Reality is the playground of the unimaginative
Home Of Superheroes, Supernatural, and Star Stuff

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Prometheus Has Landed!

Got my ticket to see Prometheus (in 2D) on Friday and I'm very excited. More so even than going to see The Avengers because, as awesome as that was, it was a known entity whereas Prometheus - despite its obvious Alien overtones - is pretty much a mystery to me as I've done a good job of avoiding spoilers.

Rachel isn't coming to see Prometheus as it's not her sort of thing - and she's worried that it'll scare the heck out of her! So I'm flying solo.

The following clip is an interview with Logan Marshall-Green about his character, Holloway.


Ridley Scott, director of Alien and Blade Runner, returns to the genre he helped define. With Prometheus, he creates a groundbreaking mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

Wonder Woman Wednesday (Twofer)...

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Coming Soon To A Bookshelf Near Me... (UPDATED)



Volume Five of Fantagraphic's glorious, oversized (10.5" x 14.25" hardcover) reprints of Hal Foster's weekly Prince Valiant strips.

Fully half of this 112-page volume of Hal Foster's epic masterpiece — again scanned from superb syndicate proofs — is devoted to the remaining chapters of The Winning of Aleta, a 20-month epic in which Valiant obsessively pursues his bride to be. Not surprisingly this is followed by a sequence called Matrimony, which ends with a newly wed queen adjusting to the luxurious, exciting court life at Camelot.

But Val's marriage does not signal an end to his adventures, quite the contrary. In War in the Forest Val is sent out to spy on encroaching Saxons — unknowingly aided by Aleta, who, disguised as a small knight (and dubbed "Sir Puny") helps prevent disaster. But the 1946 strips end with Val and Aleta unable to return to Camelot and the displaced couple journeying to Thule...

Half the strips in this volume also include the delightful The Medieval Castle, Foster's chronicle of two young boys growing up during the time of the First Crusade — but by the end of the 1945 strips this series has ended and the Valiant portion resume its full-page glory.

This volume also features a foreword by P. Craig Russell, a gallery of Hal Foster's commercial illustration work and an essay titled Aleta: Water Nymph of the Misty Isles by Brian M. Kane.

UPDATE (12.45pm): Or not... as just received an email from Amazon to say they are unable to source the book and it is no longer available!

UPDATE (11pm): An explanation from Fantagraphics of what's going on with this volume: "Prince Valiant Volume 5 is currently in our distributor's warehouse and being distributed next week. Amazon sometimes deletes books from their pre-order list when they're late (as this one is) and place it in a "sign up to be notified when this item is available" category. The wording "this item is no longer available" is simply a mistake, and Amazon.uk should be getting their copies sometime in June."

Good news all round!


Saturday, 26 May 2012

Pitching Mother...



An inside look at how indie filmmakers secure their funding - from the Fear Of Girls crew.

NSFW for language!

Friday, 25 May 2012

It Was Five Years Ago Today...


Today is our fifth wedding anniversary.

It seems like only yesterday I was watching Rachel glide across the lawn of Salomons to the strains of The Imperial March, before Darth Vader appeared bearing the rings that would signify our union.

For anniversary presents this year I got Rachel some little bits for her on-going dolls house project and she treated me to a couple of superhero books/graphic novels.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Prometheus: Charlize On Vickers...


Charlize Theron talks about Meredith Vickers, her character in Ridley Scott's forthcoming Prometheus.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Going Mental For A Good Cause...

The pop culture podcast Mental Cast is having a fundraiser for the Staten Island Academy of Performing Arts today.

Make sure you tune in at mentalcast.tk from 6pm - Midnight EST to find out more.

If you are interested in donating, donations can be sent via PayPal to: siapabenefit2012@gmail.com

Bond...

Monday, 21 May 2012

Tonight On Game Of Thrones (In The UK)...



Only three episodes to go this season! Here's a reminder of what happened last week...

Musical Monday: Entertaining Our Boys During The Second World War...



The legendary George Formby entertains British troops in France in 1940 with his trademark song: Cleaning Windows.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

DVD Of The Week: Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows (2011)


Director Guy Ritchie's follow-up to his 2009 wildly successful re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes reunites the charismatic leads of Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson once more in the sprawling, two-hour ten-minute Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows.

The only real problem with this wonderful, pacey, witty movie is that it doesn't feel like a Sherlock Holmes movie at all - rather a Victorian James Bond action adventure - complete with trans-European locations, battles on trains and exotic gypsy women.

Holmes hasn't been hired by anyone, instead we join him already on the trail of the Napoleon of Crime, Professor James Moriarty (a brilliant, measured performance by Jared Harris - who, of course, is also well known as the arch villain David Robert Jones from Fringe).

