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TSR House Rules

The Splintered Realm - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 13:42
This post will be updated with house rules I am using for Tales of the Splintered Realm. Use or don't use as you see fit:

Gameplay Rules
  • Automatic damage effects (like the heat from a fire ant) are capped at 2 points per round; if four fire ants surround a character, that character does not suffer 4 hp damage per round.
  • In melee combat, no more than 3 creatures of the same size can engage you at once. No more than 2 creatures of any size larger, and no more than 4 creatures of any size smaller. A normal human could be attacked in melee by up to 4 rats, 3 gargoyles, or 2 ogres at once. This would limit sundering to only affecting those total targets as well. I found this was necessary to keep my solo stoutling defender alive; when he took on 7 rats, he was going to be killed quickly if not for the quick application of this rule :) This will also keep him alive later on, when he's taking on many undead at once.
  • For solo play, I am ruling that drinking a potion counts as a minor action, allowing one attack at -2 (because my character is going through healing potions like CRAZY to stay alive).
Purchasing Scrolls
The rules state that scrolls must be found on adventures. I rule that scrolls may be purchased in some places. A small country shrine may carry tier 1 scrolls, while the temple in a major city may stock scrolls of up to tier 3; you would have to journey to the Library at Asgoth's Summit to find a scroll of Tier 5.
Tier 1: 100 spTier 2: 250 spTier 3: 500 spTier 4: 1,000 spTier 5: 2,500 spTier 6: 5,000 sp
Purchasing Weapons or Armor
The rules have no mechanism for purchasing magical weapons and armor. Larger merchants may have gained some through barter. The standard prices are:
+1 weapons or armor are the base cost in gold +100 gp.  (A +1 medium weapon would cost around 115 gp, or 1150 sp; a suit of +1 plate mail armor would likely go for around 400 gp, or 4,000 sp). The more powerful an item, the less likely it is that a merchant will carry it.
+2 weapons or armor are the base cost in gold x10, +250 gp. (A +2 short bow would cost around 500 gp, or 5,000 sp; a suit of +2 chainmail armor would cost around 1,000 gp, or 10,000 sp). Very few merchants would stock such items.
Purchasing Potions
Larger alchemical shops are going to stock some basic potions. Most potions sell for around 100 sp, but more potent elixirs may sell for upwards of 500 sp.

Selling Items

Use the prices above to sell items to vendors; you get 50% of the value in any item you sell back (including mundane items you purchase; when you upgrade your studded leather armor to chainmail, you get 10 sp credit from the studded leather towards the new price)

Wednesday Comics: Classic Star Wars: Devilworlds #1-2

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 12:30
If you ever wondered what an Alan Moore Star Wars story would be like, this two issue limited series from Dark Horse (and released in digital format by the current licenseholders, Marvel) will be enlightening. Devilworlds reprints stories from various Marvel UK titles from 1982.  Besides Alan Moore, it features work by the likes of Steve Moore, Steve Parkhouse and Alan Davis.

The stories don't quite feel like Star Wars--or at least, don't feel like Star Wars of 2018 or even 1999. How they would have read in 1982, when there were only two films and a Christmas Special, who can say? Today, they feel much more like stories from 2000AD archives or Doctor Who Magazine, which isn't surprising given the writers did work for those titles.

Allow me a couple of spoilers to illustrate. In "Rust Never Sleeps" Artoo and Threepio end up on the Imperial junk planet of Ronyards, and encounter a droid cult that worships a scrap god. In "Tilotny Throws a Shape" (with art by John Stokes) Princess Leia and a group of pursuing Stormtroopers have a strange encounter with group of extradimensional or spirit beings (they would be a good portrayal of the Fair Folk in Exalted) who have vague grasp of the concepts of matter and time.


If this sounds like the sort of off-kilter Star Wars you can tolerate, then you'll be glad to know the issues are a mere 1.99 each on Comixology.

Days of Azurth Future Past

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 03/18/2019 - 00:52
art by Jason SholtisDeposited in the future by the whim of the wizard, Phosporo, the party in our 5e Land of Azurth game, found Rivertown in ruins and Castle Machina again mobile and stalking the land. What's more the Toad Temple--the Frog Temple in this time-- could be seen in the distance and was painted a brownish orange and had a decidedly friendly cast about it.

