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DC UNIVERSE LAUNCHES NEW REWARDS PROGRAM FEATURING HIGH VALUE COLLECTIBLES AND EXCLUSIVE ITEMS

First Comics News - Thu, 05/07/2020 - 13:58

OPEN TO ALL FANS, DC UNIVERSE LAUNCHES NEW REWARDS PROGRAM FEATURING HIGH VALUE COLLECTIBLES AND EXCLUSIVE ITEMS

BURBANK, CA – May 7, 2020 – The ultimate destination for DC fans, DC UNIVERSE, unveiled a new program today, DC Universe Rewards. Running from May 7 through the fall, the program is designed to reward fans for doing what they already love – diving deep into their fandom. Giving all fans – not just service subscribers – the opportunity to participate in select options, the DC Universe Rewards program features can’t-miss items and exclusive releases, all at no cost.

An authentic celebration of fandom, DC Universe Rewards will enable users to earn special tokens for ongoing engagement and participation on DC UNIVERSE, including the free-to-all Community section, editorial features and “DC Daily.” These tokens are redeemable for an amazing set of rewards, from a 30-day premium subscription to DC UNIVERSE to ultra-exclusive collectibles such as a special, limited edition Harley Quinn Super-Villains pin set.  DC Universe Rewards will offer new earn opportunities and rewards each week.

Fans can earn tokens and “level up” simply by doing what they already love. Whether it’s subscribers finishing a DC digital comic, watching an entire DC movie or TV episode, or even non-subscribers and subscribers alike interacting with other fans on the DC UNIVERSE community boards, there are various opportunities for fans to accumulate tokens that can be redeemed for rewards.

All participants need to do is register for free on DC UNIVERSE and select a customized avatar. Then they can start earning tokens redeemable for rewards by navigating to the rewards program in the MyDC section of DC UNIVERSE or clicking/tapping on REWARDS in the menu.

Below are prizes currently available with the official launch of DC Universe Rewards, with more continuously rolling out throughout the program:

  • DC Universe 30-day Premium Subscription
  • DCU Exclusive HARLEY QUINN Super-Villains Pin Set
  • DC Universe Exclusive Harley Quinn Show Statue
  • DC Artists Alley Batgirl (White & Gold) by Sho Murase Designer Vinyl
  • Digital Movie Redemption via Movies Anywhere
  • DC Universe Exclusive Limited Edition TITANS Poster
  • DC Universe Exclusive Limited Edition DOOM PATROL Poster
  • DC Universe Meta Madhouse Lex Luthor Masterminds T-shirt
  • DC Universe Meta Madhouse Darkseid Invaders T-shirt
  • DC Universe Meta Madhouse The Cheetah Beasts T-shirt
  • DC Universe Exclusive Batcave Wallpapers
  • DC Universe Exclusive Fortress of Solitude Wallpapers
  • Shop DC $5 Off Purchase
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Plus, DC Universe Exclusive rewards tied to the upcoming debut of STARGIRL, DOOM PATROL Season Two and much more – coming soon!

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

The Thundarr Roadtrip

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 05/07/2020 - 11:00

I ran across a podcast yesterday that is reviewing the the episodes of Thundarr the Barbarian in way that sensibly traces Thundarr and crew's travels across post-apocalyptic North America and beyond. It's called appropriately Thundarr Road.

The Sheldon Mayer Estate Featuring Sugar and Spike & Many of His Earliest Works Sell for $284,452 

First Comics News - Thu, 05/07/2020 - 07:37

LOS ANGELES,  May 6, 2020 – The Sheldon Mayer collections featuring “Sugar and Spike” comic strips was auctioned for $284,452 last Thursday by Nate D. Sanders Auctions.

The highest price realized was an Original “Scribbly” artwork from September 1939, which sold for $29,845. These iconic four pages of Scribbly appeared as four complete stories in the #6 issue, chronicling Scribbly Jibbet’s journey of getting hired as a 13 1/2 year old boy cartoonist, a storyline based on Mayer’s own experiences in the comic book industry during the early 1930s.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Fourth World Reread Week 2

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 05/06/2020 - 11:00
One thing that virtually all of the continuations of the Fourth World saga by other hands seem to miss is that it isn't just a superhero action epic, but like all good mythologies, there are things going on beneath the surface.

New Gods #6 (on sale in October of 1971), continues Orion's struggle against the Deep Six, a group of Apokiliptian fishmen with the ability to mutate other lifeforms. They are not the best villains of the saga by any means, but Kirby uses them in issue 5 to reveal things about Orion, and in this issue, "Glory Boat!" to tell an allegorical story about war and its human cost.

The setup is almost Biblical. A great sea creature recalling Leviathan and all the primeval, Chaos monsters of the depths, a family, emblematic of humanity as a whole: the bellicose and overbearing father, the "conscientious objector" son, and the daughter who doesn't get to do much between the two's bickering. God of war Orion also has someone to play off here, his friend, Lightray, embodying the enlightenment of New Genesis.

