The Letters Page: Editor's Note 68
Note note note note!
Run Time: 1:25:06
Before getting into Meta questions and Meta Meta questions, we are once again awed at how long we've been doing this, then do some goofs, and finally talk about the schedule!
- Tuesday, July 4th: Episode #254 - Writers’ Room: Ambuscade vs the Prime Wardens
- Tuesday, July 11th: Episode #255 - Writers’ Room: Citizens of the Sun Civil War
- Tuesday, July 18th: Editor’s Note #69
- Tuesday, July 25th: Episode #256 - Writers’ Room: The Scholar encounters Darkstrife and Painstake
Then we answer questions, both from letters and from the chat!
Speaking of the chat, those who get to attend live by being Patreon supporters get to see us do an extra 10-20 minutes of stuff before the show recording starts, including some (bad) drawing and additional goofs. Today's episode pre-show included a surprise special guest that genuinely surprised Adam! Trevor captured Adam's reaction perfectly with this screenshot.
It's Nolan Nasser! Want to know more? Patreon supporters don't just get access to the live shows — they can go back and watch the streams from every live show, not just the ones in the time they've been a supporter! So joining now gives you access to the rest of this episode's video, plus all other videos from as far back as we've been doing them! Just something to consider.
See you next week for Episode #253 - Writers’ Room: Greazer in La Comodora’s Brig!
- A recent question about merchandise in the Metaverse makes me wonder: what are the relative popularity of each of the heroes? [During the longer, more flavorful version of the question there are a bunch of specifics mentioned but I’ll just note reactions] They suggested Fashion being popular - they think she’s very niche. Stylin’ Shirley was popular back in the day, but with a different demographic. Sky-Scraper and Harpy being niche is a good read. NightMist, Fanatic, and Argent Adept mentioned as being popular - yes, with the first two likely more than AA, but also add Haka in here. People who carried their own books for significant lengths of time are pretty good bets for popularity. Baron Blade is well-known and popular - to the point where he’d be known by people outside of comics readers. Luminary barely exists - he’d be “an expression of Baron Blade” rather than being his own “character”. It’s worth noting that “normie” knowledge of comics doesn’t extend to villains as much as it does to heroes. Baron Blade is known since he’s “the main villain” - think of Lex Luthor and the Joker. Everyone knows the Joker and not everyone knows Lex. A lot of people know Lex, but not everyone. People might know of NightMist, Fanatic, Haka, and Argent Adept, but people don’t know their villains. Tachyon, Bunker, and Absolute Zero are also known, probably in that order. Bunker might have a following like Thor did - there are some hardcore Bunker guys who have been fans since the war comics days. Other than NightMist, the rest of Dark Watch are likely on the level of recognizable characters, but not really known. You know, let’s just go down the list with high-mid-low (with “low” meaning something more like “obscure” than people not liking them).
- Ultra-high: This is necessary because otherwise they break the system. Legacy and Wraith. They think Ra might be here too - probably still under Legacy and Wraith, but he’s up there. Unity is another contender for Ultra-High due to the show she originated in and the general zeitgeist.
- High: Absolute Zero (Adam says Mid at first, but anybody in the Freedom Five is going to be at least high), Tachyon, Bunker, Argent Adept (although he’s probably either the highest Mid or the lowest High), Captain Cosmic (Adam starts Mid, but he’s been around forever, is rather iconic, and although he doesn’t have a self-titled book, Cosmic Tales basically is his book for a long time), Fanatic, Haka, NightMist, Young Legacy, Tempest. Luminary (is a footnote, but people know Baron Blade).
- Mid: Benchmark (Christopher thinks by the end of the Multiverse and he’s had time to exist and do things beyond that initial “forced into everything” period where he was Low - he’s the Highest Low or the lowest Mid), Chrono-Ranger (he’s everybody’s favorite dark horse character in the “my favorite X-Man is Gambit” kind of way), Expatriette, Guise, Mr. Fixer, Muse, Naturalist, Omnitron-X, Parse (although with an oddity that she has such distinct phases that a lot of fans who cares about her only really cares about their favored “era” of her stories), Stuntman (he’s not on the popular consciousness - Ambuscade however is and so if you talk about him in both roles, he’s Mid), Visionary.
- Low: Aeon Girl, Akash'Thriya, Catastrophe and Verge, Dr. Medico, Harpy, Headlong, Idealist, K.N.Y.F.E. (Adam just doesn’t think she breaks into non-comics-reader spaces - he’s still of the opinion that Benchmark is here too), La Comodora, Lifeline, Mainstay, Muerto, Muse (question of whether she’d get bumped up due to Visionary connections, but probably not enough), Rockstar, Scholar, Setback (maybe Mid, but he’s the lowest member of the original Dark Watch lineup), Sky-Scraper, Writhe.
- To go a bit more meta for even our usual fare: Sentinels of the Multiverse is an adaptation of the characters from Sentinel Comics; is it also a product in the Metaverse? How does it stack up against the other superhero games out there? They’ve joked before that there has never been a really successful tabletop adaption of Sentinel Comics. There have been attempts, but nothing’s really hit it big. Stuff like Sentinels: UpperStrength Certainly nothing that’s been as successful as our world’s version of SotM. That being said, somebody did make up their own set of characters/settings and made a card game called Justice League - it’s looks like there’s a lot of backstory there, but the characters are all very archetypal. “Big strong flying guy”, “Wraith, but a dude”, “Tachyon but a dude, but also not a scientist or gay”, “Palette-swapped Captain Cosmic”, and then one really original character who’s like an Amazon or something. [Christopher crawls under his desk to hide after going through that.]
- What symbols from Sentinel Comics get used on merchandise (stuff like the Batman symbol or Spider-Man’s “eyes”)? Stuff like the Legacy lantern on shirts, the Citizens of the Sun logo as a patch on their backpack, shirts with “I do my own stunts”, etc.? Definitely on the Legacy and Citizens things. For the stunts thing, people do that here without Ansel Moreau - how you actually do it is probably to have a shirt that’s the color palette of Ambuscade’s shirt with a comics word bubble with that in it. Captain Cosmic logo shirts are easy. Absolute Zero’s triangle. Wraith is harder to merch in that way - the way you probably do it is to have a long-sleeve shirt that’s purple with the “bandages” printed on the sleeves. The silhouette with glowing eyes that they used for her EE nemesis icon is also possible. You can probably buy Mr. Fixer’s hat. NightMist’s magic circles things are possible, but that’s also kind of hard to make into merchandise. Lot’s of comic covers used as shirt designs. A white shirt with red circles on the sides for Tachyon, but that’s a harder product to make due to how screen printing for shirts works.
- So, if Fixed Points happen everywhere, did the comics ever address who the Vanessa Long in the Metaverse was and what were her powers? They either just never talk about it in the comics or it’s a throw-away joke where they’re cutting to the “real world” and you can see Vanessa Long is a charismatic politician or something. It’s either a non-answer or a joke-answer (which is also non-canonical).
- If the two of you grew up in the Metaverse reading Sentinel Comics in the ’80s and ’90s, which books would you have read as kids? Which would you have come around on as adults? This is a great question - we’re still born when we were born, just in the Metaverse. Their comics-reading would have been from the mid-late ’90s through the early ’00s and then diverged a bit. Adam thinks that he was actually a fan of the rival company. That being said, Christopher would have been into Ra: God of the Sun and probably Cosmic Tales. Dark Watch would be right up their alleys, but they were probably reading the “precursor” series prior to that, so likely Mystery Comics, Rook City Renegades, and Terminal Ballistics and then jumping on board the team book immediately. Christopher also thinks Disparation, but probably more as an adult than a kid. Christopher brings up that Greazer ran through ’96, so they probably would have run into that at some point near the end and then Adam would go find the back issues/omnibus trade. They’d like NightMist stories but probably not her actual book. They probably wouldn’t have read Freedom Five, but Christopher may have picked up the occasional odd story in Justice Comics. Adam also brings up that, modeling what actually happened, he’d have said “I only want to read [x]” - he said that he only wanted 2 or 3 good X-Men related comics and now he’s got 20,000 issues in his garage. It’s a slippery slope. As such, he probably started with that Dark Watch and related things trend that then snowballed.
