Cards Against Humanity Saves America - Day 3

Written by Neil Greenaway

For the third day of the Cards Against Humanity Saves America promotion, CAH decided to try a little wealth re-distribution. They estimate that close to 150,000 people signed up for the promotion this December. When people signed up, they were asked to fill out a survey that provided a little insight into their financial situation. The answers to those surveys (plus a few other calculations) were then used to break all of the subscribers into three different groups.

  • The overriding majority of subscribers (around 140,000 people) got no money at all.
  • The next group (around 10,000 subscribers) received a full refund of the $15 they spent on Cards Against Humanity Saves America.
  • The final group consisted of the people who were in the worst financial situations (100 subscribers). These people all received a check for $1000, paid for by everyone else. 

Taken from the CAH website.

Some FAQs taken from the CAH website.

As to how CAH decided who needed the checks and who did not, they released the following on their website - cardsagainsthumanityredistributesyourwealth.com:

  • 33%: Census Information
    Since we had everyone’s addresses, we looked up their Census Tracts (and/or ZIP Code Tabulation Areas). This gave us information about the median household income, the per capita income, the labor force participation rate, and the percentage of people below the poverty line in their neighborhood.
  • 15%: Race, Gender, and Education
    We used recipients’ race, gender, and education levels to estimate incomes using Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2015.
  • 15%: Occupation
    We asked recipients what field they worked in and used the median salaries of those professions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • 10%: Health
    We gave extra weight to people who said they were in “poor” or “fair” health.
  • 10%: Debt
    We gave significant extra weight to people who had medical debt or credit card debt. We also gave a bit of extra weight to people with student loan or other debt.
  • 10%: Stressed About Money
    We asked people whether they were stressed about various things. We gave them extra weight if they said they were stressed about money and a lower weight if they said they weren’t worried about anything. Everything else (terrorism, alligators, etc.) we ignored.
  • 5%: Smoking
    We gave extra weight to people who said they smoke or used to smoke. Smoking is highly correlated with poverty.
  • 2%: Ordering In and Eating Out
    People who ate out more often were considered to be slightly better off.

Alas, the kind folks over at Cards Against Humanity did not send me a check. Or even a refund. They did send me a pair of CAH game cards (pictured below) that make up for a lack of funds. Knowing that I was able to - in some small way - help out families in need this holiday season helps, too.


Cards Against Humanity Saves America - Day 2

THE BANNER AT THE TOP OF CARDSAGAINSTHUMANITYSAVESAMERICA.COM.

THE BANNER AT THE TOP OF CARDSAGAINSTHUMANITYSAVESAMERICA.COM.

Day Two of my Cards Against Humanity Saves America packages arrived on December 4th. Inside the patriotically marked envelope I found 6 CAH cards, 4 stickers, and a whole lot of Good News. Siting the fact that every day seems to be filled with more bad news these days, the folks over at CAH have started up TheGoodNewsPodcast.fm. This new podcast would attempt to make every day a little brighter by broadcasting the good news that is happening all around us. Through the CAH Saves America promotion, The Good News Podcast has been fully funded to run a new episode every weekday for a year, free of ads. The four stickers included were also from TheGoodNewsPodcast.fm. In keeping with the theme of the envelope, the CAH pack was also a "Good News Podcast" set featuring 6 soft-and-cuddly new white cards.


Editorial: Superman - The American Way

Written by Roberto Martinez

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

The first contract for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster at National Periodicals. They signed for $10 a page!

December 4, 2017 marks the anniversary of a momentous occasion in comic book history. It was on this day 80 years ago - December 4, 1937 - that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (the creators of Superman) signed their first contract with National Periodicals. That contract would change the face of comics and graphic storytelling forever. In commemoration of that anniversary, Nerd Team 30 presents an editorial on Superman written by correspondent Roberto Martinez.


            This was supposed to be a short article. It was supposed to be a quick little rant about a movie I didn’t like, but it turned into a treatise on a character I love. It snowballed, collecting research and theory it careened out of my control. I’m glad it did. But, since this was supposed to be a short work that was ready after a couple of days, I’d like to apologize to Nerd Team 30 for my tardiness and offer an explanation.

            I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what to make this article about. Completely lacking any idea of what to say, I asked my mother for a topic.  “Write about what heroes we need today in comics” she says.  I kept thinking about that over the course of a day, figuring out what or who could possibly help in this new era which resembles a shit-covered-shit-burrito-wrapped-in-a-crappy-crunch-shell-of-crap.

Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel.

            I kept thinking about Superman. “But we have Superman already, why would we need Superman?” I asked myself. “Hmm. You really think people know who Superman is after watching Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman?”  Then I felt a seething anger build in me, very similar to the sensation I had coming out of the theater in 2013.  I hated Man of Steel  with a passion I did not fully understand at the time.

            Originally I had thought the anger was derived from it being such a bad representation of the Superman I knew from the comics, but then I realized it was far more personal than that. I used to love Superman. In fact, I had forgotten how I used to love Superman. When I was a kid, Superman was the only superhero besides Spider-Man who could capture my imagination. My mom used to tell me bedtime stories about superheroes when I’d exhausted her knowledge of fables and myths.

Christopher Reeves as Superman.

            Superman was one of a few mythic pieces of pop culture that shaped my understanding of what it meant to be a good person. But then my friends made it clear to me that Superman was not cool. The arguments made to me (in much more basic terms than I’m using here) were: How could a big blue boyscout who was so damned happy be cool? How could someone with so much power be interesting? He can just shrug off anything you throw at him, there’s no tension in that. How the hell do you play as Superman with your friends on the playground when Superman is so much more powerful than all the rest of the characters you could play? And what’s the point of him when he’s so good in the first place? Where’s the drama in that?

            Superman became my first concept of what people called a Mary Sue.[*] Too perfect.  Too powerful. Too adolescent, even for a kid who had not yet even come close to double digits in age. But somehow, in the short amount of my life which had occurred before the time before I decided Superman wasn’t cool, I’d created some idea of what the character was supposed to be; who he really was beneath the blue pajamas and red S. But I only remembered this because I fucking hated the version of Superman presented to me by Zack Snyder and DavidSuperman Should Be Allowed To KillGoyer.


[*] I’m of the current opinion that the trope of the “Mary Sue” is a bullshit label that doesn’t actually convey a concept very well. That or the Divine Comedy is just some self-insert Mary Sue bullshit, take it or leave it. 

            First of all, contrary to my early rejection, Superman was not all-powerful. Besides the obvious limit of kryptonite, he was limited by his humanity. There were things that Superman would and would not do based on his moral compass, and those limits were important.  He was a big blue boyscout who had the might to make things right, yes, but only ever used that might against bullies. He had embodied Truth, Justice and the American Way, and then abandoned the lattermost part of the creed to better serve the world. He was inspiration personified – and I really think the John Williams theme for the character is the best summation of this trait. Go listen to it right now and tell me if it doesn’t give you enough get-up-and-go to at least do the dishes. Superman, the alien who learned how to be a better human than most humans.           

The theme song from Superman: The Movie

            Let me lay out my case for why my childhood idea of what Superman is was correct all along. We’re going to go back to Superman’s origins and I’m going to prove he’s the hero we need today by describing the 1930s and the 2010s at once: Newsflash! After a crippling American financial crisis causes huge fallout across the face of the earth, a fearful global population begins to turn towards fascism and nationalism. Far-right demagogues design laws to penalize all who differ from their ideal norm and promise a return to their nations’ former greatness.

            Eerie, right? Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman in 1933 when they were still in high school, although in a very different incarnation from what would appear in Action Comics #1 five years later. In the 30s America and a good chunk of the world had either flirted with, or outright chosen, authoritarianism (again, pretty close to today’s landscape) in the form of dictatorships and fascist alliances.  People were fed up with their living conditions and the basic insecurities of low wages and lack of upward mobility. Many were lured by the siren song of a strongman promising a greater quality of life. With little or no framework to fulfill those promises, the demagogues instead turned public attention to foreigners and other "interlopers" as scapegoats. This was just as true in America as it was in Europe. For some, Hitler was not seen as a threat but as a role model.  As a result, the German American Bund held a great amount of influence. Almost 20,000 American Hitler-supporters showed up at one Madison Square Garden rally in 1939 shortly before the Bund dissolved when its assets were seized. Siegel and Shuster would be well aware of the Bund when they published Action Comics #1 in 1938.

