Sunday, 28 February 2010

February Painting Summary

Second full month. Last month was less successful than I hoped, and in turn I had wished for a better outcome for February, a month in which I hoped to paint at least 5 miniatures. I managed 6, so I am quietly pleased. In addition I have put base colours onto 2 more, and another is near to finished.

This month I painted:
- Tangent
- Six Feet Under
- Hellsmith
- 2 Sentry Bots
- Advanced Sentry Bot (Sentry Bot with the backpack added)

Due to camera problems I have only photographed Tangent and Six Feet Under, but I am happy with the results of all of the minis I finished. I am still determined to press on with the challenge to help me get my minis finished. Hopefully March will be another successful month, although time will be both more plentiful in some ways and more limited in others.

Saturday, 27 February 2010


Pulp City is divided into Alignments: Heroes and Villains, setting up the premise of a conflict of good versus evil.

Both of these Alignments (as well as those neutrals who straddle both camps) also encompasses a number of Factions, also known occasionally as Allegiances.

The currently known Factions with models available or upcoming are the following(click on Sub-faction name for a link to models under that allegiance):

ARC: (H/V) Ape Revolution Committee. Mutated intelligent apes and monkeys working to their own agenda.

Blood Watch: (H) heroic yet arcane mystic defenders of the city and especially Twilight Hills.

Coven: (V) villainous mercenaries making use of technology as well as esoteric forces.

Forgotten: (V) forces from ancient myth at large in Pulp City.

Grimm Under Empire: under dwelling occasional invaders.

Heavy Metal: (H) technologically orientated heroes.

Otherside: (H/V?) extra-dimensional faction.

Necroplane: (V) life-leeching villainous force from another plane.

Ulthar: (V) alien invaders.

In addition there are Heroes, Villains and Hero/Villains that belong to no Faction. Under the likes of Dead Eye and Mysterious Man this lack of Sub-faction creates an ad hoc Faction bonus for all if all are without allegiance.

It is Factions that factor into skills such as Freelancer and Merc (see this post here for discussion).

Respect (short story)

I have been working on a number of writing projects in the past year, and in that vein recently completed this Pulp City-inspired short story, 'Respect'.

It can be accessed through this link: here.

Comments and criticism welcome.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Supreme Genesis

One of the things I love about Pulp City is the degree of interactivity that it's creator offers. Not in a fully (de)constructable manner, but instead that fans are encouraged to participate in the growth of the game in every sense.

In one way this is through the accessibility of the rules (free download) and the presence of the creator(s) on the Pulp City Forums.

Another, possibly more intriguing avenue, is the use fan-participation contests run by Pulp Monsters. These contests fly under the umbrella name of Supreme Genesis. The first contest (Supreme Genesis: Issue 1) was a character creation contest, which gave rise to the introduction of Father Oak and Acorn to the Pulp City mythos and mini range.

This was followed by Supreme Genesis: Year One. In this contest fans on the forum were able to vote for which of three characters they wished to see 'evolve' into a new form. Solar 'won', meaning we will eventually see Dark Solar released. After this came Supreme Genesis: Who Is Seabolt? wherein participants were given the chance to write the background of an upcoming model in the range. The winner was voted for by the forum members.

Next up were two concurrent contests, Supreme Genesis: Issue 2 - Battle For The Rooftops! and Supreme Genesis: Issue 3 - New Mutant Kids on the Block! The former was geared towards 'street level' duos whilst the latter was about creating adolescent trios. We should see the minis from these two contests this year (hopefully), possibly the first of them as soon as May.

The prize in the character creation contests has been copies of the minis and the kudos in creating them, which is a great little prize in my view. The Seabolt prize was an advance copy of the Seabolt mini (as well as Boreas, I believe).

The point is that I love this interactivity. I may not have been successful in the contests so far, but that has just spurred me to try harder and think better about how I approach them. I hope we see a Supreme Genesis 4. I honestly have no idea what form it would or could take, but I have started working on a raft of diverse concepts just in case.

If you are interested, take a look at this section of the forum: here. It may be worth checking out from time to time to see what other contests may follow.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


Tangent is a villain with a mysterious motivation. Her mutant special ability is truly unique. Her brain sees the world as an intricate network of tangled lines with glowing red points - the weak spots. After the subconscious analysis is completed, she swings the gun and the bullet hits the bulls eye.

Tangent was surprisingly quick to paint. Although James van Schaik is without doubt among my top 3 favourite sculptors (working for any manufacturer, not just Pulp Monsters), I was not overly enthusiastic about this mini before painting it. Not due to the quality of work, just that out of 40 or more minis in the range it doesn't make the 'top ten' of my favourites, as it were. That lack of enthusiasm changed as I discovered it was nice and straightforwards to paint, and so was able to get it finished fairly quickly, which is always rewarding and heartening. Which of course elevated my opinion of the mini - so apologies to Mr. van Schaik for not seeing the potential of a nicely constructed and crisply executed mini sooner. Looking at it now I need to work on my (human) flesh tones, but that will come, I hope.

In game play Tangent has a unique and fluid in-game resource pool allowing her to enhance her own capabilities, which adds a layer of complexity, which in itself should be interesting when I try her out in games.

Six Feet Under

Six Feet Under never steps back. His traumatic experience in Hellrock prison stripped the remnants of his sanity.

I finished and photographed Six Feet Under (also referred to as 6FU by some players) last week, however my camera appears to have 'died' as you may have noted from recent posts. Having photographed the mini, I was not going let that deter me. I ordered a USB SD memory card reader and voila, was able to access the pictures I had taken of Six Feet Under and Tangent.

I had started Six Feet Under at the same time as Hellsmith, planning to paint and finish both together. With both being over sized I found it slow, laborious and somewhat disheartening as I didn't seem to be progressing very fast. So I put both to one side and finished Tangent instead! Then while getting towards the end of Tangent I revisited Six Feet Under and finished him within a couple of days. Following that, I started (and quickly finished this time) a second Hellsmith with a completely different paint-scheme to the (as yet) unfinished first Hellsmith. Funny how these things work, isn't it? Anyhow, I am fairly pleased with the results for Six Feet Under. The model has had a little extra minor work since the photographs, but obviously I won't be rephotographing it imminently.

The sculpt is yet another by Jarek Smolka, who has sculpted most of my painted Pulp City minis thus far. As for gaming with Six Feet Under, well one tactic is to take him with Trail and Blood Rose and deliver 6FU as a 'melee bomb' to beat down a target. He will probably struggle to survive unsupported, but it should be brutally effective.


Just a quick post (since due to camera problems I still can't put any new pictures up, despite finishing Hellsmith today).

Before starting gaming and focusing on Pulp City I have never used resin (or metal) bases or basing components. Most of my minis were GW for tabletop gaming, or masses of Superfigs (and stuff to sit with the Superfigs). Therefore basing has long been a secondary concern.

When coming to Pulp City minis two factors kicked in to alter this mindset. Firstly, that the minis had set base sizes and they came with round lipped bases. secondly, I wanted the minis to be well presented. To that end I started acquiring resin scenic bases to mount them on, and I am glad I did. There are a number of excellent manufacturers out there, but currently I am primarily using bases from three of them. Click on the names of the suppliers for links.

Dragon Forge: (USA) I think most of my bases (especially the urban ones) are Dragon Forge. The bases are nice and simple, not overly cluttered and therefore work well with many different minis poses without much problem, in other words very gamer-friendly. The casting is superb, and the service is excellent. Another great factor is that international shipping is a cheap flat rate, and there are free items depending on overall spend, so judicious ordering is very helpful.

Fenris Games: (UK) After Dragon Forge, I probably use mostly Fenris' bases for my Pulp City minis. The do a few useful complementary ranges in a variety of sizes. Having an eBay shop means that things are not as well laid out as having a good online store, but that said they provide excellent and very helpful customer service. They also do all sorts of scenic pieces. Outside of Pulp City I will be using the Fenris 'Military Industrial complex' bases for a big (30 to 50+ minis maybe) Zombie project (this won't be specific to Pulp City, but I expect Zombies to pop up in some Pulp City games from time to time).

