Production notes and trivia from my experiences on comic books, fiction, and games including
Star Wars: A New DawnStar Wars: Kenobi Star Wars: Knight Errant
Star Wars: Knights of the Old RepublicStar Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith
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Order the Star Trek Prey trilogy here!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy new notes

Travel concluded, I've finally posted some thoughts on Knights of the Old Republic #36. Enjoy!

Happy new year to all. Resolution #2009-247 was to blog more, but I am alerted that this was also Resolution #2008-132 in the previous session. Well, it was good enough for last year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

More SithFire action figure coolness: Demagol

On my old site, I had posted some of Sith_Fire30's home-brew action figures from the KOTOR series: Here's the latest, the demonic Doctor Demagol from Knights of the Old Republic #8.

Check out the rest of the images over on the Dark Horse thread for this figure!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday greetings from Knights of the Old Republic #36...

...a comic book you can find this Christmas Eve at your local comic book store. Zayne and company are off to new challenges in the Coreworlds in our latest issue, part 1 of "Prophet Motive."

It'll be a few days before I can get any notes online about the issue -- I'm out of position and don't have the issue myself yet. But coming at this time of the year and following a major extended storyline, this two-parter has some similarities with "Reunion" a ways back -- showing us a brand new place and setting us up for adventures to come. It's also in some sense a reversal of how we opened 2008 -- where we didn't know what the supporting cast was doing when the year started, now it's Zayne who's been away. It'll all be unfolding as 2009 progresses...

I'm also pleased to report the solicitation of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 6: Vindication, which is our largest trade paperback yet and brings the series up to date all the way up to #35. (Recall, Volume 5 was part of the "Vector" hybrid edition with Dark Times.) I'll have a page online for it on the site soon as well, but in the meantime you can check out the details on the DH site at the link provided.

Happy Life Day to all -- may all your Wookiees sing in perfect harmony!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A fresh start for the Old Republic

...or that is the title of my latest IGN interview now online. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Programming notes, etc.

Just a few notes today: I'll be on the Fictional Frontiers radio show this Sunday — it airs 11:00 AM to 12:00 Noon EST on WNJC 1360 AM-Philadelphia. A few days after, the podcast goes online here. My segment is prerecorded and was an enjoyable interview to do — covering both both my past and future Star Wars work with an interviewer who knew the series really well. It's part of a larger SW show, they said — super-collector Steve Sansweet is also slated to be on the program.

I am finally back in Comics Buyer's Guide, after a long hiatus getting my webcomic going. The topic in this month's issue (#1650): getting a webcomic going...

And I was sorry to read about the passing of Van Johnson. I admit that I wasn't aware he was still with us — he's been out of the public eye for many years — but he's in a lot of great movies, including some of my favorites. Check out Battleground, a wonderful retelling of the Battle of the Bulge (and, yes, that is Ricardo Montalban out there in the snow). He also did a lot of TV later on, including at least two spokes of the NBC Mystery Movie "wheel" from the 1970s that I can recall. (I wonder if anyone did the "full wheel"? Nah, there weren't that many episodes of Hec Ramsey to be in...)

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Dueling Ambitions" -- and dueling the weather

OK, I really didn't mean to go so long between posts — but there have been large assignments to get out the door, plus relearning how to get snow off a driveway. (Someone in the weather department seems to be unconvinced that Wisconsin has enough. Believe me, it has.)

I can also alert you to the solicitation for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #39, the first part of the "Dueling Ambitions" arc. I've already seen Brian Ching's great art on the issue — for now, you can check out the cool cover by Daryl Mandryk (his first on the series).

Some more updates — my first "Dark Times" era work appears as Episode 9 of the Dawn of Defiance campaign for the Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Roleplaying Game. I don't know when it'll post, but it should be in the next several weeks. It's free to check out, and it was a lot of fun to work on. I'll post the link when it becomes available. (And I swear, I'll have some notes online about the KOTOR Campaign Guide before the turn of the calendar. Fingers crossed for less snow!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Notes and notes

And, as promised, some thoughts on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #35 are online. Likely not to be the only things I ever think of — nor to answer every burning question — but there it is.

A further update: This weekend is the first DaishoCon, run by the local fans of Stevens Point, Wis. I will be there on Saturday — presuming my cold does not completely floor me — and I believe I have a panel at 1. Stand a good ways back, lest you take home a souvenir cold.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

KOTOR #35: The End of the Beginning!

