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Started by Paganini, October 23, 2002, 09:47:05 PM

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Cool beans James! It arrived today... it do indeed pay to be first. And it even has snazzy little Halloween stickers!

I was a little surprised by the shape of the package when I pulled it out of my mailbox... but... I like it! It's unusual and original, which will draw the eye, but it's also practical, just right for sticking in my travellin' bag to take along to gigs, on the bus, etc.

And not only that, but it has ANOTHER random appearance of "shek" for me to record! Woohoo!

And, you're not gonna believe this, but I *SKIPPED* The Pool on my first readthrough, so I could finish the comic! ;)

James V. West

Excellent. Glad you liked it. Spread the word so I can sell enough copies to pay for printing!

But I'm a bit lost on one thing: what the hell is "shek"?? Did I miss yet another important thread?


Quote from: James V. WestExcellent. Glad you liked it. Spread the word so I can sell enough copies to pay for printing!

But I'm a bit lost on one thing: what the hell is "shek"?? Did I miss yet another important thread?

Shek, apparently, is the sound that a sword makes when entering the gut of one's opponent. :)

Long story, but shek is also part of a vocabulary developed by one of my cronies and his buddies (including me) mostly based off of rolf (nonsense that people say, either because they're stupid, or because they're making typos). In the vocabulary, shek happens to mean "a favorable condition." As in: "How are you?" "I'm shek!"

(If you're interested, this is the same guy I mentioned in the Everyone is John RPG thread. :)

Anyway, being me, I'm always watching out for interesting occurrances of the vocabulary in the wild. So, I'm reading the comic and I see the guy get stabbed in the gut. SHEK says the SFX dude! "Ha ha," says I. "Not so shek at all, getting a sword thrust in the belly!"

So, now you have more pointless information about shek than you ever wanted to know. :)

James V. West

Oh, that shek...

Don't you love comic book sfx?


Now, having expressed my enthusiasm, here's some critiquing. I'm not going to mention the artwork. Well, yes I am. Don't TOUCH the artwork. The woodcut style is awesome, and works great with the "Tall and Skinny" format.

The plain text, though, (which in this case happens to be The Pool) bugs me some.

The unusual shape and presentation scheme of Random Order just screams "renegade underground gamers" to me. It's like people scrawling "Frodo Lives" on subway walls back in the 60s. I can see gamers handing around their copies of Random Order the way ravers hand around pirated music disks. It's presentation is definitely the kind of thing that you expect to see in a marginalized social group. So I'm reading along thinking "man, this is freaking awesome," when I run into the text of The Pool. And it looks like someone's homework assignment. Plain ol Times Roman all the way through. You can practically see the Microsoft Word formatting.

My suggestion: See if you can beef the text up a bit. It's got to maintain the sort of small-press "rough & ready" tone that the rest of the production does, but you need to do it without being boring.

Here's how I would do it (YMMV, of course): Use a sans-serif font for all the headings. Arial is a common one on PCs. If you're on a mac, you can use Helvetica. Consider making headings bold instead of all capitols. I would also use equal margins inside and outside. Because the collumns are necessarily so tall (because of the shape of the book) the raggedness on the right side of the left-justified text is exaggerated. I'd try both justify and see how that looks.

Times is fine for the main body of the text, but consider using a different font for the italic examples, to set them off more. You might try using a smaller or larger font size for the examples. The smaller the font size, the darker the text needs to be to preserve even color, so you might need to bold smaller text, if the font doesn't scale automaticaly.

Finally, I'd suggest using a slightly larger font size overall, or increasing line spacing to 1.5. Since the format is necessarily cramped from right to left, you need to make sure that there's plenty of room top to bottom. This might be a tricky thing to manage with page counts (I don't know what your limitations there are) but I think it would add a lot to the presentation.

James V. West

Interesting suggestions. Very good ones too.

The font is actually Book Antiqua, which I love. At least its supposed to be Book Antiqua...

The formatting was a creature of necessity. I needed to fit it all on 4 pages so I had to eliminate some of the larger font sizes.

If I had my druthers, I'd hand-letter the whole thing. But once you do that it's impossible to edit...and everyone here knows that when I write something it always needs editing. Hoo-boy!

Next issue's game is called Visions. Its a game I cooked up in the mid-90s and played several times. Very simple, nothing really incredible about it. Maybe I'll hand-letter that.


Hand lettering... that's a SWEET idea!! I wonder. Not having ever done any hand lettering, you understand, but it seems to me that if you hand lettered something you'd really notice every little thing about it. Maybe if you edited carefully beforehand (I'd be happy to help out), and then did it out by hand?

Ooh, hey, have you seen those things where you can have a font made of your handwriting? It's like $15 tp $20 I think, but it might be worth it...


There was one thing I forgot to mention in my critiques. Random Order is the kind of thing that I'd like to be able hand out to friends and family along the lines of "Hey, this is what I think is cool!" The profanity on the last two pages seems a little extreme given the nature of the publication. To me, it takes away from the otherwise high quality of content.

James V. West

Well, the second issue has a couple of "fuks", some "hells", and maybe a damn or two. The Zarp stories will run fairly high on cussin', blood, gore, and all that stuff. But strangely enough no sex.

Ah, but fear not. I have other projects waiting in the wings that are all-ages friendly.

And the thing about having a font made of your own handwriting is pretty cool. First though I'd like to "master" the art of hand-lettering. I have a very, very long way to go.

joshua neff

James, I just got your comic. Great stuff. I love "Thirsty"! Really, really good.

I did a short little review on my website (, with a recommendation to buy it. Support your indie artists!

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes

James V. West

Thanks Josh! I appreciate the support.

And I wish more people would support indie publishing. Games, comics, zines, all of it. I just bought a copy of Michael T. Desing's>Army Ants rpg. It's a great game! Very old school, but so lovingly produced and so damn cool.

Imagine...I could have spent that money on a the latest cd hit or some crappy Mcfood!

Instead of blowing cash for nothing, buy an indie game, small press comic, or cd from a local band.


Woo hoo!

My fave is the little thing on the back page (not the cover) about writing comics.  Cuz dag.



My bud Pat is always borrowing my stuff.  He's had the Pyramid issue with the ubercool setting "the Hole" for years.  Ditto Aaron Allston's Strike Force.  He borrowed Adventure! hours after I got it to "make a character".  4 months later no damn PC and no book back.  Ok, so I lent him Adventure!, but told him I wanted to play it over the freakin' summer.

So you know what?  I bought 2 copies of this little gem sight-unseen.  Best 2 bucks I've spent in a long time.

Mr. West, any chance for subscriptions?  I'd pay up front for more comic + gaming goodness on a monthly or even quarterly basis.
Jeff Rients

James V. West

Quote from: jrientsSo you know what?  I bought 2 copies of this little gem sight-unseen.  Best 2 bucks I've spent in a long time.

Mr. West, any chance for subscriptions?  I'd pay up front for more comic + gaming goodness on a monthly or even quarterly basis.


Response to the zine has been much better than I expected. I was planning on announcing a subscription policy later, but why wait? Especially since I've already sold a couple of subs...

Check my website tomorrow (the ROCG page) for details about subs. And thanks for asking!