- What has been the most self-destructive wager that Wager Master has ever made? It’s less self-destructive and more self-defeating. The whole “betting that he could find a way to survive OblivAeon” thing hasn’t really been self-destructive yet, but the fact that there are now 2 of him in existence is not good. Whatever wager wound up with him being Guise’s roommate might be it. That kind of sucked for him.
- After watching the new Spider-verse movie, it brought up a fun question. Are there any “character name-Verse” story arcs? Where a single character teams up with lots of different versions of themselves to fight a big thing? The closest things I can think of are the K.N.Y.F.E.s fight during OblivAeon, and all of the La Capitan shenanigans, but are there any others (my favorite story arc name idea is the Riske-averse because it’s kind of punny)? Sentinel Comics does a lot of multiverse stuff, but they don’t do much of this. The K.N.Y.F.E.s fight and the entirety of La Comodora’s story are really the only major examples. Adam thinks that the Spider-verse movies are good despite their premise rather than because of it. “Riske-averse” is a quality pun, though. How Christopher suggests they do something with that title, though, isn’t a bunch of versions of Setback, but have a story set in a universe where all of the familiar heroes have Setback’s powers (except for Pete Riske who’s immune to the luck stuff and is just trying to manage the chaos created by everyone else).
- I was looking the First Appearance variants and I noticed the seal of the Comics Code Authority on Harpy’s first appearance so I was wondering when Sentinel Comics officially stop putting the seal of the Comics Code on their books and to an extent when did they stop following it even with having the seal on the book? Christopher does some looking stuff up (because this is History material). Sentinel Comics breaks down and begrudgingly starts following the Code in May ’55. Over the course of decades there are specific issues that don’t have the seal of approval just because they had stuff that the code wouldn’t allow. As things go, there is progressively more pushing boundaries and flaunting the code. There is a date where they formally drop the Code (Adam thinks in the late ’90s or the ’00s), but they can’t find it in the spreadsheet quickly. There’s a lot about this in the History, but if you ask again next month or something they may have an answer at hand.
- Chat follow-up a bit later - The History of Sentinel Comics is unlikely to be available in 2023 (although possible) but should be out next year. They’re incredibly close to being done with it.
- You said that scavenger unity is the ‘punk storm’ of sentinel comics. What are some other examples of noteworthy ‘alt looks’ that keep getting referenced, like black suit Superman? A lot of the story variants are specifically this. Eclipse for Expat, Werewolf Haka, various Bunker suits, Haunted Fanatic, Horus Ra, etc. Other fun ones they put in the deck art like Tachyon with a jacket.
- Would you say Citizen Dawn or Voss comes in as the second most well known villain behind Baron Blade (I’m sure its one of those two - maybe Omnitron (oh hey the OG box villains!))? Re: the OG box villains, that’s why they’re there. Christopher thinks Dawn probably beats out Voss. He’s probably a more big deal as a villain, but Dawn is human and probably has a bunch of readers who’d talk about how they’d join the Citizens, etc. Adam thinks that Voss, because he has a more iconic look, is probably more well-known. Dawn is a bigger deal in the comics fandom, but just isn’t as distinctive so as to make an impression outside of it. Either way, they’re very close.
- Chat follow-up a bit later mentions that Voss is just gone for so long, which is true, but he was a recurring big deal for decades prior to the huge story that ended in his absence so there’s still a lot of residual awareness of him from that. Older comics have a broader cultural impact. Dawn’s major thing was Sunrise, which was comparatively recent - she’d been around for forever, but that was what made the Citizens a popular element.
