It’s another round-up! I’ve been leaving my wordy droppings around the internet again, but in case you haven’t spent the last quarter tracking my every move, I’ve collected the finest samples from the last few months and brushed them into one neat corner for you to sniff at.
Artful Dodging: Why Invisible, Inc’s Rewind Button Is Great
Writing for Rock Paper Shotgun remains an honour. Getting to talk about Invisible Inc, which was a contender for my favourite game of 2015 before the year had even started was even better. I go deep on a single mechanic, and use it as an excuse to tell some anecdotes from my games.
Jolie ‘Banks’ Murphy is sneaking past two heavily-armed Obake drones with the help of her newly-acquired cloaking device when it suddenly cuts out. Turns out she didn’t read the label properly – it’s only good for one turn’s worth of invisibility. Both drones turn towards her, arm their weapons and click into overwatch mode. There are no hiding places left, and her supposed partner, the cyborg psychopath Adam Sharp, has already strolled into the level’s exit teleporter and flipped the switch.
What do you do?
The Issue: Empathy for the Henchman in ‘The Invisibles’ #12 (1995)
For the last six months, ComicsAlliance has been my primary outlet for freelance work (check out my author page for the whole lot). Earlier this month, I started a regular series on stand-out single issues that tell a story. The first one focused on The Invisibles‘ ‘Best Man Fall’, and it’s still finding its feet a little, but I think the series has the potential to be one of the best things I’ve ever done.
There are panels where the young Bobby resembles Oor Wullie, star of a family-friendly Scottish comic strip of the same name. As an adult in his military regalia, he could almost be the star of a war story in a boy’s own adventure comic like the Eagle or Valiant; British comics, the kind I remember discovering in stained, broken-spined annuals at my grandparents’ house as a relic of my dad’s own childhood – and no doubt, a mainstay of Bobby’s too.
All of which combines to gives ‘Best Man Fall’ the ring of real human experience. It’s probably no surprise that the tiny tragedies are the ones that bite most. The wee Bobby clutching his teddy bear in a dark bedroom, as his parents fight in the next room, whispering, “It’ll be alright. I won’t let anybody hurt you”. The same bear seen, a few pages earlier, dumped in a bin.
Making Sense of the Endless Reflections of Her Story
Killscreen is the games website for people who enjoy stroking their beard and perusing some Derrida over a nice snifter of brandy – so obviously I’ve wanted to write for it since day one. After playing excellent detective game Her Story, I finally got my chance and broke out the old English-Lit-student tools for a study of my single favourite gaming experience of the year:
“My name is Hannah. H-A-N-N-A-H. It’s a palindrome. It reads the same backwards as forwards. It doesn’t work if you mirror it though, it’s not quite symmetrical.”
That’s how Her Story begins. At least, how it begins chronologically speaking. After saying yes to a coffee (black, no sugar), this is the second line spoken by Hannah in her interrogation. When you played, though, chances are this wasn’t the first, or even second, clip you watched. The game is constructed out of hundreds of clips like this, which can be viewed in any order depending on which search terms you pick.
It’s also the game’s first lie.
Return of the Je-DICE: An Entire Imperial Assault Campaign
Stars War! Imperial Assault is probably my favourite board game of the year, with its delightful miniaturised versions of cinematic icons like Han Solo, the AT-ST, and that weird cat thing from Episode II.
So, I got together with comrade Mike Didymus-True for a joint diary of our ongoing Imperial Assault game, for his blog The Boarding Kennel. The Notorious M.D.T. is a much funnier writer than I am, and that inspired me to up my game a bit, I think. The first two posts are up currently, with a much higher gag count than my average article, plus a fun cartoon of me and Mike. What more could you want?
Being evil is great. Red lightsabers, nefarious plans, rattling your enemies’ bones with lightning that shoots out of your fingertips, room-filling evil laughs. Mwahahahahaha.
But, real talk: it can get lonely on the darker side of the force. Also, there’s a lot of paper to shuffle through, and dozens of bags of cards and models to lay out. So, borrowing an idea from Shut Up & Sit Down’s Matt Lees, I lured another to my cause. Sharing the terrible burden of being monstrous with me as she does most of life’s burdens will be Imogen ‘Imi-perial’ Dale.
My latest post – at least, until I get off my arse and write the piece I currently owe – for Tim + Alex Get TWATD, my blog with your man Tim Maytom.
The Wicked + The Divine is the one comic I’m impatient to get my eyes on each month, and this issue was an absolute stonker. I wrote and posted this piece within a couple of hours of finishing the comic, so it’s fairly raw, but hopefully that’s part of the charm.
I’m not sure I’ve ever felt this dirty after finishing a comic. Ugh. Issue #13 is a magnificent piece of work, in the way you might tell someone, you’re a piece of work, you are. It wormed inside my guts and hardened, and now I feel like I need to shower.
A lot of that feeling is because I’m complicit.
Design and the Distillation of Ideas in Mike Del Mundo’s Covers
More ComicsAlliance business! In which I try to tackle the biggest weakness in my comics writing – an inability to fully describe the art – head on, by writing about some very, very pretty pictures.
You don’t need me to tell you that Del Mundo’s covers are gorgeous. He’s an incredible draftsman with an even stronger sense of design. Covers let him push the latter talent to the fore, dancing through various styles, from stark two-color minimalism to detailed paintings, via pastiches of Escher and Art Deco posters, all depending on what suits this issue best.