KANSAS, UNITED STATES (26th April, 2017) —
On the 26th April, Ragnarok Publications will launch a Kickstarter campaign for a reimagining of Warlock 5. Originally created by Gordon Derry & Denis Beauvais, Warlock 5 was published by Barry Blair, a Canadian comic book publisher, artist and writer, known for launching Aircel Comics in the 1980s. CULLEN BUNN and JIMMY Z JOHNSTON co-write this relaunched fantasy adventure while JEFFREY EDWARDS takes on the artwork with colors by ANDY POOLE.
The campaign seeks to fund the reinvention of this classic fantasy masterpiece, full of rivalry, betrayal, magic, dragons, and killer robots. The goal is to create a 60-page full-color original graphic novel with an entrancing action-packed narrative that will please both newcomers and fans of the early series.
This project is part of The Barry Blair Library, which provides a collection of approximately 300 issues and over 6000 pages of content collected from over a half-dozen publishers that Blair worked on through the 1980s and 90s. Prepare yourself to read works such as “Blood N Guts“, “Demon Hunter“, “Dragonring“, “Elflord” and “Gun Fury” for the first time in digital format.
Cullen & Johnston keep the story faithful to Blair’s work, while Edwards illustrates the most exhilarating multiverse scenes, all brought to life by Poole’s colors.
The new Warlock 5 series is something every comic fan will want.
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Ragnarok Publications, founded in 2013 by Joseph Martin and Tim Marquitz, publishes genre fiction and has released about 50 titles from dozens of authors. They specialize in genre fiction and can be reached at www.ragnarokpub.com. Outland Entertainment was founded as a creative services company in 2008 by Jeremy Mohler. Since then, Outland has worked for a wide variety of clients across the world. Outland specializes in assembling creative teams and managing projects. Contact them via their site form or go to www.outlandentertainment.com. For more information, contact Gwendolyn Nix at firstname.lastname@example.org or Susana Grilo at email@example.com
Warlock 5 is an interesting comic, with an apparently interesting story behind it.
Originally published by Aircel, written by Gordon Derry and drawn by Denis Beuavais, Warlock 5 is one of those comics that could probably only have been created in the 1980s. The opening scene of the first issue features a fight between knights and a sorcerer on one side, and robots that could charitably be said to be influenced by The Terminator movie on the side…taking place in a parking garage. Add into this mix a punk rock vixen leading a group of the undead, and a seeming sorceress along with a man who shape changes into a dragon and a barbarian carrying an assault rifles as other groups.
What is this wonderful thing?
There is a lot of violence in this first issue, which wasn’t unusual for indie comics of the time. One character is killed by having a broken spear handle shoved into their head. This obviously isn’t for everyone, but what makes Warlock 5 interesting is the fearlessness with which it mixes and bends genre conceptions.
I love a good interdimensional comic story, it is a favorite thing of mine probably since I first saw Steve Ditko’s art create surreal magical realms in early issues of Marvel’s Doctor Strange comics. On a level, this reminds me of that same sort of energy and excitement. The creators of Warlock 5 weren’t trying to duplicate those Doctor Strange stories, but I think that is why they succeeded…they weren’t trying to be derivative of other comics. Too often we see comic creators try to recapture lightning in a bottle and either copy themselves, or the works of others, in order to do that. However, one of the reasons why Aircel still lingers in the minds of so many comic fans is because of the fact that they did do their own thing and made their own, original, books and stories.
Part of why this comic appeals to me, I think, is because I play tabletop RPGs, and in a lot of ways the story comes across to me as someone’s RPG game. The ultraviolence. The bizarre mix of characters just thrown into a blender together. The disregard for genre purity. The story in Warlock 5 could have just as easily been someone telling about the game that they are playing in. I mean this in a good way.
I can easily see Warlock 5 brought to life as the setting of an RPG. It easily lends itself to that sort of thinking. Next time, I will talk a bit more about the world and the characters of the comic and draw some parallels to why I think that it might be a good game world to play in.
