Work, continuing to be the time-sucking monstrosity that it’s been the past few weeks, has now gone a step beyond, robbing me of precious New Comic Book Day. So while the following books aren’t in hand, they are the ones I plan on picking up as soon as the opportunity presents itself (most likely tomorrow. Never fear!).
(ed. note: Intrepid contributor ViciousPjuraHead is spending the summer in Italy and will be filing dispatches of a gaming or comic related nature, when he gets around to it.)
The fact that the keyword for the FIFA 13 is “unpredictable” has me salivating; for as long as I’ve played the Fifa franchise I’ve always thought that the gameplay was too calculated and too precise. If I could’ve communicated one thing to EA over the past three years it would’ve been, “Why don’t you watch five soccer games on TV, and everything that happens in those five games, should (possibly) happen in the video game”. EA’s slogan is “if it’s in the game, it’s in the game “ right?. (I’ll let John Terry kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the leg slip on this one). Attacking Intelligence, Complete Dribbling, First Touch Control, Tactical Free Kicks and an updated Player Impact Engine are all massive updates and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.
The fact that International competitions are playing a big part in the game is just as important as the gameplay improvements. I am much more of an International soccer fan than a club fan (maybe because I am history teacher and Nationalistic undertones among games always makes me excited). In Euro 2012 how awesome would It have been if Germany was placed in Group 1 instead of Greece? Forget the Group of Death (Russia, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic), it’d be called the Group of Rancor, ’40’s edition.
The Skills Games are an important enhancement; now I’ll be able to effectively learn what skills to use and when, as opposed to randomly using a skill move and hoping (and usually failing) to get by my opponent. I’m a bit worried though, as it’ll be helpful for casual gamers like myself but I have a feeling it may make the best even better.
I’ll give this year’s Career Mode an honest to goodness fair chance. I was always hesitant in the past because a 38 game season was way too long in my opinion. With the deeper career mode, a more realistic transfer market, and the opportunity to start as a rookie in a teams youth academy and work your way up to the top, this can only make you a better player in the long run both in offline and online modes. I like the possibility of taking your country to World Cup Glory, either by playing for a country or being the coach. I’m taking Zambia to the Cup, baby!
Nothing new has been mentioned about Ultimate Team as of yet, but I’m really hoping they keep up the good work and continue to make fun and accessible for all gamers. My only gripe is that for the two years I have never gotten a player from a pack who was more than an 85 (Stekelenburg) who everybody had anyway. I have spent easily 50-75 dollars the last two years and still cannot manage to get anyone of significance. Don’t know if it’s luck but here is hoping my luck changes for FIFA 13.
(New contributor thegreekdog has arrived; your reading list is squarely in his sights.)
There is some cross-genre pollination as between video gamers, comic readers, and fantasy readers. If you’re knowledgeable about arrow-studded ACLs preventing one from fighting dragons, you’re also likely knowledgeable about the newest Batman retcon, and you’re also angrily awaiting George R.R. Martin’s next book (the dude has to write faster, if only because the HBO show is going to catch up with him). In any event, I spend much of my time reading fantasy and science fiction. I skip around a lot. I may be reading a book published in 2011 (see below) or I may be reading a book published in 1959 (yes, yes, I’m a Philistine for not reading Starship Troopers until now).
In any event, I like classifications for my fantasy reading pleasure. There’s kid fantasy (David Eddings), there’s classic fantasy (LOTR), and there’s realistic fantasy (GRRM or GoT or whatever acronym we’re associating with the overrated series written by a walrus). There’s also realistic and high-falutin’ fantasy. And that brings me to Steven Erikson.
Steven Erikson (a Canadian, but we won’t hold that against him) has written one of the most epic fantasy series I’ve ever read: Malazan Book of the Fallen. If you want more biography, history, etc., hit up Wikipedia.
Erikson writes fantasy novels that are ultra-realstic in the vein of GRRM. People die. People die a lot. People that you care about. That’s surely not the only “realistic” part of realistic fantasy, but that’s the part that gets people like me to keep reading. And Erikson delivers that.
Erikson also delivers to the thinking man a version of philosophy that’s hard to resist (if you’re a thinking man… or woman). Once you get through the first book, which is as ponderous as LOTR and quite hard to follow, you’ll be treated to a treasure trove of great stories and grand philosophical ideas. There’s the mortals turned gods; there’s the philosopher king and his godly assistant; there’s a sergeant that plays the fiddle; there’s a guy that eats too much; and, of course there are dragons. There are discussions of the meaning of life, why people go to war and fight, what it means to sacrifice, and what is love. It’s a funny and intelligent series. It completely took over my personal life for the last six months. And, at the risk of killing your ability to do anything other than read ponderous fantasy, I highly recommend the series.
And, to complete matters, I literally cried real, big boy tears for the entire last two chapters of the last book.
So, start with Gardens of the Moon (published in 1999) and read through The Crippled God (published in 2011). Thank me later.
Modern Borefare: What does the next year look like for SSLI? How far out do you have the series plotted and do you stick to that plan pretty rigidly or do you find yourself going off on tangents?
Ryan: More like what does next week look like. It kind of feels like we have just finished clearing our throats when it comes to the story.We have always had a lot ideas floating around, but until recently we weren’t always clear on how to get our characters from point A to point B. For instance, we have had a story to tell about Brooklyn since day one, but I don’t think we could have told it before now.I think it took us this long just to figure out who our characters were, where they were going and what they wanted. Now that we have a clearer sense of that I think we can start mapping out a bigger picture.