I can't even begin to get into how busy I am this week, but it would be impossible not to note the release of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #35, the final chapter of "Vindication"! The adventure begun in "Commencement" three years ago concludes — with surprises and fireworks and a step into a new future for our heroes. The origin story ends here!

Even with the schedule as it is, I expect to have some notes online this week, a little faster than has been the custom recently. A lot of threads finish coming together here — we had to print on transdimensional paper to get it all to fit!

So the first meta-arc concludes — but we're just getting started. The next batch of issues has already been announced, including #38, drawn by Dean Zachary, one of my fellow regulars at Midsouthcon (and we'll both be there promoting that issue, along with my old college pal John Hudgens of Sith Apprentice fame, who's attending for the first time as a media guest). And knowing what we have in the works further ahead than that, I can say we'll definitely be broadening the horizons of the Old Republic and taking Star Wars readers to places they've never seen before. (Or in a really, really long time!)

Anyway, enjoy the read. And more soon...

Friday, November 14, 2008

National Snivvian Week

And I am informed that The Gryph is this week's Featured Article over on Wookieepedia. Mama Glomkettle would be proud...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Springboard looking for a series

As of 3:30 Alaska time today, Senator Stevens' challenger had gone into the lead by a total of three votes.

No political observation here (and of course they're still counting) — but my first instinct was, "Man, there's a Northern Exposure episode in here somewhere." Maurice and Chris canvassing the town, looking for converts for either side! (In reality, Janine Turner was on the air a few times, campaigning for McCain — though I'm not sure who Maggie O'Connell would be rooting for...)

Trivial note: I have in-laws living in Roslyn, Wash., which served as Cicely. The Brick is there and operating, but last time I was through I don't think the KBHR studio display was there any more.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Most scientifically plausible SF movies

Newsarama has a piece up on Yahoo (!) on the "five most scientifically plausible science fiction movies." First off, props to Matt and Mike for getting Newsarama syndicated out to Yahoo — should be some great exposure for them there. (My Comichron column runs monthly there, as well.)

And, of course, the list itself — which is intended to inspire debate, and almost certainly will. Off the bat, I would drop Iron Man, adding Contact, where they got much of the earth-based science right and the speculative element in possible doubt is the wormhole business. And I'd probably drop in 2010 and The Andromeda Strain — though I'm not sure what else I'd leave off. I think even Crichton would have said Andromeda is more plausible than Jurassic Park, so that might be one.

The Truman Show
seems an odd choice — I'm not arguing that it belongs somewhere on the list, but we get into some weird dividing lines here. Something like Children of Men has a speculative springboard and is very possible — but somehow I have the feeling that you want to recognize the films where there are multiple brushes with science which the filmmakers have to navigate. That's where I like 2010 — where they get everything from the physics of rotational motion to aerobreaking right as often as they can.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Remembering Michael Crichton

I was very sorry to learn this morning of the passing of Michael Crichton.

The first movie that ever gave me nightmares was the original Andromeda Strain, which I saw on TV at age eight — it's still the better of the two adaptations, I think. I read both The Andromeda Strain and The Terminal Man in junior high, one summer working (or when I should have been working) in my mother's library — and I really dug the style they were writtten in — sort of a scientific procedural, with some nice storytelling devices playing up the feeling that you were reading secret reports about things that officially never happened. I liked them enough that in high school I named a cyborg character "Crichton" in a short story (I imagine the robot in Buck Rogers' second season was named for him, too).

I wasn't as big into Jurassic Park — and honestly, the only ER episodes I've ever seen were of the identically-named backdoor spinoff from The Jeffersons in 1984 (which, strangely, also starred George Clooney!).

On the other hand, I'm know I'm one of the bigger fans of Looker, a sometimes maligned film he wrote and directed which includes some pretty imaginative ideas — including the insertion of computer-generated characters into video (which seems to have more or less happened last night with CNN's "holograms"). Took a long time for the DVD of it to come out, but it might be worth a second (or first) look, if only for the cool light gun and some of the interesting pre-Max Headroom views in there about the power of the media.

