Friday, December 30, 2022


While digging through the internet's endless archives looking for cool zines and underground comics (comix), I found a website called Comixjoint. It appears to be and older site, I suppose. Many of the links are broken. In fact, if you go into the A-Z list of comics and click on individual listings, you'll find that everything from Tits & Clits Comix forward is broken. Sadly, clicking on Tuff Shit Comics yields no results.

Anyway... the site is chock full of reviews and passable scans of comic covers. It's a nice collection of books on display and shows you the array of underground stuff available - though mostly leaning toward the prurient and NSFW side. Which... I mean... really is was underground comix movement, wasn't it? The whole point was counterculture. It was a reaction against the puritanical Approved by the Comics Code Authority bullshit that dominated the spinner racks. These guys were saying fuck that shit, I'm a gonna draw Mickey Mouse with a boner and you can't stop me.

I haven't read any of the reviews on this site and I have no idea if the creator is still around, still doing reviews. For damn sure, the site is not maintained. Clicking on the Forum link leads to an error, for example. It's something that was around and got abandoned. The internet is full of abandoned sites, I think. But typically the owner allows the domain name to fall back and so clicking on the address leads to "this domain is for sale" or something like that. In this case, the owner wanted to maintain the domain but not maintain the site.

Warning: Clicking on any sites dealing with underground comix will lead you to nudity, sex, violence, and rude art. If you're not into that shit, don't click.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Memory of Comic Book Times

Herein I'm going to take a stab at remembering and recounting my personal journey with comics. I'll approach this like a scientist (on drugs). This is long and rambling. You've been warned.


When I was 7, my parents divorced. My mom and I moved from Louisville to Somerset (where I was born and where she was born) into an old shack without a bathroom or running water from what I can remember. I do not remember any comic books prior to this time, though it is possible I had a few here and there. I mostly remember TV shows like Shazam and Hulk and cartoons like Quick Draw McGraw and Bugs Bunny.

Sometime after the divorce, before I turned 9, someone in the family gave me a stack of comic books. These were legit funnies. I had some Casper, Hot Stuff, Wendy, Donald Duck, Archie, and probably Uncle Scrooge and Richie Rich. My memory is very old, of course. This was the late 70s. I was born in 1970, so this would have been 1977-1978. I'm guessing the stack of comics was about 15-20 in number. They were beat up, well-read, and came from a cousin who was kind of a blacksheep and died far too early. He would have been a young man at the time, probably 18-20.

I read and flipped through those comics quite a bit. I'm guessing several of them survived and were carried from home to home by me (we moved a lot between 1977 and 1984).

Perhaps it is largely this exposure to silly fun comics like Hot Stuff that lead to my lifelong love of cartoon art. I do credit Hot Stuff as the progenitor of Zarp, though he wasn't based on that character explicitly.


My mom and I lived in the red shack for about a year, I guess. I have lots of memories from there. I remember the nasty outhouse (I tended to go in the woods instead of going into that thing). I remember a dog named King and another dog whose name I don't remember. I remember a bicycle that got ran over, much to my dismay. I remember getting some toy cowboy guns for Xmas and my little cousins crying for them. I also remember coming home from school one Friday eager to watch Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, which was heavily advertised on TV for that Saturday. But our cable had been cut off that day due to non-payment. I was crushed. Perhaps, in hindsight, I was spared.

We were less than poor. We had fucking nothing. We relied on charity from family and on a welfare pittance of about $90 per month. My mom, may she rest in peace, was in over her head and had no prospects.

Anyway... she met Lee about 1978, winter. I was 8 at the time. I know it was winter because he was a ramblin' man who was making a meager living selling truckloads of coal. He would go to houses and ask if they wanted to buy coal. He would then go load his old white pickup truck with coal, then charge the person for the coal and the labor. My mom must have met him through a friend and he brought us some coal.

They hooked up for the next 30 years until his death on May 12th 2008. Lee was, by all measures, my dad. My biological father, kind of a lazy asshole, was never around. Lee was around.

Ok, let me steer this back to the road...

Lee came, he helped us out, he bought me strawberry ice cream, which was super nice. He, being a rambler and a piddler, didn't have a job. We moved around... all the time. Lee "ran off" multiple times and my mom would leave me with this or that aunt or uncle and go off chasing him. She always found him and they always ended up back together. It was a wild time to be a kid. Remind me to tell you stories about garbage dumps and living in a van later).

