Tuesday 31 July 2012

New Edition of Tunnels & Trolls Announced

Ken St Andre has just announced that work is underway creating the new edition of Tunnels & Trolls, which is currently called Tunnels & Trolls Deluxe.

As it stands, the creative team consists of Liz Danforth, Rick Loomis, Bear Peters, Steve Crompton and Ken St Andre, but Ken is asking fans to put forward their ideas on the Trollhalla Outer Sanctum blog.

On the blog, Ken gives his reasoning for creating a new edition: "We’re doing this for several reasons which I will be sharing with you all later, but a big one is that we have run out of copies of T & T 5.5 and 7.5. Since a reprint is needed, why not make it bigger and better than ever before. Also, I have some new ideas I want to share with you all. Also, I believe a game needs to keep evolving in order to stay alive."

The next edition will include new aspects, such as Steve Crompton's map of the Eagle Continent.

This is huge news for T&T fans like myself and I will keep you updated with announcements as they come through.

Band of Zombies Brings The Undead to WWII

All Flesh Must Be Eaten creators have launched a Kickstarter campaign to release a new sourcebook set in the Second World War.

Eden Studios are looking for a $5000 goal for Band of Zombies, which will include new rules for dogfights, mass combat and psychological drawbacks.

The book will also contain the first rules for a tactical miniatures games using the Unisystem.

All Flesh Must Be Eaten is a roleplaying game that is set in a world overrun with the undead who have a penchant for human flesh.

On the Kickstarter page, Eden Studios president George Vasilakos says: "In All Flesh Must Be Eaten, the setting is not set. You will be presented with a dozen diffrent campaign settings to start your survival horror campaign. Modern day, post-apocalyptic, and even a setting set during World War II. Each setting details the reasons why the dead walk and how to kill them (if they can be)."

Pledge incentives range from having your name listed in the credits to having yourself included in the game as an NPC with an illustrated character sheet.

Eden Studios is the publisher of games such as WitchCraft, Conspiracy X and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Monday 30 July 2012

The Mythforger: An Interview with a Modern Swordsmith

While most boys try to impress the opposite sex with fast cars and guitar ballads, a seventeen year-old Jake Powning found himself brandishing a hammer before an anvil while his female friends looked on. Unfortunately for Jake, this peacocking act resulted in a red hot piece of steel lodged in his nostril after hitting a glowing hook with far too much force.

Fast forward seventeen years and that pride-injured adolescent has become a master swordsmith, crafting blades with impossible accuracy and beautiful precision: “I’ve been obsessed with mythology for as long as I can remember,” says Powning, whose neck-length locks and grizzly beard gives him the resemblance of a certain god of thunder, “My mum is a huge Tolkien fan and she read the Lord of the Rings to me as bedtime reading before I could speak, so I think that may have shaped my young mind. Some of my earliest memories are imagining the goblins coming out of the cave in the misty mountains that Bilbo and the dwarves were sleeping in.”

From a very young age, the image of a grizzled blacksmith visiting his rural Canadian village stayed with him: “ When I was about eight or ten a new blacksmith came to shoe my mother’s horses. He had intelligent quick brown eyes, long hair and a long black beard. He was short and wide and wore a leather apron. His name was Bear and after he was done shoeing the horses he sang us songs in Scots-Gaelic and told stories of the blacksmith and the devil.” The young boy followed Bear around like a shadow until one day the blacksmith taught him how to forge a rough iron sword.

Powning began reading a variety of fantasy novels, like Ursula K Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle and Diana L Paxton's The Wolf and The Raven, but his imagination was really fired upon seeing a knife by Donn Fogg in Blade Magazine, a smith who would eventually become Powning's friend and mentor.

