Through three chapters the saga of Erica Reed, a paranormal detective in the series of COGNITION has grown in amazing ways. In episode three brand new developments to gameplay as well as story bring things to amazing climax which in the end will have any fan (new and old) salivating for the final chapter.
As an FBI agent focused mostly in serial killer investigations, Reed tends to find herself in dangerous situations and unfortunately for her years ago, a serial killer chose to attack her family. This killer was never caught and years later this event seems to be a constant to everything happening to Reed within the confines of the games narrative.
Working as a traditional point n click, COGNITION is all three episodes is just as good as any, with good dialogue, well thought of puzzles and plot structure that pushes the game along. Yet when Erica Reed’s power of the mind comes into play the game takes a solid turn at being something different.
In the first game the basics of being able to see into the past give you clear understanding of the mechanics without anything being too complicated or overwrought. Sometimes it even seems like your hand is being held, but with such a new game mechanic in place to this type of genre and the very intense, gory, and distressing story it tells this was necessary.
In the second chapter all seems fine, the hand is let go, your training wheels are removed and off you go flying trying to put together the puzzle pieces and solve the mystery before time runs out, even in some cases time has run out for everyone. It’s smooth sailing till the final puzzle, when the game falls off the rails and takes a detour into “Hey, I know you just learned how to ride a bicycle, but here’s a unicycle, also juggle these flaming bowling pins”. It’s a deep turn of puzzle difficulty which while it does not break the game nor deter you from wanting to finish it does put a damper on things. Nonetheless you are compelled to move onto the third chapter.
This third chapter takes things to another level adding to your power abilities as well as adding a second playable character. To fully explain this would create major spoilers, but it works really well and to the plot of the game, the way it has progressed and such. I will say story structure wise that if you are used to paranormal mystery stories nothing really comes as a shock or surprise here. If you’re one of those this is more about getting to read a well crafted, although as cliched as ANY of them and really, they’re ALL cliched… betrayal, unfocused love relationships, people not appearing to be who you thought they were, all these stories are exactly like COGNITION. What makes COGNITION different is the fact that not only is it a game, but a well made game.
It’s not just the gameplay though. The art is superb, between the 3D esque normal play and the painted cut scenes everything shines. The music composition really shines, swifting you through the tale with just the right emphasis and notes, but what really makes the game is the lead voice acting by singer/actress, Raleigh Holmes, who is also coincidentally step-daughter of the game’s consultant Jane Jensen. Okay, not a coincidence, but Raleigh would be right for this part even if she didn’t already have a connection to it. There’s just something about her accent, her gruffness, her delivery that adds a gravitas to the entire game and makes it a must play.
I’ve said before in this blog that I look forward to the next chapter and once again, there is no mistaking I look forward to seeing what the final chapter The Cain Killer brings to COGNITION and how they decide to twist things again gameplay wise to keep it all interesting.
(images shown are from COGNITION: THE ORACLE)
In Laura Lee Gulledge‘s first graphic novel we got to meet a young artist discovering New York for the first time, the semi-autobiographical tale introduced us to Paige a determined woman in a big city making new friends and surviving obstacles. For her second feature Will & Whit, Laura goes a little further back in her semi-autobio while combining some of the events with more recent catastrophes to tell a more coming of age story about lifelong friends, the power of family in all forms, and letting go of your past to mark the future along.
Through only two full length tales and a variety of one page and short stories not seen in many markets, Laura has quickly established herself as someone who just intrinsically understands how to tell tales through sequential storytelling. Most amazingly she comes at not with a strict comics background though. As her time in the world of comics have quickly made her a favorite among fan and creator alike, it’s not where she bit her teeth. Window displays, set design, pure illustration, performance art, and more, Laura is truly versatile artist with a powerful voice.
Will & Whit focuses on a small town about to be hit by a hurricane while many young people are enjoying the summer and preparing for a small performance carnival in an abandoned structure. The protagonist Will is a sculptor of sorts, working in a thrift store and building lamps, haunted by shadows that seem to be memories. Will hasn’t had the easiest life, but all is not revealed to us till book’s end. Instead we get swept up in her teenage drama of love, friendship, triangles, creativity and going down the river.
