Sunday, August 25, 2013

Brutal Legend: Fletus and His Outlaws

Taken from the Brutal Legends Wiki
Fletus concept art by Scott Campbell
When the Titans left, they didn't just leave behind their adoring pets, the Tainted Coil. Another race of demon slaves toiled for the Titans, helping to build and maintain their wondrous chariots, terrifying weaponry, and beautiful musical instrumens. Where the Coil attempted to simulate the beauty and majesty of their former masters, these demons only emulated their love of fast cars and fast music.

When the Titans ascended, the Tainted Coil turned their fury on the whole world, and no one suffered more than the demon mechanics, their hideous forms unrestricted and their knowledge more thorough and secret. The Coil waged an unceasing war against those ugly few who defied them. These creatures, the Outlaws, went into hiding on the edges of the world. Few survived the unending slaughter, but those that did continued to hone their arts in secret, racing against any challengers and sharing their most sacred knowledge with whomever could best them.

Fletus was one of the few who emerged first in the twilight of Doviculus' rule. When Doviculus was defeated by Eddie Riggs and the Coil routed by the human army Ironheade, the Outlaws rose again, racing along the ancient highways, resurrecting the mighty machines of their long-gone gods, and seeking a share of the homeland they lost; eventually going to war with the Ironheade Nation.

Boss Fletus
The leader of the Outlaws, Fletus had an amicable personal grudge against The Roadie that turned sour as his people seek fair access to the homelands to which they feel entitled. The humans of Ironheade are suspicious and fearful of the demons and reluctant to relinquish control of the lands hard-won from the Drowning Doom and the Coil seek to drive them back. Eddie arrives to mediate but when the Outlaws are less than reasonable in their demands, negotiations fall through and Fletus decides to raise an army and take back their land.

Fletus' combat style is less dependent on solos, and focuses more on the Squealer to dish out punishment.

These lovably bug-eyed monsters with a giant, distended jaws full of terrible teeth form the Outlaw's front line.  As

Double Team: Carjack
A team of Freeks will gather around Fletus. Damage they do during this attack provides bonuses to the Squealer.

Ranged Infantry
Hovering demons on high-powered engines, gunning their engines causes a percussive blowback, injuring enemies.

Double Team: Smoke Screen
Generates a smoke screen that renders a specific unit invisible.

Grease Gorilla
Support Vehicle: Healing
These mobile garage-driving demons keep the Outlaws and their vehicles outrunning the pigs. Bring one onto the field to patch up your boys.

Double Team: Overhaul
Nearby units heal to more health while Fletus rides along. Overhauled health starts to deplete as soon as Fletus leaves the sidecar, but it's a good way to preload units riding into battle.

The Shark [1]
Anti Infantry Vehicle
The Outlaw equivalent to the Metal Beast or Reaper, the Shark exudes dozens of vicious bats that swarm enemies, cutting a swath through their infantry forces.

Double Team: Blood Drive
 The Shark is under control of Fletus as it rapidly accelerates, trailing a line of bats.

The Double Draggin'
Heavy Anti-Vehicle 
Two chained-up demons on a motorcycle with a sidecar, they whip each other at vehicles as they pass, dealing heavy damage.

Double Team: Hell's Clothesline
The sidecar splits off from the main vehicle, connected by a chain. Enemies caught between the two vehicles are dragged with it.

Holey Driver
Ranged Artillery
 The heavy artillery car driven by a freed Screamer, he seeks vengeance on the Coil for his torture on the Scream Wagon. His catapult car fires gas cans at enemies.

Double Team: Light The Fuse
Fletus drives the Holey Driver and can manually aim the catapult. When attacking, he'll light the tank with his cigar, adding extra explosive damage.

Driveable Support Vehicle: Buff
Stumpy's drums provide a powerful buff, causing nearby units to deal more damage. This effect does not stack with multiple drummers.

Double Team: Painkiller
Stumpy parks his drum car and begins a hyperpowerful drum solo that renders nearby units invincible. When the solo ends or Stumpy is killed, his car explodes in a fireball, destroying him and ending the buff.

