Monday, June 27, 2011

Daring Tales of Adventure

Daring Tales of Adventure is a line of adventures that were originally produced for the Savage Worlds system. These are set in the pulp 1930s and were a perfect fit for the Hollow Earth Expedition's game to which Triple Ace Games has started to convert them to HEX's Ubiquity System. At this time there are two available in PDF form and it is understood that they are working on converting more. Daring Tales of Adventure is an excellent additions to the HEX line.

Triple Ace Games also publish their own original setting for the Ubiquity System. All For One is a Three Musketeers like setting for Ubiquity with one book in print and a very healthy supply of PDFs supporting the line.

Two other Ubiquity products are coming out in the near future from Triple Ace, another 1930s pulp era, but perhaps a bit more along the sci-fi side of the genre- Rocket Rangers. And League of Adventure which was simply described as Victorian-era adventuring and exploring. I suspect it'll be a League of Extraordinary Gentleman type setting.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Study in Pulp

Unfortunately for my dad and his father, my brother and I never took to all the sportsman experiences presented to us. Fishing and hunting were fine, just not something we pursued on our own. Instead we deeply enjoyed role-playing games and comics and creating a mashup of each along with our action figures. Never playing strait G.I. Joe or Star Wars, but rather mixing them all together for some interesting sci-fi settings.

Indiana Jones
One of my gateway drug into pulp fiction was probably Indiana Jones. I remember very well sitting around a smaller TV at Alexander's Pizza in Eagle River, WI trying to make sense of wondrous film The Raiders of the Lost Ark. Because my dad enjoyed the film so much kind of gave me license to really get into it. Temple of Doom was one of my earlier favorable movie theater experiences and of course The Last Crusade film was rather special as the boys all went to see it- my brother and I and my father his father. Extra special having shared the experience with Indiana Jone's father, as well. I have to admit I even enjoyed the latest Jones film. Don't get me wrong, I recognize it was pretty bad, but I really liked it anyways.

Another inroad to this obsession with the pulp genre was comic books. My brother and I deeply enjoyed our action figures as mentioned above. A majority of them were from the Hasbro G.I. Joe 3 3/4 inch line produced throughout the mid '80s to the early '90s. These were highly articulate characters from a series of animated programs as well as a Marvel comic book that enjoyed a nice long run as well as a few spin-off titles. Growing up in the North Woods of Northern Wisconsin at that time left our area without cable TV and therefore without the G.I. Joe cartoons. It was through the local book store that we discovered the G.I. Joe Comic and this became our preferred medium to enjoy the franchise. It was through this comic title that we eventually started to expand into other comics- The Uncanny X-Men, a few of the Batman and Superman titles, etc. After we discovered that our peer was selling comics out of his father's hardware store we were completely addicted.

I was pleased to recently rediscover the good old Larry Hama G.I. Joe comics as IDW has continued right where Marvel left off.

I had a long healthy run enjoying modern comics with their superheroes and costumes and such, but over the last few years it's wore on me. My suspension of disbelief is able to be suspended quite a bit given my choices of entertainment. But sometimes the typical comic books ask for too much... all the time. I realized I started to seek comics featuring heroes with less fantastic powers and little to no costumes. This is difficult to find in Marvel or DC. Needless to show how the industry is completely dominated by supers. That hasn't always been the case. Growing up with it, this isn't obvious. When you look back at the older Silver Age and Golden Age comics the heroes were mainly characters that were remarkable, but not super powered. This is what I consider the pulp genre. And it has been, for a while, my latest obsession.

Tom Strong
One non-superhero comic that caught my eye was Alan Moore's Tom Strong. Tom Strong is a super hero of sorts, but not the costume and cape type you usually find in comics. He calls himself a Science Hero which is more accurate. I jumped on board long after the issues were out and discovered them through the trade paperbacks. Like most of Moore's writing, these are fine stories and they're very clearly his love letter to little bits of all the characters from the pulp era. Through the wonderful stories and fantastic art of the Tom Strong books, I fully discovered the wonderful pulp era.

