The world has long celebrated the "critical hit" D20 face, the elusive 20 that doubles the damage and sets the players around the table baying with elation; but consider its opposite face, the lowly 1, the "critical failure" that lets a sadistic DM dream up all kinds of pratfalls and own-goals to punish the luckless player with. Read the rest
Tony Sanfilippo says, "'The Revised Boy Scout Manual," a lost Burroughs manuscript concerning how to overthrow a corrupt government has just been published in its entirety for the first time. With an afterword and reminiscence by V. Vale, publisher and founder of RE/Search publications. Vale's afterword is available in its entirety." Read the rest
Miami artist Brian Reedy creates pop-culture block prints that he sells on Etsy; his store is full of amazing handmade linoblock rice-paper prints, at $20 each, like "A Trip To The Moon," "The USS Enterprise," "Darth Vader Samurai," "Star Wars Still Life," and a superb set of Universal Monster prints: "The Creature From the Black Lagoon," "Frankenstein's Monster," "The Mummy," "Dracula," and "The Wolfman." Read the rest
Since 1987, Doonesbury has been pricking Trump's bubble, and Trump hates it; Trump even instructed the ghost writer on "his" "book" Surviving at the Top to devote several pages to denouncing Trudeau as unfunny (you can read all of Trudeau's Trump strips in last year's Trump retrospective collection, Yuge!). Read the rest
In 2015, Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti published Zeroes, a wonderful, intricately plotted YA thriller about the discovery by a group of teens (all born in the year 2000) that they have a variety of extremely millennial supernatural powers, which grow in strength in social situations; in the years since, the authors have finished the trilogy with two more excellent volumes: 2016's Swarm, which introduces out-of-town powered teens and raises the stakes to life or death for the Zeroes' whole hometown; and 2018's Nexus, which sends the Zeroes off into conflict with the US government, and a massive army of not-exactly-but-sorta-evil powered teens who have all the crowd magic of Mardi Gras to work with, in a battle over the fate of the human race itself. Read the rest
On the 170th anniversary of the publication of Karl Marx’s and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto, British graphic novelist Martin Rowson has produced an illustrated adaptation. Apart from a few pages of prose, the whole work is presented in the style of a graphic novel.
The preface describes how the middle-aged Rowson became smitten by Marx and Engels' exciting prose when he was only 16. Aside from expressing his great admiration for Marx’s writing, as well as his own critical stance, he furnishes the reader with some historical backdrop to the completion of The Manifesto. Marx had been commissioned to write it by a socialist group in the summer of 1847, but, under pressure, succeeded in producing it at the beginning of 1848. Significantly, that was before the outbreak of revolutionary movements in Europe later on in 1848. Rowson goes on to explain that the initial publication failed to attract the attention of many people. Only after the events of the Paris Commune in 1871 did the pamphlet receive a wide audience and a publication renewal.
The illustrations create an atmospheric accompaniment to the Marx figures whose speaking balloons relay the text of The Manifesto. The graphics pair nicely with the text with dense images that impart the feeling of the clashes of historical forces (classes) or with the dramatic rendering of the first lines of The Manifesto in which a spectre appears, so Hamlet-like in two dark and foreboding images to haunt the reader’s mind. There is plenty of theatricality too: images of Marx interacting from a stage with a hostile audience (Rowson’s added flourishes added to enhance the exposition in a stimulating theatrical way). Read the rest
Rudy Rucker writes, "'Return to the Hollow Earth' is my new steampunk novel of the Hollow Earth." Read the rest
Kerwax Studios in Brittany, France sports some of the most beautiful, vintage audio mixing gear you'll ever see; the studios have made a "replica" in the form of an "excerpt" that does two channels' mixing, with customizable tube options to "shape the sound." No word on price. At a guess: "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." Read the rest
There was just one problem when I asked artists to contribute to The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses, the new adult-creativity book that I edited: some of them had no idea what an Exquisite Corpse was. I soon discovered that a lot of them knew it, but had never heard the name: it was just "that game I play with my family where we fold up a piece of paper and draw a picture on sections of it, not knowing what the other people drew until we unfold the paper and see the results of our collaboration."
On the other end of the spectrum, some of the contributors got competitive about showing off their Exquisite Corpse expertise. Actor Stephen Fry had played André Breton--the French surrealist artist who concocted the Exquisite Corpse game back in 1925--in the movie Surrealismo, and so he was eager to try out one of Breton's inventions in real life. The musician Moby, however, not only knew the history of surrealism in detail, but could quote the French sentence produced by the first Exquisite Corpse word exercise that gave the game its name: "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau," or "The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine."
As that sentence indicates, Exquisite Corpses come in many flavors, both visual and verbal. For The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses, we mostly went with drawn pictures, although there's also some storytelling games. There's 110 contributors in the book, each of whom got to have their way with one perforated piece of paper: you can rip that page out of that book and jump into a long-distance collaboration with Grace Slick or Chuck Klosterman. Read the rest