A prototypical Bond-villain, Moriarty, close friend of the British Prime Minister and an Oxford professor, admits his admiration for Holmes, but warns him that if he continues his investigations Dr Watson and his new wife (Kelly Reilly) will be the ones who suffer.

This sees Holmes interrupting the newly-weds on the way to their honeymoon in Brighton and sets in motion the cascade of events that eventually leads to a little place in Switzerland by the name of Reichenbach (that should hold meaning to anyone with even a passing interest in the tales of Sherlock Holmes).

While full of superb banter and verbal sparring between Holmes and whoever he happens to be with at the time, A Game Of Shadows isn't as strong as Guy Ritchie's first crack at Holmes because - stripped of its Holmsian trappings - it really is just a pedestrian thriller.

Luckily Ritchie has a fantastic handle on delivering a very unique vision of Sherlock Holmes that makes the power of the cast (and particularly Downey Jnr, Law and Harris) more important than the actual plot.

It's a shame though that Rachel McAdams' Irene Adler is written out of the story comparatively quickly and replaced with the bland gypsy fortune teller Madam Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace - who we'll be seeing more of in Prometheus). Although an essential character to the storyline, Simza is otherwise rather two-dimensional, especially when compared to Irene Adler.

After Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows I certainly wouldn't be disappointed if Guy Ritchie went for the hat-trick and conjured up another adventure for Holmes, but if he does I hope he returns Sherlock to his more traditional casework than this kind of international espionage.

First Supergirl Sunday Of The New Age...


A modest collection of Supergirl cosplayers and models to celebrate the return of HeroPress to its proper place on the Internet.

School Of Dexter...


Saturday, 19 May 2012

We Have A Winner... Maybe...


The Tuesday Knights are due to resume gaming this week, picking up with Pete's episodic Top Secret SI campaign and meeting the latest Orion agent to join our team: Rose Thorne.

However, for those who have followed my tedious battle with Gamer ADHD, I've been kicking around several ideas for when I'm fit enough to get back behind the gamesmasters screen (and when Pete wants to take a break, of course).

Although Westerns figured quite strongly in my thinking for a while (I do love The Deadlands setting), it should really come as no surprise - given the current state of my Knight City campaign blog as well - that I think I shall be settling on supers.

And within that genre it's looking most likely that the system of choice will be Icons (winning on its rules-lightness and apparent swiftness of play, which is crucial if you only have two or three hours of gaming per monthly session).

Thus, everything seemed (reasonably) sorted, until - towards the end of the week - I stumbled across:

Eldritch Skies


Not only a near-future Lovecraftian science-fiction setting - but a game that uses the Cinematic Unisystem. So that's not only a genre I'm passionate about (Lovecraftian horror) but also a system I adore.

To get the full scoop on this great sounding game, check out Tim Brannan's post about the game on his blog The Other Side.

And it's not just the obvious Prometheus factor that appeals to me here, but - as Tim mentions - the fact that the game has an Event Horizon vibe (one of my stable of favourite Lovecraftian movies that aren't based on Lovecraft stories).

The more I think about Eldritch Skies, the more excited I get.

Looks like the "competition" is still wide open...

Good thing it's not me running the game next week, I'd have probably changed my mind about what we were playing five times before the Tuesday Knights gathered in our dining room!

This Game Will Break You...



Fear of Girls 3: The director's cut of the sequel to Fear Of Girls 2.

In this 18-minute epic Doug and Raymond attempt to gain fame and fortune by self-publishing their own RPG...

Ladies & Gentlemen, All You Need Is Love...


I'm pleased to say that HeroPress appears to be ticking along nicely - we're still averaging around 1,000 hits a day, which can't be bad.

Of course, I'd be ecstatic if those hits were translated into comments and feedback - but, hey, hits is hits!

The recent First Loves Blogfest certainly helped draw a bit of attention to the blog, so I'm going to keep a better eye on what the industrious Alex J Cavanaugh is doing in the future to make sure I can get on-board with whatever his next blogfest will be.

In the meantime, please be upstanding for the latest recruits to our legion:
  • George Ford
  • Jeremy
  • Allison of Geek Banter (a nice general geeky blog with an emphasis on video games and literature)
By the way, if anyone has signed on as a Follower recently and I haven't given them a shout-out here (possibly because their icon didn't pop up at the top of the Follower listings) then please get in touch so I can give you due credit.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Sinbad Sails Into View...



The first action-packed (and monster-ific) trailer for Sky1's upcoming Sinbad, which is due to dock in the UK in July.