Where Orion's instinct is to destroy his foes, Lightray strives to show a better way, to rehabilitate. He succeeds in transforming one of the Deep Sixes' creatures into the service of our heroes. Unfortunately, for the humans, the Deep Six are drawn back to the boat.

The father freezes, having some sort of breakdown when confronted with the creatures. The son, the peacenik, goes on the offensive, attacking the Apokoliptian Jafar. Jafars kills him, mutating his face into that of a featureless, metallic mannequin. Lightray opines that the war has taken "another faceless hero."

Lashed to the mast, the father bears witness to what is to come.  Orion and Lightray take the son's body and launch themselves into a possibly final attack against the remaining Deep Three, in an epic two page spread.


But Lightray and Orion are not destine for some Neo-Vahalla, just yet. The boy goes "to the Source" and the New Gods live to fight another day. The father, still on the mast amid the wreckage of the ship is left to wonder as Kirby tells us: "What is a man in the last analysis--his philosophy or himself?"

It's heavy-handed perhaps, but no more so than work of the writers that would come to be seen as seminal figures of the 70s leading the "maturation" of comics.

Campaign Hook and Some Character Building

The Splintered Realm - Wed, 05/06/2020 - 01:37
Mikah the Chronicle opened a filing cabinet. It was amazing he knew which one. There were hundreds - no, thousands - of filing cabinets here. They sat in rows and rows, each filled (presumably) with file folders. Mikah the Chronicle produced one. He handed it to you. You read the label: “Last Known Location of Doc Stalwart.”
Campaign Hook: The Search for Doc Stalwart
At the end of the Stalwart Age, Doc Stalwart was the greatest hero in the world. He had overcome incredible challenges, defeating many of the most powerful villains in the world. And then, at the height of his fame and success, he disappeared.
Poof.
That was twenty years ago. Eventually, people accepted that he was gone. Probably dead. Maybe at the bottom of the sea. Or at the edges of the solar system. Or in a far-off dimension beyond mortal reach. But now, he’s alive. Several mentalists have felt his presence in the world. 
The campaign is a loosely-connected series of location adventures wherein the heroes undertake a quest to find Doc Stalwart. As they go, they may amass clues that will allow them to find him and restore him to life. Or, maybe they won’t.
My idea right now is that I am going to write the adventure locations one at a time, and plant a seed in each one about the quest for Doc. I am going to make a character to maybe play test with...
Judah Jynx. The son of the ghost Zirah - Judah has supernatural powers.  I'm thinking a ghost as the character theme.
Let’s see what I get from random rolling:
Altered human. +1 to one attribute, +1 Feat rating.
4 Traits:StunInvisibilitySwinglinePhasing
He’s like the invisible girl, but with a stun instead of the telekinesis. Hm. I need some way to do damage (right?) I don’t really like invisibility or swingline, but I’d rather have teleport. Actually, I am going to swap invisibility and swingline for blink. So, I have stun, blink, and phasing. I’m sort of a proto-vision kind of character. Definitely works with my ghost theme.
I’m going to take a drawback and pick up one other trait… not sure what. I need a way to deal damage, so I’m thinking a weapon of some kind (a sword like his mom?) He doesn’t need the sword - he is bound to the realm, unlike his mom - but he THINKS he does. He has panic attacks when the sword is not on him. 
He will take melee weapon, sword, with his bonus trait. So, he has:
Stun, Phasing, Blink, Melee Weapon
Rolling for attributes:
12, 14, 15, 12, 13, 12
Wow did I roll really well! I’d like to bump up that 15 to a 16, and while it doesn’t make sense to drop 12s, I don’t need secondary attributes that high. I’m actually going to drop the two 12s all the way to 10, giving me 2 points; I bump the 15 to 16, and the 13 to 14. Noice. I arrange as follows:
STR 12 (+3); INT 10 (+2); PWR 16 (+5)DEX 14 (+4); CON 14 (+4); CHA 10 (+2)
For hit points, I roll 12 (I rerolled a 2 and got 6). That gives me 16 starting hit points.My Feat modifier is +8.My talent will be enemy (?) I don’t see this character having an enemy, but I guess he would… sure… hmm. Have to think on that more.
Armor class is going to be 15. 
I have to do some math on my traits:My sword deals base 1d8 damage. Happy with that. It cannot be thrown (and if it could be, he wouldn’t; he’s got that anxiety about being separated from it, so intentionally winging it at someone else in combat doesn’t make much sense).When I phase, I’m going to take +5 to AC (bumping it to 20), get +5 to hit and damage with my sword (instead of the +3 I get normally), and I can attempt a PWR check to move through solid objects. Dang that’s nice… I extend this to my blade (of course) which partially phases with me (or which channels some of my natural energy; something like that).I have a stunning glare (to 90’) that forces a target once per turn to attempt a Feat (DT 25) or be stunned for 1d6 rounds. Nice.
He’s going to be a hero, and his purpose is going to be to honor his mother (who is trapped in the Shadow Realm, and is only accessed via a special mirror). He was born in the shadow realm, but then was brought over. I was going to go with his name (Judah Jynx) for his moniker, but I looked up ghost in the thesaurus and found Ether. I modified that for a moniker. And, reviewing my notes, I see that I forgot a +1 to one attribute. Oops. I throw that into DEX.
EtherianJudah Jynx; Hero 1AC 15 (20 phased); hp 16; Feat +8; Sword (+4/1d8+4 -or- +6/1d8+6 while phased)STR 12 (+3); INT 10 (+2); PWR 16 (+5)DEX 15 (+4); CON 14 (+4); CHA 10 (+2)Enemy: The Shadow King Asigoth (and his servants)Blink (as a free action, up to 160’, 5x per turn)Phasing (one action once per turn; PWR check)Stun (one action; force target within 90’ to attempt Feat CR 25 or stunned 1d6 rounds)
I wanted a character a little bit like Nightcrawler; I think I have him. He’s definitely different, but he makes sense. 
About the Shadow Realm (also called the Vale of Shadows): This is a mystical dimension of dark energy. It is controlled by the Shadow King Asigoth, who seeks to cross over into our realm and touch all corners with shadow. His efforts were stopped by Zirah, who intentionally made herself a barrier between lands, preventing him from crossing over. 

