January 14th, 2012


The Hands Of Time

I'll write more after breakfast.  This, I had to get up now.

This is a public service announcement.

There's a graphic artist by the name of Julie Farrell.  She works for Day 1 Studios, who gave us F.E.A.R. and MechAssault.  It seems about two years ago, Miss Farrell was given the brief to help with a pitch to T*HQ.  Day 1 wanted to do a game based on the 1989 Elseworlds comic Gotham By Gaslight.

Gotham By Gaslight was one of the few Elseworlds stories I really enjoyed (The Blue, The Grey, And The Bat didn't just suck.  It choked).  By Mike Mignolla (Hellboy) and Brian Augustyn, it took place in 1889.  Bruce Wayne adopts the Batman identity after a trip to Europe, and winds up being framed as Jack The Ripper, forcing him to track down the most notorious serial killer in history.

According to her blog, "This was a game I was really looking forward to working on. Unfortunately it was just a pitch. I had a blast creating the menus for this game, as steampunk is really quite unique, interesting and something I love to design. I created the bat logo from scratch and used a variety of different clockwork pieces and other metal pieces to construct it."

I'm not thrilled with steampunk, although if anything could have made it work for me, it would have been this.  The control scheme clearly calls for the First Person Shooter, but the "slomo" mode has me intrigued.

She posted the images from the pitch package to her blog.  A few hours later, they were taken down.  So if you see any images like these, don't look at them.

Your cooperation is appreciated, citizens.  Thank you, and God bless.


Among the highlights of Destroyer Duck #1 was a backup story by friend of Steve Gerber, Sergio Aragones.  It was Groo The Wanderer, a take-off of Conan The Barbarian.  Groo has survived since then, landing at Marvel's Epic line-up and Dark Horse and just generally keep on keeping on.  And occasionally you'd see someone on a message board say there was a Groo/Conan crossover in the works, only to later say they were just kidding.

They ain't kidding anymore.

There is going to be a Groo/Conan crossover.  It will be published by Dark Horse.  Here's the cover.

Oh, yes, I have to get this.

Left Behind

Dear video game companies,

Why are you doing this to me?

Why are you doing this to all of us?

The figures for video game sales for last year have been released.  Despite all the enthusiasm for Arkham City, despite the PR blitz for Modern Warfare 3, despite things made specific for the subculture like gamer fuel versions of Mountain Dew, game sales are down $2 bil from last year.

Yeah, I know, you're going to blame piracy.  It's trendy.  Because, by blaming pirates, you can say it isn't your fault that games are hitting the skids.

But it is your fault.

There's lots of people like me.  We have money that we will gladly give you to give us the games we want.  This has been going on for a while, with lots of games never being localized.  Super Fantasy Zone was released in England.  Never released in the US despite no need to localize.  The Sailor Moon games.  "Oh, it takes so much work to translate and put the text in there."  Bullshit.  It was never that hard.  The Lunar games, because of how dialogue extensive they were, I can buy that.  But I've played the MegaDrive and SNES Sailor Moon games.  Four hours monkey work and a cup of coffee.

A lot of major companies, whose game production budgets are at the level of or exceed that of a Hollywood summer movie, complain that casual games and fans (Minecraft, Angry Birds, etc.) are hurting you because you could never compete on price point.  You are missing the point.  You aren't competing with them in fun.  Those games are made to be fun.  They aren't meant to wow a target audience with lots of disposable income and near zero sales resistance.  You are cutting yourself out.

I found out there's a Doctor Who game for the Nintendo Wii and the PS2.  But they are region locked for England and Australia, not the US.  There is NO localization necessary.  If anything, fans will scream if you take away the inherent Britishness of Doctor Who.  I understand the games are bad and horribly reviewed.  But they would have sold.  Even as budget titles.  There is an ENTIRE COUNTRY OF FANS who would buy this thing and justify your expense.

And you aren't doing it.

I found out there's a Puyo Pop game for the Wii.  There are Puyo nuts all over the US, who were the reason Fever 1 was released on every major console in the US except the PSP and it sold.  Fever 2 was never translated.  And now, a whole new game, an audience that exists, and you aren't doing anything.  The fact that the original MD version of Puyo Pop is available for download to consoles but the newest version is, "Oops!  Sorry!" is insulting.

And then you wonder where the gamers are going.

We see we aren't wanted.  Quality titles like Epic Mickey bomb out because we are losing interest.  DLC that fingerprints to the machine?  You know how often modern game consoles break?  We're afraid to invest much money for fear we'll have to start over again (I'm not going to get serious about Rock Band 3 until I know for sure if I'm getting a Wii U just so I don't have to rebuy all that shit).  We see shovelware by idiots like Data Designs or games engineered for something other than gamer mentality and wonder why we would ever want to play that?

