Steam Madness #2 - This War of Mine

Hello again, and welcome to Steam Madness!

This time around, we're going to be looking at a game called This War of Mine.

Story

In This War of Mine, you control a group of survivors who are stranded in their home city after the outbreak of war. Some have chosen to stay, others have had circumstance prevent it, but all residents of the city now have the same problem: finding the means to survive until peace is restored.

Gameplay

The interface actually reminds me a lot of an old school C64 game called Little Computer People. You are presented with a cross section of a house, and use your mouse to make characters interact with items and other people. The members of your group, the size of it, and things like campaign length are determined based on which scenario you play - and the scenario editor throws even a little more choice on top.

The aim of the game is to keep your party alive until the end of the war, scavenging for supplies and fending off potential attackers. In terms of what you choose to focus on, there is a lot of strategy involved.

Each night, you have the option to send someone out to check nearby areas in the hopes of finding something useful. It is worth remembering that in this game death is permanent. One wrong move can quickly see you shot dead by another looter, or taken down by the military. This adds a LOT of tension to the game.

Overall, it's quite a bleak and punishing game. Characters generally can't carry a lot, and there are factors like illness and depression which can take members of your group out of action if they aren't handled correctly. As such there is a lot of trial and error involved. Plus when the stakes are so high, winning feels like winning. It's all the sweeter for how tough it can be to get there.

Overall Pro's

  • Brilliant survival game
  • Nice level of challenge
  • Consequences give weight to choices
  • Moments of true emotional resonance

Overall Con's

  • Player inventory sizes can be very frustrating
  • Can come off a little preachy in places

Summary

I played this game for hours. And I mean hours upon hours. While there were moments where I wished the game had a face so I could punch it, it is beautifully put together.

13 Comments

Steam Madness #1 - The Cat Lady

Over the past few months, I've been getting back into gaming in a pretty big way. So I thought it might be fun to share some of the games I've come across with you guys :)

First up for review has to be The Cat Lady.

Story

The Cat Lady tells the story of Susan Ashworth, a deeply depressed woman who we meet at the very end of her life. When the game begins, she is in the middle of a suicide attempt, alone in her flat with just her cat for company. But for Susan, death is not the end. Not even close.

What follows is a twist on the traditional good versus evil tale, in which the lines are deliberate blurred, and the morality and intent of your own character as well as those around you is murky at best. In death, Susan strikes a deal with a mysterious entity, and embarks on a quest. But who is really in control?

I won't spoil anything for anyone, but I found the story really engaging. It asks some difficult questions about death and depression, and could easily lapse into a standard overly written, feels heavy indie game, but it never quite does. If anything, this game gut punched me from start to finish. Good voice acting and decent writing keep the characters from becoming grating or cliche.

There are a few hammy moments, but overall I admired the ambition of the story and felt it was paced brilliantly.

Gameplay

Cat Lady is probably best described as a side scrolling point and click game. Luckily, it doesn't fall into the trap so many games of this genre do, and leave you pixel hunting to solve puzzles and advance. It has a certain internal logic that lends itself well to the kind of object finding/using puzzles you'd expect from this type of game. The things you need to do make sense, even if they aren't immediately obvious.

Atmosphere is arguably the most important thing for a psychological horror game, and in that sense Cat Lady really delivers. It's never going to make you jump or scream, but the sense of tension is undeniable at times. Minor spoiler: in one section of the game, you are trapped in a house with two crazed killers, hiding under tables and creeping quietly around. And you feel it.

It has a nice length to it (lol), and with alternate endings and other significant story choices going on, there's enough there to justify playing at least a few times through.

Overall Pro's

  • Interesting story
  • Voice acting
  • Atmosphere, and lots of it
  • Soundtrack

Overall Con's

I personally have no gripes about this game, but because of it's overall tone and dark subject matter, it's probably not for everyone.

31 Comments

Retro Comics - The Skipper

Recently, I have been editing the wiki like a woman possessed, and I have uncovered more than one hidden British gem tucked away in the quieter, more neglected areas of CV. But there is one that caught my attention in particular, and it has tickled me so much I just have to write about it.

The Skipper.

No Caption Provided

Skipper is a British comic that was published in the UK by DC Thomson (better known for titles such as Beano and Dandy), and was first released in 1930. It is very much of its time. Skipper was a boys comic featuring lots of MEN doing incredibly MANLY things - except this is 1930's Britain, so for "manly", read "fantastically ridiculous and over the top". Bond style. Want to see a man straddling a plane in mid air while he saws through it? You want Skipper. Want to see a kangaroo punch a bear right in the face? SKIPPER.