On Superhero Worlds

The Splintered Realm - Tue, 05/05/2020 - 12:05
On a suggestion, I found a pdf of the original version of Aaron Allston's Strike Force and skimmed through it - and I didn't love it, at least not in terms of what I want to do. I thought that the practical discussions around running supers gaming were good, but other than that it's mostly a roster of characters. I suppose that what I keep reacting to is that many supers gaming supplements are 'here are my/our cool characters' rather than 'here is where your cool characters live'.

It is one of the key problems with gaming in Marvel's or DC's worlds - it is awesome to be where Batman is and to fight some of Batman's enemies, but when Batman keeps showing up, he kind of takes the spotlight from you. I have addressed that by having all the great heroes be also kind of dead. Ermugurd, there were all these incredible heroes who did tremendous things, but now there's a bit of a void and we hope you'll step up, because they didn't take any of their villains with them when they died.

And, the fact that they're dead almost makes me want to avoid creating stats for them. How powerful was the Emissary? How much could Magni lift? What was Eldritch able to do? They assume a more mythical status if I don't tell you how powerful they were - because of that, you are always just a little bit in their shadow. And it's always just a shadow.

I'm interested in the stories of before and after those heroes lived. I'm actually not all that interested in telling stories about the greatest heroes at the height of their powers defeating overwhelming threats.

And again, my focus is on creating a living gaming environment, not a fixed world that has already had the coolest stuff happen.

The Power of Porcus

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 05/04/2020 - 11:00

Our 5e Land of Azurth came continued last night. In the last adventure, the party had followed some robbed figures into passages beneath the town of Shkizz. There they fought some giant rats and found a door beyond which they could hear chanting. They tried to slowly open the door, but when it appeared stuck, they just forced it.

The  robbed figures encircled a strange fire within a domed room carved from limestone. Above the fire hovered an anthropomorphic boar with undersized bird wings. One of the cultists sighted them, and the group demanded the party leave, as did the boar creature, Porcus, in a stuttering voice.

The party declined, and a melee ensued. The party dished out some damage, but Porcus was no slouch and soon Dagmar was down. Shade went to rescue their healer, but Porcus used their lack of focus as a chance to teleport out of the fight and slip into a secret door at the far end of the room. Our heroes, bloodied, had no appetite for chasing him

The cultists filed out past them with disapproving glances and remarks about both their jailbreak and their rude interruption of the meeting. The group let them go, then followed them back up to the surface.

Dawn was breaking. The party returned to their rooms where their stuff was still intact, and caught a short rest. The next day the townsfolk, once again law abiding, gave the party no trouble. The innkeeper had been among the cultists, but he either couldn't or wouldn't discuss Porcus.

Our heroes decide to go on a stakeout to see what happens at the switch over from day to night behavior. Dagmar was outside as night fell (determined to guard the wagon after two wheels were stolen the night before), and noticed strange flowers abruptly blooming on am unfamiliar tree. Detect magic reveals these blossoms to be magical.

Shade with her woodland lore knows them to be fay-flower trees. They cause madness. They were believed to be extinct.

The party believes it's the long term exposure to these blossoms causing the weird behavior, but where does Porcus enter into this? Before the nighttime revelers come out, they decide to go back to the underground tunnels to lie in wait in the ceremony room.

They do a little bit more exploring and bust into the home of mushroom farmer wererats, then happen upon another wererat pretending to be a captured human. In the ritual chamber, they find two wereboars emerging from the secret room (who they dispatch) but no Porcus. They settle in to wait...

Stalwart Age Stories

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 05/03/2020 - 17:58
Doc Stalwart's adventures are now going to be published as stand-alone short stories. While I was publishing them as a hybrid story/game supplement, my publishing plan for Sentinels going forward means that these stories belong on their own. I will update this page as I publish new stories.

