Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Brexit and Gaming

I'm doing this because the idiots at Bell of Lost Souls can't be bothered to look at even year long data. They forgot the year long decline the pound has been in against both the Euro and the US Dollar, a more notable movement.  Don't get me wrong, the one day drop was significant, but it's not a trend.

The comments to their Brexit alarmist article are almost as dumb. "We still have to follow EU regulations to trade with them, like Switzerland and Norway!"  So?  Switzerland has the best economy in Europe, and your truly small businesses that won't be trading with the EU won't have to anymore. It's not like they buy your cars, really.  Your fisherman will be able to fish again in waters they can see from shore. Some of the lunkheads think a weaker pound and inflation are good; clearly not looking at the effects on the poor.

Then there's what they're saying about the idea of Texan secession. I don't think it's that preposterous; Texas has ports and plenty of natural resources. Plenty of guns to defend themselves too, so the border would be under control. By the way, only a fool thinks Texas would go alone. Oklahoma, New Mexico, and maybe one or two more would be inclined to join that nation. Montana had a similar clause upon it's joining the union, so a split up North and in the South might happen. If so, Alaska and Hawaii are likely on their own. Alaska can handle itself; Hawaii wants to be defenseless.

Back to the subject:
Tabletop isn't going anywhere without you. While I don't care for it, you've got the most storied game there is in 40k. They might have to move away from the model company direction, and work on GAMES again. And I'm not talking about new editions and splatbooks galore, I'm talking about a good ruleset. Something you can do legitimate tournaments with, where each side has timed turns or a deathclock. No big. Push out more of those intriguing boardgames that could only come out of Britain.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Dragon Awards, one more time!

Yep, this is my third post on the Dragon Awards. New stuff has come out, and it's eligible, and my last post had some holes in it. Please note, anthologies, short stories, novellas, novelettes, and poetry currently have no categories. So, without further delay, here's my current recommendations:

SF Novel: Somewhither by John C. Wright (Souldancer by Brian Niemeier is second in my mind here)
Fantasy Novel: Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia (Iron Chamber of Memory by John C. Wright is really good, too)
YA Novel: Mutiny in Space by Rod Walker is now my top choice (Sanderson's Calamity is still good)
Best Mil SF/F: Counterstrike by Joshua Dalzelle
Alt History: I've got nothing. Give it to Turtledove THIS year.
Apocalyptic Novel: Ctrl Alt Revolt! by Nick Cole
Horror Novel: Still going with Honor at Stake by Declan Finn
Comic Book: The Black Hood, by Duane Swierczynski and Francesco Francavilla
Graphic Novel: Invisible Republic vol. 1 by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Sarah Bechko
TV Show: I'll drop The Flash here, but I like Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow also.
Movie:Go with Captain America: Civil War
PC/Console Game: no opinion(I'm  a tabletop kind of guy)
Mobile Game: same as above
Board Game: Talon by GMT Games (Mare Nostrum and Scythe may or not be eligible, I'm not sure how they'd handle "release" vs. KS fulfillment)
Miniatures/Card/RPG: Warmachine/Hordes Mark III by Privateer Press (miniatures game rules are up already, war room is up, and the physical stuff drops on 6/29)

I like the Dragon Awards already. Quality indicators for the year are going to be more honest than Hugo/Nebula, just in nomination process. And those ignore games.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mare Nostrum: Empires

Oh, look, a game post. This one won't even get political.

Mare Nostrum: Empires is the second edition of Mare Nostrum, and this one comes from Academy Games. It's part civilization game and part eurogame. The rules are clean and it's easy to teach. The game time is down to about a 1.5 hour game, 2.5 for a first game with all new players.

The game is played over several rounds, divided into phases. There are four victory conditions: buy 5 heroes/wonders; occupy 4 legendary cities/capital cities; become leader in trade, culture, and military; and by building the Great Pyramid.

If you've played the board game Civilization, this feels somewhat similar; things are set up for much faster play though, so I'm sure I'll get more play out of this ultimately than I would of MegaCivilization(the only version in print right now). So, assuming no familiarity, here are the phases:

Trade: Gather goods from the caravans you have placed(each one has a specific good it produces); markets double this amount. Cities give a coin each, with temples doubling that. Legendary cities grant a coin and a legendary good, with temples granting a choice of one or the other additional.

The trade leader then chooses the amount of resources to be traded that round(0-5 resources). There are three coins for this choice, which must be all used before reuse. Trading begins with the trade leader choosing another's resource, and then that player chooses, etc. There's a restriction on back and forth trade, and in the case of unequal goods, the leader gives the one that didn't get to trade a resource.

