Chicago Board Game Meet Up for the Philippines

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Ryan Numrich and I will be hosting a board game day on Saturday at the Chicagoland Games store and taking cash donations to go to Concern USA’s relief effort after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. If you’re in the area that day please come, even if it is for just one short game and to contribute a few dollars.

What: A Board Game Day for the Phillippine’s Relief Effort

Where: Chicagoland Games: the Dice Dojo at 5550 N. Broadway Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640

When: Noon until about 7 PM, on Saturday November 23rd of 2013

Bring: Snacks, friends, an easy to share game, and a few dollars or more to contribute the the relief effort!

Please RSVP on the Facebook page here, Tweet at me, or email me to let me know you are coming!


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Terminally Illin’

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I make a rare case for an incomplete comic that needs funding today: Terminally Illin’ is one young woman’s fight against cancer, documented in an irreverent, surreal, and psychedelic story described as “Alice in Wonderland on Chemo.” The  completed first issue is available for free if you submit your email address, and I highly recommend donating to support the comic; as your donations contribute to cancer research and the free copies of the comic for patients. I backed the second round of funding on Kickstarter for the full color graphic novel eighteen months ago and I couldn’t be more pleased with the first part of the comic I received; on page three there is a chemo-merkin joke. Our heroine, the writer’s avatar, pokes fun at every moment of the process: the day an old lady yelled at her for laughing before her treatment, her insincere doctor who disapproves of her chemo-mohawk, and the massive quantities of drugs she was consuming at the time make a song and dance about their skills. The actual blog posts the author made at the time are spaced through out the book. The comic also aims to educate about the biology involved and tries to be factually correct about all of the scientific matters, even if you can’t actually fight tumor-Hitlers with your sewing scissors and pet cat. The vivid and expressive art accentuates the often grotesque subject matter in the style of R. Crumb or Gabby Schulz, and while the subject and illustrations are dark and close to tragic, there is a palpable sense of hope and vigor that comes through in the writing and in the playful and bright eyes of our heroine as she journeys through her own body.

Terminally Illin' Subway

If your world is a body with cancer, the end really is nigh!

The writer, Kaylin Andres was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, and was both troubled and inspired by the lack of cancer resources available for young adults during her treatment. She documents her experiences, battle and victories and recurrences in her overwhelmingly popular blog Cancer Is Hilarious. While producing the comic, she unfortunately experienced a Cancer recurrence and has started agressive treatment for it, but somehow managed to finish the first book of the comic as well as begin her fashion design career! She and her story were featured on the MTV documentary Series World of Jenks. She is now a three-time cancer survivor. The artist, Jon Solo, is a long time friend and experienced graphic designer and comic artist.

Please enjoy this adorable video of the birth of the Chemo-Hawk and the heroine learning to fire and AK-47.


Doctor Who Knitters & Hookers

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Bigger on the Inside

The Bigger on the Inside shawl, created and modeled by Kate Atherley

Fiber Geeks are everywhere in mainstream geekdom; you’ll see knitters and hookers (crocheters) at cons working a few rows at panels, interrogating cosplayers where they got or how they made their own knit or crocheted pieces, and if the stars are right you may even see a group of fiber geeks break out the spindles and wheels in a really, really long line. Certain fandoms within geekdom do have some of the most visible and devoted knitters and crafters, and one of the most noticeable groups are the knitters of Doctor Who.

The most famous examples of geeky knitwear in the history of geeky knitting is of course, the Fourth Doctor’s scarf. A legendary test of endurance, the scarf is made up in the simplest stitch in knitting repeated over and over again for a dozen feet or more. Many are started but few are completed, but it can be completed by a patient novice. It can even be done marathoning your way through classic episodes or through the modern series, after you are familiar with the knit stitch. The Doctor Who Scarf , a website devoted only to the fourth Doctor’s scarf, breaks down all the variations, striping patterns and possible yarns that could be used in scrupulously geeky detail.

Ood Ski Mask

A crocheted, and creepy, Ood Ski Mask

Doctor Who themed patterns for crafters abound on Ravelry, the knitter’s social site. (An account is required to browse most pages, but it is a free, friendly and fun website) There you can find amigurumi Weeping Angels, Sonic Screwdrivers and Adipose, tams and doilies of Rassilon, the Fifth Doctor’s cricket jumper and Ood ski masks. The much beloved TARDIS and the terrifying Daleks are represented on any item you can imagine: sweaters, hats, stuffed toys, washcloths, mittens, and socks

Karen Gillan Shawl

Karen Gillan wearing the Bigger on the Inside shawl

One of my favorite patterns is a subtle and intricate tribute the Doctor’s TARDIS in the Bigger On The Inside shawl, by noted knitting writer and teacher Kate Atherley. A lace project done in light yarn and on small needles, it’s not a project for a beginner, and the results are stunning. It’s even more striking modeled on the Doctor’s own Karen Gillan, who was given it as a gift from fan Lisa Panedo.