However, fantasy is only a small part of Powning's love affair with swords. For him, it's about history and traditional beliefs: “One of the main reasons that I make swords is because they are power objects in the Indo-European tradition. This is the wellspring that most modern fantasy draws from- it is essentially the worldview and cosmology of the Iron Age peoples of Europe.
“Like other tribal people around the world they were Animists, they believed that people and animals and some inanimate objects had intentions and reasons for doing things. So to the ancient Celts or the Vikings, a sword was a companion-- it was a person with its own destiny separate from its owner. In order to represent this and also to help guide the audience into the story of each sword.”

"If I use one word to describe myself , I would say I'm a storyteller"

This animistic tradition is echoed in Powning's routine of naming his swords: “Naming a thing gives it power and defines its power. Swords are powerful things, both as dangerous weapons and as symbolic objects and naming them is a way of respecting this.”

While his creations may be deadly weapons, they are also extraordinary works of art that are steeped in mythological tales: “If I use one word to describe myself though, I would say I’m a storyteller. I make objects that imply the story I am telling. In order for the story to be authentic, it’s important that the objects are real. Understanding balance, geometry, and the metallurgy of hardening and tempering so the swords are hard and sharp and can cut is an important part of what I do-- the swords have no power if they aren’t real.”

But Powning explains that crafting a sword is a delicate and difficult feat, forcing the smith to consider an almost impossible number of aspects in order to create the perfect weapon: “The secret to making a good sword is to learn all the things that are necessary for a sword—it has to be hard, but flexible; sharp but strong. It must be balanced so that it wants to move, but can change direction quickly,” says the smith, “It must be balanced so that it wants to move, but can change direction quickly. It has to be built with an understanding of its use and a knowledge of the history and shape of the form. The smith must be aware of the story implied by the sword’s existence and know what part they play in that story. It has to be crafted with respect and diligence and patience.

“The secret is to balance all these things, so that no one thing overpowers the others.”

Yet, in order to craft something so beautiful, a smith must draw his inspiration from somewhere, and with Powning it's deep within the medieval history that he loves so much: “I have a lot of history books about swords, but I have also had the opportunity to examine old swords at museums in Britain, and really, until I handled original swords I was only imagining what a sword was.

"There is a sense of lethal restrained force when you hold a balanced sword"

“A real sword can only be understood by holding it and feeling how it wants to move in your hand. There is a sense of lethal restrained force when you hold a balanced sword and the sense that you could easily cut yourself with it. It connects to some essential part of you.”

Even though history is his muse, Powning admits that his favourite blade won't be found in the history books, but does capture the 'connection' that he talks about: “Michael Moorcock’s black sword ‘Stormbringer’ captures the idea of a living object wonderfully.”

Although the practise of swordsmithing is centuries old, Powning is eager to pass on his knowledge to inspire a new generation to strike a hammer on an anvil: “There are more resources for learning about bladesmithing now than there have been for several centuries, a revival of the western swordsmithing tradition is underway and with resources like the Bladesmith’s Forum (http://forums.dfoggknives.com/index.php? ) as well as Owen Bush’s excellent courses at Bush Fire Forge In London UK (http://owenbush.co.uk/school-of-smithing/) a young smith can learn the basics that will allow him or her to build a forge and start making blades. I also have tutorials on my website at  http://www.powning.com/jake/home/j_homepg.shtml .”

Sunday 29 July 2012

Fabled Lands: The Court of Hidden Faces expected in "a couple of weeks"

Book five of the Fabled Lands series, The Court of Hidden Faces, will be available in stores in a couple of weeks, author Dave Morris has revealed.

The new gamebook, mostly written by Jamie Thomson, is set in Old Harkuna and Uttaku, which are modelled on Arthurian Britain and Byzantium respectively. Like previous entries in the series, the book will allow you to take on the role of an adventurer and live out a sandbox-style life, with the ability to travel between books.

Morris also stated on his blog that he is hard at work on producing the next book in the series: "I'm going to keep tinkering with the files for Book 6: Lords of the Rising Sun whenever I have a spare moment, and that should certainly be ready in good time for Christmas."