Build: The Culture leader chooses a player to take their build actions. then the next, etc.  Build costs are paid with either coins or sets of different goods.  Build actions cost 3, 6, 7-10, and 12. At cost three, are most builds: Caravans, control, triremes, fortresses, cities, and legions.  At cost six are markets and temples. Heroes and wonders start at 7, with each subsequent one costing and additional. And the Pyramid costs 12.  After each player's build phase, their scores on trade/culture/military are adjusted. Players may keep 2 coins after their build phase, but no goods.

Move/Battle:  The Military leader chooses players to act in order. That player performs their move actions and then their battles. Triremes move and battle first if you have them.  All movement is to adjacent or adjoining spaces, that is, your legions can walk across your triremes to the  other side of the sea. Naval battle has blue dice, land battles, white(there's different distributions).  Multiples of 5 create a casualty each.  Fortresses add 5 to your roll, and negate a casualty.

On a successful attack, you have three options: pillage, occupy, or convert.  Pillaging: destroy one building in the territory, and in the case of a caravan or city, get the accompanying resource.  Occupy: place legions on buildings in the region; next trade phase you gain those goods instead.  Convert: place a legion on the control flag of the other player; they still gain resource during the trade phase, but at the start of your battle phase,  the control flag is replaced by yours.

Adjust trade, culture, and military tracks after each players military phase.

If you can't figure it out, I think this game is pretty awesome. Some teaching advice: leave out the aftermath of battle options until the first time it's needed. By then players will have the other mechanisms down.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Looking for Periodicals, and an offer.

Those of us standing against Social Justice in SFF have very few current periodicals that are enjoyable. The two that I managed to get in on were SciPhi Journal and Cirsova, and I missed the Kickstarter for issue one of Cirsova(issue two is live now, go help them out).  I missed out on Skelos, and am trying to figure out how to get that one. I know of at least one other periodical that will likely suit my tastes coming up, but I can't find the interview on Castalia House currently.

So, here's the deal: I like short fiction, serialized fiction,  and poetry in SFF. I HATE SJW style work(if you haven't read my book reviews). Send me some information, and I'll go over it. If I get enough, I'll be happy to have a periodicals post ... periodically, and pop up another page with constant links.

Eligibility: Get me a website, a patreon, SOMETHING I can read; if you have a free sample, all the better. I can't throw money at you if I don't know you exist. DeFile will largely scoff at you. Black Gate might give you the time of day respectfully, but you'll be lost amid their sea of information.

I might not have much influence yet, but I am given to believe my influence is growing.  Let me help the cause of good SFF.

Current known actors:

SciPhi Journal

Cirsova Magazine

John C. Wright's Superluminary

Skelos Press

Superversivesf (on occasion)

I know this was a short post, but I believe it to be important.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Injustice Quick Reviews

Cower not, fierce reader! Here are a few quick thoughts on some books I've read recently, but don't quite want to do a full review on:

A Throne of Bones: This was a reread actually, and it holds up fairly well. It has two major crimes against Social Justice. Firstly, it was written by VOX DAY(that alone is pretty big in their eyes). Second, it has a church very similar to the Catholic Church, portrayed in a light that is actually a bit flattering. Oh, and there are some clear villains. If you haven't checked it out, do so. 8/10 Fell Deeds.

It Was Only on Stun!- If you read Declan Finn's Pius Trilogy, this comes before that, and follows Sean A. P. Ryan, while on protection duty at a scifi convention. Filled with hilarity and violence, I'd like to see it as a movie. Only Hollywood won't touch something with real religion, and Catholicism portrayed accurately is anathema to that crowd. 7/10 Fell Deeds.

Omega Force- This is a series by Joshua Dalzelle, which I stumbled into after reading his excellent Black Fleet Trilogy. It feels a lot like the A-Team. With aliens. Plenty of distrust of government, helping people for profit. Otherwise no real crimes. 6/10 Fell Deeds, but plenty fun.

Souldancer- Honestly, the only way I think I MIGHT be able to do right on this is wait until the whole story's finished. There's a ton going on, and I know I missed some threads. Primary crime is that the circles of Hell are real, each ruled differently.  Eternal Damnation  done right. 8/10 Fell Deeds.

