Masks Zine discussion

Continuing the discussion from Son of General Inspiration Thread:

I filled out the form, expressing interest in contributing creative writing. This thread is for anyone else who did so, to talk about what you want to submit, get feedback from other people, and so on.

The Ballad of Hot Mess: this covers seven immediately relevant cutscenes (37.2, 38.2, 39.2, 42.4, 44.7, 56.2, and 59.4). It also depends on some establishment from other peoples’ stories: Kid Kelvin’s story (45.7) and some kind of setup for Nono, who’s been around since like issue 10.

I’d like to use this as an illustration of PC-PC-NPC interactions (from the Masks book), so I’ll be recasting Nono as a Beacon type character, good with chemistry but unsure about herself. This won’t be an actual-play style deal, just fiction - unless people feel that doing it Actual Play style would enhance the value.

What I need: somebody’s time to beta read in the next few days, once I plug this nonsense into a Google Docs sheet.

Count me in.

1 Like


1 Like

So my initial thoughts on the illustration I’m going to submit (because of course I’m drawing new art for this): make a team picture of the Menagerie. The first thing this brings to mind is those awesome 2-page spreads the Justice Society of America started doing in 2007 run that were throw backs to earlier comics in the 70’s and 80’s (will include references later). They included intros for each of the heroes that ran across the top and bottom of the page.

While cool, this introduces some immediate concerns:

  1. Wow, this is going to be a big image. Without knowing what size the eventual book will be (let alone if they’d dedicate two whole pages to one image), on a standard comic book this would be 13.25x10.25 inches (drawn at 19.875x15.375 inches because you always want to draw a little larger than the final product).
  2. What line-up of the team would it be? I’d want everyone involved (Jason, Charade, Link, Pneuma, Otto, Radiance, Mercury, Ghost Girl, Concord) but there’s no point were all these people were active (unless you count the Vyrotovian invasion, but that has its own complications), which means getting into… non-canon territory. Which I’m perfectly fine with, but it means taking liberties.
  3. I want to include some villains (perhaps post-battle, kind of like the cover art for the Masks book) but I don’t want to include any of these canon Masks villains for many reasons (copyright infringement chiefly). This would leave us with a few villains who appeared in-game:Vector, Achilles Chin, Rossum, and Hannibal Lectric (if you stretch the definition of “in-game”). For a variety of reasons, I don’t want to include either of the dads. Vector would be difficult to use, but Hannibal would probably be fine.
  4. I would need to write (or get help writing) short blurbs for each of the heroes. Not difficult (off the top of my head: “Link. Leo Snow, the Bull. Genius inventor of the Newmen.”) but still a consideration.
  5. That being said, the one person who never had a playbook associated with them (that I know about) is Pneuma. Otto has often been referred to as the Transformed (which he works well as) but I don’t know if Aria has ever really fitted up to a playbook. I could see her being the Joined with Link, with the Bull’s “am I who think I am or am I who I was made to be” worries working really well with her, but I figured I’d ask since @garrett would the definitive source for this.
  6. Wow, that is still the really big image to work on. Why can’t I think smaller? :stuck_out_tongue:

So, thoughts?

Might be more ambitious than needed for this, but, damn, I’d love to see it. :slight_smile:

The blurbs take up space. I’d be okay with not including them. Or, alternately, a “L-R, from Top” key at the bottom would work.

Without knowing what you’re really up to, I’m not sure that including villains is the right thing to do, esp. if you’re concerned about (a) time and space and (b) IP (Vector’s outfit, at least, comes from somewhere).

Another couple of villains: Dark Jason. Octostarfishbots. The Face of Arms (yeah, I wouldn’t want to draw that one, either). If you’re running short, you could even include some NPCs that are colorful or interesting enough to stand out – Pietro definitely comes to mind here.

If you feel you need to make some changes to Jason, again for IP purposes, I’d understand.

This sounds very cool.

To quote a favorite movie of mine, “If there’s any other way to aim, I don’t know it.”

I’m actually in favor of the blurbs for that exact reason, as they make the overall picture smaller. Again, I think knowing exactly what they’re looking for, its hard to plan for. Guess this means the most dreaded thing I can think of… cold contacting the person running the project.

Nope. Just nope.

That was already in the cards. Again, the finished image is something similar in tone with the cover of the book: our heroes hauling off a villain (or two) after a harrowing superhero battle. A few of the NPCs being there for verisimilitude (Parker or Waters for AEGIS, Adam’s dad for the Halcyon PD, etc) would probably fit fine.

Probably unnecessary. In a world where I can think of a dozen of JLA homages (and outright rip-offs) that haven’t been litigated and the Venture Bros. outright lampoon Johnny Quest to the Nth degree, I feel Jason will be just fine. Not so much with just being like “here’s Rosa Rook, from the Deck of Villainy.”

1 Like

Small update: Linda (the person leading this) is super helpful and seems really excited to put this project together. Submissions should open soon with a Kickstarter to get the book printed going live in February and final editing in March or April. Book should be 5.5x8.5, making my original estimate oversized (based it on an actual comic book sizing). Might rethink my plan now that I have actual sizes (time to bust out the copy paper and sketch out some layouts).

I’m fond of “everyone, past and present” but that’s a lot of work, and takes up a lot of space. If you had to shorten the list, and choose among my PCs & NPCs, I’d suggest Radiance rather than Leo, since his story is more closely bound up with his creations and hers isn’t.

I’m curious about those reasons, actually. “My dad doesn’t like what I do” is probably a fair statement for everyone on the team in some form, and they’ve cast a big shadow over the group. Aside from that, if you need a depiction of the forces that have arrayed against us, some generic Vyortovian soldiers and Rossum robots, plus maybe some sepia-toned cultist types in black robes, probably covers it.