It was all very strange, but the party had a job to do. They went searching for the ruins of the Dove Inn to find their Armoire of Holding and the Book of Doors contained therein to get Phosphoro off their back. On their way there, they encountered a sleeping young man in strange clothes. He wasn't sure if Azurth was real, or even if he was real. There seemed to be some gaps in his memory. He knew he was a member of something called "the Golden Dawn" and that his name was "Roderick Drue." He remembered an old man had sent him here--or maybe it was the opium he had smoked. He recalled a place he had been, called the World Exposition.

The party didn't know what to make of any of this, but they allowed him to accompany them. They arrived at the ruin of the Dove Inn to find their armoire likely buried in rubble. (The presence of something was confirmed by detect magic.) Before they could begin searching, there were gibbering voices and something protoplasmic rose from the debris and coalesced into a spheroid in front of them.

Its eldritch gibbering paralyzed the group for some time. Its many mouths bit them, and its eyes blasted them with baleful magic. In the end, they drove it back with Dissonant Whispers and wore it down, until it collapsed into goo. Exhausted, but only mildly harmed (except Erekose who took the brunt of its assault), they began digging into the rubble.


More voices. These belonging to a group of little people who claimed to be from another world. They had taken up residence in the very spacious interior of the armoire. They agreed to turn over the book in exchange for getting to keep everything else. They also related that war had destroyed Rivertown. They suggested the party could find shelter with the benevolent religionists of the Frog Temple.

The party was nervous about doing so, but ultimately did. The rustic beast folk welcomed them warmly. Their frogling leader revealed that they venerate a frogling of the past--Waylon! They also revealed that the war had ultimately been a civil war between the Wizard of Azurth and the Clockwork Princess. They reported the forests were now the domain of a fierce elf called the Dread Queen of House Perilous. The party is sure that this is their own Shade.

Intrigued and troubled by all this, the part stays the night in the temple to consider what to do next!

Through A Superhero Lens

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 03/17/2019 - 14:30

One of the charming (to me) things about Silver Age/Bronze Age comics is that often series with settings and elements of other genres have a superhero veneer. Either the creators though that was what the audience wanted, or that's just the vernacular they were used to expressing themselves in. Define "superhero" elements, you ask? Well, things like code names, secret identities, costumes, costumed villains with themes or motifs, and of course, super-powers. Not all of these are present in every case, of course, and some of the elements were part of the pulp or adventure hero tradition prior to superheroes. By the 60s, though, superheroes were the most conspicuous purveyors of those tropes.


This doesn't just show up in comics. Hanna-Barbera's Mighty Mightor (1967) is just the Captain Marvel (or Shazam for you kids) of the Stone Age. The late 50s and 60s seems to have been the biggest era for this since we got Super-Chief, the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Captain Comet during this era, as well as the cartoon characters Space Ghost and Mightor.

By the 70s and 80s, either writers were getting more sophisticated to their approach to other genres or they thought there audience wanted something different. Still, I would argue that some of the fantasy characters of the era (Warlord, Atlas, and Stalker, perhaps?) have traces of this, as do space operas like the Micronauts, and modern/military action like G.I. Joe. Certainly, Masters of the Universe is other-genre supers in spades.


This genre-bending seems to have been mostly ignored in superhero rpgs. There are a few Legion of Super-Hero-esque science fiction supplements, and there are short, sidebar discussions of other genres in places. Warriors & Warlocks for Mutants & Masterminds touches on this for fantasy. Given the number of superhero games and the popularity of other genres in rpgs like fantasy and science fiction or even Westerns, there have been very few.

TSR Update

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 03/17/2019 - 12:38
Tales of the Splintered Realm has been updated. Updates include:
  • Added five archetypes, including the 'big four' classic class options
  • Expanded magic to include faith magic, with all 6 tiers of magic represented
  • Revised spell rules to more closely mirror the B/X spell system
  • Added a page of additional monsters
  • Expanded treasure rules

Maps of Eternia

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:00
Check out a couple of the maps put out as posters with the Masters of the Universe Classic line. Plenty of good adventure fodder to be had!

