Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Rat Queens Book 1: Sass And Sorcery (#1-5)

"Why is it that wherever there's a Rat Queen, someone gets assaulted or a building destroyed" - Sawyer

Let's stick with the sword n'sorcery theme for my next post for Ladies Month. So, if it wasn't already apparent, I am a massive nerd.  And one thing I really love is fantasy roleplaying games.  Because I don't live close enough to a place I can play pen and paper rpgs with friends, I stick with the console ones and am currently juggling Skyrim's dlc, Diablo 3, Arcana Gothic 4 and Sacred 2 in between breaks writing this post. I also had a four year addiction to World of Warcraft so there's that too. One of my favourite shonen anime series is "Fairy Tail" which tells the story of a fantasy realm where various guilds compete for jobs to do and quests to go on.  Rat Queens has a sort of similar premise.  It follows the misadentures of the titular group as they booze, brawl and battle in the fantasy city of Palisade.  The group is all female, there is Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dawrven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Smidgen Thief.  Anyone who has played a roleplaying game will be familiar with those classes although the caveats attached to some of them make them less stereotypical.  The Rat Queens are Palisade's premier troublemakers and have a somewhat dysfunctional relationship with each other, so join me as we are introduced to their world as presented to us by writer Kurtis J.Weibe and artist Roc Upchurch and the plots and plans that they get themselves wrapped up in.

It starts with a town meeting discussing the threat posed by the Rat Queens; an elf is agitated abut them destroying her storefront, another says "what do you expect when a bunch of young people get rich quick and have nothing to do but drink".  Then a man is tossed through the window and we see the Rat Queens with Hannah saying "Now that's what I call a bar brawl".
L to R: Betty, Hannah, Dee, Violet.
Later a man called Sawyer is handing out quest assignments.  He tells the Rat Queens that they had promised to keep their parties away from town so to make up, they have to do one of the quests, "and before you ask, no, you don't get to choose."

Sawyer: "If you fail in your task, you are hereby banned from Palisade forever. And I get to punch each and every one of you in the face on the way out."

The Rat Queens are to clear the goblins out of Hindman Cave.  "Peaches" get to sack a bandit camp. "Four Daves" to deal with the restless dead at the cemetary.  "Brother Ponies" to slay the one-armed ogre at Mulch Hill and "Obsidian Darkness" to clean the toilets at the Winding Pass Barracks.

As they leave, Hannah complains to Sawyer that Goblins never have any loot.   He tells her to keep the fighting outside Palisade if they want better jobs.   He says he can't vouch for them anymore and now "Mayor Kane wants you gone".  Hannah grumbles that they do keep to the town outskirts. Sawyer says they don't and "now you're more dangerous than the monsters".
One fuck is given to Peaches.
One of the members of Peaches taunts them about the fact they'll have loot and the Rat Queens won't.  Hannah gives her the finger.  She returns to the rest of the Rat Queens and says Sawyer won't be swayed. Violet says they can sit around bitching or make some monsters bleed, "And my sword is hungry for blood".  Elsewhere, Obsidian Darkness go to where they are to clean "your excrement hole" but a shadowy figure cuts them all to pieces.

Climbing the hill to the goblin lair Betty is grumbling that Hannah attacked Faeyri who was making out with Betty over an innocent comment.   Hannah says she started the brawl that got them out here.  Betty says she was sweet and intense and it was true, "Hannah does need to get laid." Violet responds that she thought, "the way you were going at it, I figured you were getting laid for all of us".

Dee says she never saw the right hook coming, "it was beautiful".  They stop to have lunch, Dee says "thank N'rygoth.  I'm starving".  Violet asks why she says that if she doesn't believe in any God. "Old habit" says Dee, "once a N'rygoth cultist, always a N'rygoth cultist".  Dee then says anti-grace:

Dee: "I, Dee.  A reformed acolyte from the blood drinking, squid worshipping sect of N'Rygoth will not lead us in prayer.  So for the love of his grotesque and misshapen ballsack, dole out the damn food."

Betty open the bag which contains candy and magic mushrooms.  The others are not pleased, but Betty says candy is awesome and doing mushrooms together is fun.
Don't mock the sweets and drugs diet. Works for me!
Hannah then gets a call via her magic rune covered stone.  It's her parents, she tells her mum to tell her dad she's in a "relationship with a Half-orc and we're ring shopping".  She hang up saying "that'll make him shit his pantaloons".  Dee is envious of her gadgets, but Hannah says:

Hannah: "No matter how amazing the relics I own may seem, just try to keep in mind that they're infused with the tortured souls of the dead by the hand of two seriously demented necromancers".

The arrive at the cave and Betty is sent inside to check for traps. As she searches she says to herself, "oh lovely Faeyri I will return to you!" Then she bumps into some boots. They belong to a black clad assassin who immdiately attcks them.  Hannah conjures up a shield spell, then Violet charges him.

They clash and blows are struck, the assassin manages to slice into Violet's shoulder, then Betty slides between his legs and buries two daggers in his back.  He kicks her away.  Hannah uses an offensive spell  on him but the assassin conjures up black tentacles from the ground. Violet slices into him and the tentacles recede.
A single ninja is always more deadly then 100 ninjas.
Both sides stand down.  Hannah demand to know who hired him.  The man unmasks and says now they are marked, they will be destroyed. He starts talking about "the shadow of the order" and "we are the voice of death" but he is cut short by a troll crushing him under its huge club.

Violet yells at Hannah as to how the troll managed to sneak up on them, "you're the one with Elven eyes! Elven eyes!" Hannah shouts back that her mother is near-sighted and she is just the product of familial traits.  She supposes Violet loves dwarven ale because she's a dwarf.  Violet says she only drinks wine, also there are many types of dwarven beer.  Betty asks if they can "stow the racial slurs for now?  Giant troll just made man mash."

Violet says they hould form up for "the Betty Climber", Hannah says no way and starts "the White Screamer". She begins to cast a spell but the troll grabs her arm and snaps it gorily, then tosses her aside shouting "NEXT!" So they do the Betty Climber which involves Violet climbing on-top of Dee usuing her blades to climb its body, then Dee catapaulting Betty who grabs the sword left by Violet and flips onto its head before stabbing it in both eyes.
Time for the Betty Climber!
The troll falls and Betty stand holding her two daggers with troll eyeballs on them and says she has two fresh spell components for Hannah.  Dee attends to Hannah's injury, she snaps the arm back together and heals it with a spell.  Violet says they now have some business to attend to in Palisade, "uncover who exactly wants us dead".

