Friday, November 29, 2013

Long Beach Comic & Horror Con 2013 Highlights & Game Ideas

Long Beach Comic & Horror Con 2013 Highlights & Game Ideas
by Derek Brown

When: Nov. 23rd & 24th

Cost: $25 Sat, $20 Sun or $40 for 2 day adv.

The Long Beach Comic & Horror Con (or LBCC for short) is fairly new to the So. Cal scene but a welcome addition to the schedule of all the Comic themed cons.  With a decade under my belt of San Diego Comic Con or Comic-Con International: San Diego as they prefer it to be called now, I have come to enjoy the smaller cons for a variety of reasons.

LBCC is now my November Con for the following reasons:

  • Excellent Artists Alley - I drove the just under 90 miles as I could walk the relatively large Artists Alley section and enjoy all the art, much of it local.  I was on a mission to get some sketches of some of my buddy Keith's (the Savage Troll)  characters from his new eBook: World of Grey to use in an app class I'm taking. I knew Tone Rodriguez was going to be there so plans were made (more below).
  • 90 miles. Only 90 miles. Sounds like alot but growing up in Texas gets you used to long drives. Driving here in beautiful Southern California means much of it was along the coast ending in Long Beach right by the water. Also, I had several hours of podcasts to catch up on and the drive went by quickly. 
  • Dr. Who's 50th Anniversary panel with a live broadcast of the "Day of the Doctor" meant I could geek out with a large group of fellow Whovians.
  • Star Trek TOS These are the Voyages Book & Panel. Originally funded in a Kickstarter, the "These Are The Voyages" books for Year One, Year Two, & Year Three are written but only Year One is published. I got my hands on it and it was signed by all involved. The panel on Sunday featured John D.F. Black and Mary Black and they represent the last living producers from TOS. Interviews by Access Hollywood with Marc Cushman & John D.F. Black are here for your enjoyment. If you wonder if you need this book, watch these and decide! There are 5 interview segments. Enjoy!
  • Vehicles from the Movies. Batman, Jurassic Park, Ghost Busters, Back to the Future, Knight Rider, etc. The big boy toys all lined up.
  • Room to move and space to breathe. This is probably the newest thing in my list but it was nice to see a relatively large crowd with space to move and enjoy all the sights!  

While there was quite a bit more, you get the idea. Over the years I've been more and more interested in the creative folks that bring the comic arts alive. Since Hollywood has discovered the world of comic books, things have never been the same. 

One part of all Comic Con type conventions that takes the top grade in my book is the availability of professional artists in Artist Alley. In this, LBCC really excels. Given the size of the convention space, the Artists Alley took up easily half of the floor space.

On the map to the right, you can see the middle section that looks like rows of tables, outlined in red, that is Artists Alley at LBCC.

Any genre, style, or type can be found there. Also, most will do sketches for a fee. Several years ago I had one do a remarkable sketch of our gaming group's characters that we had played in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, that artist had some issues and disappeared with my money. So now, I only deal with artists that I see often and I never pay in advance.

This lead me to discover the artist that did the pencils for Snake Plissken Chronicles, Tone Rodriguez.  Over the years I've stopped by, chatted, and watched him do sketches for folks. I asked how he got involved in the SPC and he shared while he drew. What a great guy! I had him do a sketch of the Savage Troll mascot for fun and it turned out great. This time, I gave him a brief couple of lines of description of five characters from Keith's book to see what he would do. I wanted to use them as thumbnail sketches in a story telling app I'm writing as my final project for an app programming class. And off he went.

You can see the drawing of "Bender" from Futurama behind Tone. He's done quite a bit of work for Bongo Comics on the Simpsons & Futurama lines.  He had several people come up and ask him to "Simpsonize" them. He had to share that he couldn't. The Simpons and Futurama likenesses were owned by Bongo, his employers, and he legally can't.

No permission to use these sketches is given!
Sarge comes alive
Tone asked if I wanted to sit behind the table while he drew my sketches.  I hopped over and watched him work. He first penciled the characters, then inked them in. Sarge, Doc, Angel, Sparx, & Hotshot came to life before my eyes. This is why I love comic cons. Watching creative folks do what they do, bringing life to characters, and imagining all the adventures.  The artists do these sketches for personal use. If you want to publish using the art, you need to approach the art differently and pay for publishing rights to the art. For my class programming project is going to look excellent.  Simply a blast. Thanks Tone!

So, Well done LBCC! I look forward to the next one.

And now to gaming...

With Keith's World of Grey eBook and some sketches to fill my mind, it's time to make some game scenarios that we can play out.  If you want some very quick gaming satisfaction, you can pick up Matt Jackson's Edge of Space on Drive Thru RPG for $1.

NOTE: World of Grey was Keith's story-telling response to Matt's universe in Edge of Space. Also, my programming class project is a story telling app using a prequel to Keith's WoG!  More to follow on that endeavor.

Next Con: Space City Con in Galveston Texas Jan. 3-5!  I'll be in Texas visiting family and end the visit with all the family, including the Savage Troll's brood.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Free Novella - World of Grey

Writing is a passion I discovered later in life. To pursue it, I had mountains to climb. I grew up in East Texas where proper spelling and grammar are considered uppity. Gaming was another. This may seem odd but the built-in need to create was mostly satisfied by regular gaming sessions. I didn't 'need' to write.

That changed as my gaming time faded. I needed to create something, anything, that people could enjoy. I've always considered myself a good storyteller. Why wouldn't that work for writing?

Well, there's a world of difference between expressing something orally where your companions and die rolls help shape the story and sitting down to create something new. The problem isn't turning an amusing phrase or developing interesting characters. The problem is in holding the reader's attention for a novel-length production.

So what started as a hobby with some short stories and essays has turned into a time-consuming hobby as I study storycraft in hopes of attracting a reader base. I have another blog devoted to the subject over at and I've release two novellas - The New Moon Murders and World of Grey.

My stories are still very Gamey, meaning you can usually pick the Savage Worlds edges and hindrances within each character. But I think the stories are fun and members of my gaming groups seem to enjoy them. I would ask that you give them a try.

Until December 1st, readers of this blog can download World of Grey from by navigating to and entering the following coupon code at checkout: RS28M

If you enjoy the novella, please take the time to go to Smashwords, Goodreads, Amazon, or other review sites and share you thoughts. Breaking in as an indie author is difficult. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
R K Athey aka The Savage Troll