Tag Archives: Games

Emerald City Comicon 2018: March 1-4

Emerald City Comicon 2018: March 1-4

Emerald City Comicon is and integral part of the fabric of Seattle. It is a tradition that has grown and developed into an impressive and highly anticipated annual event. ECCC is one of the first, if not the first stop, for many creatives as they embark upon their comics convention tours–and a most welcome one. That has a lot to do with ReedPOP‘s leadership. And, of course, it has a lot to do with so many loyal fans of a uniquely Pacific Northwest celebration of pop culture. Maybe folks are more polite and mellow in this region. We won’t dissect it any further and just be grateful. Now is the time to get ready and to keep an eye out for updates on all things ECCC.

ECCC and SYFY WIRE

JENNIFER MORRISON at ECCC 2018

Whether it is a chance to see two of the legends from “Back to Future,” Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) and Tom Wilson (Biff Tannen) or a favorite talent at Artist Alley, there is something for everyone at ECCC.

BACK TO THE FUTURE at ECCC 2018

ECCC Artist Alley 2018

ECCC Artist Alley 2018

As usual, Comics Grinder will venture out and report back from various panels, activity on the showroom floor, and whatever should catch the eye. If you are in Seattle, and love comics and pop culture, then make sure to be part of Emerald City Comicon.

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Filed under Comics, ECCC, Emerald City Comicon, pop culture

Review: ‘Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D’

‘Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D’

Creating a biographical work in comics is a very distinct venture. It requires a fine agility as you’re balancing a myriad of facts, more than you will be able to neatly fit into one graphic novel. Any number of factors can add to the complexity, such as the writer figuring what to use if he has personally conducted interviews. David Kushner was one of the last journalists to interview D&D co-creator Gary Gygax prior to his death. He has now teamed up with award-winning illustrator Koren Shadmi on a nonfiction comic book chronicling Gary Gygax’s life and the creation of D&D: RISE OF THE DUNGEON MASTER: GARY GYGAX AND THE CREATION OF D&D, recently published by Nation Books. It is an ambitious undertaking, the first of its kind, and well worth a read.

Dave Arneson, a true dreamer.

Kushner and Shadmi do a wonderful job of laying down a behind-the-scenes narrative to Dungeons & Dragons, a pop culture phenomena that we all know to some degree. You may have never seen yourself as a role-playing game enthusiast, but you can’t help but get caught up in the details and history of a bona fide subculture. This book succeeds in putting a face to what has become known the world over as Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, there are two prominent faces involved here: Gary Gygax, the original guy to tinker with new ideas for role-playing games (instead of always military themes, why not include wizards?); and Dave Arneson, the guy next in line who refined what Gygax set in motion (don’t get lost in the rules and keep it fun!). Gygax was a middle-aged man with a family and Arneson was a young security guard working his way through college.

For the love of the game.

The best moments in the book are once we get to observe Gygax and Arneson just being themselves, warts and all. Gygax turns out to be more motivated towards turning his innovations into a profitable business. Arneson is far more the dreamer, only interested in refining the game. Arneson is so caught up in his own D&D world that he is left out of the burgeoning D&D business venture by Gygax and his associates.

“One day, you catch a break that will change your life.”

Kushner’s script places the story in various first-person points of views. At times, the narrative boxes are quoting Gygax or Arneson or simply become omniscient. While this narrative shift can be disconcerting at times, it’s understandable given the many segments to cover. You have a broad canvas to fill with this person saying this and that other person doing that. And, given the interview source material, there are times that you want to do a flashback scene and other times that you want the person to speak in the present moment. Overall, Kushner and Shadmi do a commendable job of bringing this tale to life. One thing is for sure, you will never look at Dungeons & Dragons the same way again.

RISE OF THE DUNGEON MASTER: GARY GYGAX AND THE CREATION OF D&D, published by Nation Books, is a 144-page black & white trade paperback. For more details, visit Nation Books. You can also purchase the book directly from Amazon right here.

