This is a page from a ‘rough’ proof for Exqusite Corpses v2 that just arrived from Lulu (not on sale to the general public yet). Here we see the head of an angel with the body of an armored fiend and the legs of a space man alien. If you missed it the first time around, EC is a book with pictures of monsters divided into heads, bodies and legs/feet and by flipping the 3 tabs you can mix and match to create the creatures that mythology was always coming up with that stuck the ass of one thing onto the head of another. EC v1 was a crude product, but the idea was sound… this time I’ve teamed up with LOFP publishing to make it better. You can read old posts from this website on it.
How is it going to be better? The above illustrations, even in this crude proof, are much better than the ones from ECv1 and Jim Raggi encouraged me to do the book in COLOR (don’t be fooled by the fact that this preview is in B&W — this version is just a means for me to proof other issues) so in the final product they will be even better. We went from 26 ‘base creatures’ (for 17576 possible combinations) to 40 ‘base creatures’ (for 64000 possible combinations!). The text was moved off the drawing onto the facing page… so when you look at the angel’s head, everything you need to know (how smart he is, alignment, special powers, etc.; all the ‘gamey’ stuff) will be on the tab just to the left of it, etc. Each ‘part’ (head, body, tail/legs) also has a small table with unique qualities that can be determined at random that is unique to each monster… so the fish entry will have ‘fish-like’ super powers or flaws for the head, tail and body… the ‘angel’ entry will have angel powers (or flaws) for the head, tail and body, etc. Instead of being a ‘Lulu’ product, the new book will be a professionally printed book with die-cut tabs… meaning you don’t need to slit the pages along a dotted line yourself before use. And it will be printed much more nicely (in Finland!).
The book is ‘universal’ system and uses general properties, so it can easily be converted to your game system of choice. If you are not a gamer, the book is still fun for just creating strange, funny or bizarre creatures by flipping the tabs.
When Jim Raggi from LotFP and I began discussing a revised edition of ‘Exquisite Corpses’* a number of years ago, we both agreed it needed more creatures. We collaborated on a list that included various animals and other creatures… one of the creatures added was the ‘skeleton’ which has caused me no end of trouble. I thought I would share some of my attempts in order to illustrate a response to some of the emails I have gotten and (hopefully) allow a peek into my process.
My first skeleton was done when I was working on the illustrations using acrylic paint. I have since decided a) acrylic wasn’t the right medium, and b) all three tabs need to be the same size for printing / die cut at the printers, so this version goes on the scrap heap, despite being pretty good (albeit unfinished). I like the purple robe and will probably include purple in the final color scheme.
I then decided to do them in pen and ink and add color later (this gives the transition from one tab to the next a more unified look). I like the way this guy is climbing out of the grave… unfortunately, I made a really stupid mistake and split the legs from the torso at the top of the pelvis rather than the bottom of the pelvis. This means that if I used this one, any creature employing the skeleton legs would have 2 pelvises…a skeletal pelvis beneath the pelvis attached to whatever torso you used. Despite being a pretty promising start, I had to ditch this one, too.
3rd version, pen and ink, avoids the mistakes of 2nd version… but something about the arms and legs just looks bad. I like the design of this helmet, though, and decided that ragged strips of cloth, from the skeleton’s decayed clothing, can help disguise the transition from one section to the next.
4th version… this is probably the final (although it is unfinished). Because the three sections all need to join together and be the same size, realistic proportions take a hit (most people’s legs are a little longer and their heads and torsos might be a little shorter, but these are the sacrifices we need to make). I’m happy with the vaguely ‘Hussar’ look of the helmet and armor and have an environment sketched out around his feet.
*If you are reading this, you are probably aware that E.C. is a monster ‘flip book’ I self published a few years ago where you can flip tabs to put the head of one creature on the torso of another and add the legs of a third, etc. It’s a quick and fun way to create your own mythological beasts. See these posts for explanation: https://stefanpoag.wordpress.com/category/exquisite-corpses/.
OK, whenever I ask people on the Internet, “What kind of blog entries do you like?” I always get people saying, “Write more about gaming and don’t write about politics.” However, when I look at my blogs statistics and see who looked at what and how often (and count comments), gaming is always dead last and my posts about the US election or Rush Limbaugh being a douche bag or the fact that I am irritated over some computer issue are first. Maybe I just write crappy gaming posts… and when I talk about a ‘lot of page views,’ I’m talking an average of 100 views in 3-4 days or so (more views if I post during the week), so I’m not claiming to be creating ‘Grognardia’ levels of interest with my paltry 160 followers. Page views are relative to the obscurity of this tiny corner of the Internet.
