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Updated: 6 hours 39 min ago

Where to find me at Gen Con

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 19:59

The Steve Jackson Games booth isn’t hosting any signings this year, so here’s where you can find me at Gen Con 50:

Thursday, July 17th:

2:30 – 3:30, Dealer’s Hall, Booth 118 (Game Trade Magazine)

7:30 – 8:30 The Munchkin Tavern, Tavern on South, 423 South St. (Steve Jackson Games)

Friday, July 18th:

2:30 – 3:30, Dealer’s Hall, Booth 118 (Game Trade Magazine)

Saturday, July 19th:

11 am – Noon Humor in Roleplaying (with James Wallis and Matt Forbeck) Indiana Convention Center, room 244

2:30 – 3:30, Dealer’s Hall, Booth 118 (Game Trade Magazine)

I’ll ask be at the Diana Jones Awards Wednesday night, and gaming over in the CMON area from time to time!

Quick note: I’m typing this on an iMac I thought was dead – dead as a parrot; computer no more; ceased to be; expired and gone to meet its maker; kicked the bucket; shuffled off this mortal coil; run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible; AN EX-iMAC – but for a few hours there Apple Support helped bring it back from the grave. It was a bot of good news in a week of bad news, so that was welcome.

Customer Support takes a lot of flak, some of it well-deserved. But I wish I’d gotten the name of this fellow, who was patient, understanding and clear as he essentially guided me through brain surgery on my machine.

Seriously, you have no idea how relieved I am, right now.

More good news, though: Insane Charity Bike Ride 2017 is closing in on 40% of its goal! That’s still more than 60% away from me wearing a duck on my head (AGAIN!),  but it’s a solid start.

There are only four more weeks yo go, though, so fingers…and webbed feet…crossed!

-John

Categories: Comics

How’s It Going – DORK TOWER 08.08.17

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

INSANE CHARITY BIKE RIDE 2017 IS HERE!

Sun, 08/06/2017 - 23:01

Here we go again! It’s time for INSANE CHARITY BIKE RIDE 2017!

 With your help and generosity, over the last four years, we’ve raised a lot of money, helping local families get healthy food direct from local farmers! This year my personal goal is to raise $12,500, celebrating five years of this biking goofiness, and 20 years of Dork Tower! So, if you help support this fun/great cause, you can also get swag. SWAG! I hope you find a pledge level that’s right for you!
  • $1+ – You get my eternal thanks, and a  20th ANNIVERSARY DORK TOWER THANK-YOU COMIC STRIP once this is all done! Every little bit helps! Literally!
  • $5+ – Everything above, plus a pdf of a DORK TOWER “DORK DECADE” TRADE PAPERBACK, and bothCHARITY COLORING BOOKS, “Embrace the Squee” and “There once was a Mallard named Mike” (which include limericks by Neil Gaiman and Pat Rothfuss)!
  • $25+ – Everything above, plus an official SIGNED MUNCHKIN CARITY POSTCARD,  which lets you start a game of Munchkin at 3rd level, and an ARMY OF DORKNESS “PRIVATE” BUTTON.
  • $50+ – Everything above, plus a limited-edition DORK TOWER 20th ANNIVERSARY MINI-PRINT, and an ARMY OF DORKNESS “CORPORAL” BUTTON.
  • $100+ – Everything above, plus a limited-edition DORK TOWER 20th ANNIVERSARY CLOISONNÉ PIN and an ARMY OF DORKNESS “SERGEANT” BUTTON.
  • $250+ – Everything above, plus ORIGINAL CARD ART FROM MUNCHKIN SHAKESPEARE! I don’t sell original Munchkin art: the only way to get some is through a charity campaign just like this one! Munchkin Shakespeare has some of my very favorite art in it, and I’ll only be sending out the good stuff. Again: this is the only way to get original Munchkin art of your own! 
  • $500+ (Limited to 5)Everything above, plus at the GAMEHOLE CON PLUSHIE COLLECTION (the Owlbear, Bullette and (when released) Mimic) I designed, the BOBBLEHEAD DUCK I designed for the Madison Mallards, and an ARMY OF DORKNESS “LIEUTENANT” BUTTON. (USA only at the moment – we’re figuring out overseas postage now)
  • $1,000+ (Limited to 3) – Everything above, plus a GUEST-STARRING ROLE in an upcoming Dork Tower comic strip, along with the original art of the strip. I’ll work with you to create something you’ll really love. It can be you, your store, a loved one, a product – heck, even a pet. This is for charity! (If it’s for a store, or a product, permission may be granted for you to use the strip for your advertising purposes).