I mentioned the monkey is also Sheriff, right? Seems important O_O
I mentioned the monkey is also Sheriff, right? Seems important O_O

The comic delivers all this without a hint of irony, and then some. In fact, during its run Skipper gained a fair amount of notoriety thanks to its infamous covers, which often depicted scenes of violence. When the protagonists aren't wrestling, playing some form of competitive sport, shooting, scalping or torturing each other (or leaping from things that are on fire), they fight lions, tigers, alligators and bears. Yes, you have the occasional "soft story" - usually involving something along the lines of a schoolboy who accidentally thwarts an attempted robbery, or a monkey being duped by a charlatan fortune teller into paying for a bogus fortune (see right) - but even these are a reminder of how different the world of comics really used to be.

Even the recurring characters, such as Red Rock Baxter the cowboy, Captain Zoom, and Big Bad Wolfe, are of another world, almost. About as stereotypically male as you can get, the heroes of Skipper know no fear, and do not flinch in the face of danger - be it from the Nazis, the local natives, or giant butterflies with an appetite for human destruction.

Of course, there are certain reminders here of why the world has moved on so much. In particular, the depictions of people of other races is arguably offensive at times. But there is a sort of cultural naivety here, an innocence within the melodrama. Every issue is like a tiny action film. Yes, it's cheesy. Yes, its dated. But somehow it is all the more entertaining for it.

I would never make an argument that Skipper was the best comic in the world. But what I loved about it is that it acts as a charming little time capsule, a window into another time. And if you ever want to see a grown man chokeslam a tiger, there are far worse places to look than this.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2
12 Comments

EXCLUSIVE New Verti-GoGo's Track (2014 UPDATED)

2014 EDIT NOTE: 2 songs added, see bottom of OP for details!! :D

The other version of this, along with the wonderful comments, has somehow mysteriously perished. So here we go again... :D

No Caption Provided

As fans await the long-anticipated debut album Synesthesia, Comic Vine has been granted an exclusive sneak peek at The Verti-GoGo's upcoming release. While we didn't get a chance to talk to the band, their manager Arnold Burnsteel invited me to his studio in Gotham City, to listen to the most talked about track on the album: My Doggie Got Losted. After the instant success of Butterflies (Killing Your Face), critics have been quick to lay down the gauntlet, daring the band to match the sales of their number one debut. But thanks to an inspired musical collaboration (with someone right here on the Vine, that lucky devil!), My Doggie Got Losted looks set to take the Vine - and indeed the universe - by storm.

My Doggie Got Losted

The second single from Synesthesia, here is an exclusive first look at the song causing all the fuss:

My Doggy Got Losted

No Caption Provided

The band have also officially confirmed the track listing for the album, which after a conflict of interests within the group will not be released until next month.

'Synesthesia' Track List

Butterflies (Killing Your Face)
Butterflies (Killing Your Face)

1 -Butterflies (Killing Your Face)

Lyrics: Tank Girl

Music:The Verti-GoGo's

2 -Dissection, It's All I Ever Wanted

Lyrics: Tank Girl/Nemi Montoya/Lykopis

Music: The Verti-GoGo's

3 -My Life Is A Chocolate Sandwich

Lyrics:Nemi Montoya

Music: The Verti-GoGo's

4 -I Wish You Wouldn't Samba (When I'm Trying To Clean Your Shoes)

Lyrics:Delirium/ Nemi Montoya

Music: The Verti-GoGo's

5 -Your Mum Isn't Canon

Lyrics: Tank Girl

Music: The Verti-GoGo's

6 -The Ballad Of The Lonely Donkey

Lyrics: Delirium/Tank Girl

Music: Delirium

7 -Spinal Funk Madness

Lyrics:Tank Girl/Nemi Montoya

Music: The Verti-GoGo's

Werewolf For Xmas
Werewolf For Xmas

8 -Raining Hugs/Rainbow Of Death

Lyrics:The Verti-GoGo's

Music: The Verti-GoGo's

9 -Disneyland (Get In The Van)

Lyrics:Nemi Montoya/BumpyBoo

Music: The Verti-GoGo's

10 -Thunder In My Brain

Lyrics:Nemi Montoya

Music: The Verti-GoGo's

11 -My Doggie Got Losted

Music + Lyrics: Delirium/Feebadger

Special Guest Vocals by Feebadger

12 -I Made You A Cookie (But Nemi Eated It)

