Comic Book Feeds

Through A Veil of Blue Mist Did I First Behold Talislanta

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 12:00

I've mentioned my appreciation for Stephan Michael Sechi's Talislanta setting. Since I'm contemplating running a Sword & Planet game that uses Talislanta as the "planet," I though it was a good time to revisit the setting, and it's publication history in a series of posts, as I think about what I'm going to use and what I might do differently.

Historically, Talislanta is both a setting and a game. It's core, however, has always been the systemless Chronicles of Talislanta, first published by Bard Games in 1987. Chronicles is the narrative of Tamerlin, a wizard from another world, as he explores the continent of Talislanta. Sechi's imaginative setting is made more compelling by P.D. Breeding-Black's distinctive illustrations.

When I first encountered Talislanta, I didn't have much experience with Sechi's inspirations: the works of Jack Vance, Marco Polo's Travels, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, and the comics of Philippe Druillet. To me, it seemed more daring than the implied setting of D&D, and at once goofier and more lurid than the likes of Middle-Earth. It reminded me of Star Wars and comic books. I liked it instantly.

My appreciation has only grown over the years. So, I'm going to trace Tamerlin's journey and the places it visits across editions and think about how I might make it my own, influenced by my understanding of Sechi's stated influences and influences of my own.

More to come.

Geek Picks for January 15th, 2019!

Stash My Comics - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 00:36
By the Outrightgeekery Staff It’s hard to believe that 2019, the time period for the original Blade Runner movie is considered now ‘in the past.’ It’s 2020 already and that means that the future is now! Several comic books have used the … Continue reading →
Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Creator’s Corner with Craig Rousseau, Artist of KILLING RED SONJA

Stash My Comics - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 00:31
Interview by William Pace We’re back once again with another creator’s corner where we ask a comic book creator some questions in between their deadlines, and ours. This time it’s an artist I know fairly well since I’ve had the … Continue reading →
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Weird Revisited: In the Twilight

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 01/13/2020 - 12:00
The original version of this post appeared in 2016...

At least ten empires rose and fell during the Meridian of Earth. Each was glorious and wrested such secrets from the universe as to enable it to bend laws of nature, obdurate to earlier cultures, to its whim. Each in time fell into decadence, dwindled, and died, but at the end of the Meridian Time, the Earth had been transformed by their works; it had become the abode of beings other than Man.

As the Twilight fell and the sun grew bloated and sanguine, those Outsiders and abhuman things encroached ever closer on the nations of Man. By and by, they gained greater dominion over the Earth. In the early centuries, the technologies of the elder Meridian still functioned, and Man comprehended enough to build great walls as a defense against the inhuman. As Twilight deepened, many of these redoubts fell, but a few stood fast and managed even to throw back their foe. The Coming Night was held in abeyance for so long that generations passed and many began to doubt it would ever fall.

But beyond the walls, the Great Beasts crouched and waited with patience inhuman but not infinity, and abhuman armies gathered in the deepening in gloom...

Here's the pitch: Take the early modern bleakness, occasional black humor, and body-warping chaos of Warhammer Fantasy and put it in a Dying Earth gone weird like Hodgson's The Night Land, making sure to filter the Watchers (Great Beasts in this case) through Lovecraftiania, a hint of kaiju, and good old fashion goetic demonology. Wrap it all in "points of light" surrounded by walls out of Attack on Titan.

A Campaign Idea in Pictures

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 01/12/2020 - 12:00
A scout ship crashes on a distant planet.

A world teeming with life, some of which mysterious shows ties to Earth, and primitive civilization.

Things are not what they seem.

But what can explain the apparent examples of magic?

The short pitch summary: A Planetary Romance short of sandbox, inspired by Vance's Planet of Adventure series with Talislanta (modified to taste) used as a base.

Spinning Out of the Pages of Captain Marvel, This is STAR #1 (Review)

Stash My Comics - Sun, 01/12/2020 - 03:23
Review by Thomas Hulett Ripley Ryan as Star is the newest reformed villain in the MU, but in her debut issue she can’t seem to get off the ground. Spinning out of Captain Marvel, Ripley Ryan was once a reporter assigned … Continue reading →
Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Michael Allred’s Bowie is Music to My Eyes!