Originally the cover art for The Court of Hidden Faces was done by Kevin Jenkins, with interior art by Russ Nicholson, though it remains to be seen whether Morris will still be using Nicholson's artwork.

Comment: Our hobby is still a boy's club, and that has to change

Every now and again Twitter flares up in a passionate flurry of argument. Last week, entrepreneur Felicia Day was at the epicentre of the debate, a storm that erupted around her being labelled a 'fake geek girl'. Day seems to get this flak because she is both successful as a businessperson and she is becoming more prevalent in the public eye as a direct result of this. Ex-Destructoid journalist, Ryan Perez recently accused her of being a "glorified booth babe" adding, "You don’t seem to add anything creative to the medium." This gender elitism that creates a hierarchy of who and who can't be considered a "geek" is misguided at best and flat-out sexist at worst.

"It's a massive shocker, but women don't need a knight in shining armour"

The term has entered a new era where, rightly so, it's worn with pride as a reflection of one's intellect and dedication to a subject. The slew of superhero movies like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises that would have once been just the dream of comic-book fans now have the whole world enthralled and as a result the genre is now getting used to breaking box-office records. But when a once incredibly small and misunderstood subculture blows up like it has, there is the unfortunate side effect of elitism. The roleplaying hobby itself was historically a male-dominated world. Chainmail bikinis and helpless maidens were unfortunately the norm, but as the hobby grows and more females join, this mentality needs to change.

This shouldn't be restricted to the tabletop, either. There have recently been reports on Twitter about women running convention stands who have felt awkward and even violated when some men hung around them and crossed personal boundaries. It pains me to think that these guys belong to the same subculture as all the decent folk I'm friends with, and it's this attitude that's going to make women feel more alienated. The same goes for the misguided chivalry that's etched on the other side of the coin. If you're going out of your way to 'look after' a female player during a game then you're being condescending and probably ruining the game for her. I know it's a massive shocker, but women don't need a knight in shining armour, especially when they're playing a bad-ass paladin.

"It's obvious that sexism still hasn't been eradicated from the hobby"

Most of the guys I know are upstanding gents who don't act like huge jerks around women, but when I hear the type of things that have recently been tweeted, it's obvious that stereotypes and sexism still hasn't been eradicated from the hobby. Yes, Felicia Day is an attractive woman, but far, far more importantly she is an intelligent businessperson and a huge geek, just like you and me.

Saturday 28 July 2012

Judge Dredd: Countdown Sector 106 gets a trailer

Tin Man Games have released the premier iOS trailer for their upcoming digital gamebook, Judge Dredd: Countdown Sector 106.

The footage reveals some of the game's artwork, layout and presentation along with a bad-ass soundtrack.

Along with the trailer, the Tin Man Games blog gave a short blurb about the new game:
"Sector 106 of Mega-City One is short of senior Street Judges and only the most experienced Judges have been reassigned to fill this shortfall…foremost among them yourself, Dredd! What begins as a routine patrol arresting juves and skysurfers, turns into a race against time, as mysterious “Voices of Dredd” find their way into the hands of the local perps. Riding your Lawmaster bike and armed with your trusty Lawgiver, you must pit yourself against Sector 106′s brutal criminal underworld. Quick Dredd! The countdown has begun…"
Judge Dredd is Tin Man's first licensed game, using the famous character from the venerable 2000AD comic books which have been a staple of UK magazine shelves for more than 30 years. 

The company has also secured the rights to produce a new line of Fighting Fantasy gamebook apps, including the upcoming Blood of the Zombies by Ian Livingstone, a book that will be released next month to coincide with the series' 30th anniversary.

"I think it’s fair to say that we are on cloud nine at the moment and feel completely privileged to be given the responsibility of such a massive release," Tin Man says on their website, "The best thing about this too, is that it’s just the beginning!"

Both Judge Dredd and Blood of the Zombies will be available for iOS and Android devices, although there is no firm release date as of yet.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Soundtrack review: Conan the Barbarian 3D

Cross-posted at Movie Soundtrack Reviews

This one was always going to be controversial. The original Conan the Barbarian score by Basil Poledouris is considered by collectors to be one of the greatest cinema soundtracks ever, so composer Tyler Bates has some big shoes to fill. That is, if Bates had tried at all.

Ok, that may not be fair, because there are a few good moments in this 70 minute bloatfest, but as it stands, this is not a particularly good score. It seems bizarre that Bates would be a name tied to this movie at all, when there are composers out there with much more experience in the fantasy genre, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

The main theme, and a rather dull one at that, pipes up in 'His Name is Conan' which meanders nonchalantly with its strings and choral parts, but never feels solid enough to warrant the larger than life character of Conan. The third cue, 'Egg Race', shows us everything that's wrong with this score, including screeching electronics, a cacophony of disparate sounds and the lack of any real structure. Conversely, 'Fire and Ice' shows us a beautiful piece full of feathery strings and delicate harp notes that eventually make way for a choir and a more sinister theme. 'Cimmerian Battle' brings us into the realm of choppy strings and obnoxious horns, forming a dull-as-dishwater cue. The album continues with a loose quality, as if it's not able to find its feet. The occasional Snyder-esque electric guitar lends a hand in cues like 'Freeing Slaves' in order to project some meat onto these bones, but it doesn't quite cut the mustard and end up feeling wasted.

For one, this is too long and so feels bloated. The themes feel lazy and the layered tones aren't used to good effect. While there are some pretty good tracks on here, the album lacks a cohesive narrative and relies too heavily of tired blockbuster conventions rather than injecting any intelligence into the music. Even a few nods to the Poledouris score wouldn't have gone amiss, but to outright ignore its existence seems to have done more harm than good. Bates is a capable composer, but this time he has let himself down.

1 star

Get your free copy of Fighting Fantazine #9 now

If there's one place I go for all my gamebook news under one roof, it's Fighting Fantazine, which is both awesome and free. 

Fighting Fantazine issue 9 is now available to download and contains excellent articles on Fighting Fantasy minutiae and an entire solo adventure as well as an Advanced FF module. The publisher writes:

Our latest issue features interviews with artist Ian Miller, a new 275 reference adventure Return to the Icefinger Mountains by Ed Jolley and illustrated by Brett Schofield, an article on gamebooks in Germany by Nicolai Bonczyk (with translation by Alexander K├╝hnert), and an Advanced Fighting Fantasy adventure: Andrew Wright's The Hunt for the Black Whale (illustrated by Michael Wolmarans).
Also to be found are regulars such as Fighting Fantasy Collector, Fighting Dantasy, Omens & Auguries, and The Arcane Archive.
 Alexander Ballingall has put together another cracking issue that fans would be insane to miss. Fighting Fantazine is exactly what the gamebook community needs, and it provides excellence in spades. 

Thursday 19 July 2012

New T&T Kindred: Darkwitch Night Elf

When Draknar Darkwitch entered the world, the darkness came. He was a powerful wizard who plunged Trollworld into one year of night by extinguishing the great sun in order to try to cease ultimate power on the world. He brought with him his creations: an army of creatures known as Darkwitch Night Elves, who thrived in darkness and proved themselves to be deadly warriors when light wasn't present. Draknar waged war against the dwarves, elves and monsters, slaughtering all who opposed him.

After six months, he has built a great tower called Ornark where he resided in comfort. But he was soon to find out that the once squabbling god-wizards were hatching a plan to rid the world of Draknar a re-light the sun. On the fields of Ostanath hundreds of thousands of warriors and wizards met Draknar's forces in battle. The god-wizards prevailed, slaughtering Draknar and restoring light to Trollworld. The Night Elves who survived retreated into the darkness of the tunnels beneath the world and created a small community.

Darkwitch Night Elf

Attribute Modifiers: STx1, DXx2 (x3 in total darkness), LKx1.5, CHAx0.5, INTx1, SPx1, CONx0.75

Special Features
Night Vision -Darkwitch Night Elves are able to see perfectly in the dark.
Fear of Light - Darkwitch Night Elves do not like daylight and tend to avoid it. They may spend up to 3 hours in daylight before having to roll a Saving Roll on CON equal to your current level. If you fail, you must seek shade (indoors) lit only by artificial light within the minute or temporarily reduce INT by 1. You will regain 1 INT per hour while in shade.
Natural Marksman - Gain a +2 to all DEX rolls when using a ranged weapon.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

GWAR lead singer to pen LotFP adventure

It's like chocolate a peanut butter.

Gross-out shock metaller Dave Brokie, better known as Oderus Urungus, the lead singer of GWAR is writing a new adventure for James Raggi's Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Two awesome worlds have collided and hopefully what remains is something that will melt my face in a very good way.

Brockie's a seasoned D&D veteran, he reveals to Blabbermouth: ""I am an old-school DM, and ran custom adventures out of my worlds for over 20 years until the point where I felt we had committed every possible atrocity and wrenched every permutation out of the D+D system, which I really had abandoned anyway. I began to do horrible things to my players. One group wandered the Abyss for two years until they finally realized they were damned, even though I never told them. Out of boredom I ran a Lawful Good campaign of elves, just to kill them off with the worst monsters I could think of. We used to play on the tour bus all the time, but as GWAR started getting hotter groupies I finally got bored with it."

'Towers Two' is part of Raggi's ambitious crowdfunding extravanganza featuring a plethora of writers in separate funding campaigns. However, with 14 days remaining, Raggi still needs almost $6000 to reach his goal, which isn't a whole lot of time. Still, I wish both guys lots of luck and I hope it comes to fruition, so do help out if you can.

Sunday 15 July 2012

Soundtrack review: Avengers Assemble

This is a new series in which I, well, review the official soundtracks of suitably nerdy films. 

It's been over two months since The Avengers took to the big screen in one of the greatest superhero movies of all time and many are now eagerly awaiting the DVD release which is set for September over here in the UK.

Alan Silvestri, notable for his work on last year's Captain America: The First Avenger, takes the helm for The Avengers' score. While Captain America had an admirable soundtrack, it still felt relatively subdued, especially in comparison to Patrick Doyle's efforts with Thor, which is one of the best superhero scores in recent times. Avengers Assemble feels like a safe middle ground between the two, delivering some great cues and themes but without being risky.

The main theme is smattered throughout, reaching its zenith in A Promise, and while it's good it feels very standard as far as superhero themes go. Silvestri does a great job in creating a grand orchestral feel with a subtle electronic undertone in-keeping with the sci-fi fantasy genre. However, there are only a handful of stand-out tracks including the frantic strings of Helicarrier and the bombast of The Avengers. There is a lack of cues from previous movies, such as the amazing Thor theme or even Iron Man, which seems like a really big missed opportunity. However, there does seem to have been some effort to explore Natasha Romanov's character in Red Ledger and Interrogation, but with such big characters to work with it's surprising we don't get more.

The score plays it safe and delivers some audible gems amidst a sea of relatively standard tracks. I can't but feel that Silvestri could have done more with it but it's an enjoyable ride nonetheless.

Rating: 3 stars

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Introducing Thornguard Challenges

Thornguard is my first sandbox solo adventure for Tunnels & Trolls and because it's so free-roaming there's a lot of opportunity to play around with some more traditional gaming tropes to add to the fun of the adventure.

Therefore, I'm introducing Thornguard Challenges - a new way to enjoy the solo. TC is a series of gaming style 'achievements' that you can choose to try and unlock as you play. The more challenges you undertake, the better your score will be. You may only complete each one once.