So we eventually moved to Standford into a trailer in the Dix River trailer park. I was in 4th grade, so it would have been 1980 or so. I was held back in 3rd grade. Anyway, here we were and I was having a good time and met a few friends. One of them, a black haired toothy kid named Danny, was a nerd. He was into Star Wars and comic books.

I do not remember the exact order of events so I'll do my best to jam it all together.

We lived in the Dix River trailer park twice: once when I was in 4th grade and again when I was in 6th grade. My journey into "real comics" happened during this period. I'm guessing Danny showed me some of his comics and I showed him mine. All I had at the time were probably funnies.

It was the second time at Dix that I got serious. I was in Food Lion with my mom and I immediately gravitated to the magazine rack where my eyes fell on Amazing Spider-Man #238... which happened to be the first appearance of the Hobgoblin. I didn't know shit about shit, I just knew that was an awesome looking comic and I begged for mom to buy it. To her great credit... she did.

This is how learned about "monthly comics". Every month from then on I would make it my mission to ensure that I ended up at Food Lion or Mac's Village Pantry or some other store and feverishly search the spinner rack for the new issue of ASM (eventually expanding to Spectacular and Web Of). I proudly took my comics to school where Danny and a few other pals (a curly headed kid with chubby cheeks, a fat kid, and a black kid - I do not remember any of their names, sadly) would sit in the stairwell and read them.

Beyond reading comics, Danny and I wanted to draw. We had this thing where we would put a sheet of paper under a comic cover and then use a BALLPOINT PEN to trace over the art, leaving an impression on the paper so we could then "draw" it. We savaged a lot of comics in those days. But I attribute this time period to a substantial leap forward in my interest in art and my ability to draw.

Thank you, Danny, wherever you are. You were a friend and I wish we could have stayed in touch somehow.


There was a tiny flea market very close to the Dix River trailer park. My folks were heavily into flea marketing and auctioning (it was our primary income). So I basically lived at flea markets and auctions between 1979 and 1986.

There was this guy at the Dix River flea market. I believe his name might have been Doug... but somehow that seems wrong. We'll call him Doug, though. He had a slightly oversized head and mom would say there was something wrong with him (in a kind way... she was very kind and compassionate to him).

Doug was a Vietnam vet and even I, as a kid, could tell he was troubled. But he was super nice to me and he was into comics. He had boxes of them he sold at the flea market and he let me pick from the boxes and read what I wanted. He gave me a few Incredible Hulk comics. Probably the very few Hulk comics I ever owned. They featured Woodgod and those guys. I would sit next to Doug and absolutely burn up his ears talking comics and I'm sure I was an annoying little shit that he tolerated.

Thanks, Doug. You were instrumental in setting me on my path and I hope you found peace for the rest of your life.


Lee was always finding these oddball things he could try to sell. He got his hands on a few cases (CASES!) of Marvel Super Heroes bubble gum and rub-on tattoos. He gave me a whole box (the kind you'd see in the store for display). Naturally I used them all.

He also got hold of some kind of DC Comics shit because I had multiple copies of these little miniature comics featuring the retold origins of Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, etc. I was a Marvel snob even then, but I loved those little comics. I just didn't care enough about DC to actually pick up any DC comics.

It was those mini-comics that gave me the idea to make my own. So I did. I do not remember what year it was. Both the tattoos and mini-comics were sold in 1980, and 1980 was my first time living in the trailer park. But I don't know if Lee would have picked these up at the time or 2 years later. I think it was 1980... which means this was happening prior to my entry into collecting "real" comics.

I drew Hulk and Spider-Man and, I think, The Thing. I folded two sheets of 8.5x11 paper in half and made a digest comic out of them. I'm sure it was pure trash... but it laid the groundwork in my head.


We moved away from Standford again. We were in Somerset, possibly in one of its sub-areas like Nancy or Burnside. I can't remember. But I remember Flo's Flea Market. I lived at Flo's.

Flo was an indoor/outdoor setup. Indoor there was something truly amazing... comic books. They were a quarter each. Flo got them, apparently, from overflow from local stores. I have no idea how. But her bins were filled with multiple copies of fairly-recent comic books. If a book was on the rack in January, Flo might get multiple copies of it in Feb or March.

And a quarter wasn't so much money that I couldn't swindle a handful out of my mom. So I haunted those boxes day after day and therein I discovered one of the greatest treasures of all time: Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew!

I remember stumbling upon the Captain and thinking "WOW!". I dug through the boxes and managed to find the first issue, which I immediately bought. I carried it off, read it, and came back ASAP with more quarters. I hunted like a god damn predator through those boxes of unorganized comics until I managed to piece together the first 5 or 6 issues of CC. Happy as a pig in shit, I read them over and over.