Stash My Comics - Sun, 01/12/2020 - 03:19
Review by Tony Dillard Stardust, Rayguns and Moonage Daydreams focuses on the early years of Bowie’s career. From having to change his name in order not to be confused with a member of the Monkees all the way through the creation … Continue reading →
Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Setting History Should Do Something

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 01/10/2020 - 13:30
If setting books for rpgs sometimes get a bad wrap, history sections of setting books are probably even more widely reviled. There are reasons for this, but I don't think the solution is that history should be banned from rpg books entirely. I do think it's worth thinking about why we have history (particularly deep history) in rpg setting books, when it's useful and maybe when it isn't.

My thesis is that history in rpg books is most useful/good when it does something. Possible somethings are:

1. Helps to orient the reader (mostly the GM) to the themes/mood/flavor of the setting.
2. Directly establishes parameters that impact the player's adventures.
3. Provides "toys" or obstacles.

It is unhelpful when it does the following:

1. Describes events that have little to no impact on the present.
2. Describes events which are repetitive in nature or easy to confuse.
3. Provides few "toys," or ones that are not unique/distinctive.

Now, I am not talking specifically here about number of words or page counts, which I think a lot of people might feel is the main offender. Those are sort of dependent on the style/marketing position of the publication. Bona fide rpg company books tend to be written more densely and presumably read more straight for pleasure. DIY works are linear and more practical. My biases are toward the latter, but I am more concerned with content here. I do think in general that economy of words makes good things better, and verbosity exacerbates the bad things.

Let's get into an example from Jack Shear's Krevborna:

Gods were once reverenced throughout Krevborna, but in ages past they withdrew their influence from the world. Some say that the gods abandoned mankind to its dark fate due to unforgivable sins. Others believe that the gods retreated after they were betrayed by the rebellious angels who became demons and devils. Some even claim that the gods were killed and consumed by cosmic forces of darkness known as the Elder Evils.Looking at my list of "good things" it hits most of them. It helps orient to mood and theme (lack of gods, dark fate, unforgivable sins), it sets parameters for the adventurers (cosmic forces of darkness, no gods), and provides obstacles (demons and devils, rebellious angels, elder evils).

That's pretty brief, though. What about a wordier example? Indulge me in an example from my own stuff:

So, the good stuff: orienting to theme, mood. etc. (deep history, memeplexes, super-science, transcendence as old hat, names suggesting a multicultural melange), setting parameters (a fallen age compared to the past, psychic powers, vast distances), and toys and obstacles (psybernetics and a host of other advance tech, Zurr masks, Faceless Ones!)

But wait, have I done one of the "bad things?" I've got two fallen previous civilizations? Isn't that repetitive and potentially confusing? I would say no.  The Archaic Oikueme is the distant past (it's in the name!). It's the "a wizard did it" answer for any weird stuff the GM wishes to throw in, and the source of McGuffins aplenty. The Radiant Polity is the recent past. Its collapse is still reverberating. It is the shining example (again, in the name) that would-be civilizer (and tyrants) namecheck.

Weird Revisited: The Planetary Picaresque

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 01/09/2020 - 12:00
This post is of relatively recent vintage (2017), but I've been thinking about this sort of thing again...

We're all familiar with the Planetary Romance or Sword and Planet stories of the Burroughsian ilk, where a stranger (typically a person of earth) has adventures of a lost world or derring-do sort of variety on an alien world. I'd like to suggest that their is a subgenre or closely related genre that could be termed the Planetary Picaresque.

The idea came to me while revisiting the novels in Vance's Planet of Adventure sequence. The first novel, City of the Chasch, is pretty typical of the Planetary Romance form, albeit more science fiction-ish than Burroughs and wittier than most of his imitators. By the second novel, Servant of the Wankh (or Wanek), however, Vance's hero is spending more time getting the better of would be swindlers or out maneuvering his social superiors amid the risible and baroque societies of Tschai than engaging in acts of swordplay or derring-do. One could argue the stalwart Adam Reith is not himself a picaro, but the ways he is forced to get by on Tschai certainly resemble the sort of situations a genuine picaro might get into.