Lyrics: Delirium

Music: The Verti-GoGo's

13 -Spiders Of Love

Lyrics: Nemi Montoya/Delirium

Music: The Verti-GoGo's

14 -A Werewolf For Xmas

Lyrics:Nemi Montoya/Tank Girl

Music: The Verti-GoGo's

15 -My Life Is A Chocolate Sandwich (Steaming Death BonBons Remix)

Lyrics: Nemi Montoya

Music: The Verti-GoGo's

See Also

Fantasy Bands

EXCLUSIVE Interview With The Verti-GoGo's!!

EDIT: Of course, these characters were not created by me, and do not belong to me. To clarify for everyone asking:

Article and images by BumpyBoo, but...

Music entirely by feebadger :D

UPDATE:

Okay so I have been dragging my heels posting these next two songs for the longest time but here they finally are. As stated above, the music is 100% the considerable musical talents of the AWESOME feebadger, and I am very, very proud indeed to give you.....Werewolf for Xmas, and Rainbow of Death.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I have (you won't, it's impossible ;) )

Werewolf for Xmas

Rainbow of Death

261 Comments

Grief

I should start with two quite contradictory points:

  • I am not the type of person to broadcast their personal problems all over the internet, in general.
  • This blog is the most personal thing I have ever posted.

On this day a number of years ago, I lost someone very close to me. It happened long enough ago that people have started to wonder when I will get over it, but also, long enough ago that I know I probably never will. There are some people who leave a huge hole in your heart that never ever closes. You never stop expecting a call from them; a hand on your shoulder in a place you once frequented; the soothing voice comforting you in the middle of the night.

When you get into that dark, lonely place, there is nothing anyone can say, because the only thing that could ever make you feel better is gone, and it is never coming back. Sometimes the only comfort is knowing that you aren't as alone as you feel. Sometimes all you want to find at the bottom of the great black pit is a name scrawled on the wall, next to yours.

Needless to say, many comics deal with bereavement, and often - most notably with characters like Spider-Man, Batman and Punisher to name but a few - these world shattering feelings of helplessness and loss are what drive the character on to greatness. Feelings of guilt and frustration lead these characters to search for personal atonement, as they dedicate their lives to righting this great inner wrong. Somewhere along the line, most comic book characters seem to come to the same conclusion: that while it is a wonderful thing to be inspired toward positive action by such negative experience, that raw, knotted feeling inside will never go away.

While comics are a great way to escape the day to day problems we all face, it can also be quite comforting to read about a character who is going through the same things you are. It can leave you feeling that somewhere out there, someone really knows how you feel.

The Crow

Eric surrounds himself with pictures of Shelly
Eric surrounds himself with pictures of Shelly

"There is a man playing the violin, and the strings are the nerves in his own arm." - James O'Barr, 'The Crow'

An obvious choice, but no less relevant for that. James O'Barr created The Crow as a way of dealing with his own grief, after his girlfriend was killed by a drunk driver. In this book, O'Barr pours his own heartbreak onto every page, and what results is a very raw, haunting and beautiful work. It tells the story of Eric Draven and Shelly Webster, a young couple whose lives are cut tragically short in a random encounter with a group of thugs. As he lies at the side of the road dying, Eric witnesses the gang beat Shelly to death, and then sexually assault her afterward. He is then resurrected by The Crow, an ancient spirit with a thirst for vengeance.

While deeply traumatized by the events of his fiancee's death, throughout the book it is clear that this is not what truly breaks his heart. Eric's darkest moments come when he is reliving the happier times, and remembering how wonderful his life with Shelly really was. Because, as is so often the case with bereavement, it is not the death itself that rends the soul, but rather the memory of what once was. Eric is tormented by powerful recollections of his love, visions of happiness that plunge him headlong into despair.

As an exploration of loneliness, grief and tragedy, there is no book I could recommend more highly than this one.

Tainted

George's attempt to move on is instrumental in his downfall
George's attempt to move on is instrumental in his downfall

"For a moment, the recollection is so complete that George imagines he can even hear the ponderous tick-tocking of the chiming clock that used to stand upon the mantelpiece." - Jamie Delano, 'Tainted'

Loss is a central theme of this Vertigo one-shot, in which an average white-collar worker is pushed to the very edge of his sanity by his own guilt and obsession.