- How’s it going? Pretty good. Christopher’s still got a ringing in his ear and Adam still has adrenal fatigue, but y’know, it’s not bad all things considered. Adam draws a lot. Christopher’s working on like 7 games. Adam’s playing Star Wars: Jedi Survivor and likes it. He recently finished Midnight Suns. Christopher is reading The Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolf and has finished the first two books - they’re really dense. Adam just finished reading Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing which he definitely recommends.
- How are Adam’s kids doing? Great. Freya’s reading. Nicholas is a chaos monster.
- Are the cat, suits, cane, and leg doing okay? Syl’s doing great. Suits are all good, no suit catastrophes (although he hasn’t gotten a new one in a while - maybe he’ll do that before Gen Con). With the success of physical therapy and rock climbing he doesn’t need a cane anymore. At some point he’ll need total knee replacement on his right leg, but that’s been the case since he was 14. Otherwise leg is doing good.
- An aside here was Christopher asking Adam who he thinks is the “rudest” GTG person. The first guess is Paul because he can be very blunt - not in a bad way, he’s just busy and doesn’t have time for shenanigans and so is to the point. Christopher thinks that by that metric it might be Matt Kroll. Anyway, those are both wrong; it’s Twuana (as of the week of recording). The reason: a few days ago she said “Well, it’s fifty days until Gen Con.” How dare she tell Christopher that it’s only 50 days until Gen Con. Mini-existential crisis right there. She also doesn’t suffer fools, though - the Gen Con Steak ’n Shake had an incident involving the staff really dropping the ball for their table for hours and she basically scared the manager.
- Is red-suit guy a musician? That dates the letter (held onto until we had enough for a “real world questions” section) to before the reveal that the guy in a red suit that appeared in the RCR rule book was Rambler, so he is a musician!
- How’s work with Flat River Group going? It’s ups and downs. The company doesn’t fully belong to them anymore and so doesn’t just do what they want. That’s both ups and downs - just different. It’s much easier to achieve a healthy work-life balance now than during the first decade of GTG’s existence. But that also comes with the occasional (and put much nicer than this) “stay in your lane” regarding how things are done. Christopher isn’t the person who needs to be involved in worrying about the minutia of warehouse distribution stuff now and should focus on the whole “making games” thing. Not being involved in the minutia of all of the various parts of their company was a big adjustment, but it’s gotten easier as the year has gone on. It means that Christopher hasn’t worked a hundred-hour week this whole year, though (although the week prior to Gen Con might be pretty packed - Gen Con too, but that basically doesn’t count because you’re on convention-time). It’s overall a positive, just something that’s had its share of challenges.
- Back when Arcane Wonders’ Freedom Five boardgame Kickstarter was running, you’d mentioned that there had been interest in Visionary being in the game, but you said “no” because of other important stuff you were doing with her; since that was back in November 2020… Do you still have interest in working with Arcane Wonders on further Sentinel Comics products? They’ll say this: of the various companies they’ve worked with on Sentinels-related things (such as this past year when they had to publicly end a relationship with a company they’d been working with) Arcane Wonders has been very good to work with. They get it, they listen to feedback, their quality is good. They don’t know if it’s worth it for Arcane Wonders to continue working with them (the estimated delivery for the FF game was November 2021 so it’s taken significantly longer than they expected - there’s a feeling that they almost OblivAeon’d themselves with the amount of stuff they put into that campaign). They get it - they know exactly what getting hit by the Sentinels-fandom enthusiasm wave is like, so the feature bloat is understandable, but that was AW’s first time encountering that. That being said, the game should finally be coming out soon, and if it does well enough that they want to do more, Christopher and Adam are up for more too. Adam wants more minis. He’s excited to get them and paint them and put the giant Omnitron figure over next to the giant Galactus he’s getting from another project.
- Is it too optimistic to hope for more expansions adding in more heroes we didn’t get the first time around? See what they just said, but if the game moves to a point that warrants expansions that’s certainly the kinds of things that will be in it.