Here's Preternia (get it?):


And for your sci-fi or space opera needs, here's the "Extent of the Horde Empire":


Random Mercury

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 11:00

Mercury is the least defined of the inner planets in pulp and early sci-fi. Beyond it being tidally locked  (which we've since learned it actually isn't), Mercury had no fixed characteristics, other than being generally more inhospitable than the other planets I've already dealt with: wet Venus or desert Mars. A lot of stories use Mercury for "Man Against Nature" stories, either for survivors of some sort of disaster or rescuers of survivors. But hey, when you've got your own Mercury, you can do what you want with it!Let's randomize:

Problems with Getting There?
1 None
2 Solar Storms (heat, radiation)
3 Magnetic Anomalies

Where’s the Action for Earth Folk?
1 Day Side
2 Twilight Belt
3 Night Side
4 The whole planet


Day Side Life?
1 None
2 Silicon-based lifeforms
3 Insect/Arthopods
4 Energy/Plasma beings
5 Whoever they are, they live underground
6 Alien robots/cyborgs

Earthlings on Day Side?
1-2 Not if they can help it. It’s got lethal heat and radiation with special gear.
3-4 Crazy prospectors in protective domes
5-6 Maverick archeologists after ancient artifacts
7-8 Fearless scientists studying the Sun (or Vulcan!)
9-10 Just robots

The Twilight Belt Terrain:
1 Badlands
2 Mountains, canyons and a cave network
3 Weird, crystalline forest
4 Torrid jungle, wracked by storms

Twilight Belt Life?
1 Hairy humanoid primitives
2 reptilian monsters
3 Plant-like
4 the same sort of beings as Day Side

Earthlings in the Twilight Belt?
1 Criminals hiding out
2 A small, struggling colony
3 Castaways
4 A scientific expedition


Night Side Terrain:
1 Cold, rocky desert
2 Odd crystal formations
3 Ruined Cities (and roll again)
4 Ice

Night Side Life?
1 None
2 Crystalline beings with telepathy
3 Incorporeal ergovores
4 Androids left by ancient inhabitants
5 Viscous, slime-like colonial intelligence
6 Creatures strangely resembling supernatural terrors of Earth legend

Earthlings on the Night Side?
1-2 Not if they can help it. It’s cold, dark, and unexplored.
3-4 Wanted men
5-6 Maverick archaeologists after ancient artifacts
7-8 Survivors from a long-lost rocket crash
9-10 Exploratory robots

TSR Revised

The Splintered Realm - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 22:05
The Tales of the Splintered Realm update is almost ready to go. I just want to give it another day of editing and clean ups, but I'm happy with how it's turned out. I upgraded from 16 to 20 pages, but in the bargain added 5 archetypes (including the 'big four'), added faith magic, expanded arcane and nature magic to 6 tiers, added a half-dozen monsters, and expanded the treasure rules to scale all the way to level 6 so that no additional treasure tables will be needed. I also revised spell rules to keep them simple and clean, but to make them better mirror class D+D spell casting with available spells per day.

I was working on a treasure supplement, and realized that higher-level treasures would require new or expanded treasure tables, and I didn't like that anything later would supersede the core rules. I would prefer that future materials would expand things; I was able to make a few modifications to the basic tables and organization to increase its usefulness as a foundation module that other modules now can expand on in any number of directions.

Oh, and here's a character sheet I made as well. Because. Character sheets. Amiright or amiright?

Wednesday Comics: Attack of the Clones Revisited

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 11:00
There's been a lot of Star Wars talk over on my discord channel, so I thought it was a good time to revisit an old post about Star Wars' effect on comic books, even in its first decade. It's perhaps unfair to call the series below clones exactly, but some sort of force is clearly with them.

Since science fiction comics and Star Wars draw on some of the same influences, it's not always easy to know what is Star Wars inspired and what isn't. Chaykin's Ironwolf had a rebel fighting a galactic empire in '74--3 years before Star Wars! Still, if one looks at Chaykin's follow-up, Cody Starbuck,(also '74) the pre-Star Wars appearances have the look of Flash Gordon and the widespread swordplay of Dune. In the post-Star Wars appearances, costumes have a bit more Japanese influence and guns are more in play; both of these are possibly Star Wars inspired innovations.

Star Hunters (1977)
Empire? A sinister Corporation that controls Earth
Rebels? Sort of, though the protagonists start out forced to work for the Corporation
The Force? There's an "Entity" and a cosmic battle between good and evil
Analogs? Donovan Flint, the primary protagonist, is a Han Solo type with a mustache prefiguring Lando's.
Notes: If Star Hunters is indeed Star Wars inspired, its a very early example. The series hit the stands in June of 1977--on a few days over a month after Star Wars was released.