MaxMini: (Poland) MaxMini offer some bases tailored to specific Pulp City Supremes. They are nicely done, the only downside for me being that each is particularly unique. This may not be a problem for others, in which case I give them a high recommendation, but it means thematic basing tends to be lost. They also do some great little bits for conversions.

There are other suppliers like Micro Art Studio, King and Kerr and PK-Pro and lots of others, who I have yet to try, but with the three I talked about above my basing needs are pretty much covered.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Doctor Diablo (novel)

Have given my thoughts on a few comic books and collected editions, I thought I'd start to do the same for some books relating to the superhero and/or pulp genres.

First up is Doctor Diablo by H.G. Martin. A little tricky to pigeon-hole this one. The prose superhero genre is certainly not homogeneous by any standards. When you examine a 'genre' and it runs the gamut from the satirical/parodic Superfolks to the visceral and pulpy (in a very good way) Devil's Cape, to the literary intents of a book like Soon I Will Be Invincible, then it is certainly a broad church, both in terms of narrative and plot, as well as style.

Coming back to Doctor Diablo it skips along as pretty light fayre for the most part. In some ways the series of books I would most readily compare it with is the Stainless Steel Rat books by Harry Harrison. In that I mean there is a degree of humour and flawed character shown by our antihero narrator (the titular Doctor Diablo), but that it is not an out-and-out humour/comedy novel. Both focus on a career criminal and both place that character into the context of a specific genre (sci-fi for the Rat, and the world of superhero fiction for Doctor Diablo).

The novel itself is quite slim, and the plot is not overly complex. I won't divulge any major details except to say that Doctor Diablo becomes embroiled in collision course of action against San Francisco's nastiest and most vile villain. The named cast is almost entirely populated by super humans from both sides of the fence (mainly the criminal side), with normal folks pretty much kept out of the way. The characters are perhaps less rounded than I would have liked, but that didn't stop me enjoying the book. The writing style is light in a good way - as I say in reading it, the book skipped along. This is certainly no literary high-watermark, but that is okay because I for one really enjoyed it nonetheless.

One word of warning and the biggest criticism I would make is the vulgarity of some of the dialogue, especially in the latter stages. I daresay this was done for impact and to add a sense of verisimilitude. To my mind it was a lazy trick. It isn't an overwhelming amount of coarse language but it is there, it does escalate and it means I wouldn't recommend it for kids or young teenagers. I feel the author could have made an impact by focusing on narrative rather than a cheap ploy like this, especially as it seemed out of context by creeping into the later passages, but it wasn't too off-putting.

On the whole a recommended read. If you have tried and enjoyed books like Devil's Cape or Soon I Will Be Invincible then you may just enjoy it.

Image copyright © H.G. Martin.


While I seem to be without camera for the time being, we may see more non-miniatures posting for now.

I first read Incognito (written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Sean Phillips) last year, while it was being released in serial form by Marvel through their creator-owned imprint 'Icon' (also the home of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s Kick-Ass). I really enjoyed it, so much so that I picked up the collected trade paperback edition to allow ease of re-reading.

I had read stuff by Brubaker before (like Immortal Iron Fist), but he is not a writer whose work i closely follow since he has a heavy crime-fiction focus for his comics work, and that is a genre I have never been particularly into. Similarly I have seen Sean Phillips art on a few occasions but have never been an avid fan. So it was that i was searching for something new to read that wasn't tied into the massive story lines overwhelming both DC and Marvel these days. The cover of issue #1 of Incognito grabbed me enough to try it out. And I am glad that I did.

I won't offer a detailed synopsis since I don't like having stories spoiled that way, but I will try and say what I enjoyed about Incognito. The story centres on Zack, a science-villain (love that designation) formerly known as Zack Overkill, a brutal criminal who wreaked some terror along with his twin Xander at the behest of a master criminal. The story begins with what is evidently an life devoid of any direction for Zack, and devoid of any real motivation in any direction except numbness. Zack's past catches up with him as he finally discovers a new and unanticipated direction for himself. The rest is a pretty wild ride.

