Archive for the ‘Comic Books’ Category

I’ve been a huge fan of this gaming magazine/comic book for years, even following these strips way back in the pages of Dragon Magazine.  Kenzer and Company continues to put out one of the most entertaining, informative, and humorous comic books to date in my opinion.  They keep the art minimal and the content top notch, still using some of the original panels, sketches, and drawings from some of the first strips they ever published.  They’ve only recently gone digital, and with only a dozen or so employees they are one of the few that get their books out on time.

Inside the magazine itself you will find pages and panels of the ongoing story of a gaming group known as The Untouchable Trio Plus One, a group of friends that gather weekly to play, the once fictional, Hackmaster RPG.  Their antics, stories, arguments, and jokes touch the hearts of gamers around the world.  We can all relate to one of the characters in the book, because we either know someone just like them or we are someone just like them.  You will also find articles about role playing games, geek interests, convention news, and articles about upcoming games.  It’s everything a gamer could possibly want, all wrapped up in a comical little bundle.

Besides the magazine, Kenzer and Company are just good people.  They keep close to their fans, meeting at conventions, talking, sketching, signing, and paying attention to those who keep them in business.  I’ve met Jolly Blackburn recently and I have to say he’s just as nice in person as he seems in his editorials.  He even answers posts on the company’s forums, talking to fans just like any other person.  I also met David Kenzer some years ago, and he was kind enough to sign one of my issues and chat with me for a bit about the book.  They have certainly stuck with their mission, and delivered what their fans expect every month.

If you are a gamer, geek, fantasy enthusiast, or just have a good sense of humor you should pick up this book.  Go to their site and check out the strips, drop by your local comic shop or game store and pick up an issue.  You won’t regret it, I promise.

Legal business:  Knights of the Dinner Table magazine, characters, likenesses and comics © Copyright 1991, 2010 Kenzer and Company. All rights reserved. Knights of the Dinner Table is a registered trademark of Kenzer and Company. Adventurers for Hire, All Things Magic, Back Room at the Games Pit, Bait and Tackle, Board Squawk, Brian’s Small Press Picks, Celebrity Hack, Cries from the Attic, Deadly Trappings, Disks of Wondrous Power, GameMasters’ Workshop, Game Mechanic, Gamer Pulpit, GameVine, Gaming the Movies, Gary Jackson, Gary Jackson Files, Hard Eight Enterprises, Hard Eight Enterprises logo, kenzerco.com, KoDT, Lookin’ at Comics, Off the Shelf, One-Two Punches, Parting Shots, Players’ Advantage, Radio Free KODT, Retro-KoDT, RFKODT, Rustlers of the Night, SpellJacked, Summon Web Scryer, Table Talk, Tales from the Table, The Gamer’s Rant on the Movies/TV, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The “Indy” Game Scene, the Kenzer and Company Logo, The Quotable Gamer, Weird Pete’s Bulletin Board, W.W.A.G.D. and all prominent characters and likenesses thereof are trademarks of Kenzer and Company.

I saw this picture and I was inspired to write something.  Yes, it’s funny, and on the surface it seems true, but it points out a glaring double standard in the way we view male and female roles in media and entertainment.  As a comic collector I have had to listen, for years, to complaints about the objectification of women in them.  Why aren’t these same people pointing out the objectification of men?

Objectification of men?!  What is this?!  Let me explain before you set something on fire.  Men commonly project the image of strength, protection, and power.  Those things described as ‘manly’.  This is evident in the first picture above.  Muscles straining, protective stances, strong figures, agressive attitudes.  When a man takes off his shirt the women oooh and awww and it’s fine.  It is instinctual.  We are wired this way from a time when it was men’s responsibility to provide for and protect his family.  You never see a woman jump up and decry the objectification of men when this happens.

On the other hand women symbolize nurture, caring, motherhood, and yes, sexuality.  Again, it is how we are wired.  It is from a time when survival not only meant protection but also procreation.  Women are instinctually designed to try to attract the most appealing mate to protect their future family, to produce strong children, and pass on their best traits.  Don’t believe me?  As any anthropologist, I watch the discovery channel, I learn things.  To deny this is to deny what we are, on the most basic level, animals.  Regardless of this, we still have to deal with the reverse sexism every time a female is portrayed with any sort of sex appeal.

We also see this when someone wants to exaggerate stereotypical negative traits.  Anyone remember the condom commercial where all the men in a bar are portrayed as pigs?  Funny right?  What if someone made a light beer commercial where all the women in a bar were portrayed as cows?  Suddenly not so funny.  Think about it.

Now, all that said, the picture here is funny.  It’s funny to see those strong men pose like that.  I am not offended by the ‘objectification’ of either gender in the first picture or the glaring double standard in the second, and I don’t think anyone I know would be.  It is funny because I believe the creator is making fun of the whole argument with how contrived it is.  It is also sad because I know there are a lot of people that see it as a problem for women and ignore the simple truth of it.  A woman, getting paid a lot of money to show off what is initially appealing to men is no different than a man getting paid a lot to show women what they want to see.  Think about it next time if you are the type of person that cheers when the sexy guy takes off his shirt, but rolls your eyes and sighs when a woman crosses the screen in tight jeans.