Micronauts (1979)
Empire? A usurpation of the monarchy of Homeworld. So, maybe a lateral move, except for EVIL!
Rebels? Actually previous rulers and loyalists; a mix of humans, humanoids, and robots.
The Force? The Enigma Force, in fact.
Analogs? Baron Karza is a black armored villain like Vader; Marionette is a can-do Princess; Biotron and Microtron are a humanoid robot and a squatter, less humanoid pairing like Threepio and Artoo.

Metamorphosis Odyssey (1980)
Empire? The Zygoteans, who have concurred most of the galaxy.
Rebels? A disparate band from various worlds out to end the Zygotean menace.
The Force? There's Starlin cosmicness.
Analogs? Aknaton is an old mystic who know's he's going to die a la Obi-Wan. He picks up Dreadstar on a backwater planet and gets him an energy sword.

Dreadstar (1982)
Empire? Two: the Monarchy and the Instrumentality.
Rebels? Yep. A band of humans and aliens out to defeat the Monarchy and the Instrumentality.
The Force? Magic and psychic abilities.
Analogs? Dreadstar still has than energy sword; Oedi is a farm boy (cat) like Luke; Syzygy is a mystic mentor like Kenobi; Lord High Papal is like Vader and Palpatine in one.
Notes: Dreadstar is a continuation of the story from Metamorphosis Odyssey.

Atari Force (1984)
Empire? Nope.
Rebels? Not especially.
The Force? Some characters have special powers.
Analogs? Tempest is a blond kid with a special power and a difficult relationship with his father sort of like Luke. There are a lot of aliens in the series, so there's a "cantina scene" vibe; Blackjak is a Han Solo-esque rogue. Dark Destroyer is likely Vader-inspired, appearance-wise.
Notes: This series sequel to the original series DC did for Atari, taking place about 25 years later. The first series is not Star Wars-y.

RICH REVIEWS: Top Gear S26 E2

First Comics News - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 15:56


Episode Two
Season 26 Episode 2: Top Gear 

Produced by: Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris, Rory Reid with The Stig
Special Guest: Professor Green

Run Time: 1 hr, 1 min, 57 sec
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Comments: Chris does know how to drive fast and still keep control. He also enjoys himself. The cars are amazingly beautiful and they do perform. You do get some facts about each car shown. The race Chris is in is an exciting race around the track. The cars are treated with respect.
The scenery is amazing and so beautiful. Chris and Matt get to drive a small car here as they tour a city and country. The driving leads to something totally unexpected. They end up in a game. Their challenge is exciting as they test the car. They do push it. Then they are off to the Devil’s Staircase. These little cars do take a pounding.
The guest does have fun driving on the track. All the guests on the show compete for the best time on the track.
Adam’s Bridge is where Chris and Matt end up next. Their car ride changes into something you will not be expecting.  They do complete their journey it is a thrilling one.
Matt and Chris are the main ones on this episode. Matt certainly has fun doing his job. He really does seem to enjoy driving.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

STRAVAGANZA MANGA SERIES TO BE RELEASED BY UDON ENTERTAINMENT

First Comics News - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 15:53

A new quest begins! UDON Entertainment is thrilled to announce the release of Akihito Tomi’s epic manga adventure, STRAVAGANZA, scheduled for English language release in August 2019.

A mysterious warrior travels the kingdom of Auroria, battling monstrous creatures and seeking adventure. Few know this warrior’s true identity as the young and inexperienced masked monarch, Queen Vivian! STRAVAGANZA VOLUME 1 chronicles a world where humans are not at the top of the food chain, and the Queen in the Iron Mask must learn to use both her sword and her throne to protect her people from the dangers looming beyond the city walls.

UDON Entertainment will publish STRAVAGANZA in 3 oversized volumes, with each omnibus containing two of the original Japanese volumes. This original manga story will kick off with STRAVAGANZA VOLUME 1 and is recommended for mature readers only. Deadly creatures, fantastic foes, a Queen in an Iron Mask, welcome to Auroria!

STRAVAGANZA VOLUME 1 will be released on August 13, 2019.

STRAVAGANZA VOLUME 1
DETAILS: 368pg, 5.75 x 8.25”, Full Color, Paperback
MSRP: $19.99 USD
RELEASE DATE: August 13, 2019
ISBN: 978-1772941036
DIAMOND ORDER CODE: JAN198667

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Comic Con Africa comes to Cape Town in 2020

First Comics News - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 15:46

11 March 2019, Reed Exhibitions Africa and ReedPOP today announced that as of 2020 the mother city will play host to its very own version of Comic Con. Comic Con Cape Town will be taking place 1 – 3 May 2020 and will have its own line up of talent geared towards the fan base of the city playing to its unique areas of strength and personality.

