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This is a surprisingly appropriate page to post today. (Well, yesterday, as you’re reading this. But I’m setting this up on Thursday.) August 28th would have been Jack Kirby’s 97th birthday. It’s impossible to overstate Kirby’s impact on the medium of comics; he didn’t just rewrite the language that we use to tell stories, he created a whole new language with which to do so. He is the William Shakespeare of the comics medium. Only Will Eisner, Stan Lee, and Siegel and Schuster can claim to breathe the same air as Kirby, as far as I’m concerned. Will straight up researched Kirby’s Fantastic Four in order to get Bashan’s body modifications just right…and I wasn’t referring to the FF in my script. I was referring to Street Fighter. Happy Birthday, your Highness. Long May You Reign.

None of the above is meant to disparage any other creator, obviously, but they call Jack Kirby “the King” for a reason. Certainly, this isn’y MY first homage to Jack Kirby. The very first page of Rocket Queen and The Wrench #1:

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I like this page A LOT. One of my favorite parts about it, and I know that Will is really proud of this little touch, is how in Panel One, Babydoll is looking all over the place with her myriad eyes, as she fights in a variety of directions, but in Panel Two, all of her eyes are focused on the one guy that she’s smashing. I also appreciate that this is the first time that we get to see how dangerous Babydoll actually is.

Speaking for myself, it was also nice to get back to some “noir”-style narration. I’ve been feeling like I’ve gotten away from that, and I’m making a conscious effort to do more of it.

New PH fact #3: Remember when I mentioned that there were more people of color in the new PH? I was talking to one of my players the other day and told him that I’d know we’d made it when there was a black demi-human illustrated into a D&D book, like a black elf or something. And then, lo and behold, I find a black dwarf in an illustration in the spells section of the book. Totally awesome.

Also, Rocket Queen and The Wrench #3 is now available for purchase on Comixology, and we just got reviewed by Newsarama! (You have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the article.) Not a bad review, either, although I’d really prefer to be hitting perfect 10s. Lots of work ahead of us!

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A few weeks ago, when I wrote this page, I tweeted my confidence that this was going to be an awesome page. I feel completely validated. This is bit of a departure for Hunter lately…he’s been going into every combat fueled by rage, but here, he’s simply annoyed.

The above said, as I set up these pages, I find myself wondering: Do we overdo it with these splash pages? When you only get three pages a week, do the splash pages make you feel like you’re getting less story?

Speaking for myself, as I conceive things, this is a visual medium, and our trump card in this medium is the splash page. Sometimes, you want me pushing things forward through dialogue, but I always see dialogue as set up and action pieces as pay off. I also think that the biggest pay off comes in the form of splashes. But I could be wrong; I’m certainly not approaching this from the standpoint of a reader.

Also, I’m writing this with collected editions in mind, I have to admit. We’re slowly circling around the idea of a collected edition…but a part of our hesitation is that our readership isn’t really as big as we might hope for. We have a small group of dedicated readers, emphasis on the word “small.” I’d love to find out that there is a strong interest in a book, frankly, so if you really want one, now is a good time to speak up!

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You know, I look at what I wrote on this page and, taken out of context, it seems like Brother Bashan and The Human Divine are the good guys in this situation. Will absolutely MURDERED that last panel, it’s in the running for my favorite shot from the series thus far. Iosephus is a sinister-looking little dude.

New PH fact that I like: Feats are not gone from the game. During level advancement, each class has different points at which they can increase ability scores. As an optional rule, you can take a feat instead of an ability score increase.

New PH fact that I like even more: I have never seen so many illustrations of people of color in a D&D book before. That hit me right where I live. I’ve never really complained about the lack of them in the past, but I’m really glad that they’ve stepped up their game now.

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I really dig the designs for the Human Divine. Whatever I was envisioning when I first created them, it wasn’t this. Will went deeper into the idea of a monk (as presented in D&D or in kung fu movies) than I probably would have. And do the markings connote rank? Certainly, Bashan’s markings are the most intricate, and he is their “squad commander,” for lack of a better term. Also, is the hair thing a requirement or simply a preferred affectation? (The one guy has hair, and Bashan has his goatee.) The look of these guys has been subtly influencing the way I write them since they first appeared on the page.

So, I participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge the other day, and that was comedy of errors, let me tell you. It wasn’t all captured on video, which was part of the comedy, let me tell you. For now, the video is too large to post here, and I’m sure that there’s a way around that, but I have a million and one things to do today. Somehow, I doubt I’ll get to many of them, though…

 

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