 

The 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 Munchkin Charity Postcards! Here’s the main thing you monsters people are interested in, though:
  • If we hit $7,500 in donations, I will again wear the Plush Tentacles for the entirety of the ride. 58 miles. EEEK!
  • If we hit the $12,500 goal, I (groan) again will do the ride with the STUPID STUPID DUCK OF DOOM ON MY HEAD.
  • And if we pass $12,500? STRETCH-GOALS! There’s some fun stuff lined up, and everyone will get in on the bonuses, that’s for sure. I already promised someone I’d wear two ducks on the off-chance we hit $20,000.

A few notes:
  • As before, I will also try to hit a convention at the non-US country that represents best: 2016 it was the U.K; 2015, Canada. I made it to cons in both countries the next year. Can Germany win this year? It’s come close before!
  • 10 donors below the $250 level will again be chosen at random to receive original Munchkin art.
  • Army of Dorkness buttons will entitle you to Dork Store discounts, once we get that up and running, along with con-meet-ups, and the like. Look, we’re still working on this. But right now, if you get three “Private” buttons, you can swap those in to be promoted to “Corporal.” Three “Corporals” will get you a “Sergeant,” and three “Sergeants” a “Lieutenant.” There will be more ranks added. There is a method to this madness.
  • I’m gonna try and use all the lessons learned in the past to get everything out and to people by Christmas! I’m working on some of the swag now!
  • Even if you can’t pledge, you can spread the word! Everything helps, really. I can’t emphasize that enough.
SO PLEDGE AWAY! Let’s do good! And here we go again! You guys are the greatest, and I literally couldn’t do this without you! – John
Categories: Comics

The Name Game – DORK TOWER 19.07.17

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

Spyfail – DORK TOWER 12.07.17

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

The Tao of Scheduling “the Tao of Igor.”

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 23:01

<Radio Silence off>

Hi, gang!

I just finished a really cool, massive deadline, and I’m coming up for air.

There’s also a new strip up.

There should have been a lot of new strips up, last month.

That didn’t happen.

I’m better with other people’s deadlines than I am with my own.

I’m trying to change that. I’ve been trying for a couple of years.

One thing I’ve been working on – albeit slowly – is a new DORK TOWER collection.

Of course, that’s been going on for a while.

With the 20th anniversary of Dork Tower approaching, though, getting this collection out has taken on a new urgency, I’d like to Kickstart it, and also use that experience to release a series of 20th anniversary collections of the old trade paperbacks. In color. Looking glorious.

To that end, I’ve been letting the old collections fall out of print. Most are now gone. Like, gone, daddy, gone.

Anyway, I’m going to be traveling a bit, and working on the Tao of Igor almost exclusively. Thinking, writing, planning, plotting.

But I need you folks to keep me honest.

Not talking about it much, up to this point, I haven’t really set myself a deadline for it. So with no pressure, it’s been continuously on the back-burner.

Time to move it up front.

I’m hereby not going to accept any new freelance gigs until the Tao of Igor is done.

With luck, throwing this info out there will garner exactly the kind of pressure I need to bring this over the finish line.

There are only twenty or so pages left on it, and I think you cats will dig it.

But it’s time to get serious, now.

And once the book is done, as in “ready-to-send-to-the-printer” done, the Kickstarter launches.

There are a couple of small Munchkin projects coming up that I know of, and that’s no biggie. There’s also some small commitments I need to get off my plate.

But apart from them – nothing else until the Tao of Igor is done.

Feel free to ask how the progress is going. Indeed, I insist on this. There’s a lot more info to follow, about the Tao of Igor, the Kickstarter, a potential Dork Tower Patreon, cool additions to the web site, getting back to three strips a week, and more. A lot more.

So do keep me honest, here.

I could use some friendly prodding!John

Categories: Comics

Con the Road Again – DORK TOWER 08.06.17

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

Pros and Cons – DORK TOWER 06.06.17

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

Taking the Cake…and Giving -DORK TOWER 30.05.17

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 23:01

DORK ADDEDNDA:  Neil’s blog – https://t.co/xzLdHYfSBw
                                          Donate here tinyurl.com/neilcake

 

Categories: Comics

Of Dice and Men and Me

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:15

Tonight (Friday, May  26), I’m going to see “Of Dice and Men” at Madison’s Bartell Theater again.