- You’ve said you still want to do things with Prime War - would Arcane Wonders possibly be the company to move forward with that? It’s not something they’ve discussed with Arcane Wonders. They’re more likely to do something different with the story of Prime War than they are to try to make the original Tactics-derived game work with another company. They like the game, but the reason it got cancelled in the first place was that it was a game without a market. They really don’t want to close the door on it entirely, but they’re not opening any new doors on it either. It’s not like it’s down to a lack of interest on their end (“they” being Christopher and Adam, the creators of Sentinel Comics who want to tell those stories, not as representatives of GTG - sure they’re the same people, but the distinction is important to note when talking about things like “interest”).
- A while back Christopher said something about only having one eye and that he’d thought he’d talked about it before, people on the Discord couldn’t remember any such story but when asked Christopher said that he didn’t mind sharing, but that it would be better told verbally so here we go: what’s the story of Christoper only having one eye? He has 2 eyes but only one works (at least, only one sends visual signals to his brain - the muscles and whatnot for it still work and so it tracks where he’s looking and whatnot). The short version is that he had a congenital thing where his eyes were not aligned properly and so he had permanent double-vision. He just thought that it was normal and nobody talked about how you saw two of everything all the time and that as you grow up you get better at ignoring the “fake” set of things. When he was about 14 he was laying on the floor in his family’s living room and looking at a set of double doors between it and his mom’s sewing room. He was tilting his head back and forth and said something like “isn’t it weird how you can rotate the false image around the real image by turning your head back and forth?” His mom was understandably very concerned about this. Further discussion about this ensued and he recognizes now but didn’t understand at the time that the look on his mom’s face wasn’t that she was upset at him but that “oh no, there is something wrong with my child that I should have been able to catch - I’m a bad mom.” Now, this is something that would probably have been caught when he was really young if he’d spent those years in the US, but by the time he was here the vision tests they were having him do were the more cursory “look at the chart, cover one eye and read it, cover the other eye and read it” type which was not testing for the problem he had. Over the next few years he had a series of eye surgeries (including an event following one where he had bandages over his eyes while trying to navigate a get together at a park where Adam was the one leading him around, with an implication that he was messing with him in the progress as teenage friends do). The surgeries were attempts to correct the musculature so that things would converge. However, by this point he was old enough that his brain was probably just in the process of shutting down the signals that one eye was sending, which is what ultimately happened. The thinking is that if something were to happen to his left eye (or even if he were to just wear an eye-patch for several days straight) that the right one would have its signals processed by his brain again. That would still result in double vision, though, as the surgeries never really got things synced up.
- What is the longest running series we the readers do not know about/have asked about? Christopher wants to know if we know about Fearless or United Men comics. Let’s see. Frontier Tales makes it to #121 issues (ending in ’51). Covered Wagon Comics makes it to #161 in May ’61. [I pulled up lists of non-hero comics they’d mentioned in previous episodes: Covered Wagon Comics, It’s A Lark Comics, Adventures of Vera, All-Preferred Comics, Fearless Comics, Frontier Tales, Eddie the Hippo: The Quarterly Book, Treasure Cave Comics, Criminal Element, Shudder!, Stylin’ Shirley, Beatnik Love, Popular Teen Romance, True Hell’s Angels Romance, Groovy Romance, Teenage Vampire Romance, and Deadly Hearts of Kung Fu.] Oh, so they haven’t heard of Greater Comics! That was an every-other-month book. By the time the spreadsheet starts in May 1940 Greater was already on issue #35. It runs all the way to #65 in May ’45. There’s also apparently an Astronaut Love comic. Hopefully the answer to the question is in there somewhere!
- What about titles from non-SC companies? They don’t have any of those yet (or rather, there are some titles mentioned in the History, but they don’t have specifics to hand). They’d need another spreadsheet.