These sort of elements are not wholly absent from Vance's sword and planet progenitors (Burroughs has some of that, probably borrowed from Dumas), but Vance makes it the centerpiece rather than the comedy relief. Some of L. Sprague de Camp's Krishna seem to be in a similar vein.

The roleplaying applications of this ought to be obvious. You get to combine the best parts of Burroughs with the best parts of Leiber. I think that's a pretty appealing combination.

Weird Revisited: Map of the Azuran System

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 01/06/2020 - 12:00
This post is from 2015. I revisited in in 2018, but with the demise of G+ the image is now gone, so it bore reposting...

This is a "work in progress map of the Azuran System, location of the Star Warriors setting I've done a couple of posts about. Some of these worlds have been mentioned in other posts, but here are the thumbnail descriptions of the others:

Yvern: Humans share this tropical world with sauroid giants! They have learned how to domestic these creatures as beasts of burdens and engines of feudal warfare. Some Yvernians are able to telepathically communicate with their beasts.

Vrume: The desert hardpan and canyons of Vrume wouldn’t attract many visitors if it weren’t for the races—the most famous of these being the annual Draco Canyon Rally.

Zephyrado: Isolated by its “cactus patch” of killer satellites, Zephyrado is home to hard-bitten ranchers and homesteader colonists—and the desperadoes that prey on them!
Geludon: A windswept, frozen world, Geludon is home to mysterious “ice castles” built by a long vanished civilization and the shaggy, antennaed, anthropoid Meego.

Robomachia: A world at war! An all-female civilization is under constant assault from robots that carry captives away to hidden, underground bases--never to be seen again.
Darrklon: Covered by jagged peaks and volcanic badlands shrouded in perpetual twilight, Darrklon is a forbidding place, made even more so by its history as the power base of the Demons of the Dark. Few of the Demons remain, though their fane to Anti-Source of the Abyss still stands, and through it, they direct the Dark Star Knights and other cultists.

Computronia: A gigantic computer that managed the bureaucracy of the Old Alliance and served as its headquarters. It is now under the control of the Authority, and its vast computational powers are used to surveil the system.
Elysia: Elysia was once a near paradise. Technology and nature were held in balance, and its gleaming cities are as beautiful as its unspoiled wilderness. Elysia’s highest mountain was site of the training center of the Star Knights. Now, the Star Knights have been outlawed and the people of Elysia live in a police state imposed by the Authority.
Authority Prime: This hollowed out asteroid holds not only the central headquarters of Authority High Command, but its training academy and interrogation and detention center, as well. 

More on Clerics

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 01/03/2020 - 12:00
It is no secret that clerics have always held a bit of an uneasy place in D&D. They were supposedly inspired by the vampire hunters of Hammer Horror with some further borrowings from Crusader orders. Even if later editions with variable domains, weapons, and powers have ameliorated there implicitly Christian, monotheistic origins, we are still left with them serving pantheons drawn from modern imposed-systemization on characters from later versions of myth, a systemization alien to actually polytheistic religions. But still, it's only a game, we can run with that, right?

Well, we're still left with unanswered questions regarding how the cleric class fits into the structure of religious organizations. Do all priests have spells? If so, where do they get the experience to go up in level?

Here are some possibilities drawn from real world examples that are potential answers, though of course not the only answers, to these questions. Most of these assume clerics adventure because they are "called" to in some way. Whether this is a legitimate belief on the part of the cleric and society or a mistaken one would depend on the setting.

Lay Brothers 
Clerics are not ordained priests but warrior lay brethren, like the sohei of Japan or the military orders of Europe. They would overlap a bit with paladins, but that's real just a matter of whether they were stronger in faith or battle. In this version, priests might or might not have spells, but if they did it would strictly be at the dispensation of their deity.

