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Updated: 17 hours 46 min ago

Cap That – DORK TOWER 27.04.17

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 23:01

DORK ADDENDA: HEY, KIDS! Marvel has turned Cap into a Nazi, these days!

Categories: Comics

Not All Burritos – DORK TOWER 25.04.17

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

Insane Charity Bike Ride 2016 – Backer Fulfillment Update!

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 23:01

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Yesterday, I signed around 40 pieces of original Munchkin card art for backers of Insane Charity Bike Ride 2016.

The drawings are from Munchkin Fu: Guest Artist Edition I drew last year. If I do say so myself, I think they’re lovely.

If you supported the charity ride at the $200 level or above (Or if you’re one of the folks randomly chosen from there backers), these will be on their way to you soon.

With luck, you may get “Drunken Master” or “Hong Kong Thong” – my two personal favorites.

Anyway, coupled with the many hundreds of Munchkin Charity Postcards and Pat Rothfuss limerick mini-prints I recently signed, all Insane Charity Bike Ride 2016 fulfillment items are finished.

Business Manager Alex is now sending everything to Fulfillment Guru David. My guess is, between two and four weeks from now, these will begin arriving to backers. (I’d have loved it if they could have gone out earlier, but Munchkin Shakespeare kind of ate my brain for a couple of months there).

Thank you all SO MUCH for supporting 2016’s ride, and making it the most successful yet!

Now onto 2017’s ride…which Im told will be 70 miles long (weep).

Where did I put that durned duck again..?


Categories: Comics

Free as a Kickstarted Bird – DORK TOWER CLASSIC 04.20.17

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 23:01

DORK ADDENDA: This Dork Tower Classic was first published June 2013 – and damn if I don’t still do this…

Categories: Comics

Breathe. Just…Breathe. – DORK TOWER 04.18.17

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

Under Pressure – DORK TOWER 13.04.17

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

Social Just Us – DORK TOWER 11.04.17

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

Precious and Mew

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

Share and Share Alike – DORK TOWER 04.04.17

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

Alas, poor Shakespeare. I drew him…

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 23:01

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Munhckin Shakespeare is DONE!

At least my part.

Final tally: about 250 cards, bookmarks, covers, etc.

It was, without question, the largest single Munchkin project I’ve ever tackled at one sitting.

Well, several sittings, really. Over about a two-month period.

The final sitting was the best, though. In London at the time, I wandered around Southwark – Shake-dawg’s stomping grounds – and chose the bar at Shakespeare’s Globe to finish the last few drawings.

It was a delightful day to be sitting along the Thames. I even broke my “No Drinking During Schoolnights” rule to have a couple of celebratory Globe Ales. They were delicious.

I might have been looking to channel the ghost of the Bard himself. I probably ended up channeling the sprint of Sam Wanameker, founder of this incarnation of the Globe. Regardless, it was a good place to finish up this massive project.

Anyway, 250 pieces of art later, this is what “Relief” looks like (or possibly it’s the two pints of Globe Ale):

Munchkin Shakespeare was a hugely fun project – but it was also hugely huge, thanks to you monsters and all the stretch-goals you hit.

Would more time have been helpful? Yes. But then, that’s always the case. Point being, Munchkin Shakespeare is going to look fantastic. Most of that is due to the Steve Jackson Games Art Department, which always manages to make my silly little scribblings look great. Those folks are amazing.

Also? The cards are hilarious. I mean, truly madcap, green-eyed, bloodstained tremendous. Thanks to Steve Jackson, Andrew Hackard, and many contributors who threw in crazy ideas during a crowdsourcing braintrust info-dump that launched this too, too silly project.

Here are some first-looks at a few of the cards (Insert usual “Art Not Final” etc. things I’m supposed to say here)!

CUCKOLD HORNS – BEWARE THE CUCKOLD HORNS! I’m not sure, but these can’t possibly be good.


CURSE: Forget Your Lines – “Alas poor…um…”


GLOBEShakespeare’s Globe, probably…she’s just borrowing it.


GUILDENSTERN – Or is it Rosenkrantz? Anyway, these guys made my tickets to “Rosenkrantz and Guioldenstern Are Dead” last Tuesday tax-deductible, I’m sure.


ROSENKRANZ – Or possibly Guildenstern… “Heads. Heads. Heads again…”


TOGA – I come not to bury Caesar…or to praise him…those are two other cards…


Finally, here’s one of my very favorite cards (which was also one of the very first I drew for Munchkin Shakespeare):




(By the way, here’s a link to the Munchkin Shakespeare Pre-order Backerkit, which is open until April 17).

But anyway – yeah. Verily. Done.

As always, working with the Steve Jackson Games crew was a joy, and I may well have the best job in the world.

Now exit, pursued by a Bard.


PS: Munchkin Shakespeare kind of took over my life for a few months, there. Some things got pushed to the back-burner: Dork Tower and Insane Charity Bike Ride updates, for a start. More on those later this week.

Categories: Comics

On the Road Again

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 09:52

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Hey, gang – I’m working through my schedule for 2017, and finally updates the Appearances page here at the mothership.

There may be some small cons added, here and there. There are definitely some big shows in late 2017 I can’t talk about yet – at least one in Canada that’s not been announced, and a couple of other overseas visits that are being finalized.

“Why don’t you ever come to XXXX?” some folks invariably ask. The short answer is: I haven’t been invited. It’;s up to the shops themselves, who they bring in. But there are many places I’d love to see – so if you want your local show to bring me to your neck of the woods, bug them! The Appearances page has all the info they need!

For the most part, I’m trying to travel a bit less, and get work done here at home. But for right now, if you’re looking for me in 2017, here are some off the places I’ll be:

(Trade show -Industry only)
March 13 – 17, 2017
Las Vegas, NV

April 28-30 2017
Poznań International Fairgrounds
Poznań, Poland

(Distributor Open House – Industry only)
May 6 – 8, 2017
Madison WI

UK Games Expo
June 2-4, 2017
National Exhibition Center,
Birmingham, England

August 17 – 20, 2017
Indianapolis, IN

November 2-5, 2017
Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall
Madison, WI

Sometimes you walk away from a strip that’s not quire right.

And sometimes you fiddle with it throughout the day.

I fiddled with yesterday’s cartoon throughout the afternoon.

Here’s how a cartoonist overthinking a gag looks, at odd intervals:

FIRST TRY: 9:30 am, Tuesday morning


SECOND TRY: 1:30 pm Tuesday afternoon


FIRST TRY: 3:30 pm, Tuesday afternoon


It never got quite where I wanted it to, but at least the third shot seems closer to what I was trying to get across than the others.

Categories: Comics

Giving 110% – DORK TOWER 02.28.17

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

“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


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