Will The Arrow Hit The Mark?



The first trailer for the CW's Arrow, a new series based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow (although not the version that appeared in Smallville for some reason).

It looks okay, but not great. I'll be surprised if it lasts more than a season, although the CW are usually quite kind to their genre shows and do let them run and find their legs.

Review Round-Up: The Captains; World War Hulk; Underworld: Awakening

The Captains (2011): Without a  doubt, The Captains is the strongest Star Trek documentary I have yet seen.

Written and directed by William Shatner, this isn't your bog-standard "making-of" but a personal journey by the first - and most famous - Captain of the franchise.

Through the film he comes to terms with his personal feelings about the role, and his association with the character of James T Kirk and the show as whole, by spending time with the five other actors who've taken lead roles in various spin-offs.

Shatner - who is a great interviewer (and should have his own talk show) - gets Sir Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula, Chris Pine and Avery Brooks to open up about their backgrounds, their craft and the sacrifices they had to make for the role (several divorces and alienated families, for example; Brooks appears to have surrendered his grip on reality - but is very cheery about it) etc

These relaxed chats are interspersed with Shatner's reminiscences about his own career as well as clips from the various shows and movies and the more usual 'talking head' interviews with other actors associated with the Star Trek franchises.

Insightful and moving, this won't broaden your knowledge of the Star Trek universe, but does present a unique perspective on the mindset of those prepared to take roles that bring so much pop cultural "baggage" with them.

World War Hulk: Four of the world's most powerful heroes - Reed Richards, Iron Man, Black Bolt and Dr Strange - had finally got pissed off with the Hulk and sent him off into space, supposedly to crash land on a deserted planet where he could do no more harm.

Naturally (this being comics) things went wrong and Hulk ended up on an alien planet with a gladiatorial culture where he eventually rose to the top of the pile and ruled supreme.

How he's coming back to Earth to get revenge of his "former friends" who exiled him - and he's brought some of his new friends with him.

Yes, for the most part, World War Hulk is "Hulk smash" writ large, but John Romita Jnr's distinctive art style makes this a fantastic slugfest that manages to level large chunks of New York without ever getting repetitive or boring.

Part of me baulked at the climactic plot twist in the tail, but my logical mind accepted that this was a necessary betrayal for the  sake of being able to keep the Hulk on Earth as part of the regular Marvel Universe.

The story also relies on the use of one of Marvel's less-well conceived heroes - the all-powerful Sentry - but, as with the end of Siege, he is actually used in an interesting fashion here and not simply as an omnipotent clone of Silver Age Superman.

Underworld: Awakening (2012): Much like World War Hulk, Underworld: Awakening is essentially one big fight from start-to-finish - with a few breathers in between. However, unlike the graphic novel, it is totally devoid of interesting rounded characters and snappy dialogue.

Kate Beckinsale is poured back into the skin-tight leathers to return as vampire badass Selene who awakes after 12 years of cryogenic imprisonment to discover that humans have learned of the existence of vampires and lycans (werewolves) and united to kill their non-human foe.

She also discovers she has a 12-year-old daughter - by her (believed-to-be-dead) lycan/vampire hybrid lover.

From then on there's lots of running, shooting, slaying and battling with dreadful CGI werewolves.

There's a sinister conspiracy thrown into the mix - which is starting to suffocate under the franchise's increasingly muddled mythology - along with a phoned-in cameo by Charles Dance as a vampire leader.

Stephen Rea also pops up as a scientist supposedly working on a cure for vampirism/lycanthropy (to be honest it all got a bit confusing), but who has his own secret agenda.

The main problem - and there are many - with Underworld: Awakening is trying to figure out who we, as the audience, are supposed to be rooting for: both the vampires and werewolves are remorseless killers of humans.

Selene may be superhuman, supersexy and supercool but she still slaughters scores of human guards who are just doing their duty and throws a scientist out of a window after he helped her escape and even though her daughter (India Eisley) looks like a little girl she's as much a soulless murderer as her mother.

Apparently it took four people (including J Michael Straczynski) to write this nonsense - presumably on the back of a napkin late one night in a Hollywood bar - but it adds nothing, except a big mess, to the Underworld franchise.

Although there are a few fleeting moments of stunt-led awesomeness in the fight scenes, it's not original enough to even justify watching the movie for its action sequences alone.

The whole plot of Awakening could have been condensed down to about half-an-hour and inserted into a real story, instead it grows quickly tedious and pointless.

Fleamarket Friday: Bigger On The Inside? Of Corset Is!


For $225 (£144.98 approx), plus postage, you can have your very own custom-tailored TARDIS-emblazoned corset, thanks to Rae of corsetwonderland.

