Sunday, November 19, 2017

Comics as culture? Absolutely

How many times have we heard comics derided for being "kids' stuff", or "only comics"? But the fact is, less than a hundred years ago, comics were not only culture, they DOMINATED culture. And there's more to it than that.

But the quote prompting this came from the intro to Max Allan Collins' Seduction of the Innocent, the third of his comics and crime novels. And while the quote is false, the numbers are real:

The most popular entertainment medium of all, here in 1954. My city boasts twenty comics publishers putting out 600-something titles every month, selling eighty to one hundred million copies a week, reaching an audience larger than movies, TV, radio and magazines combined(they figure a comic book gets passed around or traded to six or more readers).

And lest you think I'm exaggerating, here's some numbers via Infogalactic on Action Comics 1, and a few later issues. Action Comics 1, had a printing of 200,000 issues. And sold out. Eventually, Action Comics would reach sales nearing 1,000,000 a month. That's one title. And over a decade before Dr. Wertham's tirade against comics.

Hey, let's see how Detective Comics did. In fact, I'll even go to post Wertham. 1960. Hmm. According to Comichron, using USPS required data(first year of requirement), Detective Comics(Batman) sold an average of 502,000 copies an issue. Not as much as say, early Action Comics, but this is still more than five times the top book from October 2017. Oh, and the best selling book that year(Uncle Scrooge) sold on average 1,040,543 copies an issue.

So if Alt*Hero and other projects do well, maybe we can reverse this tide of shrinking markets. Maybe we can open up people's imaginations better than movies do again. Maybe people will talk of heroes and romance and man's flawed nature. Maybe, but I really don't know.

Honestly, I have to wonder if the first real casualty of the culture war was comics. Stop people from reading about horrible things, so they don't fight against them. Stop tales of romance and heroism being popular, and sideline them to "kid's stuff".  Hide from the public just how horrible our worst acts are, and let people think that man is perfectible, so the anti-Christian agenda can be pushed, via "science".

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pulp adventure comics: Half Past Danger

It's been awhile since I posted one of these, and this is one of two miniseries I recently reacquainted myself with that fits the pulp bill in many ways. Yes, this series was about three or four years ago. It's so pulp in a lot of ways it hurts. Here's the blasted cover:

If that doesn't get your attention, I really don't know what will. Hmm. Ah, I'd like to not spoil it, but it's been out awhile, and I'm not going to give out all the story. Look for it. Oh, and there's a new one coming out now.

I'll take secret Nazi bases for 500.

Oh, is that not enough? I mean you've got ww2, really cool planes on a secret base. Hmm. Well, I suppose there are dinosaurs for terror.

Hmm. Yeah, there might be some good action here. Oh, we're missing something. What's that? Oh, you want to know about the guy with the sword on the cover? Well, his sword is really nice.

We've got Nazi's and ninjas, dinos and dames. Oh, I didn't show you the dame past the cover? I should fix that maybe. Couldn't find a good online pic from the original, so I had to take a picture. Excuse the bad angle and such, I'm no photographer.

Oh, no, I'm telling you why or how that guy can carry the gun like that. Nope. Gotta leave something for those that decide to read it. But yeah, this is a great fun read. I'm gonna see what I can find on the new one, because well, dinos and war comics are a good mix.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Guest Review for MAGA 2020 and Beyond

A good friend of mine was most generous and reviewed the anthology MAGA 2020 and Beyond for me. I'm in it, so I must recuse myself from a balanced review. I've made minor corrections for spelling, and deleted one sentence more functional to the publisher side of the book. But anyway, here it is:

Injustice Gamer Guest Anthology Review
By Tom Trumpinski
MAGA 2020 and Beyond

I’m lucky enough to share a coffee shop with Albert Genesson. We’ve spent hours talking politics and the craft of writing. I was surprised and delighted when he asked me to review this new anthology that contains two pieces of his work.

MAGA 2020 and Beyond is billed as examinations of optimistic futures that result from the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 election. My inherent suspicion towards message fiction slid forward, of course, from my reptile brain. After all, stories that emphasize message over substance are notorious for being a main cause of Puppy-Related Sadness.

So, can the conservative, libertarian, and alt-right produce better message fiction than the Left?
I say, “Cower Not, Fierce Reader, for the best four stories alone in the anthology are well-worth the five dollar Kindle price!” Brad R Torgerson gives us 45, a conversation piece about a secret-service agent and a time-traveler who ponder the methods by which to avoid a future hell. For action, Declan Finn gives us a rip-roaring Middle-Eastern tale, Mad Dog Moon, from his Love At First Bite universe. The anthology begins with an adorable YA story by Jon Del Arroz, Winning Is What We Do, which pits illegal alien illegal aliens versus a TrumpMecha. Jon also wins the prize for the best duplication of the President’s unique manner of speaking, which he exhibits in particularly loving fashion. Former White House Science Fellow, Arlan Andrews, Sr., gave us a fun piece about a newly-born super-patriot in M.A.G.A.I.