I used to think that google+ made the difference, but out of deference to ‘gaming’ followers of the blog who said they didn’t want to read about my political views, I only post blog links to google+ when I am writing about games (and I limit that to my ‘gaming’ circle on google+), so at this point it seems that posting on google+ actually might get me less page views than not posting on google plus — how does that work? If blogger gives a breakdown on who views a page via google+ versus some other source, I haven’t seen it. but other than occasionally looking at the search terms people use to get here (mostly because some of them are so damn weird), I haven’t delved too deeply into blogger statistics. And I don’t know if blogger differentiates between a ‘click through’ and someone spending an hour reading blog posts — I suspect to blogger, a click may be a click.
I’ve gotten a couple of emails asking about Khunmar. I’ll probably try to finish it after I finish Exquisite Corpses v2 (which will be released by LotFP. That project is creeping along right now, due in part to me being really busy (yeah, I know I’m writing this blog, but my boss doesn’t mind if I use a little downtime here and there for writing on my blog) and also me being undermotivated and a bit of a loser when it comes to finishing things. Sorry, internet.
Current conception is that Khumar will be released by ME as either a print-on-demand piece of shit or maybe I’ll print up a ‘collector’s edition’ where everyone who orders one gets 1 piece of orginal artwork chosen at random from the many 1/2 pagers I will be doing for Khunmar. But that waits till after E.C.v2 is done.
Crossposted from my wordpress blog…I’m still catching up with all sorts of stuff, so pardon me is you have heard this already: Barrowmaze 2 is availible for crowdsource funding via Indie-a-go-go (click here for more info). Since I’m doing some of the artworks for it, you know it will be smashing! Contribute and maybe I or another artist will illustrate a monster YOU design for the Barrowmaze 2!
Here is one of the images I did for Barrowmaze 2:
Also, Jim Raggi IV, metalman of Finland, is also doing an indie-a-go-go for a new hard cover edition of LOTFP the Role Playing Game… and, if enough money flows it way into his coffers, different artists and writers will write custom adventures for YOU… and I’m on that list so send in your cash and see what I kick out! This fantastic art (not by me, obviously, but by Jason Rainville) shows what happens in LOTFP-land when Miss d’Artagnan gets all “Apocalypse Now.”
“The horror… the horror…”
A friend sent me an email asking ‘why are you redoing Exquisite Corpses?’ and I thought I would reproduce my answer here, since if he is wondering why, others may be wondering why too (Hopefully I’m not revealing anything here that Jim LotFP does not want to be general knowledge, but as far as I know, all of this has been scattered through several posts on LotFP anyway)
(if it matters, the pic at right is not from my book — I just thought it was cool).
Anyway, message reproduced below:
…The publisher wants to print ‘Exquisite Corpses’ with perforated tabs
rather than ‘cut-em-yourself’ pages and the printer has restrictions on numbers
of pages, etc., for these special print jobs. So the base number of monsters
(40) was chosen because of the number of signatures in a print run (multiples of
32 or 8 are our options— so we added 32+8=40!)To make the book possible as a
commercial product, we have had to make certain changes… which will also
(hopefully) make it more appealing to the users. Instead of having lots of info
scattered through the text AND the illustrations so the user has to flip back
and forth, the current idea from Jim (which I think is a winner) is to have it
all in one place — on the illustration itself and the facing page. So if you
lay the book down flat and flip the tabs so you have a lizard head, woman’s body
and bird’s feet, hopefully we can cram all the info you need to know to run with
that critter with options on that two page spread. That’s the idea, anyway…
and that’s the part I am struggling with.It’s been a long series of me emailing
the guy (Jim) who is publishing it back and forth to arrive at this point. In
the process one of us might come up with an idea and email it to the other, then
I would mull it over and Jim would go to his printer and talk about it, come
back to me and say, “I don’t think that’s going to work but how about this,”
etc., rinse and repeat. So v2 of Exquisite Corpses is going to be very different
than v1 in execution, although concept is the same — hopefully v2 will be more
user friendly.It was originally hoped it would be ready for Gencon, but there
were a lot of changes and I had a ‘crisis of confidence’ in some of my artistic
decisions and needed more time on them, so finally Jim said, “Take your time;
don’t worry about deadlines, let’s just try to make it as good as possible.” In
the meanwhile I’ve had my other comissions and some ‘life stuff’ to worry about,
so E.C.v2 has moved to the back burner, although I am trying to remember to stir
the pot occassionally so it doesn’t burn or spoil. In other news, last night I
finished 4 more drawings for (blank).
Thanks for the interest — I miss playing with you guys… please have
someone write a session report!