I need to get back and read some of the books I missed. There is not nearly enough science in science fiction, but Crichton did his part to change that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Panini's Vector Volume 1

I just received (from the kindly UPS man) the German version of what will be stateside the first Star Wars: Vector trade paperback: It's actually Star Wars Sonderband #46 in Panini's numbering system, but I would suspect it looks a bit like the final version will on this side of the drink. It's "Vector 1: Der Muur-Talisman," which I suspect means the subtitle of the first volume is (natch) "The Muur Talisman." All covers are reprinted, either inside or outside.

Always an education looking at these translations. I assume "Kleinkriminelle" refers to Gryph!

You can preorder the Vector trade from Amazon, Things from Another World, Barnes & Noble, or your local comics shop.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Grassroots, pizza, and the fear of clip-on ties

Just a few more hours until the election is in the history books — and it looks like people are still busy on both sides of the metaphorical aisle, at least in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

The GOP headquarters seemed busy when I drove past it after dark Saturday night — I couldn't see inside from the road, but it was really lit up and there were cars out front, so I assume it was active there. So was the Democratic headquarters, which I got a closer look at while waiting for my pizza at the place across the street (note to travelers: when downtown, don't miss Bill's Pizza Shop). At about 7 p.m. the place was very busy with people "phone-banking" and moving a variety of promotional items. (I even saw "Authors for Obama" buttons on the giveaway table, which struck me as taking target-marketing to a rather odd extreme. I mean, how many professions do you have to go through to get to that one? That's a lotta buttons...)

Anyway, they told me I'd just missed Jill Biden, the Senator's wife, earlier in the day. That reminded me that I'd promised to post a clearer version of my interview with Joe Biden that I'd conducted as a college student nearly two decades ago. Through the miracle of OCR scanning, here 'tis — and amazingly, Blogger let me accurately backdate the post.

I cringe a bit at the style — I was still in J-school, and worse, I was editing myself. I churned out a lot of copy before I became managing editor; the Sunday that I wrote these three articles, I also had to lay out a front page and coordinate the rest of the issue. The two pieces from the interview itself are pretty much a laundry list of everything I'd researched to ask about, and the transitions are non-existent. Being a Soviet Studies guy, I threw in questions about Mikhail Gorbachev. And divestment from South Africa was a big campus issue at the University of Tennessee during my time on the paper, so I got questions in there on that, as well.

(I'll leave it to others to grade his prognostication skills. He was correct that Anthony Kennedy would turn out to be the swing vote on abortion, and that Bush 41 wouldn't get a balanced budget amendment through — though nobody else did, either. There was an attempt at a line-item veto, although that was struck down.)

Going back to my glance at the grassroots, I remembered that my first presidential election I could vote in was that one back in 1988 (coincidentally, the other time Biden ran). But while I was interested in politics then, I was never active — and I never really have been. I never ran for anything at all in school (apart from President of the Dungeons & Dragons Club, which the parents group crushed) and I never campaigned for anyone. I liked the behind-the scenes stuff, but I was only ever interested in watching the game, reporting on it — and, as a grad student, analyzing it. Probably, it was the nascent storyteller in me: I've never acted in any plays, either, for some of the same reasons. (And I hated wearing a tie! How many people have been kept from public life, for fear of being caught with a clip-on...)

Anyway, three days to go. I don't know what the heck they'll talk about on TV after this. Do they still play football?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Some KOTOR comic pronunciations

Having brought it up in what I wrote about issue #34, I remembered my past pronunciation guide died with my old website. I'll get something more permanent up on my blog, but here are a few pronunciations off the top of my head. They're how I hear them — although, of course, note that none of these characters has appeared in an audio medium to date, so while I might spell something "Alexander Luxury-Yacht", you're welcome to pronounce it as "Throatwarbler Mangrove":

Zayne Carrick: ZAYN KAYR-rick
Hierogryph: HIY-roh-griff
Lucien: LOO-shun
Q'anilia: kah-NEEL-yah
Xamar: ZAY-mar
Raana Tey: RAH-nah TAY
Jarael: ja-RAYL
Rohlan: ROH-lun
Demagol: dem-uh-GOLL
Haazen: HAH-zen (yes, not the same as HAYZE)
Moomo: MOO-moh
Adasca: ah-DAS-kah
Haydel Goravvus: HAY-del guh-RA-vus
Pulsipher: puhl-si-FUR
Odryn: OH-dren

Post if you need others. Sorry, I don't know how to do schwas and other phonetic type — and apologies if this is at variance with anything I've posted before (which, again, is gone anyway now). But that's close enough...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A few days past, a few months ahead... this line of work, the past and the future are happening at once. So I have here some thoughts about the current release, Knights of the Old Republic #34 (though I'm fairly careful, as always, consider a Spoiler Warning attached — read the comics first).