Incognito is a real mash-up. It has pulp overtones (in imagery and the characters populating this skewed universe); it has hard-boiled noir and crime-genre themes; it features some visceral and violent action; it has shades of super-heroes filtered through all of the other elements. What this adds up to is a great hard-boiled story of one man's transformation. It isn't for the squeamish and the language is very coarse in places. But that for me didn't detract from the enjoyment I had from this story. Of late I have begun to want brighter, simpler superhero stories to read - at least in the DC and Marvel universes. Outside of that I am more accepting of the kind of themes that a book like Incognito features.

This isn't a story about four-colour superheroes and supervillains. Instead it is about a man caught up in the unsteady and shifting circumstances associated with science-hero and science-villain culture. Brubaker and Phillips have created a compelling and absorbing little comic book universe in this story - I look forwards to revisiting it both with this story and any follow-ups they have planned.

Image copyright © Basement Gang Inc.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


I finished off painting Six Feet Under today, and Tangent a couple of days ago. So I thought I would photograph them, which I did. Then I came to upload the pictures and I get the red warning light indicating low battery power. So I pop in 2 rechargeable batteries (charged up a few weeks ago)...and nothing. Popped in 2 different rechargeable batteries (recharged the same time as the preceding set and brand new)...and again no function (not even the red light).

I am charging another set tonight in the hopes that the batteries were just totally flat and I haven't got a serious camera problem.

Annoying indeed. If anyone following this has any tips, please comment, even if only to allay my mounting worries.

DC's Red Circle Revisited - jumping on point for new readers

While waiting for some paint to dry, and deciding what colour to splash on another mini, I thought I'd post a little more about two comic books I really enjoy.

DC licensed a stable of decades old superheroes (and supervillains) from Archie Comics a couple of years ago. Following some delays the first fruits of that venture came out as a series of weekly one-shots (The Hangman, Inferno, The Web and The Shield). These were followed by two ongoing titles - The Shield and The Web. In the next few weeks each title has a 'jumping on point' of sorts for curious new readers.

Next week The Web (issue #6) sees a new writer on board for the lead feature - Matt Sturges, someone whose work I have enjoyed on a few DC books now. Since he will be kicking off new story arcs I think it offers a good starting point for new readers.

Two weeks later The Shield (issue #7) sees the start of a brand new lead story arc as well as the debut of the latest Red Circle character (the Fox - see image right). The Fox is written by Brandon Jerwa who wrote the preceding Inferno second feature (which will return after 4 months off), and the art is by Michael Avon Oeming who has done great work in the supers-themed crime title - Powers. The Fox is the fifth second wave Red Circle character (following Black Hood, the Comet, the Jaguar and Mr Justice).

Not only that but in May comes the Mighty Crusaders special, a one-shot bringing together the four principal Red Circle heroes (Shield, Web, Inferno and Hangman) and written by all of the current writers of the various features. The Pulp Citizen has been not-so-quietly excited by these comics in a way he hasn't by other output by DC in quite some time. And for interested parties, trade paperback collection should follow later this year, maybe around summer time I think.

Images copyright © DC Comics.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Brief Update

Painting has been very slow again this month, like last month. Last month seemed to be a 'motivation-execution of painting problem' in some ways. This month has seen other distractions, as I have a very important life event taking place next month requiring a lot of time in preparation. That said I have pretty much finished up Tangent and Six Feet Under is about 60-70% done, so hopefully I will have a couple of new minis to photograph in the next few days.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


I have been working on a few writing projects for the past year or so, and in that time have had some story ideas for Pulp City characters amongst other things. This morning I finished a short story I started a while back, having had the initial story idea last year, but having not really done anything about it.

I used the task of writing to try and work on some technical aspects of the story construction, pacing and themes, as well as trying out a couple of see-sawing viewpoints. I may try and upload it here some time if I can do so.

My painting may have more distractions to compete with this year...

Monday, 8 February 2010

Gaming Locations

The following is not my work but gleaned from various forum posts to give a flavour of what kind of terrain and battlefields can work well for the game.