During the following few months of summer, I scored every other issue she acquired, which brought me up to issue 16. That's it, that's all she had, and that's all I was able to get. But it was more than enough to fire up my imagination for years.

Thanks, Flo. I hope your remaining years were fruitful and pleasant.


Time passes. We moved around a little bit more. I eventually happened upon an issue of Savage Sword of Conan at Mac's Village Pantry. It was more costly than other comics and it was black and white. But it was awesome. And it had women. Sometimes... they were naked. But also, lots of violence and muscles and monsters. It was MY JAM. I made it my mission to pick up SSOC every month from then until I was an adult.

My first SSOC, that I can remember, was issue #104 with its sweet-ass Joe Jusko cover. I drooled and drooled over that book all day and night. This was 1984.

My cousin Charlie, younger than me, had picked up a copy of Conan the Barbarian, the regular color series. I read it but was not impressed at the time. It felt like it was meant for kids. What's the "comics code" anyway? Where was the nudity? The neck-to-navel disembowelments? Nope, not for me. I snubbed it. I never once collected that book... what a silly asshole I was. I wish I had got into it.

But then again: poor. Limited funds, you know.


It was about this time, the Conan time, that I got into D&D. It was by accident. Kids at school were playing it and I heard them and was observing with curiosity. I was invited to play an elf with a +1 sword. It was amazing. I did a lot of trading with this kid named David, the Dungeon Master. I gave him some of my comics, he gave me the 1981 D&D Expert book. My uncle bought me the red box at the same time. I was SET UP.

We all know that many artists working on those game books were into comics. Willingham and Dee alone were enough to make my mental connection complete. My life went on the comics/RPG path from then on.


I won't go into this in detail here. It's a whole other story. But by 1987-1988 I was making my own comics and publishing them with friends. This was the natural progression of what I've already told. It was the influence of my good friends in high school that set me on this path. I learned of APAs (Amateur Press Association publications) and digest comics and people who self-published. I wanted in! I got in. I created and published a few dozen comics and contributed to dozens and dozens of other folks' comics through the 90s and into the 2000s. I had a good time.


That's about it for now. There's a lot more to say, of course. Just how did these events affect me? Which individual comic issues made the biggest impression? Who were my favorite creators? What other comics did I encounter? We all have our stories, don't we?

Love the stuff you love. Be critical of it where merited, but love it nonetheless. These are treasured memories of times long gone. They live in our hearts. I still tear up when I think of me and Danny sitting next to each other in class tracing our comic book covers. I'll never let that feeling go. 

Books for 2023?

Although I stopped making new year's resolutions decades ago and refuse to even think about committing to such nonsense, I can at least talk about the projects I have "on the burner" right now. I can at least speculate that these are the most likely candidates to be published in 2023.

Let's go!

(All details subject to radical change.)



Of all these projects, this one is closest to completion. It is written, mostly illustrated, and is ready for some layout. Problem is I wanted to do the layout myself using a proper layout tool, such as Scribus or Affinity, but that means I have to learn how. And I'm lazy.

In the end, I might ask someone else to do it for me. Maybe Matt Hildebrand will take pity and agree to do it. Who knows?


This is a space RPG idea. I'm currently running it for the Monday night Doomslakers group. I'm not sure exactly what this will be in the end, but since I'm already "playtesting it", maybe this could come together pretty quickly.


This is going to happen for sure. Peter Regan is planning a Kickstarter to print Black Pudding #7 and reprint older issues. We're planning to include a blank GM notebook as part of that project. This is the cover for it, revealed here for the first time!


Here are some logos and images suggesting books that could be on the front burner in 2023. But it's far too soon to say for sure.

A Pan-Gea project?

Zarp comics.

Comic? I'm not sure yet.

Another space RPG idea.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022


I only know about Wally Wood's Witzend zine by way of seeing Vaughn Bodé's cover for issue #7, pictured below in all its violent glory. I have never see a Witzend in the wild nor held one in my hand. This post is just going to be me learning about this zine and sharing the knowledge for posterity. Mostly my own.

Vaughn was nothing if not subtle.

Wally Wood launched the comic in the summer of 1966 as a way to give his artist friends and upcoming artists a way to showcase their own work, owned by them, by their own hands. This is important because back then the major comics publishers owned the absolute FUCK out of everything the artists did. If you wrote a comic or drew it or lettered it and it was published by Marvel or DC then it was Marvel or DC who owned that work, top to bottom. Creators were paid labor, period. So things like Witzend attempted to change that dynamic.