Pius Tales: The Complete Tales of the Pius Trilogy- Yep. More Declan Finn. This is mostly setup material for most of the characters, and it's all fun. Once again, Catholicism taken seriously with some serious action. 8/10 Fell Deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Exploring Comics by Genre: Heroes(Super)

This is the last entry in the series, but I doubt it will be my last entry on comics.  Yes, it's time for the genre that most people associate with comics, which in my opinion is the home to the proportionally weakest storytelling. By that, I mean that currently Marvel and DC are using the books to push issues instead of telling stories. Some of this is editorial, some is on the writers. However, they still have a pile of good stories in their past, and hopefully, the future. Other companies have great hero stories as well.

Astro City- Honestly my favorite hero book these days. Take the King/Kirby ideas of characters, and make the stories mean something.  Occasionally Busiek drifts into a SocJustice story, but it's usually well written.  Amazing when he just tells a story, though.

Rising Stars- I know some don't like it. I do, but I also never watched the show Heroes, which came years later.  Straczynski knows storytelling, at least when he has control.

Watchmen- I can't avoid it. The movie even was rather good, though it left out a good chunk of the story. Yes, it's largely nihilistic, but there's hope in the end.

C.O.W.L.- Drop the concept of powered people into a union run Chicago, and you get a heroes union. Yes, they're separate from the police. Good writing, well portrayed corruption, and more. Including real heroes.

Common Grounds- It's a coffee shop chain that's neutral ground for good and bad guys. Filled with human stories, and sometimes a bit of comedy.

The Black Hood- Yes, Archie Comics has heroes. And an imprint that's not for kids.(Dark Circle) A cop kills a vigilante while chasing some crooks, and gets injured in the process. To help deal with the pain, he starts wearing the vigilante's hood.

Empire- This story is great. The bad guy won, took over the world, and rules with an iron fist.  But he doesn't trust his inner circle, so he keeps them on a drug that is highly addictive, and enhances their abilities greatly. NOT FOR KIDS. Just sayin'.

Sidekick- One of Straczynski's newer batch of books, this follows a former sidekick who finally decides to become a bad guy, as no city will have him. False heroes fall, and insanity creeps in.

Ex Machina- While more of a political book, this follows a New York Mayor who rose to power because he had been a hero. And his past keeps coming back, through old friends, enemies, stalkers, and political intrigue.

OK. I'll now list some "regular" hero books. I'm far more into DC than Marvel, though.

The Question- The Denis O'Neil run is really cool. Zen, a VW with a Porshe engine, and other strangeness.

Moon Knight- The Warren Ellis run is all I've read, but I can say it's goood.

Batman: Go with Year One, The Long Halloween, Dark Victory, and the Dark Knight books, and you won't go wrong. Yes, there are many other good ones.

Marvels/Kingdom Come- Almost 2 sides of a coin. Both have Alex Ross' amazing artwork. One has Mark Waid, the other Kurt Busiek. Kingdom Come is about the future, and Marvels about the now.

Cable- If you HAVE to read an X-book, make it this one. He's had the best stories.

JLA- There's been a lot of incarnations. Go with JLA-Year One, and the Grant Morrison JLA. If you want laughs, go with Giffen.

Elseworlds: These are some tales of DC characters in alternate settings. Kindom Come is the best known, but lots of good ones. Superman: Red Son, Metropis/Nosferatu/The Blue Amazon, JLA: the Nail, The Secret Society of Super Heroes,and  Batman: Vampire are all good.

 Again, this is a selection from my reading and tastes. Not anywhere near complete in that regard, nevermind   a definitive list.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Exploring Comics by Genre: Science Fiction

There's a lot of good SF comics out there. Like all the previous lists, this one comes from my own reading, and doesn't even encompass all of that.

Orbiter- A Warren Ellis story about returning to space. With a shuttle that disappeared over a decade ago.

Invisible Republic- Hardman and Bechko tell a great story here. It's a story of revolution, and the aftermath of that government falling apart. Try to find the truth.

Trilium- An interesting Jeff Lemire work about love, time travel, and ultimately saving others. Format works better in issues than TPB though.

Strange Science Fantasy- This set of Scott Morse stories is  as pulpy as it sounds. What an amazing bit of work. I think it's mostly kid safe, too.

Winterworld- Chuck Dixon won't work for Marvel or DC anymore, and I really want more of his Ice Age apocalyptic world. The novel, The Mechanic's Song is good, too.

Y: the Last Man- A plague wiped out all men. but this one. He spends a lot of time trying to find his ex. And running from women that want him, one way or another.

Rocketo- Another brilliant pulpy story. There's unfortunately only two volumes. Feels kind of like Flash Gordon.

Low- The artwork is, well, wow. The story takes place on an Earth where the surface has been abandoned by men, and now a probe may have come back. BTW, lots of mutations.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers- Does this sound pulpy at all? NOOO. A bit trippy here and there, but definitely fun.