As others have said, anything super heroic/urban will do. The locations in the printed book are:

Down Town: high-rises, business quarters, a mix of Chicago-architecture with LA climate and vegetation.
Big shiny futuristic building of Heavy Metal HQ, sandy beach and luxurious marina.

Newport: docks, slums, gang wars and crime lords, world of gambling, smuggling and blood sports.

Little Asia: this cozy little tourist district turns into a battlefield when night falls. It is a constant conflict of various ethnicities fighting for supremacy.

Outside the city:
Necroplane: Crooked mirror of our world, big graveyards forming cities, feudal country, blasted landscape with red rocks. Hellrock, the prison-town and the gathering point of military invasions, that's where the harvesting ships dock.

Grimm Undercity: Tunnels under Pulp City ridden with dwarvish Grimm, blind creatures ruled by a human.

Twilight Hills: the desert outside of Pulp City, a burial place of Native Americans where tears in reality happen the most often. HQ of Blood Watch who reside in the underground base built next to the first collapsed gate to Necroplane. These hills don't have eyes but are haunted.

Kodo Island: Several dozen miles of the Pulp City coast, a hidden island that serves as the HQ of the devilish Mysterious Man. The island is shrouded with artificially created clouds and guarded by extinct marine and flying beasts and everything else MM stole from the US military. The island is covered in lush jungle and creations, successful and failed alike, of the genetic manipulations make sure your Supremes will be entertained.

Ulthar Patriaships: Shaped like 12-tipped stars, these invasion ships represent the caste division of the society.

Team Building (2) - team-related skills

This is just a few thoughts to highlight some skills that I think serve a great group function within Pulp City.

Abilities for Supremes come in a variety of flavours: Traits; Exclusive Actions; Team Powers; Skills. The latter category of abilities covers a range of 'flat' bonuses that always work (unlike actions which often require opposed rolls). Amongst the pretty comprehensive skill list are a handful that have strong effects when team-building, allowing some synergies to be created and therefore exploited for benefit.

Cyberhead - in a team sense this is useful if building any strategies around Mechanical Minions, allowing those Minions to be deployed and used remotely. Plenty of examples including Androida, Chronin, C.O.R.E. (Heroes), Dr. Red, Virus (Hero/Villains), and Mysterious Man (Villain). This is an area the BOOM (Build Our Own Minions) rules can really play on with some work, I feel.
Freelancer - allows a model to 'drop' their usual Sub-faction allegiance; useful for including models such as Sanguine and Kitty Cheshire in Teams led by Dead Eye or Mysterious Man, or to avoid enemy Hatred bonuses.
Greed - a simple skill allowing a cost to be met to allow a Supreme to be used in a faction they do not normally count as; Heroes can play in Villain teams and vice versa with this one. Harrier (Hero) and Gentleman (Villain) have Greed.
Hatred - provides a bonus in opposed rolls against the target of Hatred. Useful if you know potential enemy team composition. Examples include Red Riding Hoodoo, Solar, Nuclear Jones, and Six Feet Under (Heroes).
Leader - boosts starting roll and Action Pool, and stacks with Tactician. Example is Solar using his Exclusive Resource.
Leader of Minions - useful not for the boosts to the team of Supremes, but instead to any Minions brought along to support them. A current example includes Mysterious Man who possesses a very healthy value in this skill. This skill can combine nicely with Gentleman's Team Power which boosts Minions in limited proximity of him.
Merc/Mercenary - a great little skill allowing the bearer to be counted as belonging to the most common allegiance in the team; great for filling out ranks if trying to build an EL 12+ team (in order to use a Level 3 Supreme). Gentleman and Tangent have this skill; Gentleman is great because he also has Greed (above) so can fill out the ranks in Hero Teams (at a price) as well as Villain Teams.
Resourceful - this boosts the available resources, and if choosing a specific resource strategy (perhaps using Minions to benefit from Leader of Minions and/or other abilities) can allow more such resources to be employed of course. Examples include Gentleman, Mysterious Man (Villain).
Super Duo - this creates a binary synergy between two specified characters, providing a small boost based on proximity. A current example include Solar and Stalker (however Stalker is yet to be released).
Tactician - exploit this skill by including Supremes with the skill to boost the AP pool of the whole team. Examples are Trail (hero) and Dr. Red (Hero/Villain).