According to her etsy site: "This Doctor Who-themed corset will be made custom to your measurements, out of a cotton TARDIS print fabric which has a light purpley blue background. It will be bound on the top and bottom edges with matching blue cotton, and hand stitched to the inside for a professional finish. It will be lined with two layers of sturdy cotton twill in white (it can be lined with cotton corset coutil instead in white for $25 extra). Bone casings are internally created, and the inside is just as smooth and clean looking as the outside."

Fleamarket Friday: Who Doesn't Want The Force Within Us?


Earlier this month I shared the announcement of Cris Macht's sequel to his hugely successful Star Wars documentary The Force Among Us.

The Force Within Us, as Cris explains, "takes us deeper into the Star Wars experience than just the obsession of collectibles and costuming. Exploring how and why this epic saga has the ability to possess and alter lives, The Force Within Us centers on Star Wars as a catalyst for spiritual rebirth… finding personal meaning in life… and inspiring positive change".

The documentary will be released, on DVD, later this year, possibly October, but Cris has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help offset some of the $20,000+ that went into funding it.

Backer rewards include signed photographs, DVDs of the documentary, posters, dirt from 'Endor' etc

Sir Patrick Talks About The X-Men...

Sir Patrick Stewart talks about his role as Professor Xavier, working on Bryan Singer's X-Men, the parallels between the X-Men and the Civil Rights movement, comics and mythology in this behind-the-scenes interview from the EPIX Original documentary: With Great Power - The Stan Lee Story.



EPIX also brought us The Captains, William Shatner's superb Star Trek documentary which I am reviewing later today.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Big Money Joust...



This quarter-of-an-hour clip shows the final round of the jousting from Sherwood Forest Faire - as featured on HeroPress earlier in the week - for the big cash prize.

Again, we have YouTuber GnonplussedGnome to thank for the footage.

Four Minutes Of The Amazing Spider-Man...


I have to say I'm far more jazzed about The Amazing Spider-Man than The Dark Knight Rises, but then I don't really hide my passion for the Marvel Comics Universe.

Now just to get Peter Parker into a film with The Avengers (and Ghost Rider, Blade, The X-Men etc) and my head would truly explode!

MINDPROBE: "Superheroes Don't Get Oscars, They Get Action Figures!"


As The Strobe says in The Specials: "Superheroes don't get Oscars, they get action figures".

Short of having their home town or city erect a statue in their honour, a line of action figures is possibly one of the most concrete ways a superhero group is going to get recognition in a superhero roleplaying game.

Hulk roll low percentage! Hulk mad!
Inspired by the comically disastrous roll-out of the line of action figures based on The Specials in their movie, I came up with a quick little formula, for an Icons campaign, to  randomly measure of how accurately a superhero is represented by his "official action figure":

ACCURATE PORTRAYAL = [(1d6+2) x (2d6-2) + X-Factor] per cent

(A character's X-Factor is either the sum of his highest ability and highest power rating or twice his highest power rating, whichever is greater)

The lower the score the less likely the figure is to accurately  represent the character and his power set.

The figure could have incorrect proportions, be the wrong ethnicity or gender ("to add diversity to the line"), have hideous "play features" included (such as a giant gun attachment to a character that fights with fists), strange costuming choices could have been added, characters (particularly females) could be over-sexualised etc
Example: Rockette (from page 47 of Icons Hero Pack 2 - has an X-Factor of 15); rolls "4" on 1d6+2 and "8" on 2d6-2 = 47% accurate. Probably means she's had some enormous plastic gun included as an accessory and the body sculpt isn't very good. Can't see Rachel being happy with that!
Clearly this has no immediate, mechanical, game benefit but could provide an interesting spring-board for role-playing or hooks for further stories such as a hero striving to convince the toy manufacturers to make a better figure or the team tracking down a factory producing bootlegs of their official figures!

Wonder Woman Wednesday (Twofer)...

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Slash Fiction... Fact?

A Star Trek documentary called Mind Meld came out in 2001 focusing on the two main characters from the original (and bestStar Trek; as it says on the front of the DVD box:


Below that is the tagline:


But then, flipping the DVD case over, my eye was drawn to the certification warning:


Waitaminute, contains what now?


Around the globe slash fiction writers are punching the air and declaring: "We knew it, we were right all along!"

When Is A Prequel Not A Prequel?



It's fantastic to see a film still using real giant sets and not succumbing to the lure of nasty CGI backdrops. Prometheus lands in UK cinemas on June 1.

MINDPROBE: My Super Ex-Girlfriend (repost)

I was a film geek before I even discovered roleplaying games and so it's only natural that I would seek inspiration for one from the other.

