While I’m recovering from Insane Bike Ride 2017 (Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.), I should probably let you know I’ll be at Hal-Con, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, this weekend. The gust list is pretty awesome – come check it out!
Friday, Sept. 22
- 6:00pm – 7:00pm ~ Sketch Battle (Coca-Cola Stage)
Saturday, Sept. 23
- 12:00pm – 12:45pm ~ Dork Tower and Munckin – A +10 Life in Gaming (Room 301)
- 1 pm – 2 pm Signing, Booth A2
- 7:00PM – 9:00pm ~ Stargazer Soiree in Delta Halifax
Sunday, Sept. 24
- 12:45pm – 1:30pm ~ Creating Fun: Game Creation From Script to Sale (Room 302-3)
- 1:45 – 2:45 Signing, Booth A2
Hal-Con very generously gave me a table (a2 – about as appropriate for a British-born cartoonist as you could imagine), but I won’t be bringing anything to sell. I’ll post additional times there, though, if you’d like to bring anything along to get signed. Saturday and Sunday I’ll try and be there as soon as the doors open.
Judith and I adore Canada, and it will be great to be back!
Insane Charity Bike Ride 2017 was magnificent. A record-breaker, even! Thank you all!
I’ll try and post a full report soon, but here’s how I spent my Sunday night:
Man. Remember how excited we were when that first trailer came out?
2017-09-20 Rerun commentary: I remember. I've told this story before (well, in a future strip), but this is a good place to recap:
Moving to the late 1990s, the excitement began to build again, as Lucasfilm announced a new Star Wars film. I had a job then, working for IBM. I was grown up. When the first trailer for The Phantom Menace came out, people around the world were paying to get into movies they had no interest in, just to see the Phantom Menace trailer, and then leave the cinema. Tens of thousands of people did this. They were like me - kids who'd grown up with Star Wars. A bit later, the trailer was released on the primitive Internet. We downloaded it at work (it took several minutes over the network speeds of the day), and played it on the huge projection screen in the audiovisual lab. About twenty people around my age—who also grew up with Star Wars—were crowded into that small room. We watched that 2-minute trailer, and we cheered. Then we watched it again. I don't think any of us did any work for the rest of that afternoon.Yeah, seriously. It really was like this. Given what we all now know about the film, can you imagine the mismatch between the pre-release hype and the actual film? It's hard to imagine any film ever being able to live up to the hype in 1998 and early 1999. It wasn't advertising or publicity hype either. It was the fans themselves who got so incredibly excited about the forthcoming Phantom Menace. And it lasted months and months. After that sort of build-up, the resulting backlash against the movie was almost inevitable.
I changed my originally scripted "a bit overly dramatic" to "a tad overly dramatic" at the last minute when making this strip. It just sounded better, I think. It seems the etymology of "tad" is that the word probably derives from "tadpole", and was originally used in the late 19th century to refer to a child or young person. The meaning then migrated in the early 20th century to mean "a small amount" - the Oxford Dictionary says from the 1940s, but other online sources give citations back to 1915.
It's good to have miniatures to help the players visualise enemy forces and battles.
And although improvised figures will do, it's definitely better to have appropriate miniatures.
(Yes, we know the Spanish is terrible and doesn't mean the same thing.)
It was the first walker-type! And he apparently had no miniatures.
The poor players, having to use their imaginations while playing a tabletop RPG. Oh the humanity!
And unfortunately, the GM never saw my very, very clever suggestion of gluing some guns onto Timon. So everyone had to suffer through chickens.
Something that I never realized before: Chicken miniatures.
There is no movie; this GM actually had chicken walkers, and chicken miniatures.
Never mind the deformed seal-walrus-whatever it was, where do you get chicken miniatures? Are there other farm animals yet to show up?
Looking over the last two comics, I'm realizing the clear advantage of the chicken walkers: they bring in close air support. Easy to tell apart from enemy fire. Easy to tell apart from the kitchen mess.
But the whole design still seems wrong. It still seems too easy to take out one leg, and turn the main body into skeet. (Have we ever seen one of these guys self-destruct? There's always a self-destructing something in movies, right? Toss a grenade in, tie up their legs... do they self destruct? What kind of hum do they make before they go boom? There was a self-destructing speeder in the TV series, but that's not the same.)
So let's look at the soldiers. Last comic, we see a huge number of soldiers appearing with the walker. They spread out in front of the walker. This comic starts with two in the first panel, then has a lot more in the second panel.
