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Prepare to Die Interview – Part 1

Michael Dellheim, creator of the RPG webcomic Prepare to Die takes the hot seat.

What’s your webcomic Prepare to Die about?

In the simplest terms, “Prepare to Die” is a webcomic about three tabletop roleplayers who somehow get sucked into their own gaming campaign. Inside the game we find a world that was created by Mike, the Game Master, for his two friends Bill and Manda to play in… however the world they enter isn’t exactly the way that it should be, and over time the details of the original campaign continue to change.

Prepare to Die. Get it? 'Cos it's a die...

As the plot progresses, the story is also about the NPCs native to the campaign and how they deal with the changing world around them.

I think of it a little like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ but with more puns and geek references than true madness.

Prepare To Die’s art style appears to be a collage of techniques. How do you create the comic?

When developing the style of the comic, I created what I call a “puppet” in PhotoShop, which is essentially a poseable figure made of different body parts created in layers and grouped in folders which are then colored and shaded using Layer Styles. That way, whenever I move or rotate a body part to pose one of my puppets, PhotoShop will automatically create the bevels and shading for the overall figure for me on the fly. When the pose looks right, I then save out a “sprite” and move a copy out into the main strip scene. The addition of edited photographic backgrounds, special effects for light and shadows, and text bubbles complete a comic.

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Blog Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Hunt for Gollum

Filmed in Great Britain and free to watch The Hunt for Gollum is a fan-made Lord of the Rings film based on Tolkien’s appendices. Taking place between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, the story follows Aragorn as he tracks Gollum across middle earth to prevent him revealing The One Ring’s location to Sauron. It’s stylistically similar to the film trilogy and the actors seem to have been chosen for their resemblances to their movie counterparts – I’m certain they used some of the same extras as well. All this makes it feel like a part of the series, and the production values are extremely high.

It’s a beautiful production, especially from a visual perspective. A lot of the landscapes are digital but they look incredibly realistic. These guys literally went out and created a whole new world. I cannot fail to be impressed; I’ve seen my share of fan films and where some might achieve the standards of a TV movie The Hunt for Gollum has the quality of a cinema release. They achieve a lot on a budget of only £3000.

Aragorn gets Gollum into the sack

Aragorn gets Gollum into the sack

I’m not sure why –lack of funds or difficulty with the CG model perhaps- but you don’t see much of Gollum throughout the whole thing. There are a lot of scenes with him tied up in a sack (which, incidentally, seemed to change size between shots). This seemed vaguely ridiculous and I just couldn’t believe Gollum would have any difficulty escaping from it. This is the weakest part of the entire film that some rescripting – involving Argorn finding Gollum later in the story – could have avoided. I would have liked to see Aragorn chase Gollum all the way to Mordor only to have him taken by the Orcs. It would have added more emotion and drama to the film – Aragorn getting so close only to fail.

As a fan it’s good to see more of Aragorn as a Ranger. Adrian Webster does a rather introverted performance, but is solid throughout and the camera obviously loves him. This is a huge contrast to most fan productions where the acting just makes you cringe! The fight scenes are the gem of this film, especially the one with the Orcs. All the people involved are experts in stage combat and it’s beautifully choreographed. The Hunt for Gollum really pushes the boundaries on fan-films; no Lord of the Rings fan would want to miss it.

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Blog

Fanart from Sacred Pie

epicfail_sacredpiefanart
Today I recieved this brilliant, action-packed piece of fan art from Phil Shaw of Sacred Pie. It’s of Martin, Clodin and Amuletts versus a Cave Troll. I really appreciate the attention to detail here and especially the character nuances. It’s a wonderful mix of action and humour – I only hope I can do as well when I get to the big fight scenes! At least I know who to go to for advice.

Sacred Pie is an epic science fiction webcomic. It begins with a mysterious traveller stumbling through a portal into Sid, Roonas and Bob’s living room. Following a portentous demand involving the fate of the universe, he disintegrates on their carpet leaving a stain and several artifacts.

It’s the story of ordinary guys turned super-heroes with resemblances to Star Wars and The Last Starfighter. The art inproves as the story progresses with some experimentation along the way. There’s a lot going on which can be hard to keep track of sometimes, but if you are looking for variety and a comic that doesn’t take itself too seriously this is the perfect read.

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Blog

Phineus & Friend Fan Art!

epicfailblickfanart

I have three new pieces of fanart to show you all. First up Barry Linck, of the webcomic Phineus: Magician for Hire, has drawn the whole team! His comic, like mine, has roots in role-playing. I suggest you check it out.

Next we have two peices done by friends of mine. ‘There is Clodin: natural state’ (which is to say he dies a lot) by Jonjo. This is something of a spoiler but not-really. I have begun to describe Clodin as a stick of dynamite: you can be sure he’s going to blow up; whether anyone goes with him depends on how close they’re standing!

‘Lady Clodin’ by Jason is just… wrong. It poses the question ‘Would Dwarfs die less if they looked like this… or would the beard still be a
problem?’

clodinfanartbyjonjoLady Clodin by JasonInterestingly this led to a whole debate on female Dwarves.  Are there female Dwarves?  Do they look just like the men?  If they are so indistinguishable could Clodin, in fact, be a woman?  Our favorate theory was that Dwarves are like bees: they only have one female – the Queen, who is an enormous, fat Dwarf that all the others ‘service.’  Have I given you disturbing mental images?  I’m so sorry.

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Blog

Friendly Fanart

Amuletts (having stolen some underpants) by Martin (player)

Amuletts, Martin & Clodin by Mike

I have new fanart kindly done for me by my friends to help me in the webcomic war. Okay, it wasn’t spontaneous, I bugged them a bit. It’s great nonetheless.
It’s prompted me to try and get the Fan Art Gallery sorted out. It isn’t quite to my liking yet, but you can see some of the fanart I have done for other webcomics and I will be adding more.

Concerning the interview I talked about in my previous post it was scrapped due to poor sound quality, but we’ll be trying again as soon as we’ve worked out what the issue was.