GE45: What the BLEEP!?!

swearYou’re minding your own business at the friendly local game store when someone unleashes a torrent of swears.  All you hear is “^#%*#( this and (&*$* you.  I can’t believe you *#&#^#*&$ all my &^#$* armies” and so forth.  What are you to do?

Community organizer Aaron Bostian shares his thoughts on swearing at the game store.  He volunteers at Comics & Gaming Culpeper by running events and welcoming new gamers.  Please be warned that these show notes, like the recording, are explicit and contain swears!  You’ve been warned.

Continue reading “GE45: What the BLEEP!?!”

GE43: Optimus Prime Dies

Optimus Prime dies
Optimus Prime dies

OOPS! Looks like we forgot the spoiler alert. Well, it should be no surprise to any ’80s Kids out there that in 1986’s classic film Transformers: The Movie that Autobot leader, Optimus Prime, dies at the hands of the evil Megatron who leads the Decepticons.

This episode explains the importance of Prime’s death. Jonathan expands the discussion beyond Prime’s death as catalyst for the film. He touches on universal mythology, Star Wars, a bit of religion (not much…we promise), and our own mortality.

If you’ve never seen the film or if you don’t own it, we highly recommend you pick it up. Amazon has it at an affordable price.

Transformers: The Movie
Transformers: The Movie

The show winds down with Jonathan telling a story that ties Transformers: The Movie in with the rebirth of Geeks Explicitly! We hope that you like Geeks Explicitly and that you will continue to listen as we bring you new episodes.

 

Continue reading “GE43: Optimus Prime Dies”

Help me help The Wayne Foundation end underage prostitution and make a real difference in the world.

TWF-2014

Hey folks,

Sunday, June 22, I’m going to kick off the 4th annual Wayne Foundation Charity RPG (and other goodies) Bundle on DriveThruRGP.

What is it? It’s a whole mess of RPGs, artwork, fiction and other cool things. It will be selling for $20 and every dollar of the profits will go to fighting child rape.

How does that work? People spend $20 to buy the bundle, DriveThruRPG takes their 35% in fees to distribute, host and whatnot and the other 65% goes to The Wayne Foundation, a 501(C)3 registered charitable corporation. TWF’s mission is to end minor sex trafficking and to give those children who are victims support, counseling and a chance to get out.

What does this mean for you? I’d really, really appreciate getting the word out. You have a blog, or a podcast, or a presence on the web. You’re someone that other people listen too. You can help.

At this moment in time, we have over $175 worth of product in the bundle, which will retail at $20. Publishers like Evil Hat, Melior Via, Dilly Green Bean Games, Cumberland Games & Diversions, Imperfekt Games and a lot more. I’m working everyday to secure more content.

The bundle will be available at DriveThruRPG starting Sunday, June 22 and will vanish forever at midnight on Saturday, June 28th. You’ll be able to get it here: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/129081/4th-Annual-Wayne-Foundation-Charity-RPG-bundle-BUNDLE . Here’s a shortened link too: tiny.cc/TWF-RPG

If you also happen to be a publisher, author, artist or other creative type and would like to contribute to the bundle, CLICK HERE to get all the instructions you’ll ever need.

Every mention on social media, podcasts and blogs is a net win for the bundle, and a net win for The Wayne Foundation. Any talk we can generate before the bundle launches, or while it’s available for sale would be amazing.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions, concerns – anything!

This document is also available online, by clicking here. A full press release is in the works.

Want to hear Jamie and Kevin Smith talk about her life experiences, creating The Wayne Foundation and working towards their vision and goals? Check out Episode 70 of Kevin’s Fatman on Batman podcast.

Thanks so much!

-Ben

 

Free Comic Book Day 2013

FCBD2013-FreeI just came back from Free Comic Book Day 2013.

You may have heard me discuss this on GE37: 5 Reasons Free Comic Book Day is Awesome.

Down the street from my house is a New England Comics.  As a child and teen my parents, and those of my friends, would bring my friends and I to NEC to gape and buy the latest issues that our meager allowances could afford.

We loved titles by Image with our emphasis being on Spawn.  Al Simmons made a deal with the Devil and was stuck as one of the Dark One’s Hellspawn…his breed of generals that would lead the armies of Hell in the final war with Heaven.  Beautifully illustrated and written it was more mature than my adolescent mind could handle at the time.

Many years passed and I’m delighted to return to NEC Norwood.  New managers and a new store layout opens up the store.  The location is in the center of town.  You cannot miss it today.  Superheroes stand at the intersection with signs saying “Free Comic Book Day” and arrows pointing towards the store.

Below are some pictures of my loot.  NEC allows people to take 2 free comics from the table, 2 free comics from a box of older, and presumably harder to move, titles along with a copy of the special 2013 issue of the Tick.  NEC created the Tick, which you may have seen in the 90s on TV on the Fox channel.