The story follows a man named George Palmer as he attempts to confront his grief at the loss of his parents, and sister. He does this by renting out two of the rooms in his childhood home, as though doing so will enable to him to gain closure and move on. Unfortunately for George, the opposite happens, and the presence of other people in the house after so long triggers a wave of suppressed memories. He is suddenly forced to confront the truth about his past, and the subsequent feelings of loss and absolute helplessness are too much for him to bear. What truly drives George to the brink of madness is knowing that he cannot go back. What's done is done, and he can never change it.

15 Portraits Of Despair

Grief is a common theme in 15 Portraits
Grief is a common theme in 15 Portraits

"There is joy in there, of course, and love, and touching. The presence that makes the present absence unbearable. Without triumph, without love, without joy, her work would be for nothing." - Neil Gaiman, '15 Portraits Of Despair'

15 Portraits is a segment in the Sandman one-shot Endless Nights, in which each member of the Endless has a chapter dedicated to them which is illustrated by a different artist. This section deals with themes ranging from isolation, obsession, and bereavement, each portrait a snapshot of a tormented soul. To read it is to ache inside.

Though the portraits differ greatly from one another, there is a recurring theme here that the true source of anguish is happiness. There is a sense here that one cannot know the true depths of misery unless one has first tasted the heavenly sweetness of joy. True agony, then, is knowing what you are missing - not the pain of that which you have never had, but rather the pain of missing that which was once yours, and is now gone.

I don't know whether this will help anyone else. Certainly it has helped me to share it. But if ever you want a comic that really knows what it is to lose the ones who matter most to you, you could do a lot worse than reading one of these beautiful, if anguish-ridden, titles.

Rest easy, man, and know that you are sorely missed.

143 Comments

"Blood" - A Short Story By BumpyBoo

This is the first time I have submitted a story here for feedback. It's not something many people have read, and since I have come to feel quite comfortable here, I thought I would see what you guys think.

WARNING: This story carries a definite M for Mature rating. While it doesn't contain graphic sex or violence, there are references to mature subjects as well as some (censored - but if I missed any let me know!) language. The story also deals with very adult themes, some of which may upset more sensitive readers. If you are easily offended, turn back now.

Blood

The morning Stuart Bradford loses his mind, he wakes up half drunk in the clothes he fell asleep in, anything but alone. He wakes up sleepy in a stale, unmade bed and itches all over. His tee shirt stinks of spilt ale and cigarettes. His blue jeans are brown and green.

As he rises, the dark-haired girl sleeping next to him stirs, and moans. She stretches, and one flailing arm catches the alarm clock beside the bed. When it hits the carpet, it reads 8:17am.

He knows he has gone too far.

His memories consist of fragments and notions, blurred and unsteady, like chewed video tape. Played back to him, they make no sense – he recalls snippets of conversation, distorted faces and ear-pounding noise. He looks down at her, and a chill snaps through him. He remembers nothing about Rachel.

Beneath her, the cream sheets are spotted red and brown with blood from the previous night’s adventures. Fresh scratches glisten across her bare shoulders. A shallow cut curls around her neck like a sleeping snake. Seeing her there is like finding a checklist of bad ideas, with all the boxes checked and his name heavily underlined at the top. The enabler. The host.

It isn’t that he doesn’t love his girlfriend. It isn’t that he loves Rachel. Rachel pushes his buttons. That’s the whole story. She sets him alight from the inside, and since the first taste he has been crawling half-blind at her feet. He knows he’s obsessed. Still, he longs now to be rid of her, to be tucked up at home instead of here, with his foot caught in his own trap.

He sniffs his clothes and weeps a little.

He goes into the kitchen and eats eggs and is normal.

Every time he closes his eyes, he hears Kathy crying.

When Stuart creeps through the front door and out into the February snow, the clock reads 8:56 am. The contrast between the frosty weather and the warmth of his rushed breakfast leaves him shaking inside, and he feels almost cripplingly sick. Somehow, this morning, he finds it warmer outside. Perhaps not though – perhaps outside, the cold becomes too bitter to feel, the wind so sharp it leaves the skin numb. So cold that it isn’t anymore. Something in that absence reminds him of the drunk on the park bench; of falling asleep and dying.

If he does shiver, it is for another reason entirely.

Under his feet, the snowy ground is white and red.