WILL & WHIT officially came out on May 7th, 2013, but tonight (May 15th, 2013) at Housing Works Book Store in New York City there’s an exciting book release with a reading, a preview of the work-in-progress play version of the book and more fun.
After that event an addendum shall be added to this article/review.
The year was 1999 and The Undertaker was about to marry “The Billionaire Princess” Stephanie McMahon, but “Stone Cold” Steve Austin interfered in the nuptials. Later, Hunter Hearst Helmsley would fake marry Stephanie and proceed to real life marry her and become the second most powerful individual in the now WWE. That isn’t how it HAD to happen though.
Imagine a universe where Austin is embroiled in other affairs, so absolutely no one stops the wedding vows of the Dark One, Hell’s Other Favorite Son and the Spoiled Brat of Boobage. Now take a step further and imagine that because of this fake marriage, Mark and Stephanie fall in love and his career runs in slightly different states with different angles and story-lines. It all ends with him at the top hiring people, creating television and making WWE a bigger market than ever as the COO facing a cadre of implants from the UFC with Brock Lesnar only being the start of dangerous men.
- Artwork by The Wrestling Cartoonist
Before that though in 2011, The Dead Man already in a position of power although not officially used his influence to make sure Wrestlemania would be the of the biggest and bestest WM ever. In the time-line envisioned here many other things have happened, putting various individuals in stories unexpected.
In this universe for example in 1995 before UT saw the arrival of long lost brother Kane, a dentist by the name of Issac Yankem, DDS came into the WWF and unleashed hell. So much damage that he never went away, he ended up building his practice, and sticking around, allowing a time rift in which both he AND Kane existed, but that’s another story for another time.
Many stories are for another time actually, as between 1999 and 2011 this new WWE went through some of the most amazing events of almost unfathomable unexpectedness but The Undertaker would still achieve his legacy held streak of being undefeated at Wrestlemania. After many years of amazing opponents taken out left and right, who was left? Who could actually challenge The Dead Man? The call went out as they looked for someone with the right enough of chutzpah, grandeur, legendary aspect and a man who Undertaker had never faced before.
Once they found their man though, it was kept secretive, as mysteriously dark videos started to debut that seemed to announce the arrival of one man who had walked both the dark side and the side of the angels. A man everyone in the WWF should fear as most of them if not all had never had to deal with his unleashing. A man who was fast as a cat and big as a bull, a man who walked rafters and the underground effortlessly. No one knew for sure why The Stinger was coming, but all hints said he was on his way. Then one cold night in February he made his motives known. He was after one thing and he would do whatever he could do to achieve it. Sting would cement his legacy by ending The Dead Man’s, by hell or high-water, Undertaker would burn and Sting would rise to the pantheon.
Art by Nik Towers
TO BE CONTINUED….
In the next issue, another universe, another possibility, The Tough Enough Crew (preempted if better images/ideas/possibilities come from the amazing assortment of folks who have helped me see this become a reality)
Undertaker-COO by The Wrestling Cartoonist. Check out more of his awesomeness on Facebook.
Sting vs. The Undertaker by Nik Towers. For more Nik check out the Zine, CALLING SPOTS, his art collective Pencil Tree and on Twitter @PencilTree.
I never thought of Kickstarter as a place to introduce me to awesome comics artists I had previously missed out on as they made their name on the internet mostly, but it did JUST that with Kyle Starks.
The Legend of Ricky Thunder, his oft-praised wrestling meets sci-fiction/fantasy comic is what called me to his project, but as I followed his twitter and read his other comics such as PUNCH CAPITAIN and THIS IS WILD DOG I just became a fan of him period. I became super doubly excited when his stretch goals allowed him to be a in a position to finally put some of that stuff in print. Sure Ricky Thunder is awesomesauce beyond awesomesauce, and Kyle better never give up doing wrestling inspired stuff (with his Chikara love I doubt he ever will).
It’s really hard to resist Ricky Thunder, even if you absolutely utterly hate wrestling. If you hate comics, then there’s no winning you over, but if you like comics then this is a comic with almost everything. Humor, fisticuffs, drama, Presidential ghosts, aliens, robots, electricity and even Chuck Norris. For those who missed the Kickstarter, SLG Publishing is currently handling distribution. Kyle will as well soon, but for now, why wait?