“With the unprecedented success of the 2018 Comic Con Africa it is the natural next step to bring this format to the city of Cape Town. While the style of this Comic Con will be slightly different to Comic Con Africa, we still expect the same level of entertainment focusing on our key pillars which include film, series, animation, cosplay, comic books and gaming. We are thrilled to be announcing the dates when we will be bringing the Comic Con magic to another South African city,” says managing director Carol Weaving.

As Cape Town is the film capital of South Africa, Comic Con Cape Town will have a stronger focus on films and series. With this in mind, Comic Con Cape Town has formed a strategic partnership with the Cape Town International Animation Festival. This festival is the only dedicated animation festival in Africa and hosts local and international delegates. This festival appeals to those that are creatives, producers and technical artists.

From 2020 onwards the Cape Town International Animation Festival will co-locate with Comic Con Cape Town. This partnership will ensure the longevity of both festivals by bringing together the fans into one venue at the same time. This partnership is aimed at creating a larger following for animation in Africa. As animation plays a big role in both films and series, this partnership is designed to grow the offering for those avid fans.

“The success of Comic Con rests in the ability to create platforms that address the wants and needs of the fans. Partnerships like this simply make sense to bring together two formats in order to grow the level of interest and skills in the animation industry. We are proud of this association and hope to be able to grow both the Cape Town Animation Festival and Comic Con Cape Town through this partnership,” says Weaving.

The talent line-up for Comic Con Cape Town will include both local and international celebrities in the film and series industry as a main focus.

The dates for the event were researched in great detail, the timing of local events need to be considered and the organisers are governed by the global calendar for Cons. When looking for a venue to host Comic Con Cape Town the venue advised the organisers that FanCon would be taking place in June 2020 which meant that hosting Comic Con Cape Town right at the beginning of May over a public holiday would allow adequate time between both events and Reed Exhibitions and Reed Pop are more than happy to collaborate and co-promote any other pop culture event for the good of the industry.

Comic Con Africa will be held from 21 – 24 September 2019, at Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg and Comic Con Cape Town will take place 1- 3 May 2020. Comic Con Africa is a multi-genre entertainment and comic convention that features comic books, games, arts, movies, pop culture elements and so much more.

For more information about Comic Con Africa 2019, please visit: https://www.comicconafrica.co.za/en.html

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Jamie Coville’s King Con 2019 report

First Comics News - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 07:57

So I went to King Con, a local convention in Kingston, Ontario, Canada that was able to bring in a surprising number of comic book creators, a prose writer, a magician and even a celebrity. The event was held at Sydenham Street United Church and Chalmers United Church as the Kingston Public Library was not yet finished it’s renovations.

As usual I mainly stuck to the comic books portion of the show but I did spent some time watching the magician James Harrison do magic and even teach some simple magic. I took a number of pictures, audio recorded some panels and got to speak with a number of creators which was nice.

I almost never get sketches, but David Lloyd got me to pay for a sketch and I got a nice V for Vendetta from him. David’s sketch also came with a free issue of Aces Weekly, an online comics anthology he puts together. Georgia Webber, Chip Zdarsky, Allison O’Toole & Jason Loo signed their books for me. I got to take pictures of some cosplayers, including several from the 501 Legion, but unfortunately was unable to wait for the cosplay contest as they were running late and I was exhausted.

I did attend but did not record a Group Cosplay Panel which was really well done. I have attended a number of cosplay related panels this was the first one on this particular topic I’ve seen and those on the panel did a great job highlighting the benefits of doing group cosplay. Among the reasons were combining resources, using each others unique skill set and inspiring each other to work on their costumes.

I had a good time at the convention, but I’m looking forward to it being back at the newly renovated library next year.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

The Jamie Coville Experience – KING CON: WorkingOn Comic Book Anthologies: Q&A with David Lloyd, Jack Briglio and TomFowler

First Comics News - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 07:48

Moderated by Adam Pottier, the topics included the difficulties in editing an anthology, slotting in stories when somebody can’t finish the work on time for some reason, creators getting matched up that don’t see eye to eye creatively, what a short story should do, the expanded creative freedom when contributing to a comic anthology, webcomics, writing for a collection and molding stories as an editor.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

The Jamie Coville Experience – KING CON: Writing Nonfiction and Comedy When You Mainly Just Know About Comics: A Talk by Ryan North

First Comics News - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 07:48


Ryan North spoke about his new Non Fiction book: How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler. He went through various important things that were invented and when they could have been invented, he spoke about other inventions, politics and not getting called a wizard and being killed for inventing stuff in the past.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Mark Heike talks about SUPERBABES #1

First Comics News - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 07:01

SUPERBABES is the latest title from AC Comics. It features their popular, long-running FEMFORCE characters. Now that the first issue is getting ready to appear in the next issue of Previews, Mark Heike stops by First Comics News to let all our readers know what to expect from Superbabes.