Modern games are psychological tests.  Just like how modern tobacco was engineered to create and maintain its market, modern games do the same.  Loot, crafting, all these things are like a slot machine.  No kidding.  There is a certain payout and you have a slim chance of getting something for your minimal investment and effort.  Or maybe the next one.  Oh, I've been doing this for hours, I have to win something!  And this isn't how things work out, this is what your market research has told you.  The games have become a skeleton to hang this mentality on.  And it's just as addictive as gambling.  When people talk about video game addiction, it is no longer a joke.  It's because games are now intended to be addicting so that you will buy subscriptions or DLC or whatever.

The DLC isn't even intended to make the gaming experience better.  The ultimate proof of this is the last Street Fighter remix that gave the option of a pallet swap for the character's outfits.  Not even new outfits (like the Snooki hair on Live), just telling the computer to display the colors differently.  And only you could see it.  Online matches would only see the regular clothes.  Literally, unless someone checks your profile, no one will ever know.

Games have also become more visceral, as they tap into cultural biases instead of creating their own identities.  Here on the right is the actual Japanese ad for Soul Caliber V.  Pop quiz:  who is this ad aiming for?  This means that gamers like me looking for a good brawler, keep looking.  This is about getting the fanboys pumped.  They can't wait to give us their money.  You actually want value for your money.  Keep walking.

I have seen so many of my passions leave me behind.  Modern marketing is about appealing to those with money.  Younger people not only don't recognize what is played out (Ashley Tisdale sounds like Hannah Montana sounds like Hillary Duff sounds like....), but what they buy is their identity.  Their password into secret societies of others like themselves.  I'm a PlayStation guy.  I'm a Saturn guy.  It's not the friendly ribbing like when I was there, it's turf to be defended.

Basketball has become a thug sport instead of the game of grace and beauty James Naismith created.  Movies have stopped being about any substance and are now thrill rides made for the teenagers and college kids who want to be thrilled.  Music has become standardized to move among demographics instead of forging its own identity (The Ramones would never make it today).  Comic books?  Do I need to go into that again?  Video games in general are falling in that trap.  I say, "in general", because there are plenty of garage programmers and indies that haven't forgotten about fun (Angry Birds and so on).  Like Queen, they are pushing themselves, but haven't forgotten to bring the audience along for their ride.

You are showing by your actions you don't want us, the very audience that is not only unlikely to pirate your stuff, but will enable you to live very comfortably if you just give us what we want.  Your little dance with the Gen Y'ers is about to end, as the sales decline is showing.  You made a sequel to the most pirated game of the year, hoping that would somehow be bought by these people.  Guess what?  They pirated that, too.  And the reason neither sold well was that they weren't good games.  You didn't make anything worth buying.

The Clash is The Only Band That Matters.  They insisted on giving Value For The Money -- so much so, they took a pay hit on their three sided album just so the fans wouldn't feel ripped off.  Art works when the artists and the audience work together and understand each other and try for each other, fans giving artists a chance and understanding not everything works out, and the artists doing their best.  You are removing that, making it just, "We put this out, buy it you ungrateful shits."

Remember us.  Soon, we will be all that is left, and we won't be interested in coming back.

Comic Shop News

Three comic book posts for the price of one....

*  DC just canceled six titles.  They will be ending with #8.  They are Men At War, OMAC, Static Shock, Blackhawks, Hawk And Dove, and Mister Terrific.

This is interesting because of the shit fit DC threw a couple of months ago.  There's a whiteboard in the DC editorial offices that tracks the status of certain titles.  Men At War was color coded for cancellation.  But OMAC was selling worse.  And this was public knowledge -- just looking at the Diamond 300 told you exactly how many were being sold.  Word got out with people wondering if Dan DiDio the "writer" of OMAC (I suspect he's just plotting and Giffen is doing the heavy lifting), would use his position as co-publisher to keep the book alive.  Conflict of interest.  DiDio called it irresponsible journalism, that OMAC could lose half its readership and it would still be making the minimum to continue.  Another guy (I think it was the inker or maybe the colorist) said it was irresponsible journalism and people would abandon the book, they have it plotted out to #16 so far and were told to keep going, don't kill the book.

Funny how things change, isn't it?

So which is it?  Was the book really doing well but the minor drop in numbers caused it to get canceled?  Or were you lying just to prop it up a little longer?  Which do you think I'd put money on?

*  I've pointed out how I used to be a huge Power Girl fan.  But as she became more waifu-ized, my interested shifted to Supergirl.  And it's not going back.  When Power Girl was first "re-introduced" (not post-Crisis, this was further than that), she was portrayed as a scrappy punk fighting a superpowered stalker who called her his "Power Peach".  Then she got tits.  Well, bigger tits.  PG has always had a...ahem, interesting physique, but it was still fairly normal by comic book standards.  It wasn't the pneumatic wonder it is now, complete with the new costume with high thigh cuts and an opening to showcase her cleavage.

(Geoff Johns attempted to explain the costume in JSA Classified, where Power Girl says the hole is to symbolize the hole in her soul.  She knows she's missing part of herself and her history, so rather than a symbol over her chest like Superman, she just has this blank, open space.  Very creative, but still preposterous.  It's not symbolic, it's to give the little boys a chubby.  Not even Neil Gaiman could get me to buy that explanation.)