The challenges are as follows:

The Thief's Path - Join the Thieves Guild (10 points)
Copkiller - Kill at least one guard without getting caught (20 points)
Master of Monkeys - Gain the keyword chimpslayer (10 points)
Lord of the Manor - Buy a deed for a castle (30 points)
Buffy - Kill a vampire (20 points)
Master Thief - Complete a Level 5 job on the Thieves Guild job board (40 points)
Call Me Vimes - Complete a Level 5 job on the City Guard job board (40 points)
Taking Candy from a Baby - Complete a Level 3 job on the Merchants Guild job board (20 points)
Conan's Got Nothing on Me - Complete a Level 5 quest on the Quest Board (50 points)
Hoarder - Dump at least 10 items in your home (10 points)
Blackened Heart - Commit a crime whilst an Initiate of the Red Sun (20 points)
A Noble Path - Become an Initiate of the Red Sun (10 points)
Market Flogger - Join the Merchants Guild (10 points)
My God is My Armour - Complete 10 quests without wearing any armour as an Initiate of the Red Sun (30 points)
Friend of Hobbs - Convince a dragon not to attack Lowhollow (30 points)
Kleptomaniac - Complete 20 jobs on the Thieves Guild Job Board (40 points)
Epic Adventurer - Complete 20 quests (40 points)
Live to Serve - Complete 20 jobs on the City Guard Job Board (40 points)
Entrepreneur - Complete 20 jobs on the Merchants Guild Job Board (40 points)
Millionaire- Gain 1,000,000 gold (100 points)

Monday 9 July 2012

Ian Livingstone signing Blood of the Zombies at Forbidden Planet

With only a month to go until Blood of the Zombies rises from its grave to devour our juicy grey matter, this blogger is getting excited to pick up his dice and strike down evil with the flick of a pencil.

But while I won't be able to make it, Ian Livingstone is doing a signing for his new book at the Forbidden Planet Megastore in London on 4th August. Check the site for more details.

However, those unable to make it can order an autographed copy from the online store, which is exactly what I've just done. Check out the blurb:
In this adventure YOU are kidnapped and sold to a deranged megalomaniac who wants to build an army of undead to exact terrible revenge on those once mocked him. He hates everybody except for his scientists and servants. The scientists were instructed to develop a mutated gene in human blood which would be injected into innocent victims, turning them into Zombies. The madman's henchmen kidnapped hundreds of people who were locked up to await their fate. YOU are about to be injected with Zombie blood. The Zombie army is almost complete, ready to be unleashed upon the world in a frenzy of killing and wanton destruction. YOU have to avoid being transformed into a Zombie. YOU have to kill all the Zombies, dispose of the madman and escape from the castle. To do this you will need a lot of firepower to take down the hordes of Zombies. But don't kill everybody as there is one person who needs to be rescued...
The new adventure is set in modern times, which is only the second time this has happened, the first being House of Hell. I like the sound of 'you will need a lot of firepower'. Awesome. 

Sunday 8 July 2012

Five comic books you should be reading right now

There are a tonne of comics out there. Fact. So it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff, in an industry where a book can be incredible one week and god awful the next. Here are five of my personal comic recommendations to help you out if you're stuck with what to read.

5. Adventure Time

Yes, the show is damn awesome, but I actually think the comics are a little bit better. This book retains everything that makes the show great: the characters, the jokes and the general good vibes you get from sitting on the couch with Jake and Finn. The book is also packed with D&D references, such as the bag of holding a lich used to trap our heroes (and the world) inside. The first multi-part story has just ended so now would be a great jumping on point for new readers.

4. Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific

Soon to be made into a tabletop RPG, Red 5's flagship title Atomic Robo is everything you want in a comic. It's got comedy, drama, sci-fi, history and all out pulp goodness. In a nutshell, Atomic Robo is the titular character, created by Nikolai Tesla, who fights evil throughout time (including a psychotic raptor called Dr Dinosaur). In the past he has battled Lovecraftian horrors, Nazis and vampires. The latest volume has just kicked off and it's already extremely promising. Get this title if you love all-out fun.