Eastin: The Hell arc was supposed to be three strips long. It turned into eleven. We knew the ending, so we just kept it going until we could reach that point naturally. So, we have a basic idea, but if something needs to be cut short or drawn out, we’ve got no problem doing either.
MB: What are your favorite webcomics?
R: No surprises. The ones I never miss are Penny Arcade and PvP. My favorite at the moment is probably Hark a Vagrant, just like everyone else on the planet. I also was sort of obsessed with this comic called Art Animals for a while. It was compelling in the same way as watching a car crash, I couldn’t make myself look away..With most other webcomics, like The Abominable Charles Christopher or Chainsawsuit, I tend to just swoop in every two months and make a run through the archives.
R: Wow, xkcd, that is so underground.
E: I usually like to Instagram xkcd strips.
MB: What, if any, webcomic trends bother you? What annoys you about webcomics? Conversely, what excites you about webcomics?
R: I hate comics about people’s everyday lives. There are exceptions to this rule but biographical comics mostly suck. Too often biography just means wish fulfillment or self-aggrandizement. I crave characters.
E: Yeah. Not really a fan of one-panelers with ironic captions, either. What I like though? I love that people are willing to create, do, and then put it out there for the world to see. It’s kind of like all those crazy ideas you had as a kid finally have an outlet, and some of them out there are pretty damn awesome!
R: Eastin just told me that he hates Sorry Comics. Now I hate him. Sorry Comics is great because rather than being wish fulfillment it is an unblinking confessional of all the times the creator fucked up.
E: ^ Rude.
R: What excites me about webcomics is that there is literally no gatekeeper for webcomics. Anyone can make one. Imagine if that was true of video games? Movies? Academia (cough, cough)? Anything else really? I guess it is starting to happen to novels with the Kindle, but I think it is still easier to put out a webcomic and get it in front of a lot of people than pretty much anything else.
MB: Any advice for people looking to start their own comic?
R: You just have to do it. Even if you are writing a shitty biographical comic that I am going to hate, you just need to make a publishing schedule and stick to it. The hardest part is making sure there is a new comic on the site every week.In that regard, it helps to have a partner who you are responsible to. No one wants to be the guy who draws the comic at his girlfriend’s house, but then forgets the scanner at home resulting in a late strip. Not that Eastin did that.
E: Get ready to give up your weekends. Forever. Get on the social networks and talk to other creators, a lot of them are really cool and willing to spread your work if you just ask. There’s actually a really supportive community out there.
MB: What are your favorite non-webcomic comics?
R:: I am working my way up the ladder to claim the title of the world’s biggest Thor fanboy.
Beyond that I love Conan the Barbarian comics. That means both the old Savage Sword of Conan stuff with its copious side boobs and the new Brian Wood/Becky Cloonan stuff. Obviously, I also like Wood’s Northlanders since it is essentially Conan + Thor.
My tastes are pretty omnivorous though. I will read anything. I just started reading Bone which I have wanted to get to ever since I saw it being serialized in Disney Adventures at age 12.
E: This list could go on forever. Taking a graphic novel class with Scott Snyder (RYAN: Name dropper.) really turned me into a DC fanboy, but lately, I’ve been branching out.
I’ll just throw out a few of my favorites:
Batman (Snyder and Capullo)
Animal Man (Lemire)
Sweet Tooth (Lemire)
Wonder Woman (Azzarello)
Wolverine and the X-Men (Aaron)
Peter Panzerfaust (Wiebe)
Action Comics (Morrison)
More and more I’m finding a lot of really good creator owned stuff, which is really exciting to see. There are comics about everything–so don’t ever let anyone tell you they have no interest in reading a comic book.
Oh and a really weird and depressing book that is beautifully illustrated is Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth. It’s worth taking a look.
MB: Going to NYCC this year? If so, do you plan on doing anything differently from last year?
R: Definitely! Last year we had no idea what we were doing. We just kind of wandered around handing out flyers and temporary tattoos. It was pretty sad actually. I think in total we got like 50 hits from all our “marketing.”
This year I think our approach will be more about networking and less about promotion. NYCC is such a sensory overload that no one is going to remember some webcomic guys who gave them a flyer. If we can link up with some other creators this year I would consider that a victory.
E: I’m totally pumped for it! Like Ryan said, last year we had no idea what we were doing. We probably passed by some really great writers and artists and had no clue who they were. I feel much more prepared this year.
And I just love browsing the vendors from the small ones to right on up to Midtown Comics.
Let’s get those badges!
MB: Do you see yourself eventually going to a 2 or even 3 times a week schedule?
R: We would love, love, love to do this. Hell, we’d put it out seven days a week! Once we successfully run a $100k Kickstarter and are able to quit our day jobs we will get right on it!
Truthfully though, three days a week would probably be the sweet spot for a strip like SSLI. We like doing longer strips, so a daily would be too ambitious.
The once a week thing is more a result of the time we are able to put in rather than a conscious choice.
MB:Anything I forgot to mention that you’d like to bring up? Feel free! (Rants are fine but I draw the line at screeds.)
SELF-IMPOSED QUESTION #1: Which of you is more handsome?
R: You’re really too kind, but who could argue?
SELF-IMPOSED QUESTION #2: What time is it right now?
SELF-IMPOSED QUESTION #3: Which of you is still awake?
R: Not Eastin.
After the jump check out the original outline for the end of the Multar fight: