Podcasts/Episode L-6

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The Letters Page: Gen Con Live 2023

Original Source


Coming at you, both LIVE and NEON!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 1:40:30

How could I pick from all these fantastic photos?

Look at them!

The show starts off with some yelling as I throw shutter shades and snap bracelets into the audience — no one got hurt! Which is shocking, really.

Then, we take more photos!

A little after the 5 minute mark, we do some great radio that isn't explained well on the air. It culminates in me removing my tie and tying it around Adam's head as a headband.

It was another fantastic live show, with both Trevor and Jean-Marc helping out a ton, and even a surprise appearance from Paul Bender to reprise a segment from last year. AND! Tons of fantastic listeners, many of whom we knew by name but had never met before. That was a cool experience for us, to be sure.

Join us next week for an Editor's Note next week, and if you're on the Patreon, join us this coming Friday for a live recording of said Editor's Note! Oh, and speaking of the Letters Page Patreon, if you're a Patreon supporter, you can get all the audio files from today's episode over there! Pretty cool, right?

Characters Mentioned



  • This is mainly an excuse to show off the remixed Overview music. Jean-Marc and Trevor really pulled out all the stops for all of the music cues. As stated in the show notes, these are available to Patreon supporters.
  • Christopher does tell some anecdotes about running demos at Gen Con. Turns out, he likes playing SotM! A surprise to everybody. He also got to answer the question from a newbie of “Wait, so are all of these superheroes made up?” with the obviously correct answer of “All superheroes are made up (although these were made up by us).”