Probably the biggest sign of how entrenched knitters are in Doctor Who fandom are the new special yarns created by Lorna’s Laces, a popular yarn company known for their whimsical, clever, and often geeky colorways. They’ve created a special TARDIS shade of blue for the sock-weight yarn Solemate and named it after the pattern for the the Bigger on the Inside shawl. Even more exciting is the new yarns dyed to the match the colors of the Fourth Doctors’ scarf in both sock and bulky scarf weight. Bundled kits with patterns are being put together with these yarns to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary special. Even if you’re just an observer of knitting geekdom, you’ll quickly see that if a knitter loves something, they have to knit a sock in a tribute to it. Stay tuned for more journeys into the world of geeky fiber crafting, and feel free to contact me below or in the forums if you have questions about starting to knit or crochet yourself.

Doctor Who Socks

There is a sock version of EVERYTHING. Stay tuned for more sock versions of Geeky things.


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Steve Rogers’ American Captain

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Thanks to the most recent installment of Thor, I have the Marvel films on the brain. Since I know  we’ll all be waiting anxiously now for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I am sharing the excellent Steve Rogers’ American Captain to help scratch that itch. Steve Rogers’ American Captain takes place between the end of The Avengers and the upcoming film. As Steve tries to work out his confusion with the new world around him and grief for his friends from the 40’s, he begins to sketch himself interacting with others, all the confusing things that happen throughout the day, and his thought process as he wrestles with the PTSD that comes from going to war, being trapped in ice for 60 years, and being resuscitated and then save the world from an alien invasion. Cameos from his colleagues in the Avengers as they work, hang out and try to relate to him or help work  out his problems are frequent and often hilarious and touching.

A lot of the praise for American Captain has been for the honest and touching ways it portrays mental illness. Captain America, the true All-American, sharing his very relatable struggles with depression and anxiety help shows how very real the struggles can be for such a huge portion of our society.  The comic is all told from Steve’s perspective, in a sketchy pen-and-ink style. They are all hand drawn and scanned, which helps preserve the personal diary feel. It’s also fun to see the characterizations of the Marvel heroes in their casual mode, including Thor on a lunch date, Black Widow talking politics, and Tony Stark bonding with Steve over his father issues in his own roundabout and with-maximum-frustration way. The author, Robyn, is a doctoral candidate from New Zealand. American Captain is currently her only comic.

America Library

I hope book libraries never change, especially not the smell.

 


Wedneday’s Webcomic: Nimona

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Just in time for Halloween, I bring you Nimona, the tale of an evil genius and his minion. Ballister Blackheart was going it alone as a supervillain until teenage Nimona showed up on his doorstep with a can-do attitude, penchant for violence, and shapeshifting powers. Blackheart’s villainy isn’t black and white however, as his own strict code of honor from his days working for the Institution for Law Enforcement and Heroics before his terrible betrayal tends to keep him from achieving the heights of villainy. Cheerfully violent Nimona has her own mysterious reasons for wanting to take the Institute down, which she sulkily avoids whenever the subject comes up. Over the course of their villainous schemes they discover the Institute is hiding something truly horrendous, and must use all of their villainous wiles to expose their foes to the unsuspecting populace.

Nimona takes place is a fascinating, Magitech medieval universe. While all the characters wear armor and joust and talk of magic, there are televisions, ray guns, and giant robots to enjoy as well! The art is in full color, with a sketchy and expressive children’s-book style of drawing. What will really astonish you is the incredibly-drawn monsters Nimona can turn into throughout the comic! While mainly a comedy, the comic cleverly holds a mirror, darkly,  up to our notions of good and evil, heroes and villains, and what it means to stand on your own moral platform rather than one given to you.

The author, Noelle Stevenson, both writes and draws this comic. Nimona updates bi-weekly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and should be published by HarperCollins in 2015. It has been nominated for a Harvey award for Best Online Comics Work and has been awarded the Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Webcomic of 2012 by Slate Magazine and the Center for Cartoon Studies. Stevenson is a full time writer and artist and is also known for the fanart comedic strips, the Broship of the Rings.

Nimona Cover

He’s so heroic! Just look at that codpiece!