First Comics News: For fans who don’t know about FEMFORCE who is the FEMFORCE?

Mark G. Heike: The FEMFORCE is the first successful team of comic book superheroines. The brainchild of writer/artist/editor/filmmaker (and the man who originated of AC Comics), William Black; Ms. VICTORY, NIGHTVEIL, SHE-CAT, SYNN, TARA, and STARDUST; their friends, supporting characters and guest-stars have been populating the ongoing FEMFORCE quarterly comic book ) since Spring of 1985.

As of 2019, FEMFORCE #185 has just been released from AC COMICS–that’s 185 issues, plus spin-offs, mini-series and one-shots–and still going strong.

After launching AC Comics, one of the first four-color independent comic book publishers in late 1982, growing pains throughout the direct-sales market only a few years later led many publishers to begin casting about for new titles and concepts. Bill decided to re-edit some material he had on hand into a black and white special that would allow him to try out a comic book concept he’d had in mind for years: an ALL-FEMALE team of costumed super-types–and FEMFORCE was born.

It was a common attitude in the comics industry that female characters, especially superheroines wouldn’t sell. Several companies had tried it and failed. Bill’s Paragon line featured far more original superheroines than it did male heroes. Once Bill had AC Comics, when the circumstances seemed appropriate to try something no one else had done, he did it himself. It’s the sort of thing he was probably always destined to do at some point. Bill is not one to be happy with the status quo or to be put off by someone who says “It’ll never work.” He embraces a challenge, and works best when he is bucking the system and “conventional wisdom”.

When the intended “one-shot” FEMFORCE SPECIAL of 1984 proved to be a surprise AC COMICS success, a four-color, ongoing FEMFORCE title immediately went into production, with FEMFORCE #1 issue hitting comic shop shelves in late Spring, 1985. That FEMFORCE ongoing series has been running ever since, though changes in the comic book marketplace have over the years dictated a return to black and white status ( between issues #16-#56), then a return to color (from #57-87), and BACK to black and white since #88. There was an increase in page count up to 80 pages of all-new material since FEMFORCE #150. FEMFORCE is still the ONLY successful, ongoing comic book series that features a team of costumed and super-powered women, still running continuously for 33 years.

1st: Wasn’t the original pitch for FEMFORCE, Bill Black’s plan to make it an all-female Avenger team?

Mark: No. Bill just preferred to draw female characters and was always looking for opportunities to draw more. Bill suggested to Roy Thomas (when he was a writer/editor at Marvel) about trying a team-up of 1950’s Atlas/Marvel heroines like Namora, Jann of the Jungle, etc when they were working on “What If The Avengers Had Been Formed In The 1950’s?”. Roy said, “Nah, it’d never sell.”

It was in no way a “pitch” of any kind, just an idle thought quickly shot down.

1st: SUPERBABES #0 was an experiment. What type of feedback did you get from that?

Mark: SUPERBABES #0 was released as a retailer incentive. The most important “feedback” we got on it (which was what we needed from that venture) was that we could DO it–we were able to work out the kinks and “test-fly” a color book, on time (meeting Diamond deadlines), at a quality level and a cost that was sustainable.

1st: Was there any difficulty from hardcore FemForce fans having trouble getting a copy?

Mark: SUPERBABES #0 was a RETAILER INCENTIVE. We knew (from having done other retailer-incentive promo books ) that not a lot of copies WOULD get into the hands of fans. Most people who buy comics through comic shops don’t really have a clear idea how the process works, getting a book through Diamond, onto comic shop racks, and into their hands–and really, why should they?

We started early (in our FEMFORCE editorials) and explained in detail HOW our regular readers who REALLY wanted a copy could get one, realizing all along that there would probably be a lot more folks who wanted them than would get them. SUPERBABES #0 was about getting RETAILERS used to the idea of AC going back to color books, testing out the production process, creating a marketing tool and process to launch the ongoing series and generally get us ALL ready for the time that it would be ready to go.