  • In the Metaverse we have the Animated Universe where a number of shows all take place in the same shared setting, but the success of some recent movies here (like the Spider-verse ones) I was wondering: are there any Sentinel media properties that are largely self-contained or otherwise segregated into their own non-connected universe? If so, which heroes do you see being the most likely to get those shows? How do you see the increasingly-far-from-their-origins time frames affecting how the characters/their history is treated? Would we wind up seeing the Naturalist as a member of the Freedom Five for outside reasons? What would happen for Baron Blade’s backstory for a more modern origin for Legacy? This sounds like a whole Creative Process… Baron Blade’s backstory is a good example. They’d probably just brush past things - he’s a genius inventor who is the ruler of a small fictional country. He wants to defeat the heroes because they’ve foiled his plans so often. Over the course of the show you’d learn that his father was some sort of arms dealer in an unspecified conflict, etc. It wouldn’t be drastically different, we just would be more vague about things and not tie it so closely to WWII and the Cold War stuff. If we’re starting up non-SCU shows now… Expatriette and Setback probably have one. Unity is possible - you do a thing where it’s technically a Freedom Five show but she’s the point of view character and the Freedom Five aren’t even necessarily in it a lot - you’d see Tachyon more than the others. Anything that really messes with the canon? Maybe they could see a different Freedom Five lineup in terms of the people - you’d have the same hero names, but the characters embodying the roles might be different (which would upset the “purest” fans who complain that it’s “not my Freedom Five” - but then the show does good and interesting things and they have to begrudgingly accept it with grumbles about “you have to just remember that it’s not canon” etc.).
  • Would I, the Tenacious Taffyman, wind up on one of those teams? No. [For those not in on the joke - there’s a longstanding thread about Taffyman trying to find ways of becoming a canonical character in Sentinel Comics products somewhere.]
  • How are ley-lines depicted in the comic art? Not consistently. Some artists make them glowing arcs of energy. Some have them as barely-perceptible disturbances in the air. Others don’t show them at all unless there’s some kind of “magical sight” thing going on. There was an art in EE were Lifeline is fixing one and in that it was like a “string” made of laser. You’re most likely to see them at all if a magical character is doing a thing to make them visible.
  • When somebody interacts with a ley-line, are they shown as pulling on them, wrapping them around something, etc.? Lots of things. Cutting them, grabbing them, resonating alongside them, doing that thing where you wrap your hands around them without touching them. Touching them is a pretty aggressive act, so pulling/grabbing/etc. is not suggested.
  • Do Ra and Dr. Blake Washington, Jr. have different favorite foods? Yeah, you can’t actually get Ra’s favorite anymore [they do a bit about him being kind of petulant about things being different and not as good anymore - “and people don’t respect cats like they should” and whatnot]. They think for a bit and decide that Blake Washington’s favorite food is waffles.
  • Is The History of Sentinel Comics an actual book or just a Metaverse thing? It is a real book that they are still in the process of writing and will be out [squeaky voice indicating uncertainty] next year? [/sviu] However, that might not be the book you think it is. It’s the history of Sentinel Comics, as in it’s a “nonfiction” book about the company of Sentinel Comics. It doesn’t tell the history of all the stories told in the pages of Sentinel Comics. Rather it’s about the writers, artists, editors, etc. that made it all happen. It will, as a side effect, have some information about what was going on in the comics at points along the way, but that’s not the focus. That being said - there is supposed to also be a publication timeline in there too which has a bunch of fun details tied to it. Most of the art for the book is done, most of the writing is done. Then there’s all of the editing and graphic design/layout stuff that still needs to happen.
  • Well, if the book I was thinking about doesn’t exist, could it exist in the future? That would be a challenge. They couldn’t do something with “every story” laid out, but they could maybe just do a brief (like a page each) description of the most iconic/important ones if there was a market for such a product.
  • If some villains got tired of everything and went on vacation together, which hero would track down this “team of villains who are obviously meeting in order to plan some dastardly action”? Parse. Maybe the Wraith, depending on the villains involved. Fanatic’s another good one except for the “tracking them down” part. She would want to find them.
  • Which Sentinel Comics character would you pick to replace you and do your job for a non-Gen Con work week? Christopher: 5 years ago he would have said Tachyon and he would have chosen a week where he was doing more warehouse stuff and less game-design/storytelling stuff (the warehouse stuff is a lot of work, but she’d be better at it than Christopher and would get it done faster - the creative stuff is not in her wheelhouse, though). Somebody in the crowd suggests Absolute Zero and, sure, his thing is more music but he was a writer and does have that creative thing going for him, so yeah he’s a decent choice. He might not be great at it, but he wouldn’t be terrible. Now they just need to figure out who among all of their characters draws - somebody has to, surely. Somebody yells Guise, and while he does canonically do art, Adam doesn’t want him doing his job. Another suggestion is Omnitron-X which is basically saying to use an AI thing to do it, which we’re on the way to happening anyway so we’ll go with that. Argent Adept is the obvious choice for the two music guys present.
  • You’ve said that Definitive Edition is the ultimate, canonical iteration of the Sentinel Comics stories - how does the introduction of new characters like Alpha, Darkstrife, Painstake, and (one presumes, eventually) Fashion and Rambler [Christopher: “Who?”] affect how stories like Cosmic Contest or the OblivAeon event play out? The end of the Multiverse is easier since the broad-strokes of the OblivAeon event are correct already. Sure, all of those characters have parts to play in it, but they don’t have to shuffle anything around to make room for them. Cosmic Contest: Adam thinks things don’t change all that much because the most salable heroes are in there (Christopher then points out that Bugbear is in there too, though). Christopher thinks that they’ll have to do some work on this. When they get to Cosmic Contest the story is the same - it’s fine as it is. All of the other characters who probably should be there but aren’t? There’s a reason that’s acknowledged (maybe not in that book itself, but there’s something else happening at the same time that’s involving everybody else). They’ll have to put the work in to figure out what that thing is, but that’s where Christopher is leaning at the moment.