FCBD2013-GI-JoeOn top of that NEC is running a few special deals.  They offer 30% off any title from their racks.  These are current comics but ones that are not the newest arrival.  I snagged two G.I. Joes titles.

They are also donating 100% of proceeds of specific Marvel titles to One Fund Boston.  Marvel titles excite me and any chance to help out a good charity is something I cannot pass.

  • The Avengers #1
  • Fantastic Four #1
  • Fearless Defenders #1
  • Incredible Hulk #1
  • Thor #1
  • X-Men #1

FCBD2013-One-Fund-BostonThe new manager asked me if I wanted to pay full price or discounted (these titles were from the 30% off rack) for the Marvel books.  He said they offer both to customers and either way they’ll donate 100% of what is paid to the fund.  I eagerly said I’d pay full price.

I walked into the store with expectations of fun and hope that this would be a positive experience to bring me back to NEC as a regular customer.  I left with many amazing books and happiness in my heart.

Have you been to FCBD?  What titles did you pick up?  Tell us about your local comic book store and why it is awesome.

 

Epic Level Artistry: Caytlin Vilbrandt

Caytlin Vilbrandt

If you’re like me, you not only like to play RPGs but you also love to read webcomics. What if you could combine the two? What if two gamers decided to make a comic? What would it look like? Walking on Broken Glass is one such comic, written by Samantha J.  Mathis and illustrated by Caytlin Vilbrandt, both of them long time gamers and creators of fantastic content. Today at Epic Level Artistry we are lucky to pose questions to Caytlin Vilbrandt. Not only does Caytlin bring Nick and Kennedy, two epically bad ass characters, to life on paper and on the web, she also does graphic design, attends conventions, and is really fun to share a booth with! Let’s see what this wonderful woman of gaming has to say about illustration, RPGs, and…ponies?

How long did it take the ideas from WoBG to go from being a game to a webcomic? What was the transition like?
Well, we played it as a game for two years or so, before we petered off. Round about that time, a former student of my Dad’s who works in the comics industry contacted my Dad and told him he’d like to help me get a foot in the door. So I went to Phoenix Comicon to meet him and start figuring out how to work in comics.

The big tip at all the panels was that you really have to have something to show — some actual comic. And so I poked Sam and said, HEY, WE SHOULD DO A COMIC. And the very next line was both of us saying, We should do a Nick and Kennedy comic! And so we did.

I think the funniest thing about it is that when we were starting out our planning, we kept looking at it as an RPG instead of as a story. We were bent on making consistent rules and making sure everything was balanced from a weird gameplay perspective. It took some time before we weened ourselves off that and started looking at it as a story and not as a tabletop game.

An excerpt from WoBG

You actually wear quite a few hats as far as making art goes. Is it safe to say that you prefer working on WoBG the most?
Oh heck yeah. WoBG is our baby. Drawing Nick and Kennedy is what pulled me out of a four or five year dry spell, creativity-wise. I hardly drew for years. So they have a pretty special place in my heart. Not to mention, I like working for myself (ourselves?) and I am absolutely bent on making this my job and my profession. So I treat it like one and give it top priority.

Frustrated GM

So, tell us a little bit about yourself and your history with art in games and RPGs.
So, somewhat belatedly, hi! I’ve done a little bit of work in the RPG industry. When I was in high school, I was briefly on board to do inking work for an RPG called Dark Shard, which unfortunately was dropped by the publisher before it could be completed. More recently, I illustrated the My Little Pony: Roleplaying is Magic RPG. I’ve played RPGs of various stripes since I was youngish, and I’ve always been drawn to the art side of it.

What’s your favourite system to play? Is there a setting/system you love making art for in particular? What is it about this world/system that inspires you?
Probably Pathfinder, at the moment, though the Deadlands system is freakin’ awesome. I’d love to do some art for WoD though, sometime. Because, y’know. Werewolves.

Do you prefer to GM or play as a PC? Do you find this affects your art?
I way prefer to be the GM. As a PC, I can never think up things to do, and I wind up just sort of being quiet in the corner. But as the GM, I’m really good at thinking on my feet and making sure everyone has fun. I’m not sure it necessarily affects my art, though.

Do you find yourself more drawn to drawing locations or people? Do you have them fleshed out before you bring pencil to paper (to use an old idiom) or do the ideas and the image kind of grow side by side?
Generally people: I’m very people-oriented. But of late, I’ve gotten really interested in locations and environments, and how they reflect people. It’s just fun.

On the downside, I’m terrible at fleshing things out before it’s time to get to them in the comic, so I tend to make things up as I go along. So, for example, you’d see the Living Quarters, and it’d have what I’d need for that scene. The next time the LQ comes up, I have to figure out how to integrate that into a larger environment. “Gee, Caytlin, you didn’t put in ANY place for the other bedrooms. Where are they? Oh, there’s this one corner I haven’t drawn yet! THERE’S A HALLWAY THERE.”