The Reign of the Superman - the earliest incarnation of the character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

            Discarding previous incarnations where Superman had been a villainous vagrant, a tough-as-nails detective, or a baby sent back in time from the future, the two Jewish creators developed Clark Kent as we know him today: an immigrant refugee from another planet whose alien name “Kal-El” resembles the Hebrew words for “voice of God.”  These implications were not unnoticed at the time. After Superman took on Nazi Germany in the comics, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, went as far as to publicly denounce Superman and say of one of his creators, “Jerry Siegellack [sic] stinks. Woe to the American youth, who must live in such a poisoned atmosphere and don’t even notice the poison they swallow daily.” The Nazis saw Superman and what he stood for as a threat to their goals.

             In the years during and after the Second World War, Superman became the king of superheroes. He was widely known as a paragon of virtue and synonymous with the motto of “truth, justice, and the American way,” a phrase coined by the Superman radio program.  Of greater note, in 1946 when Superman needed new villains to replace the defeated Nazis, he went on to take on the Ku Klux Klan which resulted in the newly resurgent Klan being stopped in its tracks after the group’s secrets were broadcast over the course of 16 episodes. I want everyone reading to take a moment and think about how awesome that is: Superman is so good at beating xenophobic bullies that he managed to break a hole into reality and kick the KKK’s ass (take that, Superboy Prime.)

An add for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, creators of the Superman!

The original cover art for Action Comics #1 by Joe Shuster.

The final cover art for Action Comics #1.

            All right, I know I’m doing a lot of hero-worship here, but there are some big problems with Supes, particularly from the World War II era, that need to be addressed. A lot of the Golden Age comics are racist and Superman is no exception.  The comics and the Fleischer cartoons feature hateful depictions of the Japanese. Besides that there were a lot of missteps that have been made in writing the character, some even within recent memory. A lot of this stuff still needs to be tackled elsewhere (sidebar: I really think someone should write a story about what Supes thinks and/or thought about the Japanese-American internment camps).  I’m not here to defend these problems or say they don’t matter – they totally do. Despite this, I’m convinced that the core of Superman is not racist/nationalist propaganda, but a human responsibility to use whatever power you have whenever you can to help others. I needed to address these flaws before talking about Frederick Wertham.

            A good portion of Supes’ modern problems stem from a period of time shortly after the war when Wertham published Seduction of the Innocent in 1954.  This forever changed the landscape and readership of American comics.  What had once been a multifaceted industry with a variety of genres read by a large cross-section of readership became synonymous with both superheroes and children in America. It also fundamentally changed the way that we look at Superman, with Wertham ironically aligning the character with fascism and authoritarianism by virtue of his near-godly amount of power and his attacking foreigners (I. E. the racist portrayals of the Japanese among others). This happened only 14 years after Goebbels had accused Superman of being Jewish propaganda.

Superman #6 released in September 1940. Cover by Joe Shuster.

Superman #6 released in September 1940. Cover by Joe Shuster.

Superman #11 released in July 1941. Cover by Fred Ray.

Superman #11 released in July 1941. Cover by Fred Ray.

Superman #90 released in July 1954. Cover by Win Mortimer.

Superman #90 released in July 1954. Cover by Win Mortimer.

            Wertham was also the first to claim that Batman championed homoeroticism and was in a relationship with Robin. He also claimed that Wonder Woman was the Sapphic equivalent of Batman and a bondage fetishist (Wertham considered homosexuality and bondage to be immoral). Superman, superheroes, and DC ultimately won the war against Wertham by creating the oppressive comics code authority and censoring themselves into near-oblivion as well as effectively destroying E. C. Comics. Despite this, Wertham’s claims against Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman managed to gain a foothold in popular culture.  The connection between Superman and fascism has followed him ever since.

            And that brings us back to 2013’s The Man of SteelI hate this movie. I hate this setting. I hate the utilitarian, objectivist, joyless, drab murderfest.  The entire DC cine-verse (up until Wonder Woman) was obsessed with the possibility of a corrupted, fascist Superman. It’s a side-focus of Man of Steel, a main focus of Batman V. Superman, and a postulate of Suicide Squad. While they never fully commit to the idea of Superman being fascist, they flirt with the fear of it constantly. It’s an anxiety built into the DNA of the world.

Superman fights General Zod in Man of Steel.

Superman with a defeated Zod in Man of Steel.

            Snyder’s Superman wrestles more with his moral compass than with threats against mankind, and his upbringing is a huge chunk of why the threat of fascism is ever-present.  Normally in a Superman story we don’t worry about Superman taking power that doesn’t belong to him because his human parents have done such an outstanding job raising him to respect the agency of others.  In contrast, Snyder’s Jonathan Kent errs on the side of selfishness rather than selflessness more often than not:


Jonathan Kent: You have to keep this side of yourself a secret.

Clark Kent: What was I supposed to do? Let them die?

Jonathan Kent:  Maybe… But there’s more at stake here than our lives or the lives of those around us. When the world… When the world finds out what you can do, it’s gonna change everything…


Jonanthan Kent with a young Clark in Man of Steel.

Jonanthan Kent with a young Clark in Man of Steel.

            Yep, Jonathan Kent suggests that maybe Superman should have let the school bus full of his classmates (and more importantly, Jon, your neighbors’ kids) die in order to make sure that Superman can deal with some real problems later. I’m not sure how talk about this. You could argue that this is an attempt at injecting some realism into Superman’s story, that in real life you have to make some sacrifices in order to ensure the most good gets done – except that Snyder’s Superman doesn’t really seem to care about that when it comes down to it. As has been pointed out by an entire army of other sources, Man of Steel’s Superman doesn’t make even the hint of an effort to change his venue with his climactic fight with General Zod, presumably causing a large amount of collateral damage in both property and human life. I find it utterly bizarre that MoS’s Superman cares so much about saving people from being murdered by Zod at the climax given how many incidental deaths he has to be responsible for at that point.

            This is not to say that I think the subject of sacrifice should be forbidden in Superman’s world. I think a Trolley Problem scenario could be a great story for Superman, but it does not work for this interpretation. I think some of the questions Zack Snyder asks in both Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman are good questions, I just think his answers are mostly incoherent. So much of Snyder’s focus in the Superman movies is an attempt to show how his concept as a character doesn’t reconcile with the real world.  But he was never meant to reconcile with the real world. He’s a fantastic, unattainable ideal. His power is not meant to represent physical power but the strength of a moral will to do right.  Superman is a power fantasy, plain and simple, but one that’s meant to inspire us to do better as people.

Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Superman, Cyborg, Batman, and The Flash all join forces in Justice League.

Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Superman, Cyborg, Batman, and The Flash all join forces in Justice League.

            Much to my relief this is reflected in Justice League. This is not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, but the tone was so much closer to what I’ve wanted from the DCEU that I’m willing to forgive some errors that otherwise would have merited an entirely different article. I was not expecting to enjoy this movie, but everything in it was so refreshing compared to the previous, dour installments of the shared universe. On some very basic levels I feel like they interpreted Superman and Batman in ways that were so idealistically true to the characters’ origins. Batman says in the movie that Superman is more of an inspiration than he’ll ever be, and for the first time in this franchise they prove it. This Snyder/Whedon interpretation of Superman truly cares about the welfare of not just the world, but the other heroes in the universe. I’m not sure how much of this was Snyder trying to interpret the character through other fan’s eyes and how much of it was Joss Whedon’s rewrites and reshoots, but either way the product is satisfying.  

            I think my problem with Snyder’s previous version of Superman is that it’s too close to the reasons I wrongly rejected Superman in my youth. I misunderstood him as I grew up in a way that feels very similar to the way Snyder interpreted him in his first two forays into Superman. But I ultimately have to say I owe a debt of gratitude to Snyder on two levels. First, without hating his Superman so much, I wouldn’t remember why I loved him so much I the first place -- and why I think he’s the number one thing we need now in these days that feel darker every minute. Second, without his Justice League I wouldn’t finally have a modern cinematic interpretation of Superman that stands up to a world dominated by men trying to strong-arm the world into obeying their wills.  For the first time in a long time I can look at the cinematic Superman and feel that hope which was promised back in 2013.

Superman knows what it is to be All American.

It's Superman!

It's Superman!

A page from All-Star Superman #10 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.

Comment

Roberto Martinez

Roberto Martinez was born and raised in the city of Denver, Colorado. He writes in a variety of forms including comic scripts, screen plays, stage plays , nonfiction, fiction,  and poetry. He worked to help create the Denver Comic Con and continues to contribute to the Denver Independent Comics and Art Expo.  He’s been active in the industry for eight years, starting with a supernatural western called Boot Hill.  More recently he was in the anthologies Dinopocalypse and  Cryptids and Cogs.  In 2016 he won Sigma Tau Delta’s award for Best Short Play submission for A Quarterlife Crisis Inspired by Connery and Lennon and went on to stage three short plays called Life Lessons which can be viewed on YouTube.

The Centennials - A Kickstarter Spotlight

Written by Neil Greenaway

The Centennials comic book.