The Bunker- A time travel story, where the characters found letters to themselves. And one came back to make it happen the way they want.

Letter '44- There's a big alien  ship with astronauts investigating. This is unknown to the public, as is the technology developed to fight potential hostile aliens. Begins with the passing of the project from one President to the next via a letter.

Trees- Um, I don't know how to describe most of this. They're not really trees, they're HUGE and dropped all over the world, and occasionally spew stuff that kills folks. Avoid the EM buildup.

Transmetropolitan- Yeah, I like Warren Ellis' work. This is a crazy world, and Spider is just the man to expose how deranged and debauched it is. While engaging in said debauchery himself, of course. 

As usual, there's tons more that I'm not listing.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Exploring Comics by Genre: Fantasy

Smallest of the last three entries, there's plenty to read that I've not read. Fantasy books hold a great place in comics, with some of the best stories.

Bone- Jeff Smith's masterpiece. An excellent all ages book, with a great tie-in miniseries, Rose.

Sandman- Did you somehow think this wouldn't be here? Please.

Mouse Guard- This is the beauty that happens when a printmaker has a story to tell. In some ways, like Prince Valiant in that the text is out of the way, but there's less in this case. Mr. Petersen tells stories well with minimal words.

Alice in Wonderland- Specifically the Dynamite comics adaptation. Well done, beautiful, and there's no additives of drug/sex culture. Kid safe.

The Book of Ballads- Charles Vess took some old ballads, some new ones, and drew comics to go with each. Some are fantasy, others simply fantastic.

Cerebus- I haven't read much, but it's worth a look at this iron man tale(300 issues).

Fables- This couldn't be left off the list. Willingham's fairy tales in the real world story, which predates TV ripoffs by years. See also the spin-offs Jack of Fables, Fairest, Cinderella, and Fables: a Wolf Among Us. There's also a novel and two standalone graphic novels.

Birthright- The story of a child that wandered into a fantasy world, became their prophesied hero, is corrupted, and sent back to conquer our world. By the way, while he grew up, only a year or two have passed here.

White Sand- Yes, I'm cheating here. Dynamite hasn't published it yet, but I've seen a couple pages. It's a Brandon Sanderson Cosmere story. I can't resist that.

Stardust- More of an illustrated novel, this marvelous work is half told in the prose of Gaiman, and half in the art of Charles Vess. Don't bother with the straight novel, there's a part the art moves much better than the words. The movie's pretty good, but doesn't encompass the book.

Jim Henson's Storyteller: Dragons- A recent miniseries from Archaia/Boom! Great vignettes of folk tales with dragons that work for most ages.

The Unwritten- This series explores the power of the written word, and stories having their own lives and reshaping our world. Had a crossover with Fables. Admittedly, I didn't finish the series. I was cutting back at that time.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Comics by Genre: Action/Adventure, and miscellany

Some of you are thinking, wait, miscellany? What about superhero books? Fantasy books? Science Fiction? Those will be the next three installments, as they are the largest ones. There will be some adaptations, and some nonfiction in here, as well as the adventure books.

Prince Valiant- Hal Foster's magnificent creation of an Arthurian Knight, exploring and fighting throughout the world. Beautiful, detailed art, and  well written story that takes goodness seriously.

Will Eisner's City books- Life in the Big City, The Dreamer, and Life on Another Planet. Slices of New York life in a realistic neighborhood, with good stories to boot. Really, I recommend anything he did.

Tarzan/Lord of the Jungle- There are some really good adaptations of Tarzan out there. Russ Manning did some good stuff, and the Dynamite series was a good adaptation of the first books, with some understandable changes to the Burroughs books.

Understanding Comics- If you don't have experience with comics, or want a better understanding of how they work, this is the work for you. An excellent intro to the mechanics of comics, in comics format.

Corto Maltese- Great tales of a naval adventurer in the South Seas.

Cardboard- Doug TenNapel has an interesting fiction(fantastic, not fantasy) story about a single dad, his son, and a neighbor kid, and the magic of cardboard.

Frankenstein- In particular, the Bernie Wrightson adaptation. Not really a comic, but an illustrated novel by a genius.

Athena Voltaire- A clean adventure book that's evocative of Tomb Raider, but actually dressed for archeological expeditions.

Maus- Spiegelman's telling of his father's experience in Nazi Germany. Some librarians act like Persepolis is a worthy replacement. It's not. No gender politics, mostly just history.