…is a Janus, and I talked more about that here. I’m happy to write blurbs for any of my characters if you need, but I’m curious what you come up with on your own and have faith that you’d do a good job with them.

One could actually do worse than a “team members with disapproving dads looming in the background” motif.

I’d have a tough time picking between Jason and Alycia, as they both have very different (if intertwined) stories. If need be, I trust you to pick the one that works best with the composition.

Finally at home so I can share that JSA intro page I was referencing. Don’t know if I could make it work with the given setup… but I certainly am willing to give it a try.

I mostly love how varied they are. “Former heavyweight boxing champion.” “Unbalanced cosmic cowboy from the future.”

Took some time to actually do some measurements and planning. As luck would have it, I have two art books printed at this size so I can do some stare and compares as well as take some measurement. I also own like 90% of a small publishing office, so I can also print out a proofing copy and see what the final product will look like.

This was my first pass at the layout (using existing images for reference).

First thing first, I am only like 50% sold on any of the descriptions. Open to rewrites and suggestions. For instance, only now do I realize I passed up the opportunity to use “best in class for self-driving cars and big bros” for Otto, just to play more into the car theme. Charlotte’s is also meh. The Menagerie lead in text though, once I realized everyone on the team had expectations weighing upon them to use their abilities for good (no one became a hero because it sounded like fun, no Speedballs on this team) seemed like a solid theme to use.

Two, the text is barely readable at that size. Will need to bump it up line weight or find a different font. Suggestions welcomed.

Three, I listed Summer as the Joined instead of the Janus. I mostly did this to follow the whole “on PC per playbook” idea but also because it makes some sense; if anyone was going to be the Joined, it’d be Summer. If anyone disagrees, I can change it back to also being the Janus.

I certainly cannot fault you for your ambition. I’d be happy with a Big Round Table.

Given the space, the descriptions work. Might change the Jason one to “science adventurer”.

For Charlotte, she’s actually pre-Civil War. “Antebellum specter”?

You might also (sadly) consider a single name (birth or nom de guerre) for each, to balance folk like Jason and Otto vs the others (for purposes of this illustration).

That lets Alycia’s bottom line become “Daughter of International Science Terrorist” or something like that.

The other thought is being consistent between “what people see” and “what the characters aspire to”. That pushes some of them one way or the other. The latter is maybe better, given what the playbook indicates where they are coming from.

So that would make Jason “Rising above his father’s technology” and Alycia “Valuing humans over ideological purity”. With “… To survive” and “… With guns” tacked onto the end somehow.

Just thinking aloud here.

The Joined’s whole thing is “you’re two halves of a whole, but are questioning that” and that’s explicitly not Summer’s thing - her story is how she’s going it alone. So I’m very concerned that I’ve given you the wrong impression about her.

If your intention is to immediately tell your viewer who each character is, I feel that you’re better off bypassing the “one playbook per PC” rule, and making Aria and Summer both Janus (and Aria was never a PC anyway, so…?)

Some possible character summaries, in the spirit of the JSA splash page you posted:

  • Aria: Prototype, partner, parent
  • Radiance: Coffee-making robot magical girl
  • Otto: Leo’s metalhead big bro

No it’s not you, that’s the completionist brain trying to make things fit neatly into boxes (regardless of if they actually belong there). Stuff like this is why I like doing projects like this with collaborators: it keeps me honest to more than just surface details and from cherry picking info to make things fit things that fit into those boxes I’ve decided things fit into. In hindsight you can see it all throughout this thread were I’m basically asking “someone could be the Joined, who is it?”

Best analogy I can think of thinking “where are my glasses?” and being so locked into “I need to find my glasses” that it never occurs to you that your already wearing them. Hopefully that gets the idea across and is a better answer that “off-kilter decision-making stuff.” Sorry. Will make the changes in the next update to the image.

I really like these. They say a lot in a few words.

I knew something wasn’t clicking right with that one. Is it being too cheeky have it be “Antebellum zeitgeist”?

Definitely tells a slightly different story than adventurer scientist (it’s all about where the emphasis is placed).

One thing I didn’t succeed at in this first pass is not wanting to duplicate information (like mentioning Harry Gale is part of the Gale family line, just reads weird). Changing Alycia’s blurb over to “Daughter of International Science Terrorist” solves that and has the added bonus of there being just enough connective tissue there with the shared mention of “science” with Jason’s blurb that someone could read through there and ask “hmm, I wonder if these two are connected in some way.” But that might just be overthinking it.

1 Like

Hey, heads up for anyone interested but they just sent out Contributator surveys to see what everyone feels like contributing to the zine.

They want a portfolio for art and I’m a little nervous. Does anyone have any suggestions on particular pieces of art I’ve done that you’ve liked?

  • Harry Gale: a solid speedster costume, combined with a couple add-ons, neatly capture the character’s history and development.
  • Radiance: this really nailed the character, and feels distinctive and detailed. I really dig all the art you did for her, but this one just sells it.
  • Charade: if this isn’t the official picture for “The Soldier”, it could easily be. Contrasts well with her civilian pic.

As a general aside, if you ever feel uncertain, I suggest jumping back to page 1 of the Art Thread, looking at your posts there, and jumping to the last page. I liked your art style at the beginning, but you’ve clearly and definitely gotten even better.

Wow, it says something when you’ve created enough artwork that you can say “huh, I forgot I made that.” I’ve added those and some others that I liked to a Google Drive. Let me know if anything seems out of place or off.

Also, the nervousness and uncertainty comes more from “I hate talking myself up” rather than “I don’t think I’m good.” I have to do so for my self-review at work this week and it feels like the most torturous project I’ve had all year.