Doc Stalwart Issue One
Doc Stalwart Issue Two
Doc Stalwart Issue Three

Sentinels Locations - First Thoughts

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 05/03/2020 - 17:01

Doing some brainstorming for this project:
Nexus Rings are 50’ wide metallic bands composed of an alloy derived from several meteoric metals. These rings have been distributed throughout the known galaxy by the same alien race that created Doc’s ship. They require a complex activation sequence and possession of a ‘key’ that is composed of a comparable alloy. Note: There is an ancient alien race of scientist types who were good-natured, and who put a lot of things in place. They were kind of Ancient Rome on a cosmic scale, but they are now extinct. A lot of technology is their ancient stuff that is just being found now.
Introduction: Standard Locations (6-10 of them). These would be common ‘sorts’ of locations. There would be general commonalties, and maybe 3 sample floor plans for each one. Maybe a page of information, and a page with three floorplans… so a total of 2 pages each?
  1. Bank Floorplans
  2. Warehouse Floorplans
  3. Factory Floorplans
  4. Manufacturing / Processing Plant Floorplans
  5. Office Building Floorplans
  6. Goonsquad Fight Clubs
  7. Tunnels in the Depths

After skimming through the core rules, here are some sample locations that I want to develop:
  1. Harvyst’s House of Horrors. A maze of traps and illusions to drive visitors insane, crafted by the criminal Harvyst.
  2. Boondock’s Hideaway. Booncock, his bouncer Knuckles, and several of the villains who routinely stay there (just some more general villains for your use).
  3. The Penthouse Stronghold of Cybron and his criminal empire.
  4. The Jungle Abode of Simian Prime. The ape’s treetop fortress along with his mechs, battle suits, creations, and various apish minions.
  5. A school of young supervillains being trained by someone evil. Maybe an evil Hogwarts?
  6. The Volcanic Fortress of Marog Kyl. Set atop of volcanic spire on a distant world, inhabited by magma creatures, preparing to wage war as Marog tries to activate a Nexus Ring that sits in the shadow of his fortress.
  7. The Ruins of Demascus Station – a fragmented space station filled with strange and wonderful objects gleaned from a hundred worlds, now controlled by a strange sentient race.
  8. The Undersea Temple at Poseidon’s Beard. A vast undersea temple complex now held by a race of underwater militants and their various allies.
  9. Antiquity Isle. An island in the Bermuda Triangle populated by dinosaurs, protected by a dinosaur-riding savage, and watched over by a technological complex hidden deep in a volcanic crater, where scientists carefully monitor the isle’s inhabitants. Game stats for dinosaurs, prehistoric beasts, and savage peoples.
  10. The Powers Family Sky Fortress. The base of operations for the Powers Family.
  11. New Valhalla’s Fortress.
  12. Underground Mutant Stronghold in Meridian (map of Meridian? List of encounters?)
  13. First Family Dojo (See page 115).
  14. Vigilance Dam and the Hall of Heroes (see page 119).
  15. Witch Alley? (page 123)
  16. Arkovian Bunker where a villain holds sway. (see page 124)
  17. Marakevian fortress (see page 124)
  18. Part of Saltmere? (page 124)
  19. Part of Zualu (page 124)
  20. Mystic Tower of Zan Zelak. The center of the Keeper of the Mystic Veil, a well of all worlds, and the elder library of all known things. Stats for the Chronicle.
  21. Ro the Ravager’s Celestial Tower. Ro, the Voice of Ro, his various creations, and a whole bunch of weirdness.
  22. Ruins of The Tomorrow Complex. This could be its own section of the rules, with several sample levels. These could be themed with time travel, the undead, alternate worlds, and various strange laboratories. This could be five sections easy.


Sentinels Campaign Setting

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 05/03/2020 - 15:19

I have decided to at least try to develop a Sentinels of Echo City campaign book, but I still am not sure how to focus it. Let’s set out some goals for the project and then discuss how one might approach such a thing…
Goals
A campaign guide, to my mind, should do several things. First of all, it should provide a relatively comprehensive backdrop for gaming. This is different philosophically from developing an encyclopedia of the known world. It is not Wikipedia of Stalwart Earth. It is a roleplaying game supplement, and I want to approach it that way. It is supposed to provide a foundation for ongoing play, not lay out an existing universe in detail.
I also don't want it to be a catalog of characters. It is not the 'official handbook of the Sentinel Universe' or anything.
One issue is that I already did a ‘general’ overview in the core rules. It’s 20 pages long, and gives a pretty solid, albeit cursory, overview of the game world. I don’t want to just take that, write it again, and add ten layers. I feel like the primer that is there is pretty good – I could add a whole bunch of miscellaneous detail, but it wouldn’t significantly add to the game or the world. What you NEED to know is already in the core rules.
Focus on the idea of hooks. Every element should include hooks – not only what is it, but how you might use it in play.
Approach
Maybe I could think of it on the whole as expanding section 10: Adventures. Rather than writing linear adventures, I could provide 20+ settings within and connected to Sentinel Earth that may provide a foundation for adventure. These could range from the small to the large, from street level to cosmic. Wormwood Station, the Junkyard Dawg’s Compound, and Aegis Section Delta (from the core rules) all provided a map to explore, visit, invade, defend… a few of the characters that inhabit the location, and hooks for how you might set an adventure there. This would allow me to ‘dip my toes’ into dozens of locations, exploring each of them in significant depth while skimming past other places. These then become iconic, archetypal locations that suggest what similar locations might be like. This also allows me to build on the core rules while basically eliminating redundancy, which I like.
Publishing
These ideas lend themselves to a modular approach. I could work on these one at a time, each at about 4-8 pages. I could release them as pay what you want downloads as I do them, trying to knock out one every few weeks. Once they are all done, I could go back and bundle them together in one master book. An average of 6 pages with 20 of them would be 120 pages, so targeting a 128-page supplement is not out of line. The core rules are 192 pages. To create another book that long, I'd need to create about 30 different locations... I do think that a version of the Solitaire Framework would be at the front of the book, and that the whole idea would be that you use the Solitaire Framework to build adventures as you explore locations. There is not a lot of 'he is sitting on his throne counting gold coins when the heroes arrive' type of text; it will be more along the lines of 'the villain is likely to be working in his lab, but is possibly in any other location in the complex.'

