This winter hasn’t really felt like winter. It’s just been so warm. Snow was here and gone within a week… It’s been warm and wet, which is not what an Ohio winter should be. I ended up spending a lot of time indoors because of the rain, and also it was frankly just depressing to go outside in January and be met with 50-60 degrees weather, so I wound up reading a lot. I also had a lot of substacks kick off in January so the “In Progress” section has gotten pretty big and so will be going under a cut.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – A Christmas classic that I’d never actually read before. I was scared of the illustrations in the copy my mom had when I was a kid and then I converted to Judaism and couldn’t be bothered with Christmas—the primary Jewish irritator in December. But I do still adore “A Muppet Christmas Carol,” and there was an email substack like Dracula Daily called A Dickens December, so I thought, why not? I enjoyed it immensely, especially in seeing what made it into the Muppet adaptation. The answer is quite a bit.
I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss – I lived and breathed Dr. Seuss books as a child, but had never read this one. I was gifted it for the holidays this past December because my mom had been recommended it for the philosophy of the book. What did that mean? I wondered, having not read the book. Well, this is the “Now my troubles are going/To have trouble with me!” book that I have seen quoted all over the place on Tumblr. It’s a Dr. Seuss meditation on handling the troubles life throws at you and it’s great. 10/10 would recommend.
Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Legion of Bats! Issues #1 & 2 written by Tee Franklin – Harlivy limited series TWO! Following “The Eat, Bang, Kill Tour” and season three of “The Animated Series,” which I have still not seen. I am simply not a man who has time for playing TV show catch up, and, honestly, picking this up without watching is no different from picking up any comic series for the first time. Most comics reference things that happened in previous issues/series or other associated titles, and “Legion of Bats” and “The Eat, Bang, Kill Tour” are even more explanatory than most, since the TV show audience and comics audience aren’t necessarily a 100% overlap. I’m a prime example of that. Anyway, Harley is fighting crime with the bat-fam and Ivy is set up to take over the Legion of Doom, what could go wrong!
Letters from Watson: The Gloria Scott, The Musgrave Ritual, The Spotted Band, The Resident Patient, The Noble Bachelor, The Second Stain & The Reigate Squires by Arthur Conan Doyle – Much like A Christmas Carol, I’ve seen a variety of Sherlock Holmes adaptations, but I’d never actually read the original stories. I’m enjoying them a great deal, especially seeing how they’ve been presented in a roughly chronological fashion rather than publication order and we can see Holmes’ and Watson’s relationship develop. My favorite currently is “The Spotted Band,” which, while not the first to involve a murder, was the first presented about solving a murder.
Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos – So, I know I’ve said before that D&D books often don’t need to be read from beginning to end, but when you’re developing your own campaign from scratch sometimes it’s a good thing to do. Strixhaven is also a really cool setting, though the pre-written campaign bits that come with the book don’t do a ton for me, they’re fun, just not my cup of tea when adventure planning. What I do adore, however, is the emphasis on accessibility and queer inclusion. There is official book art featuring disabled students and same sex couples, a whole sidebar about accessibility magic at the school, and flavor text for an NPC about her work running a support network for transgender students.
Candlekeep Mysteries – Another D&D book, a collection of campaign modules based on the sprawling library of Candlekeep and very easy to adapt for a variety of settings. There are some really interesting stories in this collection, each based around a book held at Candlekeep. My personal favorite is “Mazfroth’s Mighty Digressions,” which presents not only a mystery about why a book has suddenly turned into a monster but a moral question about monsters and what makes a monster. There’s also another module that has an explicitly nonbinary NPC.
Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel – This is another collection that offers modules with some really fabulous and nuanced moral conundrums. It also provides 15 new settings/civilizations based on various cultures of color and written by people from those backgrounds. I’ve talked about this book before here, but at the time I had only read the set up and introduction to the book and the citadel itself and a few of the new setting gazetteers. I cannot recommend enough reading through the whole module and not just the gazetteer, even if you don’t think you want to run it because a lot of world building is captured within the modules themselves.
The Adventure Zone: The Eleventh Hour by the McElroys, illustrated by Carey Pietsch – So this was by far the most changed of the TAZ: Balance arcs adapted as a graphic novel so far. Entire subplots are cut, traps are altered, motivations are changed, Sazed becomes Phillipe. I really don’t get why that last changed happened, but the rest of them I do understand. The Eleventh Hour was a long arc, with a lot of exploring and fucking up and exploring again. There were also a lot of classic ttrpg traps and puzzles in this one that might make a good game and podcast, but don’t make such a good graphic novel. That said, I am sad we lost Chekov’s bush. All the changes are really good though and make for a great, cohesive graphic novel.Continue reading “Behind the Scenes for Winter 2022/2023”