I’ll also be leading a discussion/talk-back after the performance. Playwright Cameron McNary will be doing likewise, tomorrow.

McNary’s play – currently staged in Madison by the Mercury Players Theater – revolves around a few crucial nights in the lives of a group of role-players. Self-described as a geek tale “without all the self-loathing,” it’s really much more than that.

I caught the Madison opening, last week, along with my wife, and two non-gamer friends. We all had a terrific time, delighted at the depths of the characters, the nuances of the script, the several laugh-out-loud moments, the clever staging, and – honestly – the gut-punch ending. This far from your typical “giggle-at-the-gamers-or-gaming” sort of show.

You don’t need a ticket to attend the Talk-Backs – just show up at the theater at 10 pm, when the play’s over.

But I do recommend you catching the play. It’s hugely enjoyable, and – bonus – you get to support local arts!

(The production does contain adult language and innuendo, so it’s really not for kids. But seriously yes wow I had a great time).


Here’s a trailer for the 2014 “Of Dice and Men” movie that was successfully Kickstarted.

Yup, I enjoyed the play so much, I bought the DVD. It’s also streaming on Amazon Prime.

Possibly confusingly, here’s an “Of Dice and Men” that has nothing to do with the play or the movie (I stumbled across it when researching the play and the movie). It’s a fun and easy read, packed full of info on the history of Dungeons and Dragons and the early roleplaying biz.

The writing, by Forbes and Reuters contributing editor David M. Ewalt, is as assured and solid as you’d expect, and clips along at a lively pace.

I’ll try and delve a bit more in-depth into the book at a later date, but do grab a copy, if you’re looking for an entertaining exploration of the hobby we love.

-John

Categories: Comics

The Shoulder’s Tale – DORK TOWER 24.05.17

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

UK Games Expo 2017 Schedule

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 23:01

Hey, all, I’ll be at UK Games Expo, in Birmingham, England, June 2-4! “Woot” as the kids say. I know it seems like crazy talk, but that’s just two weeks away.

If you want to catch me there – heck, if you want to avoid me, there – here’s my schedule!

The “Live RPG Plus” event Friday night seems particularly fun!

WEEKEND SIGNINGS – I’ll be doing signings in Hall 1 after most of the following panels (probably not the one that ends at 21:30, I’m now thinking). I’m not sure of the location yet, but we’ll find out soon enough.

FRIDAY, JUNE 2
15.00 Q&A with John Kovalic (Toute Suite NEC – 45 mins)
John Kovalic. Millions of copies of his games and books have been sold worldwide, giving his magical, frenetic artwork and unique wit a truly global fan base. Come an ask your questions of the man who created the amazing art work of the Munchkin Games and The Dork Tower.

20.00 Live RPG Plus (Pavilion Hilton Hotel – 90 mins approx)
Live RPG Plus pits Benjamin Loomes (creator of Syrinscape and host of the Dicestormers) against an all-star cast adventure party, transforming the Pavillion Room into a fast and fun gaming experience for players as well as the audience, who will contribute to the action via shout-outs, hold-up cards and social media. Our guest players are Munchkin and Dork Tower Artist, John Kovalic, host of Knightmare Live, Paul Flannery, Paizo’s editor in chief, Wes Schneider and Mike Mason (Line Editor for Call of Cthulhu). With a party like that, what can possibly go wrong?

SATURDAY, JUNE 3
11.00 Artists Panel  (Toute Suite, NEC – 45 mins)
Details TBC With John Kovalic, Ralph Horsley, Gill Pearce, Linda Jones, Andree Schneider, James Hayball and others.