And I also have the cover and page set up for Knights of the Old Republic #37, January's issue. And, no, that's not a coloring mistake on that cover. You'll see...

I really do plan to have those notes up on the Campaign Guide soon... but they're doing a comedic musical number on Saturday Night Live, and my head hurts too much. Maybe another day.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lord British lands safely

Good to see that Richard Garriott has landed safely from space. I cut my computer-game teeth on Ultima II (and then the others), the series Garriott created under the name Lord British — Lord British also was a character in the games, himself. Many was the time I trudged back to Lord British to level up. My favorite of all the games remains the time- and space-traveling Ultima II, though — in which, among other things, your character has to fly a Russian rocket to the planets and try to land safely — something next to impossible on the mod that was rereleased a few years ago, simply because the processor made the animation move too fast.

Anyway, good to see he didn't land in a tree, as I did so many times in his game. Possible next stop for Garriott: Planet X to look for Father Anton...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Well, maybe just hither and thither

And there's stuff from yours truly hither, thither, and yon today. In addition to the new Sword & Sarcasm, there's the September edition of my Newsarama column on comics history. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

KOTOR #34: Secrets revealed!

Well, all kinds of cards are being turned over in this corner of the Star Wars timeline this week! First, of course, there's news about Star Wars: The Old Republic, the online RPG. You can read more background on the site itself, but a factor of note to comics readers is when it says it's set — a good while after the events of the earlier video games (and of the current comics). I encourage everyone to follow the link and learn more about it!

And back to those comics — and to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #34, which goes on sale Wednesday. I've had this in hand for a few days now, and I feel it might be advisable to suggest keeping the Depends-brand undergarments handy. Because we provide answers to a wide variety of questions, some that have been going since the beginning of the series. Twists, turns — and all presented in a spectacular visual production from Messrs. Brian Ching, Michael Atiyeh, and Michael Heisler. (Atiyeh, I would add, really hits a grand slam with the colors in this issue — Haazen's mysterious powers giving him the chance to create some original looks for powers and abilities.) "Vindication" rages on!

I feel very strongly about this issue, and I hope you enjoy it. I'll be here again soon with thoughts on the issue — hopefully, giving readers a chance to towel off!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ducks do vex me!

If you haven't checked it out in a while, the Sword & Sarcasm webcomic Chuck Fiala and I do is getting crazier by the episode. Good Herbert is in danger of being nibbled to death by ducks — literally — and the obnoxious Duke Benedict is dealing with a sudden transformation himself.

Not counting the time when the whole site was offline, we've posted the strip regularly for more than six months. Check it out — new strips Mondays and Thursdays!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Signed sets on eBay

And there are a couple of signed sets on eBay at the moment — a big complete KOTOR set, but also a rarely-seen batch with all my Iron Man and Crimson Dynamo issues. May be worth a look.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Now playing: Ultimate Unofficial Pokemon TCG Guide

Well, I try to keep everyone apprised here of what stuff I have coming out — but when you've got stuff in print in various places, these things are not always easy to keep track of. I used to edit Scrye magazine eons ago — and there I also produced two volumes of the Scrye Collectible Card Game Checklist and Price Guide and co-edited a Pokemon book. Some of that material is evidently still useful, as there's a Ultimate Unofficial Pokemon TCG Guide that's just been released — published by F+W Publications and distributed through Excell Marketing to various mass-market locations. Put together by Scrye Editor Joyce Greenholdt, it extends the Pokemon sections we put together for the first two CCG Checklist books to the present day.

Sort of like getting in a time machine looking at the sections I did — but it's good to see some of this is still helping someone. A nice package, and worth checking out if you're a card gamer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mixed messages

Momentary observation: While I am always pleased to hear Three Dog Night's "Shambala", it does seem odd that it's currently the background music on both a beer commercial and a blood glucose meter commercial in heavy rotation. Someone needs to manage these rights libraries better!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Comics writing talk set for tomorrow

I don't have any convention appearances scheduled until Daishocon in Stevens Point, Wis., the weekend before Thanksgiving, but I have been asked to do a talk on comics writing as part of a holiday program at the Waupaca Public Library in Waupaca, Wis. It's set for tomorrow, Monday Oct. 13, at 1 p.m.