Design

The visual design should be the same as Sentinels. I don't want to create a 'new' look for the game. I want to build on what I've already done, and have a second book that looks and feels like a companion to the original.

Fighting Fists, Terror Claws, and Mechanical Horses

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 05/03/2020 - 14:00

One thing about Masters of the Universe (and by extension likely any hypothetical rpg based on it) is that, sort of like D&D, advancement often means the acquisition of stuff. There are no mounds of gold or jewels for the heroic warriors of Eternia, though, instead they get new vehicles, the occasional animal mount, and He-man, at least, gets battle armor, flying fists, and thunder punch accessories. In other words, it's toyetic.

The other thing is these innovations aren't mass produced. All the heroes don't get battle armor any more than they all get a power sword. In the more post-apocalyptic world of the early minicomics these items are analogous to D&D artifacts

To keep the game becoming more of an arm race than the source material is, these items should require attunement or bonding. Getting more bonding slots/points should probably be one of the rewards for advancement.

Looking around, one MOTU inspired rpg, Warriors of Eternity, takes this into account, with new bond points doled in reward for narrative goals.

Skeletor levels up

Weird Revisited: A World Unconquered

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 05/01/2020 - 12:47
I originally uncovered this map in 2013...

Sword & Sorcery comics of the seventies usual got around to supplying a map at some point, and Claw the Unconquered was no exception. Though it ran only 12 issues (from 1975 to 1978), Claw featured a map in issue #5.  Wikipedia seems to think Pytharia is the name of Claw's world--and it may be--but it's also the name of one of the country's in the "Known World," as you can see. Interestingly, Claw shares this world with another sword-wielding DC hero: Starfire, who's part Red Sonja and part Killraven, living in a post-apocalyptic alien-overrun future.


Anyway, I'm pretty sure there's some game inspiration in this.

Upon Further Reflection

The Splintered Realm - Thu, 04/30/2020 - 02:10
So I was toying with the idea of a revised and updated version of Sentinels of Echo City. I could update the rules to align with some of the minor tweaks that I've made with Tales of the Splintered Realm. I could upgrade the layout and give the entire art an overhaul. I could really tighten up the presentation and the layout, cleaning up text and refining some of the rough edges out of it.
Then I read the first half of the book again. I'll finish reading it tomorrow.
But I love it. It's just a bit quirky. And free-wheeling. And just shy of polished. It's clean, and well-presented, and bursting at the seams with good ideas. I haven't actually sat down and READ the thing in two years, but I had to admit it. Despite the little grammatical things I now know how to clean up, and the breezy layout, it's a gem of a game.
It's not a perfect, tightly-edited product. It's a great, high-energy, burst of superhero love. It captures what I wanted it to capture, exactly the way I wanted to capture it. In some ways, it is lightning in a bottle. I could tighten it up and refine it, but that might just kill the thing I love most about it.
One of the things that separates the better creative people from others is their knowledge of when to stop work on something. Could it be cleaner? Sharper? More professional? Yes, yes, and yes.
But would it be BETTER? I don't think so. 
I accept that Sentinels of Echo City and Tales of the Splintered Realm, although sharing the same basic engine, are actually different games. The differences in the two books are surprisingly stark to my eyes. I love them both. Tales is going to college and will have health insurance. Sentinels is going to tour the country in his van for a bit. But they're both fantastic kids. And I am going to do what I can to support them both on their journeys forward.

Print Edition of Tales Update

The Splintered Realm - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 17:49
A copy of the print rules is on its way to me! Once I get a chance to proof it one last time, I'll update the files on Drivethrurpg and put it live for sale. Probably about two weeks...

Here's the wrap-around cover, as a proof of life.



More LULU Trouble

The Splintered Realm - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 13:09
Oh snap. Since I expect you want the good news before the bad news, I'll do that.

The good news: Lulu is up! It works. I can login, and I solved the problem of why my pdf files were not uploading. I can now proceed with a layout for Tales.

