Sorry I forgot to put these up two weeks in a row...
Yeah, it's Saturday, I'm late.
The Dead Pump
Ages ago, before the seas drained away, in the long forgotten time of the Sky Kings, the Dead Pump functioned as an atmosphere factory- dispersing valuable oxygen and regulating the local climate. Corrupted by some unknown alien influence at some point during its eons of active service, the factory became, slowly, over the centuries, a place of sudden and macabre death. The Sky Kings abandoned the facility, ritually sealed the entrance and left a huge warning marker at the entrance of what is now called Shadow Canyon, as was their custom.
The Skull Monolith marks the Entrance to Shadow Canyon.
Next week I'll go into either airships or continue posting pieces of this. Everything thus far is of course a work in progress.
If there's anything you'd like to see in this segment, give a shout out below.
I missed posting this weekend because of the Holliday, not so great consdering I am tryng to get started again.
Anyway, I'm building a new underground base, working in sections, I finsihed sealing the floor for section one this morning. Hope to have it framed out, plumbed (is that the word?) and wired by xmas time.
Fyi, painting a basement ceiling is no fucking joke. It is hands down the hardest part of this job. Each consecutive day doing it you lose the power to lift your hands over your head/ hold a brush a little sooner. Day one I did eight hours easy. We found that 2 coats plus touch ups were needed- at least. The ceiling is thirsty as hell. The last few days we worked an hour at a time, with two hours off in between- and I'm actually fit with a serious completion compulsion issue. My buddy Chris who is staying with us and helping out is even worse. My shoulders hurt just thinking anout it.
As an aside,,when I first started working in this style I suddenly realized why some cartoonists have assistants. I could totally use a flood-fill slave.
This is tenative choice for the cover. It may get demoted t frontispiece.
This was my original conception of Star-fIst, and I was trying to nail an action pose. Everything got out of hand, really.
Next tuesday we'll delve more into what Haunted Islands is, with perhaps a sample layout page and maybe some more art- but I'll be back on Thursday or Friday with some other stuff, time allowing.
Yet another new feature- when will it end?
This is just a quck note for those of you that make physical maps or drawings.
Get one of these!
It is a light box; up until just a year or two ago they were much bigger and about 5x the current price. I got this one in may for about 40$ off amazon, and it is magical. It led to immediate improvement in my finished work as it allows a traditional artist to basically work in layers as do digital artists. Most of my current work is whipped into shape on one or two peices of paper and then assembled in a clean version on the light box. This is pretty key for me as roughed up paper is difficult to ink with some of the tools I use.
As an aside, drawing kicks my ass and it took me forever to attain even the borderline adequacy I have acheived, but I don't know that I'll ever feel comfortable using the rerm, "my work" ever.
I may get another post in this evening. I'll be working on a map today and if I get done, which seems unlikely, I'll throw it up.
A shout out to everyone who has left comments so far, I am having a reply issue with blogger- I'm not ignoring you. I'm a tool, but not that much of a tool. Honest. Thank you for reading!
And Jay Murphy, thanks for all your kind words and good luck with that g+ game, man! (I'm not on plus, but I got an email from a freind last night)
PPS Yesterday would have been King Kirby's 99th birthday! Go read some fucking comics!
Hero and villian creation
For this feature I am going to avoid using a particular game system, as I think it will make things more useful for more people. However, I am eager to get some opinions on this, as I'd eventually like to do a thing. If I did stat things up, I'd likely use ICONS or FASRIP.
Forty pages into making my comic the Planet Eaters, I am a little taken aback to realize that some of the challenges associated with running an rpg game and writing/drawing a team superhero book are remarkably similar. This is especially true in regards to character spotlight/development time. When one is reffing a game one has to guard against letting one character dominate- especially if they make moving things along easier. It is the same with comics. I have a huge cast, which is only growing larger, and there are defintely a couple of characters I like to draw more than others, but I gotta get to them all or else things fall apart.
Given the large casts involved in comics and games and the resultant spotlight issues, then, it is probably a good idea to front load some of each hero's (and villain's) characterization and thereby lay the groundwork for future development as well.
Superhero comics have two very well established ways of doing this: Origin story and costume/appearance, both of which tie directly into a third sort of character expression: powers and abilitles.
Batman, for example, lost his parents to gun violence. Unsurprisingly, he really hates guns and criminals. As a result he becomes an expert in both unarmed combat and criminology and develops a non lethel projectile weapon. Visually, not only is he a giant, scary, muscle man, but his costume is explicitly designed to make him frightening, protect him from harm, and showcase how conditioned he is all at once- it also includes a visible utility belt that grants him a further range of abilites.
The FF and the X-Men take this a step further in regards to relationships. The FF and certain teams of X-Men all wear the same costumes, but their powers, or, in some cases, their hairstyles, grant them visual individuality. The uniform nature of their super-suits implies inity and shows that they are more than just a random assortment of powered individuals.
The best characterization comes from an origin that haunts the character. The gateway to power cannot be crossed without a price, be it one's parents; homeworld; physical appearence; Uncle Ben; best friends trust; peace or- well, anything, really. Invoking such ghost of loss at the proper moment is an excellent way to work in some quick and powerful character development.