Sorry I didn't provide more notice, but if you're in the area, it may be of interest.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tales of the Jedi Washout

Much delayed by the transfer to the new platform, but finally online — some of my thoughts on the making of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #33. Enjoy. I'm still in the process of getting something together on the KOTOR RPG Campaign Guide — and I expect the file will be amended as time goes on, as I'm still remembering things that went into it. (It was almost exactly a year ago when I was in the thick of it.)

If you're seeing this post on the Faraway Press site, just click on the blog entry title above if you want to comment. Blogger is not sending a "comment" button to posts the main site, but that's where they are.

The latest in opinion survey techniques

Living in Wisconsin, a state much coveted by politicos this season, my and my neighbors' telephones have been ringing off the hook with pollster calls for a good long while. (Our district's congressman, Steve Kagen, actually rang up one of my friends the day of the second bailout vote to chat for ten minutes on how he should vote.) There is also the biannual yard sign battle going on, part of the "ground game" you hear about on sites like Politico and FiveThirtyEight. Since it's miles to anywhere around here, counting yard signs as you go is just one more informal pulse-of-the-electorate method. An idle pastime, to be sure, but it's often interesting.

Such as today — when, traveling down State 22, I spotted someone with a whole new kind of survey technique. There's a farm by the road that's got a good half-dozen or more yard signs out, for national, state, and local candidates — Democrats all, but that's not the interesting thing. It's a very visible spray of signage, and it must have evoked some response — because today when I went past, the resident had added signs in either direction instructing motorists:

"Like — Blow Horn
No Like — Finger"

"Tanks," the owner signs off. (Perhaps it was the weekend home of Popeye the Sailor Man.)

No idea if he's keeping track, but given what's been going on around here, I expect it will be a few short days before Gallup, Rasmussen, Zogby, and the like have people posted in the woods, tabulating horn honks and obscene gestures. Unless they're there already!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What the heck that guy is saying

Following yesterday's theme of odd stuff I've run across recently — regard the following video, one person's explanation of the lyrics on the closing credits of WKRP in Cincinnati...

Personally, I am pleased that 'KRP is back on "the new WGN" — even the current, original-music-ripped-out version. (Something has to take up the slack from TVLand, which continues to amble about in search of something other than its original programming mission.) Even with some jokes lost under the new dubbing, it remains superlative, a classic office comedy and a classic comedy all on its own.

Anyway, one of the few intact music pieces is that closing theme, which, as I recall Hugh Wilson saying on the DVD commentary, is probably completely meaningless. I admire the poster's attempt at a translation, though his guess may be as good as any.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Time machine: Split Second

Now that the site is mostly restored — and using the better blogging tool that Blogger provides — my intent was to begin blogging more frequently. However, this runs against a trio of countervailing forces: one, I don't have a lot of time — and two, I can't always talk about what I'm working on. This leaves everything else — which is where problem #3 comes in: I don't always like to get into a lot of mundane detail about my daily life. (I could, you'd just doze off.)

On the other hand, as readers of one of my first published comics, Faraway Looks know, I have absorbed an uncommonly large amount of television in my day, wittingly or not. It is one of the reasons I've instituted a personal YouTube rule of no more than three searches at once — else, I'd be digging around all day in what is really an uncannily deep pile of footage.

Today's failed "Stump YouTube" moment was a search for a game show I only ever saw a couple of times — "Split Second," hosted by Tom Kennedy. I recalled only that there were a bunch of cars on stage as prizes — and that it was incredibly fast paced. Not only did the Internet provide, but the first thing it pulled up was the final episode from June 27, 1975 — in which the first contestant, on the left, is Judd Rose — then a student, later to become an ABC correspondent for PrimeTime Live until his death in 2000. Where do they get this stuff?