So who is killing the soldiers, and why do we not see them shooting? It sure looks like there's a lot of bodies in the center of the last panel, but we don't see them being killed. Presumably, this is just the choice of screen captures. It sure looks like we see a soldier being shot in the last panel. But we don't see who is shooting them at all. Are they really running into a killbox?
Meanwhile, all of the other civilians have gotten out of the way. "Our heroes" are the only ones left to get into trouble.
I took a behind-the-scenes photo of the set used to create this comic, which I've posted to my Patreon blog as a publicly viewable post. I plan to do some more of these in the future, and endeavour to turn my Patreon blog into a sort of general "here's what I've been doing with comics lately" sort of blog, to get some more usage out of it. Oh, have you ever run across a ten-year-old kid who wanted to ask you questions about what certain bits of dialogue in Macbeth mean? I did a few weeks ago. He quoted the lines as Shakespeare wrote them too, not paraphrased. This is a boy in the year 4 Ethics class that I teach once a week at a local primary school. He's also randomly asked me questions about black holes and the photoelectric effect. Given that I have a Ph.D in physics and could actually answer those questions, I may have given him a false impression of how educated the average adult is. :-)
Doctor Who: Twelfth Doctor Year Three #7
Writer: Richard Dinnick
Artist: Brian Williamson
Cover A: Claudia Ianniciello Cover B: Photo Cover C: Andy Walkeralkerkerr
If you want to introduce some plot point to your adventure, try throwing it into the middle of a running battle, instead of just having an NPC talk about it during a social encounter.
Actually it might be interesting to try doing this for all your plot points. You might need a lot of fighting though.
In panel two, did Bria just throw a grenade back at the troopers? Also, that's a pretty darn big explosion.
Now then, containers of large crystals. Are these by any chance Khyber saber crystals? Light saber crystals? Special hyperspace piloting crystals? Solidified spice from sandworm extract?
Were there any chicken walkers in the prequel trilogy? Is this the first appearance of a chicken walker in the Star Wars timeline? And can you imagine a meerkat walker?
Once again, we are reminded that talking is not a free action. The enemy is taking action even while you are trying to figure out what the enemy even is.
Still, does this mean that if you have a large group of four-legged walkers approaching you, that you are on the cow level?
As of writing this annotation, I have had "How Many Toes Does a Fish Have?" (from Tacky the Penguin) stuck in my head for a good 3 hours. And thinking about it now, it's just the tune my dad invented when reading me the book as a kid, so it's entirely possible that I can safely not infect anyone else with the song.
For those not familiar, the ditty goes:
How many toes does a fish have?
How many wings on a cow?
I wonder, yup I wonder
But moving on...
I guess chronologically this is the first "walker-type" machine the GM had introduced. The AT-ATs then would be a case of "these ones are even cooler and scarier because I added more legs!"
As for these walkers, Sally seems to have the most accurate analogy. It definitely looks more like a meerkat. With guns, that is.
If only the GM had some old Lion King figurines lying around, he could have just made a big commando-Timon to terrorise the marketplace.
I hope it's obvious enough that the Man in Black is speaking into his walkie-talkie in the first line, and not to Mercutio.
It seemed more obvious when I wrote it.
2017-09-17 Rerun commentary: Unfortunately due to the restrictions of the geometries, it's not possible to show a LEGO minifigure holding one of the walkie-talkies any closer to their face than this. It's a bit like people these days who use their phones by holding them horizontally in front of their mouths like a slice of pie, rather than up to their ears.
Shaenon: Last month, my son Robin and I had the pleasure of visiting England, where my parents currently live. Robin got to go to Nottingham and retrace the steps of one of his namesakes, Robin Hood. I was inspired to do up a Skin Horse wallpaper based on Howard Pyle’s classic Robin Hood illustrations.
As usual, if you make a donation in any amount to the Skin Horse Tip Jar, or contribute any amount to our Patreon, we’ll send you a link to this wallpaper. Patreon contributors will continue to receive new wallpaper for the length of their contribution.
And in case the new wallpaper isn’t seasonal enough for you, you’ll also get this bonus autumn wallpaper from the archives:
Meanwhile, the Narbonic reprint Kickstarter has reached its initial funding goal and is chugging toward its first stretch goal! Let the world know!
Channing: Now I kinda want to do an all-period version of Skin Horse set in Ancient Times. This is probably a terrible idea.