Anti-Infantry Vehicle
A sentient and viciously evil taxicab with a "pedestrian crossing" sign jammed in his radiator. Warning: do not be a blind pedestrian when this wild eyed demon takes the field.

Double Team: Powerslide
Fletus takes control of Noxing. Hit the break and turn to deal extra damage by powersliding into enemies.

The Doom Buggy
Heavy Ranged Unit
A tank pulled by a team of Tick Choppers and piloted by wild-eyed Freeks.

Double Team: Motorcade
The Doom Buggy parks and its Tick Chopper pull team disengage to circle, attacking foes that come near. If a Tick Chopper is destroyed, a new one will be generated to take its place after 3 seconds (+1 second per chopper destroyed).

Saturday, August 24, 2013

OTRSPoD Trenchcoat

Zeboyd Game has a ton of excellent items in their On The Rainslick Precipice series, as I have touched on before when I drew the Knitters way back in whenever I did that. I'm not going to look it up. My favorite item from the game is the Trench-coat. A coat that allows the wearer to defend all of his allies when he assumes a defensive position. Or she! It might also be a lady wearing the sassiest new fashion from the Maginot Line. But I don't care about the item's qualities in-game. It's "qualities" being the aforementioned group defense and a decent stat bonus.

No, I care about the name and concept of a coat, that is also a trench. A Trench-Coat. Just kind of revel in that for a minute. So I decided to draw it, a decision that was ultimately a mistake that I'm still going to share with you guys.

So that's what that drawing is, up there. It's the trench-coat design in its first iteration. Enjoy it. Revel it in the barbed wire and sandbag epaulettes. The searchlights adorning the brim of the fedora, and the complete absence of anything else that might indicate that it is, in fact, a visual pun.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Breastfeeding! And Feminism!

The other day, breastfeeding came up on the radio during my drive home from work. A conservative radio host was relating a story about a local pizzierrarist (pizzarite? pizza-slanger? pizza-shop-owner, anyway) who recently got in trouble because when a woman began breastfeeding in his shop, he asked if she would be more comfortable breastfeeding somewhere else.

Sounds reasonable, right? Moderately reasonable. After all, that can be a pretty vulnerable, intimate moment, so perhaps this young mother would want to go somewhere more private. The woman, mildly offended, mentioned it on Facebook, where it turned into a Major Thing, with women apparently sending this pizza guy boycott threats and all kinds of things. I guess what he did is crime here in Wisconsin. I did not know that, but here:
Right to Breast-Feed.
A mother may breast-feed her child in any public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be. In such a location, no person may prohibit a mother from breast-feeding her child, direct a mother to move to a different location to breast-feed her child, direct a mother to cover her child or breast while breast-feeding, or otherwise restrict a mother from breast-feeding her child as provided.
Now, the radio host himself wasn't against it. He was so emphatically equivocal, in fact, you'd think he was a groundskeeper, because he was hedging a champion. He had a rhetorical topiary. "It's not obscene." he'd say, "But it is a bodily function! Like, well, not like farting! But... I mean, I just think that decorum dictates that women should do it in private."

The first caller that I heard was a woman who emphatically agreed with him, except for the part where she ignored his hedging ridiculousness and came right out with it, saying that it was obscene and that it shouldn't be done. She didn't do it in public when she had a kid! Which is fine, lady, that's your choice. She then shared a story about how she was enjoying a meal with her teenage son, when a woman popped out her breast and began feeding her child, much to her son's discomfort. Now, having been a seventeen year old once, many years ago, and using forensic witchcraft, I think I can accurately figure out what this kid was thinking:
"Keep it together, now..."
"I want to look at those boobs, but I can't, because my mom is right there. It's fine, I'll just have to wait until I get home, or the bathroom, or the backseat of the minivan, then I can take out my pocket computer that can literally condense breasts out of the air like a mammary dehumidifier and look at boobs then. I just have to keep it together and wait."

Worrying that your nearly adult son might see another human being's breasts is dumb. Worrying that he might see them being used for their main, indeed only, biological purpose is so dumb, it's actually the death rattle of brain choked with unthought.