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Servants of the Imperium

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Things take a personal turn today, as I bring to you the webcomic Servants of the ImperiumThe comic, I believe, is heavily reminiscent in humor and art to the epic The Order of the Stick, but distinguishes itself by being set in the Warhammer 40K universe created by Games Workshop. I will confess right here, to not originally having little love of the 40K universe. I had always found it a depressing, heinously violent, and overly testosterone-driven setting with overpriced miniatures and an antisocial, unpleasant fandom. Not very open-minded of me, I realize, but nothing about the single minded Space Marines of the miniature game really caught my interest. Then I fell in love with a man who was not only obsessed with tabletop gaming of all kinds but had many boxes of  lovingly assembled Space Marines, volumes of the “Black Library,” played the RPGs with his friends, and thanked/blamed-it-on the Pestilence God Nurgle when he got sick.  Since this man also tried knitting, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and Jane Austen for me I made an effort to see the good side of life in the 41st Millenium. This story really helped me get there.

I will stress I wasn’t  a complete novice in 40K terminology when I started reading the comic, but I feel a novice with familiarity of science fiction can enjoy and embrace the setting. It starts out with a few one-shot gags in black-and-white but quickly becomes a longer story in full color. The art style is in simple but expressive stick figures. The story follows Lord Severus Hunt, an Inquisitor devoted to hunting down the heretics against the God-Emperor in the Imperium of Mankind 39 millenia into the future.  His (mis)adventures protecting the galaxy from the forces of evil are accompanied by a growing roster of acolytes, including the trigger happy, oddly chipper bounty hunter Krin, the socially backward and deadly assassin Brianna, and a sarcastic Psyker with a penchant for exploding heads named Lyle. As the plot develops, it is not only darkly humorous, but takes a few nods from the grand adventure stories such as Treasure Island. There’s action, treasure, treachery, intrigue, monsters, romance, and lots of comedy! The comic really showed me what is human about the grim and dark setting that is the 40K universe.

The author, Rob Leigh, pulls a lot from his experience as a GM from the 40K series of Roleplaying books from Fantasy Flight,  especially the Dark Heresy series. There was a longer hiatus earlier this year while he was a bit burned out by his surprising success, but I am happy to say that the comic is once again in full swing. He also reviews 40K roleplaying books in the website’s blog section, but does not seem to have any other projects online.

Stumbling on this comic really showed me coolness and charm of the 40K universe; the hard scrabble for survival, the strangeness and similarities of the culture, and the glimmers of humanity in the vast, cold horrors of space. I was able to go from here to the Roleplaying books, then to fluff of the actual miniatures game. I can finally wrap my head around the motivations of the Space Marines, and even recently latched onto a chapter to call my own, the Blood Ravens. Maybe my sweetheart will even talk me into painting some miniatures….

Soti page 3

This is a comedy set in the grimmest setting western literature has ever created. I don’t know how he pulls it off.


Wednesday’s Webcomic: 2D Goggles

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Tuesday, October 15, was Ada Lovelace Day! It’s a day to celebrate the accomplishments of women in the technology fields.  As such, it is only fitting I share with you the comic 2d Goggles, or, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage! The origin story of this comic was conceived for Ada Lovelace day, as a humorous way to tell the story of the first computer programmer. In our own history, the first computer was designed by a man named Charles Babbage. He called it the Difference Engine, which was never completed, and the programs Ada Byron Lovelace wrote were never used before her death at the age of 36. The ending of the first comic where the two of them succeed and continue on to fight crime was originally supposed to be a one off joke, but by popular demand it was spun into a small pocket universe where Babbage’s Difference Engine was completed and the digital era was begun over a hundred and fifty years early. A chain reaction of adventures, super villains and hijinks follow as a result. Scientific and technological heroes of nineteenth century England appear through out the comic, as well as Queen Victoria, who sees the Difference Engine’s application as an instrument for her plans of World Domination.

The comic is done in animation-type-style, with thick brushstrokes of black ink and impressibly researched anatomy and machinery. Indeed, one of the joys of the comic is the volumes of research, primary sources, and the reference and practice images. The comic is presented in a succession of short and long issues as well as a collection of shorter one shots, with a long book currently in production! Professional delays, referred to as giant monsters, have occurred when the author is overloaded by her day job as an animator, frequently of giant monsters in CGI action movies. One creature you may know of that she animated was the Kracken Liam Neeson was always shouting about releasing. You can check out her impressive recipe, including her work on The Iron Giant,  here at imdb.

Page one of the Origin

This is completely historically accurate. Don’t believe me? Check the sources!


