“Blow blow, thou Stretch-Goals” – MUNCHKIN SHAKESPEARE art notes

Dork Tower - Sun, 02/26/2017 - 23:01

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 11.06.33 AM

Munchkin Shakespeare Art Notes … told by an idiot, full of ink and furry monsters, signifying an aching wrist….

Usually, when I get around to typing up the dreaded Art Notes for a Muchkin project, said project has been finished for months.

Typically, I need to go back: to revisit the gig, to re-familiarize myself with my own drawings as, in the intervening period, I’ve started and completed at least one (and often multiple) Munchkin projects since then.

NAY, not so for Munchkin Shakespeare.

Ohhhhh, nay, indeed.

King Leer. LEER! Sorry not sorry. (Not final art)


If you follow me on Twitter or on Facebook (or, those times I actually I remember, Tumblr), you’ll know I’ve been having a ton of fun with this, the latest bit of Munchkin madness from Steve Jackson Games.

Part of the fun’s been the sharing of new art, as I complete it, with you guys. A poor thing, perhaps, but my own, if I might quote a certain someone out of context…

Every other Munchkin project? I need to keep them secret: most aren’t even announced to the public until the game’s at press, well after my last drawings are done.

As Munchkin Shakespeare’s being Kickstarted, though, getting the word out is critical – as is me keeping track of how many new cards I need to draw, every time a Stretch Goal is pummeled (Kicked down? Stabbed? Unnaturally axed?)

Part of the fun comes with drawing characters I’ve deeply loved, over the years. As I mentioned in this Geek and Sundry interview, and last week’s live chat on Steve Jackson Games’ YouTube channel, I’m a huge Shakespeare nerd.

Witches Three. Plus cat. (Not final art).

I’ve grown comfortable sketching out my own take on classic characters, probably since Munchkin Oz. Since then, of course, there’s also been Munchkin Grimm Tales, and Munchkin Wonderland.

But, good grief, you know when I get excited about Drawing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, that I’ve found my happy place.

At rough count, I’m probably 100-plus cards into the project, with about 100 more to go. Not counting more stretch-goals. (And definitely not counting the Dungeon cards, which take significantly more time). But right now, I’m ridiculously happy with how it’s going. (“WHO ARE YOU, AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH JOHN?” a hundred people who know me now scream in unison).

Part of the joy – yes, joy – of this project comes with first glimpses of what Steve and Andrew have wrought, on the cards. “Two Gentlemen of Bologna”? Yes. Yes, please. “The Scary Wives of Windsor”? Absolutely! “Aides of March” I see what you did there, Andrew Hackard!


Lady Macbeth – plus damn spots to get out…USE TIDE for all those uncomfortable stains! (Not…wait for it…final art.)

It’s also been delightful watching Steve Jackson Games’ amazing art department bring these sketches to life. Colorists who know their craft go a long, long way into helping the rest of us look a lot better than we actually are! Lady Macbeth’s hands! LADY MACBETH’S BLOOD-STAINED HANDS!

As I type this, the Munchkin Shakespeare Kickstarter is poised to break $200,000 – and that means (yes) more cards. So I’d better get back to drawing.

Exit, pursued by a deadline!



PS – you may have noticed Munchkin Shakespeare has been playing havoc (and unleashing the dogs of war) on Dork Tower, these last couple of weeks. I hope to be back to the normal Tuesday-Thursday schedule starting tomorrow. Stay tuned!


Categories: Comics

Video Content

XKCD - Sun, 02/26/2017 - 22:00
"So, like, sexy news videos?" "No, people have tried that--it's still just video content. We need to actually inform people THROUGH making out. I would call it 'Mouth Content,' but I think that's already the title of a Neil Cicierega album."
Categories: Comics

Location Reviews

XKCD - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 22:00
Google and Yelp keep deleting my scathing reviews of the Mariana Trench, the Chernobyl reactor core, the jet stream, and the equator.
Categories: Comics


XKCD - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 22:00
[*disables social networking accounts*] [*social isolation increases*] Wait, why does this ALSO feel bad?
Categories: Comics