Everybody knows that Colorado is home to the Rocky Mountains, craft beers, and a generally laid back attitude.  What many people don't realize is that it is also home to several awesome comic book creators - many of whom are working on creator-owned characters. It was while working on a poster featuring several of these characters (for the Comix Collective) that Lee Oaks came up with the idea to do an independent comics crossover. Not an anthology series, but a cohesive story that is made just like a professional comic. And so he united the talents and characters of over 30 comics pros for an epic crossover event - Colorado style - and The Centennials were born. This groundbreaking comic team-up headed to Kickstarter for the crowd funding it would require to get started, and they held their launch party at one of Denver's largest comic shops. Roberto Martinez was on hand to talk to several of the creators responsible for the new book about what they had contributed.


 The Story:

A young boy named Milo, (from Stan Yan’s book: There’s a Zombie in the Basement). He has the ability to imagine things to life. He unwittingly imagines a kaiju sized monster with nuclear-like powers, (created by monster extraordinaire Robert Elrod). The boy Milo must then use his power to summon heroes to stop the monster he has unleashed on the world. With unexpected twists that only the Bloody Red Mike Baron can concoct, The Centennials features characters like Tom Rasch's Black Alpha, Dan Conner's My Gal the Zombie, his and Patricia Zoom-Cat's Black Diamond, Mike Baron's Badger and Nexus, Lee Oaks' Thunder Monkey, the one and only Enigma and creative talent like Jason Meents, Cachet Whitman, Barry McClain Jr. and many others. This will be one eventful book you won't want to miss!

And to keep it local we will be printing the books in Denver with Bob Conway, who printed Thunder Monkey: The Young Years.


Lee Oaks at the Centennials launch party.

Lee Oaks at the Centennials launch party.

 Lee Oaks

What are you doing for The Centennials?

I’m the guy who decided to put it all together. It actually spawned from a poster that was someone else’s idea and I said, ‘hey, why don’t we do a full on crossover comic?”

My character is Thunder Monkey, he has explosive skin and so whenever he punches something, it explodes. The tricky part is he can’t actually touch regular people, inanimate objects, anything. His adoptive human father is a scientist who comes up with technologies (clothing basically) that he can wear and that protects him.

What other projects are you working on?

The biggest thing I have going right now is the Centennial crossover. If funded we’ll have 30+ Colorado independent authors working on this book or contributing their characters and you know, people who’ve  been in the industry years, worked for major publishers, down to people who this might be their first paid comic book work. So it’s an exciting project for me because I’m a fan of most of the creators and I’m a huge fan of indie comics coming together. This is just the one-shot right now, but there’s nothing to stop us from doing more. And there’s nothing to stop us from having more people join the team in the future.

Where can we find you online?

If you Google “Lee Oaks Comic Art” my stuff is super easy to find. I’m on Facebook, Thunder Monkey has a Facebook page, the Comix Collective has a facebook. If you are familiar with any of the 30+ artists involved in the project you will definitely find a link to me


Robert Elrod at the Centennials launch party.

Robert Elrod at the Centennials launch party.

Robert Elrod

What are you doing for The Centennials?

I created the giant monster/kaiju creature that’s going to be featured in the book and I will be providing a variant cover for the kickstarter.

Well it just started out as something I was doodling that I thought I might paint at one point, and it just ended up going into a pile of other drawings and waiting and waiting and waiting. Lee Oaks contacted me about the Centennials project and asked if I might have anything to contribute in terms of a giant monster creature - and I really liked this one and thought it would be a fun thing for people to check out. I named him Svansarmar. I was looking at, I think it was Norwegian for “two tails”. I came up with this interesting combination of words and I put it together and made up my own word for it. So it was just a doodle, just an original thing I was going to do and maybe do a small painting of. I will probably still do the small painting and that may end up being incorporated into the variant cover I’m going to do, or it’ll be something that I have at a show coming up.

Where can we find you online?

My website is RobertElrodLLC.com, you can always find me on Facebook or Instagram, again Robert Elrod LLC should get you where you’re going. Or if you go to my website you can get to my social media.


Mike Baron (and his popcorn) at the Centennials launch party.

Mike Baron (and his popcorn) at the Centennials launch party.

Mike Baron

What are you doing for The Centennials?

I am writing the Centennials and I contributed Nexus and Badger to the team. Lee asked me to work on the project, I've been working with Lee for years.

You know I’d have to look at a chart because there are so many characters involved.  But it starts with a little boy dreaming about a monster and when he wakes up the monster is real and it starts eating people in Colorado. So every hero that’s based in Colorado comes together to form an ad-hoc committee to get rid of the monster.  And the heroes include Thunder Monkey, and several others – I need my list. The Vanishteer, Nexus and Badger of course, and Robert Elrod has created the monster.  So if you’re familiar with Robert’s work you know what it’s going to look like. Kind of Cthulhu like.

What other projects are you working on?

We’re in the midst of a fundraiser right now for Q-Ball, which I’m doing with Barry McClain who’s right behind me. Q-Ball is a martial arts/espionage thriller and aside from being a very gripping story the martial arts are going to blow your mind because they’re going to be very accurate and exciting. If you google Q-Ball Kickstarter it’ll take you to that. And Q-Ball is Curtis Ball, who is a Detroit native, joined the Merchant Marines at 18, all he wanted to do was see the world and study kali escrima. Kali escrima is the Phillipino art of stick fighting. Q-Ball ends up managing a warehouse in Manilla and one day a big crate comes in. The next day some sketchy characters try to take the crate away but they don’t have the right papers so he turns them down. Well they come back at midnight and Curtis has to defend his warehouse.  Turns out the crate contained a Chinese dissident who was forced to flee the country because of her exposes of human rights abuses. Curtis tracks her down and they end up on the run, they’re trying to make it to the United States with the Chinese Government on their tail and the Tongs and a gang of mercenaries.

Where can we find you online?

I have a website called BloodyRedBaron.net and I often blog there. I’m also on Twitter @bloodyredbaron, and of course a Google search will take you to every comic I’ve done, which is a lot.


Barry McClain Jr. at the Centennials launch party.

Barry McClain Jr. at the Centennials launch party.

Barry McClain Jr.

What are you doing for The Centennials?

I am an artist at Valiant, Blue Juice Comics, Source Point Press, I dunno, I just work in comics. I am going to be doing some of the pencils on The Centennials.

And again it was a good time to get me, ‘cause I’m in between two projects right now, the Q-Ball project with Mike Baron. Well I knew the editor of the Centennials, so he just reached out to me and he knew I’m making noise locally here, and I’m the type of guy that doesn’t shut up as you can see. And I think that kind of got his attention, probably, with some of the work as well that I did with Valiant so he reached out to me via the internet and he was like “hey you want in” and then he told me the premise of it, local aspect, I’m all about local. And as well cultivating local talent, and I’m like, ‘I live in Englewood, why didn’t you holler at me earlier’ so like, no brainer.

What other projects are you working on?

Oh, besides that beautiful project Centennials which is getting backed right now, (thank you everybody for the support on Kickstarter, we really appreciate it), Q-Ball, another Kickstarter that I’m doing with Mike Baron as well, that’s getting funded so if anyone can contribute to that, please we’ve got several days left, it’s very much appreciated, we’ve got some good gifts and prizes and that.  As well I’m working with Justin Grey, we’re going to be doing a project here so be on the look out for Billy The Kid, it’s really exciting. I’m also got work out on Blue Juice Comics with the Comic Book Men, Kevin Smith and all of them, that gang. I’ve got two pinups in Accelerators #14 and #15, sold at Barnes and Nobles. And the new issue of Badger that’s coming out, I did a cover on the Badger. As well Source Point Press work, the Salvagers with Bob Sally, please get that ‘cause I’m going to be in the trade paperback of that. Really exciting stuff. Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer, David Crownson, I’m gonna be on issue 3 with a pinup in there. And I’m always busy, man, your boy got a lot of work going on, what do you want from me?

Where can we find you online?

Online you can go to BuyBlueJuice.com for the Accelerator stuff, SourcePointPress.com. What else? You can reach me FirstComics.com. MechaWorkshop.com  (cause I also do a book in Singapore with Mecha Workshop called The Armarauders, with Brandon Easton. You can Google me, it don’t matter, I mean I’m everywhere, you can’t get away from Barry McClain Jr.


Bob Conway & Dan Conner at the Centennials launch party.

Bob Conway & Dan Conner at the Centennials launch party.

Dan Conner

What are you doing for The Centennials?

Well I’ll be doing some colors on the finished story for the book, the art, I guess as it’s published. And the My Gal, the Zombie character of mine, Chelsea, will be one of the team members. And then Black Diamond who I work on with Patricia Krmpotich, is going to be in it as well.