The Power Girl regular series continued with this.  I know Amanda Conner is popular, the series had its moments, but it still presented Power Girl as someone who existed primarily as a sexual turn-on instead of a character.  And even when Winnick took over, who actually showed her doing heroic stuff, that undercurrent was still there.  #26, with the Power Girl convention, I know was intended to be funny, showing Power Girl drawn every which way.  But seeing girls in the single digit age range dressed in the current Power Girl costume squicked me out.  Like the plugsuits in Evangelion, Power Girl has become such a sexual shorthand, depicting someone underage as her takes a very delicate approach or it borders on Chris Hansen turf.  Even if they fixed her tomorrow, I'm still more likely to keep following the Maid Of Might.  She may have inconsistency and baggage in her backstory, but there's also a higher percentage of stories depicting her right and more interest in trying to actually do something with the character.  Try to imagine Stephanie Brown with superpowers, and you have what I consider the "right" interpretation of Supergirl.

I mention all of this because DC is starting a new World's Finest series.  It will take place on Earth 2.  Keep in mind, Power Girl was last seen as Mister Terrific's main squeeze, so I guess she's commuting.  World's Finest will pair Power Girl with Huntress.

Why?  Well, one of the things that pops up and runs for a while in the DC universe is a series of stories where Superman and Batman team up.  But they can't do that anymore.  Superman and Batman now have separate continuities in their own titles.  Mixing them will cause too many questions about what the hell is going on and what is still canon and what isn't.  Same thing with Supergirl and Batgirl, another frequent pairing.  Besides, Supergirl isn't who she was.  But here's two characters roughly separated from the continuity issue (Huntress is someone different now) and you can have the Superman/Batman combo without all the questions.  It's an interesting way for DC to get those stories while still dodging the continuity question.

I'm just not sure if I want to put it on my pull list.  My interest in Power Girl is still there, but after the Starfire debacle, I'm just not sure how they are going to handle this.  DC's interest in sexualizing the characters is one of their top priorities (I'm still afraid that, at some point, DC editorial is going to remember Superman wanted to bone his cousin Supergirl and reintroduce that into the new continuity).  And here's a character that was remade specifically for a sexual focus.

I got a real bad feeling about this.

Hawk And Dove is canceled, but Rob Liefeld is still getting work.  He's writing one DC series and plotting two (Deathstoke, Hawkman, and one other I don't recall), in addition to all his other stuff.  I pick on Liefeld a lot, so it is with grudging admiration I say, And he hasn't missed a deadline yet.  Congrats.  I thought for sure you'd be the first to blow it.

The people who told me I was nuts, Jim Lee would be the first to miss deadline?  Well, you were right.  Justice League #5 will be a week late, and they already have fill in artists for the next two issues until Lee's triumphant return.
Peter G

Clothes Make The Man

Today, while I'm out and about, I have to use the bathroom.  I take off my jacket and get ready to hang it on the hook.  But before I hang it, I get a good look at it.

The lining is starting to tear away from parts.  Parts at the end of the sleeves are getting threadbare.  Loose threads.

I've refused to acknowledge it for years, but this time, I couldn't ignore it.  It's time to take the jacket out back and whack it with a shovel.  This jacket has served me well since I got it fifteen years ago.  Rest in peace, you've earned it.

Part of the reason for me dragging my feet is just finding a new jacket.  This was a London Fog short jacket.  I just loved the cut.  See, the bottom of the jacket came back in.  You might think this isn't a big deal, but that gave the jacket a more rugged, masculine look when zipped up.  A lot of jackets out there are shaped like trapezoids, and continue to spread out as they go down, making you look like you are trying to hide your weight.  Not only do I hate those jackets, but they don't go with my fedora.  And I wanted a jacket that went with my fedora.

I spend part of the day searching.  One thing I considered was a peacoat (I already have a trench, but I usually only wear that with a suit or blazer combo), but the length concerned me.  Leather bombers never go out of style, but I didn't really see any that said "quality".  There was a clothing chain called Steve And Barry's that advertised peacoats for $9.  I didn't have to look long to see it wasn't a deal at all.  The fabric was wrong, single stitching, and the shoulders weren't done properly.  Same thing with the bombers, they looked like the kind of thing you buy to show how cool you are instead of being an actual jacket.

While searching, I came across a sort of mix.  It was like a peacoat, but medium length instead of short.  Borrowing a fedora from elsewhere in the store, I started trying them on.  (PROTIP:  any of you guys looking for shirts or jackets?  Always make sure the shoulders fit correctly.  Anything else can be handled, but wrong sizing in the shoulders will make you look like you are slouching.  It's only the rare guy who can pull off a really cool slouch.  Be smart and stick with properly fitting shoulders.)  I find one that fits, put on the fedora, and check out the mirror.

I like it.

And so, please welcome the newest addition to my ensemble.

Ladies?  Line forms to the right.