The Ricky Thunder Kickstarter had stretch goals as I mentioned. One of the first being a special short follow-up to Ricky Thunder which also had an awesome pledge level of being the wrestler that Ricky faced in this followup. This opportunity got snatched up quick, which made Kyle open a new special pledge of becoming a member of the Thunderverse as part of a special trading card series and receiving the original art for it. That level tier is what I ended up going for since I lost out on the higher one.
These tiers also allowed Kyle to go over the top in his pledging, although I have to think the endorsements from Chris Sims as well as Jill Thompson helped. Reaching those stretch goals as I stated above allowed to publish a collection of some other short stories which he titled I CAN KILL ANYTHING, a line taken from the Frankenstein story in the collection. Also included are two PUNCH CAPTAIN stories (one never seen online), and his much loved WILDDOG story. As far as I know this book is only available from Kyle at conventions for now, but he is now on that circuit so here’s hoping you can see him. I CAN KILL ANYTHING is the true gem of books and shows that while Kyle is one awesome wrestling artist, he can do pretty much anything he wants to and make it fun.
Here’s my persona in the Thunderverse… one “The FEAR” Rob Connor. Those who know me well will know The FEAR name goes back way to college. It has been used as a joke, a curse, a wrestling name, a band name, a performance artist name, a comic name, a fiction name, a prose, a play and more and now it’s a FAKE wrestler too, who looks exactly like me and has a name that is almost like mine.
Ryan Estrada MORE then delivered on this project, especially in my personal case. Yet before we get to that I think I’ll just discuss the fan service he basically gave everyone who joined in on his Kickstarter.
Fully funded after one day he took a leap of faith with his backers and gave them his comic PLAGUED way before the campaign ended. Then as the campaign just kept getting larger he gave backers the second book, THE DOG’S SINS by KC Green/. The final two books at the main set up for this Winter collection were Ryan Andrews’ This Was Our Pact and a English translation of South Koran comic Definition of a Dead Body. Currently only the final hi res editions of both Ryan’s book are available at a name your price point.
They can found at the following links:
PLAGUED by Ryan Estrada
This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews
Unfortunately for the world but as a good faith to Kickstarter and exclusives, the rest including the Beat the Average books including e-book editions of more work by the Winter collection folks as well as newly translated to English of Nam Dong Yoon are as of now unavailable. Most of KC’s stuff as well as Ryan Andrew’s can be bought in print form though.
Now I shall attest that I chose to come in at the $100 tier which provided me with a bunch of print material, art supplies, original art and more. What’s more amazing is that Ryan had thought with my package he had bundled up some Korean Comic Con stuff as well and he hadn’t… so he made a second package, bundled that up with some more original art . All together it comes out to an amazing set. I even have a instruction comic on how to read Korean so those mini comics will eventually be extra special.
Through the power of The Mandible Claw and the minds of The Atomic Elbow, Danielle Matheson and the writers at Chikara a concept has actually been created for the entire Brayfabe Universe to exist. While originally the concept was simply the idea of “What If?”/Elseworlds comics expanded into any idea, but the time travel conundrum of Archibald Peck causing multiple timelines like Back To The Future presents us with the intriguing possibility of true expansion. These are not hoaxes, imaginary stories, but actual events that happened in another universe. One could even consider that there is an Ultimatesverse version of wrestling where it ALL got redone even. In JJ Abrams’ Star Trek it’s even been established that that is NOT a reboot of The Original Series, but an actual alternate timeline which can interact WITH TOS. So the possibilities for the future of BRAY FABE are endless. Hulk Hogan vs. Terry Boulder? The tag team of Blue Blazer and Owen Hart? Colt Cabana, Colt Cabunny and CP MUNK vs. Necro Butcher, Joker and Matt Classic? All of this can happen and more in BRAYFABE!