Rough Riders- It's almost steampunk(not quite). With Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Calamity Jane, and others.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen- I don't recommend this for all, Alan Moore likes sex jokes and references. I do enjoy the story, though.

P. Craig Russel also has some great fairy tale and opera adaptations.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

SJWs, Why are you making me defend a company I don't like?

Yeah, I said it. I don't like Games Workshop overall. They make some really detailed models, and have at least one good boardgame, but the constant flow of new models and books is bad. So, why go after a company that is intent on a diminishing returns model?

On BoLS the other day, a rant against Slaanesh was posted. Slaanesh is apparently part of the Chaos faction. Thankfully, I can go after other parts of this insipid SJW attack first.

The essay opens with the example of anime, and the author's finding Cyber City Odeo, and how bad the script is. Filled with profanity, and no other "adult" content. And then ignores the rest of anime altogether, including Akira, which was made two years earlier. The author slides into a rant about maturity versus adult, calling maturity worldliness. I wholly disagree. Maturity means dealing with consequences, planning for them, and deciding based on those. Worldliness these days tells people they are equal in every way, and have no responsibility.

Next, the author writes about Marvel's Epic comics line, calling most of them along the same lines as Cyber City. That is, bad and immature. I've read a few, and some are hits, some big misses with me. But, then acts as though Vertigo was the next thing to happen, ignoring DC's Piranha Press, which started in 1989. Vertigo started in 1993, the year before Piranha went away.  Let me tell you, PP had some interesting things. And some really BAD stuff as well. Also ignored is Paradox Press, which predates Vertigo, but not by much. Again, some entertaining material(Road to Perdition, Green Candles), but some bad stuff as well.

Ok, now to some of the stupid directed at 40k. The author believes the game needs to be aimed at children, as well as adults. I don't know of many parents that would let their kids get into a game that costs this much. Magic: the Gathering is cheap in comparison. The author clearly has no idea what homophobic and transphobic mean, as Slaanesh is presented as pandgener/sexual.  Then he resorts to making fun of the designers. Followed by calling their ideas about sex and sexuality outdated, and insulting to women, trans, and "intersex" people, and guys that aren't pathetic losers(my interpretation of his words). We're back to INSULTING GAMERS. Games journalism at its finest, truly.

Is Slaanesh appropriate for kids? HELL NO. Neither are the games GW puts out in general. It has to do with things like demon summoning, human sacrifice, terrifying aliens, and sex. HMM. Sounds rated R to me.

"Change terrifies people, especially members of the geek community, who loathe retcons with a passion that could eclipse suns." That's because we know that reconning usually gives a lesser universe than we just had.

Our likely paedophile author then proposes moving Slaanesh and it's army to Forge World, and dealing with it in properties printed by Fantasy Flight Games. That doesn't get the faction out of the game, so it "solves" nothing. GW players that want that faction will pay through the nose for it. GW models are expensive to begin with; Forge World doesn't change the audience, dummy.

Now I must restore some sanity from responding to this stupidity.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Exploring Comics by Genre: Western

There's been quite a few really good Western comics. As always, this is only a selection from my reading, and should not be construed as definitive.

Iron West- A family friendly story by Doug TenNapel. It's fun. A bit steampunk, but not really. There's robots. Lots of robots.

Ballad of Sleeping Beauty- I doubt this can be found these days, but if you find it, grab it. It's beautiful.

Lone Ranger- Yeah. It's good. Get over it.

Jonah Hex- One of DC's many Western characters, this one's been through the most versions. The only bit I advise avoiding is the last bit of New52 Hex. He's lame in the modern world, and that was just part of cancelling him anyway.

Caliber- Arthurian knights retold as a Western? Yes, please.

Trailblazer- Palmotti and Gray with a bit of time travel, and a bit of western, and a lotta good readin'.

Spaghetti Western- Not really a Western, but there's some good stuff in this little Scott Morse book. Kid appropriate too.

There are a bunch of other characters from DC/Marvel worth reading in the genre, and other stories outside them that are great. Ghost Rider was originally a Western.CowBoy lookd cute, but I haven't read it.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

An open letter to Spotter Spellen, regarding preorders

Now, you won't find this name in your list. It's a name created for social media, etc. There are plenty of disemployers out there to justify this.

The fact is, you had preorders for your fourth printing of Food Chain Magnate, which has done so much better than your other games, it's ridiculous. Now, instead of taking care of the individual gamers that preordered your game, you've shipped to stores and distributors first. This is a relationship problem. You don't want our money directly; at least that's the message when the game is available in stores and online for weeks before the preorders arrive. Now, you're less likely to get my money in the future.