Elsewhere Peaches have had two of their members killed by another mysterious man in black. Braga jumps out from behind cover tossing a cart wheel when Tizzie fires off a spell.  The man in black hits Braga with some magic arrows much to her annoyance, "you put an arrow in my favourite boob, fuckwit!"  And she cleaves the man in half.  She collapses and Tizzie holds her as she appears to die.

The Rat Queens are bemoaning their lack of cash, apart from Dee who says she's not sharing her savings with them. They come across Tizzie and Braga.  Violet tells Dee to check for survivors.  While she does so, Tizzie tells them they walked into a set-up like the Rat Queens did.  "I wonder who had the means and desire to organise this" ponders Hannah. The answer she believes is Mayor Kane.
Braga, she is also made of awsome.
Dee finds that Braga is still alive and heals her, but the other two members are beyond saving. "Part of the job.  No one lives forever" says Tizzie "Especially with you as leader" snarks Hannah.  Tizzie says she'll conjure  thorn bush in Hannah's asshole. Hannah says she'd summon a tree in Tizzie's "but I'm pretty sure there's a giant fucking stick up there already!" And they start fighting until Violet reminds them they have more important things to worry about.

Later they are honouring the dead at the tavern.  The Four Daves come in, they all made it, but they haven't seen anyone else. The Daves say they were ambushed by a powerful assassin as well.  Now everyone at the table is "all that's left of Palisade's adventuring parties".

Hannah: "Well then, who's ready to burn this shit-stain town to the ground?"

Later they are ambling down the main street singing rude songs where they are confronted by Lady Bernadette who says she is going to call the town watch. They carry on to where Sawyer is, Hannah tells him to move, they know Mayor Kane is trying to kill them.  Sawyer tells them to go home and sleep it off and talk about it when they are more sober.
Morning fruit.
Violet says he's right and pulls Hannah away, Hannah says she'll be back.  Next morning Betty wakes up hungover while Violet prepares sliced fruit for breakfast.   Betty asks where Hannah is, Violet says she left early. "To kill the Mayor?" says Betty.  "Ohhhh probably" responds Violet.  We then cut to Sawyer walking through the townhall, he opens the Mayor's office door and there is Sawyer. "Ahhh... fuck buckets" says actually-Hannah-disguised-Sawyer.

The next chapter begins with Hannah in jail and Sawyer sat outside her cell chatting with her. He says inpersonating him is a new low. She says she wasn't going to do anything to the mayor.  He says he thought he knew her, she says she's the same as she always was, "I can't help if you made me out to be someone I wasn't".

Irritably he says he's getting tired of her act and is of a mind to let her stew there for a while until she learns something. "I went to university I know everything" retorts Hannah.  She then lays out the facts that someone hired assassins to wipe out all the adventuring parties.  Sawyer says but he gave out the quests he could have done it, but Hannah scoffs and calls him a "man puppy".

He goes on to tell them that everyone who got a quest got them from an outside source the mayor wasn't involved with. Sawyer then says to Hannah:

Sawyer: "And since I know you're going to resolve this matter on your own terms no matter what I say, just do one thing for me please... don't kill everybody and run our streets red with blood."

Then he changes the subject and ask how she's been.  She says not much, killed a troll.  They share a laugh over it then get awkward over the sudden intimacy.  Then he lets her go saying he's glad she made it out alive and to try and keep things peaceful with the merchants guild.

We then cut to Betty arriving at a house holding a bunch of flowers.  Faeyri opens the door, and they have a chat. Faeryi tells her she was having a great time until her friend who can't take a joke showed up.  Betty apologises.  Faeryi says she's "moved on from the crazy, bar brawling era of my life".  She just doesn't want the extra drama in her life and she kisses Betty saying "When you understand what I mean, I'll be around".  She shuts the door and Betty leaves sadly.
She returns to the team's house where they are practising in the training room.  They fill Betty in on what's happening and she realises they want her to break into the merchant's building.  Betty and Dee then go to the merchants guild, there they meet one of the members of the guild.  Dee tells him they have amassed considerable savings and are interested in partnering with them in a new business interest.

Dee then asks what they could offer, he tells them there would be a connection to the sea trade, foreign markets and absolute loyalty and funding for an expansion of business or simple maintenance "at very reasonable rates".  Betty grabs him and says his rates are too high.  When he says he hadn't given them any numbers, Betty says he's not willing to negociate, so she and Dee leave.  As they do do, Betty jumps on Dee's back and Dee tell her, "Betty, you are by far the strangest Smidgen I've ever met."

Violet is busy hacking up training dummies when a red bearded dwarf comes up and tells her that her form is "sloppy".  When she tell him it's good enough for killing monsters he says that's "disappointing".   Violet snaps she's finding meaning in her life and how did he find her?  He says "you've been on this foolish journey of self discovery long enough".  He wants to know where her beard is, where is her respect for tradition?  Then they get into a sword fight with each other.
Violet takes on her brother.
It ends with Violet hitting the dwarf's sword so hard it shatters.  The others arrive and ask if they want his ass beaten into the ground.  The dwarf can't believe she left everything "for this? For them?" She finally gives him a name, "no Barrie.  I left for me.  Now.. go away"  As he leaves, the others ask who he was:

Violet: "Oh... you know... just the most important person in my life... Barrie Blackforge... my twin brother".

They all get together round a table to discuss what they discovered at the merchant's guild.  Betty says it wasn't them who ordered the killings.

She says from the seawater stains on his scroll he had only arrived back this morning.  His Jade charm is super-rare, found a two week journey away.  He'd stopped wearing his wedding ring recently.  The window in his office is trapped, impossible to disarm, from the outside, "even for me". And behind his painting he has something secret hidden.

Dee says so the head merchant was away when this happened, but what did the wedding ring thing mean?  Betty says he was just sad, "people can get so lost sometimes". Hannah wants to know how they'll get into his trapped office, and fortunately Betty swiped the key as they left.

Later that night she sneaks into the merchants office. She opens a secret cupboard to fnd a bunch of contracts.  She find one for Bernadette who owns the store they smashed up and has had to take out a large loan to cover it.  Betty muses that "us Queens are kinda sorta responsible for that fifty gold loan". She leaves the merchants guild and arriving at Bernadette's shop she is attacked by an assassin who Bernadette commands "that you kill them to fucking death this time.  You can start with her".
Sawyer has mysterious past, ooooh.