  • Part of the La Comodora and Chrono-Ranger in the Extremeverse story involved XTREME La Capitan getting away from the duo by headinig to the Bloodsworn-verse and yelling “Free fight over here!” - was this the only appearance of the Bloodsworn-verse? They don’t think that it was the first appearance of that reality - it’s not a thing that shows up a lot, but it was an established reality before that story wound up there so that it didn’t require any more explanation than a quick editor’s note caption box pointing to an earlier issue. It probably wasn’t a thing any earlier than 2005 and they don’t think that it was the subject of a full Disparation issue, but they don’t know that for sure at this time. “First appearance of the Bloodsworn-verse” is a decent Writers’ Room topic.
  • What’s a new thing that you’ve discovered about Sentinel Comics in the process of working on the Letters Page that’s made you smile? What really shocked you? Why are both Matthew? laughter [Paul Bender shows up at this moment, so they call him up to the front to play the game where somebody asks a question and they break things down for him.]
    • Who is Matthew? Paul’s youngest brother. That is a Matthew and is a factually correct answer.
    • So, the Letters Page listenership is basically triggered by the name Matthew at this point - in the mid-00s and maybe into the early ’10s the Sentinel Comics readership likely was also so triggered, but do you have any clue as to why this is the case? No, not at all.
    • [X-Metal volunteers to explain the Matthew Situation, getting as far as “Apostate”]
    • Who’s Apostate? Fanatic’s nemesis. Black wings. Big sword. “Something something Host.” [after some prompting] No shirts.
    • [X-Metal’s explanation concludes.] And then something terrible happened - some people liked it. They really tried with the prompt of “a cursed romance that the readers hated”, including giving it a really unsatisfactory ending in the comics.
    • All of that being said, they’re glad that the question included the Matthew bit because it’s hard to come up with specifics of things they invent that delight/shock them because it basically happens in every episode. That’s the journey that they’re on. I mean, Card Shark? The shark man who has cards. Come on.
  • You recently mentioned a pre-Sentinel Comics creation of yours called the Slim-verse - what’s the most ridiculous character from it other than Slim to make it into Sentinel Comics and how much did they change in the process? Not a lot crossed over. The cool thing about that set of stories is that while little to none of it actually made it across into Sentinel Comics, the process of making it turned out to be very good practice for what became Sentinel Comics. Just the process of making a holistic, coherent world that has media and characters as a thought experiment gave them a roadmap for how to go about doing it “for real” for SotM. Mr. Fixer having the name and nickname he does was from H.R. Slim, but otherwise he has very little in common with that other version. Slim had a lot more in common with Black Fist, but he wasn’t even a martial artist. Slim and his gang was a part of it, Captain Blackboard and his educational pirates was another, and the Dueling Alchemists was another - that last is a prompt for something they said they’d talk about if somebody brought it up live, so here we go.
    • The dueling alchemists made it into Sentinel Comics in the form of Scholar and Hermetic. They’re going to paint a picture of their time together making stuff up, telling stories, and playing games. A lot of it was in the middle of the night at a 24/7 IHOP where they’d get coffee and hashbrowns and, inevitably, pancakes. They would sit there and create. This is what leads to the thing that became SotM. What they would do is this dumb bit that they’ll recount for us now. They’d each have their pancakes and drinks in front of them. “Oh. Hello my friend, nice to see you here. Would you like some of this poisonberry syrup?” “Yes, I would like some boysenberry syrup.” [he eats] “I did say poisonberry syrup and now you will die!” “Oh, that would be a problem if I hadn’t taken my anti-poison coffee just beforehand.” “A wise decision, my friend. But, if you recall, in the last round of coffee I offered you some hazelnut creamer which was, in fact, antidote-neutralizing hazelnut creamer.” They would do this for hours. Literal hours of back-and-forth explaining how they had killed one another only to find that they’d been anticipated at every turn. Once they were out of all of their creative energy at like 3 AM they’d wind up defaulting to this “here is how I’ve killed you” game. The background was that they were old friends who had been doing this for centuries. They were named after rivers, Bosphorus and Hermus, and they became Scholar and Hermetic. It was such a stupid bit. The people who worked in that IHOP had to think they were crazy, but they were quiet and nice and tipped well and they weren’t taking up a booth at a busy time of day. Some of them would come hang out with them for a while and got to know them a bit - Adam was Facebook friends with one of them for a while.
  • What’s the longest that a Biomancer flesh child has managed to exist alongside the original without being noticed (like, Pete Riske walking past his duplicate without noticing)? Probably not longer than an issue. They thought this was going to just be longest one has been active in general (there’s Tempersonation right there, but they think there are certainly people who are around for a long time without their being a flesh child ever coming up). The only narrative reason to have both an original and a fake around at the same time is to do the “which one do I shoot?” dilemma and they can’t imagine dragging that out for more than an issue. Maybe you could do a thing where they do that, but then the fake gets away and becomes a semi-recurring thing for a while, but then you get an arc more than anything longer. Clone-Ranger is likely the closest thing to a flesh child that sticks around as a character for any length of time after the reveal, but that’s down more to the specific gimmick that he was built to accomplish.