Lee Oaks reached out to me. Lee was probably one of the first artists that I met in Denver when I moved here  not quite 10 years ago. We've been bumping shoulders at conventions ever since then. I’m just really excited to be a part of this project. I think it’s a great opportunity to have some great characters all on one team.

What other projects are you working on?

Other than that, I have the My Gal The Zombie webcomic and I'll be doing flats on the next volume of Cleopatra In Space with Scholastic. I have some art in the new 3 Stooges trading card set coming out. Also, I colored the entire Halloween Man Christmas issue with Drew Edwards. That will be out before Christmas.

Where can we find you online?

You can find me online at CrazyGoodComics.com, MyGalTheZombie.com, CrazyGoodConner on most of the social media, Instagram, Twitter, probably Facebook


Stan Yan at the Centennials launch party.

Stan Yan at the Centennials launch party.

Stan Yan

What are you doing for The Centennials?

I’m contributing a character. The main character (I think) who kind of launches the story - but you’ll have to ask Mike Baron because he’s writing it. But my character is Milo, the little kid, and all these characters that sprout from his imagination. That’s what I’m lending. It’s a character that’s based on my son from my children’s picture book There’s a Zombie in the Basement

What other projects are you working on?

I’m also working on a couple of other things right now. One of them I’ve been working on since 2009 called Regret: Cancer Survivor Story. It’s a memoir graphic novel about my best friend’s battle with cancer. I hope to have all of the pages done in this 100+ page graphic novel roughed out by the end of the year. And you can follow the progress on that with my Patreon page along with what I’m working on for NaNoWriMo, which is a graphic novel project based on the comic that was in the Denver Comics Newspaper, Salem Charter Academy, so I’m expanding this into a full-fledged middle-grade graphic novel featuring my zombie girl from There’s a Zombie in the Basement as well.

Where can we find you online?

You can find me at StanYan.me and instagram @Zombicatures and twitter @Stan_Yan


Cachet Whitman at the Centennials launch party.

Cachet Whitman at the Centennials launch party.

Cachet Whitman

What are you doing for The Centennials?

I’m just doing some pencil work for some of the comic pages. Lee had reached out and asked if I was available, and I said "Yeah".

What other projects are you working on?

I'm not really working on any other big projects right now, though I am working on a bunch of commissions.

Where can we find you online?

You can find me on Tumblr and Instagram, Pirate-Cashoo.


Todd Jones at the Centennials launch party.

Todd Jones at the Centennials launch party.

Todd Jones

What are you doing for The Centennials?

Mike Baron told me that he was going to be using Clinton Slade (The Paranormal Consultant). Clinton's background is somewhat mysterious. He has appeared in two issues so far in Wicked Awesome Tales. We know from the first story that he can speak to ghosts (although he can't see them). In the second story, he is called by a friend in the church to help him deal with the possession of a young boy. Demons aren't very fond of him. There is a history there that we'll get to eventually. His name - Clinton Slade - comes from my grandfather's name: Clinton Slate. He was one of the best men I have ever known so I decided to use that name to honor him. 

Also, Chad Blakely and I might be contributing a second character from a story in Wicked Awesome Tales. Lee told me they were looking for a robot. I decided to hit up my friend Chad Blakely about a character that we used in this Dad 2.0 story. This guy basically creates a robot to be a father to his daughter because he knows he’s dying. Its heartbreaking. But he dies off panel, you don’t see it. You basically just see the kid growing up with the robot dad and the humor that comes with that. But he is programmed to “care” as you can totally see in the story.

Where can we find you online?

You can find any of the Wicked Awesome Tales comics on Comixology, I think Stakes is also up on Comixology. And you can follow the Wicked Awesome Tales page on Facebook.


William & Pepper DeLuca at the Centennials launch party.

William & Pepper DeLuca at the Centennials launch party.

Pepper and Bill DeLuca

What are you doing for The Centennials?

We contributed our character called “Ant Gal”, she’s from the first episode of Campfire Stories of Lake Kikipapi. Visually she’s this normal, everyday girl-next-door type character. Unfortunately in the course of our story she gets drowned and then inhabited by a demon ant that brings her back as an ant-human hybrid. And she does a whole bunch of hi-jinks to get revenge for the killing of her ant-pile, and ironically enough her name is Anne Pile.

What other projects are you working on?

As of right now we’re in chapter two of Campfire Stories of Lake Kikipapi and Ant-Gal (Annie) is actually the lunch lady in the modern day camp. So she’s still a part of our story. She’s this big robust woman who basically cooks food for campers during the camp season and she enjoys what she does.

Where can we find you online?

LakeKikipapi.com is our main website if you want to find us online.


The campaign finishes on December 16, 2017. As of this writing, the Centennials Kickstarter still has two weeks to go before it ends - with several high end rewards still available to backers. You can back their campaign here.


The Rest of the Creative Team

Below is a photo gallery of all the creators who will be working on The Centennials that we were not able to speak to at the launch party.

The Centennials

The Centennials

Cards Against Humanity Saves America - Day 1

The banner at the top of cardsagainsthumanitysavesamerica.com.

The banner at the top of cardsagainsthumanitysavesamerica.com.

Cards Against Humanity is at it again. After having sworn that they were done with their celebratory holiday promotions, they are back this year with a more politically charged offering. Though the structure of the promotion is the same as in previous years (a $15 payment buys 6 gifts delivered throughout the month of December), the game company swears that it has a more noble pursuit than the celebration of another winter holiday. They want to Save America. I have always been willing to gamble my money on what the envelopes held in the past, so of course I had to see what surprises this year had in store. I will be posting the contents of my packages here, or you can follow along at the CAH Saves America website. After having paid for the subscription in mid-November, Day One arrived in the mail promptly on December 1st. So far, I am not disappointed. 


From the Cards Against Humanity Stops The Wall website:

Right now, the federal government is working to pour billions of your tax dollars into building a wall between the United States and Mexico, despite the fact that walls have been militarily obsolete since the advent of gunpowder.

Last month, 150,000 people paid us $15 to save America with six days of incredible stunts and surprises. For Day One, we used some of the money to purchase a plot of vacant land on the US/Mexico border and retain a law firm specializing in eminent domain to make it as time-consuming and expensive as possible for Trump to build his preposterous wall.

The whole legal process can take quite a long time — who knows, maybe longer than the current president will be in office? For however long it takes, we are ready for a protracted resistance to any attempts by the government to build a wall on this land.

– Our lawyers at Graves, Dougherty, Hearon, & Moody


A Night At the DINK Colorado Showcase 2, TALA (Take Art Leave Art), and Draw-Off

Written by Neil Greenaway

DINK Colorado Showcase 2, TALA (Take Art Leave Art), and Draw-Off

DINK Colorado Showcase 2, TALA (Take Art Leave Art), and Draw-Off

On November 11, 2017, I attended the DINK Colorado Showcase 2, TALA, and Draw-Off event at the Globeville Riverfront Art Center (GRACe) in Denver CO. The event was broken into three separate sections, as the name implies, all hosted by the founder of DINK - Charlie LaGreca. First, there was the DINK Colorado Showcase 2 art show. This was a fairly straightforward art gallery showing with pieces from several different artists. The 31 art pieces on display that night represent a portion of the artists and styles that will be available at the Denver Independent Comic & Art Expo (DINK) in 2018.

Take Art Leave Art (TALA) wall at the DINK Showcase 2. (1)

Take Art Leave Art (TALA) wall at the DINK Showcase 2. (1)

Take Art Leave Art (TALA) wall at the DINK Showcase 2. (1)

Take Art Leave Art (TALA) wall at the DINK Showcase 2. (1)

Take Art Leave Art (TALA) wall at the DINK Showcase 2. (1)

Take Art Leave Art (TALA) wall at the DINK Showcase 2. (1)

In the second section, Take Art Leave Art (or TALA), their was a long wall covered in art that had been donated by local artists and past DINK guests. Attendees were encouraged to make a piece of art with the provided supplies and then exchange it for a piece that was already hanging on the wall. Everyone was welcome to participate regardless of artistic skill level, and this proved to be a big hit over the course of the evening. Several professional artists were seen creating new pieces just to trade something off of the wall, and so fresh high-quality pieces kept appearing through the night. I personally was able to come home with two beautiful pieces from Daniel Crosier and one from J. James McFarland, both talented Denver artists. 

My Take Art Leave Art (TALA) trades: A Zombie Head and Spine by Daniel Crosier.

My Take Art Leave Art (TALA) trades: A Zombie Head and Spine by Daniel Crosier.

My Take Art Leave Art (TALA) trades: Wolverine by Daniel Crosier.

My Take Art Leave Art (TALA) trades: Wolverine by Daniel Crosier.