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Filed under Comics, D&D, Dungeons & Dragons, Games, Geeks, Journalism, Koren Shadmi

Review: TETRIS: THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY by Box Brown

"Tetris: The Games People Play" by Box Brown

“Tetris: The Games People Play” by Box Brown

Box Brown is a cartoonist that I really admire for being able to take a subject he’s passionate about and distill it to its essentials into a comics format. His previous graphic novel was on the all-time great pro wrestler, Andre the Giant. You can read my review here. Brown’s latest book is all about the all-time classic video game, Tetris. Published by First Second Books, “Tetris: The Games People Play,” is a testimony to Brown’s determination to collect all the pieces to a story and create a greater whole.

Page excerpt from TETRIS: THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Page excerpt from TETRIS: THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

You most likely know the game even if you don’t normally keep up with games. It’s right up there with such legends as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. It’s a game with a simple charm and an uncanny allure with origins dating back to antiquity. You can learn more about it and play it for free at the official Tetris site right here. Essentially, the goal of the game is to arrange little blocks as they fall down your screen in the most efficient way possible. There’s a Zen vibe there in its relative simplicity. Ironically, the innocent little game of Tetris became entangled in a complex legal fight that found the game industry giants, Atari and Nintendo, locking horns.

Tetris was originally created in 1984 by Alexey Pajitnov. Brown faithfully follows the creator’s journey and all related Tetris canon. Now, what you probably do not know is that there is a lot of intrigue behind what happened to this game on its way to becoming a classic. When Pajitnov created the game, it was the result of his passion for games without any other plans beyond that. As a citizen of the Soviet Union, his only plan was simply to be a good computer programmer for the government. Brown runs with the story once a profit motive is triggered.

Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov

Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov

And so our story gains numerous twists and turns as a cat and mouse game is played out. It is at this point that all the machinations can get a bit overwhelming. Brown handles all these moving parts well. He keeps to a basically lean and clean grid of panels that helps to steady the eye. And, at various intervals, he will devote a page to a portrait of the next key player in the drama. It is a modest little portrait set off by a black background. It amounts to a perfect pause, a great way to catch one’s breath.

Brown seems to hold back a bit more with his artwork than he did in his last book. He has a rather pared-down style to begin with. For this book, I think he opted to simplify as much as possible for the sake of clarity given all the details involved. Some work in comics is mostly to digest information. Other work is mostly to admire the artwork. And so on. Brown strikes a nice balance of conveying information with a certain zeal and style all his own. Once you start this book, you’ll want to keep with it and get the whole Tetris story.

“Tetris: The Games People Play” is a 256-page duo-tone paperback, published by First Second Books. For more information and how to purchase, go right here.

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Filed under Box Brown, Comics, First Second, Games, Geek Culture, Geeks, Technology, Video Games

Seattle Focus: Kickstarter campaign for satire, ‘Mack Stuckey’s Guide to the Center of the Universe’

This is NOT "Sleepless in Seattle"

This is NOT “Sleepless in Seattle”

Mack Stuckey’s Guide to the Center of the Universe

A Kickstarter campaign has been launched (ends 8/28) for the illustrated novel, “Mack Stuckey’s Guide to the Center of the Universe,” a dark satire set in Seattle. This isn’t your “Sleepless in Seattle” or “Singles.” Join the campaign right here.

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Filed under Crowdfunding, Games, Geek Culture, Henry Chamberlain, Humor, Jennifer Daydreamer, Kickstarter, Microsoft, pop culture, Satire, Seattle, Sex, Social Commentary

BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: WHO WILL WIN?

"Batman V. Superman: Who Will Win?" game

“Batman V. Superman: Who Will Win?” game

Later this month sees the arrival of director Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” which hits theaters on March 25th. As we approach this landmark unveiling which will pit two of DC Comics’ most iconic figures we are gearing up for being hit with a barrage of promotional material and accompanying movie tie-ins. This includes the very recent release of the new Batman v Superman mobile game now available on both iOS and Android.