Check out last weeks’ posts: Barry Blair 101 by Christopher Helton, Barry Blair: What to read first? by Christopher Helton,Barry Blair’s Samurai by Christopher Helton, Elflord: Past & Future by Christopher Helton!
Nicolás Giacondino is a talented Argentinean artist that has taken Outland Entertainment by storm. His unique style fits unseemingly into a vast array of projects without ever losing its authenticity.
How is it to collaborate in the creation of a story? Is there too much compromise?
Collaborating with other authors (be it writers, artists, colorists, etc.) has to be an organic and loose experience. You have to be open to the ideas sent your way and offer what you think are valid points to improve the story. And yes, there’s a level of compromise, but always to the work itself; you never have to become too attached to your own conceptions and ideas so much so that they’ll clash with the others’ or create tension. If it’s better for the story, then you have to incorporate it.
Speaking specifically of the projects I have here in OUTLAND, the back and forth between all the parts involved in the creation process has been amazing. Everyone’s extremely professional and at the top of their game in their respective areas, offering great advice and also knowing when to give the other the upper hand if something will work better for the saga. In my case, being the artist, I will provide visual cues and ideas for the writers to interpret and reimagine. They then send me their own takes and I’ll assess the suggestions and improve the material so that we’re all on the same page.
It’s my opinion that collaboration is the best experience when making comics. It forces you out of your comfort zones and exposes you to new and radical ideas, which help you to evolve your artwork.
Does it help or hurt knowing in advance that you’ll be the one giving a concept its visual life?
Definitely helps. I’ve dabbled a bit in writing (I have a published graphic novel penned by myself), but my primary concern has always been the artwork. So, being able to focus and work solely on the visual aspect lets me do my best knowing the other parts of the project are taken care of.
I also love to give the writers or collaborators in all the projects I tackle the utmost respect to their vision. I have a very unique style, but I’m open to it bending to the requirements of the story. You can never get something illustrated 100% as the writer imagined it; but I try to come to at least 99%.
Did you always envisioned these projects as webcomics?
Well, I always envisioned them as comics.With the climax of the digital age all around us, webcomics were the default option to get the project out there in the world. That said my intent is that we may be able to see these stories in print too.
Ours is such a strong medium, so full of possibilities that I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
There’s a whole debate around comics becoming digital. Do you think webcomics are the gateway for this new digital world?
Webcomics have taken things a step beyond in that they allow a larger number of artists and writers to express their vision without having to go through the filter of a major publisher or a ‘house style’. For me, personally, that’s been very advantageous and liberating. My style isn’t what you’ll usually find in the cover of the big companies, but published independently it has found a great audience that luckily grows larger every day.And I’ve seen the same happen to other artists and creators, who are able to reach a much more massive audience than they could’ve dreamed of.
Do you find yourself more driven towards a specific genre(s)? Which one(s)?
I’ve always been very passionate about science fiction and have been fortunate to be able to tackle projects related to it through the years.
However, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy working in other genres, such as Fantasy or Steampunk. I’m always curious and willing to try things out and my style is very adaptable to many different kinds of stories. Horror, for example, isn’t something I’d done. But through Outland, I was able to illustrate two tales in that genre that were very exciting!
Why Science Fiction?
Science Fiction, for me, allows you to contemplate very interesting, radical ideas and philosophical issues with more ‘purity’ than in any other genre. The far future or the dystopian near future peels our preconceptions on any given subject so that the message is carried across with more strength, allowing the reader to think about the implications of the narrative devoid of his personal stakes in it. For example, cloning is a very tricky subject in the contemporary world; there’s lots of ethical and moral questions being addressed and everyone has a political, human or religious view. If I transport them into a distant planet or time, cloning then becomes something abstract, an idea that can be dissected within the boundaries of that new world. Yet, the consequences and realizations that you bring back with you when the reading experience is over are carried into our contemporary world, hopefully giving people a new perspective on the matter.