Limited-edition comics publications until then had almost all been projects by fans, interested mainly in writing about or drawing characters owned by Marvel, DC or out-of-business publishers. Witzend was one of the first efforts by professionals to publish their own work, featuring characters they created and owned.

Publicized mostly through those other limited-edition magazines, the first issue of Witzend came out in the summer of 1966. It featured work by Wood, and a collaboration by Al Williamson and Frank Frazetta. “Most contributors got nothing except their work in print,” Pearson says. “It was very important for them to get their copyright on the material. Look back at those issues: our copyright notes were in 18-point type. We wanted to be sure everyone would see them … because at the time there was none of this ‘sharing the rights with the creators.’ It was a real breakthrough.”

Looks like Pearson continued to publish Witzend after Wood sold it to him for $1.00. They published 13 issues over 19 years (sounds like MY kind of pace). There's a lovely looking hardback collection you can snag if you're willing to drop a couple hundred bucks.

I love that this ad tells you to remember to put your zip code on the order!

Ultimately: I want all 13 original issues. Currently I own zero. Given the prices and conditions of these rare books, it is unlikely I will ever have them all. But that's ok. Gives me something to look forward to, right?


Sketched on the inside cover of an old toned sketchbook. Fun times. Let's see if we can work up who this guy is.

His name is Blindor (like "blender" but ending with a distinct "or" sound) and he's definitely up from Hell. Perhaps he's the devil's cousin or something. I dunno. He has a few great loves in life: parties, beer, beating people up, and calling out the names of various demons while doing all these things.

Blindor is highly resistant to magic and laser fire. His preferred weapons are swords, axes, and machine guns. While not a softy, he's also not "evil", strictly speaking. He'd get your cat out of a tree, but he'd also trash your kitchen looking for snacks and never offer to clean it up or pay for anything.

He doesn't hate people but he does think they are mostly foolish and dumb. He enjoys pranking religious folks by inverting their crucifixes and replacing the holy water with the blood of his enemies.

Heat Death

Monday night I started running a sci-fi game (working title "Heat Death"). This is an original system and the tone is supposed to be a bit of Alien + Firefly. Naturally, the players will shift the tone far more towards Ice Pirates no matter what I do... god damn players.

I don't know if this will be a project I'll publish or not. Maybe. I'm putting a decent amount of work into it. I think in the end, if nothing else, I'll put it out as a little mini-game zine or something.

Here's the intro text I provided to my players:

Life in the Main was nice. Strip malls, concert moons, a steady paycheck, and no alien robot infestations. But you don’t live on the Main anymore. You live out here in the Frontier Zones where careers (and people) come to die. Whatever you did to get cast out… was it worth it?

Now you pinch out a living doing contract gigs for the colorfully named Site Evaluation and Data Collection Agency (SEDCA), an inter-governmental department that specializes in “low-profile, moderate-risk projects for the public good”. This arrangement was part of the legal settlement that kept you out of prison.

You work for less than half what you would earn back in the Main. If you keep your nose clean, in three to five years you might get to go home.

In the meantime, it’s all about collecting soil samples, tracking lost cargo, investigating unknown transmissions, and, from time to time, “helping to peacefully contain local disputes”. Life is good if you just grin through it.

It was noted during the game that this idea borrows heavily from Star Frontiers. I can't deny this fact. Star Frontiers was the second RPG I ever owned so it has a very deep and permanent place in my inner world. I even lifted some of the items directly from SF, such as magnigoggles.

The system uses two exploding d4s for task resolution and has a Life Point system. There are no fixed stats, only Traits you can assign to your PC during play. The idea is you have a pool of Ranks (like skill points) and you assign them during play as the inspiration arises. So if you wanna be great at throwing knives, you just put Ranks into it as you describe how you throw knives at the target of the scene.

Anyway... the most important thing is the scenario. It's all set up to run scenarios, not simulate battles or space flight. This scenario has the PCs assigned the mission of investigating a rumored resource of interest on a distant and unknown moon shrouded by radioactive interference that has prevented long range study. By the end of the first session they had arrived at the moon, but were surprised to learn that a second ship was detected by the ship's systems before they dropped out of FTL travel.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

GOZR on Save For Half

The fine halflings at Save for Half (my favorite podcast) have taken a look at GOZR! I haven't listened yet, but you should definitely listen immediately!

Looking in the Mirror at 3 AM

Honest look in the mirror:

You have what people call natural talent. You don't work hard enough to turn it into a career, but it's good enough that most people around you are impressed.