Mindprobe is going to be a sporadic section on HeroPress where I mine movies for inspiration and throw out some elements that I think might be useful for roleplaying campaigns.

[This is a repost of a supers feature I started last year, then it slipped by the wayside, so I shall be endeavouring to get the momentum going again]

I'm starting with My Super Ex-Girlfriend, which I saw on TV [last year].

This isn't a particularly good superhero flick; in fact it's not even a particularly good romcom, but it did have some ideas that I think could be worth exploring in superhero RPGs.

Obviously, first up, we have the idea of romantic liaisons between superpowered characters and non-superpowered characters - the typical Lois Lane and Superman scenario.

But what happens when things go pear-shaped? When the shine goes off the relationship and the couple break-up?

How much does the non-player character know about your character's secret identity? Does your arch-nemesis know about your relationship - could he/she use your ex to exploit your character (as happens in this movie)?

Of course the situation in My Super Ex-Girlfriend was the non-powered person (Luke Wilson) breaking up with G-Girl (Uma Thurman) because she was over-possessive and jealous, and her getting her revenge (the throwing the shark through the window is possibly the highlight of the film, although the superpowered cat-fight at the end is pretty cool as well).

Now, it seems unlikely that any player-character is going to go that route if dumped by an NPC - but if they do then you are a very lucky Gamesmaster and I wish you all the best (and I want to read about what happens!)

Where My Super Ex-Girlfriend scores well in the inspiration stakes though, outside of the traditional romantic ups and downs we see in comics every month, is the character of Professor Bedlam (Eddie Izzard), G-Girl's one supervillain opponent.

Ignoring the fact that we never actually see - or hear of - any actual supervillainy from Bedlam, the quirk that makes this low-rent Lex Luthor interesting (and it isn't that original really, but it struck me as a good gaming gimmick) is that he has been secretly, madly in love with G-Girl since they were best friends at school.

However, she started to ignore him when she got superpowers.

He even has a room in his house filled with pictures and trophies connected to her. His entire motivation for getting into the world of supervillainy was his belief that if he was seen to have powers like her, then she wouldn't ignore him anymore.

I'm a big fan of tying antagonists into the protagonist's backstory (and vice versa), which is why it's crucial to encourage the players to create detailed 'origin stories' for their characters.

The Professor Bedlam set-up was simple, but I like the idea of a villain actually having a major crush on one of the heroes and mainly committing his crimes as a way of getting the heroes' attention (although not in a masochistic way like the guy, Captain Carnage, that Rorschach dropped down a lift shaft)!

We never really got into the whole "romantic sub-plot" aspects of superhero adventures in our original V&V campaigns - I guess because we were all teenaged boys more interested in the "crazy superbattles". Perhaps it's something I'll be able to sneak in if I get a new superhero game going...

Knights: Are You Ready?

Some full-on jousting from the Knights Of Mayhem at this year's Sherwood Forest Faire, shot by YouTuber GnonplussedGnome.

It takes a minute or so to get going, but after a couple of false starts, the horses are thundering and the lance's are splintering!

Monday, 14 May 2012

First Loves Blogfest...


Thanks to Tim Brannan, I've managed to jump on the tail end of this latest blogfest organised by Alex J Cavanaugh.

The First Loves Blogfest invites bloggers to share their first loves: first movie, first song/band, first book, and first person.

FIRST MOVIE: Before Star Wars, there was...


FIRST SONG/BAND: This might damage my street cred a bit, but the first band I was really "into" was:

Abba

FIRST BOOK (and still the greatest book ever written):


FIRST PERSON (as in 'first crush'): I've mentioned this before on the blog (and see above)...

Kim Richards as Tia in Escape To Witch Mountain

Tonight On Game Of Thrones (In The UK)...



And a recap of last week's episode:

Avengers Triumph!


As well as being all-conquering at the box office, The Avengers have triumphed in the informal HeroPress poll of readers' favourite superhero teams.

Even Adamant Entertainment's Gareth-Michael Skarka took time out from putting together the next big Icons publication (Icons Team-Up) to name his favourite teams!

So with a bit of numerical sleight-of-hand (e.g. votes for Abnett and Lanning's Guardians Of The Galaxy were combined with those for Rocket Raccoon and Groot), we present the first 'definitive' HeroPress Top Ten of superhero teams:

(1) The Avengers
(2) The X-Men
(3) Justice League Of America
(4) Fantastic Four
(5) Teen Titans 
(6) Alpha Flight
(7=) Justice Society Of America
(7=) The Watchmen
(9) Guardians Of The Galaxy (inc. Rocket Raccoon and Groot)
(10) Excalibur
It's worth noting that the majority of those who voted for the Teen Titans specified the Wolfman/Perez era while X-Men votes were primarily for the Chris Claremont era.