- How did Scavenger Unity fit into the RCR box (since it’s associated with the Final Wasteland it feels more connected to Disparation and there doesn’t seem like any obvious link to RCR)? They needed a Unity variant for the box and the grittiness of the story felt appropriate even if the setting wasn’t quite there. It wasn’t a story from the Disparation book, so they felt that between that and the fact that it was the main universe Unity that they could get away with it. It could have fit in either, maybe better in Disparation even, but they needed her in RCR because of the distribution of character card counts that they’re going for.
- I get that this is very likely to be a thing that you don’t want to talk about publicly, but what happened with the relationship with James Ernest and Cheapass Games? Chris Kirkman and Dice Hate Me? From Christopher’s end (and he still talks to both fairly regularly) he thinks that everybody is still on good terms. What it came down to was that Flat River Group was not interested in continuing those relationships in the way they existed and so looked to give/sell those lines back to them. Chris Kirkman was actually a part owner of GTG after the merger years ago and so he got bought out as part of the deal. For James Ernest, GTG had just bought the Cheapass games catalogue (so he wasn’t a part owner or anything). FRG just wanted Kill Doctor Lucky and a few other things, but other than that they just gave the rights back to James. There isn’t bad blood now, but there may have been a little feeling of just being out of the loop initially after the FRG thing happened. Something they didn’t mention in the earlier question about FRG is that it’s just a much larger “ship” and so changing course on anything takes time and is a more complicated process than it was when GTG was an independent company. If you need communication on something, it just takes a lot longer for that to filter down to the appropriate person.
- Does Grant Morrison get a run on Man-Grove? No, because Grant Morrison is not a person that exists in the Metaverse (or at least isn’t working with Sentinel Comics). [I take this as an indication that all notable creators will have a fictionalized version of them in the History like how Alan Moore is replaced by Guy Hampton and Frank Miller by Fred Diller.] There also just isn’t a Man-Grove book.
- We were batting back and forth over Wraith’s ethnic background for a while, any thoughts (my buddy who doesn’t listen regularly saw the wedding cover and asked if she was east Asian due to her fair skin and jet black hair. I’m pretty confident the answer is that she’s not Asian, but I don’t think we have any official answer other than that she’s Jewish. Montgomery is a name with Norman roots, so I’d assume vaguely western European. Her heritage is not nearly as important to her concept as her wealthy upbringing and life experiences, so I understand if you don’t really have an answer, but I thought it was still worth asking)? That cover was mostly the art style. She’s not Asian. In terms of full ethnic background they kind of just think of her as generic European-American mutt other than the fact that she’s Jewish.
- Any upcoming plans for new Kill Dr. Lucky things? Not currently, but also not in a “no never” way.
- How are the chickens? Pretty good. They have 8 new chicks out there, which is way more chickens than they’re allowed to have. Adam had to screw some more pieces onto their coop and whatnot recently to keep them safe from raccoons.
- [Regarding a jumping-on point for the podcast, I’m going to make a case for the Universe 1 Grace and Owen Charles episode. Sure, the subject matter is so inside-baseball that it’s cricket, but after a reasonably short banter section, you probably give the clearest and most precise explanation of the post-OblivAeon publication timeline (both the main Universe 1 stuff and Vertex). This positioning lets the listener know exactly who these obscure characters are and how things are set up for the RPG era. You set up the characters positions in both timelines very clearly and you get the listener really interested in this Time-Slinger guy. The episode really does feel kind of like picking up a random issue of a comic after a major reboot. That being said, the question section is a bit of a mess for somebody coming at the setting fresh (between an in-depth question about the sandwich bag and follow-up to the Young Legacy Foes episode). All of that being said, I still think it’s a wonderful starting place for people interested in RPG content.] They see the point being made. Christopher once again suggests the Fashion and Greazer vs. the Rive episode (although maybe skip the banter and questions). The Frostbite one was also good, but the danger of any Disparation episode is that you’re throwing alt-reality stuff at the newbie. Giving somebody the experience of “here’s a well-told comic book story - if you like these two guys telling stories, try the rest” really seems like the way to go.