Monday, August 25, 2014


This year will be the first time I attend Dragoncon. Dragoncon, located in Atlanta, is one of the biggest conventions in the United States. It's known for its large Cosplay fandom, for big media stars such as the Walking Dead cast being in attendance, and for its roots in the gaming community.

I admit, I'm a little nervous about going. Yes, even I sometimes feel awkward in public. While I'm sure this will be like other cons I have been too this will be a very large con in a city I do not know. For all I know, Tusken Raiders may lurk in the dunes around the city, marching in single file lines to hide their numbers and using strange blackpowder weapons in what is clearly a blaster rich universe.

....Atlanta's based on Tatooine, right? I'm pretty sure I saw it on a map once.

I have no formal schedule for this trip! My previous schedule was wiped clean, so I'm looking for fun things to do in the city. Things that have been suggested for me to check out are...

  • Golem Arcana. My friend Michelle runs demos for them, and she wants me to check it out while there.
  • The Dragoncon Cosplay Parade! Saturday morning there is a huge march in Atlanta where people show off their amazing costumes. My prediction: 103 Deadpools. 43 Attack on Titan cosplayers. Maybe one Wild West Exodus cosplayers.
  • Walking Dead panel! I have been asked by a friend to hug Daryl but as I do not normally hug people I shall attempt to send him an air hug.
For those who live in Atlanta, what are your favorite restaurants? 

What exclusives are you guys chasing at the con?

I want to try out more demos this year, and hopefully fill the voids in my Rom and Green Lantern collections. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gen Con 2014

Wow. What a con! This has to be one of the best cons I've been to for years. I'm not insulting any of Gen Cons past (save maybe for the one I had hurt my back for, the one I had my back operated just before, or last year's Hurt Hand Debacle) but this year was just fantastic and a lot of fun for me.

But before we start on the convention...


Before the con started I had joined the Independent Game Designer's Network! I had been told about IGDN by Eloy earlier this year but after having some chats with him and other members I decided to apply. It's been pretty awesome so far, as it has put me in touch with some like minded individuals. Even when we are goofing around on Hangouts, it's been pretty fun.

While I was not able to help out with their booth at the con, it was great to talk to Ben Woerner, Joel Sparks, Ryan Schoon, and many others.


Tuesday was spent fixing last minute catastrophes and trying not to freak out over the oncoming convention. I went to the Dogslicer tapping at Scotty's that night, though they seemed like they were still in a frantic rush to get everything together in time.


Wednesday was spent helping Eloy set up the booth and lugging a suitcase full of snacks around the convention hall. Ran into many friends, and saw Matt McFarland with his bundle of books. We got the booth assembled in record time this year, with all of the 3EG books in a nice row. Watching the Dealer's Room rise up from nothingness is a pretty cool sight to see.

Stopped by the Onyx Path booth and saw Rich and Eddy there. Eddy seemed pretty pumped about the con as well, which we'd all find out about later on in the con. Eddy's new fantasy setting, Pugmire, will be published in the future. I'm not up on all the details but the phrase "apocalyptic fantasy canine RPG" has been used.

That night was the IGDN Social at Loughmiller Pub. I admit, I wasn't happy with the venue for it. I have a thing about being in a cramped pub and being forced to stand so close to people made me a bit irritated. Still, I got to meet lots of cool people, and Ben, Ryan, and I had a chance to chat a bit.

Thursday was blur, but between working the 3EG Booth, fixing a credit card issue with the Hyatt, and running an adventure I was pretty beat.

The Wu Xing adventure was an absolute blast to run thanks to two players who were downright excited to be there. Wu Xing is their favorite game and they signed up for all of the WX adventures at the convention! They picked the same pregen characters and ran them throughout the con as if they were on one continuous adventure. They pushed other players to do cool things and they never shied away from the action.

While at the con I talked with Ivan van Norman, who some of you remember from the TBS show King of the Nerds. Ivan's pretty cool and loves to chat about anything, and he was really excited to show off Operation: Deep Space.

That night I hung out with my roommates Dereke and Rico, and got some points with TJ and company over at the RAM. I didn't care for the Everblight Ale, but the Porter of Deceit was absolutely fantastic. I ended up a little drunk, which had the weird reaction of stuffing up my nose that night.


The breakfast buffet at the Hyatt was really good, and they offered a discount to us. I never figured out why; it couldn't have been because we had a room there because we never told them we had a room there, so I can only assume it was for the convention. The food was magnificent, and it helped me continue to eat healthy.

Salmon, watermelon, melon, bananas, a little bit of scrambled eggs, and crispy bacon. Top that off with OJ, water, and a little bit of soda for the caffeine and this helped get me going for the day.