The bad news: I have to make a list. There's a lot of bad news.

1. Almost all of my old files have broken covers. Either (A) the covers have not finished porting over yet, and Lulu is still getting things up to speed (crosses fingers); or (B) the covers are not compatible with the new Lulu system, and I have to re-do them. Which sucks. So, I'm going to wait and see.

2. Lulu will not let me create a saddle-stitched book at 52 pages. Yes, it's divisible by 4, but that's not enough for Lulu. I created a dummy version where I cut 4 pages, and was able to create a saddle-stitched print edition. I am at a crossroads. I could (A) reduce the campaign setting information to a one-page overview (get rid of encounter tables) and cut the three tombs adventure - to get to 48. It's a solution I could live with. Or, I could (B) add 12 pages of content. I am leaning towards A, because I could see the campaign setting being its own setting book with significant expansion, and the three tombs could then be ported to that book as one of a series of adventures in the Splintered Realm. That's actually a workable solution to me. But, it means less game in the end. But 48 pages makes my heart happier, and sounds like a model I can replicate for the next book (the campaign guide). I see two more books right now: the Vault of the D'Ro and the Campaign Setting. If my target for each is 48 pages, I see a lot of possibility for both projects. I could always just put the three brothers up as a free adventure, or as the first in a series of free pdfs to support the game... or I don't know what. But it could easily be 'out there' without it being in the core rulebook.

Wednesday Comics: Fourth World Re-Read

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 11:00
I have not read the entirety of Jack Kirby's run on his so-called "Fourth World" titles at DC in the 1970s (Forever People, Mister Miracle,  and New Gods, and ok, it starts in Jimmy Olsen, but I'm not reading that) since the black and white collections of 1999, so I seemed like the right time.

These titles were supposedly an attempt to write a new mythology for the modern age, an idea Kirby had had at Marvel, but never got to execute. The titles are interrelated but not strongly interlinked (not unlike Morrison's Seven Soldiers over 30 years later). Last night I read Mister Miracle #3 and 4 both published in 1971.

Mister Miracle tells the story of Scott Free, a man form another world, who befriends, and then assumes the stage persona of an aging escape artist known as Mister Miracle. While Free's athletic and escape abilities are impressive, he accomplishes most of his escapes by using advanced alien technology. Scott Free is being hunted by agents of the planet Apokolips. So far, we've seen their human, organized crime agents, Intergang, and the monstrous orphanage matron, Granny Goodness.

Issue #3 introduces us to Doctor Bedlam. Bedlam is a being of pure thought, and very malign thought at that. His psychic assault upon Mister Miracle and his assistant, Oberon, is almost Satanic (or maybe Outer God-like) in intensity--only Free's "Mother Box" device protects them.


Bedlam draws Free into a trap in an office building. After a confrontation with what is essentially an android body possessed by Bedlam, Free must make his way through 50 floors of people turned into violent suffers of psychosis by Bedlam's "paranoia pills."

Bedlam is a great concept, particularly within the Apokolipsian pantheon, who all are some sort of aspect of oppression. His name comes from the nickname of Bethlehem Royal Hospital, which at one time represented the most frightening and dehumanizing aspects of mental asylums. Bedlam seems a personification of the snakepit asylum. He is almost literal madness in human form, or rather in the form of a number of faceless automata--suggesting the evil of systems, not individual actors.

Free's escape through 50 stories is likewise a great story conceit that would work well today. The choice of a single office building and an urban setting as opposed to some sort of small town or even city street, seems to suggest the deleterious effects mental effects of corporate employment, or maybe the paranoia induced by office politics. It's not hard to see Kirby's experiences at Marvel as informing these choices.

As good as it all is, Kirby seems to have a dilemma as to how to deal with the amazing feats of his super-escape artist. The "trick" of the last three of Mister Miracle's daring escapes are related to Oberon as he and Scott make dinner and all involve the use of one really versatile device. Oberon's response seems to sort of lampshade the shakiness of it all:


The other weak spot is a couple of panels of Big Barda (who is introduced this issue). Perhaps is was the inker (Vince Colletta) that let him down, but I suspect being a one man band essentially on some many titles just sometimes led to him being rushed.

Over a Month of Free Comics From Dynamite – More Added!

First Comics News - Mon, 04/27/2020 - 17:41

April 27, Mt. Laurel, NJ: For over a month, Dynamite and ComiXology have been serving up comics to readers for free. With a new sixth set of additions, the grand total reaches 76 total comics at no cost!

They’re all available right here!

This week features a diverse range of offerings. Early smash hits from Dynamite like Army of Darkness and Lone Ranger are joined by takes on Gold Key heroes Turok and Magnus by frequent collaborators Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, as well as Gail Simon’s mega-crossover Swords of Sorrow, plus one of the best-reviewed comics of 2019 in Kieron Gillen’s deconstruction take on Peter Cannon.