Why? I don't care how good your game is if you treat me like dirt. Think about it. There's Miniature Market, Boardlandia, Cool Stuff,  and others, all having the game in stock for weeks before it arrived for the individuals that wanted it enough to preorder from you. We thought you might be community minded, because those online shops would have let us preorder from therm for less. We thought you might care about the people giving you money. WE WERE WRONG.

Take some look at companies that are on Kickstarter, like Stonemaier Games. There's two standout things here: 1. There's actual communication and updates reliably available. The community has access to knowledge. 2. The backers get their games first. Period. Shipping address errors notwithstanding, that's what happens.

But, given how you operate, it's now doubtful you'll see my money again. You certainly won't see it directly, when I can get it faster and cheaper from on OLGS.  YOU HAVE FAILED THIS COMMUNITY.


Alfred Genesson

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Exploring Comics by Genre: Horror

If you like horror movies and/or books, this post's for you. The horror genre has a TON of material in the world of comics. I enjoy some of it; some is too gory for my taste. But there's plenty of quality material. As always, the list here is hardly definitive, merely a partial survey of what I've read and enjoy.

Swamp Thing- in particular the Alan Moore/Rick Vietch run. There have been college classes on this section. The Bernie Wrightson stuff is also very good, and it should be, as he created it. Other runs vary in quality.

Ten Grand- A J. Michael Straczyinski book following a guy that fights demons, gets killed, and then brought back to life. The first arc is drawn by Ben Templesmith and it's beautiful.

The Goon- A horror-comedy series by Eric Powell. Usually more funny than scary. "Knife to the Eye!" doesn't get old.

30 Days of Night- Ya like vampires? This is a real vampire story. The movie's ok, but the first three volumes of the book by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith are great, scary, atmospheric pieces.

Fatale- Brubaker and Philips do good work, no doubt. This is a very solid, conspiratorial, paranoid Lovecraftian series.

Criminal Macabre- More Steve Niles, this time a monster hunting PI. Frequently abuses alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Pretty pulpy work, I like it.

The Adventures of Apocalypse Al- A Straczynski story originally written for CBC, this follows a problem solver stopping, well, the apocalypse.

Injection- Warren Ellis has a creepy, part spy, part sf, part monster book. I'm putting it here, because I can't come up with an honestly better spot, and there's more SF I want to write a blurb about than horror.

The October Faction- Another Steve Nile book(the guy writes good horror). Follows a family where the father and mother have a reputation in the supernatural, lots of enemies, and teenagers that want in the family business.

Afterlife with Archie- Yes, Archie comics put out a horror book. It's amazing, a take on zombies where the readers START with some investment in the characters.

Yes, I know there's tons of other books out there. The Walking Dead, Hellboy, BPRD, and several others have good sized followings. I barely mentioned Vertigo books here, and they've had plenty of horror books.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Exploring Comics by Genre: War

Comics have been written about war for almost as long as they've existed. Why? War creates heroes and legends. The inexplicable happens, and the expected doesn't. War comics also have a high percentage of true stories, or based on true stories. Keep in mind this list is far from exhaustive, merely a selection of works I've read.

Fax from Sarajevo: Joe Kubert's account of faxes he received from a friend during the siege of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A combination of portraying his own life, and the faxes from his friend telling of their struggles.

Last Day in Vietnam: A collection of Will Eisner short stories from US soldiers in Vietnam. At times touching and hilarious, sometimes at once.

DMZ: Brian Wood and Eduardo Burchielli explore life following a journalist during the Second American Civil War, in the DMZ of Manhattan. The changes and dangers he faces are followed, to his rise as an influential political figure.

Crecy: A Warren Ellis telling of the battle of Crecy. The story follows a narrating soldier following the King in his campaign against the French.

Peter Panzerfaust: Part Peter Pan, Part WWII resistance fighter. The story of a young man leading a resistance group against the Nazis.

Enemy Ace- Another Joe Kubert creation, about an honorable pilot on the other side in WWI. A good man facing his darkness, and the darkness of his people.Later applied in some stories to WWII by Garth Ennis.

Unknown Soldier- The nature of the story depends on which era you're reading from, but he handles some nasty things during war. The Garth Ennis version has him trying to recruit his replacement.

Dreaming Eagles- Garth Ennis tells of black fighter pilots during WWII, the discrimination they faced, and the progress they made.

War/fix- The story of a journalist that gets hooked on the thrill of the dangers of war. He realizes he doesn't know how to function as a normal journalist, and seeks more dangerous embeddings.