*****

He remembers that way back, before Rachel and all the hell that followed in her wake, he was happy. He had all that he had been taught to seek: the love of a beautiful woman; a house with a nice garden and a view of the sea; emotional and financial security he didn’t dare dream of, dropped right into his lap. He got along with his boss, and never worked weekends. Every night, he went home and was fed, held, and loved.

It was everything he needed, and it wasn’t enough.

He stands now outside Rachel’s front door, freezing, staring down at the blood on the snow and thinking of all the things he’d meant to do. Of all the events that have washed passively over him as he watched, and wondered. He had meant to say no, every time. He had meant to go home late last night with stories of unexpected overtime, instead of this morning with nothing to say.

Setting off slowly down the icy path, he thinks of meaning to leave Rachel the moment he looked into her hot black eyes and felt anything close to love – and notices the red and orange flecks following beneath him. He imagines one of the neighbours, more than likely inebriated, staggering home from a punch up in town. Or a small child, its feet unsteady on the wintry ground, slipping onto its face and howling thunder through the streets. As the trail thickens, he imagines Kathy, stumbling through the garden in her nightdress, screeching at him that the cramps are getting worse – and the blood on the ground is almost hers.

He realises at that moment that he doesn’t want to go home.

At her gate, he pauses, and the frost bites into him like an angry dog. His temples throb. The memory of Kathy is a weight in his soul.

*****

Stuart walks home along the river, and watches the frost melt into the water. As he walks, he clenches and unclenches his hands, flexing, full of nervous energy. He feels like he just fell off the Earth. His heart and lungs insist that this is so. They pound and quake furiously, as though trying to escape from his body, and Stuart can’t blame them because he feels that way, too.

Falling asleep and dying. If only it were that easy.

*****

Five minutes into the journey, he has become curious about the droplets of blood splattered on the street. The faint trickle mirrors his path, and he can’t take his eyes off it. In places, there are small puddles of blood fading into the snow – to Stuart, these look like they might taste of fruit, and he feels sick in his throat. He starts to wonder whether all that blood came from a person, and where such a person might be.

It’s funny how you care. He hears Kathy with him, and his guts turn to fire. It’s funny how you’re a f****ing saint all of a sudden.

In the front pocket of his jeans, his phone vibrates. He knows who it is, but looks anyway, then stuffs it back into his pocket and carries on. No words can help him. No excuse will suffice.

The melting frost drips into the river and it sounds like a countdown – though to what, he couldn’t say. And if he is honest, he will admit to being more concerned about touching the blood than explaining it. He thinks: imagine falling over. Imagine slipping on the snow, throwing your arms out in front of you, and getting a handful of bloodsicle. Wouldn’t that be the worst?

He notices his shoelace is untied.

When he bends to tie it, he sees something far more dangerous. Rachel has scratched the backs of his hands. She has taken tiny pieces of him away with her teeth. All at once the stain of her covers him like a shroud. Away from her, he feels nothing, and his actions disgust him. He doesn’t understand them. With her, she is everything, and this is how he knows it isn’t love. He only needs her when she’s there.

Except for now. He really needs Rachel right now, if only to keep him from following the trail.

*****

They’ve been circling the drain for two years now, playing chicken with each others’ lives, and it isn’t a question of whether he wants to get caught. It’s a question of why. He’s lost a lot of sleep, and still can’t explain it. He’s turned himself inside out wondering why, knowing that their relationship is more like a drug addiction. The weight has fallen off of him, to such an extent that most of his clothes no longer fit. His appetite is almost nonexistent. He will say anything to get his fix.

It’s his ‘f**k you’ into the mirror, and it feels pretty good.

Mostly.

The day everything fell apart is with him now, as it is with him always – it is the place he visits in his sleep. Every night, Kathy hugs him in the back yard and says ‘it’s positive’ and cries with laughter. The sound is like a gun held to his head.

The backs of his hands itch but when he scratches, his fingernails are clogged with skin. Scratches become gouges. The tips of his fingers are bloody and cold.

*****

By the time he reaches the end of the river, Stuart is deeply concerned. Here the trail diverges, and he has to make a choice. To the right is Fanner Grove, and if he peers around the hedge on the corner he can see into his front garden. He is perhaps a hundred yards from Kathy. To the left, the water disappears beneath a concrete bridge and out of sight, but he can see the red droplets peppering the pavement, and doesn’t know what to do.

