Mecha West Six Guns and Steam – Kickstarter campaign

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A message from author Ed Erdelac: “For two years or so now my writing partner Jeff Carter and I, along with veteran game designer Wayne Humfleet and creators Chris Perrin and Mark Reed have been developing a weird western sourcebook for a little game publisher called Heroic Journey Publishing’s anime-inspired giant robot combat RPG, Mecha. We’ve currently got a Kickstarter running with twenty four days to go (as of March 18, 2015) to complete the layout and obtain art to compliment the book.”

Description: “The RPG of Mecha steam engines! Smoke stacks! Shoulder mounted cannons and cavalry sabers bigger than barns!  Mecha West is a complete alternate history of gunslingers, lawmen and engineers as well as tribal nations and fighters of every color and creed. This rich foundation of history allows you to play scenarios ranging from high noon shoot outs and bank robberies to battles with transforming trains, clockwork dragons and town eating robots.

Mecha West is the brain child of acclaimed authors Ed Erdelac and Jeff C. Carter. They approached us shortly after Mecha was released with this odd ball idea of combining the Weird Old West with Giant Fighting Mecha. This is such an obviously great idea we got to work on it. Mecha West is a stand alone addition to your Mecha gaming library. Using the Mecha Core rules, written by Chris Perrin, Ed, Jeff and the HJP Team of Wayne Humfleet and Chris Perrin modified and wrapped the OCF! system around the loving embrace of this wonderful setting, which currently is clocking in at over 65,000 words.”

Mecha West Kickstarter Site.

Silver Bullets – Weird Western Novella by Laird Ryan States

Silver Bullets“Arise-Ye-Sons-Of-Israel Parker began life as a sensitive Quaker boy but came to manhood as Harry Parker; a killer, a thief, a reluctant poet and a drunken town Marshall.   One summer night, drinking alone in the town saloon long after closing, he is approached by a mysterious traveler, Mr. Dorian Gray. After the two talk over a drink, Harry is persuaded to share one of his poems. Gray shares something much more peculiar.

When the sun rises, Mr. Gray is gone, and Harry’s death has gone with him. He finds himself unkillable and feeling completely detached from the world. Indian Charley fell to earth, cradled inside a stone from the sky.  Raised by the Cree, he soon discovered he was not the same as other men.  Set apart, he wandered alone for over a hundred summers until the day he met Harry Parker.

In 1882, the two men meet, forging a friendship that will last to the modern day. They also find themselves very much at odds with a sect of immortal religious zealots who offer the undying membership or a very real eternal torment—permanent crucifixion and isolation. And thereby hangs a tale.”

Published January 2015 by The ASP (an independent collection of self-published authors). Available on Amazon Kindle.

Anime Encyclopedia : 3rd Edition Book Review

51ZWBInXqpLFirst published in 2001, this 3rd edition of Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy’s extensive “Anime Encyclopedia” has over 1,000 new entries, over 4,000 updates and over one million words. The new edition features hyperlinks to “the entire online universe” as stated by the authors in the introduction and is divided into thematic entries in addition to the usual A-Z listings.

The authors have decided against using illustrations in their encyclopedia in favor of hyperlinks to online images in the digital edition. The result is a text heavy book that is literally packed with information. From the first feature length anime film Momotaros Divine Sea Warriors (1945) to the latest productions this book lists them all together with synopses, production credits and relevant information.

With the rise of online information since the 1st edition was published in 2001 the authors are aware that reference books are a harder sell than they were in the pre-internet age. But given the depth and scope of this encyclopedia I doubt you could access the amount of information found in this huge volume online. Encyclopedia’s such as this still have value because they collect everything into one easy-to-access volume, without the reader having to worry about misinformation or carelessly researched facts online.

For fans of anime this is essential reading. As the author of an encyclopedia myself I know just how intensive and time consuming such a venture can be, The authors are to be highly recommended for their continued efforts to place the collected works of anime in one volume. The addition of active hyperlinks in the digital edition expands the scope of the encyclopedia even further and encourages discussion and further research.

About the authors: Jonathan Clements has worked as a translator, voice actor or dubbing director on over 70 anime, including Grey: Digital Target, Sol Bianca and Musashi: Dream of the Last Samurai. He was formerly the editor of Manga Max magazine and a contributing editor of Newtype USA, and is now a contributing editor to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, with special responsibility for China and Japan. He is currently a Visiting Professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China, and his latest solo book is Anime: A History (British Film Institute, 2013). Check out Jonathan at his website schoolgirlmilkycrisis.com

Helen McCarthy was the founding editor of Anime UK magazine, editor of Manga Mania magazine, and the author of Anime! A Beginner’s Guide, the first book in the English language on the medium. She has appeared in several anime as a voice actress and produced the UK release of Beast Warriors. Her books include Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation, 500 Essential Anime You Must Own, Manga Cross-Stitch and The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, which won the Harvey Award. She has just completed A Brief History of Manga for Ilex Press. Check out Helen at her website helenmccarthy.wordpress.com

Print and digital book release March 2015. Published by Stone Bridge Press.