That’s a terrible way to do things.

Excerpt from WoBG with note from illustrator

What’s your preferred medium to work with? Do you work digitally, on paper or some mix?
I prefer to do sketches on paper. Even with a cintiq, there’s just something about paper and pencil that gets ideas out better. But from there, I transfer things into the computer to complete it digitally.

Specifically, my process is that I do all my thumbnails on some templates I printed on regular ol’ office paper. After that, I redraw it on 11×17 comic boards, and scan it in in halves. I use Photoshop to lay down the panel borders, and then I transfer it to Paint Tool SAI to do the coloring stuff. I’ve started putting my environments into Google Sketchup and taking screenshots to trace and alter, to help speed things up. And also to force me to think about my environments a little harder before jumping in with both feet.

When it’s time to put the words down, I do that all in Illustrator, then send it off to Sam to upload!

How much time would you say you spend in a week making art? How much time in a week would you say you spend gaming?
Oh gosh. Eight to ten hours a day, six days a week, usually. So between 48 and 60 hours. I usually keep working while I’m gaming as well. And speaking of, I probably do about eight to ten hours of that a week, too, between the two gaming groups I’m in. One of them is straight Pathfinder, and the other one rotates week to week between Pathfinder, nWoD Changeling, oWoD Vampire: Dark Ages, and free play.

Whose art do you like the most? Whose art would you say has influenced you or do you try to emulate?
I love pretty much any art, to be honest. RPG-wise, I think Pathfinder’s art has most captured my interest. Most of my influences, however, are more internet related than not. I find over the years, I’ve been most influenced by Niki Foley, Faith Erin Hicks, Yuko Ota, Vera Brosgol, Jisuk Cho, D. Helmer, Danielle Corsetto, Glen Keane, and countless others.

What tools do you use to make art? What tools/items do you need to game?
Pencils (mechanical, usually), erasers, paper, a scanner, and a cintiq (though that’s a recent addition). I tend to be very tool-oriented, especially in gaming! We have notecards to keep track of initiative and effects; we have minis … in fact, we just ordered the big Reaper Miniatures pack from their Kickstarter; we have a battle map and pens, and little counters for enemies. Tons of dice, of course! And other things, but those are our essentials.

What projects have you worked on in the past? Can you tell us what you’re currently working on or have in the queue?
As always, I’m working on Walking on Broken Glass. But as I said, I did the Season 2 edition of MLP:RiM. I’ll be doing the 3rd Season, too, so if you happen to like ponies, keep an eye out!

Nick and Kennedy

Are there any pieces you’re particularly proud of? A favourite character you managed to pin down or something really funny/touching/dramatic you captured?
Probably most recently, I’m pretty proud of the last panel of the last page of Issue 5. Kissing is hard to draw, and that particular panel went through at least five different versions before hitting on that.

As for a favorite character? Probably my Pathfinder bard, Emir. He’s a fancy nobleman’s son who decided to go “be with the common people” and go ADVENTURING!!! So he’s very delicate, calls everyone ‘darling,’ has an insatiable desire to keep adventuring despite all the terrible things that have happened to his person (like poop. Lots of poop.), and is just generally incredibly ebullient. He’s always a blast to play.

What would be a dream job/commission?
To be able to work on WoBG and get paid enough to actual make at least a meager living off of it. And then get paid enough to hire someone *else* to work on the website and the advertising. And maybe order fulfillment. Ugh.

Other than that, someday I’m going to be a storyboard artist. Don’t know when or for whom, but damn it. It’s going to happen.

When you’re not making art or gaming, what are you doing?
…There’s something else to do in life?

Smooth Operator

Do you have any advice for people who are trying to find artists to hire? To artists trying to get their work out there?
Looking for an artist for hire? Have money to offer. But really, the best route for you is to actually make friends with some artists. You’re going to get a lot more interest and cooperation from a friend than some poor schmuck you cold-call because you like their stuff.

But still pay them. Doing work for friends and family for free is terribly uninspiring.

There’s a fabulous post about exactly this on Faith Erin Hicks’s tumblr. Go see!

************************

I would like to thank Caytlin for taking the time to answer our questions! If you like Caytlin’s work you can check out more at Grey Ink Studios. Walking on Broken Glass updates every Sunday and Thursday and if you need a bit extra, they have a Tumblr where they answer questions from fans (warning you in advance for spoilers; however, there is a lot of fun of stuff in there, so definitely check it out). If you liked Caytlin’s answers, you can read more about her adventures in gaming, going to Cons, and illustrating on Twitter. Happy gaming, drawing and reading!

