Posted Sep 9, 2020 - 9:04:36
Forty. Forty years old. It's official, there's no more pretending that I'm not a full ass adult.
It's here, I'm forty.
It's a weird thing. Like if you'd asked me growing up where I thought I'd be at this age, the life I would have pictured for myself would have been so different. I had a lot of expectations I put on myself back then, and I'm happy I defied so many of them.
I mean, seriously, twenty year old me had no idea what they were doing and had no place trying to tell forty year old me what life should
My thirties were a decade of change -- at thirty I had just gotten married, Crysta and I had just moved to Indiana, and I was sort of lost. I was lost for most of my twenties too. Not having a rudder was kind of my THING it feels like sometimes. I've spent most of my adult not really having direction. Even when we moved back to Wisconsin three years ago, it wasn't with any purpose beyond "we like it more than Indiana."
If the last year has taught me anything though, having "direction" is friggin' overrated though. I know so many people whose plans were tossed overboard in the storm that is 2020, and I've learned to appreciate what I have so much more.
I mean yeah, it's been stressful as shit and I've had a massively hard time working on creative projects (I was going to start Peregrine Lake and revive Crosarth this year -- which very much did not happen), but that's just, y'know, because we're living in a nightmare.
But my turning 40 is not a part of that nightmare. Turning 40 is, frankly, kind of nice.
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Ten years ago today I stood across from Crysta Colangelo in a chapel in Glacier Hills Park in Washington County. Ten years ago we got married. Ten pretty freaking awesome years.
Right now as we buckle down during a global pandemic, every day I thank the gods that she's the one I spend my days with. I can't imagine going through this with anyone else at my side.
So much has changed since we got married -- we're both different people than who we were back then. But as we've grown, we've grown together. For every challenge that has come in front of us, we've tackled it as a team. I count myself as lucky every day because of it.
We celebrated our anniversary early back in May with a week in a cabin on a lake up near Phillips, WI -- and tonight we probably won't do anything more than order a nice delivery dinner and watch Netflix in the living room.
But any time I get to spend with Crysta is special no matter what day it is.
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So back in December I announced my new comic Peregrine Lake
would be debuting in "April 2020." Well, it's April 30th, and clearly nothing beyond that initial teaser image
has materialized. I've had a lot of people asking me why it isn't here yet, and understandably so. So that's what I'm going to explain.
It's not here yet because I haven't drawn it yet.
I have a lot of Peregrine Lake written. I have scripts for the first couple of months done, the arcs planned, but I haven't committed any panels to virtual ink. The part of the work that usually takes me the longest is actually completed. But yeah -- none of it has been converted to actual comics
And the main reason for that, frankly, is that we've been living in lock down during a pandemic. My mental state has been not the best
. I mean, I don't want pity -- my wife Crysta and I have been both working safely from home, which is a privilege a lot of other people don't have right now. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining at all
. The fact is though, it's stressful, and Peregrine Lake isn't the only thing on my plate (some of you may recall that whole podcast network
I help run).
I don't talk about it all the time, but I have an anxiety disorder and it's literally taking all my spoons to keep up with my day job and the ongoing projects I have. So, Peregrine Lake (and the return of The Chronicles of Crosarth
) have both been put on what I'm now referring to as "extended schedules."
The original plan was to launch Peregrine Lake in April, and then hopefully return Crosarth to updates in the Summer. This is obviously no longer the plan. The new
plan is to try and launch Peregrine Lake in some
form in either late May or early June, and the Crosarth timeline will be evaluated some time after that.
I know this may disappoint some people, but it's just what I can handle right now. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, and I'm still very excited to share this story with you.
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So fans of our actual play podcast Stormwood & Associates
know that we use a role playing game system called Super Awesome Action Heroes
which I created about fourteen years ago. I've always teased a print edition of that manual would come out, and once we started seriously running it with Stormwood (and I started to update issues the rules had I hadn't noticed), I started talking about a second edition.
Well, that second edition is finally here.
I'm happy to announce the release of Super Awesome Action Heroes Second Edition
(how many times can I say second edition?). The rulebook is just as slim as the first edition, which is why it only costs $6.99 to buy. Characters created with the first edition rules should be 100% compatible with the new version, but some rules have been tweaked (and some Archetypes completely rewritten, removed, or added). An electronic version will eventually become available, but I haven't decided how I'll be putting that out yet.
I should also note that this is just the core rules, and does not include the Fantasy archetypes or the Supernatural add on. Those are still available on the official website
for free, and will remain so even if they end up in a print expansion down the road too.
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So the mascot for No Brand Con is "Duct Tape Boy," a member of the No Brand Heroes. Years ago we set up a Facebook page for him. We only post to it occasionally, and you would expect the responses to be innocent.
They are not.
Posts made to the page fall into two categories: Promotional links for the con and "in character" musings. It's supposed to be super obvious that the page is the mascot for a convention. We try to be very, very clear with that.
We are apparently not clear enough.
Every once and a while, the page gets sent messages. It's only happened a couple of times in the last few months, but these... well... are really really strange.
Here are the best examples:
(And yes, I sent that guy a photo of a Playdia)
It's just super, super weird. Like please -- horny fetishists of Facebook -- stop sending messages to innocent convention mascot Facebook pages? The only people who end up reading them is me and the other page manager Calvsie. Spare us from your kinks, okay?
Duct Tape Boy is supposed to evoke a childlike wonder, not whatever gives you your weird boner. What consenting adults do at home is their own business -- so please stop trying to make it mine, okay?
And if you're a pedophile, you can fuck right off.
