Showing posts with label Cthulhu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cthulhu. Show all posts

Thursday, August 07, 2014

And Now is the Time on Sprockets When We Self-Promote -- Cthulhu Claus Holiday Cards Season 2

I'm very excited to announce that Twin Suns Entertainment - a company that I and a couple of friends started in 2011 - launched our second Kickstarter campaign today with Cthulhu Claus Holiday Cards Series 2.

When we launched the first series of cards in 2012, Twin Suns Entertainment had already attempted a failed Kickstarter program for a documentary about gamers that was going to be directed by our own Wes Kobernick. My wife Jody came up with the idea of doing a series of Holiday Cards based around a doodle she had done depicting Cthulhu as Santa Claus. My partners, Wes and Joel, thought it was a very good idea and so our project was researched, price quotes obtained, contracts with Jody Lindke and Kenneth Hite negotiated, and project launched. During the process, we teamed up with Game Salute as our distributor for those who wanted to purchase the cards after the Kickstarter campaign. You can still buy cards from them at this link.

Here is some sample art from the first campaign:

This image is a much cleaned up and colorized version of the illustration that inspired the first campaign.

The Cthulhu Claus sleigh ride illustration is probably my favorite illustration in the first set. I love not only the design on the "reindeer," but also the way Jody used color.

These are what the cards look like in the box of 25. There are five cards of each illustration that Jody did for the piece.

Even Cthulhu like's cookies. I really like how Jody used the image of frosting and red hots to represent a stomach wound and intestines.

And if Cthulhu can eat a cookies, why can't we. I hope that some day we'll be able to put together a Cthulhu Claus cookie cutter, but talk about an expensive proposition for the initial set up. And I thought trying to get die-cut stickers was a pain.

The new series of cards will have a slightly different look as the inspirations for the illustrations will come from multiple sources and stem from another project we are working on at present, but here is a glimpse.

I really think that Jody has knocked the ball out of the park with this illustration, but we'll see if you agree.  If you want to back our latest project, you can do so my clicking on the widget below. Please spread the word to your friends.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Night's Black Agents, Kenneth Hite, Fritz Leiber, and Vampires

I have long been an admirer of Kenneth Hite as game critic, game commentator, and game designer. The reasons I hold him in high esteem are too numerous to be enumerated here one by one, and that would be boring besides, but there is one reason that stands at the summit of my admiration. It is his awe inspiring ability to fuse history, mystery, pulp, and high art into his game design in surprising ways.

Consider the following. I have known for some time that Ken was working on a new role playing game for Pelgrane Press entitled "Night's Black Agents." The game uses Robin D Laws' innovative "Gumshoe" role playing game system as its engine and combines the genres of action-espionage with vampire horror. That alone makes it a winner. Just read the Pelgrane blurb (and this interview):

The Cold War is over. Bush’s War is winding down.

You were a shadowy soldier in those fights, trained to move through the secret world: deniable and deadly.

Then you got out, or you got shut out, or you got burned out. You didn’t come in from the cold. Instead, you found your own entrances into Europe’s clandestine networks of power and crime. You did a few ops, and you asked even fewer questions. Who gave you that job in Prague? Who paid for your silence in that Swiss account? You told yourself it didn’t matter.

It turned out to matter a lot. Because it turned out you were working for vampires.

Vampires exist. What can they do? Who do they own? Where is safe? You don’t know those answers yet. So you’d better start asking questions. You have to trace the bloodsuckers’ operations, penetrate their networks, follow their trail, and target their weak points. Because if you don’t hunt them, they will hunt you. And they will kill you.

Or worse.

It just oozes high concept excitement. Yet, much like Ken's brilliant The Day After Ragnarok, there seems to be something else going on here as well. It is something that I missed at first glance -- Ken is sneaky that way. I didn't notice it until I was reading an interview with Fritz Leiber in Charles Platt's "Dream Makers vol. 2."

There was a brief comment by Leiber that his first book, published by Arkham House, was entitled Night's Dark Agents. Hmmm... Sneaky that Hite fellow. A follow up game to the successful, and remarkable, Trail of Cthulhu (which I believe to be the best Cthulhu game published to date, though Ken humbly differs) is named after a book published by Arkham House. Arkham House Publishing's first publication was a book of Lovecraft's stories, and Leiber wrote letters to Lovecraft receiving kind responses from the father of Cosmic Horror -- responses that kept Leiber writing until it became a paying gig. The Fafhrd and Grey Mouser story "Adept's Gambit" that is in Night's Black Agents is Leiber's first written -- though not first published -- tale of the duo, and it includes some Cthulhu references.

You see how he so subtly built a connection between Lovecraft and his new game through the vehicle of Leiber?

More than that, Hite knows that the title references "The Scottish Play" as well.

You see, Hite is just able to take ideas -- sometimes seemingly incongruous ideas -- and meld them into something new and wonderful.

I cannot wait for the release of Night's Black Agents.

I wonder if the game will include echoes of Leiber's vampire story, "The Girl with the Hungry Eyes." You can watch a "Serlingized" version of that tale below.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

H.P. Lovecraft and Gameshows

When was the last time an American game show featured questions about H.P. Lovecraft?

I think we should invite this woman to GenCon this year for a charity competition against Kenneth Hite. My money is on Hite for the victory.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tor Books Offering Cthulhu Christmas Cards and Baby Onesies

As a part of Tor Books Cthulhu themed December, the book publisher announced today that they will be selling Cthulhu themed Christmas cards and Baby Onesies in their online store. Looking at the quality of the artwork, and the fact that my twin daughters already have D&D themed onesies from Jinx (a gift from my dear friend Eric), this item will definitely be finding its way onto my list of Geek recommendations for Christmas this year.