An ambitious project like this one inevitably ends up having down-sides. The shift in editors mid-project shows in several ways. Alfred’s essays look and feel rushed. The New Wall and Six Grandfathers seemed to suffer from inadequate editing. 

In addition, I was disappointed by the swerve into dystopia evinced by some of the authors. While they have merit, in some cases, they felt out of place in an anthology billed as optimistic. I was a bit put-off by the amount of Canada-hate in evidence. Heck, I’ve been on panels with Robert Sawyer, the Pope of Canadian Nationalism, and I still don’t dislike Canada that much. To those writers, a piece of advice—the closer your message is to the front-line of a story, the more the story suffers. Quality, first and foremost, because if our Fierce Readers put the story down unread, we’ve failed both as artists and advocates.

The weakest parts of the anthology were the essays. I’ve ended up being an off-again on-again off-again member of the CLFA because I have an inherent distrust for governmental change as a tool of freedom and progress. Ivan Throne’s and John C. Wright’s essays stayed far, far beyond the frothing level of discourse and did nothing to convince me to be optimistic using either rhetoric or dialectic.
One last note—Milo’s introduction seemed to be partially redone from the intro to Forbidden Thoughts. I’m not sure that he really knows that much about SF and Fantasy. I know he’s a big name in the movement, but I think you can do better.

 Overall Rating, Three Cups of Double-shot Cappuccino. Rating of Four Best Stories, A Rousing Five Cups!


Quite honestly, I'm quite happy getting a mixed review with an anthology of this nature. It's not for everyone, and Tom and I certainly have some different ideas and ideals in reality and fiction. It's a good time, and I'm glad to call him friend.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

7th Continent: adventure gaming at its best

I FINALLY had a chance to break out my copy of 7th Continent yesterday. I had it with, it wasn't in my plan to play it, but hey, it won't get played if it's not there. But the friend I met with had been advised we play it, so...(pics will be from BGG)

Yeah this is a really good game. As far as theme, think of it as a coop based on the choose your own adventure books. Only the game isn't one story, it has a few. And there are a lot of variables within the game. Some of this depends on action efficiency, some on timing. A lot of it depends on the cards in the action deck. Or lack thereof.

First things, though: if you haven't seen this game, it has a lot of cards. So if you order it in the future, be prepared to sort for awhile before you play. It took the two of us a couple of hours in a previous time to get the cards all sorted.  Here's one of all the cards:

Anyway, back to the game premise. You and your fellow adventurers(early 1900's) recently came back from an expedition to a newly found land. Unfortunately, you all are cursed, and have to go back to lift the curse. Each curse is tied to a specific starting point, and there's four generic curses added to the action deck as well. I'll talk about that soon.(You can start with multiple curses, but I wouldn't until you've beaten a couple first.)

The map building is very specific, as the art forms a very coherent map. After exploration actions, that is. Unexplored cards are marked with explore cards of a certain type indicated on the map.

From there, you explore and build up a map. But, you won't ever see everything. Seriously. The estimated time for all the content in the box is something along the lines of 1500 minutes. That is not for a game, that's to see EVERYTHING, requiring many games, even with the same curse. Eventually you develop a map that might look like this:

More or less. I haven't been there yet. We played for about 3.5 hours, and got off our initial island. Our action deck had run out, and then, after a little exploration and actions, the curse struck its final blow.

Now, the action deck. There's a default set of basic skill cards, plus a set of five for each character that are added to the game. The action deck is shared. Every action has a cost and a requirement for success.  Once the action deck has run out, the discard pile is shuffled and replaced in the discard tray face down to draw for each action. If at this point a curse is revealed, the game is lost. Here's the official basics video, it includes a save demonstration:

Anyway, there's a lot here, and it has an easy save mode with no need for notes or remembering what you were doing. Also, given the join/drop rules, I have to say, in a lot of ways this fills the rpg spot quite well. Exploration, puzzles, and so on.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Injustice Book Review: Praxis, by Justin Knight

Cower not, fierce reader! Today we take a look at a more practical side of science fiction: warehouse workers IN SPAAAACCCE! Honestly, there's a lot to the story and it's far more than that. But, as someone with over eight years of experience on power equipment in warehouses, it's nice to see. What do we have?

First, our warehouse workers are fairly realistic. Not all are smart, but they aren't a homogeneous group by any means. There are characters with family, devoted couples, and people just dealing with the daily struggle. The equipment junkie attitude of them being "toys" is pretty accurate from my experience.

Second, we have a redemption arc within the story. I won't go into details, per my general spoiler policy. But the fact that someone can be stuck for a long time, and come to a point where they wish to repent and change and actively do, especially after paying a price. Whereas the SocJus crowd is far more likely to simply excuse behavior and deny evil, unless of course it's in recognizing truth.