When did you begin to show your artistic capabilities?
As I always say, I started drawing as soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil. And, asking my parents about my passion, they tell me it goes indeed that far back. I had a few other interests during my teenage years, but drawing is what’s always driven me.
What’s your favorite childhood moment related to comics or drawing?
Well, living in Argentina, sometimes we didn’t have access to all the latest material being published in the US. But there was a point in the 90s, when the arrival of comics would be almost instantaneous upon release, which caused me to open up to some major influences.
I remember a day in particular, when I was walking down a street from school and came across a newspaper stand and amongst the magazines and usual comics, there was the first issue of Jim Lee’s run on X-Men. I flipped quickly through the pages and dredged up whatever money I had in my pocket and bought it. Inside, there was an interview with Lee himself, talking about his process and whatnot and that’s when I decided I’d wanted to do this for a living. Up until that point, drawing comics was a hobby, but that issue of X-Men and Jim’s words changed my mind completely and set me on my path to become a professional.
Growing up, did you read a lot of comics or were there other activities that you preferred?
Like I said, there wasn’t a lot of material back when I was growing up. Mostly old DC paperbacks and some indie stuff. Argentina once had a huge comics industry and a lot of amazing talents came from here south into the international market, but after the dreaded dictatorship of ’76, it was all but dismantled. In fact, my hometown only had one comic-book store, which I discovered when I was 18 years old. But I was always interested in whatever I could find, so yes, I did read a lot of what was available.
As for other activities, I also enjoyed music passionately. I played the drums in bands all through high school and considered it a career option at some point, but as I said earlier, drawing always kept me coming back. Whenever I’d have to design a poster or CD cover, I’d remember why I loved it so much.
What about beloved artists? Any childhood idols?
Jim Lee was my absolute hero, as I mentioned before. But I also followed the work of other classic artists that helped me shape my style a lot, including Jack Kirby and Bruce Timm, two of my most important influences.
Later in life and as I found more and more material to read, I found the likes of Frank Miller, Neal Adams, John Romita and so many others. From my country, I also loved the work of Carlos Meglia and Enrique Breccia, both of whom I had the chance to meet personally. The latter became my mentor when I participated in one of his illustration and comics seminars.
Did you always want to work on this creative field?
At first, I didn’t even know that was possible. I’m not sure it is now either, haha!
I always sort of took comics for granted. I mean, I knew they had to be drawn and written by someone, but I never dug deeper into what professionals in the field actually did; I just enjoyed them and figured there were a few lucky fellows who were able to work on these amazing magazines. It wasn’t until the boom of Image Comics and artists making a big splash away from the major publishers that I realized this was something you could do for a living. So, upon that discovery, I started reading and studying more and more, trying to find ways to make it as a professional comic artist.
Going back to your own work: illustrating, coloring, lining,.. Do you have a favorite?
I enjoy the whole process, from pencils to colors. But inking has always been the part that I enjoy the most. In fact, Outland has given me the chance to work a lot in black and white and showcase my artwork as such, which has been a huge pleasure. Line weight, spotted blacks, crosshatching… those basics of inking make me truly happy when I’m doing a page.
And projects? Is there one that stands out from the rest?
They all have unique qualities that I think make them amazing, but if I had to choose one in particular I’d say Nightfell is the one that stands out the most.
Why is that one different?
Because it flips a common trope which we all know: that zombies eat the living. In Nightfell, the undead actually protect us and are our last line of defense against darker, more sinister creatures from below. That basic premise brings about uniqueness to the work that I think makes it truly original.
Also, it has deep roots in the Sword and Sorcery genre and it was conceived to be read as either a regular comic-book or a strip (which is how it’s being released in the website). That is also something that hasn’t been seen for quite a while and a format that both Jeremy Tolbert the writer and myself enjoy enormously.
From making the pencil sketch to applying the last smear of color what is your process?