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So today saw the final update to the ten year run of UnCONVentional
, and with it comes the announcement of my next project -- Peregrine Lake
. Now that's just a title and a splash image, and since the actual comic won't premiere until April I thought I might fill you in on a few of the (non-spoiler) details.
First and foremost, yes -- Lynn and Megan will continue as main characters in the new comic. It will be in continuity with UnCONventional, but I'm writing it as though the reader has never read that first comic. Sort of like how Lynn first canonically appeared in Full Circle (which has been deleted from the internet).
Secondly, Peregrine Lake will be set roughly ten years after UnCONventional ended -- or five years after the last bit of the epilogue. UnCONventional took place in real time, which often forced me to cut stories short. This comic will take its time to tell the story...
...so let's just hope I don't get the technology too wrong.
The comic will start updating in April 2020, but I haven't come up with an exact date yet. If you want to know when it's happening though, there are a few ways you can keep informed. First off, there's always the website
which has an RSS feed
you can follow. Also I will (obviously) be posting updates to my Twitter
accounts. Finally, the UnCONventional Facebook Page
will become the Peregrine Lake Facebook page over the next few months, so make sure you've liked and followed it. And, y'know, obviously this blog
I'm really excited for what's coming next, and I can't wait to share it with you.
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I posted these numbers to social media last night when we got home, but I'm doing it again:
Thanksgiving weekend just happened, and honestly I am still dead tired even after a full night's sleep. Crysta and I... well... we did a lot for just a couple of days.
- 4 days
- 4 nights
- 4 states
- 1300+ miles
- 26+ hours of driving
- 2 snow storms
- 10+ cars witnessed off the road
- 1 exhausted Trae
Like most years we drove down to my parent's house in the Milwaukee suburbs on Wednesday. We literally had a blizzard on Wednesday morning though, so roads on the way out of town weren't super terrific. We got there late, and on Thursday had Thanksgiving with a good chunk of my family. I think it was a total of twelve people crammed into my parent's not-super-large house? You cram that many people into that small a space it's always going to feel hectic.
On Friday we drove down to Ohio to see Crysta's sister and her dad. We hadn't seen them for a while, and we decided to make the trip just a couple of weeks ago. That drive wasn't too bad, but I think we were still wiped from Thursday, so we just sort of crashed when we got to our hotel. We spent Saturday visiting Crysta's dad and going out to dinner with her sister and (teenage) kids. It was all pretty great. Like overall it was a lot of fun, and it was nice to see people we rarely get to spend time with.
But then there was the drive home.
So Sunday we had to get from Franklin, OH back to Eau Claire, WI. If you look on a map... these places are not close to each other. We got up at 6:00am EST and hit the road around seven. Driving through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois the roads were all fine. It was actually a nice drive for a lot of it.
But then we got to Wisconsin.
This is where it was snowing, and the roads weren't awful, but they weren't great. They were the kind of conditions where drivers get overconfident, y'know? Where if you go slowly it's not bad at all... but even going five miles per hour faster will send you spinning off the road. We were on schedule to get home at like 5:30pm Central time initially... but because of the roads we didn't get into our apartment until a little after eight. You know how google maps will turn a route red if there's a massive slowdown? That was pretty much the entirety of I94 between Tomah and Eau Claire. And since the roads were so rough, that meant zero cruise control for hours. My leg literally still hurts right now because of it. It was a lot of fun, but I am just absolutely wiped right now.
So if we do this again, I am definitely taking Monday off. Oof.
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Yesterday I finished the final comic of UnCONventional. It won't go online until next week (I was working ahead), but it's... it's done? It's done.
And it's the weirdest feeling.
I've never finished something like this before. I mean, I've ended projects, I've stopped updating things... but I've never intentionally finished a project of this scope. I planned this ending three years ago, and I actually DID it. I hate to repeat myself this much, but, it just so, so strange.
UnCONventional was ten years of my life. It was a massive undertaking, and I don't think there's anything I've ever done in my life to this scale. It's kind of frightening to finish what's been the most popular story I've ever told -- and there is a temptation to keep it going just because of that -- but I know it's time.
These characters and their lives have been taking up space in my head for so long that I'm really going to miss them. Since these epilogues have been covering the next five to ten years of the character's lives, I'm answering all the questions I'd normally have about what they're doing next. It's really a massive goodbye.
A goodbye to people who only live in our collective imaginations.
On the other hand, it's really freeing not to be locked into the structure of a comic that's taking place in real time. I'm working on a new thing, and the one thing I'm making sure I do is not tie it to the real world's calendar. There are so many stories I rushed through in UnCONventional because I needed to jump to keep up with the actual changes of the year. This time around I'm not going to do that. And... while I said I was saying goodbye to everyone earlier, there may be a couple of characters I'm not done dedicating brainspace to.
(The super-secret project won't start until spring 2020, but I'll announce what it is on December 6th.)
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So this weekend I'm hitting a local convention -- UWEC Geek Con
in Eau Claire, WI. It's held at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Davies Center from 10am-5pm this Saturday, November 23rd.
I have a table there for Nerd & Tie
(and not my comics), and I'll be sitting there all day to hang out, answer questions about our shows, and just all around have fun. Also, if you find me in person, I'll tell you about the super-secret-project comic I'm working on after UnCONventional
ends in December.
The event is free to students, $5 to the public, or free with a donation of a two non-perishables. I honestly love small, college cons more than anything else (heck, that's what No Brand Con started as), and UWEC Geek Con is a great time. If you're in the Eau Claire area you should make sure you come on down.
Because it's going to be awesome.
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