This is more or less the idea I proposed in this post. Clerics are outside the church hierarchy, though they may or may not have started there. They were chosen by their deity for a special purpose. They may be reformers of a church that has been corrupted or lost it's way, founders of a heretical sect with a new interpretation, or the first in ages to hear the voice of a new god. Priests here may have no magic or may be powerful indeed but false in their theology.

Similar to my "Saints and Madmen" ideas before, mystics are either heretics or at the very least esotericists with a different take on their religion than the mainstream one. The difference between this and the Prophet above is that they have no interest in reforming the church or overturning it, they are either hermits or cult leaders who isolate themselves from the wider world to pursue their revelations. John the Baptist as portrayed in The Last Temptation of Christ would fit here, as would perhaps the Yamabushi of Japan, or certain Daoist sects/practitioners in China. They might be not at all scholarly (with all spells/powers being "gifts of grace" unavailable to less fanatical priests) or very scholarly with powers/spells coming from intense study or mediation which even more mainstream priests cannot master.

Special Orders
Clerics are members of special orders within the church hierarchy dedicated to recovering the wealth and lost knowledge of dungeons for the the glory of their deity and the betterment of their church. Not all  priests have spells. Clerics are priests chosen for their aptitude or particular relationship with the divine or whatever. These orders may be quite influential within the church hierarchy, but their mission thin their ranks and keeps them in the wilderness and away from centers of power--perhaps by divine will or by design of church leaders.

Weird Revisited: Different Takes on Clerics

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 01/02/2020 - 12:00
I was thinking of writing a post on different approaches to clerics in D&D--then I discovered I had already written one in 2015! I plan to expand on this in an upcoming post..

While on my vacation I did have a could of ideas of different ways to approach clerics. Nothing that would change there mechanics really, but changes to their "fiction" within D&D-like implied settings.

A God for Every Cleric
D&D talks a lot about clerics acquiring followers and whatnot, but only level titles hint at them being in a hierarchy from the outset. Maybe that's because every one of them adds a new god/Avatar/Saint/interpretation? They're struggles are the beginning of something at least partially new. Each cleric is the founder of a new cult, if not a whole new religion, and their deeds are its founding legends.

Saints & Madmen
Maybe clerics aren't priests with orders and heirarchies at all? Maybe they're crazy hermits and empowered saints? I've thought along these lines before, but there clerics were evangelists of a new apocalyptic cult. This way, they have always existed, but they're holy and special. Not all priests have spells.

Wednesday Comics: My Favorites of 2019

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 01/01/2020 - 12:00
In no particular order, here are my favorite comic book series of 2019. This only counts series that started with a 2019 cover date.

Spider-Man: Life Story: The life of Peter Parker as if he aged in real time. Sometimes the reconfiguring on famous storylines of each decade is tedious, but in the chapters where it works, it works well.

Coffin Bound: Izzy Tyburn, chased by an unstoppable killer unleashed by an ex-lover, vows that if the world won't have her in it, it will have nothing of her at all. Reminiscent of the classic days of Vertigo.

House of X/Powers of X: The X-Men as a science fiction. It's main flaw is that it leads into ongoing X titles that have thus far failed to live up to it.

Jimmy Olsen: a humorous homage to the Jimmy Olsen comics of the Silver Age from Matt Fraction and Steve Leiber. No collection as yet.

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt: Forget Doomsday Clock, this is the comic book follow-up to Watchmen worth reading. By Kieron Gillen and Caspar Wijngaard.

Geek Picks for January 1st, 2020!

Stash My Comics - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 00:19
From the Outrightgeekery Staff Welcome to the new year! Can you think of a better way to start 2020 than with New Comic Book Day being on New Year’s Day? Our team of Geeks have returned from their holiday vacation … Continue reading →
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The Outer Dark of Space

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 12/30/2019 - 12:00

There are rpg publications out there combining the Cthulhu Mythos with science fiction, and maybe even some combining transhuman science fiction with it, but I don't know if any of them have combined the mythos with hard science fiction with a bleaker edge like Reynolds's Revelation Space or Blindsight by Peter Watts, or maybe a hard science fiction Prometheus.