Tom Strong is a strange title/character. Sometimes the comic feels extremely silly, yet there is always a seriousness to it. No matter how ridiculous the story may seem we always return to the high quality writing that the series holds. It's almost too childish for adults and almost too serious and dark for kids. I don't exactly know what the formula is, but it works very well.

There were even some stories that featured many Tom Strongs all in the same place from alternate realities and they reflected many of the actual pulp characters that served as influence for the regular Tom Strong.

Later, I did find some fitting titles under the two main companies. Mostly these are older back issues that I've been fortunate to find rather cheaply, such as: Mike Grell's Warlord (after Edgar Rice Burrough's Pellucidar series). Jack Kirby's Kamandi, and Tarzan from Marvel, DC, and especially Dark Horse's take on it. Most recently I've found a lot of Doc Savage comics. Doc Savage is enjoying a currently produced title, actually...

First Wave
I suspect I'm in tune with some sort of trend. DC Comics has a series of titles re-introducing many of the pulp era characters that are currently under their license. I have heard, however, that this line of comics will not be lasting long.
The First Wave fictional universe is designed to stand separate to the DC Multiverse[1] and was introduced in a Batman/Doc Savage prestige-format one-shot, written by Brian Azzarellowith art by Phil Noto.[2] As well as the eponymous characters it also introduced others likeBlack CanaryThe AvengerRima the Jungle GirlThe BlackhawksThe Spirit,[3] and Doc Savage's The Fabulous Five.[4]
This was then followed by a First Wave limited series with art by Rags Morales.[1][2]
The First Wave line was then expanded to include two ongoing seriesDoc Savage , written by Paul Malmont with art by Howard Porter,[5] and The Spirit, written by Mark Schultz and drawn by Moritat.[6]
Both of these titles also include back-up stories further showcasing the First Wave universe.Justice Inc., starring The Avenger, runs in Doc Savage while The Spirit features short black-and-white tales of the lead character written and drawn by various creators.

The pulp genre really appeals to me. But, why?

Roots of the Pulp Obsession
Further solidifying this, over the last few years I've been enjoying the original Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan novels. I was pleased to discover the typical assumptions about the character are probably based on the more popular films from the last several decades are not accurate to the portrayal of the character at all. Most comics follow Burrough's original concept- Lord John Greystoke (Tarzan) is very well spoken and civilized as opposed to three or four word sentences "Me Tarzan, you Jane". Helping to fuel this passion for the Tarzan novels was the discovery that my Grandfather (my mother's father) was very much into Tarzan, collecting most, if not all, of them. He also methodically collected the newspaper clippings of Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon. I was thrilled to discover this and the more I thought about it, I attributed my own obsessive collective habits to my Grandfather. There was always similarities in his stamp collecting to my comic book collecting, but stamps never caught on with my brother and me. I do recall giving it a good try early in life- even before comics became so prevalent in my hobby life.

My Grandfather was a geek! And this is why my brother and I never really got into hunting and fishing. At least that's the story I'm sticking with.

There isn't a lot of Terry & The Pirates or Steve Canyon available AND affordable these days, so there are some areas still awaiting my exploration. But I did uncover that the guy behind both, Milton Caniff was very involved with the development of the animated television series Jonny Quest. The DVD set of Jonny Quest is still occasionally enjoyed by my son and me. And in turn, the old Jonny Quest comics were highly enjoyable.

I've gotten into Doc Savage as the reprinted Pulp magazines are easily available for very little money. This is one of the heavier influences for the Tom Strong character. Doc Savage, himself, is sort of a mix of earlier characters of fiction and real history.