Betty is beaten up, falling at the feet of Sawyer.  Bernadette shouts at him saying, "If you'd just...done your job Sawyer!  This wouldn't have been necessary".   Sawyer draws his sword and cuts down the assassin who recognises him from the past.  Betty says that was amazing.  "Now you know why I'm captain of the guard" says Sawyer.  He arrests Bernadette, and Betty says she'll keep his secret regarding the assassin knowing him. Betty says "we've all got secrets, Sawyer believe it or not".

Bernadette starts ranting that people will not accept "the boorish antics of those despicable mercenaries forever".  She says she's not the only one who's noticed the Rat Queen's criminal immunity.  She says she gives two shits about the town as it's destroyed around them. Her arrest will be a rallying cry and her store will stand "proud and strong". Then something large lands on the three of them.

They stand and Betty says the Rat Queens "had nothing to do with that random sky ball".  Sawyer asks a guard what's happening. Palisade is under attack, "something about blood vengeance against the Rat Queens".  Sawyer points his sword at Bernadette and says he can find her wherever she runs to.  The rest of the Rat Queens arrive on the scene and Betty fills them in.
A troll comes to Palisade.
Outside the city walls is an army of trolls and orcs.  The leader bellows "you cunts killed my boyfriend!" Sawyer asks what they want.  The troll responds "send out the piss gobblers and we won't smash this town to rubble". Violet thinks they should hand themselves over, while Betty says it was Bernadette's fault they were at the cave in the first place.

Violet says they are a threat to the town, she says she is going to face the troll "do something good for a change". Then Braga appears and says, "Orcs only know one language.  Blood.  I'm the fucking alphabet."  Violet says that's a great line.  Braga grabs Betty to watch her back.  Then leading the charge she rushes out and starts hacking orcs up.  They recognise her and two of them says "It's her... we're fucked."

A lengthy and bloody battle commences, limbs are chopped offf, heads removed, orcs are peppered with arrows.  But sheer numbers of orcs starts to wear them down and Violet takes a blade to the gut.  Hannah uses a spell to clear the immediate area but more swarm in.  Then the troll hurls a boulder at the town walls and creates a hole.  But then help arrives in the form of The Four Daves.  "Ready to die honourably?" says their leader.

As the fighting carries on Bernadette starts to pack to leave town.  The head merchant finds her and says she told him "this assassination silliness" wouldn't come back to him and he loaned her the gold in good faith. She says it had "nothing to do with you Gerrig".  But Gerrig says he is calling in his debt and grabs her by the throat.
Things are looking bleak...
Outside the orcs are briefly distracted by the illusion of a naked lady orc and get murderised.  Sawyer's guards fire arrows into the troll.  Hannah's staff runs out of power just as an orc attacks. Violet hurls her sword and takes the orc down but then gets an arrow through the throat. Dee runs to her, and Hannah in a rage uses two wands to slash and stab and zap several orcs.

Betty pleads for someone to save her friends.  One of the Daves picks Violet up and carries her away.  With Braga still enthuiastically killing and the help of the rest of the Daves the orcs break and begin to flee.  Hannah is facing down the troll alone.  The troll brings down her club, Hannah uses her wands to cast a spell.  It causes the club to reverse direction and smack the troll in the face.  With the troll downed she casts another spell that explodes messily.  Then Betty comes and gets her saying it's over.

Braga tells one of the Daves he's sexy when he's killing stuff. He responds "I think you take the sexy killing cake, Braga.  Damn".  Braga then tells Hannah she did nice work on the troll.  Hannah says she had it coming "no one calls my friends cunts but me".

Later at their house, Violet is in bed.  Dee says they used every drop of healing on her.  Hannah thanks Dave for helping get her to safety.  She notes he has bluebirds in his beard.

Dave: "Yeah, I know.  Happens whenever I heal someone.  Pops called 'em the buebirds of healing, my beard is their magical home".

Dee decides she is going after Bernadette and Hannah says she'll come.  Betty says they shouldn't and Sawyer said he'd handle it.  But Hannah and Dee want revenge.  Violet then comes too, "nothing like a brush with death to... make you realise what you really want..."  And what she wants is for them to leave Bernadette alone and second she wants a party tonight, she wants to get drunk and high and have sex with orc Dave.  "They can happen in any order or all at once" she says.
But they won so partay!!

So that night they have a big party. Violet ponders regrowing her beard.  Dee is hiding behind a book.  Hannah and her friend are playing around with a magical bong and Betty is serving cocktails.  Faeryi appears and holding Betty's chin, smiles and asks her to "show me what you got."  Violet is snogging Dave with the bluebirds in his beard.  She says he's hers tonight, he asks if she should get rid of the birds, she says no and "shut up and let's go."

Sawyer shows up to talk to Hannah.  He says they checked Bernadette's place and found all the evidence they needed.  But she has disappeared and he doesn't think it was by choice, "sorry you aren't going to get the resolution you're hoping for".  Hannah then asks if they can get drunk until they puke for old times sake?

The book then ends with a flashback of Dee leaving her devout family and then back in the present with Gerrig giving a speech to a bound and gagged Bernadette.  He says he's been traveling the world in search of an answer to the suffering inside him.  An emptiness his wife filled before she was taken from him.  He's found something, now he needs to understand it.  Bernadette is going to help.  He wants to practice everything so the person who took her from him suffers as he's suffered, "Sawyer Silver will regret the day he murdered my wife".
Dee's departure and discovery of a mysterious document connected to it.
This book was a lot of fun and also a testemant to how important bricks and mortar comic stores still are.  If I hadn't been browsing the offers section of my local Travelling Man, I'd never have come across this little gem.  As I said in the intro I am a huge fan of fantasy roleplaying so a comic that plays around with various fantasy gaming tropes is right up my street.  Then four main characters are well drawn and very different from each other and it's always enjoyable seeing women get to be drunken, bawdy roustabouts.  The dialogue and jokes are funny, the art is a little rough round the edges but gets the job done and I especially like the design work of each of the four Rat Queens.  Other characters like Sawyer are well drawn, but really the focus is on the four women, with plenty of hints dropped for exploration in further volumes (there are apparently two more, then the comic went on hiatus in 2016 for a while for, well, reasons.... take it to the comments people).  My favourite character is Betty, not just because she's a lesbian but I like her intuition like her Sherlock Scan of Gerrig in his office which paid off on the final page.  Of the four Dee was a little sidelined so I hope she gets some focus in later volumes which I shall definitely be buying and writing up here.  Once again Image comics gives us a confident comic with great female characters, how different from how they started out.  Good stuff all round.