Those waiting to see the return of the Man of Steel as well as just how award-winning actor/director Ben Affleck will fare as he takes on the role of the caped crusader will be pleased to get in on the action for this upcoming on-screen bout. The game “Batman v. Superman: Who Will Win?” takes place in both Gotham and Metropolis and offers players the opportunity to play as either Superman or Batman.

Any battling game that includes “versus” in its title is going to focus a lot on “Who Will Win?” and, quite frankly, that’s exactly what’s happening here. But that will come as no surprise and won’t disappoint any fan.

Those movie fans who may be considering avoiding this one due to potential spoilers that may be included in the game or storyline will not have to worry as there’s nothing here that directly relates to the plot of the upcoming movie. What’s more this is a great little game to play especially for Superman fans who, let’s face it, have not exactly had a decent offering of video games up to this point that feature the last son of Krypton. While his new opponent already has plenty of well-conceived gaming efforts out there including a cool Dark Knight Rises slot game that you can play at allslotscasino.com and, of course, Batman: Arkham City.

Batman has fared much better in terms of video game adaptations mostly thanks to the series of Arkham-based games featuring a whole host of familiar Gotham faces battling it out against the man beneath the black cowl. With Warner Bros and DC Comics keen to take a bigger slice of the feature-based superhero box office which has been mostly dominated by Marvel for the past few years we’ll no doubt be seeing plenty more gaming spin-offs from their new Justice League venture.

The new mobile-based game from Warner Bros can be played on a web browser also and it’s an endless runner that requires players to chase through the streets collecting power-ups as they go along while dodging obstacles that happen to be in the way. And there is the inevitable face-off battle between the two superhero giants to see just who comes out on top.

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Filed under Batman, Comics, Games, movies, Superman

Review: ‘Game Art: Art from 40 Video Games and Interviews with Their Creators’ by Matt Sainsbury

Game-Art-No-Starch-Press

With holiday shopping fast upon us, Comics Grinder is ready to start making some holiday gift suggestions. Let’s start with this beautiful book, “Game Art,” published by No Starch Press, a collection of interviews with 40 top video game designers including page after page of eye-popping video game art. And, yes, this is art. You’ll find a wide variety of gorgeous work that would be suitable for framing. This is easily the perfect gift for virtually anyone. Here are some samples:

From "Fatal Frame 4"

From “Fatal Frame II” (Koei Tecmo Games)

From "Fairy Fencer F"

From “Fairy Fencer F” (Compile Heart)

From "Never Alone"

From “Never Alone” (E-Line Media)

From "Gamebook Adventures"

From “Gamebook Adventures” (Joshua Wright)

“Game Art” presents awesome game art that will inspire gamers and aspiring designers alike. Featuring major studios like Square Enix, Bioware, and Ubisoft as well as independents like Tale of Tales and E-Line Media, “Game Art” explores and celebrates the creative process that turns a video game into art. For more details, visit our friends at No Starch Press. You can also find “Game Art” over at Amazon right here.

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Filed under Art, Art books, Games, Illustration, No Starch Press, Video Game Art, Video Games

Graphic Novel Review: Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang’s IN REAL LIFE

Comics-InRealLife

“In Real Life” is one of this year’s most intriguing graphic novels as it raises questions not asked often enough. A New York Times bestselling graphic novel written by Cory Doctorow and drawn by Jen Wang, it is the story of Anda, a gamer, who discovers a black market system through the friendship she makes with, Raymond, a poor boy in China. The focus is on what exploited people must do in order to survive and what can be done to help them rise up and out of their circumstances. But it’s also about the avatars we use to hide from the world. As is clearly depicted here, Anda has problems with the real world and her place in it.