My Take Art Leave Art (TALA) trades: G.I. Joe: Kwinn by J. James McFarland.

My Take Art Leave Art (TALA) trades: G.I. Joe: Kwinn by J. James McFarland.

The third part to the event was the Draw-Off, where artists (who had volunteered earlier) were split into four teams who then competed to create the best drawing that they could from random audience suggestions. The roster of artists participating included: J. James McFarland, Jeff Washenberger, Ted Intorcio, Terry Schayes, Cori Redford, Colton Muheim, Thane Benson, Brian Essig-Peppard, Karen Blanch, and Zak Kinsella. Charlie hosted the game with his brother, Jeff LaGreca, while the audience judged the art. There were penalties added on certain rounds (drawing with a claw hand, or drawing with a non-dominant hand) and things quickly devolved into laughter and chaos. And a good time was had by all. As the evening wound down, I was reminded why DINK was awarded with "Denver's Best Comic Con" by the Westword - because it is independent, because it is inclusive, and because it is fun.

Below are two photo galleries. The first showcases the art from the DINK Gallery show, the second displays the madcap antics of the Draw-Off. Don't forget that DINK already has its dates for next year (April 14th & 15th, 2018) and they have already announced headliners Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt.


DINK Colorado Showcase 2 Art Gallery



DINK Colorado Showcase 2 Draw-Off


A Legendary BlizzCon Adventure: The BlizzCon 2017 Photo Gallery

All photos by Shawn Hall

Nerd Team 30 correspondent Shawn Hall visited BlizzCon 2017 this month and brought back over 100 photos of his weekend there. Some of these shots can be seen in the three articles that Shawn wrote for us, but many more have not yet been released. So offered here are ALL of the photos that came back from his trip to Anaheim. Some of them are blurry, some of them are beautiful, and collectively they provide an insight into one of gaming's most popular conventions.

This is the fourth in a four part series covering BlizzCon 2017. Be sure to check out the other three parts here: Getting There, Day One, Day Two.

A Legendary BlizzCon Adventure: Day Two

Written by Shawn Hall

The crowds outside the Anaheim Convention Center for BlizzCon 2017.

The crowds outside the Anaheim Convention Center for BlizzCon 2017.

Day Two:

            My second day at BlizzCon was just as incredible as my first day, if not more so because of the energy from the WoW Arena World Championship, but I’ll get to that shortly. I began the day by lining up at the North Hall again because there was some loot I wanted to get from the Darkmoon Faire that I forgotten about on my first day. The doors opened a little early on day two at the North Hall, but they corralled attendees in at the bottom of the escalators and released us right at nine in the morning to let day two begin. I went right to the escalators going upstairs to the Darkmoon Faire and power walked over to the Pin Purchase tent to get some of the convention exclusive pins for myself and some as gifts for friends that couldn’t make it to the convention. When getting into the line crew members would give attendees a laminated menu that illustrated the items for sale and also had sold out stickers on items no longer available as well as an order slip to mark which items customers wish to purchase. For the most part I was in luck because most of the pins I wanted were still in stock, but there was an Overwatch anniversary pin that I was interested in that had already sold out. I checked out at the cashier window and went over to a table nearby to open some of the series four Blizzard collectible pins when a fellow attendee came over to ask me how I was and if there were any pins that had sold out. I told him about the Overwatch anniversary pin and he told me that he had an extra and would be willing to trade it for some of my series four pins, which made my day because it reminded me of how generous the Blizzard community can be by helping each other get what we want. After that awesome experience I made my way over to the Pet Adoption tent to see what plushies they had for sale. They had a little display case where attendees could check out the plushies they had before making any purchases and next to it was an enormous Pachimari plush from Overwatch that I took a lousy selfie with (selfies definitely aren’t my specialty). One of the crew members running the tent explained to me that it was one of three giant Pachimari plushies in existence and that they borrowed it from the Overwatch office to display at the convention. I didn’t see any plushies that I felt like I wanted, but it was cool to just check them out and see that giant Pachimari plush. Then it was time to cross the sky bridge connecting the North Hall to the rest of the convention center to check out the main floor.

Darkmoon Faire at BlizzCon 2017.

Darkmoon Faire at BlizzCon 2017.

Shawn Hall & the Pachimari oversized plush at BlizzCon 2017.

Shawn Hall & the Pachimari oversized plush at BlizzCon 2017.

The StarCraft stage at BlizzCon 2017.

The StarCraft stage at BlizzCon 2017.

            The first thing I did when I got to the main building was check out the e-sport stages that I hadn’t already seen. I had seen the amazing Hearthstone tournament stage when I watched the opening ceremony there, but I also visited the StarCraft II tournament stage, the Heroes of the Storm tournament stage, and watched the semi and grand finals at the World of Warcraft tournament stage. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see the Overwatch arena because I was foolish enough to think that there would still be seating an hour before the finals started. Although I love all Blizzard games, World of Warcraft and Overwatch are the two that I keep up with the most when it comes to Blizzard e-sports because I enjoy playing and watching them the most. The Starcraft II tournament stage seemed a bit toned down compared to the stages that I have seen on the past three BlizzCon digital ticket streams, but it was still impressive. I watched a bit of the MVP Black vs. Team Expert semifinal with my friend at the Heroes of the Storm tournament stage and the stage lighting, viewing screens, and announcers were all awesome. Even though I only play Heroes of the Storm casually with friends online, I still had a great time at the stage and couldn’t help but feel the energy of the crowd and get into the thrill of the e-sport competition going on. After enjoying that for a bit I wanted to make my way over to the art gallery and check out some of the phenomenal art on display as well as some of the art that was going to be auctioned off for the Blizzard charity auction.

HGC Finals at BlizzCon 2017.

HGC Finals at BlizzCon 2017.

World of Warcraft Finals at BlizzCon 2017.

World of Warcraft Finals at BlizzCon 2017.

            I worked my way through the swarms of attendees to the art gallery and charity auction displays where I had my mind blown by the awe inspiring artwork that was over there. I took as many pictures of the incredible pieces there as I could, but I’m sure I missed some because of how awesomely hypnotic this area was. I was surrounded by attendees pretty much the whole time I was there, but I was so sucked into the spectacular artwork that it felt like nothing else in the convention center existed. My favorite pieces were the replica Frostmourne and Helm of Domination from World of Warcraft, the replica Doomfist fist from Overwatch (by Henchmen Studios), Luke “Mr. Jack” Mancini’s Inner Demon painting, and Kieu Le’s adorable Lil’ Ragnaros Oversize Plush. Just because those are my favorites doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the artwork there too. I don’t think there was anything that didn’t make my jaw hit the floor and say, “Wow, that’s amazing!”. Right next to these galleries was the world’s largest video game diorama the World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Battle for Lordaeron diorama. The little blue and red figurines are 3D printed versions of actual player characters that recreate the epic Alliance vs. Horde faceoff from the opening cinematic for the newly announced expansion Battle for Azeroth. I don’t know if it was officially recognized as such, but it was an incredible piece of art to admire as well. After all of this I decided to go check out the stage for one of my favorite e-sports and watch the semi and grand finals for World of Warcraft.

Frostmourne and Helm of Domination replicas from World of Warcraft at BlizzCon 2017.

Frostmourne and Helm of Domination replicas from World of Warcraft at BlizzCon 2017.

Doomfist replica from Overwatch at BlizzCon 2017.

Doomfist replica from Overwatch at BlizzCon 2017.

Lil Ragnaros Oversize Plush by Kieu Le.

Lil Ragnaros Oversize Plush by Kieu Le.

The World of Warcraft tournament stage was amazing. The lighting, view screens, announcers, audience, and pro players combined to create an exhilarating atmosphere for watching the semi and grand final matches. I arrived in time to catch most of the Method: Triforce vs. Panda Global semifinal match. It was awesome to see the North American team (Panda Global) play well against a European team (Method: Triforce) especially finishing 3:1, because European teams are pretty notorious for taking down North American teams in the past few years that I have been watching World of Warcraft arena matches. I attempted to make my way to the Overwatch arena to try and catch a bit of their semifinals before the World of Warcraft finals started, but the line went through about half of the convention center and they even had crew members tell everyone in line that the arena was full and attendees needed to find somewhere else to go. After that I made my way over to the Hurst Ranch Grill that was right next to the seating for the World of Warcraft tournament stage and grabbed a huge salad and continued to watch the next semifinal of Method: Synergy (North America) vs. ABC (Europe) from the dining area in front of the grill. This match was amazingly back and forth between the two teams with ABC ending up the victors at 3:2. By the time the finals between ABC and Panda: Global came around the crowd was ecstatic because Europe vs. North America is the biggest rivalry in this particular e-sport. Unfortunately for North America, ABC defeated Panda: Global with a clean sweep finishing 4:0, but it was still incredible to see these two teams go head to head and see the new BlizzCon champions win their amazing trophies. After this amazing experience I made my way over to the Mythic stage to catch a few panels before the closing ceremony started and attempt to get a decent seat for it as well.  