  1. I feel really guilty here because I can see how much you like this, but I just couldn't get drawn into it. I've been trying to analyse why. One theory is that this comes on the back of the Sonja review, and that's just so good at de/reconstructing the sword and sorcery quest paradigm that this pales a bit because I'm unfairly comparing a story set in a world I'm familar with against one with new characters and locations. So with that caveat in mind...

    I really liked the artwork. It very much suited the tone of the story, and each character was expressed very well and in an idiosyncratic way. I particularly liked our hung-over elf. The art was just real enough to not be too cheesy but stylised enough for the tongue in cheek fatally aspects. I've used my Bruce Timm ration points for the month so I won't say any more on that score.

    And I liked the characters very much. I love a bawdy brawler, and this seemed to respect the characters in that they were girls just wanna having fun rather than stereotypical ladette pandering, by which I mean either wrong them as if they were blokes or for a blokes imagined idea of how lasses behave. I think I can speak with some authority on that as they very much remind me of some of my friends, so I find them all too believable.

    (Basically with my friends, 'girls night out' means they'll want a lift home at 2am and 'ladies night out' means I'll be picking them up from a police station)

    I just think really the characters deserved a better story. I dont know enough about D&D to know of they were subverting the tropes or just playing them straight (albeit with a sweary twist) but either way it all seemed a bit over familiar. Trolls and quests etc have all spilt over into the mainstream now and we've seen it all done straight, post modern and every combination in between. But perhaps it's unfair to criticise such a work for playing into the genre its unapologetically a part of; i don't complain when an 80s action hero offs some bad guy with a punny quip, it's all part of the enjoyment. So I can understand if D&D fans are lapping this up with abandon and a knowing wink.

    So yeah, story issues aside I'd did like the characters and the art so it'd be it resting to see what happens in their further adventures when they're given room to grow into the story a bit.


    Sorry, sorry, walking round on less than five hours sleep after four days isn't doing wonders for my coherence, but I have been sleeping appallingly since I came out of hospital, I think I am terrified I I am going to die in my sleep. Good job I am checking in with the shrink in a week or so.. *rubs eyes engages brain*

    OK, now don't feel bad if you aren't feeling it, I think you make a good point. To stick with the rpg game analogy, most of them will start out with a "tutorial level" to walk through even the most fantasy adverse gamers in the art of controls, map reading, questing and so on. When you are a veteran player these "training wheels" missions can be a bit annoying, but most games are pretty good at spicing them up with plot. This book reminds me of the tutorial mode, the introduction to the fantasy gaming tropes are fairly basic but it's spiced up with fun characters and dialogue and hopefully the following two volumes (which I haven't read yet) will start striking out in bolder directions.

    I wasn't sure if I should refer to these four as "Ladies" but I see your experience has validated my choice :D I used to go on "gay" and "straight" nights out. One was a weekly affair with the ladies of my lesbian discussion group. Now I stopped imbibing alcohol after a sixth form Xmas party in 1992 (25 years dry nearly, woohoo) so I was always amused at how raucus they got. Also I used to get moaned at by ALL my friends for being the teetotaler who didn't drive.

  3. Ooh, my heart goes out to you, this must be horrible. You could try the salt. If nothing else it'll stop snails eating you. But the nearest I can empathise is sometimes I get like 'brainlock' where I've got so many things buzzing I just can't switch off. That's nothing compared to this though. I hope your shrink can assist if it isn't sorted by then (and let's hope it is). The longest I can go without sleep before I start hallucinating is around 48 hours so I really do feel for you. If it isn't too trite a suggestion there are some music tracks that can help me. They're almost hypnotic. I just dim all the lights and stick them on a loop. That sort of gives my brain something to process that 'interupts' whatever is pre occupying me. (YouTube 'Isan - Remagio' and 'lobe - placebo' for example). Another thing is to sort of go 'out of body'. Not in a literal sense but you sort of imagine your real self detaching and floating. But if you instead feel all tense like you want to yell and shake your body to bits, as sometimes happens, then abandon that.

    But anyway, the review if you're up to it (and not offended if you want to take some time away). I get what you're saying about 'bedding in' the characters and world. It's like the first couple of episodes of new TV. You have to set the scene a bit. Then after you've established yourself in the vibe of the story it feels a lot more comfortable in retrospect. (I was like that with 'Nu Who', at first there was like an 'inhibition' until much later when it was clear this was just a continuation of the series we know and love). So your training mission is a good analogy.

    Heh, yeah. Love a bit of ladies night debauchery. Some of my posh lawyer friends are the worst. I think it's that juxtaposition of pseudo respectability, then they go off and you know the Facebook pics the next day will be like they had Instagram during the last days of Caligula.

    Like I say though it was only the 'pilot episode' aspects that didn't work for me. I liked the actual characters. It's interesting though that you're featuring them as a special ladies month (we still get the other 11 though right? Like 'white history year minus one'?). But it doesn't feel like they're especially aimed at or highlighting the fact they're a girl gang. It does very much have a "...who just happen to be..." vibe to it. There's no feel of tokenism or pandering. They remind me a bit of the 'Lizzies' in the Warriors film. Just another gang but purely coincidentally it turned out they were all women.

    ("What? The Lizzies were meant to be lesbians? But what indicated that? Ohhhh, right?")

    *Seriously though, it wasn't until someone told me after that even occurred as a thought.

  4. Yes, keeping slugs at bay is always good. The first bedsit I rented when I lived in Bristol was extremely scuzzy as all first bedsits are and my on-going war with the slugs used fall just short of nuking the entire house.