First happening in Brayfabe is me showing off how I’m not really an artist, but I am a great visualizer. One my first ideas for Brayfabe, was “What if CM Punk wasn’t straight edge?” Now obviously storyline wise that would change the entire course of his life, his career and even more, but I decided in this particular timeline… all it would do is make him keep his mohawk forever and end up with completely different tattoos as the years went on. Here is what I came up with:
- His new tattoos are:
Johnnie Walker, Autobots, a Beehive, a Coop Devil girl, Pirahhana, A Robot Unicorn, the words NEVER ENOUGH on his stomach, SCUM*BAG on his fingers and AMY on his neck
The future of BrayFabe is unknown. It may be more art from me. Just articles. Who knows, but it shall continue.
At this year’s MoCCaFest I did something completely different than any year prior and chose to volunteer. After years of being an attendee and coming as Press, I felt under the new leadership of the Society of Illustrators and with my dedication to the Festival continuing it only right to finally give back. I should’ve done so much sooner than this while the festival was still under the watch of Ellen Abromowitz who by circumstance is now a member of my family for shortening a much more complicated explanation, but it was not to be.
Getting the festival up and ready to go on the day before was quite the adventure. In record time we set up tables, chairs, and the new additions to the Festival which I believe went over very well in signage, table clothes, a dedicated Audio/Visual system and a cafeteria with sandwiches and drinks. Meeting my fellow volunteers was actually really cool and it made the weekend much more fun to have fellow comics fans and appreciators there to discuss stuff with and to make sure the convention flowed well.
I stayed pretty late on that setup day not because I didn’t want to go home, but mostly because I didn’t want to go home. There were other places and things I could do, but I was so invested in seeing the show come together and impressed by how amazing it all did that I stuck around a lot longer than I planned but with no regrets. I ended up going home, taking a nap and then heading out again to make it to Bunnycutlet Gallery where they had an amazing new group show. It was really great seeing these pieces and then afterwards talking to Chris McCulloch and others outside, especially talking to Chris about Brock Samson’s appearance in Poker Night 2 from Telltale Games.
On the first day of MoCCaFest I made sure to get there early, but not too early. I knew that I wanted enough time to explore booths, greet friends, get acquainted and procure sketches and books. I did all that and more. I had figured a great theme for my sketch books and actually brought along three books for it. I requested your favorite cartoon character growing up and all together over the next two days I procured about 20 awesome sketches that are mindblowing. I also bought a lot of comics. Way more than I ever expected. Square is both your friend AND your enemy. “Oh you take credit card? Okay” is just the most evil happy thing ever. Suffice it to say I ended up getting a lot of great stuff. In prior years I used to do a haul list, and I may just do that again this year. I probably will. Oh, you know I will even all these weeks after.
Volunteering for the show was really a great experience. I was on aisle duty so if someone needed anything it was my job to do it and I was definitely used and appreciated. I covered booths, kept the area clean and at the end of the day made sure garbage was collected and everyone felt their wares were safe for the next day. My payment on day one was an excellent dinner. While I expected the party to be more of a situation for people to really meet and enjoy each other’s company it was basically eat and then catch up with a few folks here or there, which I definitely did do.
The next day was pretty much the same thing. The only difference being I hurt myself, so while I planned on helping with breakdown, I had to bail out. Instead I made sure to double my efforts in making sure everyone was happy, comfortable and more and did it all day instead of just during my shift, almost as if I automatically went into retail mode even though I wasn’t working, but only volunteering. On the second day I got to explore a lot more too and enjoy the museum aspect brought in by SOI and really feel what they brought to the whole of MoCCaFest. At the end of the festival as everyone packed up, broke down, said their goodbyes, the volunteers got an amazing assortment of books to choose from to take home as “payment” from a variety of publishers and individual creators who appreciated everyone’s hard work.
I expect the future of the show, however it goes down to be quite amazing.
As a side note, after MoCCaFest was all done I went all the way out to Barclay’s Center to catch Green Day as a last minute addition free surprise to an already amazing evening.