The magic and occultism of Lovecraft's (and other's) stories are just the primitive misunderstandings of extremely advanced technology. The many of the so-called deities of the mythos are entities predating the current universe, somehow intertwined with its structure.

The Great Old Ones and other Elder Races have been fighting to control these entities or the knowledge they possess for billions of years. In their long war, they go quiescent or hibernate for extended periods to build their energies and plan their strategies for the next titanic battle. Many of these beings are no longer conscious or sophont by our standards, but rather post-intelligence. Other species are nearly powerless in the face of these titans, and so they hide when they are awake, and the try not to wake them when they are sleeping--though some are not above attempting to "hack" them or exploit their advance technology. This is the solution to the Fermi Paradox.

I figure human civilization would resemble something like Revelation Space. AI probably exists, but there are not yet hypersophont AI (at least not widely known) like in the work of Karl Schroeder or Hannu Rajaniemi, because their existence might make the mythos races less special.

CCL #510 – March 2020 Solicitations – Weekend At Andy’s

First Comics News - Fri, 12/27/2019 - 04:13

Chris and Andy talk about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker but first get right into “draft” selections from the March 2020 solicits that include:

Andy’s pics:

  1. Marvel Classic Comics Omnibus HC (Marvel)
  2. Freedom Fighters Rise of a Nation TP (DC)
  3. Solomon Kane: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus HC (Marvel)
  4. The Neil Gaiman Library V1 HC (Darkhorse)
  5. Frank Cho’s Jungle Girl Omnibus Complete TP (Dynamite)
  6. Batman: Last Knight on Earth HC (DC)
  7. X-Men by Jonathan Hickman V1 TP (Marvel)
  8. Avatar: The Last Airbender Imbalance Library Edition (Dark Horse)
  9. I Think He’s Crazy National Lampoon HC (Fantagraphics)
  10. Amazing Spider-man: Great Power Epic Collection V1 (Marvel)

Chris’s pics:

  1. DC First Issue Special HC (DC)
  2. Superman Smashes The Klan TP (DC)
  3. The New Gods By Gerry Conway HC (DC)
  4. Heroes Reborn: The Return Omnibus HC (Marvel)
  5. Mephisto: Speak Of The Devil TP (Marvel)
  6. Marvel Knights Black Widow By Grayson & Rucka: The Complete Collection TP (Marvel)
  7. Militia TP (Blackbox Comics)
  8. Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 22 HC (Marvel)
  9. Shazam!: The World’s Mightiest Mortal Vol. 2 HC (DC)
  10. Complete Sabrina The Teenage Witch: 1972-1973 TP (Archie Comics)

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Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Thu, 12/26/2019 - 16:47

The staff of First Comics News wishes our readers a Happy Boxing Day!

Alex Wright, Bob Almond, Dærick Gröss Sr., Katie Salidas, Mat Kaufman, Michael Dunne, Miguel Ortiz, Tanya Tate, Tim Chizmar, Mike Bullock, Buzz Dixon, Holly Golightly, Howard Chaykin, J. C. Vaughn, Mark Haney, Marwan El Nashar, Naif Al-Mutawa, Scott McDaniel, Art Sippo, Chris Marshall,, Jamie Coville, Chris Squires, Francis Sky, Grant Offenberger, Martin Boruta, Peter Breau, Phil Latter, Calvin Daniels, Giovanni Aria, Harry Sully, Ric Croxton, Wayne Hall, Jez Ibelle, Matthew Szewczyk, Reinhardt Schäfer, Richard Vasseur and Rik Offenberger

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REVIEWS: Valhalla Awaits #1

First Comics News - Thu, 12/26/2019 - 16:41
Title: Valhalla Awaits #1

Publisher: Evoluzione Publishing

Creators: Phil Buckenham & Joshua Metzger (story), Phil Buckenham (art), Agnese Pozza (colors), Justin Birch (letters), Guido Martinez (editor), Marcel Dupree (editor-in-chief

Price: $4.99

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


“Valhalla Awaits is a comic series that draws heavily from the Poetic Edda and Viking and Norse mythological themes. The story follows characters Hilder and Erik Blüdaxe and their journey through the Viking afterlife, where they encounter Norse gods and legendary creatures.”