Looking at the front of the onesie, we see a happy Santa with a happy H.P. Lovecraft sitting on his lap. If you look closely at the chair, you can make out some disturbing iconography. Instead of cheerful woodland animals sculpted into the frame, we see something more squamous and rugose.

Where we really see the sinister nature of these shirts is on the back side. Here we see that Santa isn't who we originally thought, instead of hailing from the North Pole he hails from Sleeping R'lyeh. Poor little H.P. is getting what he always dreamed about for Christmas, but we don't always want what we see in our dreams.

You can buy the shirt here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cthulhu 101 by Kenneth Hite -- Go Buy It Now!!!

I have mentioned Kenneth Hite's works before on Cinerati. He's written everything from Children's books and roleplaying game products to Fortean magazine columns and "must read" companion books to the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft -- he's also written an illustrated guide to U.S. History.

Hite's latest venture requires all of the skills highlighted in Hite's wide ranging bibliography. Cthulhu 101 by Kenneth Hite is one of the most informative and entertaining For Dummies-eque books I have ever read, and it is the first in what will be a line of "101 Books" by Hite's Atomic Overmind Press. The book some how manages to be a delightful and light-hearted introduction to the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft suitable for the completely uninitiated, while also containing enough in jokes to satisfy a wide array of Lovecraft fans.

Do you have no knowledge of Cthulhu and H.P. Lovecraft? That's okay because Hite's informative and humorous tone will introduce you to the character and author in a way that piques interest without being a substitute for the experience. Hite deftly educates readers about Lovecraft, the Lovecraftian circle, and their place in modern horror fiction in bite sized content that reads like a fun conversation. Most sections begin with a question. For example, "Who is Cthulhu?" These questions are followed by a response, which may or may not be humorous. For the aforementioned question, the answer is a straightforward one:

"Cthulhu is a monstrous being invented by the author H.P. Lovecraft in the short story 'The Call of Cthulhu.' Lovecraft wrote the story in 1926, and Weird Tales magazine published it in 1928."

His answer to "I mean, what does Cthulhu look like?" is more humorous.

Are you a gamer who has played the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, but want to know more about the character and author? This book is a great place to start and has a reading list in the back and directs readers to some of Hite's favorite stories. If you are an old D&D gamer who has a copy of the original Deities and Demigods, there is a nice in joke for you on page 49.

Have you read all of Lovecraft's writing, but are wondering what the best film based on Lovecraft's fiction is? He's got you covered. If you want to know which Lovecraftian films to avoid, Hite's got a pretty good list. This list contains Cthulhu Mansion, and Hite's description of the film is one of the funniest film reviews I have ever read -- "There is, in fact, a mansion in this movie. The rest is lies and theft."

Hite is a little hard on August Derleth, who is to Lovecraft as L. Sprague de Camp is to Robert E Howard, but is as fair to Derleth as any Lovecraft "purist" can be. This is to say, while Hite is critical of Derleth he makes sure to point out that one of the better Mythos tales -- "The Thing that Walked on the Wind" -- is a Derleth tale.

As an aside, I'm one of those who -- like the Cimmerian -- is more forgiving of de Camp than many of my fellow Robert E Howard fans. Maybe it's because for all that de Camp butchered and infantalized Conan, deC amp's Harold Shea stories are must reads for any fan of Fantasy literature.

Hite's prose is spot on throughout the book and the illustrations by Drew Pocza are a nice counterpoint to the information -- with one exception. While Pocza's black and white illustrations are well drawn and engaging, his cover does leave something to be desired. Pocza's digital colored Cthulhu on the cover lacks the charm of the interior illustrations.

Don't let the cover, printed in the villain colors* of purple and green, fool you. This book is a must own -- go buy it now!

* -- Green and Purple are the standard villain colors in four-color comic books. Think about all the iconic villains, particularly Marvel, and how many of them are green and purple themed.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flames Rising Interviews Award Winning Author Kenneth Hite

The excellent game industry blog Flames Rising has an interview with Game Designer and Author Kenneth Hite on their website. Earlier this month, we mentioned one of Kenneth's award winning books "The Tour de Lovecraft." We believe this award winning book is an essential entry into any horror literature fan's library. We also argued that his excellent "Trail of Cthulhu" was the best Lovecraft inspired rpg to date.

What we didn't mention, but is mentioned in the excellent interview at Flames, is that Hite has also written two Lovecraft inspired children's books. The excellent "Where the Deep Ones Are" is already available and is a wonderful tribute to a classic children's book. Coming soon is "The Antarctic Express," his tribute to a more modern children's book...with a glimpse "At the Mountains of Madness." The 3D animation of the film "The Polar Express" nearly drove me insane, maybe this is just the last piece I need in order to drift into blissful madness.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Calls for Cthulhu Makes for Mind Shattering Tuesday Goodness

I am pretty sure that all of you know all about "Ask a Ninja," so I'm not going to write about him today. What I am going to write about is the wonderful cheerful goodness that is Calls for Cthulhu.

Are you in need of advice from someone, or something, that can provide you with down to earth common sense solutions to your problems? Sure, we all are. A lot of people ask Amy Alkon, the Advice Goddess, and she fills that role fairly well. But why ask advice from someone who claims to be a goddess when you can ask a real god while he lies sleeping in the sunken island of Ryleh?

That's right you can ask Cthulhu for solutions to your trivial day to day problems. True, he will eventually shatter all our minds and devour our souls, but he wants to make sure our minds and bodies are sound until the stars are aligned.