Musical Monday: Metal Who...



Thanks to The Wit And Weirdness of Al Bruno III for drawing this to my attention.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Cuteness Overload...


Checking in on the new arrivals at Brooksville Zoo, USA, in 1941 in British Pathé's inimitable style.

DVD Of The Week: The People Vs George Lucas


Despite the documentary's title, The People Vs George Lucas is not a hatchet job on the man who created the generation-defining Star Wars movies.

Instead it is a very well balanced examination of the attitudes of fans and scholars to the changing nature of Lucas's films and the attitude of fandom.

Charting its story mostly chronologically, it looks at the timing to the release of the original Star Wars and the way that fans embraced the movie, and its universe, and then progresses through the evolution of fandom and its reaction to the "Special Editions" of the Original Trilogy that were released before the Prequels.

Questions are raised about the "rights" of an artist to tinker with his published work and the "rights" of the audience to feel a sense of ownership of the work they have grown up enjoying.

This segues into reactions to The Prequels and again addresses the question of ownership by the fans, as well as asking who the target audience of the films really were.

Hot button topics such as "Jar-Jar Binks and midi-chlorians" are covered, with supporters on both sides of the argument (although no one really defends 'midi-chlorians', rather the issue is simply dismissed as "it doesn't matter").

Superbly put together, The People Vs George Lucas is a mixture of talking heads, film footage, animations, fan film clips all stitched together to make a rather beautiful tapestry that profiles the love and passion people have for the franchise.

And sometimes the passion gets the better of people. Unlike many of these documentaries this isn't one to watch around the kids as the language gets a bit fruity at times and some of the metaphors used to attack Lucas's actions are taken to ridiculous extremes.

But for a mature, level-headed, Star Wars fan this makes it all the more interesting; when you hold these extreme views up as a benchmark against your own passion for the franchise do you feel your level of fandom is wanting or just about right?

Coming in at around an hour-and-a-half, this is a jaunty documentary designed to stimulate debate, and perhaps raise some points that certain fans might not been considered before (such as "how much are we to blame for pressuring Lucas into making new Star Wars?"), as well as parallel the changing storytelling techniques with changing technology.

There is also the - rather convincing - suggestion that the Star Wars films are somewhat autobiographical, with Lucas as Anakin, the young dreamer who becomes the embodiment of an evil corporate empire, and Luke Skywalker representing us, the everyfan.

For All You American Mothers!


Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin, surly Lord Macintosh and cantankerous Lord Dingwall. Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it's too late.
It's not Mother's Day over here, but for my readers in North America, here's Disney's latest Brave trailers that also celebrate the occasion of Mother's Day.

While for the laddies...

The Forgotten Avengers...

Saturday, 12 May 2012

[REPOST] Compare & Contrast: Comic Review Shows...

[This is a repost of a story from earlier in the week that got less attention than I hoped because I posted it as a stupid time]

We've had two slick-looking comic review shows launch "recently" on the Internet. Grace Randolph's Stacktastic (for Bleeding Cool/Think About The Ink) and Mask & Cape for Stan Lee's World Of Heroes.

Here are this week's episodes (beware, major Avengers spoilers - if you haven't seen the movie - in Stacktastic):


Which is working best for you?

Vote in my poll on the right-hand side of the blog.

Mask & Cape
is the new kid on the block, but has the cachet of Stan Lee's name being attached to it. That said, the two hosts sometimes have an uncomfortable chemistry and the show's frequent attempts at forced comedy always fall flat with me and are often hard to endure. Of course, it's early days so let's hope Kevin and America grow into their roles.

On the other hand, Grace used to be the "face" of Marvel Comics when she presented their Weekly Watcher show online (and she is a recognised writer in the field of comics), although I do often find myself disagreeing with her some of her casual put-downs of titles I like. But I guess that's par for the course when dealing with review shows.

At the moment, I'd rate Stacktastic over Mask & Cape, but what do you think? Vote in the poll and post your comments below.

Murphy's Law...



From the creators of the legendary Fear Of Girls.

NSFW for language!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Fleamarket Friday: Own A Manor For Less Than You Might Think...


The first issue of Tim Shorts' new 24-page, A5-sized 'zine, The Manor is available for purchase from his popular blog, Gothridge Manor, for the a mere $3.50 in the US. Canada is $4 and us folks in Europe and Australia need only pony up $4.50... which seems very reasonable (especially when combined with the quick postage - I think my issue only took about a week to arrive).