You have impressed a few other people who are more well-connected than yourself, and that has granted you some notoriety.

You occasionally create something raw and wild enough that people notice, which contributes to your trivial successes.

You continue to meander through a creative life without direction.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Yrrin vs. Demons

 Yrrin, a warrior character from my Yria setting, is beset by demons!

This was just a fun exercise in using pens to make marks and tones.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Land of Fate Cover Art

I'm curious how this cover to Al-Qadim's Land of Fate box set came to be published. Fred Fields is an accomplished, talented artist. And this cover art is not BAD. 

But consider it for a moment. There is a lot of dead space here. Lots of blue sky, the bottom of a rug, and just the tippy tops of some towers.

This is the cover art for your premiere box set for an RPG adventure game setting. Don't you want to emphasize the danger, the excitement, the heroes, the villains, and/or the splendor of the setting? This cover does not really do any of that, does it?

The figures are quite small. The leaping assassin (cleverly putting the sun to their back) doesn't necessarily pop out. The two heroes on the rug are not very big in the frame and are somewhat obscured by the bottom of the rug... which is dominating the middle of the picture.

This is a setting billed as "fabulous". Why are we only getting the tippy tops of some towers? Why not show us the grand cityscape of what is most likely supposed to be Huzuz, the City of Delights? Why is this framed like a person snapping pics on vacation and picking the worst shot?

I do not know. I wonder if the cover art was rushed due to deadlines? Or was it just a well-intentioned attempt that kind of fell a little flat? (There's a LOT of blue sky there... and we can see blue skies in the real world.)

The figures and other elements of this painting are well-done. It doesn't look like the artist skimped on getting his figures and anatomy right. Nothing looks awkward. It's just that the composition and choice of framing is very strange to me.

Or is it just me? Am I being hyper critical for no good reason? (Don't answer that question.)

For comparison, check out another Fred Fields piece. The guy can paint and can nail an exciting composition.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Robot 19

 Sometime I'm gonna gather all my robot drawings into a single volume.

Sketches For the Week

Here's a bunch of sketches. I want to sketch more, but honestly I can go days without doodling at all. It just depends.


Sunday, October 30, 2022

Basic Honey Critique

A bit of a self-critique here.

This is the art I did for a little D&D project I had going on. Nothing I published, just a reference document. Anyway, that's not the point.

I spent a lot of time on this painting. My goal was to "paint it", not ink it. I wanted to avoid relying heavily on lines and lean more into forms and color, shadow and light. I have mixed feelings about my success. Here are a few reasons why.


First, I do like this painting. I do not hate it. I'm just iffy about how much I like it. The things I know I like include the hair, hands, and the main figure's arms. I really, really love how her arms look. They captured a sense of volume and roundness that I was going for. And those cartoon elbow nubs! Cute.

The hands down at the bottom are expressive and definitely in my wheelhouse. I also like her hair. It feels lively and golden, which was the goal.

I don't hate her feet... though I struggle with drawing boots and shit.


It's ok. But not great. It's just color, which is what I wanted. Perhaps I should have went with something more representational. I dunno. Maybe the purple could have been much darker to help make her figure pop.


A bit crazed, which is good. But maybe not articulate enough. Not enough time spent on her eye shape, the lids, maybe some lashes could help.


This looks ok but flat. I fall into that trap of drawing weapons as if we are looking at them lying on a flat surface, with the handles and blades always side-facing. It is important to remember that these are three-dimensional objects and they are in motion. Tilt the blades, turn the cross-guards at an angle.


Her armor texture and coloring is middling. I wanted the armor to be metallic, silvery, etc. Which is it. But it probably needed something to help it feel real, textured, worn.


I didn't go hard enough on the deep colors and highlights. I feel like the colors came out a little bit flat. For example, where are the lightning-inspired yellow highlights on her helmet? I forgot to add them.


Ok, this is my biggest critique. I worked hard on her figure. I like her shape. She's round, but firm, soft but hard (if that makes sense). I even gave her some scars and freckles, which is nice.

But she's flat. This is a warrior in mid-leap and her figure is absolutely stable, centered, solid. Not dynamic. Now, in one sense, this is kind of cool. It suggests she's at home and comfortable and in no way worried. She's gonna kill 'em all. But look at her chest. It's level. Again, this suggests stability. Which is fine... but in this case I think having her shoulders not level would have shifted things and caused some dynamics in the figure. Like if her left arm was higher, twisting her body just a bit, but her head tilted the other way... that would have been nice.