    I have always had awful insomnia since my teens, but after exhausting all other methods I have used sleeping pills to control it for the past decade and generally, with blips usually sleep fine and for a decent amount each night. It is just since I got home from hospital that I seem to be having awful trouble again and I want to speak to my psychiatrist first before messing with my meds. Ugh. Anyway I tend not to hallucinate because I am on a powerful anti-psycotic which stops me doing that normally. I do however start losing my eyesight, although I have been getting juuuust enough microsleeps that I am only suffering a bit of blurring in my left eye. I'm relaxing by watching arty farty horror films now. Currently viewing a very weird one called "Under The Skin" where Scarlet Johanssen plays a sexy alien driving round in a white van collecting Scotsmen. Last year when I spent four months being reassessed by the Department for Workhouses and Pensions, I got a lot of theraputic value marathoning all the classic horror franchises, and one particular Saturday I watched all seven "Saw" films. Happy days.

    I've never been to a Hen do, but I guess they are the ultimate ladies nights. Amusingly once while out on the tiles in Bristol I saw two hen parties crash into each other in the street between pubs. One lot were wearing very expensive burlesque outfits, the other they were just all in bright ginger wigs. Both so drunk they still took a while to disentangle. I loled.

    Oh an never fear, I won't keep female characters confined to a single month of the year as you've seen. I just, in a SJW type of way want to try and prove there ARE plenty of good women characters of all types, and as you say, not just pandering to the male gaze. I did do a ladies month last year, I think, unless I am so tired I am remembering it wrong. I'll have to flick back to my post history because I can't recall when it was >_<

  5. Ooh Under the Skin is brilliant. It feels very much like a love letter to the man who fell to earth. Has that real sense of 'the alien' (in the metaphysical sense) and I love that it's so low key. Why do aliens normally always pick their invasion spots as if they're using travel brochures? ("Mum! I wanna blow up the Statue of Liberty"; "Calm down, we've got all week to do that")

    The Cornish maids seem to love dressing up; not just for hen do. There's one lass though from an old local who's 'effortlessly sexy'. It's so cute, she has no idea how gorgeous she is. Bumped into her one night when they were all dressed as cowgirls and she was all apologetic that she hadn't made as much of an effort as all her friends. But I was too busy trying not to drown in my own drool cos she had tiny little denim shorts on and a tied up check shirt. They were just her gardening clothes. One Halloween she had this amazing costume on that she'd made out of some old rubber sheeting which she told me in her delightful Cornish accent was 'Batman-girl' (and she wasn't being ironic). If I ever get hitched though I'll have a hen do just for you.

    There do seem to be some great women characters once you get away from the mainstream fodder. A lot of the stuff there does seem aimed at 15 year old boys. I'd be very interested though to know who Harley Quinn appeals to though. She does seem a lot more aimed as aspirational to girls. Again though, shes a good role model.

  6. I hadn't thought of it comparing to "The Man Who Fell To Earth" but you're right. I was mainly thinking how much it reminded me of "Ring" (the original). Not the subject matter but the style, the same feeling of alienation, long slow cuts and a subtle Industrial soundtrack. Also ScarJo gets nekkid a lot, which is nice. Watching "It Follows" now.

    I look forward to your hypothetical future wedding. Actually I was thinking, now us gay folk can get married how does that work out for the whole Hen thing. Two separate ones I guess. My sister Freya's boyf is going to a stag do in Poland where they are going to do white water rafting and playing with guns. Which is hilarious because he is the geekiest most Non-rafty gunny type guy there ever was!

    Harley definitely has a lot of female fans. Mainly her solo series which is currently co-written by a woman. As I've mentioned in a couple of posts she like a totally different character when written as part of the Suicide Squad. The perils of a shared universe i guess.

  7. It's a very unsexy nekkid. Not that that's a bad thing in the context of the film. This film was when I realised ScarJo (like that) is such a good actor. She really gives the impression that she's not quite comfortable 'wearing' that body (literally not comfy in her own skin). That again reminds me of Bowie.

    Yeah I wonder what the etiquette is there? Mind you, the gayest wedding I've ever been to was between two straight people but the vicar more than made up for it. That was my mate Sylvesters (your namesake's brother). His mum was brilliant. She sat at the front and gave a very loud running commentary. When they got to the 'til death us do part' bit she just harumphed "Well, we've heard *this* before". Just found out tonight it's his lad who plays James Potter in the last HP film. I really should pay more attention when we're chatting.

    Had a big discussion about marriage on Valentines day appropriately enough with a potential Mrs Alan. But neither of us was particularly enthusiastic. It's not a commitment thing (although we both like having other options) more a fear of domesticity. Our circle has a lot of very happy unhitched people (basically we're still stuck in early 20s mindset) and when we compare our lives to folks we know who did do the 'respectable' thing they all look 30 years older than us. Like 'normal' people. So in the end we just agreed we liked our current lives. I did incorporate a company for her Asia Valentines present though (and they say romance is dead).

    Of course Becki and I still have to have our short marriage so I'll see if she's doing a hen do for that. A vegan who only has to stuff a wine cork to fall over. It'll be like a night out with the Gallagher brothers.

  8. Welp just managed three hours sleep, feel a bit better for now. Only one person in my social circle has got married, she is a committed Christian who had met her boyf before Uni and married him months after we graduated No one else has gotten hitched. Both my sisters are coming up on 20 and 10 years since they met tehir boyfs and refuse to marry, not helped by mum saying if they do she'd sit in the front row all in black, moaning "Woe! Woe!" The only keen on marriages is me, who's a total flibberty gibbet and who has't bothered with finding someone over a decade now.

    Now as I don't drink I am usually tagged as "the responsible one", making sure everyone gets taxi's or walks home safely. From what you say of your mates sounds like I'd be the one calling you from the police station. :D

    "It Follows" was pretty good, it was "Friday the 13th " with A'levels. But gorgeously filmed, properly tense and has a great soundtrack.

  9. Eep, that's still not a lot. Glad you're feeling a bit better though. I did have a look at one of those 'top 10 times for beating insomnia'. Most of it is pretty trite. One that resonated with me though was never do anything in bed except sleep (well, nearly anything) but the key point was that you shouldn't do anything associated with being awake like using computers cos then your brain associates bed with being active. So maybe restrict your awake stuff to the couch? Probably BS, but just throwing it out there.