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Filed under Comics, Cory Doctorow, First Second, Games, Geek Culture, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Jen Wang, Orbital Comics

Comic-Con 2014 Interview: Paul Tobin on THE WITCHER and PROMETHEUS: FIRE AND STONE

Paul Tobin is a comic book writer who is known for his work with Marvel Comics, among a full roster of other works. With Dark Horse Comics, Tobin has worked, with his wife, Colleen Coover, on BANDETTE; with Joe Querio on THE WITCHER; and with Juan Ferreyra on COLDER as welll as PROMETHEUS: FIRE AND STONE. For this interview, we focus on the writing in The Witcher and chat a bit about the Aliens Predator Prometheus crossover event.

From THE WITCHER by Paul Tobin and Joe Querio

From THE WITCHER by Paul Tobin and Joe Querio

Based on the popular book series of the same name by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher is an action role-playing video game developed by CD Projekt RED and published by Atari, Inc. Selling millions of copies, the short stories by Sapkowski feature a fantasy world inspired by Polish folklore with supernatural themes. The next game release is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, set for February 24, 2015, and it will make the perfect companion to the trade paperback release of The Witcher graphic novel.

Look for the trade paperback of The Witcher Volume 1 to come out on September 24, 2014. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

As Tobin explains, he breaks everything down by panel while making sure not to crowd the artist. Panel by panel breakdown is essential in many ways, not to mention continuity. We take a close look at some panels that set up an important plot point: the introduction of the character, Marta, hovering in the distance, who Jakob is inextricably linked to.

From PROMETHEUS: FIRE AND STONE by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra

From PROMETHEUS: FIRE AND STONE by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra

And we talk about Tobin’s Prometheus: Fire and Stone. It was Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie’s brilliant idea to bring together all the writers on the crossover event. While each writer had a separate stand-alone book to work on, getting together allowed them to share ideas and actually make each other’s work better.

Tobin acknowledged that he’s a very private writer but he loved this format with ideas flowing back and forth in a supportive environment. It will make reading all the books that much smoother. This blockbuster crossover event begins with Tobin’s Prometheus: Fire and Stone.

Look for the first issue of Prometheus: Fire and Stone out on September 10, 2014. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Comic-Con, Comic-Con 2014, Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Paul Tobin

Games Review: Slots Heaven’s Iron Man 3 Slots

Slots-Heaven

One thing I’ve been daydreaming about lately is the original Rat Pack from “Ocean’s Eleven.” I just recently posted a review on the original movie from 1960. This detour into retro Las Vegas has led me to games of chance you can play in the comfort of your own home. I stumbled upon a nice virtual Vegas experience over at Slots Heaven. It’s interesting how there are games catering to every taste, including comics, particularly the Iron Man 3 Slots.

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Filed under Casinos, Gambling, Game Reviews, Games

CCG EXPO 2014: The 10th China International Cartoon & Game Expo, July 10-14, 2014

Visitors select comics products during the 9th China International Comics Games Expo (CCG Expo) in Shanghai, east China, July 11, 2013. A total of 325 animation and game companies from home and abroad took part in the five-day expo, which kicked off here on Thursday. [Photo: Xinhua/Liu Xiaojing]

Visitors select comics products during the 9th China International Comics Games Expo (CCG Expo) in Shanghai, east China, July 11, 2013. A total of 325 animation and game companies from home and abroad took part in the five-day expo, which kicked off here on Thursday. [Photo: Xinhua/Liu Xiaojing]

Entering its 10th anniversary, CCG EXPO must be quite an event. For us in the West, we’d do well to take a closer look. How many comics and game creators in China are you aware of? We’ll give you some time to think that over.

China Daily: CCG EXPO 2014-The 10th China International Cartoon & Game Expo(CCG EXPO) is held by People’s Republic of China Ministry of Culture and Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, and organized by Shanghai Municipal Culture, Radio Broadcasting, Film and Television Administration and Shanghai Media Group co., LTD. (SMG). So far, it has been successfully 8 times. SInce the 1st Exhibition, after 8 years, annual CCG EXPO has featured as professional, international, high-level, large-scale. Now, this event aims to give the priority to B2B and partially depends on B2C.

Visit the official CCG EXPO site right here.

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Filed under CCG EXPO, China, Comics, Comics News