Apologies to any searching who were looking for the Rutger Hauer movie Split Second — a film my friend and I nearly walked out on ... until halfway through, when the script stopped taking itself seriously and began to work as satire. Hey, whatever works...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

All pages restored

Or they should be — even the nonfiction pages. Whew!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Humpty Dumpty reunited

And it only took the better part of a month, but 4.0 is finally about done. The only things that need to be added are the pages for the non-fiction books, and there may be a few odds and ends still missing. But the production notes for everything should now be there.

And, no, I regret that does not include notes yet for the RPG supplement or KOTOR #33. I haven't written them yet, thanks to all the time getting things back online.

To the archivists out there — folks, I hope this is the last doggone time for this. Unlike the previous two efforts, I'm no longer on a database, so no more arcane URL names.

Please post to let me know if any navigation is not working or if any images are missing — there was a lot to upload. (Again, non-fiction will be along later.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My interview with Joe Biden

In the brushes with candidates department... tomorrow's vice-presidential debate brought to mind a lot of the different folks I got to interview when I was a student journalist. As a reporter — then editor — for the University of Tennessee Daily Beacon, I interviewed a pretty diverse list of people, from soap opera actor Michael Swan to comics creator Mike Grell, who I would later follow on Iron Man.

There were also a number of politicians: Lamar Alexander, sometime presidential candidate and currently the senator from Tennessee, was a former governor and president of the university system while I was there — naturally, that resulted in several interviews. I didn't interview George H.W. Bush when he came to town, but I took a position as a student aide during the presidential visit in order to get the chance to photograph his arrival at the airport for the paper.

Then there was Senator Joe Biden, who, when he came to Knoxville in early 1989, had had a hell of a year. In 1988, he had run for the Democratic nomination — only to hit the shoals after failing to cite quotations from Neil Kinnock. Later in the year, he suffered an embolism. Anyway, after he recovered, the university brought him in for some kind of lecture series, and there was a slot set aside for interviews before the lecture — for whatever reason, the two local papers (of which only one exists now) didn't take part, so I wound up getting the full half-hour. It was a good thing I'd done some homework beforehand, as I actually had questions enough to get a couple of days' worth of articles out of it on topics ranging from Eastern Europe to the balanced budget amendment.

I can't speak to anyone's political preference — I'm strictly non-partisan here — but I can say that he was very decent to a kid reporter scared out of his wits. A lot of politicians came through without paying much mind to the student press — OK, some of them completely ignored us. And in this case, he wasn't our state's senator and he wasn't running for anything. But he was generous with his time, and I have a good memory about that experience. In particular, this was the time when I was beginning to think about international relations for grad school (which is eventually where I went), so getting to talk to the #2 guy (at the time) on the Foreign Relations committee probably helped point me in that direction.

(Irony moment: Both Biden and Alexander are on TV this second voting on the financial package!)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Star Wars short story on Hyperspace: "Interference"

And my second Star Wars short story has gone online on for members of the Hyperspace fan club: "Interference." It's an unusual tale set during the weeks after the Mandalorian invasion of the Republic — and one that allowed me to imagine what the attendant propaganda war would be like. (Answer: one-sided!)

If you've ever heard the recorded propaganda broadcasts of Lord Haw-Haw and Tokyo Rose, you'll find something a little familiar here!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Brewers Woo!

Sorry, Mets fans — but it's been 26 years. Congrats to the Brew Crew — you've brought a tear to Bob Uecker's eye.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Now shipping: More Tales of the Jedi!

Well, I'd said all along that my Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series had a variety of roots stretching back into the Tales of the Jedi days — both before and after — and we'll see some of them this week when issue #33 goes on sale.

I'm still wrangling with getting stuff back on the websites, so my production notes will appear in a few days. I have to get all the rest of them online, too. (Jeez, hopefully this is the last web migration...)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hitting "reset"

OK, sorry for the intermittent presence online lately — it surely wasn't planned. Here's the scoop:

The database that was running my Faraway Press publishing site, my Comics Chronicles site, Sword & Sarcasm, and Maggie Thompson's site was doing a fine job — until it wasn't. For some reason, at the end of August, it went into a computerized funk and the none of the ministrations of People Who Know About These Things could restore it to order. Worse, the hosting company I was with at the time seemed to have been taken over by some kind of Bizarro Customer Service Department, where "urgent" requests went to the bottom of the pile and the daily backups promised in is advertising were revealed to be "a courtesy, not part of the service" (their actual words). There followed a change to a better hosting company, and a last-ditch attempt to restore the sites — which worked for a few days, only to have the database finally give out.