My take on a page usually starts with reading the script and making a mental image of how the composition should work. I visualize the panels and what the writer’s vision is and then I map that out in panels across the page.
Once the panels are laid out, I go in very quickly and sketch out the basic perspective and character interaction and make sure everything works and is where it should be. When I’m satisfied with the storytelling, I tighten up the pencils and send them to the Editor and writer for approval.
If approved, then I move onto the final inks. With Outland, this has been the final stage in many projects and so once it’s done, I send it as a hi-resolution scan for it to be colored and lettered.
If I’m illustrating the whole, then I take special care to not outline certain things I will leave specifically for color to define. I then go in and add the volumes with grayscale and once that’s done I’ll put in the colors and details.
Do you follow a painfully strict plan or is it a more of organic process?
I’m very strict in the process. I found out that it is the best way to meet the deadlines and focus properly on every step.
So… can you tell us what project(s) are you most looking forward in the short run?
I’m very much looking forward to showing audiences the projects we’ve been working on so hard. Especially Nightfell and N0.1R, a crime story set in a world where organic life is nonexistent and robots rule in a mimicry of our 1940s.
There’s always something else in the pipeline, but I can’t really reveal much other than there’s exciting times ahead!
Thanks Nicolás for giving us a small peek into your creative world!
Thank you and I hope you enjoy the stories we’re working on!
Gabe Schmidt love for Greek gods and science-fiction from an early age may have propelled this talented author into his writing path. Let’s find out a bit more of his history.
Where did you come up with the concept for Mars2577?
10 years ago, I was traveling on a trip with my parents to visit my older sister in Washington, D.C. It grew off of the fact that there’s a place on Mars called Mount Olympus, and I began to think of a sci-fi setting where Greek gods are simply rulers over different areas of life. On the long drive, I wrote down in my notebook the different roles that could be played by Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, and Hera. While I liked the setting idea, when I thought of stories, I wanted them to be about the heroes of Greek mythology living in this world created by the gods.
Did you always envision it as a webcomic?
Definitely not. It started off as a regular book. Back then, there were only three other people who read any of it. One of them, Shamus, suggested it as a comic book instead. He hooked me up with an artist he knew, but the artist was not consistent enough to get any work done beyond the slightest glimpse of concept arts. It was for the best anyway; the story has evolved a lot since then, in both my writing ability and the plot itself. I did keep my eyes open for other ways to tell the story, though, and when the chance to work with Outland Entertainment presented itself, I leapt at the opportunity.
There’s a whole debate around comics becoming digital. Do you think webcomics are the gateway for this new digital world?
I am honestly not familiar with the debate around digital comics. However, I have been reading webcomics for a very long time. While the first ones I read were basically daily jokes (Penny Arcade, PVP), some of them were long and developed plots with plenty of jokes so it was easy to transition from the normal webcomic group (Order of the Stick is my favorite of these, Goblins is also good). While the former had the feel of newspaper comics (with material you would never find in so public a forum), the latter felt more like normal comic books that knew how to crack a joke. I think it is inevitable that digital comics are a core part of the comic community, whether or not anyone decides to debate it along the way.
Do you find yourself more driven towards a specific genre? Which one?
Science Fiction has always been my absolute favorite, in both writing and reading, but I try to diversify my interests as much as I can. Vonnegut has had a lot to do with my love of science fiction, and I was reading a lot of his works when I first started getting back in to writing in high school. The ability to use science fiction as a vehicle to discuss any topic you want without the restraints of modern-day technology or world situations is something I’ve always found liberating.
What was the first thing you ever wrote?
When I was in elementary school, there was a standardized writing essay for the state or the federal standards. Don’t remember all of the details for sure, but I remember the topic was “What I Did Over Summer”. I asked the teacher if it had to be real or if it could be fake, and she said it shouldn’t matter. I wrote about how I was abducted by aliens and kept in some alien zoo. (This may explain my later attachment to Vonnegut, as something similar happens in Slaughterhouse Five.) The essays were sent away and processed by someone or some committee I’ve never met, and I received a low grade, closer to a C or C- in normal standards. The negative reinforcement discouraged me from writing for years, until I got in to high school, when I restarted my old passion. Now, of course, I realize that negative criticism is essential for becoming a better writer; when someone reads my work, I’d always rather hear what they didn’t like than just a general, “It was good!” with no further explanation.