17.00 Live Pandemic Pavilion Hilton Hotel (90 mins approx.)
In a follow up to last year’s successful event Live Pandemic Returns, The Expo is in lock-down as award-winning comedian (and 2015 UK Carcassonne champion) James Cook asks you to join us in a game of Pandemic unlike any you’ve ever played before! Featuring a panel of our guests including The Dice Tower’s Sam Healey, Munchkin and Dork Tower Artist John Kovalic and Paul Flannery, host of Knightmare Live. Oh – and don’t forget the 4th player is you – the audience. The World need not fear. “Looks like fun” – Matt Leacock

SUNDAY, JUNE 4
13.00 Q&A with John Kovalic Toute Suite NEC (45 mins) 
John Kovalic. Millions of copies of his games and books have been sold worldwide, giving his magical, frenetic artwork and unique wit a truly global fan base. Come an ask your questions of the man who created the amazing art work of the Munchkin Games and The Dork Tower.

Now – who knows where a lonely traveler might stumble across the best Balti in Birmingham?

John

 

Categories: Comics

Poland: “Is this Heaven?” “No – it’s a plate of Pierogis.”

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 10:00

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 11.06.33 AM

Hard to believe (I keep double-checking my calendar), but just last week, I was in Poland, guest of the wonderful Pyrkon gaming and media convention.

Pyrkon is big – really big. 40,000 attendees big. It’s the largest such convention in Poland, by far, and this was my second trip there, thanks to my wonderful friends at Black Monk Games, the Polish translators of Munchkin (and soon, Dork Tower!)

The three-day convention was a whirlwind, for me, full of demonstrations, talks, and one-hour signings that turned into three hours.

It took five flights to get to Poznan, the city where the convention is held, every year: Madison – Detroit; Detroit – Amsterdam; Amsterdam – Kraków; Kraków – Warsaw; Warsaw – Poznan. (If this seems insane, it sort of was: Delta doesn’t fly into Poznan, but I get upgrades with them so frequently, it’s the only way to cross the Atlantic – what with me being 6’4″ tall, anyway: I value my spine).

Apparently it was King’s Day in Holland, and there were many orange treats at the Amsterdam KLM lounge: fun, tasty and colorful.

A five-hour layover in Kraków gave me a chance to pop into the city, which everyone says is beautiful. I didn’t see it, because I wandered in all the wrong areas. A few days later I’d pay for my foolishness! But for now, a student diner satisfied me my pierogi and borscht fix. (This would become a leitmotif of the trip: a delicious, carb-heavy leitmotif).

My Dad’s side of the family comes from Slovakia (back in the day, I could brag of Czechoslovakia, and lay some small claim to Prague, Bohemia and Charter ’77 – now, not so much). So coming face-to-face with my Buba’s cooking every day I was in Poland was a calorie-laden delight.

The long Krakow layover was so I could change from Delta/KLM to LOT, the Polish national airline (I had booked this leg as a separate ticket). I grew to love traveling on LOT a lot. They didn’t hand out tepid pretzels, oh no: they had a basket of candy you could grab from. It was Easter every flight! (Someone from Poland want to bring or mail me FRUGO candies? I may be addicted to them).

But back to Pyrkon: yes, it’s flipping’ huge. Held in Poznan’s World Trade Center – Poland’s largest convention center – it spans many massive halls. The dealer area seems to have doubled in size from my last trip, two years ago.

The signings at the Black Monk booth were decidedly intimidating, though having a massive queue is probably the best possible problem a cartoonist could have.

I’m guessing I drew over 100 cards, over the course of the weekend. One upside to this is that it improves my flash-caricature skills somewhat…

Another delight was when an eight-year-old girl left room in her comic book (about a cat and a dog who save the world) for me to add in Spyke, from Munchkin. I hope I did the tale justice!

Other requests seemed more…random:


 

And, look: not gonna lie: seeing Munchkin cosplayers in full regalia is always a thrill (to say nothing of humbling).

It was an exhausting but exciting show, but I did get a chance Saturday morning to pop down to Poznan’s city square – an achingly beautiful place, spiffed-up by Italian architect Giovanni Battista di Quadro, during the Renaissance.

Sadly, I didn’t get much of a chance to hang out with artists such as Wayne Reynolds, Ralph Horsely and Milivoj Ćeran, who were also guests. My loss, as they’re all great guys, and ridiculously talented, to boot. I’m hoping I at least get to see a couple of them again at UK Games Expo next moth. But I had to leave for my flight Sunday afternoon, and didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

My Poznan hotel was about a block from the con site, but more importantly next door to a restaurant that literally translates to “Pierogi Hut.” I thought these were some of the best I’d ever had, until my return-layover, in Kraków again. This time, I had two full days (and three evenings) to explore. Yelp had recommended a small cafe next to my Kraków hotel, and the mushroom pierogi were without question incredible (“pierogincredible”?)