  • How often do you guys get together to play games for fun/work? They don’t, really. It’s been a long time. There was a time this past spring where they had talked about periodically make a point of playing video games together online occasionally, but that never happened. You get busy and things slip. Even when they still lived in the same city [Adam moved back to the Kansas City area after the pandemic lockdowns showed that he could effectively work from anywhere] it’d been a while. They had a weekly game for a bit, but that got disrupted when Adam’s first kid was born 8 years ago. In the office they still do playtesting, but that’s different from playing a finished game.
  • How often is the playtesting? Weekly. There is a rare week at the GTG office where no playtesting happens. Now, that won’t involve everybody in the office, but somebody is playing something, but Christopher is rarely one of the people involved. He probably averages once a month for non-Sentinels things. Sentinels things he’s involved in more consistently. He does some gaming at home (video games and boards games with friends). Adam runs a weekly SCRPG game and his sister runs D&D that happens about once a month. Sorry for the depressing answer - if you want to play games, don’t start a game company!
  • Why was the SCRPG core book that I saw at my session of “Terror Forms” colorful and all comics-y where mine is just black? You have the special edition Kickstarter one with the “leather” cover and extra bookmark ribbons. They still have some of those available, but not a lot. The interiors are the same.
  • Where do you find the SCRPG stuff to buy [at Gen Con 2023]? The booth in the main exhibit hall should have it. The separate room they have is just demo space, not a retail space. [I include this because this is true for all Gen Cons - they don’t sell things in the separate demo room.]
  • There was a throwaway bit in a holiday episode where you mentioned “And then a villain showed up… but they brought the cranberry sauce!” - which villain is actually most likely to do that? Hermetic. [Launches into Dueling Alchemists again.] Bringing that back up prompts the reveal that Adam was usually the one who became Hermetic and Christopher the one who became Scholar. Someone in the crowd suggests it’s their first self-inserts before Citizens Hammer and Anvil. Nope. The firsts were Revenant and Apostate. [I can’t tell if that’s a joke.]
  • You mentioned a while back that they’d like to do a Trial of Baron Blade recording as an audio drama like the Golden Age Legacy radio play episode - is that still the case/have there been developments along those lines? They still want it to happen. The co-author of the story Christopher’s been working with on it is also his rock climbing partner/lawyer. The lawyer part is important since part of the meta around it is that the story was the idea of some lawyer who wanted to write a comic book and do a legal thing, but to do it right. They’re both very busy people, though, and a lot of the time they spend around each other involves hanging by their fingertips off of rock faces. Not a lot of opportunities for writing. Even after the writing is done, these things are immense undertakings. When they first did the radio play episode, they initially thought that they could just write some snippets and then ad lib the rest. They quickly determined that they really did need to script the whole thing out and it kept growing while they were doing it. Then Trevor had to find voice actors. The day they recorded it was over a full day’s work. They’d do thinks smarter this time, but it’s still a lot of work.
  • Trial of Baron Blade Critical Event in Definitive Edition? Ooo… That’s possible. Very possible.
  • Marvel has a character that was a product tie-in superhero that appeared in a single issue (and then went on to appear in ads for several years) - Combo Man; in the history of Sentinel Comics was there ever an equivalent one-shot product placement hero that was so strangely-received the by fans that nobody seems to want to talk about it? Adam knows more about it. The ad campaign was a sweepstakes where you had to guess what all of the pieces of Combo Man were and if you got them all right you got put in a drawing for the prize. The audience response was what is probably best described as a meme before memes were really known. Now, for the question. This was obviously a thing that happened in Sentinel Comics too and it was obviously based around Toditos. El Todito. He’s like a combination of a sombrero guy, but also does JoJo poses. He throws Toditos. There’s your cursed answer. Adam throws down a gauntlet that there will never be an El Todito deck that they produce. Just getting that out there.
  • Given the importance of college to the stories of Wraith, Ermine, and Felicia Parsons do stories ever circle back to those institutions? Yeah. Certainly there’s probably reunion stories (like a Silver Age thing where Ermine plans to “steal the whole reunion” or something). Felicia’s stuff ties in a lot more given that so much of her friends/supporting cast/villains were tied to the college. As we move into the post-OblivAeon era where she’s Legacy that all also gets brought up again.
  • We have had a Sentinel Comics card game era and we’re getting a Sentinel Comics rpg era - what’s the next era? That’s so far in the future… It’d have to be one in which the comics universe got “rebooted” again. The first era lasted just shy of 80 years. They don’t have an end date planned for the “current” publication status quo. Sure, there have been comics set “in the far-flung future”, but those are still rooted in whatever the current continuity is. There was a brief period where they were making RPG content “in the future”, but time marches on and quickly outpaced content production. Planning comics publication stuff out as far as the 2030s still feels weird because they’re trying to make this stuff as if it’s in a world very similar to ours and that kind of speculation about the Metaverse is tough.
  • For Jean-Marc: What Sentinels music are you working on? Stuff for the Letters Page is the most recent stuff. Prior to that it was Earth Prime. There’s an expansion for that in the works, so music for that content will be next.
  • So, we all know about Seraph - the Inversiverse heroic Apostate: Given what we know now, will we see a heroic Matthew? No. Since it’s the Inversiverse it would be a villainous Matthew. Seraph would have to have a dark, jerk boyfriend form. Called Mark. He takes off his breastplate and goes shirtless all the time. He’s got frosted tips and is just the worst.
  • What’s a non-article, non-conjunction word from the back of the Disparation rule book? All.