Friday was incredibly busy! I saw a constant stream of customers going by the booth. I had a little bit of time to wander the hall but I spent the vast majority of the day covering the booth for Eloy (who wasn't feeling well) and running another WX game. I ran into Chris Shaffer as I was on my way to dinner, and we enjoyed great food at the Champs just outside the ICC. We had some laughs and Chris walked with me over to the ENnies at the Union Station.

The ENnies were fun as usual, and I got to meet Daniello in person. He and his friend were hilarious, and I still have their version of that Brazillian song stuck in my head (Though I can't remember the lyrics and don't want to butcher them.) We watched as there was a proposal on stage, and we applauded all of our colleagues and friends who were nominated and/or won.

Kudos to Ryan Macklin for his speech, which you can find on Youtube. He talked about developing a more open and inclusive community, and his Call to Arms speech was very welcome to hear.

Afterwards Eloy, Daniello, and I wandered over to Matt McFarland's birthday party! It was fun hanging out with old friends and making new acquaintances. It was great catching up with the Daves (David Jones and Dave Brookshaw) as well as lounging on the couches in the back with Renee, Eloy, and others.

I received invites to do stuff after the party but was feeling exhausted, which led to me getting tons of sleep that night. This helped, because the busiest days were yet to come!


See that photo? That was only an hour after the hall opened. It got packed quickly!

Saturday was the day I wandered the halls with my girlfriend, and with the new size to the hall it was a daunting task to try to see it at all. With 29 rows going almost to the back of the building it was the largest hall ever for Gen Con. I'm sure I missed many aisles, but that was only due to the lack of time!

The 3EG booth sold more books that day, and Eloy seemed to be on the mend. I checked out a few games I had been interested in but I managed to give my girlfriend her gift of Ticket to Ride 10th Anniversary Edition and I gave my sister her birthday gift of Crosshares, a game where you play as members of a military unit made of bunnies.

That evening we hung out at the Beer Garden, where I missed getting any of the Froth of Khan by an hour. :/ Bah! I always miss the Gen Con beers. I enjoyed Sun King's Wee Mac ale while enjoying food from the food trucks. Afterwards I played "My Name Is Inigo Montoya, You Have _____, Prepare To Die" while we waited for midnight. Why did we wait for midnight?

Well, we had an important date to keep. A friend of ours had come up with the best way to propose to his fiancee. I don't think she had any idea of what was going on, though she did wonder why so many of the people who were eliminated from "Are You A Werewolf?" were sticking around to take pictures of them. CONGRATULATIONS TO SARA AND PATRICK!!!

I hung out with Dereke for a while, just sitting on one of the stone benches outside of the hotel and people watching for a while. We ran into Saladin Ahmed as he was trying to get pizza, I got offered wands and amulets by a wizard (I swear to God, that's a true story), and when we both realized our legs were going to explode we watched Attack on Titan before calling it a night.


What's that? You are surprised I would do something so silly? Well then you don't know me very well, do you? ;)

Sunday may have been the busiest day of the convention for me or perhaps it felt that way because I was so tired. I had a few business meetings that day and had planned some podcasts. All of this was between checking in on the booth and getting some last minute buys in.

The Third Eye Games booth did record business that year, with over 120 books sold! AMP, the new superhero game written by Eloy, sold out and everyone seemed to be talking about it. The look on his face was quite memorable, as he's a pretty modest guy but I could tell he was proud.

Wrapping up the con was kind of somber, as I was sad it was all over. I said goodbye to my new friends and we went our separate ways, though I have never been so grateful to have the Internet to keep in touch with them.

To everyone that wanted to meet up but we didn't, I apologize. I was so busy that I barely took time to eat, which led to some health issues Friday evening and Sunday evening. I'm better, but my body hates it when it goes 12 hours without food or caffeine. I had to choose sleep some nights over socializing with others, though I do feel like I missed out on fun things.

To Kristen Bushman, Kitty Scheetz, Brian Sherrill, and the many other booth volunteers whose names I'm forgetting but who are so awesome and great for what they did, thank you for all you've done.

To Eloy, who continues to help me out just as much as I help him, thank you for another great year.

To Gen Con and the city of Indianapolis, thank you for another great year!

To this little bugger, I was so glad to see you when I got home.

Monday, August 11, 2014

On The Nova Corps

Also known as, “Space Cops and a bunch of A-Holes.”
I’m John Kennedy, and I love sci fi and superheroes equally, and when you combine the two, I can’t help but tie my money to bricks and then hurl these bricks at studio executives in the hopes that I can receive more of these. I am a life long Green Lantern fan, I already have my tickets to the early preview of Guardians of the Galaxy, and my pull list at my local comic shop usually includes all of the cosmic arcs and cosmic storylines that are in comics.