THE HAUL (All items free & paid for)
RELISH Tanzania Travelogue by Lucy Knisley
The Chapel Chronicles by Emma T. Caps
B + F Book One by Gregory Benton
The Face Skull #2 and Savage Brute by Pat Dorian
Welcome to Oddville by Jay Stephens
Fantastic Life by Kevin Mutch
Anima by Tatiana Goldberg
Beyond the Canopy by Jonathan Griffiths
The Raw Edge by Devin Clark
Frankie’s Busy Day and Frankie Comics by Rachel Dukes
KSW by Peter Schmidt
Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger
52 Weeks Project by Greg Ruth
Centifolia Vol I & II by Stuart Immonen
HellaDead Rude Dog Iron-On Patch by KC Green
Sam & Lilah by Jim Dougan and Hyeondo Park
The Misfortune Cookie by Mindy Indy
Good Riddance (galley) by Cynthia Copeland
‘The Wolfmen & Fall of the Wolfmen by Dave West and Andy Bloor
Whatever Happened to The World of Tomorrow? By Brian Fies
The Downsized by Matt Howarth
Cross Country by MK Reed
FOXING Anthology #1
Remake, Remake Special, Remake 3Xtra by Lamar Abrams
H.C. Andersen Junior: The Magical Hat by J. Rybka and Thierry Capezzone
A collection of comics by Neil Brideau
Who Wants Meat? And Bear Brains Vol.2 by Nate Bear
You Are Always On My Mind by Kat Roberts
Borb by Jason Little
Runner Runner Anthology
The Black Well by Jamie Tanner
COPRA Compendium, #4 & #5 by Michel Fiffe
Throughout the history of professional wrestling there have been monumental events, angles, stories, character and gimmicks that could’ve easily gone another direction and either drastically the change the course of the future or having very little change but that one change still being constant.
Within the confines of DC Comics and Marvel this idea has been constantly explored. In DC they call it Elseworlds. In Marvel it was known as “What If?’. Some of my favorite comics stories of all time have come from these particular annuals, graphic novels and series. It is something could easily be applied to wrestling in many major ways.
Here’s a small list of some of the ideas I’m playing with:
What if the Issac Yankem gimmick was successful and got expanded to a stable with a X-ray tech and an anesthesiologist?
“What if James Storm joined Chris Harris in ECWWE?”
“Fallen Angel doesn’t get injured in Nitro debut”
“CM Punk never went straight edge”
“Kevin Nash and Scott Hall never left WCW/never left the WWF to go back to WCW”
I have a short dream list of artists based purely on their previous wrestling illustrations, none that have agreed to be part of the project as of yet, but it is a dream.
(special thanks to Sam “Eddie Phoenix” Fines for helping come up with the concept and cementing it in stone with a name.)
(My first follow up will be me fleshing out one of the actual what if’s further and drawing one of my own to get the ball rolling… also research into other artists who not only draw wrestlers but understand and LOVE wrestling…I don’t want just cool illustrations, I want the passion of folks who get what they’re doing, not just photo referencing stuff)
As you saw on this website prior to both the Asbury Comic Con and MoCCaFest I wrote preview articles, but I have yet to go back and actually do follow ups and I it’s high time I do that as best as I can.
On the train to Asbury I got lucky enough to end up sitting next to two guys who would actually be tabling with their comic FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE. Co-writer Mike Isenberg gain me issue 1 gratis and like a good drug dealer who knows his product is quality I ended up buying issues 2 & 3 later on at the show and am on board for anymore they release.
When I arrived in Asbury I had no clue where to go so I followed a bunch of folks who were heading in the direction of the con. I knew they were headed to the con because I was following a bunch of cartoonists I knew from conventions. Once I had my bearings I decided to walk around Asbury itself and discover the place.
I saw a bunch of restaurants I wanted to try out if I ever come back. I also found the graffiti and a few stores, although most were closed. There’s also a pinball museum/arcade and a few abandoned spots. Asbury is just an amazing spot. It also has The Stone Pony, which I had totally forgotten.
After I had looked around for a reasonable time I headed over to the show. The Asbury Convention center is a nice sized place. I could see wrestling events, basketball games, concerts, etc, doing really well there. I never made it across the street to the bar where the panels were because the convention was way larger than I expected. It wasn’t just the main floor with vendors, indie folks and the legends together, but in what would be considered the hallways to reach the other levels, tables lined the walls of various indie artists and creators. There was a lot to experience in it all and it was quite exciting actually. I actually ended up buying way more books than I planned on and I got a lot of nice sketches and saw people I totally didn’t expect to.