A good attempt. I'm proud of the work. But not my finest and not the kind of painting I hoped it would be. I shall try again and again!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

GOZR Clarifications

There have been a couple of cool reviews of GOZR lately:

The Questing Beast review

Ray Otus review

Some questions and criticisms were raised. I addressed them on social media but here I'm going to gather all that wisdom in one permanent spot.


The entire book was lettered by my own wee fingers. No fonts were used.


I wasn't very clear about this in the book. When you attack, the damage formula is:

Attack roll minus Prowess plus weapon damage minus the target's Defense.

But what about when you're defending? In that case, damage to your PC would be determined like this:

Prowess minus Defense roll plus weapon damage minus your character's Defense.


Various icons are used to determine if you should roll on a table, choose a result, or if it's an optional table. One of the icons is a skull and it means high risk/reward. When I drew that icon, I planned to have a lot of tables fitting that description. But as the game evolved I didn't include very many and none of them ended up in the character creation section.

You can see examples of the skull icon used on pages 16 and 18.


The GM should roll a creature's Threat Dice every round. If it has two dice, the intention was that you'd have a double chance of getting a 1-2. But you could also say that the creature gets 2 possible Threat actions per round. DEADLY.

GMs should feel free to be creative with Threat. Don't just stick with whatever the creature's description says. Make them gooey, spitting electricity, or summoning backup. Also, you don't need a Threat action for a creature to do something it is described as doing. For example, a vector snake can constrict anytime it hits a target. It doesn't have to be based on a Threat action. Threat actions are supposed to be extra things a creature can do. It makes them less predictable and more... threatening.


The DEF score was originally a d6 roll during character creation so that every gooz had a "natural Defense" score. But during playtesting we discovered that having too much DEF leads to longer combats. To make the game play faster and be more lethal, I eliminated the natural DEF. But I think some artifacts of the original design remain on the page, suggesting there should be a default DEF score.

The default DEF score is zero. It only goes up with armor and/or special items.


I chose "AC" for the three stats on purpose because the core concept of the system was to use the old D&D AC system. Instead of PCs having stats that get higher, they have stats that are the target numbers, so making them lower is better. They are the "AC to hit" for any given action.

EDIT: To clarify further, the AC system in GOZR is the same as modern D&D AC (and other d20 style games). The AC is the target. I realized after posting this that "the old AC system" suggests descending AC using THAC0 or a table, but that's not what I meant.


I don't believe I was as clear as I could have been about this. If you are casting a spell and there is a target that will resist it, you need to make a Magic roll. If you are casting a spell that isn't going to be resisted, then you don't.

Example: The spell Bestial Visage makes you appear monstrous. This spell should require no Magic roll. Likewise, Investigation is a spell that lets you know 1d6 clues or hidden things. There's really no need to roll for that. You're spending WIZ to make it work, after all.

Example: But the spell Charm, which makes people like you, should probably require a Magic roll or else the targets have no agency. The spell Confuse might also require a roll since an opposing spellcaster should not just be an easy target.

Ultimately, it is the GM's decision which spells really need a Magic roll. Perhaps the context makes the difference. Casting Charm in a low-stakes situation maybe shouldn't require a roll. But casting it during a battle or against a big bad enemy surely should.


There is only one codified method for character improvement: the Level Up. This is something that happens between sessions or adventures and it does not have any effect on your Action Classes, DEF, or your Talents. This is intentional. I didn't want the game to have a codified leveling up system. I didn't even have the Level Up rule in the original game concept. Instead, I want gooz to develop organically based on what happens at the table.

GMs should be creative with weird items, spells, and strange events. In one of the playtests ran by another GM, they included a strange magic item that had random effects. If you were lucky, the item would actually change your ACs.

And that's how I like it. Play GOZR long enough and your characters should be radically altered from when they got their start. And very little of that alteration should be driven by any rules in the book.


The character sheet has space for multiple Talents, but during chargen you only get one. There is no mechanism in the game to add more Talents. But GMs should allow for PCs to learn or acquire new Talents or even to alter their existing Talent. This should happen naturally, as described in the previous paragraphs. Perhaps a PC discovers a dusty machine that reveals ancient wisdom to them and only to them. Now that PC has gained a Learned Subject Talent of some kind (not just what's listed in the book). Or perhaps a PC wizard becomes the apprentice of a powerful gooz wizard and the player specifically talks about their duties and misadventures that take place in downtime. Maybe the GM could then say that PC has acquired a new Arcane Luck or even a new Magic Power.