I exhaled, willing all the horrifying fury of my thoughts into the deepest recesses of my mind, where it can hang out on the jungle gym or something. I was still curious; I wanted to hear more about this story, even if it was communicated in between calls from yokels with jaws so slack you could fit an elephant between their mandibles. Man, that is a tortured simile. Still exhaling, I removed my hand from the radio dial and listened on.

"She shared this on Facebook." The host explained, "Which got the Breastfeeding Coalition of South Central Wisconsin involved. Heh heh heh. I want to sit in on that meeting.I temporarily went deaf with fury, and when I regained my senses, he had already fielded another call, from someone I can only imagine has, at some point, been wrist-deep inside a trout with his eyes closed and his pants down. Possibly not, and I might be poisoning a stupid well, but just let me have this. Character assassination is an excellent way to blow off steam.
He's sexually satisfied by fish, is what I'm saying.
 "It's not right." mansplained this man-caller, manfully. "When I was growing up, women knew that that stuff wasn't something you'd do in public. I mean, we have to keep these restaurants family friendly!" These are words, that he actually said. Out loud, on the radio. He said that a woman feeding her infant child was not "family friendly". The most elemental aspect of a nuclear family was not family-friendly. At this point, I was tempted to mercy-kill the English language. We could start over in Chinese, it doesn't matter. I reached for the dial again, but he wasn't done.

"It's just very uncomfortable for me. It's awkward for everybody, you know? I don't want to seem like I'm staring and that makes it very weird for me." "Yes, of course. I agree!"  These two presumably grown-up, fully adult men just made a woman and her baby responsible for their emotional well-being in a public restaurant. Beholden for causing them discomfiture. The comfort and convenience of a child no more than a few months old must be put on hold, so that these grown-up people don't have to worry about whether or not they are embarrassing themselves. If blood can curdle, my circulatory system was a cheese-press. And they still weren't done.

"Breastfeeding Coalition of South Central Wisconsin, huh? That's a thing. Boy, I'd like to sit in on that meeting!" chuckled the caller, apparently having enjoyed the joke and deciding that it bore repeating. "Yeah!" cackled the host, having forgotten that he'd made the exact same joke, word for word, literally minutes earlier. The plagiarist and his victim giggled together about the novelty of attending a meeting of medical professionals, so that they can watch a group of women breastfeed. That's what medical professionals do at those meetings, right? Show off their boobs, for breastfeeding or possibly for the sexual satisfaction of creepifying radio personalities and the orangutans that give them phone calls?

Breastfeeding--or having breasts out in public--is bad when it causes men discomfort. You'll notice that the lady caller earlier didn't say it made her uncomfortable, but her son. The same is true of the jackholes above. It is good, acceptable, or funny when it causes men sexual joy. Don't get me wrong; I like breasts, both as purveyors of nutrients and as aesthetically pleasing anatomical parts. I've even owned a shirt to that effect.
And a notarized certificate identifying me as a douchebag
Breasts are just more flesh. They possess no inherent magical powers, except for... you know, the milk. Stop trying to cover them up! Especially stop trying to cover them up when they are doing their job.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Did Aang "Cheat" on Katara?

Okay, that's a bombastic headline. With the new season of Avatar: The Legend of Korra getting ready to air and me working on a new Avatar-themed side project, I find myself thinking a lot about Avatar these days. Now, I think about AtLA pretty frequently anyway, mostly because it's such a wonderfully internally coherent world it's just fun to pull at little threads and see how they twitch, but lately that's been amped up and the thought that's been on my mind the last few deals heavily with Aang and Katara's relationship after the great war was over.

Did Aang cheat on Katara? Or rather, did he enjoy relationships with women other than Katara? Of course, canonical support for something as unsavory as an affair would always be hard to come by in a show like Avatar--this is a show that features a century-long war, yet the war memorial would have  three names on it. Even the insane genocidal tyrant was merely imprisoned after the war. Although the show isn't as shy as it could be, adultery and affairs are necessarily difficult to get details about; these would be closely guarded secrets in real life, and even in a show as frank about adult sexuality as Avatar information is going to be sparse.. There are plenty of historical people we can be pretty sure had extramarital affairs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton (to name a few American presidents). Thomas Jefferson allegedly sired children in his affairs with slaves. Suffice to say, it happens in real life and nobody wants to talk about it. But I think it could have happened. Let me explain.

