Paper and Pins and a Serving Suggestion

Schlock on a pin! We made 200 of these, and they're in the store now we don't have any left:

Sorry! We'll make more. Meanwhile, we're having a sale on original strip artwork too!

Original Schlock Mercenary strip artwork measures 14 inches wide by 8.5 inches high, and is on 80lb bond xerographic paper (regular printer paper.) Usually we charge $40 per row of artwork, but we're cutting that price in half for a little while. A daily strip will only set you back $20! Yes, a three-row Sunday will cost more than that. Math!

These original pages include all the dialog text--I laser-print the panel borders and the dialog before commiting art--and will also show faint pencil lines and not-so-faint blotches of white-out where I fixed things. There may be cases (less than 1%, really) where the dialog on the page doesn't match the dialog that appeared online. Usually changes were made to fix typos. Finally, the strips include a scrawl at the bottom showing the date upon which it was drawn and what my inked buffer was once that strip was completed. 

If you want an original strip, the easiest way to do it is to send the URL of the archive page of the strip in question to schlockmercenary@gmail.com, and Sandra can tell you whether that strip is still available. Then you make your purchase in the store, and email the order number to Sandra, and she'll make sure the right strips go out to the right people.

Back to the pins for a moment: if these are popular we will make more, and we will do pins of some of the other characters. Note, however, that the next run of these will be a little different (I'm going to adjust the placement of the vents on the plasgun) so that these first 200 pins will be recognizable as the Very First Schlock Pins Ever.

When I say "very first," I mean "pins with Schlock on them." We did Tagon's Toughs pins back in 2006, and those are almost gone. If we decide to make more pins with the company logo they'll be a lot different than the originals.

We are also planning on some convention exclusives Schlock pins for GenCon, Westercon, and SLC Fan-X. I'll post pictures of those as the events in question approach.

At an inch-and-a-half high, these pins may be a little large for today's narrower lapels. Of course, that needn't stop you from wearing them with even the most snappy of outfits. Here, for instance, is Schlock riding along with me to church...

The complementary colors of the pocket square and the pin? Happy accident. Very happy! Because fashion! 

Stripped: review coming on April 1st

It's getting to be that time of year when I clear my calendar each Friday so I can see a movie and write about it. Today, however, nothing is playing that I find interesting. Of course, last night I watched my Kickstarter Exclusive HD Reward Copy of Stripped, the documentary about the newspaper comics business, webcomics, and pretty much all things relevant to exactly what I do for a living.

I'm writing the review later, and I'm posting it on April 1st, which is when the film will be available on iTunes for all of you. I'm not sure when it will hit other outlets, but in support of the filmmakers (who are friends, yes, full disclosure, moving right along) I'll be picking it up then. 

Let me say this much, however: if you grew up reading newspaper comics, if you consume webcomics now, or if you take any measure of delight in sequential art (especially the kind with punchlines,) this film will stir you.

Also, I am in it! I'm not featured the way a few rather more influential creators are, but I got to say important things. Bold things, even. And my children who watched it with me looked up at me in new ways, not because I was in a movie, but because now they felt like they understood a little more just what it was that I do, and how rare it is for me to get to do it in this way.

So... April 1st there'll be a proper review, and not an April Fools gag. 

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Well, it turns out that Mr. Peabody & Sherman was exactly what I hoped it would be, while still managing to surprise me. Of course the surprises were not big, plot-reveal sorts of things; this isn't that kind of movie. They were the sorts of surprises that make a joke work. And, I have to admit, surprises that the jokes worked at all.

The theater was almost empty (that part was not a surprise) but there were some men in the back row who had me a bit worried. They kvetched and gabbed during the previews, and I was afraid that this behavior might continue into the feature presentation. My fear was unfounded, however. They shut right up for the How to Train Your Dragon II trailer (promising!), and then during the film the only noises out of them were laughs at all the appropriate moments. But I don't look down my nose at that at all, because I was laughing as well, although rather more quietly.

The big disappointment was the short that ran before the film itself. It was called "Home Planet" or something like that. It had a neat premise, tasty animation, and great visual gags, but a short like this ultimately succeeds or fails, at least for me, on the turn right at the end. The Pixar shorts are great examples of this.Sadly, this short did exactly what I thought it would do, but which I hoped it wouldn't because I couldn't see a way to make that joke work well. And when it was over I still hadn't seen a way to make that joke work well. I've come up with a better ending now, but only because I'm not ashamed to borrow a trope from Theodore Geisel.

Anyway, Mr. Peabody & Sherman was goofy in some of the same ways that The Lego Movie was, but where The Lego Movie featured pop-culture references galore, Mr. Peabody & Sherman rolled out the historical ones. The voice acting was wonderful (I got just the right amount of Warburton) and Danny Elfman's soundtrack was perfect. The film has a little bit of a Finding Nemo vibe to it on the father/son front, and although it's nowhere close to being the film that Finding Nemo was, I had a great time. It's #2 for the year for me, and by the time we get to December, it may actually still be somewhere in my top 15.

300 II: Abs on the Rise

Today I saw a not-very-good movie. Yes, I'd like the two hours back. If the film has any redeeming value whatsoever it's that it's inspired a bit of interest in the actual history -- history that does not involve oiled men sword-dancing when they're supposed to be fighting. 

In the interest of saving you some time, I'll say this: I have a new least-favorite movie of the year, and this io9 review is more fun to read than the film was to watch. As an added bonus, that review saves me the trouble of attempting to catalog the film's sins, which were many. Just turn it into a petition and let me sign it.

I saw the 3D version, and while it technically adept they kept trying to make me think I had blood in my eye. Which I probably would have ended up with, had I allowed myself to weep on behalf of Greco-Persian war historians.

The Schlock Mercenary RPG is a Thing

If you've been following me on Twitter or Facebook you've probably heard me mention the Schlock Mercenary table-top role-playing game. It's a thing. It's going to happen. My friend Alan Bahr and I have hammered out the game mechanic, Alan's been running some alpha play-tests for about a month now, and our goal is to have the project ready for materials design (you know, the book and stuff) in about a year. It's going to take that long because we want to do it right.

And unless you're in Utah this weekend, that's pretty much all the news that's significant. It's a thing, it's coming, but not until 2015.

If, however, you're in Utah this weekend, you can playtest with us for charity. There's lots going on at the event behind that link, so you should note that the Schlock Mercenary RPG session will be on Saturday from noon until 4pm.

A seat at the table will set you back $25, and that will get you that seat for about four hours of role-playing as a mercenary in the Schlockiverse, with me as the storyteller, and Alan as the referee and "physics engine." The players will be their own mercenary company, and the contract will be a spot of law-enforcement in which they'll be encouraged to keep the collateral damage to a minimum.

Consider, for a moment, what you would expect from a Schlock Mercenary storyline in which Tagon's Toughs were told to keep collateral damage to a minimum. Now imagine yourself embedded in that scenario, and armed with something that goes "OMMMINOUS HUMMM" when turned on, but which you've been instructed not to use under any circumstances.

Seating is limited, but even if it fills up there will likely be room in the peanut gallery. There will also be plenty of other things going on at the event. Alan and I hope to see you there!

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