    Heh, I like the sound of your mum. Yeah, I've never felt any urge to get married. When I was younger a GF and I agree that we'd get married at 25, but when that came around it was "Er, let's extend for a bit". We were in an on again off again LTR though for the best part of 20 years (it's funny, we have virtually nothing in common, just mates, but we always ended up accidentally getting together between other relationships). We went to a wedding and the bouquet ended up heading towards her. She batted it away like it was made of Semtex and ticking . :-)

    But I'm very happy with my lifestyle and it suits me; and it's the same for a number of friends, so it works out pretty well for us. (I don't want to suggest I've got some sort of harem, it's just a mutually happy arrangement)

    Funnily enough, I can imagine you with a harem though, like the end of that Sonja story (I do think there's a lot of you in Sonja or vice versa, whichever it is). Of course if you're soppy for weddings you could always have some sort of concubine arrangement, so we can have a bit of a ceremony(ies). Instead of the bouquet you can throw the severed head of an enemy (unless you're at one of those places that won't even let you throw confetti).

    I have a collection of tales arising from the fact I'm quite happy not to drink so I end up being the taxi service. I'll let them out at appropriate intervals. It does sound though like you're what we used too call the 'anchorman'. That was the sensible person we could rely on to explain to the police that we were "just on our way home officer" whilst holding some miscreant friend in a headlock.

    It's funny you mention "it follows". I only heard of it the other day on one of those Cracked "After Hours" web videos. I'll have to keep an eye out for it. Mind you I'm not over familiar with Friday 13th (for shame! Boo!) The only ones I've seen are the reboot (which I quite liked) and that one where he's in space (which I also liked, sorry, it was just so wonderfully daft).

    Anyway, hope you've managed to get a bit more sleep. If you get stuck just ask me to write about some legal topic, that can usually get anyone to nod off.

  10. Sooo... apparently this is RPG comic week for me? O.o

    I mean outside of this review I also just caught up with Ms. Marvel (current arc starts with the title character playing an MMO RPG) and Gwenpool which is sorta LARPy: (Upload by scans_daily) next they meet the Great and Powerful... I mean, Enigmatic DUNGEON MASTER too. :D

  11. Malitia I'm not sure where you're located but in the UK we had an amazing RPG television programme called 'Knightmare'. It was famous for being quite scary and *ridiculously* difficult. Here's a link to a short documentary about it (and I'll try and find some clips of the show itself)

  12. It ran for over 8 years. Hardly anyone ever won, but here's the ones who did.

    Although some of the losers are more entertaining. Especially when they got killed for something stupid.

    "Oooh. Nasty!"

  13. I'm in East-Europe. (Yeah. Most of my comics are digital... and not always from the most legal sources. But I try. ^^;)

    I never heard of Knightmare before, but I'll check out the video. :)

    I was a quite active tabletop RPGer in the 90s... despite that only place I could play at was also frequented by some incredibly horrid people. :/

  14. Ooh nasty compilation

  15. I hope you enjoy it. It captured the tabletop idea but used, what was then, hi end technology to reproduce it in 'real' life. It was interesting that the show had a lot of girls on. I don't know of that was a deliberate choice but it did break the d&d is only for boys stereotype.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly this was my favourite character.

  16. "The uploader has not made this video available in your country."

    I hate youtube sometimes. :/

    Fun fact the local "most popular RPG" wasn't AD&D for language and publishing reasons but a thingy called M.A.G.U.S., but yeah in my group I was the only girl. Actually there was a huge fandom rivalry between older fans with their bootleg AD&D and fans of said local game*.

    * Now that I look back it, it was/is a barely playable mess and... its makers were terrible snobs. :/

  17. Oh that's annoying. Do none of them work? I think you might find it interesting. Perhaps there's a local server with videos? Anyway, I thought Eastern Europeans were good at hacking ;-)

    I've always wanted to play D&D. We did get the Dredd game back in the day but we didn't want to cut out the figures and ruin it. Which I guess defeats the object a bit. I used to enjoy reading the source books for fiction I liked though.

    Wasn't there something called GURPS that you could use generally. I've seen on the net stats for fictional characters generally.

  18. Most worked. I only got that for the last video. I already tried youtube downloader sites, proxies are next. :3

    I did say that the makers of M.A.G.U.S. were snobs? Yeah, one thing they liked to look down on were figures and such. (They tried very desperately to distance themselves from boardgames. This is adult and serious, damn it! :3)

    Yeah. GURPS is one of the universal systems out there. I think 4th edition is the most recent and it has literally tons of stuff out for it. I love GURPS supplements, I will never play that system (it's sort of rules heavy, and the extensions only make it more so), but if I need info on a specific topic from a gaming perspective they're a goldmines.

  19. I once went into our local Games Workshop and expressed my late blooming interest in trying "Dungeons and Dragons". I'd probably have been more welcome in the vegan cafe if I'd ordered a kitten sandwich.

    Glad you saw some of the videos though and got an idea. They did a one off special on the 25th anniversary but the team got killed after 10 minutes, so they just had to talk about the show.

  20. Well, Games Workshop... that Warhammer territory. XD

  21. I applaud your bravery and I'm very glad you got out alive. :3

  22. Heh yeah, they made that very clear (and that it's not d&d)

    Luckily the shop floor wasn't divided into hexagons so they weren't able to beat me up.

  23. So I managed even more sleep, I tell yah the horror movie cure works for everything :D I do like the idea of a harem actually, I need to start a cult or something. I've just binged watch all 11 and a half seasons of Criminal Minds, you'd think I know how to now.

    So, while I was sleeping a convo happened! I was a Warhammer obsessive in the 80's (sooo old). Played Fantasy, 40K, Bloodbowl and the tabletop rpg where I was able to levy my rare femaleness into being the cruellest DM who ever ran a game, mwahahahaha! Still have all my issues of White Dwarf and I practically lived in my local Games Workshop and used to go to their events quite regularly. Fun times :)

  24. Yeah sorry, we didn't want to wake you. But Malitia has really got me all nostalgic. I've found an online Zork emulator. I know that's not quite the same thing, but I had it as a kid (was quite the pirate back then) and never got round to playing it. So I know what I'll sneakily be doing at work tomorrow.

    I would love though for you to DM a game for us. So long as you could hold back on the sadism until I at least got the hang of it. I'll have to create a character. I'm reasonably ok at fighting, but I also like magic. What would that make me? I understand there's also all that 'lawful good' matrix. Not sure where I fit. Can you still be lawful good if you keep racking up traffic fines. Is there "generally lawful but gets confused about bus lanes at times"?

    I did enjoy the D&D films especially the second one. And the old cartoon.