Picture borrowed from Steve Niles

This past weekend Julie and I made our yearly trek to Chicago for a comic book convention.  In years past we had always gone to Wizard World/Comic Con, but the last couple of years we’ve been less-than impressed with the August con.  Last year we decided to try out C2E2 which is earlier in the year.  We liked it, so we decided that was the one for us and we went again this year.  Being the third year in a row, the con managed to impress again.  They moved it to a larger convention hall, and it was still packed.  Where Comic Con seems to feature $80 autographs from celebrities that are already rich, C2E2 puts the emphasis on writers, artists, vendors, and general entertainment, much like Wizard World used to.  Overall it was a great Saturday spent with my wife, packed together with several thousand people that share our interests.  Crowds of costumed fans, ravenous art collectors, comic book hoarders, gamers, and bright-eyed kids filled the place with the sense that that was the place to be.

I was able to meet the guys from Cyanide and Happiness who were selling T-Shirts and posters at a booth.  They were having a blast doing sketches like the one here, for people who came to buy something.  That is a picture of them doing one for me, and no, I won’t be posting the entire picture you’ll have to use your imagination.  It is not at all appropriate for mixed company.  I got a great T-Shirt, and a signed poster, and they threw in this sketch for free.  I didn’t mind shelling out the coin for the shirt, something I would have bought at some time anyway, and unlike some these guys weren’t charging for these huge pieces of original artwork.

The way they were doing these was one guy started on one side of the paper, while the other guy started opposite.  They didn’t really look at what the other was drawing and when they met in the middle they just sort of made it work.  We watched in shock and awe as they finished this piece, and when they were done they both sat back and looked at it, one saying “What the f… is going on in this picture?”  I look at it still and ask myself the same thing.

One of the cool things we saw were the pieces that were included in the Captain America auction.  These are real pieces from the movie, costumes, props, etc, all worn by the actors for the first movie.  They also had the motorcycles, weapons, explosives, and various sundry on display.  I’ve never been that close to so much from a blockbuster movie, and I was impressed with the quality.  I know it’s quite easy to take a cheap costumes and make them look good in a movie, but these were very high quality props.

I really liked that brown vest on the lower right, and had I come to the convention with way too much money to blow, I could see myself wearing that all the time.  *GASP*  I know, right…wear a valuable movie prop as regular clothing?!  Yes, yes I would.  I also open the packages of actions figures so I can get them out and pose them, and I read all of my comic books with my bare hands.  To me, what’s the point of spending money on something if you are just going to lock it away and look at it.  I want to get it out and enjoy it.

We saw a few celebrities there, and of course they were charging for autographs.  That’s fairly standard and no surprise.  Some of them aren’t working right now, and sure, in some cases they need the money.  Not going to begrudge a guy who devotes an entire weekend of his time to ‘work’ even if it is just signing stuff at a convention.  I would imagine part of it has to do with not being mobbed too.  Can you imagine how long the line would be for Sean Astin if he wasn’t charging a dime for his sig?  Anyway, not going to bore you with a list of names, you can look that up at the link above.

There was some cool celebrity related news though.  I was told by another convention goer that Anthony Daniels (C3PO) walked the convention floor and took pictures with fans.  Also heard that on Friday Shia LeBeouf showed up last minute to promote his self-published, three issue comic.  From what I hear he wasn’t charging for autographs, and was great to his fans despite the massive line that formed once people realized it was him.

Also featured, and one of the main reasons I go, are new and upcoming writers and artists.  I got a picture of JP Roth, a freelance writer and author turned comic book creator and more.  I picked up a copy of her new comic and a print for a very reasonable price.  She was nice, easy to talk to, and very excited about her project.  The artwork in her project was great, for a small press publication, and the writing in the issue I got was good.  It was more of a preview for a line called Ancient Dreams, but it was still a great read.

I like meeting the artists that aren’t mobbed because they have been working on the major titles, and seeing the writers, cause that’s what I am, and I don’t think they get enough support honestly.  A lot of people collect comics for the story, but in all honesty bad art can ruin an amazing story any day.  I know I’ve stopped reading some runs of regular comics due to poor art, and I feel bad for the writers, but I just can’t pull myself through the book if the art looks like a 5 year old drew it, or is so pretentious and artsy it belongs on anything but a comic book.

So overall the trip was great.  I have some upcoming advice for convention goers, but I think I’ve packed enough into this post.  Don’t want to lose you all to boredom.  If you are close to Chicago next spring, and have any interest in comics, art, action figures, toys, pop culture, costumes, authors, movies, games, or anything else that’s fun, you should go.  Get your tickets early and save money, and I’ll see you there.