It is still fairly early in the life of the game, and so the range of available Supremes and therefore abilities continues grow. That said, there are already some great options for consideration when assembling a team, and on balance I have to say that Gentleman remains a great option both for Villains, but also Hero teams (due to his relatively low Greed). Similarly strong Minion strategies could be built around Mysterious Man and/or Gentleman, especially Mechanical Minions.

Friday, 5 February 2010

My Favourite Comic Book Story

When I was a kid, I knew my favourite everything: my favourite movie; my favourite TV programme; my favourite comic book character; you get the idea. As I have gotten older I can still identify some favourites, but such decisions are often a movable feast (although my favourite movie has remained constant since the mid-90's, so not always the case). My favourite comic book story has remained firm for quite some time now.

"The Nearness of You" appeared first in Astro City #1/2, a special edition of the Astro City comic book, of which at least two variants exist I believe. The 1/2 edition was originally published in conjunction with Wizard magazine (see cover below), not something unique to that title alone, and later reprinted (see above).

Astro City is written by Kurt Busiek (which in fact started as Kurt Busiek's Astro City), aided and abetted by interior artist Brent Anderson and cover artist Alex Ross, and various others over the years. It is published fairly erratically, since Busiek clearly only wants to do his very best work for the title. That isn't to suggest that he slackens on other titles, but rather that Astro City is something very special for him. And in my view it shows.

Busiek wrote The Nearness of You for the 1/2 edition as noted. It is an unusual tale even by Astro City standards. The title as a whole takes different view of superheroics to most comic books, frequently offering a citizen's eye view of the fantastical events that accompany the gaudily-clad superheroes and supervillains flying across the skyline. The Nearness of You is no different in that regard, it's narrative following a normal man whose dreams are increasingly occupied by thoughts of a woman he does not know. More than that I won't spoil, as it is a brilliantly written piece in my view, and so I would not wish to spoil it further for any potential reader.

The true difference is that it achieves so much in a relatively small number of pages - just 16, which is about 6 pages less than most monthly comic books.

What I love about the story is that it takes a trope I have come to detest (a 'Big Event' - a kind of cosmic 'crisis'), and uses that as an important story beat without the Big Event being the point of the story. The story is about yearning and more. It is a story about human feelings. The Big Event (my name for it, not how it is referred to in-story) only warrants three pages of action, the focus is on the protagonist Mike and what is troubling him.

It is a beautifully crafted story. Something that can probably only work in comic books. Alan Moore has commented on the strength of the medium to achieve what no other story-telling medium can, and in 16 pages The Nearness of You does just that. It is like a high concept movie in just 16 pages - Hollywood would probably need 2 hours to deliver the nuance and set-up, something Busiek managed quickly and deftly with limited pages to play with. I'd love to see Astro City as a HBO series or something like that one day, but how that could work I don't really know, and any translation of a story as magnificent as this would surely only pale in comparison to the source material.

The story can be found in the following trade paperback - Astro City: Confession (ISBN 1-56389-550-1, collects Astro City Vol. 2 #1/2, 4-9). If you haven't read this story and you are a fan of comic books, and if you haven't visited Astro City, you could do worse than check it out.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Ace of Wraiths

Armed with the cursed Deck of Souls and the ancient gun Hellstromm, the brooding gunslinger enters Pulp City!

Another Jarek Smolka sculpt, I really like this model. Unfortunately I have painted it on and off for months, which suggests to me that I really didn't have a strong and clear enough painting concept at the outset. A lot of decisions in the painting have been made as I have gone along, which has probably left me less than satisfied with the end result.

I love the background of a doomed gambler and gunslinger empowered by Hellish forces and artefacts to exact retribution on evil men. It is a classic that shares themes with many such doomed loners, I just don't feel that I managed to evoke that feel in the painting of the mini. I am vaguely satisfied with my first OSL (Object Source Lighting) attempt at the back of the mini. It is probably only faintly visible, but it is a technique I'll keep working on.

