that. No, Valentinelli, you had to go complain on twitter and call me names. Not explicitly me, of course, but let's face it, you probably google yourself daily.

Monica's Tweets:

I'm apparently a misogynistic asshat. Well, I'm not so stupid I can't reason out the fact that the Firefly RPG, while of note, is small time. The two statements are not mutually exclusive. It's big enough game stores will carry it Firefly fans will buy  anything with the property attached. It's smaller than Savage Worlds, which I HAVE seen played in stores, as opposed to the Firefly RPG(either one)

I was not belittling your work and effort. Plenty of good authors work in small press.  As I stated, I got the bulk of my information from BoardgameGeek and RPGGeek when possible. While you may have worked for SJGames, I saw no credits on either 'Geek for such. My biggest error in discussing your work work is neglecting to mention your WoD work, and your part in the Mistborn book(which is bought almost exclusively by Sanderson fans).  But speaking at cons about gaming doesn't give you work credibility; it give you an opinion, like this blog does me. Owning/co-owning a game company doesn't mean you contributed anything to it but money. I back games on Kickstarter; does that make me a game insider?

As to my being misogynistic, you tweeted this:

No, your sex doesn't matter to me. It clearly matters more to you, as you made my commentary on the guest list out to be about sex, and not the work.  In fact, I would say you're projecting your misandry on me and switching the object: