Just a reminder… Seth and I will be at Chicago Comic Con (formerly Wizard World Chicago) next week at table 3712 in Artist Alley.  You can see the full AA list here.  Interesting that Artist Alley is referred to as AA… it’s like they know us.  We’ll have some copies of our Image comic books there, (hopefully) some t-shirts to sell, and as always, Seth will be doing art commissions there at the show.  We always enjoy chatting with readers and fans, so even if you’re not thinking about buying anything, feel welcome to come by and say hello.


Zuda Comics – the current competition is almost closed and my friend Jorge’s comic is in second place.  I said I’d toss a link over there… his is the violent historical piece there, and knowing the way he writes, if you enjoy stories with twists, you’ll want to see the rest of that story.  But check them out… the one that wins gets to continue as a weekly webcomic there (so the votes are meaningful).

I’ve been revamping training materials for the day job lately.  Mostly because we’re expanding the training we offer… and also because I’ll be the first one to present the new training next week.

There’s a lot that goes into training.  The priority is to get the information into the brains of your class.  You can do this through various methods like repetition, mnemonic techniques, humor, and good ol’ fashioned brainwashing.

After you have the core material down, you still need to be able to present it in a fashion that’s engaging.  This is mostly to keep the class awake.  Though I did contend to my teachers in my youth that I did retain the material while asleep in their class, there was no scientific evidence to support it (hmm… sounds like a research grant proposal to me).

Finally, there are the exercises. Many people learn better through doing.  You can talk about a subject and demo it over-and-over, but sometimes it just doesn’t click with students until they actually apply that knowledge with some hands-on exercises.  Building those out probably takes the longest out of all the work (going step-by-step through something that’s almost second nature to you in order to document the process).

And even with all that time and effort dedicated to make a solid set of training materials, you still wonder at the end of training… how much of this information is really getting through?

So, I was digging through some old roleplaying game folders and boxes when I stumbled across a fun idea for a webcomic.  Planning stages have begun, so there are lots of thoughts rolling around…

  • Do I want to do it as a lot of one-shots (that’s how the ideas started) or do I want to make it a series of campaigns (longer storylines)?
  • How many episodes should I complete before I put it up online?  My initial thought is 2 month’s worth to have a buffer, but it could depend on how long it takes me to create each episode.
  • What would be the best ways to promote a RPG-inspired webcomic?
  • Will the humor translate to people other than RPGers?
  • What should I fix for dinner tonight… ooo, and what’s for dessert?

See, it’s a pretty chaotic brainpan when you have a new idea.  A lot of it’s fluff stuff and I’ll jot it down to deal with later, but some of it is crucial to how I initially develop the idea.  Sure, with a webcomic, it’s easy to change directions later on, but it’s always a plus to your readers to be consistent from the beginning (something I learned the hard way the first time around).

My wife sent me a link to this game after a conversation I started when we were planning out landscaping for our yard (I wanted a defensive perimeter capable of holding back the hordes of the zombiepocalypse).  I though about buying this game after playing the free trial, but it has mucho "lost time" potential ("It can’t be 7am… I haven’t gone to bed yet.").  Not always the best thing for a writer (but the hour I played of it was fun).

I was reminded of this video when I saw Star Trek last weekend at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin.  The Drafthouse doesn’t run your standard movie theater advertising/promos before showings… they run a lot of video clips with some connection to the movie in some way.  Star Trek had old sci-fi movie trailers, original Star Trek episodes (edited down for comedic effect), and other stuff like this piece I’d encountered (read: rolled an 01 on the random encounter chart) in younger days:

The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

Entertaining and horrifying at the same time… welcome to a frighteningly fun Friday here.

Recently, Brat-halla was listed as a roleplaying resource at the Game Examiner website.  As a gamer, this was probably one of the best things I could find out there–that a comic I work on is considered a source of inspiration for gamers.  Some of my knowledge of mythology comes from early research for campaigns I ran… looking for ideas and inspiration. 

And even though I rarely play these days (time and my former gaming groups separated by vast distances and conflicting schedules), I still have fond memories of the games I enjoyed in my day… D&D (from Basic to early 3rd Edition), Shadowrun, Robotech, Rifts, Gamma World, Twilight 2000, TMNT, After the Bomb, Marvel Super Heroes, Heroes Unlimited, GURPS, MERPS, Star Wars, Rolemaster, Alternity, The Arcanum, my friend Mike’s modified version of D&D, and a gaming system that I developed (but never published).

I’ve also played my share of computer RPGs, but I’ve always enjoyed gaming in-person.  When you have good players and a crafty DM, the scope of your adventures is unlimited and boundaries are nowhere to be found. If the characters want to burn down the inn where all the villain NPCs happen to be staying, you can adapt and move on.  If a character wants to make a wish that sends the entire party to an alien world/realm, you can move your dungeon and change up the monsters/encounters/treasure. 

The only limit was our creativity and imagination and in the groups I played with, those traits were very much in abundance.  And it forced my creativity to grow… some of the comics you’re reading here at Brat-halla are due to my early "training" with my friends and our RPGs (Arazel and Xarenia were actual characters in our games). 

So, I’d like to do a shout-out here.  Gaming comrades of my past, it was an honor to have gamed with you:

Chris, Sean, Gordon, Earl, Robert, Kyle, Dave, Russell, Travis, Sean, the dayroom gamers at Fairchild AFB, Craig, Brian, Mike, Bob, Terry, Carlos, (another) Chris, Shannon, Mark, Darren, Carla, Chuck, Bop, Larry, Marty, James, Susan, Brock, Donnie, Tim, (another) Carlos, my wife Rayna (yes, I married a gamer), and many others who stopped in for short visits to our games.

Okay, I’ve joked about the swine flu, but it’s time to take a somewhat more serious look at it (for the people panicking around the world):

  • It’s a flu.  Yes, it originates from pigs but it can be transmitted to humans in close proximity to pigs.  It can also be transmitted from infected humans to other human just like a regular flu (so the sick person who thinks it’s funny to cough or sneeze on others will probably experience a sudden "worsening" of his symptoms).
    • You cannot get swine flu from eating pork.  It is a respiratory disease, so you’d get it from an infected person/pig’s coughs or sneezes or touching surfaces exposed to the virus (via someone’s coughing/sneezing).  You still need to cook your pork properly though or you still run the risk of sharing fun times with your good buddy Food Poisoning.
  • The symptoms of the swine flu are the same as any other flu.  Fever, chills, headache, body ache, and tiredness (with some possible vomiting from both ends).
  • How do you know if you have the swine flu or a regular flu?  Go to a doctor when you first show signs of the flu and they can run some tests (takes about 24 hours turnaround on the tests).
  • Treatment?  The CDC recommends oseltamivir or zanamivir (antivirals).  There are two other antivirals available, but the CDC says they aren’t effective on the current strain of swine flu spreading about.  These two antivirals are found in the brand name drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza.

For more detailed information, check out the CDC’s helpful guide, Swine Influenza and You.

To aid everyone in their panic over the upcoming swine flu pandemic, I thought I’d share some common sense survival tips to help make sure everyone is properly prepared.  So here are some wrong and right ways of minimizing your exposure to swine flu:

Wrong Way: One night stand with a pig.

Right Way: One night stand with a chicken.

Wrong Way: Rolling around naked in a pile of uncooked pork chops.

Right Way: Rolling around naked in a pile of buffalo wings.

Wrong Way: Get on all fours and squeal like a pig in an overcrowded pig sty.

Right Way: Squeal like a pig in Deliverance territory.

Wrong Way: Pig-licking!

Right Way: Toad-licking!

So, keep your wits about you and you’ll do fine out there in a swine flu riddled post-apocalyptic future.  And if not, there’s still the possibility you’ll come back to (un)life as a shambling bacon-scented pig zombie.

As a techie consultant, I’ve done my fair share of travel.  With the current job, most of my travel is for conducting training sessions, which are shorter duration and not as taxing… as in I don’t have to get up at 3am to make a flight to start working as soon as possible on Monday (most of the time).  Still, it’s a decent amount of travel, and over the years I’ve run across some observations.

Today, I started tossing those observations onto Twitter with the hashtag #travelnomicon to keep track of all the future ones.  Here are some observations I can recall from my past that weren’t tagged (or are probably just sitting in one of my many notebooks):

  • Don’t complain to security when you try to pass through the metal detector with more than 30 piercings.
  • If you can’t physically lift your carry-on over your head, you should probably check it instead of blocking the way hoping someone gets impatient and helps you.
  • Flyers will find you and glare at you menacingly after the flight if you apply a ton of Icy Hot just before boarding the plane.
  • Just because most military don’t have to take off their combat boots going through security, doesn’t mean you can do it too.
  • Upset about being pulled aside for a strip search? Well, blowing a dog whistle as a working dog walked by doesn’t seem as funny now, does it?
  • No matter how badly you need it, you can’t slap a prescription label on a bottle of vodka and get it through security.
  • If the girl next to you has serious motion sickness, don’t hoard your barf bag after she’s already used hers.

Sometimes, it is true… life can trump fiction.

So, this Watchmen screenwriter sent out an open letter for people to watch the movie again.  Even though I loved the comic book, I haven’t gone out to see it yet.  I was eager to check it out as the  release date drew nearer, but then I did a crazy thing… I re-read the story.  And I remembered what I loved about it so much.

The best thing about Watchmen (the comic) for me was its magical quality of discovery.  When I first read it, it took me a long time to get through the story.  I would read and read and then I’d discover something.  It would always be one of those little eureka moments where you see a connection in the story and flip back through the pages… and the story… the world of The Watchmen expands in your mind’s eye.  And as I read that previous sequence again with my new insight, it would change right before my eyes.

The power those little moments held… how they could change other parts of the story so drastically… was enthralling.  I’m sure the movie will have stunning effects and capture some of the more powerful moments of the comic, but I don’t think it can capture that kind of magic.  And even if it could, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it onscreen the same way I could in print. Maybe rewinding the DVD… nah, probably still not the same.

So, I’m still on the fence about going to see it.  I might have to go just to keep up my comic book geek cred.  Or I could just re-read the actual comic book again.