What was the first book you ever read (or was read to you)?
I’m sure the very first book ever read to me was something along the lines of Dr. Seuss, and I know Goosebumps was some of my early reading. However, the first book that I specifically remember reading was Jurassic Park, after seeing the movie many times in theaters, when I was eight. I didn’t understand a lot of the scientific mumbo-jumbo, but it put me on the path to pursue that understanding, and it also gave me a good introduction to science fiction.
And comics: which were your favorite ones?
I didn’t actually start reading comics by issue until I was 16, and I’ve since gone back to reading comics by the trade instead. My top five trades, in no particular order, are Green Arrow: Archer’s Quest, Maus, Saga Vol. 1, Criminal Vol. 1 and 2, and Habibi. As far as superhero comics, in addition to Green Arrow, my favorites were the Punisher MAX series and Marvel’s 1602.
Nowadays, what can we find you reading?
My four favorite authors are Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and I inevitably go back to reading a book by one of these four between other books. Recently I’ve been trying to diversify my reading list across different subjects, from The Elegant Universe to Heart of Darkness, from The Journey to the West to Snow Crash.
Are you a person of idols?
I am. I love the gods of mythology, the heroes of stories, and the protagonists of real life. I have a tattoo of Anansi, a god of storytelling and trickery, the very type of idol that sings to my soul.
Who were your childhood heroes?
Definitely Batman, from Batman: Animated Series, and Joker, from the same. Han Solo of Star Wars and Jack Burton of Big Trouble in Little China.Beast from X-Men and Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (There’s a chance I was always destined to be a nerd.)
And today? Who do you look up to?
It may be generic, but my parents. My dad is the embodiment of a hard worker, and he would do absolutely anything for his family. My mom was one of the first strong women (of many) that I’ve known, and helped establish that from the beginning of my life, so I’ve never struggled to write female characters with depth who are more than just a Damsel in Distress. (Or, at least if they start that way, they evolve out of that state.) My sister, Rachel Schmidt, is also on the list, as she is a successful artist out of Washington, D.C., proof that if you work hard and have an amazing amount of talent, you can go far in the creative world.
What made you enter the comic universe of storytelling?
I practically grew up out of my local comic book shop. While I didn’t start my own pull list until I was 16, all of my other hobbies (card games, miniature games, roleplaying games) were played at Gatekeeper Hobbies from the age of 10 on up. I wasn’t the first one to think of putting Mars 2577 in a comic form, but I feel like the medium is both natural for the material as well as something I had been familiar with for years.
Of all the projects you’ve worked on, is there one that stands out from rest? Why?
Mars 2577 is my first big project to get published, so it will always have a special place in my heart. Hopefully other projects of mine will show up before too long, but we’ll just have to see.
And now a peek into the Future. Can you tell us what project(s) are you most looking forward to?
I always end up working on more than just one project at a time, but there is one I’m trying to channel most of my writing energy in to. The project that I am focusing on writing the most right now is called Shattered Worldsoul. It is a post-apocalyptic novel revolving around eight different characters, in a town being harassed and eventually attacked by bandits. It started as two linked short stories. The first tells the story of a man waking up in the back of a van, not remembering anything of his life from before that moment, and immediately falling in love with the woman driving the van. The second tells the story of the woman, who had lived a hard life, and who met the man when he was in love with a different woman half the world away. When he was having surgery that would cure his amnesia at the cost of triggering it one final time, she broke in and burnt all of his notebooks about the woman he originally loved, so she would be the world for him. From there it’s evolved a whole cast of characters and outlines for 66 chapters (although significantly less than that is written so far). Hopefully, when that’s finished, readers familiar with Mars 2577 will have another fun setting from me to read.