He knows what he wants to do. He knows what he should do. The two are almost always mutually exclusive. He never wants to do the right thing, and when he does, it is with himself in mind. This is how it works: if Kathy finds out he’s with Rachel again, she will leave him. He doesn’t want to spend years letting someone get to know him again, to become accustomed to his flaws and fond of his quirks – it all takes too long. It might not be the same.

He doesn’t want to hurt her, because then he’s losing out.

He already has, so he follows the splattered blood. It’s either that, or go home. He has to know.

With every step, he hopes that Kathy will see him. She’ll come down that path any minute, and call out to him. This is what he has been saying all along, with his weight loss and exhaustion, his subconscious hints and feeble excuses: help me, Kathy. Please help me. Save me. Make it go away. He still doesn’t understand why.

This is the mirror’s ‘f**k you’ right back.

Stuart walks under the bridge, unnoticed. The walls underneath it are coated with blue paint by local schoolchildren, and brightly painted sunflowers mark the beginning of a mural. The graffiti is still showing through. There is no snow here, so the blood is tougher to see, but he manages. He comes out the other side, squints against the morning sun, and looks around. Ahead of him, the fields look like giant canvases stretched out for him to spoil. Beside him, tucked just under the bridge, is a dark green skip the size of a small van.

This is where the trail ends.

He braces himself, and steps forward.

*****

The thing he remembers most about the clinic is the colour lilac. Everything from the walls to the letterheads was the same apathetic shade of almost purple. Unless you went upstairs, you wouldn’t see a white coat, or a nurse’s uniform. It was all so casual. The patients got called by their first names. No one was judging anyone.

Stuart spent his four hour visit in the waiting area, dumped in front of the TV in a room full of pallid people staring at their shoes. There was no conversation. Mostly, people held each other, and cried. He and Rachel sat two seats apart, glaring in opposing directions, and if he reached out to touch her hand, she would snatch it away.

He told her he couldn’t go through all this s**t with Kathy five months gone.

He always wished he had done it the other way around.

Three weeks after he convinced Rachel to go through with the termination, Kathy called him home from work. She would only say that it was urgent. What she didn’t tell him on the phone was that she had taken every love letter, clinic pamphlet and item of discarded underwear, and spread them out across the bed upstairs. She didn’t tell him she had taken the liberty of packing a bag for him. When he arrived home, she was waiting in the garden, with a rucksack sitting at her feet.

Then the cramps started, and for a time all of this was forgotten. All that mattered was the shared loss that pulled them back together. All that mattered to her, anyway. For Stuart, the important part was knowing it was all his fault. Both gone, just like that. Two birds, one stone.

He knows he is just the worst kind of person.

Lifting the lid of the skip is difficult, if only because he has been telling himself that nothing in here could ever be worse than what is waiting at home for him, and Stuart is a sore loser.

What he finds in there makes no immediate sense, because there is nothing to find. The skip is empty, save for a small pile of rags stuffed into the corner. The dirty green material is soaked red and brown.

Somehow, this is worse than anything he has imagined – and he has imagined so much. He has seen clearly in his mind the face of the dismembered teen, poking through the torn black bags. When the great unveiling arrives, it cannot compare to the epic, almost operatic scenes of chaos and violence he has privately conjured.

Nobody has ever bothered to tell Stuart that sometimes less is more.

Gone are his plans for the afternoon. He could’ve found someone dying in there. He could’ve helped. It would have been the perfect excuse. Instead he has to go home and face Kathy, and her tears.

He is lowering the lid when a flutter of movement catches his eye, the tiniest flurry right in the far corner of the skip, near the rags. A snowflake, or the wind rustling through the cloth, or...

Stuart leans in closer. He sees the maggots, and has to fight to hold onto his breakfast.

He reaches in, and opens the rags.

Stuart drops the contents as though they are on fire.

All he can think of is that the head is about the same size as a cooking apple. The legs are like chicken thighs. The whole thing looks like a doll that’s been ripped apart by an animal. It has to be a doll, because if it isn’t then he’s going to scream, and he might not stop. He might shriek the vomit right out of his guts. He glares down at the blood smeared over his shaking hands, at the discarded rags and scattered maggots and doll parts, and the scream rises. He feels it building up in his chest with the sudden urgency of a sneeze, and when he bites down on his hand to suppress it, the pain almost knocks him down.

The screams stay inside of him forever.

74 Comments

Good News, Anyone?