Unsurprisingly, given the nature of Tim's blog, the 'zine is packed to the rafters with Old School goodness - a mini-dungeon, a random d12 table (by Jason Sholtis); a creepy location for Trey Causey's Weird Adventures, some poetry (ahhh, that takes me back to the days of editing the HeroPress 'zine in the late '80s), 20 random forest encounters (detailed enough to take up seven pages); and a character profile of a street vendor, complete with adventure hooks, that can be dropped into any OSR fantasy game.

Of course, if you haven't grokked the appeal of an actual physical fanzine that you can hold in your hands, then a PDF is available from RPGNow.

Verily, 'tis a golden age for the 'zine once more!

Fleamarket Friday: Chuck Some Dough At Dice Chuckers...


Who doesn't love a good documentary about roleplayers made by roleplayers?

Dice Chuckers is the brainchild of well-known blogger Christian Lindke who explains that it is an "intimate look at those among us who play role playing games, those whom you might not expect. From lawyers to movie producers to professors, they're all around us. Someone you know might even love these games, or have fond memories of them from their youth. Modeled after one of my favorite documentaries, Trekkies, our documentary will open up this secret world, one of the last unexplored realms of Geekdom.

"We also plan to chronicle the thoughts of great masters of this storytelling art form such as Steve Jackson and Ken St. Andre.


"Our project is right at the starting gate. We've made the professional contacts, we've got our initial group of gamers to follow, we've even got footage from last year's GenCon, we've created a budget, and we have a plan. All we lack are the funds.
"

Although lined up to participate in the feature are: Cam Banks (Margaret Weis Productions); Ken St. Andre (creator of Tunnels and Trolls); John Rogers (screenwriter of Leverage, The Core, Transformers); Matt Forbeck (creator of Brave New World Role Playing Game); Wolfgang Baur (publisher/editor of Kobold Quarterly); Ashley Miller (screenwriter of X-Men: First Class, Thor); Jeff Tidball (freelance game designer of Horus Heresy) and David Nett (creator: the RPG webseries Gold).

With just over a fortnight of fundraising to go Dice Chuckers could use your support.

Mond Nazis brauchen unsere Hilfe!


Steve Blease of Bleaseworld has drawn to my attention a clarion call for aid from the mad scientists who concocted the exciting-looking "Nazis on the moon" movie: Iron Sky.

It appears that the film is only being shown in the UK on one day - Wednesday, May 23 (I should know as Paul and I are going to see it) - and the film's producers are not very happy about this.

It has to be said that I was under the impression that this was a "preview" show (hence the Wednesday date), but Timo Vuorensola, director of Iron Sky, is adamant that this is the only day that it will be screened in British cinemas according to the distribution company Revolver.

Timo is therefore calling on fans of the film to make their feelings felt and let Revolver know - in polite terms - that Iron Sky should be allowed a proper release across the UK.

He says: "I think this is an insult to us, the filmmakers who have been working with this film for six long years. We signed up with Revolver because we wanted to have a wide cinema release, and that’s what they promised us. But more than that, it’s an insult to all the fans, friends, followers, fan investors and everyone out there who’s been waiting all these years to see the Moon Nazi mayhem known as Iron Sky to hit the cinemas."

Check out the Iron Sky website for the full details of how they would like to people to support their campaign.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

It's Time To Team-Up...


In honour of Adamant Entertainment's forthcoming ICONS supplement - ICONS Team-Up - and as a follow-up to my recent piece on Grace Randolph's Top Ten Superhero Teams, I thought I'd sound you out on your favourite superhero teams.

Mine would be:

1. Fantastic Four
2. Teen Titans (Wolfman/Perez era only)
3. Legion of Super-Heroes (original Paul Levitz era)
4. The Avengers
5. The Doom Patrol (Grant Morrison era)
6. The Watchmen
7. X-Men (Claremont and Grant Morrison eras)
8. The Elementals
9. The Invisibles
10. Justice League of America

In the comments to the earlier piece a couple of HeroPress readers shared their own Top Tens.

For Stephen Bates (who wrote the Aviator stories for my recent, short-lived Villains & Vigilantes campaign), the Top Ten would be:

1. Avengers
2. JLA
3. X-Men
4. Teen Titans
5. JSA
6. Suicide Squad
7. Invaders
8. Fantastic Four
9. Alpha Flight
10. Defenders

While Doctor Warlock listed his as:

1. Watchmen
2. Avengers
3. Justice League of America
4. Alpha Flight
5. Fantastic Four
6. Justice Society of America
7. Metal Men
8. Defenders
9. Ultraforce
10. The Strangers

It would be interesting to hear some Top Tens from other readers, perhaps with the ultimate goal of compiling a "definitive" HeroPress Top Ten of teams.