Thanks Gabe for letting us get a glimpse of your creative world!
This year, the London Book Fair celebrated Graphic Novels and as such I was gladly presented with a huge array of seminars on the topic.
[Of course, I blistered my feet running through Olympia to get from talk to talk. From Mexican culture, to the progress of VR, AR and digital publishing, passing through matters such as “Publishing for Boys & Men”, the fair managed to cover an range of subjects sure to pick anyone’s interest.]
The speakers were passionate about the discussions, laying bare preconceptions and stereotypes. From the need to establish graphic novels as an artistic medium to the more farfetched possibilities the digital format allows, all of it was thrown towards the audience in an urgent need to stir further debate.
Everyone defended this world and some have as their life goal to make Graphic Novels not frowned upon, like Neil Gibson, founder of T Pub. He currently acts as a sort of ambassador for the medium, stating it is one of the most efficient ways to communicate stories. His mission to get more people reading comics involves advocating how to use them in work and study environments.
Neil Gibson talking about the pacing of Comic books.
With Paul Gravett – renown British comic book critic – we reflected on “What can comics do that other forms can’t”. A lively overview of several international projects: “Pablo” by Julie Birmant & Clément Oubrerie, “Death of the Artist” by Karrie Fransman and “There’s No Time Like the Present” by Paul Rainey. It’s interesting to see extremely different approaches of the medium on a conceptual and visual way. From freely drawn black & white cartoons to photography and full pages reinterpretations of famous works of art, you get but a tiny scope of what the Graphic Novel really allows you to explore.
“What can comics do that other forms can’t” panel.
A final but quite controversial discussion about the digitalization of comic books left everyone still in doubt of what the future holds. Bringing together Sam Arthur from Nobrow, Sam Humphrey from SelfMadeHero, Leah Moore from Eletricomics and Russell Willis from Sequential, moderated by South London Hardcore Podcast’s Steve Walsh.
Does the reader want extra content: interviews, audio commentaries? After the early flop of motion comics it is safe to say everyone is thinking (or at least trying to) go for subtlety instead of bells and whistles.
Everybody agreed that we don’t want to disturb the readers experience. The aim is to create a new way, nearly a new medium which has graphic novels at its very core. A more immersive – but not invasive! – medium to experience stories.
“Graphic Novels go Digital” panel.
Outland Entertainment was part of the innovative addition of the Sequential app at the LBF15. The upcoming graphic novel N0.1R [created by Nicolas Giacondino and Scott Colby. writen by Colby & illustrated by Giacondino]” is an old school whodunnit starring a cast of really cool robots. Artist Nic Giacondino does an amazing job bringing both the characters and the setting to life.” Scott Colby states.
You can get N0.1R‘s preview as well as the whole catalog from #LBF15 exhibit at the Sequential app using the code LBF15 – LBF15 – LBF15.
Attendees browsing N0.1R at the Sequential app corner.
The games panels were also incredible insightful with a special shout-out to the funny and incisive Jo Twist [@doctoe] UKIE CEO and to the creative Rob Morgan [@AboutThisLater], freelance game writer and narrative designer.
Bottom line: the LBF offered insightful seminars on a varied assortment of topics. Three intense days that allow you to get an overview not only of the publishing industry but of what is being done in the whole entertainment sector.
And one cannot forget that it was the 1st London Book & Screen Week! An event that complemented the whole experience by consolidating the idea of this increasingly cross media world.
Mid-year last year, one of my personal long term clients, Goodman Games, approached Outland about doing some work on a new series of adventures they were developing based on the new 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.
This was a unique opportunity because we were not only handling the illustration for the book, but we also handled all the cartography, the cover design, and the interior page design. We pretty much handled the whole package with the exception of the cover art and the interior layout.
