Wild Stars Variant Cover Reveal

This variant cover will be unlocked at $2000:

low res of Mark's version of the cover

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https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1161542777/wild-stars-35th-anniversary-time-warmageddon

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The CalArts Thing

In the wake of the new Thundercats show, CalArts is taking a beating for being producing an ugly, simplistic, and homogenized art style in animation that has become linked to SocJus.

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It’s long been the subject of several memes.calarts meme

There was a good thread recently about why “CalArts” has become linked with SocJus that can be read here.

But what is “CalArts” really like, and is it really to blame? Is it ugly and homogeneous? I’ll let you be the judge.

I found a page that has the 2018 films of CalArts animation students.

Here is something from a 4th year CalArts student:

Squiggly words and keyframes aren’t what comes to mind when most folks think of animation.

This animation from a 4th year would’ve been nuked from orbit had it been posted on NewGrounds:

On the other hand, 13 pages in, I did find this gem by a 1st year.

Here’s a first year that, while the art is kind of ugly, shows mastery of the concepts of animation.

CalArts needs Jeongho Lee and Katie Billions more than they need CalArts.

The few good ones are so out of the league of much of what’s coming out that being associated with CalArts may be to their detriment in the future, because the person who made Gumball Machine will now be inextricably linked with the person who made this:

Because the CalArts short films are listed by the number of plays they’ve received, fewer and fewer people will see Gumball Machine because it’s behind a dozen pages of stuff like that.

I don’t think that it’s fair to say that CalArts it turning out a homogenized style of design, but much of the design coming out of it IS rather ugly, and many of the student animations range from poor to mediocre in quality. Of course, some of that can be chalked up to student effort; you’ll always have your A, B, C, and D students turning in a varying quality of work.

Interview With Jon Del Arroz, Jeffro on Geek Gab, and Cirsova Line Art

Not long after our interview with Chris Lansdown, we also spoke with Jon Del Arroz about Cirsova’s background as an RPG setting and the types of stories Cirsova publishes and is looking for.  You can read it here.

Also over the weekend, Jeffro Johnson, one of our regular columnists and the author of the bestselling Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons, was on Geek Gab.

Finally, I took a minute to snap the line-art that Ben Rodriguez sent for our Eldritch Earth cover.

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Should I have put this up on the chopping block? Probably, but I wanted to actually own an original piece of Cirsova artwork, at least for a little while.

Please consider backing us on Kickstarter! Only $1 gets you a digital subscription to our 2017 issues.

Cover 5 Reveal + New T-Shirt Designs Up

Cover Art is done for our Spring Eldritch Earth Issue!  Featured cover story is Darla of Deodanth by Louise Sorensen. Art by Benjamin A. Rodriguez.

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We will probably begin taking pre-orders sometime next week.

Also, all Cirsova covers are now available at our Tee-Public store.

The Darla of Deodanth design will be discounted for a couple days, so grab it while you can!

Cover and Defense

Two completely separate things, in this case!

At Seagull Rising, Jon Mollison talks about Cirsova’s cover art in comparison to some of the big-name magazines.

One thing, as a heavy fantasy-leaning magazine with most of our SF stuff being more Sword & Planet, we have ended up with more fantasy-esque covers. Worth noting, though, the guy on the cover of issue 2 has a pre-Star Wars light saber (Star Lances; the first Dream Lords book was 1975).

It may be a bit before we get an outer-space SF cover, especially since issue 5 is going to be Lovecraftian Sword & Planet, but we’ve always wanted to go for really cool, bright and colorful covers, not just to set us apart from so many of today’s magazines*, but because we want them to look awesome. We really could not have achieved this without Jabari Weathers, who is amazingly talented.

Meanwhile, Doug Cole at Gaming Ballistic has taken a look at our post on Parrying and extrapolated a bit on his own ideas for various defensive mechanics in RPGs. I don’t know that anyone will ever agree on the best mechanical way to handle the defensive utility offered by a shield, but Doug has a few of his own to offer up in his Dragon Heresy game.

*:Though FWIW, the cover art for Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has almost always been a consistently bland and muddied mess of abstraction.

That New Swords & Wizardry Thing…

Okay, some quick thinks on the new Swords & Wizardry thing, which appears to be an even bigger “debacle”::fingerquotes:: than I imagined. How much of the debacle is people (one person) strawmanning? I don’t really know.

So, Frog God Games is kickstarting a new printing of Swords & Wizardry. They put Stacy Dellorfano in charge of the art direction and all of the art is done by women. The stated reason for doing this is “the fact that many OSR games have a physical appearance and presentation that really targets the 40 year old guys who’ve been gaming since forever, and doesn’t have nearly as much appeal to younger or female gamers of the generations following that first wave of players from the 1980s.” So, they put a grimdark exploding elk skull with butterflies on the cover.

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Problems with the compositional elements aside*, my take is that it’s an odd, possibly bad, choice at best given that stated goal, especially when the previous cover was done by the guy known for the covers of ‘fun for the whole family’ toystore editions of Dungeons & Dragons.

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While some people don’t like the art, period, others are, like me, simply confused as to why this was chosen for the cover.(I really like a lot of what I’ve seen of Kaos Nest’s work as an illustrator, but she’s not someone that would come to mind for a “more-accessible next printing that [Frog God Games] are targeting toward the mainstream market.”) What I haven’t seen is any wailing or gnashing of teeth about the OSRness of the new printing. It’s not an attack on innovation, or even an attack on “not even innovative” innovation; it’s a befuddlement at a single befuddling art direction decision. Then again, there’s really only one guy saying that it is, so it’s probably best to not worry about it.

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Seriously, though, S&W is the last big-named OSR system that springs to mind when I hear ‘we need a more mainstream accessible product that will have wider demographic appeal’.

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*generally you don’t want any sort of detailed or dynamic elements where there will be text if you can help it. Changing the transparent yellow to a bright red and the red to a yellow would be a step in the right direction as far as composition goes, but that doesn’t address the issue I took with it.

Disclosure: I don’t play or own any Swords & Wizardry products; aside from Blueholme (and DCC 4th printing, if it ever ships), I don’t own any OSR products. I guess I’m not even really OSR! I just thought it was a really weird choice for a cover given what the stated intentions were.

Update: Okay, so I found one guy who’s on about this as an attack on the OSR rather than just as a bad art/design choice, but his beef is the quip about “40 year old guys” in conjunction with the art as part of a virtue signaling on FGG’s part to dump on their core fanbase.