I suggest peppering these types of changes throughout your campaign and not worrying much about it. This is a game about ugly gooz and they should be weird as hell. Let them get weird.

Friday, October 7, 2022

GOZR Text Only Doc

I created a text-only document of the GOZR RPG. You can click here and find it. I hope this helps with accessibility since the game is so heavily visual.

There may be errors. I'll fix them and reupload as I get time. Enjoy.

This was a goal I set for myself way way back in 2020 when I was neck deep in creating this game. I'm happy to have finally done it.

GOZR in Print

If you didn't get in on the Kickstarter, I still love you. And you can get some GOZR in print at this handy link right here or some GOZR in pure digital PDF right here.

GOZR is a sci-fantasy TTRPG about ugly gooz doing adventures in a broken future world where all the pretty people are dead. It uses a simple system based largely on rolling d20 vs. a target number on your character sheet and is filled to the brim with hand-written random tables.

No gooz or fonts were harmed in the making of this game.

State of the Universe

What is up, world?

Here in my universe things are going ok. I'm currently working on the next Gary Con GM shirt plus a bunch of commissions. I also have the GOZR text transcription going hard. I'm "working" on layouts for the Rock Hardy Book of Dwarfs, but that is kind of sidelined. Also thinking more and more about making a new comic.

What will be the next thing I finish? Only the dark gods can say.

Zaxaztar spies Zarp. The game is on!

Speaking of Zaxaztar (the "x" is pronounced like an "h")... I really like this drawing. It really is just a sketch that I colored up. But I like the energy of it. I prefer doing expressive lines and forms. I really don't like it when I get too controlled and tight. I'm not very good at it, for one thing, and I find the uniformity boring. I like a bit more chaos in my work. I should lean into that a little bit more.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

World-Building Thoughts of No Consequence

Just random thoughts about world-building and stuff. Nothing useful here, carry on.

World-building has always been at the heart of what I love about RPGs. It might be one of the reasons I didn't actually game nearly as much in my youth (or now) as a lot of my gaming friends out there. I was very content to sit in my room cross-legged in my chair with paper and pencil and D&D books just making up characters and the worlds they live in.

I had a character called Catina Catrid. She was one of my first D&D characters, along with four of her friends: Briun Branduk (I was a fan of alliteration), Liara Altrin, Mastrin Raulus, and Cybia somethingoranother. They were a thief-acrobat, fighter, thief, magic-user, and a mystic (the NPC class presented in 1985's Master Set). Though none of these characters saw action at the gaming table for more than one or two sessions, they lived in my mind for a few years and had many adventures. I occasionally levelled them up based on storylines I wrote in my notebook. I had intricate networks of relationships and I used the domain-building rules to construct their castle and do bookkeeping for their domain. It was fun!

To this day I spend a lot of time just alone, noodling out ideas for settings and characters that may or may not ever see any final form either in a book or at a gaming table. It's what I do. I can't imagine a life without this inner fantasy life that has given me so much joy for decades.


Saturday, August 13, 2022

Black Pudding 7

Finally, it is HERE. Black Pudding 7.

This issue features the following awesomeness.

Character Classes:

Rat Bastard

Iggy (by David Okum)





Grave Crusader



Queen of the Dark Light

And the rest of the issue is a gazetteer of Yria, the setting of Black Pudding. It is an iteration of Pan-Gea. The five cities described, many areas sketched out, lots of random tables.


Thursday, August 11, 2022


The gretch is a monster that appeared in Black Pudding #1 in 2016. It is basically a thing that spontaneously appears from old candle and spell residue in a wizard's lab. I picture old wizard towers having at least a few gretches roaming around. Perhaps the wizard wasn't able to control them and they murdered them in their sleep?

Poking around in old documents I rescued from an old computer, I found what is certainly the first reference to the gretch, from 12/2007 or earlier:

Cir Lan – A wicked sorceress searching for the swords of the Old Kingdom to tap into their mystic powers and discover the great secrets of life. She uses winged gretches as familiars and always has a wild look in her dark-ringed eyes as if she were on speed.

I have never used a gretch in a game. I need to remedy that. 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Eyeball Class

Black Pudding #7 is coming along very nicely. Got several new character classes in this one... including my new favorite THE EYEBALL!

Sunday, July 17, 2022

I Married My RPG Folder But it Ain't Working Out

God damn, I haven't done a non-review since last October!

Let's look at some PDFs I have lying around cluttering up my desk and gathering dusk. I'll just reach out blindly and grab one or two...

