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

Sun, 02/26/2017 - 23:01

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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

Rage for the Rage God – DORK TOWER 07.02.01

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 23:01


Categories: Comics

The Play’s the Thing…

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 23:01

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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

Fetal Instinct – DORK TOWER 31.01.17

Mon, 01/30/2017 - 23:01


Categories: Comics

The Game Remains the Same

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

New Blood – DORK TOWER 26.01.17

Wed, 01/25/2017 - 23:01


Categories: Comics

Downtimes and Updates

Wed, 01/25/2017 - 13:10

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This time of year I’d usually be getting ready to travel to Warpcon. Sadly, this year, I won’t be there.

Actually, though I’ll miss my pals, Cork’s English Market, and the best fish and chips this side of Master’s, it’s OK. I’m tired, the last couple of months have been tough, and it’ll be nice spending a bit of time at home.

Last year, I flew somewhere or other thirteen times. Six trips were to Europe. Every few weeks, I’d seem to be packing to go someplace. And while this may be an Diamond-Status First World Problem, I crossed 2016’s finish line physically exhausted and mentally dishevelled.

Work helped to distract me, Munchkin and Dork Tower kept on schedule, and no longer pounding four beers a night, plus Xanax, to numb it all has (SHOCK! HORROR!) proven decidedly healthy.

That said, some things fell by the wayside: updating the blog, here, for a start.

Anyway, here are a couple of updates. More to come, as I get back in the swing of things.


dorktower1380promoiiTuesday’s Dork Tower is actually based on real life.

When I was dating my wife, I’d buy her Magic cards, to introduce her to card gaming (she got a Black Lotus: I got a rock), and we’d play Carcassonne, to introduce her to board gaming.

I used Call of Cthulhu to introduce her to roleplaying games. And I was a pretty good CoC GM. I had the lights down low. I played atmosperic music. Krista, one of my veteran players, ended up in the fetal position, rocking back and forth on a couch. Her – not her character.

To this day, my wife describes her first roleplaying experience thusly: “I went crazy, I got turned inside-out, and then I died.”

She’s not roleplayed since.

I’ve never been the brightest cultist in temple.


The last physical reward for Insane Charity Bike Ride 2017 has gone to press: the Pat Rothfuss limerick mini-print!

Here’s the preview:


YES, Pat wrote that for backers of the ridet. YES, I can’t believe I have such awesome pals.

Once it gets back, I’ll sign them all, Pat will sign a few, and swag will be in the mail soonish!

The new Coloring book should be done as well. That will be a pdf download for all backers, at all levels.

It’s been three months since the ride, but this will actually be (fingers crossed) the quickest I’ve ever gotten the rewards out.

Next year? Aiming for even quicker!



Categories: Comics

Roleplaying 101 – DORK TOWER 25.01.17

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 23:01


(Tip of the Dork Pen for a couple favorite lines from PEANUTS and LIFE IN HELL I repurposed, here…)

Categories: Comics

Checking Out – DORK TOWER 10.01.17

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 23:01


Categories: Comics

CURSES! Spoiled Again! – DORK TOWER 05.01.17

Wed, 01/04/2017 - 23:01


HEY, KIDS! Want the SPOILER-FILLED strip? Just click on the above image, or HERE!

Categories: Comics

Roll for “Resolve” – DORK TOWER 03.01.17

Mon, 01/02/2017 - 23:01


Categories: Comics

Auld Lang Suck – DORK TOWER 29.12.16

Wed, 12/28/2016 - 23:01


Categories: Comics

Harley Jolly Christmas! – DORK TOWER 27.12.16

Mon, 12/26/2016 - 23:01


Categories: Comics

Holly Jolly!

Thu, 12/22/2016 - 23:01
hollyjollyIt’s the best time of the year! The very Happiest of Holidays to you and yours, from the Dork Tower gang! Merry Christmas, and may peace and joy be with you, and the world.

See you in 2017!

Categories: Comics

Apogee-whizz – DORK TOWER 20.12.16

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 23:01


Categories: Comics

Gaming: It Takes All Kinds – DORK TOWER 15.12.16

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 23:01


Categories: Comics

Filks for the Memories – DORK TOWER 13.12.16

Mon, 12/12/2016 - 23:01


Categories: Comics

Crazy Insane 25% off & Free Worldwide Shipping DORK STORE Sale Today Only

Sun, 12/11/2016 - 23:01

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Hey, all,

I do a pith-poor job of promoting all the merch that’s available at the Dork Store. There’s a ton of stuff there, and today only (until midnight, PST, tonight – Monday, Dec. 12, 2016) it’s all 25% off, including FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING! Also: the production quality is terrific.

So here’s just a few of the things you can find there:

T-SHIRTS (Now $18, plus free worldwide shipping – many more styles available):



MUGS (Now $11.25, plus free worldwide shipping – many more styles available):



TOTE BAGS (Now $13.50, plus free worldwide shipping – many more styles available):



ART PRINTS Framed and unframed (Now starting at $13.50, plus free worldwide shipping – many more styles available):



THROW PILLOWS (Now $15, plus free worldwide shipping – many more styles available):



WALL CLOCKS (Now $22.50, plus free worldwide shipping – many more styles available):




Anyway, there is a CRAZY amount of stuff over at the Dork Store – including note cards, rugs (!) and even a shower curtain (!!) and I probably need to curate it better.  But right now, somebody decided it is all 25% off, with free Worldwide Shipping, today only.

So, if you have a bit of disposable income, and maybe a few folks on your holiday list, and are feeling like supporting Dork Tower, well, pop on over today, and take advantage of this ridiculous sale!


Categories: Comics

It’s a Beautiful Morning – DORK TOWER 08.12.16

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 23:01


Categories: Comics


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