1st: SUPERBABES #0 said it was continuing into SUPERBABES #1 do you have to read the zero issue to know what’s going on in #1?

Mark: No. There were eight pages of new material of the “Headhunter’s Wake” storyline that will now be reprinted in SUPERBABES #1, along with the rest of that story. SUPERBABES #0 also had some additional material that will not be reprinted in SUPERBABES #1 or anywhere else.

1st: Why do the zero issue and the first if you have the same cover?

Mark: Originally we had planned to make a bigger “splash” with SUPERBABES #0, but behind the scenes, production complications occurred to cement the retailer incentive aspect and negated the promotional aspect of the book. Retailer incentive books are only listed by Diamond on the retailer order form as a line of copy; no artwork. The only place someone would have seen it outside of SUPERBABES #0 was in ads and promotional places online like this. We also got lots of positive comments from people who saw it in our house ads as ”AC Comics–Clawing Our Way Back to the Top!”. In the end, rather than go with a different cover on #1, we opted to reuse it here.

1st: SUPERBABES is half the price of FEMFORCE with half the pages but full color. Doesn’t color add to the cost of the production?

Mark: It is a completely accurate statement to say (all things being equal) “color printing is more expensive than black and white printing”. But of course, all things are NOT equal. Sometimes it’s a question of moving costs around, as opposed to adding or subtracting them.

If you start with the obvious fact that cutting OUT the resources involved in putting an addition 48 black and white pages into a book (the difference between an 80-page FEMFORCE format and the 32-page SUPERBABES package.) allows you to put more dollars into the color aspect. Then, factor in that the SUPERBABES #0 venture showed us that, if we HAVE to, we can handle the color labor in-house, and cut that cost out as well.

When you figure things that way, the actual cost of color printing versus what we have to lay out to do the 80-page B & W isn’t very different. There are other “cost” factors beyond dollars to consider, as well. Over the last nine-plus years, we’ve now done 35 consecutive 80-page FEMFORCE issues. That’s a LOT of material to generate; it’s really pretty nutty. No one else in comics has ever done that, as far as we know. The pressure in keeping up with that sort of volume on a quarterly basis is tremendous. It’s driving us nutty. On top of that, we are forced to make A LOT of compromises to stay on schedule. That affects the quality of the final product, sometimes way too much.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m extremely proud of the books we’ve done– considering the time we have to do them in and the amount of pages we have to fill. There is always that “considering” proviso, though. The plain fact is, we think we can produce much BETTER comic books if all we have to fill is 32 pages to complete a book!

Better stories, better art, more manageably on time, less stress not JUST on editors Mark and Stephanie, but on our hard-working creators as well. If we can spread the material we used to have to put into ONE FEMFORCE issue into 2 1/2 SUPERBABES books, the books will be better and we on the creative side will perhaps live a little longer.

1st: Will every issue of SUPERBABES have a FEMFORCE story?

Mark: Unequivocally yes. Some issue will end up with more non-FEMFORCE stories, some less; but there will ALWAYS be at least one FEMFORCE adventure in every SUPERBABES.

1st: You said if SUPERBABES is successful there will be more color comics coming from AC in the future. What sales level are you looking for to consider it successful?

Mark: Enough copies to be able to keep going. Like most publishers I know of, AC has never wanted to talk circulation “numbers”, and we’re not about to start now. For our color line to succeed, SUPERBABES does need to sell more than FEMFORCE to meet Diamond’s minimum sales performance levels, but not that MUCH more. Since we like to think that a color package is more palatable in the marketplace, and the new format is substantially cheaper (albeit with fewer story pages), we feel we have a pretty good shot at it, since the new format should be more in line with what the rest of the market is producing.