Okay, lets build one from the ground up.
Again, for a variety of reasons, I went systemless, but my power/ability names should be failry self- descriptive.
I don't have a preferred order, I start with a name, or a visual, or an origin, but usually change one or all three sometime during the process.
The vaguest idea forthis character has been bouncing around in my head for a very long time; I had a sack full of potential names too, and actually changed her name and design two seconds before I drew her on the page for the first time. This, by the way, is about the closest I get to making analog characters. She is very distantly inspired by Batman and Robin-and as I worked on her she became even more distant. Her suit and glove (utility belt stand in) are really the only leftovers from the intial concept.
As with the origin and name, I think a visual representation of the character, be it a drawing, a photo, or whatever, is absolutely essential when it comes to creating a super character. For me of course this is the easiest part. However, not everyone can draw. There are some free online resources like Hero Machine (google) and a few other such things. I urge you to check them out. Players really respond to cool looking original villians if nothing else.
However, I'm too stupid for Hero Machine, so I had to do this the hard way.
I could not fit this on the card, but the Talon's father died during the intial assault of the Wet World Empire- a period during which she had turned her back on the family legacy and refused to operate as his teen partner- hence the guilt from the spectral grandparents. Further, Talon's war experience has left her more than hardened towards violence. She is capable of losing control, hungers for it almost- this is especially true when she wields the Ghost Gun.
So here's the rest of the main crew, less a couple I couldn't fit in.
Next week I'll detail out Vlad Frankenstien.
REAL TALK: The Type of characterization I'm talking about was really brought into comics by Kirby, Ditko and Lee at Marvel in the 1960's. There is no substitute.
Get a Marvel Unlimited account and read the following;
Amazing Fantasy 15
Amazing Spider-Man 1-38
Watch the aftermath, as Peter Parker's super-villian origin is disrupted by the murder of his Uncle Ben and he slowly evolves from potential school-shooter into a right guy and a super hero. I'm not even exaggerating. Early Parker is a straight up creep. See issue 5 page 11, panels 1-3 for a good and cringe-worthy example of this. The stories are fucking great. Also Ditko's art,mespeically the inking, is sweet as fuck.
Tales of Suspense (Captain America) 59-99 Captain America 100-116
Cap is haunted by memories of his dead partner and a past to which he can never return. Also Modok, Agent 13, Black Panther(!), Nick Fury, the Avengers, and all kinds of other great shit. Not read nearly as widely as it deserves. Mostly Lee/Kirby, with a Steranko chaser at the end. I don't really have enough exclamation points for any of that.
All of these are currently available in print in lovely oversized omnibus editions as well.
Your library might have some of these, but most I've onto usually seem to have Ulitimate Spider-man by Bendis (not to my taste) which is not at all the same thing as Lee/Ditko ASM. CA and the FF are inlikely to be there at all, sadly.
Marvel Unlimited is an amazing deal, especially if you have a tablet, but If, like me you have a print fetish amd you are thinking of buying copies, you absolutely have to check this site, with which I am not affiliated in any way, out. They are waaaay cheaper than Amazon, and pack their books infinitely better.
Contest: I want to have two comtests: one to do a character drawing and another to do a map but I am not sure how to go about it, or if there is any interest. I'll try to come up with something next week. I would not be able to make delivery until November anyway.
Anway, leave a comment, jerk.
Hey, welcome to the first instalment of the first of a new series of features with annoying alliterative appellations here at Metal Earth:
First, as promised. NSFW.
Drawing is really hard, btw. I feel like this particular subject is kind of rite of passage forgenre artsits. I hope I passed through the ordeal intact.
We played a Mars game this winter. System-wise none of the available options really worked for me, so I did this instead. [Note- we have only tested the Green and Red Warrior classes thus far.]
The day after tomorrow I'll be kicking off Super Sunday (I was not kidding about the alliteration) and we'll have a contest, the winner of which will get a fully inked character drawing from me something like one of these:
Could anyone want such a thing? I don't know, but some people are drunk all the time.
On Tuesday I'll be debuting the (potential- if I don't grow to hate it) cover of B/X Haunted Islands and talking a little bit more about what it is. Be here. I'm not even going to insist that everyone wear pants. So, no excuses.
And because I have been asked many times- I will be open to taking commissions for maps and spot illos beginning in early October. I am certain that even now, tumbleweed and crickets prepare to migrate to my upcoming rate page. The stuff in this post is all pretty new, except the pencil sketch at the top. If anyone wants to see other recent examples of my art, please refer to the webcomic, but be advised everything prior to page 25 is poor work- at best.
Anyway, one last Haunted Islands art sample for the weekend:
I will return on Sunday.
I volentarily terminated my most recent experiment in under employment this morning. It was the worst. So lets go to the otherside of the universe together!
In related news, I am going to start taking commissions soon.
Cosmic Tales 6 page update: Here.
Anyway It looks like I'll be gaming again soon, so look for some posts on that.