The first panel that I watched at the Mythic stage was the World of Warcraft-Battle for Azeroth Q&A which has always been interesting the past three BlizzCons that I have watched at home with the Virtual Ticket streams. The panel this year was hosted by Jenny “Warcraftjen” Bliton and the questions were answered by Matt Goss (Lead Game Designer), Chris Robinson (Senior Art Director), Ion Hozzikostas (Game Director), J. Allen Brack (Executive Producer of World of Warcraft), and Alex Afrasiabi (Creative Director). The questions that I was most excited about were about adding character customizations and increasing the bag space of the default player backpack in game. Chris Robinson said that there will now be a posture change for orc characters as well as some potential cosmetic changes for all player characters in the near future and J. Allen Brack explained that in the future players will be able to increase their backpack size by connecting a Battle.net authenticator to their accounts. I thought it was awesome that these questions were brought up as well as the answers given because these are questions that I have often heard from friends when they started playing the game for the first time and I couldn’t really give them a good answer to it. A few minutes after this was the Inside the Overwatch League panel at the same stage.

Inner Demon by Luke "Mr. Jack" Macini.

Inner Demon by Luke "Mr. Jack" Macini.

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth - Battle for Lordaeron diorama at BlizzCon 2017.

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth - Battle for Lordaeron diorama at BlizzCon 2017.

The second panel that I watched was the Inside the Overwatch League panel. It was incredible to see Nate Nanzer (Overwatch League Commissioner) present the Overwatch World Cup champions of South Korea with their medals. I was incredibly excited to hear Nanzer announce the twelve inaugural season teams and show off their team uniform color schemes: Boston Uprising, Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion, San Francisco Shock, Seoul Dynasty, and the Shanghai Dragons. Nanzer also presented a short video about improvements for viewing Overwatch through the addition of team uniforms to distinguish different players and their abilities on screen, instant replay that can be viewed from different angles, a third person smart camera that allows for more awareness of what is happening around the player being viewed, top-down map view that allows viewers to see the positioning of players on the map being played, player stats that will be tracked across several matches, and hinted that other improvements will be coming along as well in the future. Nanzer also announced overwatchleague.com for fans to view Overwatch League team rosters, schedules, and videos as well as a mobile app that will both be free to access. He also presented an online shop that showcased jerseys, hats, and even socks for the various teams in the Overwatch League. A little while after this it was time for the BlizzCon closing ceremony.

The BlizzCon closing ceremony was started by Michelle Morrow and Alex Albrecht who hosted the Virtual Ticket stream for the convention. They essentially presented a recap of some of the major events that occurred at BlizzCon this year like contest winners, big announcements, and e-sport champions. Following their presentation was Mike Morhaime (CEO and Cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment), Frank Pearce (CPO and Cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment), and Allen Adham (Executive Producer and Cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment) who shared their love and thanks for the support of their fans. Adham also made a bit of an ambiguous statement saying, “I’ll say we’re going to have a lot of great stuff coming in the future, stay tuned.” That sort of teased fans, but also made me excited to see what Blizzard has in store for fans in the future and also made me question what game genres Blizzard might be pursuing in the future. It’s always heartwarming to see the love and appreciation that the founders of Blizzard have for the fans and it is something that is truly special about this incredible video game company. About a half hour or so after the closing ceremony was the live performance by the band Muse.

King Togwoggle by Ludo Lullabi and Konstantin Turovec.

King Togwoggle by Ludo Lullabi and Konstantin Turovec.

Closing Ceremonies at BlizzCon 2017. ()

Closing Ceremonies at BlizzCon 2017. ()

Closing Ceremonies at BlizzCon 2017. (2)

Closing Ceremonies at BlizzCon 2017. (2)

To be completely honest, I had no idea who Muse was even after looking up some of their background online. I’m open to trying new things and stuck around to give them a shot and just to be a part of the live performance experience at BlizzCon. I gave them a try and pretty quickly found that this was not a performance that I could listen to. I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to hate on Muse, they definitely have musical talent, but it just wasn’t something that I could appreciate. The instrumentals from Chris Wolstenholme on bass and Dominic Howard on drums were impressive, but they were so loud I couldn’t make out the majority of what the lead vocals, Matt Bellamy, was singing. I have seen quite a few concerts in my life and honestly their set left a bit to be desired by me, because it was mostly loops of strange visuals on screen and I couldn’t tell if they really had anything to do with the songs because I couldn’t make out the lyrics. There were thousands of people at the Mythic stage that were having a blast at this concert, so maybe it was just me and honestly I loved seeing some of the attendees really getting into the music and show their love for the band.

I had the best time of my life at BlizzCon 2017. The panels, Darkmoon Faire, the art, the announcements, and the e-sports were all remarkable. There wasn’t a single moment at BlizzCon that I wasn’t enjoying myself and honestly most of the time I had a huge smile on my face because of the incredibly fun time I had there this year. I only wish that BlizzCon would last longer than two days because I honestly never wanted it to end while I was there. I can’t thank Blizzard enough for all of the love and appreciation that they show for their fans and it was amazing to be able to share this experience with over thirty thousand other attendees.

This is the third in a four part series covering BlizzCon 2017. Be sure to check out the other three parts here: Getting ThereDay One, Photo Gallery.

A Legendary BlizzCon Adventure: Day One

Written by Shawn Hall

The line outside the North Hall at BlizzCon 2017.

The line outside the North Hall at BlizzCon 2017.

Day One:

            My first day at BlizzCon was incredible. It started with lining up at the North Hall and then flooding in to the convention center once the doors opened. Opening ceremony wasn’t going to start for another two hours after doors opened, so I thought I would see what was going on at the Darkmoon Faire on the upper floor beforehand. I made my way over to the Toy Capsule Depot in the Darkmoon Faire where attendees can purchase single coins or sacks of coins to be redeemed at the capsule machines in the area. The coins were the coin from Hearthstone and the sacks were purple with a golden Darkmoon insignia embossed on them. Several turns of the crank on the capsule machine later and I had a sack of Blizzard capsule toys to take home. I also took a quick look at the amazing Azeroth Choppers that were on display at this hall. I still had about an hour before opening ceremony, so I went to an information booth to find out where the Mythic Stage was located only to find out that it was already full. However, the opening ceremony was being held in several different locations at the event center this year and the guys at the information booth explained that one of those was the Hearthstone tournament stage in the lower level of the North Hall that I was already in.

Darkmoon Faire at BlizzCon 2017.

Darkmoon Faire at BlizzCon 2017.

Toy Capsule Depot at BlizzCon 2017.

Toy Capsule Depot at BlizzCon 2017.

Toy Capsule Depot at BlizzCon 2017 (2).

Toy Capsule Depot at BlizzCon 2017 (2).

I made my way down to the Hearthstone tournament stage and found a spot at the front of the seating for the stage to relax a bit before the opening ceremony started. Ben Brode (Game Director for Hearthstone) as well as Trump (a Pro Hearthstone Player) were mingling with Hearthstone players who were playing the game at large wooden tables in front of the tournament seating. These tables had been set up so players could enjoy playing the game they love while also watching the game they love. While waiting for the opening ceremony to start and taking in the wonderful Hearthstone atmosphere, I met another attendee (he introduced himself as Paul) who was incredibly friendly and we talked about what games we played and he went on to explain to me that he had worked on my favorite game, World of Warcraft. I was blown away to meet someone that had worked on the game and have a friendly conversation with them like any other attendee. I was so excited to talk to him about all of this that I forgot to catch his last name and I hope he forgives me for not recognizing him even after he explained his involvement with the game to me. It wasn’t even opening ceremony time and I had already met someone that worked on a game that I love, but that’s the kind of experience that can be had at BlizzCon. It is amazing. 

Darkmoon coin sack from BlizzCon 2017.

Darkmoon coin sack from BlizzCon 2017.

Blizzard capsule toys from BlizzCon 2017.

Blizzard capsule toys from BlizzCon 2017.

Assembled Blizzard capsule toys from BlizzCon 2017.

Assembled Blizzard capsule toys from BlizzCon 2017.