    I'm sure you can get yourself a harem. Especially as you'll soon be doing your "Are you chainmail bikini body ready?" thing. Heh, it was funny all the fuss over that advert. My vegan oppressor has been bombarding me with pics of that lass for years "But I *don't* want to look like that".

    To link feminism into D&D, you know I've been researching my incel thing. Well someone did a very good argument that a lot of the Incel/"nice guy" types see the world as if it was an RPG. Hence their binary thinking. You can either be a gentleman or a douchbag. Or either smart or athletic. There's no concept of being both because characters always have to fit into categories and if you give yourself points for strength then there's non left over for cleverness. I find the argument quite persuasive or at least a good model. I've noticed that a lot of Incels talk about 'experience points' in relation to social interaction and the idea of 'leveling up' (hence the obsession with giving everyone, including themselves, an X/10 score). Not suggesting gaming leads to this behaviour. You two are prime examples of how brilliant gamers can be. More that already awful people justify themselves by reference to games. Hence the dehumanising of women and seeing them just as real world NPCs.

  25. We had a killer GM. Thanks to the horrible people I mentioned he only managed to kill one of my characters, though. (I was so proud to live that long against all those odds. :P)

    OK. Which edition of Warhammer or D&D should I read up on?

  26. Malitia: I am so incredibly out of date with tabletop rpgs. I only own all the first edition Warhammer rulebooks, once I started Uni I moved onto other things and when I got interested in rpgs again I preferred to play videogame ones. My little sister has a D&D group I think, I'll bend her ear about it next time we see each other. Now I am all nostalgic Macclesfield has a Games Workshop, might have to go an introduce myself, still have all my tabletop armies (god I loved painting those figures so much). I recall one of my biggest dick moves was creating a room with 5,000 boxes in it and a key that fitted all of them but only one had fabulous treasure. Was an experiment to see how persistent they'd be opening empty boxes (cackles maniacally).

    Alan: At the very least harem of my own would mean I'd always have someone to co-op Gears of War with me. Is it terribly sad that means more to me now than regluar nookie? :P

    Interesting stuff about Incels. I didn't realise they delved so much into gamespeak like that if I were to psycho analyse it I would say it's a way of trying to assert control by giving the idea that persistence can be rewarded rather than say skill. Of course Diablo 2, when you play on the two harder difficulty levels actually penalises you experience when you die. Bet Incels hate that game. Also PUA artists have some crossover here, they think there are magical cheat codes you can find out and enter to unlock "sex mode" (if only).

  27. As I was recently speaking with someone who agreed the best thing about FWB relationships was lolling around in a comfy bed when talking nonsense rather than having to put pants on and sit upright on furniture, no; I don't find that sad at all. Quite the opposite. I'd probably only sign up for a threesome so we could play canasta.

    I really do fancy a D&D session though (don't worry, we can use the living room). We'll have to smuggle Malitia across before Brexit shuts down the borders.

    Yeah, there's a lot of gamer philosophy with that crowd. They even talk about level grinding rather than, you know, actually talking to women like people. And Chad and Stacey (their hypothetical alpha couple) of course play the dating game on 'easy' mode (plus the 'cock carousel' is how Chad picks up experience points which gives him the advantage)

  28. Yes as I get older the FWB model is likely to be the way I go if I ever feel like I need regular sexing. I did get pretty lucky with my longer term girlfriends I hooked them all on videogames. First one we used to play Goldeneye 64 all night because she loved Peirce Brosnan. Another we used to snuggle up together and play horror games. I got pretty good at assessing friends and girlfriends and figuring out just what game would get them interested.

    Me and my family play a lot of games at Xmas and other family get togethers, quiz games though, rpgs would be a bit heavy for my mum (though she'd probably win those as well, she once won a game of Trivial Pursuit Original version by making the first move, winning every bit of pie, hitting the middle and getting the answer right before any of us got to make a single move) anyway my family all decided I am better as the question master rather than contestant because I am such a competitive rules lawyering ballache to play against >:D

    This Incel stuff you have uncoevered is super-fascinating even if it does make me want to apologise for every rpgamer who isn't one. Of course they don't believe women play the games, even though PC and console roleplaying games I think are one of the genres where females play in a slightly higher number than males now.

  29. Even in my misspent youth the F in that equation was as important as the B. That's not to say we had to be fawning over each other or even agree on stuff. In fact snarkiness and challenge is a big like of mine. But fundamentally, whilst it's nice to spend all day in bed at times, it still needs to be with someone you just enjoy hanging out with anyway. For me at least.

    Oh gawd, I know a few trivia players like that. The rule we have is that even if you 'win' everyone else gets a go to see if they can match it. That never happens of course. Funny that you're a rules lawyer. One of the best descriptions of my job was that life is like a board game. Most people can play intuitively, but every now and then you need to consult the one person who bothered reading inside the box lid.

    Oh and Incels. Both fascinating and horrific area of study. No need to apologise for them. They're very much a minority, albeit a dangerous one. They do seem to have a thing though that they take all their cues from games and fiction (albeit their own twisted interpretation). That's why they have such difficulty relating to real life relationships. In games persistence is rewarded. You do all the prescribed tasks and when you collect enough tokens you get the princess as the reward. I think that might be one of the reasons for their displeasure at female characters and female gamers. The first confuses their narrative. Guys do stuff, women are prizes. Secondly they think girls playing games given them an unfair advantage cos in effect they're learning blokes strategies for capturing them. Like teaching a fish which lures anglers use (they use a lot of fishing metaphors).

    If they were genuinely disadvantaged socially for whatever reasons one might initially have sympathy for them, but they really are the authors of their own misfortune. The one thing they hate is 'normies' (ie not incels) and 'female organisms' giving them advice, as it doesn't conform to their world view (and what do women know about women anyway?)

    Theres a *genuine* discussion thread going on at the moment where they can't understand how even though they're the absolute experts on women (because they discuss 'female' behaviour all the time) and know exactly how to deal with women, women won't interact with them even though they will interact with normies despite normies being totally clueless about how women work. Their conclusion is its women's fault for not understanding their own nature :-)

  30. I think my epic rules lawyering came from my early experience playing Warhammer tabletop wargames with my best mate (a boy). In those first editions a lot of the rules were more like suggestions and our games usually devolved into fisticuffs between us over our differing rule interpretations.