Let me know what you think...

You Can Be Stan Lee...

I don't write much about video games here because basically I don't play them and when I do I'm crap at them.

However, this little gem of news was simply too good to pass up: if you pre-order the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man game from Amazon.com, you get to play Stan 'The Man' Lee in the game.

For a full write-up and explanation see this story over at Technolog.

Game Of Thrones: The Story So Far...



A four-minute summation of the action, so far, in the second season of Games Of Thrones.

Beware spoilers if you're not up to speed with season two yet.

This trailer is also possibly NSFW for language and adult themes (but, come on, really, it's Game Of Thrones... what were you expecting? Fluffy bunnies and kittens?)

Compare And Contrast: Comic Review Shows...

We've had two slick-looking comic review shows launch "recently" on the Internet. Grace Randolph's Stacktastic (for Bleeding Cool/Think About The Ink) and Mask & Cape for Stan Lee's World Of Heroes.

Here are this week's episodes (beware, major Avengers spoilers - if you haven't seen the movie - in Stacktastic):


Which is working best for you?

Vote in my poll on the right-hand side of the blog.

Mask & Cape
is the new kid on the block, but has the cachet of Stan Lee's name being attached to it. That said, the two hosts sometimes have an uncomfortable chemistry and the show's frequent attempts at forced comedy always fall flat with me and are often hard to endure. Of course, it's early days so let's hope Kevin and America grow into their roles.

On the other hand, Grace used to be the "face" of Marvel Comics when she presented their Weekly Watcher show online (and she is a recognised writer in the field of comics), although I do often find myself disagreeing with her some of her casual put-downs of titles I like. But I guess that's par for the course when dealing with review shows.

At the moment, I'd rate Stacktastic over Mask & Cape, but what do you think? Vote in the poll and post your comments below.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Lara Pulver IS Rose Thorne
Last night I had the privilege to be present at the birth of the latest member of our espionage team in Pete's Top Secret SI campaign.

Meredith rendezvoused with Pete at Tuesday Knight HQ (ie our house) to create her character and over a period of just under two hours, maybe less, Rose Thorne - half-American/half-British, mistress of martial arts and seduction - grew into being.

Inspirations ranged from ninjas and cat burglars through Doctor Who's Lady Christina de Souza and La Femma Nikita (the original, French version, of course), until we all settled on Lara Pulver's turn as Irene Adler in Sherlock as the key visual for both Pete and Meredith to work their ideas off of.

Pete has now taken away Meredith's draft character sheet and will produce one of his fancy, personalised ones for her, while she works on the character's backstory and defines her particular quirks (the main being an 'ego signature' that she must leave at the scene of her 'crime' - such as a monogrammed glove, a rose, a box of Milk Tray etc).

Later this month Rose will join Bicky (my ex-RAF codebreaker); Bruno (Kevin's eastern European sniper); Big M (Simon's beefy machinegunner); and - possibly - Hermione (Clare's ex-army interrogator) for the group's next mission

He also revealed that going forward, instead of the reams of beautifully printed handouts he used to produce for us, he would be using his iPad as our "resource centre", granting us access to all the files for the current mission (and previous ones) at the touch of the button.

Although I'll miss the handouts, the files he showed us on the iPad were very impressive - and will certainly heighten the "buy-in" that we are 21st Century superspies!
  • Should anyone want to use Pete's Excel character sheets for their own Top Secret SI campaign, they can be downloaded from my Dropbox account here.

Wonder Woman Wednesday (Twofer)...

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Whither Knight City?

Following my short article at the end of last month about "goings on" with my old Knight City blog (which was the home for our old Villains & Vigilantes campaign), I have now put all the articles that were up there back in to 'draft' format - so, for all intents and purposes, the site appears blank.

The Knight City Chronicles is not, I must stress (especially to the - now - 21Followers of the site) dead. I have simply taken everything back behind the curtain so that I can work on it, tinker with it, and shape it up for my new vision of Knight City (not really that much different from the old version, honestly).

The main reason is so I can release it all in a series of posts later in the year in a finished state, rather than just coughing up pieces here and there when inspiration struck me (or not, as the case may be).

All being well, then, Knight City will return with all its areas of interest and landmarks detailed to some degree, so the city will be ready to host some superheroic action when The Tuesday Knights are ready.

In the meantime - and for as long as he wants to run this stint - we've got Pete's Top Secret SI game to enjoy, which resumes later this month.
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