So You Want to Be an Adventurer? is a wee little PDF of a mere 19 pages (including a solid black page) by Jared Sinclair with wonderful art by Evlyn Moreau. I cheated a little on this one because I picked it up today, so it wasn't gathering dust on my digital desk.

Usually in these non-reviews I don't read the game ahead of time. Usually I'm just looking at them for the first or second time and giving my off-the-cuff thoughts as I go. But this is a swift read. It's really just a conflict resolution mechanic, some simple rules for making a character, and a bunch of pages of cool pictures with TONS of blank white space to write in.

Character creation is writing down a certain number of things about your character (not an arbitrary number of things, but certain things). No stats or numbers are involved, it's all imagination.

The mechanic is to roll 2d6 and try to get 8 or better.

If you have a thing that benefits you, add 1 to the roll. If you have a thing that hinders you, subtract 1. Stack these up appropriately. For example: I have the high ground and a badass axe so I get +2 on my roll to fucking kill you. Or... I have a janky leg from a fall so I have -1 to jump that ravine. Etc.

Um... that's it. That's the game.

This is definitely a minimalist game. And there isn't much to say about it as a "system". Of course this game will work. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more heavily playtested mechanic than roll 2d6 and beat a target. The target of 8 means you effectively have a 50% chance of doing anything (not exactly, it's actually slightly less but who cares?). So the real meat of play probably comes from really using those advantages and disadvantages, narratively. Which is very cool.

There are a million games like this you can find at any moment. And of course that's to be expected. This type of system is kind of bedrock to the entire hobby. This is just a "here's a way to resolve things, now GO" sort of project. With most of the space left over for you to write new rules and ideas. I believe there are people who might pick this up and go "What the actual FUCK did I just pay for?" because let's face it... you can slap this together on your own in a hot 15 minutes and do your thing (but it won't be as awesome without Evlyn's art). There is nothing new here, nor is it claiming otherwise. But some folks will feel a little cheated, I fear.

Maybe this just appeals to some other types of folks (myself being one of them to a large degree)... this is a book that invites you to come and play and be creative. It wants you to make shit up. It wants you to enter the imagination zone. This is a "game" that reminds me of what I invented as a 14 year old who had only experienced RPGs one time and didn't own any. I made shit up. It was magic.

As a lover of ideas and tools for making shit up, I approve.

Wastoid: An RPG by Jason Tocci.

34 pages, based on Knave by Ben Milton, and inspired by Fallout. With very cool art. The layout is clean and simple and certain headers and stuff do remind me of the Fallout game aesthetic (though I never played it, my kid played the shit out of it).

In an interesting twist, character creation doesn't come until halfway through the book. Bold move, Tocci.

I like the use of "game moderator" instead of "game master". You get to keep the GM term that is so ubiquitous but you ditch the "master" part that seems to bother some folks. Very nice. But I'll still use Judge nonetheless.

There's a nod to Jim Wampler's Scientific Barbarian zine. Very nice.

On the "playing the game" page, there are three important aspects of game play described. One is to set boundaries, such as "let's not have rape, ok?". I have no idea why this type of suggestion triggers some folks. The very idea of DISCUSSING things ahead of play is somehow alien? Like... I get it... when I was gaming back as a teen we didn't discuss jack or shit before playing. And we had some monumentally FUCKED UP experiences that probably would have been smoother and more fun if we'd just... y'know... talked about it.

Another one is to telegraph intent, as a player. So instead of saying "what's in this room?" you say "I stand in the doorway and casually scan the room. What are some things I can see?" This is very nice because it shares some of the labor more equally. So often in games, the players really do shove everything off on the GM.

I'm not super familiar with Knave, so I don't know how closely this game cleaves to it. I can see that it is largely OSR-friendly with d20 rolls, 2d6 reactions, and so forth. Seems straightforward.

The initiative system is the same as what I used in GOZR, which is the same as Mörk Borg, which is the same as Knave, and I have no idea where that method originated. But it works and I like it.

Cool stuff about junk. You gather junk (because in the post-apoc hellscape everything is junk) and you can "spend" it to repair weapons and armor. Very cool. And probably a nod to the computer games? I dunno. But I like. Roll 1d6. On 1-3, enemies go first.

Yeah, this is sweet. You got stunts, rads, and mutations. If you are into post-apoc, you'll probably dig it.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Dwarf Gambling WIP

Working on some dwarf art for the Rock Hardy Book of Dwarfs... not sure when it will be ready but the thing is actually mostly written so maybe I should finish it up already.