    Now, I'm a woman, and I could have fallen myself into the Incel trap at school when I loathed all my female contemporaries as one huge block of evil. Then I chilled out, left for Uni, caome out and turned out if you're nice to women, generally they'l treat you the same. Of course sometimes I wish I as a woman understood the Secret of Women. Of course that secret is all women be different, there are no cheat codes and sometimes the women of your dreams can't be unlocked. Sad to say (having pined over my share of straight women). Can't wait to read your thesis on them.

    UGH, I am watching a horror film called "Contracted" where a lesbian is dateraped by a necrophile and starts slowly turning into a zombie. He vagina just started weeping maggots, WHY AM I WATCHING THIS??

  31. I wish more court hearings just devolved into fisticuffs. Be quicker and more fun. I do have a variant on the few good men thing when trials start by saying "arm wrestle you for it"... "Be upstanding"... "Too late". I'm sure judges would prefer it. There was a dispute once about which boxer was entitled to a particular belt and the judge regretted the abolition of trial by combat.

    The saddest thing about the Incel radicalisation is that a lot of the crowd are just high school kids. But instead of saying "You're 15, don't worry about it" they get their heads filled by people saying that the cheerleaders are shagging all the jocks and AWALT (all women are like that) and it'll be like that forevER (they capitalise ER in words in honour of 'saint' Elliot Rodgers, that kid who shot all those girls, and the guys who tried to help). Charmers.

    Speaking of horrible things, yeah, why are you watching that?! :-D Although perhaps the more pertinent question is who makes films like that? People like my mate who wanted to do a kids book version of "The Very Human Caterpillar" I suppose. Still, hope you're enjoying it and it helps you sleep.

    Er, sweet dreams?

  32. I can't understand how kids can write themselves off in their teens, I didn't have my first (pretty bad) sex until I was 20 and took a few more years to really start having the good stuff. Maybe it's the whole Jock/Cheerleader thing US schools have that we don't that makes them more likely to demonise Chad and blame him for their failures. Of course I had no clue I was gay when I was a younger teen, that didn't dawn until I was 18 and I damn well wasn't interested in any of my school mates.

    As for the horror film, it's a pretty novel take on the zombie film that works as a metaphor about how a person can go into deep denial about how sick they are (which I can now relate too. The main character is quite cute, even when she attains full zombiehood at the end. Actually the worst vagina maggot bit occurs when she has sex with a man. A cautionary tale for all lesbians there I think :P

  33. We were all gangly and awkward at school, even the cool kids. That's the whole point. It's just that delusion that everybody else is more sorted than you, in every aspect of life. Then a few years later you just start to discover yourself. I'm reminded of an old TV series called Johnny Jarvis. The geek kid ends up being a really popular and cool musician. It's like the Inbetweeners. Word of God says they all grow up to be perfectly normal. Notwithstanding the fantastic advice from Jay's dad.

    "Son, women are like fairground rides. Fucking mental."

    For the Incels though reality is irrelevant. Films confirm their belief that schools are just jocks and nerds and the girls only fancy the douchbag jocks.

    My Valentines date has a young protégé and she's a bit confused at the moment. I've been worse than useless.

    "Hmm, do you fancy girls or boys?"

    "That's just it, I'm not sure"

    "Right....nope, that's all I had"

    She's a great kid though. Charming, bright and very witty so I've just suggested she goes with her heart and sees what happens. It's not like she has to, or even can, choose. "When men make plans, Allah laughs" as they say. In a few years time she'll probably be fighting *everyone* off with a stick.

    That film sounds intriguing. But straight sex does turn you into a zombie. Thought everyone knew that. Did you not do sex ed at your school?

    On an unrelated note, just been listening to a radio thing. Called 'the last king of mars' starring Peter Capaldi. Don't know if its pre or post his tenure as Who 13; but he's certainly channeling the Doctor.

  34. Oh man, sex education was almost non-existant at my All Girls School. We had ONE lesson as part of our PSE and it was entirely focused around contraception. Most of us were 16 by then and I can honestly say for most of the girls in my class it was a serious case of locking the stable door after the horse had bolted. So we didn't get as far as zombiehood, heh.

    Nothing about being gay was addressed as course, not that it would have helped then. Sounds like your friends protege just needs a bit of time. My first girlfriend still claims she is 100% lesbian even though she has managed to sleep with more men than women in the time I know her! Even I spent a couple of months wondering if I was bisexual, before realising, no of course I wasn't. From what I recall from my lesbian/bi women's group there is huge pressure from both sides for bisexuals to "pick a side" and they seem to be in the unhappy place of getting just as much crap from the gay community as straight. I'd like to think it's improved in 20 years, but maybe it hasn't.

  35. Yeah, when your sex ed class needs a crèche maybe you should have scheduled it a bit earlier. The only thing I remember was a passage from a book saying 'unlike gorillas and other apes, we mate face to face'. I have no idea why that stuck with me. Of course like all kids from the 80s I learned everything from schoolyard rumour and gossip. Which is why I always jump up and down afterwards. Don't want the lady getting preggers!

    Heh, that might be 100%, but is it 24 karat? Yeah, she'll figure it out. Partly it may be because she's got a huge crush on a lass that everyone fancies (cept me for some reason). I just repeated what another mate told me "you just fall in love with a person", although I'm still boringly Kinsey Zero (I said Dave Grohl *would* look cute as a girl, not that he was!)

    Heh, years ago a person who booked bands for a particular venue complained "people don't like me because I'm Bi".

    "No, people don't like you cos you're a twat"

    Ah, that's the north for you.

  36. We did end up with just two pregnant girls in my GCSE year which considering the amount of hanky panky going on with the Boys School was pretty low.

    I'm one of those superior "Gold Star" lesbians (never had sexytime with a bloke ever). Actually I only found out that was a term used this week, hah! Every girlfriend I had, had started out straight. My US one had gotten as far as nearly married and my first one *was* married (and had an adorable kid as well, used to babysit her sometimes in my campus room while GF attended late lectures).

  37. Gold star, I love that. I'm very glad you're a top notch superior lesbian; it suits you. Do you get a badge? Like those swimming ones? I think you should.

    It's interesting what you say about your girlfriends. Of course we could talk about 'finding yourself' like my monkey girl friend (that's a nickname I gave her for reasons, luckily she likes it) or even social pressure to 'conform' to initial expectations; but secretly I'd like to think you're so irresistible you just won them over. :-)

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