Monday, September 26, 2016

Serpent Men in the Garden

"In those days the serpent went upright like a man, nor was he exactly nonhuman in shape, but his beauty was a different from a man's as day is from night. He was lithe and gorgeously scaled and by standards a supremely handsome, supremely male creature."
- C.L. Moore, "Fruit of Knowledge"

In my post on the demi-humans of the pre-Flood world. I forgot the Serpents. As you may recall from the temptation of Eve in the Book of Genesis, Serpents had limbs and come talk Sounds like a Howardian Serpent Man to me.

Getting cursed by God and loosing his limbs suggests (to me at least) variable levels of snake-ness among later serpent descendants--something like the Yuan-ti. Conflation with the Snake Men of Masters of the Universe is done at your own discretion.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Some Counter-factual Covers I Forgot

After Monday's post, I realize I hadn't tagged a series of fake covers I did a few months ago for our Hydra Cooperative products in the style of Mayfair's Role-Aids line:

Here's Mortzengersturm with a Michael Whelan cover. I was never completely satisfied with the font, but I didn't just want to use the one that will be on the actual cover.

This one all goes together nicely, though I'm afraid it doesn't necessarily reflect the contents of Operation Unfathomable well. The artist is Paul Lehr.

Fever-Dreaming Marlinko gets a bit more acid fantasy with a Gene Szfran cover. It's also got the most complicated logo of all of them.

Misty Isle of the Eld gets more mysterious with a Bruce Pennington cover. I used the same font Luka employed on the real cover (Prisma), and I think it works just as well here.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Kill 6 Billion Demons

Chances are, you've heard of Kill 6 Billion Demons the fantasy webcomic by ABADDON (Tom Parkinson-Morgan). What you may not know is that Book 1 is now available in hard copy from Image. The author says it's inspired by his "love of heavy metal and awesome French fantasy comics" but there also seems to be a fair amount of Gnosticism and bit of Hindu iconography.

Allison Ruth is about to have sex for the first time with her boyfriend, when strange beings appear. One puts some sort of key into Allison's head and the others kidnap her boyfriend. Allison is sent to Throne, the ancient city at the center of the multiverse. With help of an angel peacekeeper she must keep her self alive and find away to rescue her boyfriend. 

The universe and its mythology are complex and rich. It perhaps rivals the world of Smylie's Artesia in that regard, though it has a very different style and tone--more akin to Prophet, perhaps. Comparisons to Exalted would not be unwarranted, though mainly in its dealings with an exotic world full of gods and demons. It's definitely worth a look.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Legend of Yggdrasil

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Legend of Yggdrasil (1981) (part 4)
(Dutch: De Legende van Yggdrasil)
Art by Don Lawrence & Script by Kelvin Gosnell

Going down into the subterranean complex, Storm and the others find an ancient teleportation station. (Apparently, they had those in Storm's time as he recognizes it immediately. Maybe he's seen one since arriving in the future.) A map shows them they can go to Sydney, which they are sure is the city in the South. The Priest is worried about the age of the equipment, but Storm says they have to risk it.

The group teleports--and finds themselves underwater! Luckily, it's not too deep, and they are able to swim to the surface. They see the lights of the "modern" City of the South nearby.

As they sneak into the city, Storm notices the Priest has disappeared. He thinks he didn't make it, but the other dinos aren't so sure. Turns out they are right, as elsewhere the Priest is brought before the human authority in the city after being captured. He gladly agrees to lead the humans to Storm and the others on the condition he gets to see Storm and Ember tortured to death!

Storm and the others try to keep a low profile. He and Ember have been going around the city is disguise, and so far they've only learned that they are being searched for.  When a drunken reveler stumbles into them, the authorities are soon alerted. They run, but are found on a roof by a strange flying fortress. Wag-Nar throws a chimney at it destroying it.

It turns out to have been a trap. The Priest and his new friends fire a net from another flying fortress coming up from behind, enveloping our heroes. The authorities haul them off.

After some time in a cell, they are marched out into a large arena do fight to the death!


Monday, September 19, 2016

Covers That Never Were

In addition to blogging and working on my various rpg projects I like to goof around creating alternate or fake covers to things. Chris Helton of ENWorld suggested I write about post about them and mention the fonts I use, presumably also how I find them all. Here are a couple I did over the weekend on a "old paperback style theme."

This is a hypothetical Ballantine Adult Fantasy series cover for Jason Sholtis's upcoming Operation Unfathomable. I based it on the cover to Hyperborea by Clark Ashton Smith published in this series in 1971. I picked this one because the cover image had some similarity to an image Jason had at one time considered using for the upcoming project and I was pretty sure I knew what the typeface used in the header was just by looking at it: Futura. As you can tell, I didn't have quite the same font they used (I used Futura Medium BT), but I didn't need it to be exact. The Unicorn logo I took from this cover. It isn't particular the cover I would make for Operation Unfathomable, but it fits the era and look of those paperbacks.

This one is a Slumbering Ursine Dunes cover based on the DAW paperbacks, specifically on the Gondwane series by Lin Carter. I picked the Gondwane series because it used the cover image was inset in a yellow border which was easy to work with. I matched the typeface with Font Matcherator, and it turned out to best match was Solemnis (sometimes called Solemnis Regular). What's interesting is some letters have different capital and lowercase glyphs in different versions of this font and not in others. The DAW paperbacks show this because the Gondwane books have different "T's" than what appears otherwise to be the same typeface used on the cover of the Years Best Fantasy Stories. Also, some freebie versions have more variations between uppercase and lowercase characters than Berthold's "real" version. Anyway, it required mixing lowercase and uppercase letters to get the look of the Gondwane books--which left room for me messing up the "e" in "Slumbering." If often takes me more than one try to get things "right."

I did another one of these for Fever-Dreaming Marlinko in the DAW Gondwane style. It's the same except the lettering is red is in red.

I certainly don't claim to be any expert with image or vector editing software, but I can get results I'm satisfied with. See more of my fake covers here.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Demihumans of the Antedilluvian Age

Ever noticed how the Biblical Old Testament is reminiscent of Epic Fantasy (or more precisely, epic fantasy often tends to echo the Old Testament)? Can't get your Tolkien without your demihumans, though.

"It happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful. And when the angels, the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured of them, saying to each other, Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children."
- Book of Enoch, Book of the Watchers
Enoch is of course not part of the recognized Biblical canon for most, but this passage really just expands on Genesis 6:4. Historical the term was glossed as "giants," so D&D goliaths would work, but that may be a too literal reading. They're demigods so half-Celestials? Tieflings? Keeping Tolkien in mind, the race that stood between supernatural beings and mundane men, were elves, so I think elves presiding over the pre-Flood world fits nicely. They can be taller than humans in true Tolkienian fashion, too.

This is not necessarily a new view. The internet tells me that the late thirteenth-century South English Legendary and some Icelandic folktales explain elves as angels that sided neither with Lucifer nor with God.

Children of Cain (Qéní)
Cain (Qayin) may be glossed "spear," but it is a cognate to a mid-1st millennium BC South Arabian word meaning "smith." Cain's descendant Tubal-cain is described in Genesis 4:22 as a "forger of all instruments of bronze and iron." Perhaps the Mark of Cain was the stature and coarse features of his dwarven descendants? Ray Winstone as Tubal-Cain in Noah has the beard, too:

Lillith is now considered the first wife of Adam, but the term was originally glossed in Hebrew text translations as "night monster" or "night creatures" and appears in a list of animals in Isaiah 34:11. The term (likely the name of a demon) derives from the Akkadian lilitu which was the female version of the lilu demons. Perhaps the lilu creatures of the night are goblinoids with Lillith being the Goblin Queen?

Friday, September 16, 2016


When I encountered Alistair Rennie's "‘The Gutter Sees The Light That Never Shines" in the VanderMeers' New Weird anthology, I knew I wanted more. I tracked down "BleakWarrior Meet the Sons of Brawl" in Weird Tales, but it was still just a tease. Finally, the world has BleakWarrior, a novel-length excursion into the weird, pulpy, lurid, and violent.

In brief: BleakWarrior is less a novel than a series of shorts and vignettes in a fantasy world where a species of of super-powered sociopaths fight Highlander-style for...well, they don't really know. The characters have eccentric names like (The Light that Never Shines or Whorefrost) that sometimes point to their particular schtick, sometimes not. These Meta-Warriors stalk each other and fight to the death and  pursue idiosyncratic schemes and passions, all while dodging/slaughtering/abusing mundane--"linear"--humanity.

The effect of all this is like Masters of the Universe re-imagined by some 2000 AD-bred British writer into an edgy 90s comic. It's got sex, graphic violence, quirky badasses and colorful madmen with slightly silly nom de guerres, black humor, and the occasional faux-Shakespearean soliloquy. It's Sword & Sorcery remade for the post-anime and videogame world.

It will not be for everyone, but if any of  the above sounds interesting to do, then, check it out. Oh, and give Rennie's soundtrack it put together for it a listen. How cool is that?

( my friend Jack of Grotesque & Dungeonesque and I wound up reading it at the same time, so you can head over there and get his take, too.)