The opening ceremony began as usual with Mike Morhaime (President of Blizzard Entertainment) at the Mythic stage recapping what has happened with Blizzard in the past year. He then passed the mike off to Kaeo Milker (Senior Producer of Heroes of the Storm) who recapped the past year for attendees and revealed a new cinematic that introduced the new playable characters Alexstrasza and Hanzo as well as some changes to gameplay. The opening ceremony then cut to Ben Brode at the Hearthstone tournament stage where he recapped the past year for Hearthstone and revealed the next card set for Hearthstone, Kobolds & Catacombs. Attendees got a sneak peek at cards from the set through an interactive role playing experience presented by Ben Brode. We were presented with scenarios and decisions that would result in different cards being revealed. The direction was chosen through the cheering of the crowd. I couldn’t stop laughing when Brode presented us with a choice between a door with a sign reading, “Kobold treasure hoard, adventurers keep out!” and another door that read, “Certain death” and the crowd, myself included, began chanting, “Death, death, death!”. Half of the room was crushed to death as a result of our decision in this role playing scenario. I was in the half that died which only made me laugh harder. There was so much energy in this part of the opening ceremony that I couldn’t stop smiling and being excited for the experience. Brode then passed it off to Jeff Kaplan (Game Director of Overwatch) at the Overwatch Arena where attendees were introduced to the new map, Blizzard World, and the new character, Moira, that will be coming out early next year. He also introduced the animated short, Honor and Glory, with the help of voice actor Darin De Paul. It was then passed off to J. Allen Brack (Executive Producer of World of Warcraft) at the Mythic stage where he announced the development of World of Warcraft Classic servers, revealed a Shadow plush (sales of the plush will go to global disaster relief like the in-game pet sales did), as well as introduced the next expansion, Battle for Azeroth, along with its opening cinematic. The expansion has so many new features for the game that it’s easiest just to let you see the trailer for yourself (below). Brack wrapped up the ceremony and welcomed us all to BlizzCon after the Battle for Azeroth opening cinematic.   

After the opening ceremony it was lunch time, so I visited the fleet of food trucks in front of the convention center. There was a food truck for pretty much any kind of fast food imaginable. Food trucks with burgers, pizza, brats, corn dogs, rice bowls, and even a bakery food truck with cupcakes was there and they were all packed in to their little area out in front of the convention center with lines of hungry customers. I went with the Burger Monster food truck and got a White Zombie barbeque chicken burger that was delicious and filling.

Then I thought it would be a good time to go to the Blink store to pick up some loot I had ordered through the BlizzCon app the night before as well as some loot I ordered for my friend while eating lunch. I made my way to Hall E where I waited in line for about an hour before reaching checkout. The BlizzCon app estimated about a fifteen minute wait for the Blink store line, which must have been timed from the point of checkout until the point that attendees picked up their merchandise from the counters because the line was much longer. Once at checkout I scanned my barcodes for my orders and I didn’t think about how complicated it would be to pick up two orders from different counters. One order was set to be picked up at window B and the other was at window G, so I had to stand between the two and listen in both directions for my order numbers to be called out. I was a bit stressed having to divide my attention like this, but it worked out as I heard my number at the B window and then showed up at the G window just as the employee finished checking my order. With loot in hand and food in my belly I decided it was time to check out some panels.

Azeroth Choppers at BlizzCon 2017.

Azeroth Choppers at BlizzCon 2017.

HearthStone stage at BlizzCon 2017.

HearthStone stage at BlizzCon 2017.

I went up the escalator from the Blink store which took me right to the Mythic stage where I arrived just in time to catch the Overwatch-What’s Next panel where Michael Chu (Lead Writer), Arnold Tsang (Assistant Art Director), Geoff Goodman (Lead Hero Designer), and Aaron Keller (Assistant Game Director) discussed what is in store for Overwatch fans in the near future. They started with an animated origins story for the new support healer character Moira. They also went into how they created and fine tuned this new character, showed off come concept art for character skins for her, and described her in-game abilities. Then they went on to talk about the new hybrid map Blizzard World. They showed a park map version of the map, showed the demo video, went into detail about the different theme park attractions in the map and how they function in gameplay, and some of the subtle nuances of the aesthetics of the map itself. They also teased some amazing Blizzard themed character skins for various characters as well as skins from the most recent animated shorts including: Immortal Orisa, Magni Bronzebeard Torbjorn, Nova Widowmaker, Blackhand Doomfist, Barbarian Zarya, Butcher Roadhog, Crusader Reinhardt, and Ecopoint Mei that will be available in the base loot box early next year. They finished the panel off with some Q & A. A few minutes later and it was time for the World of Warcraft-Gameplay and Systems Deep Dive panel.

The World of Warcraft-Gameplay and Systems Deep Dive panel was hosted by Matt Goss (Lead Game Designer), Jeremy Feasel (Senior Game Designer II), and Russell Petersen (Lead Designer). Jeremy Feasel began the panel by describing the new resource in Battle for Azeroth called Azerite. Azerite is described as the life blood of the planet Azeroth and incredibly powerful. Acquiring Azerite is a pivotal part of a new role agnostic three player scenario called Island Expeditions. This new scenario is deemed to have dynamic replayability, which is a concept that allows for multiple different possible layouts for the scenario that is done essentially through procedural generation to create a different adventure each time the scenario is played. It is also introducing non player characters that have what is called tactical ability usage, which allows them to better adapt to player strategies and react in a way that hasn’t been seen before in the game. It also has four difficulties: normal, heroic, mythic, and PvP (player vs. player) - which allows for a game type that any kind of player can enjoy. He then passed the mic off to Russel Petersen who went into detail about a new neck item in the next expansion called the Heart of Azeroth. As this item levels up it allows players to awaken abilities in other pieces of armor that they acquire through a ringed tier system for each piece of armor. Matt Goss took it from here to discuss the new twenty vs. twenty player instances called Warfronts. The first warfront map he presented was Stromgarde in which the Alliance is trying to reclaim the area in order to defend against the Horde in the Eastern Kingdoms. The objectives in a warfront are to gather resources and take territory in order to construct buildings that will aid in constructing buildings for your faction - which will allow for building an army to siege the enemy faction’s constructs and kill their commander. Goss also talked about some new social features for the next expansion like integrating Battle.net voice into the game and WoW communities that are character specific and cross-server groups that also have text chat history. About fifteen minutes of waiting in my seat and it was time for the Heroes of the Storm-What’s Next panel at the same stage.

Overwatch statue at BlizzCon 2017.

Overwatch statue at BlizzCon 2017.

StarCraft statue at BlizzCon 2017.

StarCraft statue at BlizzCon 2017.

World of Warcraft statue at BlizzCon 2017.

World of Warcraft statue at BlizzCon 2017.

The Heroes of the Storm-What’s Next panel was hosted by Alan Dabiri (Game Director), Travis McGeathy (Lead Game Designer), and Matthew Cooper (Lead Live Designer). It began with Dabiri recapping what has happened with the game in the past year. Dabiri also discussed how they will be reworking how content is released so that it is more streamlined, in order to give a better spotlight to new content as well as alleviate some issues with having to rework and balance problems created through the release of new content.  He then passed it off to Travis McGeathy who shared some stats on the most crafted items in game since the last major update. McGeathy also discussed a new target info panel for more statistics on all potential targets in the game. He also revealed heroes in hiding which displays which characters are inside of objects. McGeathy also told us how Battle.net voice is going to be incorporated into the game client as well as individual performance based matchmaking that will be coming out later this year. Then he passed the mic off to Matthew Cooper who discussed some 2018 gameplay updates. The first of these was evaluating camera height to help balance performance and visibility in the game. Then he discussed reworking stealth heroes to make the stealth visual more apparent to enemy players but also make them completely invisible if the stealth character stops moving. He also presented lane updates like giving infinite ammunition to towers, removing some of the stand alone towers on lanes, adding truesight to forts and keeps, making regeneration globes go neutral after four seconds and stick around for another four second after that, pushing back battleground objectives to allow more time on lanes, and to improve mercenaries in response to the changes in tower ammunition. Cooper also presented a timeline that detailed a three week PTR (public test realm) and to start these changes at the beginning of the new season in December. They concluded the panel with a brief series of Q & A. After this I tried to find a better seat and view for the Community Contest night that started about fifteen minutes later as well as grabbed a grilled cheese sandwich from a food vendor at the back of the hall who I regret not remembering the name of.

Cosplay at BlizzCon 2017.

Cosplay at BlizzCon 2017.