Reason One: The Man

Aang is a decent man. He has some incredibly strong principles. His taboo against taking life is so sincerely held that even when faced with the dude who wanted to burn down half the planet Aang sought to spare him. Against the advice and counsel not just of probably every single person in the world, but also some of the people out of it; even another air-bender, met through Aang's spirit link to his past lives, strongly implies that Ozai's only just fate is death. Which makes sense--the dude wanted to kill everything in the world's most populous nation and as an unintended side effect probably would extinguish all life on the planet (as a country-sized wildfire might be expected to do).  Aang spared that guy. Aang invented a new kind of bending in order to spare that guy. Morality is basically the only thing Aang can't bend, so if he believes in monogamy, he probably won't stray.

However, Aang is unquestionably a troubled young man. When he wakes up in the iceberg, he feels as though only a day or two has passed, but it's been a century and the total genocide of his people. From his perspective, the transition between "all my friends and family are alive" to "my entire people and culture has been graphically murdered" takes place over a few days. Aang deals with it almost unbelievably well, finding ways to channel his total devastation productively. He has his quest to master the bending arts and defeat the Firelord to distract him. He has to let his relationship with his people go in order to attain control over the Avatar State. He has his relationship with Katara. But then the war's over, he's mastered the elements, and suddenly he'll have time to really appreciate the fact that his people are truly dead and gone. Once again, I just want to emphasize that "one minute everything's fine, next minute it's a hundred years in the future and also my entire culture has been driven to extinction" thing. Holy crow, talk about emotional damage. Although he is strongly principled, he has betrayed his friends when he was afraid he would abandon them (S1E15: Bato of the Water Tribe). This is something he may have matured out of, but his fear of abandonment is powerful, and he's demonstrated that he would lie to people he loves to keep them in his life.

Aang also craves recognition and enjoys the attention of others, especially women. He can be seen showing off for girls on Kyoshi Island before he is seriously engaged in the war (S1E4: Kyoshi Island) and for his fanclubs  after the fall of the Phoenix King (The Promise, Book 1), suggesting a consistent character trait that is unchanged by his character growth during the war. It bears remembering that he's also only twelve during the show--that means he's on the cusp of a pretty confusing time. Men, especially in their late teens and early twenties, tend to have impulse control problems as a result of brain growth and shifting hormones, and Aang has undergone a year of fairly extreme trauma during a very vulnerable part of his social and physiological development. While it's entirely possible that Aang could weather this without cheating, he's a young man that desperately craves attention, has canonically established abandonment issues, and will undoubtedly live a life of easy access to interested women. Which brings me to my next point.

Reason Two: The Ladies
 Women--and possibly men--are going to throw themselves at Aang for the rest of his life. First of all, he's wildly famous, popular, and recognizable. It is in human nature to desire a high-status partner, and Aang is high status. Mesospheric status. Orbital status.The world he lives in is also recovering from a pretty terrible war. All belligerents in the war appear to field mostly male armies (the Southern Water tribe nearly goes extinct doing so), so it's a fair shake that young men in the late teens to twenties are in short supply. The major cultures of the Avatar world are much more egalitarian than comparable real-world cultures, but there's still a traditionalist/patriarchal element that would see some women--and their families--eagerly jockeying for position with a man of wealth and status like Aang.

After the great war, Aang is unquestionably the most recognizable person on the entire planet. While his role in ending the war--defeating the Fire Lord--isn't strategically any more important than dismantling the Fire Nation air force (Sokka, Toph and Suki's job) or ensuring Zuko's ascension (Katara's), it's an important symbolic victory and an impressive feat of bending. Plus, he's the Avatar doing it, so whatever he does is automatically more notable. That's right, you can be historically important for doing stuff that's only important because you did it while being important for having done it. Aang canonically attracts women for this in the graphic novels.