So. Long story short, with what little time I have available for this sort of thing, I'm setting up fresh sites for each. Sword is up again as a Blogspot site which actually functions better than what I had before; Maggie's site has been restored with two components, the HTML archives on her URL and then a feed coming from her Blogspot site. I will be doing the same for — beginning with this blog, located at (and eventually so as to minimize further news interruptions.

I'll be restoring all the notes pages and other feaures as I can get to them; hopefully, since this is a straight HTML solution, this is the last doggoned time for this. My apologies for the inconvenience in the recent weeks — believe me, I'd like to hit "reset" on the last month online!

Friday, August 22, 2008

96 hours of Gen Con

Well, I didn't game all those hours, but I managed to get in more than any of my previous five GenCon trips. The difference was this was the first time I was attending in a semi-civilian role — where in past years, I'd had a booth to work, this time, I was there as a freelancer promoting a book — and otherwise, to enjoy the show.

Both were done — the first, by appearing at the Star Wars Role-Playing panel along with Sterling Hershey, my coauthor on the Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide, and Rob Watkins, designer of the KOTOR miniatures supplement. Both products released at the show, and we took a good hour-plus of questions from the audience. That's Rob, Sterling, and me below, during the slideshow. (And, no, I didn't make the joke "Rob. Sterling. I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone." Thankfully, it did not come to me until now!)

Anyway, over to the gaming side of things, this was a special event because two members of my high school gaming group, Robert and Mike, were able to make it in for the weekend, making it the first time the three of us had been at GenCon. (That's them at the end of the table at center, below, playing Lunch Money, which was just about the only thing I won — apart from making the Monopoly finals again. I eventually went out in one of the strangest cash-poor games I've ever seen.)

I fared far more poorly at the Diplomacy tournament — there's the rest of the players carving up what was left of my meager holdings, below — as it had been many years since I'd looked at the openings. I don't know if I'll do it again, in any event; while I was obsessed with the game in graduate school, somehow, after doing a dozen-plus years working at a corporation, the whole backstabbing theme is a little less enjoyable. (By contrast, I got in a couple of games of Illuminati, the original, which I enjoyed very much; at least in that, you know there's no such thing as an alliance that lasts more than a minute!)

We did come in a close-second in a Wits and Wagers event — a pretty interesting mix of trivia and gambling, that — not quite a substitute for the cancelled poker tournament, but fun enough. And I was disappointed that the couple that bring the giant Kingmaker board couldn't make it, but we did manage to get a pick-up game of Supremacy going late one night — possibly the only such appearance of the game there, from what I heard from onlookers.

And not having gotten to the con in four years it was good to see some of the game community folks I don't normally see — and it was good to catch up with Michael Stackpole again, whom I hadn't seen since early 2006, just before Knights launched. He's got a new novel trilogy in the works — as well as the Conan movie novelization coming up.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A trip to Coruscant... games... and more

Whole bunch of updates here. First off, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #31 is on the shelves this week, or so I am informed. It is stuffed chock full of revelations and surprises; my thoughts on the issue will be along later, and as you might expect there'll be a lot to talk about this time out!

One of the interesting things about the issue is the ad on the back cover. It's for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game: Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide and the KOTOR miniatures set — like the first ad in the series, it's a hoot! Don't miss that one...

...and in a related note, I have seen the miniatures and they are terrific. I can't say who all appears in the set from the comics — although the Lucien figure is described over at the Wizards site. Look for that set in early August.

As for later August, there's that Campaign Guide releasing. Dig the cover — that's Zayne and Jarael there. The whole game section on the site is in its embryonic stages, but with the book releasing, I figured we'd better get it online.

Now, about the game and GenCon: I'll be speaking on the Wizards Star Wars panel, which is Thursday, Aug. 14 at 4 p.m.; I'll update the time and location closer to the date. There are also miniatures tournaments using the new set. Check the GenCon site for details.

(Note: That's GenCon, not San Diego. Sorry, no Sandy Eggo for me this year -- gotta write!)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

And back again

Still too busy catching up after Chicago for a proper Chicago post, but fun was had by all — and I didn't lose my voice this time. More later.