 

 

Wave Six:
-Army of Darkness vs. Reanimator #1
-Classic Battlestar Galactica: Starbuck #1
-Dead Irons #1
-The Devilers #1
-Elvira: The Shape of Elvira #1
-James Bond: Hammerhead #1
-Justice, Inc. #1
-Lone Ranger (2006) #1
-Magnus Robot Fighter #1
-Obey Me #1
-Peter Cannon Thunderbolt (2019) #1
-Swords of Sorrow #1
-Turok Dinosaur Hunter #1       

      

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

The Sheldon Mayer Estate Featuring Sugar and Spike & Many of His Earliest Works to be Auctioned

First Comics News - Mon, 04/27/2020 - 17:20

Also Going under the Hammer are Over 80 Blondie Comic Strips from the Chic Young Estate

LOS ANGELES, April 27, 2020 – Sheldon Mayer and Chic Young collections featuring “Sugar and Spike” and “Blondie” comic strips will be auctioned by Nate D. Sanders Auctions on April 30, 2020.

Sheldon Mayer Estate

One of the most influential cartoonists of the Golden Age of Comics, Sheldon Mayer delighted his readers with the adventures of his characters Sugar and Spike, Scribbly the Boy Cartoonist, and The Three Mouseketeers, along with his popular artwork of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, throughout the years. He’s also the man credited with discovering Superman, so impressed was he with the strip (which had been rejected over a dozen times) that he convinced Max Gaines to take it up the food chain for the first issue of Action Comics. Later, as an editor at DC Comics, Mayer was responsible for bringing in Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and scores of other titles into the fold.

For the first time, Sheldon Mayer’s personal collection of his artwork, sketches, and journal are offered, with complete issues of Sugar and Spike, along with Scribbly (which was reprinted in The Greatest Golden Age Stories Ever Told). His journal and sketchbook from 1935-37 is even included, with stories about the early days of the comic book industry.

Additional information on the Sheldon Mayer collection can be found at natedsanders.com

Chic Young Estate

Young created the legendary comic strip Blondie in 1930. Blondie became the widely read comic strip in the United States. It was read by 52 million readers at its peak. Chic’s son Dean Young consigned over 80 Blondie comic strips.

Additional information on the Chic Young collection can be found at natedsanders.com

 

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Heavy Metal Announces VIRUS, a New Way of Bringing Comics to Readers

First Comics News - Mon, 04/27/2020 - 17:10

Heavy Metal CEO Matthew Medney and Publisher David Erwin Announce VIRUS Imprint: A New Way of Bringing Comics to Readers

LOS ANGELES, CA – Heavy Metal is excited to announce VIRUS, a new platform for comics publishing that will bring real comics, printed on paper, to readers while paying the creators a fair price for their work.

With the COVID-19 crisis hitting the comics industry hard, freezing distribution chains and forcing shops to close their doors, now is the time for a better way to get real, new comics titles into the hands of readers. VIRUS takes advantage of today’s nimble, on-demand technologies, backed by the magazine’s enduring mojo as the authority in science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Heavy Metal believes that a ‘comic books on demand’ platform can provide some much-needed escapism during these difficult and challenging times. With a distribution shut-down shuttering comic shops nationwide, fans are starving for their weekly dose of new titles. VIRUS’ commitment to  innovation, accessibility and quality is the solution. Heavy Metal CEO Matt Medney explains VIRUS’ origin as, “birthed from a viewpoint of the industry needing evolution, as well as us wondering, ‘How  do we serve the Heavy Metal fan base more, with more stories and more content?'”

As for creators, VIRUS’ mission is to create a platform where all participating talent can earn on dollar one. Medney says theirs is the only platform “where the creator will make money, whether one or 10,000 books are sold.” All creators will receive 15% of the sticker price for each book sold, from the first book sold.

Calling an imprint VIRUS in the wake of a pandemic may seem like a questionable idea, but Medney sees it through a different lens. “When a virus pulls us apart, nothing brings us closer together than great stories,” Medney explains. “And that’s what we’re trying there. We’re trying to bring people  together through great stories, find the silver lining of the pandemic through genre, and that’s the message. So even though the name is kind of more on the dark side, the ethos is on the light side, and that sort of juxtaposition has always been Heavy Metal.”

The first issues from VIRUS will go on sale on Wednesday, April 29, and new issues will be added to the shop each Wednesday. Launch titles include The Red (by Rosenblum, Medney, Bownz, Handler and Lam), Nomobots (by Agrimbau and Tumburus), Hymn of the Teada (by Medney, Rosenblum, Mechler, Fung, Pinchuk and Bownz) and Garbage Factory (by Jakofire and Kim). Bob Fingerman’s upcoming book, Dotty’s Inferno, will also be published through VIRUS.

“I think VIRUS is going to be a major player in the comic book space,” writer Morgan Rosenblum, who’s behind two of the imprint’s launch titles, told SyFy Wire. “Heavy Metal already has a loyal and tuned-in fan base, and with Matt and his team at Heavy Metal‘s collective brain trust running the ship, I know they have a great eye for finding amazing stories.”