Other characters to look for:
Sgt. Rock- DC's WWII army grunt.    Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos-Marvel's equivalent property
Johnny Red- A WWII British pilot stranded in Russia, who takes command of a fighter wing.

Part One: Crime and Part Two: Spy

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Peter Grant, you may have just become a pox on my wallet.

No, this isn't a book review. At least, not an Injustice Book Review. But I figure Mr. Grant might like to have some more kind words hurled his way, and I JUST finished Brings the Lightning. I know, I'm abandoning my format; it's worth it here.

I've read a fair amount of L'amour novels. I've read some other westerns, which mostly don't measure up. I've read the first Caleb York book from Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, which was very good. None of them made me lose sleep. Brings the Lightning did.

Congratulations, Peter. May my wallet curse you the rest of your days. PLEASE keep going on Westerns; while I love SciFi and Fantasy, this book shows you have real power in the Western. I don't know how many more you have in you, but if they are near this one in quality, I WILL BUY THEM ALL. Please, give me ways to give you more money. Feel free to quote me.

Yeah, I haven't said anything about the the story, characters, dialogue, or anything else yet.

So, here's my two complaints: 1. I'd personally prefer more authentic vocabulary. That's me, and maybe it's not the right choice. 2. I've read it already; I want the next one. 

On a more serious note, this book has great characters, a protagonist willing to occasionally con the US army(hey, the war just ended and he was a reb), a schoolteacher who needs no fainting couch, and two ex-slaves who come to Walt Ames' (our protagonist) employ. The places feel real; the grass, dust, and dirt in the story are right.  The towns, forts, and wagon train aren't safe, but have their own challenges. The treatment of the Indian tribes is excellent; each acts its own way.

Look, if you're reading this and you haven't yet gotten Brings the Lightning, do it. You won't regret the adventure.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Exploring Comics by Genre: Spy

Welcome to the second part of our primer in comic book genres. Espionage, is certainly different than it's presented in popular culture. That's fine, I'll stick more to the ultra-cool versions we see in film and books, though the books tend to be grittier. Again, this is not a definitive view of the genre, or even all of the best material, simply a collection of works I consider good. This will be a shorter post, not due to material that's good, but due to my personal library not having more.

Fire-Brian Michael Bendis wrote interesting things before being a Marvel all-star. This is the story of a college student recruited into Intelligence service. It's his first major work, and blast, it's a good story to make you paranoid about government.

Sleeper- Brubaker and Philips could write comics to make fish thirsty. This book has a great story, and a good twist ending.

Casanova- This is likely the best spot for this trippy series. There's some strange science, great characters, and mind bending twists. Think something along the lines of Dick meets Fleming with perhaps a dash of Dali.

Velvet- Brubaker and Breitweiser put together this story of a field agent who retired to the secretarial pool for personal reasons. She's been framed years later, and now has to pull out all her tricks.

Cowboy Ninja Viking- Do you really need more than the title? Fine. Take folks with Multiple Personality Disorder, and turn each of those personalities into a weapon. Don't try with more than three personalities.

Red- Perhaps you've seen the two movies that are very loosely based on this graphic novel by Warren Ellis. There's only one deactivated agent they're after, and he's very good, and just wanted to be left alone.

 Global Frequency- There are unexploded bombs of a ridiculous variety throughout the world in this Warren Ellis series. Miranda Zero and her 1001 specialists handle them, from appart Soviet sleeper agents to suicide cults taking over office buildings to delusional doctors playing God.

Now, to some titles currently in issues(no trades yet).

Jack Pot from Aftershock comics- Only two issues in, the team is very good, and they have an interesting SF idea about probability and locations going on.

James Bond 007- I was a little wary at first, but Warren Ellis is writing. This feels like James Bond. By that I mean a little closer to the books and current reality than the movies. Has the violence, swagger, investigative skill, and instincts to get the job accomplished.

Action Man- Some or you are like, "What?". A new Action Man comic was launched at Free Comic Book Day this year, and it was a great ride. Check it out.

Next, comics go to WAR.
Part One: Crime

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Interview with Diogenes Games, and Socialism

Yes, Socialsm: the Game. Diogenes Games is currently running a campaign on Kickstarter to fund this satirical unofficial expansion for Monopoly. Yes, I know several of you are shaking your heads. Comedy abounds. Without further delay:

What's the gaming background of the folks at Diogenes Games?