Review copyright Paul Green 2015. Author bios courtesy of Stone Bridge Press.

Words For Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis – Book Review

Words For Pictures Cover

Reprinted with permission from Words for Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Watson-Guptill, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.

Award winning author Brian Michael Bendis is well known to Marvel Comics fans for his work on The Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy. This beautifully illustrated full-color book details the process of writing comic books and graphic novels, from outlines and pitches to full working script. Practical advice to aspiring writers is also given in a series of interviews with top professionals including, Mark Bagley, Klaus Janson and Walter Simonson among others.

Bendis doesn’t sugar coat the difficulties of the writing process and he doesn’t promise an easy path for those wanting to make a career in the industry. He states,  “Write something that you want to read. Write true. Write honest…you can never make everybody happy so don’t try.”

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Artwork (c) 2014 by Sara Pichelli

The author of comic books and graphic novels is essentially writing for himself, his editor, the reader and the artist. Bendis devotes a chapter to “Writing For the Artists” Communicating with the artist and writing to their strengths is key according to Bendis.  As a former comic book artist myself I appreciate Bendis’ approach to writing and his consideration for the artist. He admits the artist spends much more time illustrating the script than the writer does writing it. It’s a collaborative effort.

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Brian Michael Bendis

Bendis includes a chapter on “Writing Exercises” where the reader is asked to write their own alternative version of published pages. As Bendis states, “reverse engineer.” Other tasks include completing a part finished story and providing dialogue for empty speech balloons.

Bendis has written a book that will interest all writers, both professional and amateur.

Words for Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Watson-Guptill, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Available for purchase at Amazon.com and all online bookstores.

AREA 51: The Graphic History of America’s Most Secret Military Installation – Review

9780760346648Area 51 has been shrouded in mystery and speculation concerning UFO’s, alien autopsies and reverse engineering since the mysterious crash in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. New York Times best selling author Dwight Jon Zimmerman and illustrator Greg Scott recount the declassified history of Area 51 and strip it of conspiracy theories. What they reveal is a top secret military base used by the U.S. Air Force, the CIA and aerospace company Lockheed Martin during the height of the Cold War and beyond to the present day.

While the public were literally kept in the dark regarding activities at the secret installation the latest technology was being tested on keeping America one step ahead of the Soviet Union. Meanwhile the mysterious lights in the surrounding landscape were mistaken for UFOs. The public claimed a cover-up of recovered alien bodies and alien technology but the real cover-up was the testing of top secret military aircraft such as the U-2, A-12 and SR-71 under operations such as Oxcart and Black Shield.

The first unmanned drone was tested in October 1962 under Project Tagboard. Failures were commonplace as idea often outpaced effective technology. Drones would have to wait decades before the technology proved effective. Author Zimmerman demonstrates that none of these test aircraft were perfected overnight. There was human error and loss of life along the path to perfection. Reverse engineering of alien technology played no part in their creation. Area-51-Graphic-History-PagConspiracy theorists will no doubt remain unconvinced by the declassified information and will see it as misinformation designed to mislead the public away from “the truth.” But whatever your views on the subject this is a well researched and fascinating book that is aided by Greg Scott’s accomplished artwork. Definitely worth a read and recommended.

Published by Zenith Press, USA, November 2014. Thanks to Nichole Schiele.

Review copyright Paul Green (Weird Westerns) 2014.

Brimstone Deep by Laurian Smith review

718X2mOwthL._SL1024_Jim Harper arrives in a small mining camp to investigate a large statue of a chained lizard. His theory that it may be one of the “extinct” scale-armored lizards named Drahkom is borne out when he discovers the stone lizard and finds it to be alive.

Captured and imprisoned for its Brimstone, with scales “coveted for armor” the Drahkom tells Harper he wants to be released and join his “captors in death”. Harper and a small group of miners set about releasing the huge lizard from its stone chains unaware of the devious nature of the Drahkom.

Published on Amazon Kindle, the description as an e-book places a new definition on what constitutes a book. A short story is a more precise description. But however you wish to describe it Laurian Smith’s 22-page story is an entertaining and well written Weird Western.

Review copyright Paul Green 2014

“FarOut” Weird Western “Cowbot” Webcomic

Farout_35ENGautier Langevin & Olivier Carpentier are the creators of the ongoing webcomic “FarOut” featuring “cowbots” in conflict the Engineer and his gang in a robotic Wild West. Nominated for Best Webcomoic at the Joe Shuster Awards 2014.

Check out the webcomic at FarOut

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