Puck & Wendigo from behind by Mike Dawson, inspired by his Ink Panthers broadcast
Eventually I felt con exhaustion hit me and I wanted to explore Asbury a bit more as well and since I was going to get a ride back into Manhattan, I had to grab the 2 hour trip back on the train.
Next year they’re planning on making Asbury 2 days. I hope they see about it maybe being during the summer months as well maybe. I could totally see myself coming in on a Friday afternoon and leaving Sunday with a fully full Asbury experience. Hopefully shared with a special someone.
I have never been good at word finders, and I actually not even really good at Scrabble. I miss those large scoring words, because even though I know them, the scrabble part of it always confuses me. Yet I play Scrabble, but not online. I never got into Words with Friends or anything like that, but I get the appeal. I like developer Ryan Creighton have always wondered what a game like that if brought to something even bigger. Ryan was inspired by a game that he thought was going to be that and wasn’t. I see Ryan’s game as pretty close to what I’ve always envisioned a word finder game at a larger scale where the word building wasn’t just a game but a function of the story telling.
That in a nutshell explains what SPELLIRIUM is. A word finder/builder with a story that is enjoyable and intriguing. One of the best things the game has going for it is the art design, from the characters, the backgrounds and the cut scenes. In simply still an alpha state this is blowing my mind. Being able to actually play something in Alpha is always fun. You’re not actually a playtester but you get to really see where a game is at before completion. I’m getting ahead of myself here, so let me rewind a tad.
Untold Entertainment is doing a special way of pre-order for their game in which isn’t a Kickstarter, but a kickender. This game is happening, it’s coming out. The question is how good will the final product be? Production costs money and while kickstarter is meant to do just that for projects, SPELLIRIUM has funded itself along the way with grants, funding and out of pocket and has a long way in its development. Despite being a point n click game and 2013 being definitely The Year of Adventure Games Return To The Mainstream it is also a niche game. It is not your traditional puzzler with fetch quests, inventory options and more, no it really combines two genres that you wouldn’t expect to work but in your mind want them too.
This isn’t to say that the Alpha isn’t full of flaws, but the promise it shows makes the Pre-Order completely worth it. Certain bugs are causing at least for me an impossibility to beat a certain puzzle, or maybe I just am not good at this stuff. It’s also about predicting vowels and consonants and understanding a structure of charges and combos and all that jazz. If you love things like Bejeweled, etc. or supposedly some game called Bookworm, then you’ll love this and you’ll enjoy the fact that it’s not just a word connecting. There is definitely still that point n click aspect and there’s the entire figuring out what to do next/where to go next thing going on as well.
In terms of seeing games always changing, evolving, taking the next step while staying in their roots of fun, good graphics, fun, good stories, interesting gameplay, fun then you can’t go wrong with SPELLIRIUM (even if admittedly my difficulty with a puzzle I can’t beat because of my skill level/bugs within the game).
So if you’re still staring at the screen shots, or reading this, stop. Just go and pre-order the damn thing already. You know you want to. Flaws and all!
Also… how can you resist a campaign that gives you something like this?
Come mothers and fathers, come sons and come daughters,
come graduates sprung from your old alma maters
come lovers of words, come adorers of books,
come peer at these pages, come take a good look
For today at long last, you will finally play
the game we’ve been building for many a day
(i’m so proud to say it, it’s making me teary some)
this is the day that you’ll all play Spellirium!
While it’s not fully finished, it’s come well along
we’re ready to let you all play, you big throng
and with your support, it will end perfectly
and we’ll make it the game that we meant it to be.
So open your wallets! Un-mattress your cash!
Donate all your savings, and empty your stash!
Dig deep, and find money, and give it all here
And then yell to your friends so that they overhear
And THEY give us their money! And THEIR friends do, too!
and then when it’s all over … just what did we do?
We shut down the banks, and we took all the bucks
and every last dime in the world went to us
The people of Earth will all turn out their pockets
And hope, beyond hopes, that we’re gonna rock it
And rock it we will, for the price you did pay
Oh, the game that we’ll make. OH, THE GAME THAT YOU’ll PLAY!!