Obviously, I’m extremely excited to see Guardians when it comes out, though for more reasons than just hearing Blue Swede again. I love the cosmic arcs because I have always loved seeing heroes roam the space ways. Heroes fighting alien hordes or pompous supervillains threatening to devour suns always strikes a chord within me; sure, it’s a cheesy one, but part of me sits enthralled when I read about the power struggle between the Skrulls or the Guardians of the Galaxy taking on the pirate ships of Thanos.

 After picking up the score to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie last night, I read the titles of some of the tracts and it got me excited to find out how the Novas will be portrayed in this movie. The Novas look different, wearing greenish blue fatigues and armored vests as well as blasters on their right hands. It’s actually not a bad look; I love the original look to the Novas, but these guys appear as a more realistic kind of space cops. How do I know so much about the Novas?

 Well, once upon a time, when I was in elementary school, my favorite thing in the world was to trace the outlines of comic book covers. I even had a book that had a bunch of different covers in it, and I would sit there and trace them all day long. I couldn’t draw for shit, but I still enjoyed tracing them and occasionally trying to add things to them. One cover in the comic was about Nova, a superhero who I learned had some pretty cool powers such as flying at the speed of light, shooting laser blasts, and serving as part of a galactic force of peacekeepers. He wasn’t as versatile as Green Lantern, but I loved how he could fly through space and could shoot energy blasts. I found a couple of comics in my school’s latchkey program and read through them; I was kind of disappointed, as they all seemed to feature around him fighting a villain called Diamondhead whose power was he had a diamond…head. (Deep writing there.)

 For many years I did my best to ignore Nova, assuming he was nothing more than a rip off of Green Lantern. Nova’s series did not last long and he would only return in New warriors before fading to the side lines, only appearing as a guest star in other comics. For a hero whose gimmick being known as the “Human Rocket” he may have never seen the light of day again save for his resurgence in the pages of Annihilation, where we found the hero as the last survivor of the Nova Corps and fighting to save the galaxy from the forces of Annihilus. Dan Abnett and other writers really revived the hero. Though still humorous, they gave the hero much needed depth. He was not just a space cop patrolling space but rather he was the LAST space cop.

In one of the first issues of his 2006 line he had to deal with the stress of working overtime and trying to fix a broken universe, where whole worlds were still suffering from the Annihilation Wave and many of these worlds still could not be saved despite his best efforts. Nova became more than just Richard Rider in fancy space duds or as one comic book reviewer described him, “Iron Man in space.” He dealt with fading humanity in Annihilation Conquest, he saw his power stripped from him in the War of Kings, he barely survived the Canceruniverse and he found himself having to sacrifice himself to defeat Thanos once and for all. (Or so he thought.) He was the hero who fought terrors on a galactic scale, and though he was still only human, he did what he thought was right.

 In 2012, we saw the line get rebooted with a new hero. This time it’s Sam Alexander, a young kid who learns that his father’s drunken bedtime stories were actually real. Here we see a new Nova who not only has to learn to handle his powers but has inherited old enemies, forced to juggle his home life and finishing school with saving the universe from Thanos and trying to find out who has killed the Watcher, one of the few beings Sam considers his friend. Ok, that’s enough of a recap of these heroes. Why do I like them so much? The Novas, since 2006, have represented lone guardians fighting against impossible odds. Similar in concept and design to Green Lantern, they differ in the fact of how few they are.

Just as Kyle Rayner was the only Green Lantern for the 90s, Richard Rider and later Sam Alexander were heroes who sought to maintain law and order in a rapidly changing cosmos. They fought Cthonic entities trying to break into our world, and they hunted down galactic slavers so they could bring freedom to a cruel cosmos. Richard not only had to fight against the Annihilation Wave, but he went from a rowdy comic relief sort of hero to the hardened general needed to win. Sam is a kid who went from being picked on by bullies at school to being picked on by villains, his childhood friends being replaced slowly by allies in the Avengers. Both heroes represent heroes who when given great power take on the universe as their responsibility. When you read the comics you see problems that affect our planet right now being told on exotic landscapes and far flung moons.

Although at times it is extremely campy and we all know that the real villains of our world aren’t as identifiable by jagged spikes jutting out of their skin we still see heroes who try to protect others at the risk of their own. In a way, their police badge is the helmet they wear, and they patrol not the streets but the stars. Or maybe I have a thing for John C. Reilly, aka Rhomann Day. Could be that.
I'm jealous of him.