Comments:  Okay, I freely admit it upfront: I’m a sucker for projects about Vikings and/or Norse mythology. And for those who know me, who know I’ve been reading the adventures of Marvel’s THOR for as long as I could read, it came as no surprise whatsoever that I had jumped on this book when I saw it show up on Kickstarter.

The book begins during the very early years of settlement on Greenland (a scant ten years after Erik the Red discovered and named it). A small village is under siege by a group of Vikings led by the powerful Erik Blüdaxe. But apparently, his coming was foretold, as a group of priests are performing a ritual intended to transform a young girl named Hilder into a Valkyrie, who would then be a champion for the village. But Erik’s early arrival disrupts their ritual, and Hilder instead falls under Erik’s sway. But truthfully, that’s just the beginning. The story doesn’t really start until the end of the first issue when both Holder and Erik die at each other’s hands some years later. Hence why the tagline for this series is “a journey through the Viking afterlife”.

Creatively, the talent on this book is strong. Series creator and artist Phil Buckenham, aided by co-writer Joshua Metzger, writes smooth dialogue, and engaging characters. They establish well early on the link between both Erik and Hilder, while at the same time foreshadowing that there’s far more to Hilder than even she knows.

Phil’s art is, overall, well-executed and cohesive. The transitions between panels occasionally jump, but overall the vast majority of the book’s storytelling is smooth and seamless. His framing is dynamic and dramatic, and the character designs are fantastic and period-appropriate. No Vikings wearing horned or winged helmets in this project, and I love it. But if you’re a little squeamish, be aware that they are, after all, Vikings, and there’s more than an ample serving of blood and brutality. Honestly, my favorite page(s) in this story are the double-page spread which I won’t spoil for you here. There’s just something very cinematically-timed about its placement and staging. I love it.

Moving on to the other members of the creative team, the colors of Agnese Pizza compliment Phil’s art perfectly, bringing depth and vivid dynamics to the story. And as someone who himself dabbles in lettering, I really appreciate Josh Birch’s skills in these pages. There is a 100% professional quality to his work that would be perfectly at home on a project from one of the Big Two publishers. I’ve experienced a couple of projects where the lettering and balloons are sub-par and as surprising as it may be to some, nothing pulls me out of a project faster than bad lettering. It’s distracting and ruins both the flow and dynamics of the art and story.

So, in conclusion, do I recommend this book? Absolutely. Without hesitation. It’s not yet available anywhere outside the Kickstarter campaign, but they do have a store on IndyPlanet, so I’d imagine once things are settled the book will go up there for widespread sale.

Honestly, I could probably go on and on (because…Vikings), but I’ll stop. Suffice it to say, I’m on board for this series, and will eagerly be looking forward to the next issue when they decide to make it happen. And I recommend you do, as well.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

RICH REVIEWS: Gillbert # 2: The Curious Mysterious

First Comics News - Thu, 12/26/2019 - 16:30

Title: Gillbert # 2: The Curious Mysterious (GN)
Publisher: Papercutz
Creator/Writer/Artist/Cover: Art Baltazar
Price: $ 9.99 US
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Comments: In Atlanticus, Gillbert, Sherbert, and Anne are ready for Everything Day. Well until Gillbert has to help out babysitting.
The art style is for a young audience. It is simplistic. The colors are beautifully done. The illustration of the King riding a shark looks amazing.
The three aquatic creatures Gillbert, Sherbert and Anne do go on a journey for Everything Day. Matila Gilbert’s baby sister swims off and the others follow. They end up meeting some weird surface folks. Everything Day sounds fun until you hear about the Gogo-Gygoontah Fish a destructive creature.
This book makes a fine illustrated and printed comic for a very young age.
Gillbert and his cute friends and family have a wonderful friendly adventure and they meet new friends in the Mostly Humans people who are not quite human. They are a fun group too. All the creatures here are happy fun characters that a child will just love and adore.

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