Amid all these debates about what is homophobic, what is racist, and what is offensive in general, I started to think that I musn't be the only person who could do with a break. Enough talk of hate and trouble, I say! Here are some really good examples of how people can be kind, selfless, and compassionate:

Teen Uses CPR To Save Stranger

Billionaires Pledge To Donate Wealth

London Opens Its Homes To The World

The Ripple Effect Of A Small Act

303 Comments

EXCLUSIVE Interview With The Verti-GoGo's!!

Quick note - If this makes NO sense, try reading this first: Fantasy Bands. The following is rated T for Teen.

You can listen to the second single, "My Doggie Got Losted" here:

EXCLUSIVE New Verti-GoGo's Track

The Verti-GoGo's - from left to right: Nemi, Delirium, and Tank Girl
The Verti-GoGo's - from left to right: Nemi, Delirium, and Tank Girl

This week, I was finally granted an audience with up and coming band The Verti-GoGo's. The three piece have been causing quite a stir on the Gotham City rock scene, and their first studio album "Synesthesia" looks set to lift the band from underground sensations to fully fledged rock goddesses. I caught up with them at an EXCLUSIVE after-gig party at Wayne Manor, proof that The Verti-GoGo's are beginning to turn some influential - and exceedingly wealthy - heads.

BumpyBoo: Hey girls, great show! Why don't you start by introducing yourselves, for those who aren't familiar with you yet?

TANK GIRL: They call me Tank Girl. I'm an Aussie, and I sing and play bass guitar for The Verti-GoGo's.

NEMI: I'm Nemi Montoya, and I play guitar. (She points to Delirium) And she is known as Delirium.

DELIRIUM: I'd like to find an instrument that makes the same sound as hugging. Sometimes on stage I forget the notes, but it's alright because you are always in harmony with yourself.

TG: She means she's a drummer.

DELIRIUM: Usually I am, but the moon-

TG: Not now, mate.

BB: So, how did you guys meet? I mean, as Tank Girl has already mentioned, she is Australian. Nemi, you're from Europe. And as far as I can understand, Delirium, you are a conceptual entity. I can't imagine what might have brought you together.

DELIRIUM: We have always been. Or never were. I feel like they are both true, but also, neither are true.

NEMI: (smiling) That's SO deep. Wow...

TG: Pair of bleedin' hippies! You wanna know the real story? Where else COULD we meet? Comic-Con, of course.

BB: Of course! Moving on, now: critics have described your music as "visionary" and "complex", although some have dubbed it "mind-cripplingly un-listenable". You certainly have a unique sound. Who or what are your musical influences?

TG: Aw, you know, the usual. Crunchin' bones, stompin' heads, explosions and s***!

DELIRIUM: Growing flowers, or the hush of a teardrop falling into a pillow. The wind is music, and so is the sky.

NEMI: We're doing clever answers? I was gonna just say WASP.

BB: You can still try a clever answer.

NEMI: Really? OK...WASP!

EXCLUSIVE snapshot!
EXCLUSIVE snapshot!

BB: Tell me, how does a relatively unknown band end up here, at Wayne Manor? It must be pretty exciting!

DELIRIUM: Oh yes! Yes it is. Everything is!

TG: Alright, girl, don't wet yourself! Haha, it IS pretty cool. Nemi hooked us up with this.

NEMI: Yeah, we were quite lucky, I ran into an old friend at a show, and she pulled some strings for us. Scream Queen, her name is. Do you know her?

BB: Never heard of her.

NEMI: She used to be in a band, back in the 90's: Scare Tactics. They put us in touch with some great people: Arnold Burnsteel, Bruce, a few nameless others. We've been very fortunate.

BB: Speaking of the elusive Mr Wayne: what's he like in person, girls?

TG: He ain't so tough. I could take him.

NEMI: You wish! He's quite dreamy in the flesh, Bumpy. Gorgeous. I wonder if he likes metal...?

DELIRIUM: And he's Batman. He's a nice man.

TG: Hahaha!! WHAT?! That's a good one, mate! Batman...has anyone ever told you you're a total nutter, Delirium?

BB: You do seem to have quite an imagination. Which brings me to my last question: where do you picture yourselves in five years' time?

TG: Loaded! Wasted! Famous!

NEMI: I hope we're still doing this, that would be amazing.

I turn to ask Delirium, but she has already left - in her place is a bunch of multi-coloured balloons. They quiver for a second in the air, before a gust of winds calls them out into the street.

The Verti-GoGo's new album "Synesthesia" is out now. The first single, "Butterflies (Killing Your Face)" will be released next week.