I first learned about Matt and his setting through the now defunct Noble Beast. Ellie Ann had recruited me as art director and Matt’s Shotguns & Sorcery novels were to be our first enhanced book project after Steampunk Holmes. I was slated to illustrate the books and we were gearing up to start work on the project when I broke my hand, which caused us to delay the project while I healed up.
Before we could get back to Shotguns & Sorcery, however, Noble Beast decided to close it’s doors. Leaving a myriad of really cool projects and no home for them. I talked to Richard Monson-Haefel (owner and founder of Noble Beast) a bit about the situation and he gave me his blessing to pursue the projects through Outland.
Matt was one of the first creators I reached out too. I came up as an artist through role-playing games and I really felt that Shotguns & Sorcery pulled so many elements I really love together that it’d be a fantastic setting for an role-playing game. And one I’d absolutely love to illustrate.
With a lot of luck and a bit of good timing, Matt and I managed to hammer out a licensing deal to not only develop enhanced ebooks around his setting, but to also develop it into a full on role-playing game!
We’re going to be working closely with Matt, who will be writing the majority of the book, and I’ll be handling all the illustration. I can’t begin to say how excited we are to be working with Matt on this project!
We’ll be launching a Kickstarter to fund the production of the book in October and we’ll be premiering the game out at Gen Con 2015.
Below you can see the full press release:
Press Release: New Shotguns and Sorcery RPG to Debut at Gen Con 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SUMMARY: Matt Forbeck’s acclaimed Shotguns and Sorcery series to be adapted into a dynamic roleplaying game running on Kickstarter this fall and debuting at Gen Con 2015.
SEPTEMBER 2, 2014, KANSAS, UNITED STATES—Award-winning author and game designer Matt Forbeck is partnering with Outland Entertainment to produce a tabletop roleplaying game based upon his fantasy noir Shotguns & Sorcery novels, as well as enhanced ebook editions of those popular books. Fans of the series will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world, meet the characters from the books, create their own heroes, and play though brand-new adventures developed exclusively for the game.
“I’d long thought about trying to publish a Shotguns & Sorcery game myself,” Forbeck says, “but I could never manage to find the time. Then Jeremy Mohler came to me with so much love for both games and these books—and he’s such a talented artist to boot. I couldn’t ask for more dedicated publishing partners than Outland.”
“Shotguns and Sorcery is just about the perfect blend for me,” says Mohler, founder and CEO of Outland Entertainment. “I’m a huge fan of detective novels and all things fantasy. Matt has taken the two genres and mashed them together while staying true to each in such a fun way. I immediately fell in love with the series and knew I’d have to find a way to play in his world.”
The Shotguns & Sorcery trilogy of novels (Hard Times in Dragon City, Bad Times in Dragon City, and End Times in Dragon City) originally funded on Kickstarter in 2012, becoming one of the top 10 fiction projects ever at that time. Outland is taking the Shotguns & Sorcery RPG to Kickstarter as well, in October 2014. The finished project is scheduled to debut as a full-color, hardcover book at Gen Con in Indianapolis the following year.
Outland’s license also includes the rights to create enhanced ebook editions of each of the Shotguns & Sorcery books. These will feature new covers and interior illustrations as well as interactive maps and other exclusive enhancements.
Matt Forbeck has twenty-seven novels published to date and has written, developed, and designed countless games and supplements, particularly during his time as the co-founder and president of Pinnacle Entertainment Group. His gaming projects have been nominated for 28 Origins Awards and won 17, as well as five ENnies. His recent work includes the Magic: The Gathering comic book, The Marvel Encyclopedia, the Leverage novel The Con Job, the Dangerous Games trilogy of thriller novels set at Gen Con, and the Monster Academy YA fantasy novels.
Outland Entertainment has managed the artwork for multiple games and comics, including New Fire (an Aztec-themed roleplaying game) and, most recently, Magnum Opus, a deck-building game by Game Salute. Outland Entertainment is headed up by Jeremy D. Mohler, a longtime illustrator and colorist whose work has appeared in Marvel Comics, the World of Warcraft CCG, and several recent books for IDW. The Shotguns & Sorcery roleplaying game and enhanced ebook will feature his original artwork.