The next morning, I wandered through some more dreary sections of Kraków, wondering what all the fuss was about (I am a dum-dum), when I finally stumbled across the Old City – an absolutely crazy-beautiful area that left me slack-jawed.

Staring up at this indescribably lovely architecture, I did indeed stumble, missing a paving stone, twisting my left ankle and falling smack onto the cobblestones with my right knee. I’m not sure what sound it made, but I wouldn’t be surprised it if was, indeed, “krakow!”

By the end of the day, my knee had swollen to the size and color of a really large golabki, and walking had become almost literally impossible: I could only return to the hotel leaning heavily on my mum (my parents had popped over from London to visit, fortunately). Thus my last day in this magnificent place was spent staring at the walls of my hotel room, my leg up, my body aching, and me feeling more than just a little bit stupid.

The plus side, though, was I did get to see Kraków for a day, and it’s definitely a place I’d enjoy returning to, one day.

What say, Pyrkon – let’s do this again soon, eh?

-John

 

 

 

 

Categories: Comics

Tower of Power – DORK TOWER 11.05.17

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

Adventures in Eating – SPORK TOWER 09.05.17

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 23:01

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 11.06.33 AM

SKY CLUB CUSINE
or
When Life Hands you a Club, Make a Mess

Flying home from Poland last weekend, I was hit with a two-hour delay in Detroit.

No big deal, as a couple of years ago, I went all-in on Delta, and purchased a membership to their “Sky Club” lounges.

Yes, this is very 1st World One-Percenters territory. But also, yes, (a) I fly enough that it’s totally worth it, and (b) it’s a business expense.

Most importantly, as Sara Benincasa notes in her essay ‘Join the Fancy Club at the Airport,’ “I deserve a break, just like any of those fancy people. And so, dear reader, do you.” So who are we to argue with Sara?

Anyway, when I’m not quoting Sara Benincasa’s wonderfully enabling essays (available HERE), I’m figuring out ways to get into trouble things to do at the Delta Sky Lounge.

Two hour layover in Detroit means it’s time to get crazy with @DeltaSkyClub offerings, right, @Delta?

— Maybe John Kovalic (@muskrat_john) May 3, 2017

US airline lounges have been pretty spartan things, compared to their European counterparts.

But the Americans upped their game, slightly, these last few years.

Though still not on par with the rest of the civilized world, Delta’s Sky Clubs‘  hard-boiled-eggs-and-chicken-salad-only nadir is long-gone. Soups, meatballs, hot chicken, and mac and cheese are available, more often than not. O BRAVE NEW WORLD!*

So with time on my hands, and a literal buffet of possibilities at my disposal, I experimented.

STEP ONE: Take one Nissen-brand Cup Noodles ‘cup’ that some Delta Sky Clubs have been offering since (I’m spitballing, here) the upturn in Asian business.

STEP TWO: Add hot water from the Starbucks-brand coffee machine.

STEP THREE: Re-cover the cup, and wait for three minutes.

STEP FOUR: Dump the Cup Noodles of the wretched salt-laden death-slurry it calls “soup,” saving the softened noodles.

STEP FIVE: Go to the salad area. Tope the noodles with some warm chicken chunks.

 

(Actual Chicken location and availability may vary according to Sky Club).

STEP SIX: Wander over to the soups. There are usually two available. Fill cup of noodles and chicken with either Wicked Thai or Butternut Squash Curry soups, if on-hand (others may work in a pinch).

STEP SEVEN: Finish with a generous squeeze of Sriracha ( always has it on hand, BLESS THEM) three wedges of lime from the bar, and add some crispy noodles for crunch.

STEP EIGHT: And VOILA! Enjoy a tasty raman-esque snack, as other patrons look in horror! Bon appetite!

 

@muskrat_john Hey John, looks delicious. Glad you’re enjoying. *JY

— Delta (@Delta) May 3, 2017

  -John

*Super-deluxe props to Delta’s main Detroit Sky Club, for serving bona-fide National Coney Island hot dogs on Thursdays and Fridays!

Categories: Comics

You Keep Using That Word… – DORK TOWER 09.05.17

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

One Rogue – DORK TOWER 02.05.17

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 23:01

Categories: Comics

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