Jan 162017

I wrote two stories for the webcomic, Tales of Gnosis College. Gnosis College is a place where students and professors tend to engage in erotic mad science that gets out of control. It is written by Dr. Fausts and drawn by Lon Ryden. My contributions were also drawn by Lon Ryden. The first story I wrote stands alone but it also works as a sort of indirect prelude to the second story which ran through the last four months of 2016.

The second story has wrapped up and archive pages have been set up. For your convenience, I made a list of links here.

Trial by Curiosity

Nion Encephalon Enrichment Part One

Nion Encephalon Enrichment Part Two

Nion Encephalon Enrichment Part Three

Nion Encephalon Enrichment Part Four

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Dec 262016

Darth Vader is a comic series written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Salvador Larroca. It takes place shortly after the events of the movie, Star Wars and ends right before the movie, the Empire Strikes Back. At 25 issues, it is a relatively short series.

Personally, I feel like I grew out of Star Wars when I was twelve. At that point I had discovered the fiction that inspired Star Wars and was ready to move on from what I considered to be a pale imitation. The prequels reaffirmed that opinion although Force Awakens was able to rekindle my initial nostalgia for the franchise.

I bring this up to give you an idea of how surprised I was to enjoy Darth Vader. Gillen approaches the story in an interesting way, which is that when the Death Star blew up, Vader was the only survivor of the greatest military disaster in Empire history, therefore he gets the blame. Vader is in the doghouse with the Emperor and the Emperor starts looking for other righthand beings to terrorize the universe. Vader has to assemble his own private army against his political rivals as well as justify his continued existence.

This means we get some of the greatest characters to ever grace a Star Wars story. Doctor Aphra is a cunning woman who specializes in droid archeology. Triple-Zero is a protocol droid who really likes to torture and kill organic beings. BT-1 is an gun arsenal disguised as a astromech droid. There is a bunch of cool bounty hunters and surprisingly cool Imperial commanders. It is a grand buffet of evil.

But more importantly, there is a grand sense of space opera with cool science fiction concepts that is often missing in Star Wars. The Emperor’s side project involves telekinetic cyborgs as the next logical step after putting Vader in a metal suit. Heists are done with real space physics. There is a sense of real Imperial logistics that go beyond the simple bad guy tactics of the movies.

And with this amazing supporting cast, interesting world and neat politics is Darth Vader himself. This Vader has seen some shit and he is annoyed that he has lost his rightful rank of Supreme Badass. Gillen makes the right choice in never giving Vader an internal monologue which keeps him as the scary mofo in a black suit that he is. At the same time, what little peeks into his character we do get is a reminder that Vader was once a great Jedi who has made some really nasty choices and quite frankly, he is not done making those nasty choices just yet.

Probably the best compliment I can give this series is to describe what I felt when I watched the recent Rogue One movie. At one point, Vader in the movie kills a bunch of rebels. He tears a path in a fight scene using force powers, his lightsaber, some choking and being an all around shitkicker. After his glorious murder-sequence, my thought response was, “Oh wow! It’s Kieron Gillen’s Vader!”

In closing, I would also like to add that this is a surprisingly funny series as well. Sure, Vader is a moody silent killer, but the droids are the best murder comedy team you will ever read. You owe it to yourself to read it for the droids alone.

Nov 142016

flint_cv4_dsAs a kid, I never liked the Flintstones. I thought it was dull and pretty bland. I watched it because as a kid you watch every cartoon but I never enjoyed it. When the live action movies came out, I avoided the heck out of them.

Which is why no one is more surprised than I am that my favorite new comic of 2016 is the freaking Flintstones. Written by the brilliant Mark Russell and drawn by the talented Steve Pugh, the Flintstones is a comic about newly civilized cavemen trying to adapt to the changes of an insane society that is inventing money, consumerism, war, and monogamy. It is a really dark take on some cartoon characters but yet also amazingly funny.

Fred Flintstone is a veteran of the Tree-People War, where Fred’s tribe decided to massacre the Tree-People for their land. Fred’s best friend, Barney, is also a veteran of that war and the Water Buffalo Club of the cartoon has been transformed into their PTSD Veteran Support Group.

In the first issue, Fred is assigned to teach Cro-Magnons how to work, get paid and spend their money. “I don’t know. Use the money to buy something someone else hated making.”

In the second issue, the new invention of buying the latest hot item forces Fred to get a second job selling vitamins.

In the third issue, alien spring breakers show up to entertain themselves at the expense of the third-world locals, the people of Bedrock.

In the fourth issue, Fred and Wilma face social pressure because they are monogamous while the rest of society believes in just going to the Sex Cave and hooking up. This is a favorite issue because when the inventor of marriage excludes the couple of Adam and Steve, Fred makes a stand for “non-breeders” to be married too.

In the fifth issue, a new Warlord wants to be voted leader and we see Fred and Barney’s experiences in the previous war.

Like I said, it gets dark.

But for all of the darkness, there is a huge amount of heart. Wilma explaining what her art means to her in the first issue will make you cry. Fred explaining his respect for Adam and Steve will melt your heart. The surprise appearance of certain characters are timed to make your heart sing.

In these trying times, it is amazing to see social satire that condemns the worse of society but is also immensely entertaining. It is also filled with optimism which I feel we desperately need right now. Sure, I read an issue about ethnic cleansing but the ending, which I won’t give away, gives the reader such a lovely surprise that you leave the comic feeling good and hopeful rather than depressed.

It is also really funny. The first news telecast shows a person dying and the newscaster says “Wow, that was upsetting! We probably shouldn’t have shown that!” Appliances are animals and they have strong feelings about social classes. Barney is a lovable idiot.

Oh, and Carl Sargon launches a monkey into space.