We all bring diverse backgrounds to our work—the whole team enjoys games, but two of us are really into board games. Personally, I made several games as a kid. In college I was part of a simulation club where we played out very long, very detailed historic simulation and strategy games (maybe a bit nerdy?!) As a Dad, I personally enjoy playing games with my kids – family favorites are Settlers of Catan, Axis and Allies, Ticket to Ride, Monopoly, and Seven Wonders.

To make the game, our professional backgrounds as writers, attorneys, graphic artists, executives, engineers, and manufacturers made the process of creating and publishing the game very smooth.

Talk us through what lead you to develop Socialism: the Game.

The 2016 US Presidential election is CRAZY. A couple buddies and I were talking, and expressing dismay at the socialist and populist themes coming from the left. We started making jokes. Someone said “socialist monopoly”. Drink led to drink. Joke led to joke. And the idea of SOCIALISM: The Game was born. The next day I called an attorney friend (and soon to be SOCIALISM business partner) and said, we’re going to need legal protection. We’re making this. Right now.

Tell us about your economic views. Full on Free Trade, internal Free Trade, or other? Feel free to talk about other sociopolitical aspects as well.

What’s fun about the Diogenes team is the diversity of our views. We are both Democrats and Republicans. Mostly middle and middle right in our politics and economics. Except one guy who is practically libertarian—he really likes to talk but we don’t really listen (kidding). But we are all very pragmatic in our politics. We agree that ideology is a poor substitute for competence and character in a candidate.

We all also agree that socialism is basically un-American. Thomas Jefferson was one of the more left leaning founders of our country. But his ideas of a strong, economically independent nation of land-owning farmers and tradesmen is nowhere to be found now. And we get it—for folks who don’t or can’t “feel the earn” they’re going to “feel the Bern”. They want what other people’s money can buy. But all the members of Diogenes are freelancers or built our own businesses. Socialism kills the entrepreneurial spirit, and maybe the human spirit, too.

SOCIALISM: The Game is a satire on socialist and leftist politics. And what better way to satirize it than to parody Hasbro’s Monopoly?! Socialism would be a game changer for America, the way SOCIALISM: The Game, an unofficial expansion on Hasbro’s Monopoly, transforms one of the greatest games ever. You play on the Monopoly board, with Monopoly money and buildings, but with socialist rules and events dictated by “Fat Chance” and “Communism Chest” cards. Like socialism in real life, it lives by infecting another system.

So capitalistic competition is out, and collective poverty is in. Instead of winning by having the biggest pile of cash, SOCIALISM: The Game, ends when the government owns practically everything and everyone has just 300 bucks or less. But there are a lot of laughs on the way—in SOCIALISM, there are no winners, but there are no losers! Everyone gets a participation award and we achieve equality in dependence (insert group hug here).

Do you anticipate anyone pledging at the 8 or 10k levels? Personally, I'd love to see that as well as your 1M stretch goal. Tell us about those, and the rest of the fun you're having with the campaign.

We are really excited about the $8,000 SuperPAC level. For $8,000 we will distribute 535 copies of SOCIALISM: The Game in Washington DC – one copy for every Senator and member of the US Congress. It will be so much fun to walk into Senator Sanders’ or Representative Pelosi’s office with their complementary game. I’m aware of several people considering it… including one member of Congress.

The $10,000 “Pancake Breakfast” backer level is presenting sponsorship for the “Philadelphia Special Edition” that is available to backers at the $20 level or higher. We chose Philadelphia because ironically, with the Democratic National Convention there this summer, the birthplace of America’s independence may become the birthplace of our dependence if the socialist agenda continues to displace more moderate liberal themes. And we’ll throw a pancake breakfast for you and your friends at your choice of the nation’s capital, or one of this summer’s convention cities—Cleveland or Philadelphia.

The Kickstarter stretch goal of $1,000,000 takes SOCIALISM on the road! We’ll deliver a copy of the game to every governor in America.

Do you have any plans for other unofficial expansions or full games at this time?

We have definitely talked about it, but the timeliness of SOCIALISM: The Game with this election requires our full attention this summer. The team loves to laugh, and we really enjoy working together. Another satirical parody is a very real possibility.

Feel free to rant here.

Laughter is so important right now, particularly with so much tension and bitterness in political discourse. We also need to show our children what all this is all about. And games like this are a great way to accomplish both goals.

SOCIALISM: The Game is serious, and it’s serious fun. It’s a great gift. And great fun with friends. Let’s get social, and as we always say “Please fund SOCIALISM today”!

First, I'd like to say it's nice to see that there are still Democrats and liberals(self-identified) that think Socialism is bad. I'd like to see the 8k level backed, just for the entertainment value. If you're so inclined to join the comedy, please help out.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.