The two biggest NEGATIVES we have tended to hear about our books over the years is “They’re BLACK AND WHITE and COST TOO MUCH.” If we’ve addressed both of those complaints with SUPERBABES and other future color books, we hope that will leave more readers open to buying them.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

FASTLANE results

First Comics News - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 06:35

PRESHOW

Xavier Woods & Big E def. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev

FASTLANE

TAG-TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

The Usos def. Miz & Shane McMahon

WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Asuka (c) def. Mandy Rose

The Bar def. Kofi Kingston

TAG-TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

The Revival (C) def. Bobby Roode & Chad Gable and Ricochet & Aleister Black

US CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Samoa Joe (c) def. R-Truth, Rey Mysterio and Andrade

WOMEN’S TAG-TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Sasha Banks & Bayley (c) def. Nia Jax & Tamina

HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Daniel Bryan (c) def. Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali

WOMEN’S QUALIFYING MATCH

Becky Lynch def. Charlotte by DQ

The Shield def. Bobby Lashley, Baron Corbin & Drew McIntyre

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

BETTY & VERONICA #4 unlettered preview

First Comics News - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 03:34


BETTY & VERONICA #4 (of 5)
“SPRING,” pt. 4: The most important event in any high schooler’s life is here—the Senior Prom. And B&V are still keeping an important secret from one another. Will the big dance lead to a blowout that has the two girls finally confront each other or will they stay quiet until graduation?
Script: Jamie Lee Rotante
Art: Sandra Lanz, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Jack Morelli
Cover: Sandra Lanz
Variant Covers: Derek Charm, Emanuela Lupacchino
On Sale Date: 4/3
32-page, full color comic
$3.99 U.S.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

GUNNING FOR HITS #3 under Review

First Comics News - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 00:34
Back for more! You can read my review of Gunning for Hits issue #1 and issue #2. Behind every fake smile is a deeper story. Gunning for Hits #3 is where the deeper story begins as men in declining power plot to gain back what they have lost. Woe to those he uses as his tools to achieve his goal. In Gunning for Hits, as much as the real world, everyone is plotting and manipulating to either gain new power or regain back what they have lost. You can get lost in a web of conceit and duplicity where the worm turns so many times you have no idea whom it is turning for.   Another lyric symbolism that could reflect the feel of this issue is from the Dead Boys! (Jeff uses Guns and Roses excellent and excellently chosen “Out to Get Me”)   Dead Boys High Tension Wire “Been living too fast Got my head on full throttle As I scream and scour In the bottom of a bottle Can’t stand up honey Got my tongue on the floor Living out a dream About the third world war Time warp baby That’s where I live Time warp honey Something’s gotta give Feeling tonight like my Brain is on fire Don’t touch me tonight I’m a high tension wire”   One can’t predict the futures not taken. And in Gunning for Hits, I think it is the past that will take the present for a detour and shake things up.   Everyone is hiding secrets. In this third issue, we start finding out some. And each of the player’s secrets are buried in the past and surely will uproot future issues.   Jeff’s back matter is as always interesting. I know how some of what Jeff writes about is written. I managed bands during the ’90s. One band, in particular, I managed to get into a meeting with the owner of an umbrella of 5 mid-sized labels. The band failed to show up. Sad but true, with emphasis on sad and true.   The majority of the bands I managed were their own worst enemy. Whatever success could have come their way didn’t as a result. As a manager, I reached only a certain level in the hierarchy of Jeffs tell-tale of the industry. I can only personally relate to the first part of what he wrote about. I can, though, point to people I know who can relate to the rest.   Bands who make it through success intact, friends, and better for the worse are rare. It will be interesting to see where Stunted Growth end up in thier goal of Gunning for Hits! Jeff continues to hit on the truth of the industry. So much so, I’m left wondering how much of the fiction of a mirror of reality to which Jeff himself lived.   Gunning for Hits Music Thriller Issue THREE Written by Jeff Rougvie and features art from Moritat. Casey Silver on colors and lettering. Published by Image Comics. On Sale Mar 13, 2019

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Creativity is a Flowing

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 15:50
So I got a round of stuff done for Sentinels of Echo City, and I've got the next issue of Doc Stalwart's adventures well underway... and I've turned my attention to Tales of the Splintered Realm. 

The three big knocks against the system were that the spell system was pretty far removed from the classic D+D system, that the core rules don't include the 'big four' classes, and that there is no representation of faith magic in the core rules. All of these were intentional, but they are all things I've decided to correct. In creating expansion materials (I'm working on a dungeon crawl), I've realized how many basic things you need in place for dungeon crawls... things like curses, wizard lock, dispel magic, and turning undead need to be in the core rules, because including rules for these in supplements for dungeon crawls creates an unnecessary layer of material ("you can find the rules for this in module A1, the rules for that in module B3, and the rules for this is module C1")...

The core rules can be a central clearinghouse for all of the basics without adding any bloat. I am adding one page of character archetypes, 2 pages of spells, and a page of treasure. That will keep a solid foundational game in place, but only increase the page count to 20, which is still nice and light. 

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