Of course, Aang is also a hottie, I guess? Even as a twelve-year-old he attracts a reasonable amount of attention from girls: Meng (S1 E 5: The Fortune Teller) and On Ji (S3 E2, the Headband), neither of whom care that he's the Avatar. Both his fanclubs on Kyoshi Island and seen in The Promise are exclusively female, and although they might only care about his Avatar status, their interest in Aang certainly makes Katara jealous and suggests some of them have more prurient goals in mind.

Now, all this attention could go to a man's head. Aang has an iron constitution for his principles, it's true, but it is well textually supported that Aang adores getting attention and especially glories in it from young ladies. Plus, he's the Avatar. The Last Airbender. The hero of a century long conflict. No matter where he goes, I imagine there will always be some women interested either because he's famous or good-looking, and it's on him to keep his ego in check. Any man might lose his resolve, and normally he's saved because he have a chance to think about it, because there won't be a ready and willing woman somewhere nearby whenever he wants: and any effort spent finding her allows him to regain his senses. Aang, if he's as popular as he appears, will never get that grace period.

Third Reason: The Mission

I think it bears repeating that Aang is, in fact, the Last Airbender and he loved his people and his culture. His offense at seeing his culture destroyed or mocked represent pretty impressive conclusions for a twelve year old boy.

So here we have a man who likes attention and will definitely receive it from nubile young women for the rest of his life, and his mission is to completely restart a nation by himself. After trying his whole life, the only thing he has to show for it explicitly is one airbender son; he dies at least three years before his first airbending grandchild. It's hard to picture Aang holding Tenzin, the person who will inherit his title of "Last Airbender anywhere in the world" and thinking to himself "Yes. Yes. Now that I have this one basket, time to put all my eggs in there."

Bending's link to genetics isn't really clear, and there aren't any very long multiracial geneologies available for our comparison. While we see nonbenders coming from bending families (Aang's son Bumi is a nonbender) and benders coming from nonbenders (Toph's parents are not apparently benders), it's not clear how bending powers are assigned. However it works, it's safe to say that Aang wouldn't be comfortable trying to reestablish his culture with a single airbender-capable infant.

This is a concern that I imagine Katara would be sympathetic to; while she's visibly jealous of his attention to other women, she's also only fifteen when he starts getting that attention; the jealousy might fade, replaced by her empathy for Aang's dilemma. He's the last breeding male of his race. Or the anything-male of his race. Or anything anything of his race. He can teach a fair amount of knowledge about his culture to the Air Acolytes, but airbending itself apparently hinges entirely with his genetic line. And it could take years--decades!--to find out if any one child he has is capable of bending, and what. Katara predicts that Meelo will be a bender, but it's unclear whether this is a real power she is capable of or if she's just being a normal grandmother; my own grandma predicted I would be a boy because of obscure Polish folk wisdom. Aang is thirty one when Tenzin is born and presumably won't know for sure that Tenzin's an airbender for another four or five years. Tenzin, in turn, does not take his role as scion of the Air Nomads very seriously--his first child is conceived when he's thirty four, seven years after Aang's death.

Suffice to say, this is not a good situation for Aang and it's difficult to accept that Aang would be comfortable with that. There is no way he'll ever reestablish his culture or its dominant physical paradigm (e.g. airbender) without maybe meeting a few nonbender ladies on the side to discuss repopulating all those crazy temples.

So there you have it.  I can't prove that Aang cheated. Canonically he probably didn't, but think about it: this is some pretty compelling evidence that Aang might have had women on the side, and possibly even with her permission. Now, to help you recover from that depressing trainwreck, here's the trailer to The Legend of Korra, Season Two: Spirits.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kingsley Doodle

I'm trying to start drawing again for realsies, and I wanted to try my hand at a painterly style, using less lineart and more broad strokes. I don't really know what I'm doing with all this jazz, but maybe I'll keep it up this time. Hey, if you have anything you'd like me to screwdle, I'm open to that! Make a request!

Okay, so I actually tried the painterly thing, then I went through and added lineart on the top. It's a rough look but I think it'll fill out as I practice.