The “eye” is all-important — VIRUS is more than a platform, it’s an extension of Heavy Metal magazine. Medney, Erwin and Heavy Metal’s editorial staff of Tim Seeley, Joseph Illidge, RG Llarena and Frank Forte review submissions and decide what VIRUS publishes. Many companies have been publishing creator-owned work for years — the key difference here is that VIRUS all but eliminates the financial risk that publishers and creators have had to shoulder.

“There’s even more of a need to connect, to reach out and tell stories to each other,”says creator Ron Marz (Batman/Aliens, DC vs. Marvel, Green Lantern). “Anything that makes that easier is a huge boon. VIRUS is going to outlast this pandemic.

Bob Fingerman, a MAD magazine and Heavy Metal contributor who’ll be an early adopter of the VIRUS imprint with Dotty’s Inferno, expressed his affection for the Heavy Metal brand. “When it debuted, Heavy Metal was the magazine that opened my eyes to what comics could be,” Fingerman says. “Not just cheaply produced superhero stuff, but bold, adult, unconventional, and beautifully executed.”

“When the pandemic hit, disrupting everything and everyone, it forced us to look at how we can continue to keep the industry alive and provide fans of comicdom with the medium we all love,” Heavy Metal publisher David Erwin explained in a SyFy Wire exclusive. “Unfortunately, there will be casualties in the retail space and perhaps some publishers. But, we’re fortunate to offer an alternative and ability to service all the fans, as well as talented creators of this wonderful medium, comic books.”

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

WWE 2K Battlegrounds coming this fall

First Comics News - Mon, 04/27/2020 - 16:49

Hello,

From everyone at 2K, we hope that you and your families are all well and safe. We also hope our games and the vibrant communities you have created around them are continuing to bring you joy and help you stay connected and engaged during these uncertain times. We are extremely fortunate to be in the entertainment industry and it’s a privilege and responsibility we don’t take lightly.

With that in mind, we’ve got news to share in the world of WWE 2K video games and want to give you a candid look at the road ahead.

Let’s begin with a surprise… We’ve got two words for you: NEW GAME! We’re thrilled to introduce you to WWE 2K Battlegrounds, a completely new WWE gaming experience that will feature arcade-style action and over-the-top Superstar designs, environments and moves. We’re focusing on social pick-up-and-play fun, but with plenty of depth for those who want to get way into it.

WWE 2K Battlegrounds coming this fall00:25
Take a first look at WWE 2K Battlegrounds, an arcade-style video game featuring your favorite WWE Superstars, coming this fall.

Whether you’re a casual gamer just learning the ropes or a passionate fan ready for all the action, WWE 2K Battlegrounds provides another way to enjoy WWE video game action. The game is being developed by Saber Interactive, the studio behind NBA 2K Playgrounds, who have been hard at work on WWE 2K Battlegrounds and are excited to let you smell what they’re cookin’.

WWE 2K Battlegrounds is scheduled to launch this fall and we look forward to sharing more information about the game in the coming months.

Next, we want to address WWE 2K20. We’ve heard and appreciate your feedback, and continue to listen to you closely. Since launch, we’ve released five title updates, addressing hundreds of reported concerns, and have released four WWE 2K20 Originals DLC expansions to build on and improve the experience. We’ve also heard your requests to keep the WWE 2K19 servers running; they will remain active for the time being.

All of that being said, we hear you and we know you want more from the franchise, so here’s what we’re going to do: we are applying what we’ve learned to the next WWE 2K simulation game with a renewed focus on quality and fun. As part of that commitment, we are extending the production timeline and will not be releasing a WWE 2K simulation game in 2020 (T2 fiscal year 2021). We want to ensure the development team at Visual Concepts can create a great game that will entertain grizzled WWE 2K veterans, as well as newcomers who want to climb through the ropes and step into the ring for the very first time.

We’ve recruited Patrick Gilmore to serve as our new Executive Producer and lead these efforts at Visual Concepts. Patrick has over 25 years of experience in video games, reaching all the way back to Disney’s Aladdin on Sega Genesis, and including franchises like Killer Instinct, Medal of Honor, and, most recently, Amazon’s New World. He will be overseeing WWE 2K development, and you’ll be hearing more from him and the team in the months to come.

We hope you find this news as exciting as we do. We are confident it will lead to better games in the future.

Finally, we want to take a moment to thank you for your continued enthusiasm for WWE SuperCard. Now in its sixth season, WWE SuperCard recently achieved a milestone of more than 20 million installs as it continues to entertain legions of players with its unique approach to collectible card battling action. We’re incredibly proud of the work Cat Daddy has done to build and maintain such a successful game that continues to entertain MILLIONS (and millions) of players. Expect to see more card tiers, game modes, in-game events and exciting announcements as WWE SuperCard content continues to roll out.

In closing, we want to thank you again, and hope you’ll join us in celebrating these announcements. 2K and WWE are reaffirming a long-term commitment to expand the WWE Games family in ways that directly benefit you, the fans. We are taking the time we need to deliver the quality you deserve, while at the same time offering new experiences and ways to have fun with the WWE Superstars you love… And that’s the bottom line, ‘cause 2K said so!

The WWE Games Team at 2K, Visual Concepts, Cat Daddy and Saber Interactive

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

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