I have seen some great examples of Ace of Wraiths in recent months. It may be worth checking out the Pulp City Forums Hobby Section to have a look.


The mighty German millionaire, the spandex-clad Hero, the bearer of Ahau-Kin's tiara, the caped hunter of the Forgotten!

Solar is probably (so far) the most spandex-y of the Pulp City Supremes in the style of traditional comic book superheroes and supervillains. And I love the model all the more for that. Big cape used in a novel way in the construction and execution? What is there not to like in that. I think Jarek Smolka did an excellent job in creating the effct of a hovering hero when completing this one. Yes there is a lot that is familiar in the basic premise, but this model is no straight copy of any specific hero, rather a distillation of a lot of classic superhero tropes.

Solar is a very interesting example in the context of the development of the game and it's background. He is pretty rounded Level 2 Hero able to fight in base to base as well as being mobile and having some useful Exclusive Actions. However what I feel is most interesting is that a poll was conducted last year amongst Pulp City Forum board members. The poll was to determine which of three Supremes (Solar, Guerilla and Ace of Wraiths) would evolve into a new iteration. Solar 'won' the vote. So at some point we will see Dark Solar...

I can't wait.

The Ancible Magazine - issue 2

Issue 2 of the Ancible arrived through the Pulp Citizen's letterbox (I am a subscriber now), after a Royal Mail-caused delay. The delay appears solely to lie in the hands of the Royal Mail, so I don't blame the Ancible guys at all for it.

In the previous post I made about the Ancible I commented that it was pleasing to me to see a truly independent tabletop gaming magazine emerge, which is why I have chosen to support the magazine through subscribing and through mentioning it here on the blog. The magazine heralds itself as a "portal to Sci-fi and Fantasy Wargaming", which is something I'll return to when I give my thoughts about issue 2's content.

So my thoughts - overall, both better and worse than the first issue. The cover was an improvement. Both issues featured very well painted models, yet issue two had a better designed cover (issue 1 was simply overwhelmed with blue, which didn't help it stand out). So that was good. Interior page design seems to be improving, another good thing.

On to the articles. I found the Martian Empires and Malifaux reviews to be good, as well as the product review for Filla-Glue. The latter may be a dry subject, but critical review of products is always good. There were two miniatures reviews included, which is of interest to me. My only quibble here is that I would have liked more critical commentary about the sculpting, casting and assembly of the miniatures reviewed, especially the Infinity models which are the more complex of the two ranges discussed. I also enjoyed the Malifaux battle report and the interview with painter Hedley Coppock.

Now on to my dislikes for the issue. The Ancible describes itself as a portal to Sci-fi and Fantasy Wargaming, yet three features (Conan RPG adventure part 1; Space Station Z - a sci-fi RPG; Joel - a prose story) are nothing specifically to do with wargaming. 33% (28 pages) of the content is effectively not what I was buying into. If the magazine was advertised as being RPG/wargaming I'd have no problem with this, however I subscribed to a Sci-fi and Fantasy wargaming magazine so it is not what I want to see included. Add to that an article described as an introduction the Exillis, which was no more than a glorified advert (possibly produced by games manufacturers I suspect), with no critical commentary, then there are a few areas that need to be addressed in my view. I have subscribed, but the next four issues will determine whether that subscription continues.

I want as many people as possible to buy into the Ancible so it can grow and develop into a useful and entertaining wargaming magazine, but in that regard those responsible for the magazine have responsibilities to create a recognisable voice for their publication. I felt issue 2 didn't have that. Nonetheless my support will continue, as it is early in the life of the publication.

As for the forthcoming issue 3, it has an article promised on paper-crafting. I will read that with close interest given my previous post about paper-craft resources.

Cover image copyright © AKR Productions.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


The latest welcome goes to cooey2ph - am I the only one curious as to how that particular handle came to pass into use?