Decision Paralysis

XKCD - Sun, 02/19/2017 - 22:00
Good point--making no decision is itself a decision. So that's a THIRD option I have to research!
Categories: Comics

Chess Notation

XKCD - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 22:00
I've decided to score all my conversations using chess win-loss notation. (??)
Categories: Comics

Bad Map Projection: Time Zones

XKCD - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 22:00
This is probably the first projection in cartographic history that can be criticized for its disproportionate focus on Finland, Mongolia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Categories: Comics

Box Plot

XKCD - Sun, 02/12/2017 - 22:00
You have to be careful doing this. Sometimes, when you push the whisker down, dynamite explodes.
Categories: Comics

Stardew Valley

XKCD - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 22:00
I have accidentally watered virtually every person and object in Pelican Town.
Categories: Comics

Focus Knob

XKCD - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 22:00
Maybe if I spin it back and forth really fast I can do some kind of pulse-width modulation.
Categories: Comics

Rage for the Rage God – DORK TOWER 07.02.01

Dork Tower - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 23:01


Categories: Comics

All You Can Eat

XKCD - Sun, 02/05/2017 - 22:00
After my absent-mindedness resulted in a bad posterboard-related stomachache, I learned to do the sign-making place last.
Categories: Comics


XKCD - Thu, 02/02/2017 - 22:00
Billy Joel briefly detained
Categories: Comics


XKCD - Thu, 02/02/2017 - 22:00
Billy Joel briefly detained
Categories: Comics

The Play’s the Thing…

Dork Tower - Tue, 01/31/2017 - 23:01

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 11.06.33 AM
Next week, Steve Jackson Games is launching a Kickstarter for Munchkin Shakespeare.


I’m having a ton of fun with this one, guys. Also: I get to share some of the art with you, as I draw it!

Normally, Munchkin projects don’t get announced for months, after all the files are in, and I have to sit on my hands and go “Nnnnnnngh! Nnnnnnnnngh! You guys – I just drew something cool THAT I CAN NOT SHOW YOU!”

Honestly, much of the time, I forget what’s in the queue for release, Munchkin-wise, only remembering I drew a new release when I stumble across it on a games store shelf.

As a Shakespeare geek, I’m having an absolute blast with the art – an easy thing to do, when the cards (created by Steve Jackson and Andrew Hackard) are this freaking funny. NO HINTS! You’ll see a few tomorrow! Then you’ll double over in pain. Sweet, sweet pain.

Maybe Feb. 7 (when the Kickstarter launches) they’ll also let you in on the title of THIS card.


I groaned – audibly – when I read the its name on the art specs.

So, yea and verily – this will be fun.

Exit, pursued by a deadline!

A few weeks ago, Jackie Kashian was in Madison.


Over the years, we’ve become pals – I’m a huge fan of her stand-up geeky comedy, plus she has that one quality I look for in a friend: she tolerates me.

Though we did go to the UW-Madison together, we didn’t really know each other – not that odd, considering it was a school of 40,000 or so.

Jackie ripped through a blistering set at Madison’s Comedy Club on State Street. But before that, she made some time to have me on her fabulous (and long-running)  podcast, the Dork Forest.

If you enjoyed my blog about getting back to DM’ing, you may enjoy me rambling a bit about it with Jackie.

Warning: I ramble a LOT. It was a fun time.

There are several places you can listen to this – it’s all over the place! But this looks like a good place to start:




Categories: Comics

Soda Sugar Comparisons

XKCD - Tue, 01/31/2017 - 22:00
The key is portion control, which is why I've switched to eating smaller cans of frosting instead of full bottles.
Categories: Comics

Soda Sugar Comparisons

XKCD - Tue, 01/31/2017 - 22:00
The key is portion control, which is why I've switched to eating smaller cans of frosting instead of full bottles.
Categories: Comics

Fetal Instinct – DORK TOWER 31.01.17

Dork Tower - Mon, 01/30/2017 - 23:01


Categories: Comics

The Game Remains the Same

Dork Tower - Sun, 01/29/2017 - 23:01

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For the first time in nearly 20 years, I’m DM’ing a roleplaying game – Dungeons and Dragon 5th edition, specifically.