Third, there's a story of alien cops and pirates. While this may not be a SocJus trigger, the fact that the lawmen are good guys is.

Fourth, Mr. Knight gives us glimpses of family life and devotion. Not only is it respected, but aspired to by other characters.

A little bit of real criticism here: I kind of wanted to see more on adjustments to equipment required for zero and low gravity. It would be a real concern, and is almost always ignored by authors. Now, there is some mention of future equipment, as well as a little extrapolation from existing safety/security measures.

Damaged product also gets mentioned, but I saw nothing on inventory integrity. Both of these issues would be HUGE in space. Is it glamourous? Nope. Necessity rarely is. I also know that too much would get boring quick for almost all readers. How many times do you have to count to a thousand?

One small thing that is explained by the author being English is the use of "whilst" and "learnt". Though, as the workers are based out of Vancouver, I'm uncertain as to the idiomatic nature of the region. It might be more American, it might be something entirely different.

This is a fast and worthwhile read. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Deadman by Neal Adams is DOA

Neal Adams is honestly good at art. But wow did he drop the ball on this. People that don't know Deadman can't really get a grasp on him, despite there being a bit of origin story here. There's plotholes bigger than just in the Russian movie Guardians. (The movie is really fun still. This? Um, no.)

I don't know a ton about Deadman, he rarely showed up in the DC books I read. But he was  in Batman: the Brave and the Bold a few times. Yes, it's not the same, but you do get a bit of a feel for the character. But to say, a diehard Marvel Zombie?

Well, Diversity and Comics couldn't follow it:

Now, if you didn't watch, let's talk about some plotholes. They're everywhere. Jim Gordon, commissioner of Gotham PD, is a temporary ambassador for a NUCLEAR FACILITY inspection. What about all the scientists in the DCU? Where's the Atom? Where's Professor Martin Stein? Good grief, there's bad guys with better qualifications than Gordon.

Now, Neal Adams managed to do things that can only happen when the same guy does writing and art: plotholes in art and layout. It's honestly impressive when something that happened in art apparently just unhappens in the art. There's also travel bits that make no sense, when he's supposed to be able to just appear where he needs to be.

DC should just shut this down now. Get a writer to work with Adams,  his art is still good, but don't give him the writer/artist control. His Batman mini was largely deem incomprehensible, and why encourage him by giving him another one?  Not everything has to make sense right away, but enough does that the questions get asked initially and answered later.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Injustice Anthology Review: Lyonesse Volume 1

Cower not, fierce reader! Today we look at the first collection of stories from the Silver Empire subscription service Lyonesse. I'm putting up both links because I know some will want to subscribe, and some might just want to check out the anthology. Either way, I think it's a good deal. Let's take a look.

Four Funerals and a Wedding by L. Jagi Lamplighter- A woman is gifted to bring people back.

The Dreaming Wounds by Anya Ow- A woman slowly regains her ability to see those trapped between life and death.

The Dragon's Teeth by David Hallquist- An uploaded copy of a soldier is activated in dire times.

Zombie Jamborie by Declan Finn- Voodoo zombies attack New York. Private enterprise has a plan for everything.

The Artifact by Dean Abbott- A society that has enlightened itself past religion searches a planet for cultural evidence from a mysterious society far beyond them.

We Bury Our Own by Cheah Kai Wai(Ben Cheah)- Post disaster, a spiritual warrior is called to go after one of his own who went rogue.

Number 43 by Jonathan Ward- In a world of Frankenstein type science, a "servant" is sent after a former protege.

The Last Winter by A. R. Aston- An old warrior in what looks to be his end comes to an understanding of a witch woman's prophecy from years earlier.

Shini Tai by C.L. Werner- A Samurai comes across a great sumo and mystical forces set against him.

The Case of the Unicorn by Nora M. Mulligan- A detective is hired to find and return a unicorn to an elderly woman.

The Harsh Mistress by Mike Murphy- A salesman with a bad month gets a unique chance to make a sale.

St. Lucian's Star by Dawn Witzke- A woman who locates objects is hired to locate a relic, and goes along for the recovery.

A Day Without the Horned Goddess by Kieran McKiel- The daughter of a mythic being from the South gets weary of life around the Northern loch.

In Another Life by Morgon Newquist- A tale of time travel, obsession, and a sort of revenge.

Moonset by S. D. McPhail- On an alien world, the different species cooperate when a new strange tree shows up.

Mile High Murder by Declan Finn- A man with a deadly plan faces some men with their own plans. Mildly ties to A Pius Man and the Con Murder books.

Honestly, all of these stories have good stuff in them. There's a huge variety in feel and thematics, so don't worry if you don't like one. It's in many ways the type of anthology the "year's best" collections want you to think they are. 9 of 10 fell deeds

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.