3. Ghostbusters

Ever since IDW launched their Ghostbusters ongoing series some months back the stories have never been a let-down. Writer Erik Burnham is obviously in love with everything about the spook zapping team as he handles every character fantastically and always throws in plenty of references and easter eggs in each issue. Right now the Ghostbusters are touring America following leads wherever they find them, so watch out because they might just stop by your area.

2. The Spider

Pulp is making a big comeback, but Dynamite's re-invention of this edgy character is one of the best pulp books around at the moment. Set in modern times, The Spider sees playboy and police consultant Richard Wentworth on the case of a demonic gas that turns innocent people into zombies. Each character is 3-dimensional and the story isn't as predictable as you first may think. There have been two issues so far, so it's not difficult to catch up on The Spider's adventures as he delved into the criminal underworld and deals out justice with double handguns.

1. Batman

Strangely enough, this is the only superhero book on the list, but damn, this is an awesome comic. Scribe, Scott Snyder, is one of the best writers working today and he's crafted a book that is dramatic, heart-breaking and astounding, and he almost always delivers a perfect issue every month. If you were a fan of his pre-New 52 run on the incredible Detective Comics, you need to read this book. One of the best things I personally think he's done is make Gotham a character itself - a living, breathing city. You need this book.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Infographic: Geek sites, then and now

This is just a quick little infographic I threw together showing the evolution of some of the biggest geek sites.

The lowdown on Marvel NOW

It's been a year since DC rebooted their entire universe with the new 52 and it looks like this year Marvel is set to do something to try and compete with their gargantuan rival.

Between October 2012 and February 2013, the publisher with be rolling out Marvel NOW, a new initiative that will shake up the Marvel Universe after the events of Avengers Vs X-Men.

Speaking to CBR, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso explained the scale of the new direction: "Marvel NOW! is different from anything we've done and the biggest initiative since the early days of "NuMarvel" when we reinvented the line employing the simple formula: great writer + great artist + great character + great hook = success.

"Each week, we will be offering at least one new entry-point into the Marvel Universe for readers -- old, lapsed and new. It's a patient rollout that demonstrates respect for the fan and his wallet."

Marvel NOW will introduce new titles, such as Uncanny Avengers, which will see some big mutant names making it into the ranks of the Avengers as a result of the recent annual event, AvX. All New X-Men sees Stuart Immonen and Brian Michael Bendis join forces to craft a tale about the original X-Men finding their way into present day. Bendis will be moving from The Avengers, making way for Jonathan Hickman who has been helming Fantastic Four.

As well as a shift in writers, fans will also notice a difference in the heroes themselves, who will sport costumes more in line with their film counterparts. Nick Fury will also undergo a revamp into the Samuel L Jackson character from the movies.

Cover layouts, too, will see a change in order to make them more eye-catching. Some comics will also come with a digital download and augmented reality-enabled technology that will allow readers to use smart phones and tablets to access recaps and behind-the-scenes details: "If there's something that looks interesting among this stuff, hold up your device and you'll get a little video and a recap telling you what this book is about that hopefully makes you go, 'Ah, that's the one I want. And that one and that one and that one…" says Tom Brevoort, Marvel's executive editor.

Marvel has always been a company to embrace new technology, from their digital subscription to Marvel Infinite Comics, a new style of comic story-telling in the digital medium.

The question remains as to whether fans will embrace these new changes, especially more closely linking the Marvel Studios universe to the comic book continuity.

What do you think of the new initiative? Is it just a savvy marketing decision to drive the dollars or the beginning of a brave new era in comics?

Thursday 5 July 2012

I'm still alive, yo

I haven't done an update in a week, and for those of you who give a flying hoot, I apologise. I've been working like a crazy person recently and I start my new job next week, so I've been having to put in some extra hours.

Normal service will resume shortly, but until then, here's a video of a funny thing.