GE10: S.M. Vidaurri's Iron, or the War After

First ever graphic novel review on Geeks Explicitly this episode. Drew left the show to pursue other interests. Iron, or the War After by S.M. Vidaurri is reviewed. Check it out on Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Upcoming guests Jeremy Kostiew of Mighty Night Gaunt and Ben Gerber, Trollitc head honcho and Indie Talks host, are mentioned.

You’ll want to check out Jonathan’s other podcast:
Wargaming Recon, historical wargaming podcast with new episodes on the 2nd & 4th Monday of the month.

Be sure to tell your friends about Geeks Explicitly. You can contact us by e-mailing GeeksExplicitly@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter @GeeksExplicitly, or Like our Facebook page.

Also, listen to us on iTunes!

Many thanks to Jeremy Kostiew for creating our new logo. Check out his work at MightyNightGaunt.com.

If you like Geeks Explicitly, then you’re sure to like the other shows on the Troll in the Corner Podcast Network.

Marrowbones by Eric Orchard – a digital comic you really should get

Marrowbones issue #2 has just arrived on my digital doorstep and it’s just as wonderful as issue #1.

Follow Nora, an orphan who finds a strange but fulfilling sense of belonging and identity with her uncle Barnaby at his occult Ravensbeard Inn. Nora’s never been one to fit in, and on finding herself without home or parents, she’s taken (literally) in by her uncle, whose establishment is a business that caters to the undead, otherworldly, and magical.

Oliver's Tomb

In the first issue, we get Nora’s backstory and are introduced to a host of other characters that populate the Marrowbones world. Marrowbones Swamp is the location for this story, where it’s always evening and it’s always October.

Some have called Eric’s work cutesy and others creepy. I find Marrowbones to be a charming mix of darkness and hope which manages to straddle the line between young fiction and gothic horror. It is dark without being scary, dark without the emotional baggage such stories often carry with them. A fresh look into the creepy/cutesy dynamic that made its appearance with Edward Scissorhands and hasn’t really left since.

In issue #2, “Oliver’s Tomb,” we’re treated to a fairly fast-paced story where Nora, on an errand for a witch staying at Ravensbeard, uncovers something dark and dangerous, and also learns more about Oliver (the resident vampire) and the code to which the undead and dark adhere. Thrusting the reader further into the world of Marrowbones, #2 takes an episode out of what is now a typical day (evening?) for Nora in her new world. It’s exciting, creepy, scary, but ultimately rewarding in experience and in meeting the interesting characters that surround her.

Oliver bursts forth!

At heart, Marrowbones is a light fairy tale featuring characters and creatures we normally associate with darkness. In depth it remains a fairly simple story, which makes for an easy read and serves us better with uncomplicated storytelling in the tradition of fairy tales throughout time. This also lets the reader concentrate more on the artwork.

The art, as always, is fantastic and enthralling, easily pulling the reader straight into the world that is Marrowbones and keeping us there through the issue. I’ve always been a fan of Eric’s artwork and have yet to be disappointed with his style. Eric’s unique artwork makes Marrowbones shine with its mix of odd imagery, expressive faces, dark colors, and interesting angles and curves.

You can purchase both Marrowbones #1 and #2 directly from Eric’s site.  Issue #1 is two dollars; issue #2 is three dollars. You’ll be grabbing a great new comic, getting some fantastic art, and supporting an independent artist along the way.

The Kickstarter Problem

The lovely Kickstarter logo

Short post today. I want to talk about Kickstarter, the self-described “funding platform for creative projects.” Here’s a link to their guidelines, which constrain but don’t seem that strict.

The concept behind the site is very simple. Let’s say I want to create something. I can start a Kickstarter page, and fill it out with all the details about whatever it is I’m gonna make. Donors can come, see how much my fundraising goal is, and choose to contribute. I set up fundraising “tiers”, much like larger fundraising organizations do, except these tiers provide tangible benefits. The $10 tier might get you a personalized thank you card, the $50 tier might get you a signed copy of whatever I’m creating, and a $500 donation might get your name listed as a Gold Donor or whatever.

The main selling point of Kickstarter is that if the fundraising goal is not met, you don’t end up donating any money. So if my goal is $400, and I only raise $250, the money raised all goes back to the donors, no questions asked. So it’s kind of like risk-free financial supporting: toss some money if you like the idea, but if not enough people do, then there’s no risk.

There are definitely some cool projects that have popped up on Kickstarter in the past year or so. But I am a bit worried that it might get out of hand.

I’m not saying the Kickstarter model is a bad one. In fact, I’m absolutely positive that more projects will see the light of day because of the platform, when in the past they would have been merely the dreams of idle gamers, artists, and programmers. Kickstarter is a fabulous tool for the indie creator, to be able to subsidize the creation of whatever his or her dream project is – and if enough people can get behind it, then it’s worth creating.

Continue reading “The Kickstarter Problem”

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