I am guessing that cooey2ph is a miniatures and/or minitures gaming hobbyist, so they are more than welcome hereabouts, even if the focus of my blog is pretty narrow in some ways. I hope you find some use in visiting, and thanks for joining.

Speaking of the miniatures hobby, I'd like to add a link again to my friend Rob's blog. His is nominally about superhero minis, yet in truth is an eclectic affair including supers, Wild/Old West, sci-fi and a Conan-influenced series of barbarians and the like. It can be found here: Four Colour Super Minis.

A Forgotten Gem - The Black Hood (!mpact Comics)

Yes, you read that right - !mpact Comics. Well that is how it was written in the trade dress on the covers, but in fact they were Impact Comics, however I have always favoured the exclamation mark.

The first Black Hood I encountered was through the !mpact imprint, I'll be honest about that, even though it wasn't the first Black Hood to be published, not by a long way. !mpact was an imprint of DC Comics that featured characters licensed from Archie Comics, something that DC would try again 15 or so years later with their Red Circle project (not to be confused with MLJ Comics (and later known as Archie Comics) usage of the Red Circle name with characters with the same names - sorry!) (see the discussion of The Shield and The Web titles if you like). I'll also be honest that because I was only tentatively discovering having a local comic shop at about that time, my collecting of the line was patchy at best. I have since gone on to complete my collection of the !mpact books, thanks in no small part to ebay. I am glad I did, for the enjoyment that reading and re-reading the Black Hood series has offered me. !mpact Comics may be a 'Dead Universe' (I wish, I wish I had been the one to coin that phrase, since it sums everything up so well in discussion about defunct comic book settings), but that does not stop me enjoying leafing through much of the output from time to time.

My original impression of the !mpact Black Hood was that he looked very cool. Unfortunately I didn't really get to read much of the character(s) at the time. That said before even reading the title I thought it was a Punisher knock-off. Then reading a couple of issues left me a little confused as to what the book really was.

Of all the eight titles from the !mpact line, I felt this was the strongest (closely followed by the Fly). That is something I put down to the writer (Mark Wheatley) working very well with the primary artist (Rick Burchett). Together they offer a well-designed mythos featuring a character who must have appeared to be a Punisher-type clone to many at first sight, as it was for me, but in reality was anything but that (although the first incarnation of the hero that we saw added to that confusion - see below; quite intentionally I feel). In talking of mythos, there is a great deal of that in the book. From the history of the magical hood giving powers to those who wear it whilst compelling the wearer to do good, to the fictional setting evolving from the unification of two criminal families, to the intertwining of both of these strands, especially when the hood falls into the hands of a somewhat unexpected character (a criminal no less - who is of course compelled to act justly by wearing the hood!; see second image). We also get to see a sympathetic lead in Nate Cray (as the main Black Hood) who is just a good kid compelled to act in the cause of justice.

The notion of the hood being passed from wearer to wearer is a great nod to the Archie/MLJ Black Hood mythos, whilst still adding a different spin due to the magical nature of the item. Interestingly the original publisher (Archie) may have had similar plans in the 1980's when they were still actively publishing their super-hero line.

I found the !mpact Comics Black Hood title to be an absorbing read, and having read the Archie-Red Circle Black Hood after perusing the DC-!mpact incarnation, it is interesting to note the parallels - both even feature back-up strips with the Fox, for example!

This is a book I would recommend as a good read, with cool visuals and an adeptly woven tapestry that is the main story, spinning out from the events of the climax of the first issue through to the checkered and interesting journey that the hood goes on, through the hands of Nate Cray and others. Any preconceptions that a potential reader may have had were surely overthrown by a mix of stories incorporating themes of justice, heroism, criminal intent and will to power, technology, environmentalism, and lots more besides. I found the series to be a really engaging read that I'd suggest anyone who hasn't picked it up to give it a try. Yes it has nothing to do with the MLJ/Archie/Mighty Comics-Mighty Crusaders Black Hood, nor with DC's latest iteration of the Black Hood (see The Web issue 5 released in January 2010) but if you can put that aside and are able to pick these 12 comics and annual up cheaply, you may discover a real gem.
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