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Fantasy Bands

Read an interview with the band here: EXCLUSIVE Interview With The Verti-GoGo's!!

Sometimes, you just have to do something daft to cheer yourself up, and it is in this spirit that I present to you my fictional all girl grunge band: The Verti-GoGo's!

No Caption Provided

The band is made up exclusively of comic book girls with attitude.Yeah! Just looking at that picture picks me up!

The Lineup

Vocals: Tank Girl

Guitars: Nemi Montoya

Drums: Delirium of the Endless

I'm also planning a Siousxie and the Banshees-style goth band with Death and Scream Queen. It isn't much, but it passes the time, and the pictures are fun to make ^_^

What fantasy comic book band would you like to see?

(You can also listen to the band here: EXCLUSIVE New Verti-GoGo's Track)

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Childhood Favourites

We all have them. Songs, comics, films. Things you can wrap around you like a warm and comforting blanket, a time machine that can instantly transport you to a different place and time.

This blog is about mine.

Come with me on a journey, fellow Viners, to 1996. To some of us, it feels like yesterday - although I know that for several people here, I'm talking about before you were born. On the radio, you can expect to hear Alanis Morrissette, Tori Amos, Fun Lovin' Criminals, The Eels, Smashing Pumpkins, The Prodigy, and No Doubt (and, on a horrifying note, "Ooh Aah...Just a Little Bit" by Gina G. The horror). In the cinemas, Jumanji, Toy Story, Seven, 12 Monkeys, Independence Day and From Dusk Till Dawn. It is a leap year and, come summer, the weather is wonderful.

I am eleven years old, and I am SO awkward! It is the year I start "big school", and the first year that I start to become a grown up, both physically and mentally. We've all been there! We're talking greasy hair, glasses, bodily changes - a real catch, basically! But there's something else, and this is the part which makes this blog relevant: other than The Beano, Dandy and Buster, I have never read a comic book before.

It's my dad who introduced me to comics. One day, I came home from school to find a comic in a little see-through plastic wrap. My dad tells me he saw it at one of the little comics stalls in town (at the time of writing this, there are NO comics shops in my hometown anymore), and it looked like it might be worth a look.

The moment I see it, I am transfixed. It is like nothing I have ever seen before.

No Caption Provided

In 1996, very few people looked like Scream Queen.

On the surface, I can see how this might seem like just another comic. Some throwaway, unsuccessful title (comparatively speaking) about a teenage rock band who can barely even play their instruments. But at eleven years old, reading about the teenage misfits while on the cusp of becoming a teen myself, it was everything. Everything.

So what's the big deal? How can something so small be so significant?

Let me explain. Even as an adult, Scream Queen is my hero. She was back then, too. You see, I was a very awkward and strange girl growing up. I only had a few friends, all of whom had varying degrees of difficulty in fitting in, just like me. And yet here was his cool girl, who went out of her way not to fit in, who didn't care what anybody thought of what she did, or what she wore. Scream Queen is always herself, has nothing to prove, and offers no explanation. Take me or leave me, she seemed to say on every page, I couldn't care less.

But admire her - hell, worship her - as I did, I couldn't relate to Nina. At eleven years old, that kind of self-confidence seemed like some unattainable dream.

The character I could relate to was Jimmy.

Slither
Slither

Jimmy - or Slither - spoke to young BumpyBoo in a way that few characters ever have. You see, Jimmy is a lizard boy, but he used to be a normal human being, until his dad's experiments inadvertently turned him into a monster. In every issue of Scare Tactics, he struggles to deal with the changes his body is going through. These changes are so unpredictable and frightening to him that he feels like a stranger even to himself. He feels painfully self-conscious everywhere he goes, not only because he looks different but because he never knows when his mood will change, turning a normally laid-back young man into someone violent and unpredictable. And reading this, I felt normal. Amid all the raging hormones, social anxieties and general hideousness I was going through at the time, Jimmy really hit a nerve.

A small minority of you will already know how much I love this title. After all, I have reviewed it, spent hours on Wiki edits (with so much left to do!), and bring it up on the forums whenever I can. But a blog is different. In a review, you still have to be objective. A review that simply says "This comic is awesome! Ooh I could just EAT it!" may be honest, but it doesn't help anyone. In a blog, you can give the real reason you love a book so much, and this is mine. I love Scare Tactics so much because for a short time every month, it was okay to be the weird kid. It was okay to be different.

So, do you have a childhood favourite you still read today?

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