We’re pleased to highlight Melanie R. Meadors, who will be writing a Kaiju story for our recently funded Kickstarter anthology, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II! Check out the anthology here!
When Nick Sharps and Alana Joli Abbott invited me to write a story for their new anthology, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II, I was pretty ecstatic. I love a good monster story, and I have several ideas I’d like to some day write about. I pretty much immediately accepted, and off I went, on an adventure with some unlikely heroes to kill some monsters.
Only…it wasn’t that simple.
My story is one that kept surprising me with every draft. What started out as a simple action monster story grew to have a depth I didn’t expect. Yes, it was action-adventure, but as I got to know my characters, and spent more time with them even within the seven thousand word confines of their story, all these little connections started happening. Little motivations for their actions. Or vice versa—they would do something, and then I would say, “Oh, they are doing that because___,” and I’d discover something new about that character.
For example, I had my character, a half-orc, in draft one, traveling to a town where she took a job hunting a monster. OK, that was fine. And it would have been perfectly fine. In fantasy stories, that happens all the time. But then as I wrote, I said, “OK, maybe she has this job because it’s personal. Maybe this monster messed with her home city.” “All right,” another side of me said, “But how can we make it WORSE? How can the stakes be raised?” In the next draft, the stakes got higher. Then, as I learned more about the character as she interacted with other characters, I said, “Oh, here is a new way to make her experiences shape her situation even more…” and “What if her own MOTHER [redacted for spoilers]??”
After doing this with the main character, the secondary character started coming into more focus as well. If the main character’s mother did this thing, then this other character would do ___. Wait…What if that character actually was the hero of the story? As one thing developed, another thing would, like a chain reaction. And one of the hardest things for me to do while writing is to not fight this process. I often feel the need to rush. I have some author friends who seem to write four books a year. Could I do that? Sure. Should I do that? Well, I don’t know, but I do know that when I let a story grow as it needs to, that story turns out to be so much better and deeper than it would have otherwise.
Part of a writer’s job is to make the reader’s experience seamless and effortless. Readers aren’t supposed to see the machine behind the works, they aren’t meant to see all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a story. They are supposed to just get swept up into the story, live life through their characters’ eyes, and have adventures, fall in love, or do whatever it is the story’s purpose is—mostly, they should be entertained. Sometimes, as a writer who is also a reader, it’s easy to forget that stories have layers. With each draft, something new comes out, some new aspect of a character, or of the backstory, of the world. This is why, at least for me, when I’m in the middle of my first draft, with every story, I think to myself, “My glob, I have forgotten how to write!” No, I haven’t forgotten how to write exactly. I’ve just forgotten that the way I write, I have to start with a core, and work out, fleshing out the details as I go. Draft one is often terrible, but then draft two gets better. Draft three is where things start getting really interesting, and then when I hit draft four, I’ve got the story as it should be, usually, and will just need some proofreading. It takes time for things to process. But sometimes, the best stories are the hardest to write.
About Melanie R. Meadors
Mealanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy stories where heroes don’t always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion. her fiction has appeared in Circle Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, the anthology Champions of Aetaltis, and other places. She’s the co-editor of the anthology MECH: Age of Steel and editor of Hath No Fury, and she is a blogger and general b*tch monkey at The Once and Future Podcast.
About Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II
A few years ago, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters smashed onto the book scene, collecting stories from some of the best writers of monsters in the business. Now, the age of monsters continues on with the follow up anthology, Kaiju Rising II, featuring stories from authors like Jeremy Robinson, Marie Brennan, Dan Wells, ML Brennan, Jonathan Green, Lee Murray, Cullen Bunn, and more! If you love movies like Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and Kong, you won’t want to miss it.Learn more about this anthology from Outland Publications on Kickstarter now, keywords Kaiju Rising.