A recent discovery are the very first original Buck Rogers comics online. Very pleased and surprised with the quality of them. I'll be digging into those in days to come.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

TaleSpin D6

TaleSpin was an animated television series that came out in 1990 and lasted 65 episodes. The cast featured many of the characters that were introduced in the 1967 animated Disney film The Jungle Book. However, TaleSpin departed from the story of the Jungle Book placing the characters in pulp cliffhangers of the 1930s and '40s where the plots revolve around a community of aviators and their aquatic aircraft after the 'great world war'. All of the characters are anthropomorphic creatures and there are no human characters in the show.
TaleSpin poster by Chris Gould

There were many similarities between TaleSpin and the 1982 live-action series, Tales of the Gold Monkey. Many of the characters mirror each other in both series. The pilot, his girlfriend, the crazy mechanic, the nautical planes in the pacific, the era, even the name of the protagonist's planes are both named after sea birds- Cutter's Goose and the Sea Duck. The show was named after the saloon that centers around many of the episodes- The Gold Monkey owned by a character named Louie while in TaleSpin, Louie the orangutan owns a very similar club and hi is [gold-ish] monkey!

There is still a pretty strong following of the show and there are many great online resources for TaleSpin out there, but there is one site in particular shines for information about the setting- The TaleSpin Source Page. This site is not a wiki (I suspect it predates the wiki phase), but it is complete. The TaleSpin Source Page reads more like a digital campaign sourcebook. What makes it Geekflag worthy is the creators of the site went through a lot of effort to convert pretty much everything about the show into the D6 roleplaying game statistics.

The D6 game system was introduced in the Ghostbusters roleplaying game by West End Games. The game mechanics were developed by Sandy Peterson, Lynn Willis, and Greg Stafford of Chaosium (the Chaosium dragon logo even appeared in the Ghostbuster RPG's credits!). It became quite popular with WEG's Star Wars RPG where it found a very successful run for several years. WEG used the game system for many other liscened products, including the Indiana Jones RPG. The D6 system is a very basic dice pool system that is easy to teach and served as many's gateway game system through Star Wars. D6 is still around and is currently an open source game system.

There were a few other Disney shows that felt like they belonged in the same family that could easily be merged together into the same universe. There was Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers which was kind of the animated version of Magnum P.I./Indiana Jones and Darkwing Duck which was an animated version of the Shadow/Spirit/Batman (not that Batman needed another animation). All can be easily made into RPGs with D6 and the TaleSpin Source Page is a fantastic place to start.

The TaleSpin Source Page and sites like it are why I love the internet.

If you want to see more animated films like this, I recommend Porco Rosso.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Doctor Who writer on Star Wars

R2Dalek and Cyber3PO by misskari
One of the writers working on the live-action Star Wars series has been discovered. Matthew Graham wrote the very recent two-parter The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People.

Exclusive: writer for Star Wars TV show revealed

Simon Brew

Have you ever wondered who was writing the fifty hours of scripts that George Lucas has in place for his Star Wars TV show? We might just have uncovered one of them…

Published on Jun 15, 2011

But this begs the question: just who has been writing the episodes for the show? Because names have been very thin on the ground. As it turns out, though, we might just have found one of them.
Yesterday, we reported on Rick McCallum's comments regarding the proposed Star Wars live action television show, where he confirmed that there were fifty third-draft scripts for the programme already in place. The message was clear. The show is still being planned, but George Lucas is waiting for technology to catch up and allow him to make the show on a reasonable budget.
A source has revealed to us that British writer, Matthew Graham, is one of the team that Lucas recruited to the project.
Graham is best known for co-creating and co-writing Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes, and we recently saw his work in Doctor Who, too, where he penned the two-parter, The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People.
We got in touch with Matthew Graham and asked him whether the news was true. All he would say to us was that he had done some work out at LucasFilm during 2008 and 2009 "on something unbelievably cool", and that his contract "had come to an end". "I hope one day I'll be able to talk about it," he told us.
We might be joining dots a little here, but that does seem to us that Graham was, indeed, one of the writers Lucas was reportedly inviting to the Skywalker Ranch to work on the show.
We've got whispers of one or two other names, too, but we're trying to get those clarified now.