While catching up I heard this morning about the passing over the weekend of Don S. Davis, who played General Hammond on Stargate SG-1 and also had a role in Best of Show. I met him briefly at one of the Milwaukee Gen Cons — he seemed like a very nice guy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chicago signing schedule

If you're going to Wizard World Chicago this weekend, drop by the Dark Horse Comics booth. I'll be signing there starting at noon on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. See you then!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tonight's forecast: Dark.

Aw, naw. No. [Insert seven words you can't say on television.]

The problem with having a blog when you don't really have time to blog is it tends to become a collection of product announcements and convention appearances — interleavened with remembrances for people who you either knew or didn't know, but who influenced your life in some way. You don't have time to write about the mundane events of the day (and I am not always moved to, anyway) — but when someone passes on, you fire up the computer. It seems to have become something of an impulse reaction for everyone, at least according to the woman on CNN just talking about it.

I am greatly saddened to write today of the passing of my favorite comedian, George Carlin. I find that I write that "favorite" without qualifications, because whereas favorite bands and authors and actors may change as you age, George's comedy has pretty much followed me along all my life. My big sister had a copy of Class Clown we listened to in the 1970s — strangely, she never played for me the last cut on the B-side, for fear of twisting my young mind and losing the war for the allies. (I figured it out, later.) Then again with my buddy Bob on the highway to Spring Break where we had nothing but Tom Lehrer albums and A Place for My Stuff, which we listened to about a dozen times on the road. Then later with the discovery of the earlier albums — including Killer Carlin, the pre-Lenny Bruce material he did teamed with Jack Burns — and AM/FM, in which you can literally hear the guy reinventing his routine.

The B-side is full of his old "pieces" like game show send-ups and the fake news reports, whereas the A-side is more his raw stream-of-conciousness stuff. I think it's interesting how strains of both kinds of humor would continue to come together and combine in different forms over the years. I'd hear a bit on one of his HBO specials — or at one of the live concerts of his I got to see — and I'd be able to sort of trace its lineage a little bit.

And I liked how as some comics lose their edge, he'd come back and surprise me with this album or that one as I got older. I remember at the beginning of the "Explicit Lyrics" business being carded for buying one while in college — carded for buying a comedy album! — that seemed to speak against the whole direction of his later career. (I remember that happened in the mall when I was hanging out with a columnist for the college paper I worked on — he was so offended by the episode he wrote a whole column calling for Tipper Gore to be run out of the state. George might have approved.)

I did see him in concert, as I said, a couple of times at the grand Memphis Orpheum and then once, remakably, at a tiny casino room on a Wisconsin reservation. I was continually amazed at how he never stopped working and creating new material — and was willing to spend so much time out on the road at these little places, working on the new stuff. Which was amazing to watch, too — some bits of that backwoods concert that would turn up in the next HBO set and some he'd discard, but he delivered it all like it was part of a routine he'd been doing for years.

I always liked seeing him turn up in movies — Car Wash and Bill and Ted both being better films than they probably had to be — and I tried to get all his books, as well — my favorite is the big over-sized poster book, full of bizarre stuff including his arrest record for indecency in one of his concerts. But I'll prize the audio routines most of all — and I know I'll be listening to them until the electrons wear off the CDs.

This weekend's irony is that I had just written a Sword & Sarcasm sequence, to be published in a few weeks, inspired by one of his one-off lines. I didn't know this news would be coming, obviously, but either way, it's intended as a tribute.

Carlin once said in a routine that he didn't want to be buried — "I want to be blown up!", in a field with all his friends watching. I've used that line, on occasion, too. However he's memorialized, he will be remembered.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"Now if we could only prove you stink in a court of law..."

When Marn Hierogryph said that line in Knights #2, I never knew he was drawing on Earthly case law. Apparently the Duke football team has indeed proven it stinks in a court of law...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Feeorin Wednesday

I am reliably informed this Wednesday holds the promise of Knights of the Old Republic #30 sitting on the shelves of your fine comic book establishment. Seekest ye thou this, and readeth. I'll have some thoughts online later on once the pressure system moves and my brain stops hurting. (And speaking of, for those who have asked — the flooding in Wisconsin missed us, though not by a lot. Our thoughts, of course, with the folks further down the river system!)

Readers in France might also check out Comic Box Extra #3, their big Iron Man issue — including an interview about my own Iron Man work. Just got my copy — it's a great looking magazine!
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