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Strong Female Protagonist

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I’ve been wanting to share Strong Female Protagonist for awhile now, but I wanted to wait until the current story arc was resolved since it was such a nail-biter. Strong Female Protagonist can be an incredibly emotionally intense story; best be prepared to sometimes have a powerful cry at your monitor. The comic tells the story of Allison Green, a New York City college student. She’s a pretty average girl who studies for exams, lives in a dorm, and clashes with her professors with one notable exception: she’s a former teen superhero. Super strong and completely invulnerable to harm, Allison publicly unmasked herself and denounced the superhero way of life when she realized she wasn’t really doing anything to actually save the world. She wants to draw attention to fighting poverty, disease, and war, but that’s difficult when everyone’s afraid you will squish them like a bug, old friends are nagging you to get back in the crime-fighting game, and super villains bust into your life to settle old scores. There’s also the question if some mysterious power or shadowy organization has a vested interest in preserving the status quo, and if they are quietly assassinating heroes who are trying to actually make a difference.

Cleaver

We have to worry about suddenly running into our exes. Alison has to worry about guys like this.

The comic is black and white with gray-scale washes for shading. The characters and art style are more cartoonish than the average mainstream comic book. The anatomical rendering is excellent, with clear actions sequences and intense facial expressions. And I do mean intense. While not a depressing comic by any means, the emotional anguish of the characters at certain points in the story really reaches into your chest and starts pumping your heart for you. The comic has updated biweekly with regularity, and three complete “chapters” have been published.

The Authors and their Other Works:

The duo behind Strong Female Protagonist are writer Brennan Lee Mulligan and artist Molly Ostertag. Mulligan is a filmmaker in addition to being a writer, with some short films available for streaming on his website. Ostertag has created some other comics in print, including a retelling of the true story of Khutulun, the Wresteler Princess, a Mongolian folk hero.

FANS OF WEDNESDAY’S WEBCOMIC: I need your help! I am running out of comics I know of to read. If you are writing or reading a webcomic that you love, please let me know about it so I can read it and maybe recommend it in the GonnaGeek’s new forum! 


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Guilded Age

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Guilded Age is a long-running, intricate, and hilarious high fantasy webcomic that surprises you with its depth and cleverness at nearly every turn, and one enormous plot twist you will not,  and I repeat not see coming. Billed as “the Saga of the Working Class Adventurer,” Guilded Age tells the story of a small group of ne’er-do-wells questing for cash. When they happen to get together and form a startlingly effective team, their local government decides to put them on salary to solve problems and spread peace, although this is usually achieved by the judicious use of violence. As their work takes on more and more political importance, their team grows, as well as the possibility that the very existence of their entire world is in jeopardy.

The comic uses interesting jumps in the story in the beginning, by telling you short stories from the team’s later missions while telling you the story of how they came together in the first place. As they reach the first climax in the story the comic the storytelling shifts into a direct line, with some side stories, frequent guest art interludes, and perspective shifts to the antagonists. Indeed, the many antagonists of this story are fascinating, with deep motivations and surprising placement. Layered between the crass jokes and jabs at MMO tropes is a nuanced plot with subtle politics and existential themes. The art is appropriately serious or cartoonish when appropriate with rich watercolor washes and tones. There was a changing of the guard in artists, and the change in style is subtle but distinct.

Page 1 Guilded Age

I’m going to wax poetic about this opening page here: Here is a beautifully drawn, colorful page that not only introduces and summarizes most of the principal characters but sets the tone for the entire epic adventure! This is a bar setter for opening pages.

The Authors and Their Other Works

The Guilded Age is created by a team: T Campbell, who writes both comics and crossword  puzzles,  Phil Kahn, a connoisseur of the internet and webcomics who also writes and draws a comic called Grown Ass Mans, and John Waltrip, known for the Robotech comics he worked on with his twin brother. The first artist was Erica Henderson who has worked in video games, comics, and illustration.


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Kate Or Die

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Kate Or Die is the autobiographical and adorable slice-of-life comic written and drawn by Kate Leth.   Topics range from being female and working in a comic book store, tacos, bisexuality, enjoying porn, breaking the cycle of self-harm, overcoming trauma, and kittens. Kate’s sweet, emotive drawing style brings levity to often darks subjects and turns up the laughs on lighter ones. The skill of the artist really grows over time and this is an good example of what a joy an artist’s growth can be to see. Colors range from full color to a single color, to a small range of colors suited to the tone of the story or gag. This comic has been used by the artist to experiment with her skills as a writer quite a bit and I have really enjoyed the range of material in Kate or Die, as well as little comic-Kate’s evolving hairstyles. If the subject matter is particularly dark Leth will provide a trigger warning.

Biphobia

Respect the Taco.

The Author 

Kate Leth works in the noted comic store Strange Adventures, and has begun a professional organization for female comic shop employees called Beware the Valkyries. Her work has appeared in the Womanthology, Locke & Key, as well as the Adventure Time spinoff series Marceline and the Scream Queens and Fionna & Cake. Leth as recently been hinting at big projects behind the scene and I am excited to see more from her.