John Carter of Mars poster

First look at the poster for John Carter of Mars.

First poster for John Carter released

Simon Brew

One of 2012's first blockbusters, John Carter, gets its very first teaser poster. Take a look here...

Disney has released the first poster for next March's blockbuster, John Carter. And we have got it for you here, as you might have noticed.
The film, once known as John Carter Of Mars, marks the eagerly-awaited live-action directorial feature debut of Andrew Stanton. Stanton, who previously directed Wall-EFinding Nemo and A Bug's Life for Pixar, shot the movie a while back now. The film has been in deep post-production for some time, adding the necessary visual spark to transport us all to Mars.
The actual release date is 9th March, on both sides of the channel, and the first piece of promotional art has now appeared, in the form of this teaser poster.
It doesn't show you that much, granted, but we thought you'd like to see it anyway. And we suspect we might have a trailer of sorts in the months ahead, too. For now, we'll leave you with the official poster, and the official synopsis...
"From Academy Award–winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton comes “John Carter”—a sweeping action-adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars). “John Carter” is based on a classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose highly imaginative adventures served as inspiration for many filmmakers, both past and present. The film tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Avengers poster spotted

A poster for the upcoming Avengers movie has been spotted!

Promo poster spotted for Joss Whedon’s The Avengers

A promo poster for Marvel's The Avengers was spotted at the Licensing International Expo in Las Vegas and photographed by ESQ.. It features all the heroes together and you can check it out below!
Directed by Joss Whedon, the anticipated Marvel Studios film stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Clark Gregg, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Tom Hiddleston and Stellan Skarsgård. The movie hits theaters on May 4, 2012.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Tarzan by Jackdaw
Warner Brothers are going to make a Tarzan film trilogy. The history of live-action Tarzan films is rather iffy. The most recent appearance was Disney's which was a pretty big deal. Lets see what Warner Bros has for us...
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has locked Craig Brewer into a deal to write and direct a new installment of Tarzan.Brewer has come up with a take that tells the Tarzan story over three films. He hopes the first one will be his next directing assignment. Warner Bros, which has been stymied in watching several attempts to relaunch the  Edgar Rice Burroughs-created hero die on the vine, separately has screenwriter Adam Cozad working on a script that tells a different version of the man raised by apes in the jungles of Africa from infancy. Cozad's recent work includes the Jack Ryan reboot and Archangel, the pic that has Tron: Legacy's Joseph Kosinski attached. How the studio decides which film to make remains to be seen, but clearly Warner Bros is determined to revive a live action Tarzan.  This is a passion project for Brewer, who is in demand after directing the remake of Footloose for Paramount, and chose this over other opportunities. Jerry Weintraub is producing with Alan Riche and Tony Ludwig. Tarzan has been a fixture of films since the Depression, most notably in the series of films that starred Olympic swimmer Johnny Weismuller.
Tarzan vs Python by dfbovey

The above article references this article (which is a bit redundant). It seems odd to me that they'd be commissioning two scripts simultaneously, unless that is the strategy to get a trilogy jump started.
Warner Bros has been trying to get its Tarzan movie up and running for several years. Now, I'm hearing that the studios is trying again, and word on the vine is they might well commission two separate scripts that'll be written simultaneously. One will be by Adam Cozad, a rising scribe whose recent work includes the Jack Ryan reboot and Archangel, the pic that has Tron: Legacy's Joseph Kosinski attached. I also hear that the studio is talking to Craig Brewer about doing a different version of the picture. This has been done before on big pictures, and usually the studio makes a decision on which way to go when they both come in. Sometimes, the other script is the next movie in the franchise. But it certainly gives hope that Tarzan will be swinging in the jungle before too long. Cozad's repped by ICM and Gotham Group, Brewer by WME.
Tarzan by mbreitweiser