I ran a session for my nieces and nephews last year, and it was grand. But that game depended on me trudging down to St. Louis, to visit my brother’s family, and having all the kids in-house. Now mostly teenagers, that’s a twice- or thrice-annual occurrence, at best, celebrated by song and epic poem.


So when some friends in a monthly couples’ boardgaming group mentioned they’d like to take a stab at roleplaying (appropriate wording, that), I leapt at the opportunity (Athletics Check, DM 10).

I’ve been roleplaying since I discovered a small, white box with the words “Dungeons & Dragons – Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures” on it, when I was in school, in the later ‘half of the 70s.

Before then, like so many other British schoolboys, 20 mm Airfix plastics were my gaming jam: in England at the time, Miniatures Wargaming rules could be purchased readily from major publishers in high street shops. So it was a short hop from lobbing rocks and going “bang he’s dead” with toy soldiers, to structured battles that calculated attack dice, defensive values and morale modifiers.


These are still books I cherish, even if I don’t crack them open that often.


Boardgaming came next – I stumbled across a few SPI games by purest chance, while heading towards the 1/72nd scale tanks at a Beatty’s Model Shop that used to be in Bristol. Specifically, it was “Panzer 44” (SPI) that drove a Panther through my heart.


It wasn’t a great game, but it didn’t have to be. In the top-right corner were the words “the time is: 1430 hrs., 2 October, 1944.” On the cover was a bleeding great Tiger I. I was hooked.

(“Gettysberg” and “Wooden Ships and Iron Men,” though lacking in bloody great panzers, soon introduced me to better game design. “Panzer Blitz” scratched the tankey itch.)

Somehow, I learned that things called “game stores” existed. There weren’t many in England at the time. There was a small one, in Bristol, where I discovered microgames like “Ogre” and “Rivets.” But I heard that there was a larger one in London…Hammersmith, precisely. Daling Road. Called “Games Workshop”…

Games Workshop, at the time, was a general gaming store – what would be called a “Hobby Store” these days. And it blew my mind. This panel from an early Dork Tower comic book sums up how it felt, stumbling through its doors for the first time:


And that’s when I discovered…this:


I formed my schools first D&D club (really, just me and my mates) in 1978, if memory serves (it often doesn’t). I picked up Traveller at that same Hammersmith Games Workshop the summer of ’79 and played it much of my first (and only) year at Queen Mary College, when I should have been studying Astrophysics more. Or even some.

The last time I GM’ed was in the early 90s, with the Madison friends that would go on to form some of the core early Dork Tower stories. I’d run MegaTraveller, Deadlands, Call of Cthulhu, and GURPS Fantasy. A lot of people assume the early Dork Towers were based on a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Nope. It was GURPS, at that time, a clean-cut system I preferred to 2nd edition.


I’ve gamed quite a bit, in the last couple of decades. Boardgaming mostly – it just fits the time and company I have available. A little miniatures gaming here and there, mostly when my pal Chris Pramas comes to visit. And some roleplaying, with a group that graciously accepts my travel schedule, and doesn’t mind if I don’t turn up for weeks on end, at, say, the height of con season, or when emergency Munchkin deadlines hit.

I’ve enjoyed the heck out of D&D 3 and 3.5 (Wizards), as well as Pathfinder (Paizo). But I’d never want to run them. Too fiddly for my GM’ing style. Fourth edition? Not my bag at all (surprising, given my love of minis).

But 5th edition?

When I picked up 5th edition, my head exploded. It’s elegant, creative, and expansive. It’s both toolkit and sandbox, for me, and I couldn’t wait to run the terrific adventure – really, a mini-campaign – that came with the dang-affordable Starter Set.

IMHO? Best. Starter. Set. Ever.


For the first time in nearly 20 years, I’m DM’ing a roleplaying game – Dungeons and Dragon 5th edition, as mentioned before. I’m buying and painting minis, I’m grabbing up supplements and adventures, I’m rolling out gaming mats, and setting up DM screens, and buying dice, and…and…

And I kinda feel like this…


– John

Categories: Comics


XKCD - Sun, 01/29/2017 - 22:00
You can apply special translucent films to your windows to help keep birds/Superman from accidentally flying into them.
Categories: Comics


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