Community Night was a fun and entertaining presentation of the participants of the art, costume, movie, and talent contest hosted by Chris Hardwick (producer, actor, comedian, and CEO of Nerdist) and the talent portions were judged by Jonny Cruz (actor, director, and writer), Panser (YouTube personality from TradeChat), and Darin De Paul (actor). Community Night split entrants of the contests up into different groups in order to more efficiently run through the performances without any pauses. It started with the fourth place music talent group Bah Ram You performing their song, “Blizzard Through the Years”. This was followed by a presentation of the third place art contest winner, “Valkyrie” by Joao Freire. This was then followed by the first of four groups of twenty five costume contestants. After that was the third place winner of the movie contest, “Real Play” by Roman Alymov. Following that was the hilarious third place music talent group Squirloc performing their song, “Love Song to Blizzard”. After that performance was the presentation of the second place art contest winner, “Illidan Stormrage” by Wang Qichao aka Gothic Q. That was followed by the second group of twenty five costume contestants. Following these costume contestants was the second place winner of the movie contest, “Daydreamer” by Andrew McCord. After that was the music contest first place winner Jay the Tavern Bard performing his song, “Tales of Azeroth”.  Following that emotion-packed performance was the presentation of the first place art contest winner, “The Light of Elune” by Shen Yi Sung aka Gasone. That was followed by the third group of costume contestants. After that presentation was the viewing of the comically sweet first place winner of the movie contest, “Winston” by Lisa Aschieris and Chris Kellett. Following this viewing was the second place music talent group that bursts with energy Have No Fear with their hip hop performance, “Payload”. Then the fourth and final group of costume contestants was presented to the audience. That was followed by the presentation of the talent contestant placing judged by Jonny Cruz, Panser, and Darin De Paul and announced by Chris Hardwick. Jay the Tavern Bard was understandably emotional after being awarded first place in the music talent contest. The event was capped off with honorable mentions to some incredible costume contestants as well as the presentation of the top four prize winners: Sparkz as “Mythic Kingdom’s Arthas” in fourth place; Mike Casteel as “The Prophet Velen” in third place; Hyperion Armory as “Jim Raynor” in second place; and Laura Mercer as “Hogger” in first place. All of the costume contestants were amazing but Laura Mercer as “Hogger” was so incredibly life-like and animated that there was no doubt in my mind that it deserved first place. Mercer’s interaction with Chris Hardwick after winning first place was too funny. I have never seen a gnoll nuzzle someone before and it was so funny that it was impossible not to laugh.

After experiencing all of these amazing events on my first day at BlizzCon, it was time to walk back to the motel and get rested up for the second and final day of the convention. Walking back to my motel room along Katella Avenue I saw BlizzCon attendees all over the sidewalks with their convention backpacks on, heading back to their rooms for the night and finding places to feast after their day long adventure at the Anaheim Convention Center. Finally getting to my motel room I felt just how exhausted I was from my first day, but I was also eager to experience day two.

This is the second in a four part series covering BlizzCon 2017. Be sure to check out the other three parts here: Getting ThereDay Two, Photo Gallery.

A Legendary BlizzCon Adventure: Getting There

Written by Shawn Hall

BlizzCon 2017 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

BlizzCon 2017 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Getting There:

I have been a fan of Blizzard Entertainment since I first played StarCraft seventeen years ago, so it was incredible for me to be able to attend BlizzCon this year. I attempted to purchase tickets for a friend and myself on the first wave of online sales in April and was disappointed when tickets were sold out in a matter of seconds, but I didn’t let that discourage me from attempting the second wave. I lost my mind when I saw that I was able to purchase the two tickets I wanted. Thus, the first step in my legendary adventure was taken. After about seven months of anticipation the next step in my journey had arrived and it was time to leave the comfort of my home in Colorado to travel to the land of BlizzCon - Anaheim, California.

The crowds at BlizzCon 2017.

The crowds at BlizzCon 2017.

            The first full day of my adventure started with a flight from Denver International Airport (DIA) to LAX in Los Angeles, which are two totally different worlds themselves. DIA is more like a dungeon with how huge and dark it is inside, whereas LAX seemed much smaller and was lit up with natural lighting through windows all over the place. I then boarded a shuttle to Anaheim from Los Angeles, which was easily the most intense part of my journey. Traffic was more abundant than anything I had ever seen in Colorado and the shuttle driver had to be more assertive than any taxi or shuttle I have ever been in. After white knuckling it through this shuttle ride I arrived at my hotel and found my room. The place I stayed was only about 0.7 miles away from the Anaheim Convention Center where BlizzCon was located, so I decided to just walk over to the convention center. Since I had arrived the day before the actual event started, I could just walk in and pick up my badge. The badge pickup was in Hall E along with the Blizzard Gear Store, which had a huge line - for both the regular store as well as the Blink store. The regular store was a well organized merchandise booth that attendees could browse wares, try on sizing samples, and eventually pick up their loot at the various checkout counters. The Blink store was essentially some checkout and pickup counters for any purchases made through the online store (accessed through the BlizzCon app). I used the Blink store to purchase some loot the following day and will go more into detail about it when I talk about my first day at the actual convention. After checking out the merchandise area and picking up my badge, I went to the main entrance of the convention center to take a selfie in front of the BlizzCon and various Blizzard games signs on the convention center.

Shawn Hall at BlizzCon 2017.

Shawn Hall at BlizzCon 2017.

            After all of this it was time to grab some food on the way back to the motel. A fellow attendee that I had talked to on the shuttle ride earlier had recommended a restaurant called Tiffy’s that was located between the convention center and my motel. This was great advice because Tiffy’s had some of the best food and service that I have had in a long time. I got a veggie delight entrée that consisted of pasta with broccoli, carrots, and cheese melted on top along with a side of cornbread that was honestly one of the best vegetarian dishes I have ever had anywhere. Then it was time to get settled in at the motel and get rested for the amazing first day of BlizzCon.

This is the first in a four part series covering BlizzCon 2017. Be sure to check out the other three parts here: Day One, Day Two, Photo Gallery.

BlizzCon 2017.

BlizzCon 2017.

Fort Collins Comic Con 2017: Big Things at This Little Convention

Written by Shawn Hall

A view from above the convention floor at Fort Collins Comic Con 2017.

A view from above the convention floor at Fort Collins Comic Con 2017.

There were so many things to be excited about at this year’s Fort Collins Comic Con (FC3). Featuring dozens of panels, an overflowing vendor area, a lounge area packed with video games both old and new, a room to play and demo table top games, and outdoor training camps for Ghostbusters and Superheroes at the children’s outdoor playground. This con had something for everyone of any age to enjoy.

IA Mullin at Fort Collins Comic Con 2017.

IA Mullin at Fort Collins Comic Con 2017.

This was my second year attending FC3 and I was blown away at how much it had grown this year. The vendor area had a new layout that seemed like it nearly doubled the amount of space for vendors and artists. Another noticeable growth at FC3 this year was the number of panels available. They even added an extra room for panels upstairs this year to accommodate for this increase. I was glad to be able to sit in on Mike Baron’s panel, “How to Write Fiction” and listen to some of his experiences and advice. I particularly enjoyed his description of his own writing, “I like to write fiction with wild ups and downs, but has a satisfying ending” as well as his descriptions of the three commandments of writing: 1) entertain, 2) show, don’t tell, and 3) be original. The last major growth that I noticed in the convention this year was the enormous attendance at the start of the first day and the increase in cosplay that went along with it. The vendor floor was packed shoulder to shoulder with attendees, which made it feel like a bigger con.

Ben Mikkelsen at Fort Collins Comic Con 2017.

Ben Mikkelsen at Fort Collins Comic Con 2017.

            I made an effort to talk with some of the vendors and guests on the vendor floor and I found several that proved interesting. Patti and Stephanie of Starlit Creations were kind enough to discuss their creation process for some of the jewelry that they make from role playing game dice as well as how they make accessories for cosplay. They started sales in 2009 when they moved to Colorado and were having a hard time making a living. Now they have an online shop through Etsy with over 3,000 sales so far. Another noteworthy vendor was Jesse Bonifazi that makes custom figures and illustrations (jessebonifazi@gmail.com). He explained how he would take old action figures, like Batman and Superman, reshape them with putty and paint them to create completely new and unique figures. He told me he could create pretty much any character as a custom order, which sounds like someone who appreciates a challenge. The guest that grabbed my attention the most was writer Ron Fortier. Fortier was extremely friendly and happy to talk about his passion for writing. He enjoyed explaining the plots to many of his own works that he had available at his booth as well as informing me of a comic book scripting class that he is going to be teaching at Front Range Community College which starts this September. The amount of enthusiasm and passion from all three of these booths was inspiring.

Ron Fortier at Fort Collins Comic Con 2017.

Ron Fortier at Fort Collins Comic Con 2017.

            This was the third comic convention I have ever attended and I brought along a friend who had never been to a con before. He enjoyed the experience and liked seeing what the artists had created. He also said that he would certainly recommend this event to others. I would definitely agree with him. So whether you are familiar with or completely new to comic conventions, this is one that is certainly worth experiencing. Don’t miss Fort Collins Comic Con next year - they already have the dates (August 25 & 26, 2018).

Shana Moura at Fort Collins Comic Con 2017.

Shana Moura at Fort Collins Comic Con 2017.