Not sure what to think about this news. I have become very fond of the book series over the last few years. My hopes are that they stick to the novel version of Tarzan- a very intelligent, savage Englishman instead of the version that is barely able to speak. I also hope that one of these films will lead us down into Pellucidar and then further hoping that might ignite a spin-off series telling the story of David Innes. But that is probably too much to hope for. There are plenty of tales to choose from in the literature.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Stevie Wonder in Time and Space

Doctor Who: A Good Man Goes To War was a fantastic mid-series finale. Lots of spoilers, so to speak. I thought one of the most entertaining bits of dialog was between River Song and the Lone Centurion (Rory).

River has just returned from a birthday date with the Doctor, of course. She is breaking back into her prison cell when she is confronted by Rory. She explains to him that they went ice skating at the last Frost Fair in 1814 and the Doctor got Stevie Wonder to sing for her under London Bridge. Rory asks about that- Stevie Wonder sang in 1814?!?- to which River confirms, yes he did- but you must never tell him!

Fantastic writing.

Another entertaining part about this bit is now Stevie Wonder has an entry in the TARDIS Index File (the Doctor Who Wiki). Hilarious.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

ALPHAS is F.R.E.E.Lancers

The SyFy channel has a new show that resemble's TS/SI's Cyberpunk/Powers setting.

Top Secret/S.I. was a modern espionage RPG where typically character/agents would go on missions, etc. TSR expanded the line in both historical and futuristic settings with 1930's pulp through Agent 13 and near future tech with F.R.E.E.Lancers, respectively. As a rules supplement it provided TS/SI with low powered super powers that were not too beyond reasonable, not like most comic books. Unlike Agent 13, which was a stand-alone separate setting, F.R.E.E.Lancers was directly tied to the game's ORION vs WEB setting, sort of the next part of that story. It was basically espionage special agents with low leveled super-powers.

From what we've seen, this new show from SyFy, ALPHAS resembles F.R.E.E.Lancers in many ways. It looks like a special S.W.A.T. team of relatively low-powered agents working together on espionage-like missions (what, with sniper rifles and so on). I'd say it would be a ready-made RPG adaptation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Imperial Stormtrooper by Content-Josho
I assumed the plans for the rumored Star Wars live-action show merged into what became the computer animated Clone Wars series. Turns out Lucas is still planning on having his 100 episode series happen. He has half of it written already. Early reports claimed he had 50 hours of footage, but that has been corrected to 50 hours of scripts already written. Den of Geek reports:

George Lucas has 50 hours of footage for Star Wars TV show?

Ryan Lambie

If you’ve been wondering what happened to the long-awaited Star Wars TV show, George Lucas gives us an interesting update on its progress…

Published on Jun 1, 2011

While both Lucas and producer Rick McCallum have occasionally mentioned the project in the years since, there's been little evidence that much progress has been made on the series.George Lucas' plans for a Star Wars TV show first came to life way back in 2005, with a proposed one hundred hour-long episodes set to take place between the events of that year's Revenge Of The Sith and 1977'sA New Hope.
That is, until Lucas himself revealed that a considerable chunk of live-action footage has already been filmed for the series. According to the recent reports, Lucas told the cable programme, Attack Of The Show, that around fifty hours of footage is already in the can. It's the digital effects, however, that are responsible for the series' hold-up.
Lucas said that he's looking for "a different type of technology we can use so it's economically feasible to shoot the shows." In other words, he's trying to find a way of bringing the same quality of digital effects seen in his prequels on a TV show budget. It is, he conceded, "a very difficult process."
Maybe Lucas should give Monsters director, Gareth Edwards, a call. He successfully brought huge devastated landscapes and fleeting glimpses of giant space creatures to the screen on a miniscule budget, after all.
UPDATE: Since the story first broke, it's been revealed that what Lucas has in his hands are 50 hours of scripts, rather than shot footage.
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