“Like a young prince, picking out a melody on the piano while sampling a fine wine”

by Matthew Edward Hawkins

So… we’re a little over 48 hours till TCAF kicks off & little less than 12 hours till myself and Katie are in Toronto, walking down Younge Street, singing this song. And since I have way too much energy inside me to get any shuteye (we have to be at JFK in about six hours), figured, why not one last, pre-show post? First off, some follow-up…


As most have heard by now, the Kickstarter for FORT90ZINE4ANSWER was a roaring success!

Man, hitting the 100% mark in a little under a weekend was one thing, but making it past 300% in 25 days? Jesus! So once again, I have to thank everyone who parted ways with their hard earned cash for my silly little collection of video game ramblings, and especially for helping to spread the word (which is the primary reasons why I was able to surpass my fundraising goal as much as I did). As clich?d as it sounds, I genuinely don’t have the proper words to express myself!

Unfortunately… things have not exactly gone quite as planned. I’m afraid to say that I was not able to produce my latest zine in time for the big show this weekend. Words also can’t properly express how that feels, though frustrated and embarrassed as all hell are both good starts. The reason? Well, I hate to make excuses, but there are several. First and foremost, my timing could not be any worse. I was a complete idiot for trying to put FORT90ZINE4ANSWER together, while also orchestrating/overseeing/promoting the Kicsktarter to help finance its production, finally pulling the trigger on the Grasshopper fan art contest that’s also connected, figuring out all the logistical issues that comes with simple exhibiting at TCAF, and keeping up with the ever-increasing flow of freelance work that’s been steadily piling up. Which in the case of the later has been a good thing; some might recall that things were looking quite grim, but I guess you could say that my luck has turned around, with a related announcement to make in short bit!

Strange as it might sound, the whole PlayStation Network debacle has also been a HUGE headache. For those confused (like the folks on Twitter who scratched their heads at me being especially pissed about “PSNgate”), doesn’t it stand to make sense that those who would donate money for a video game zine might also have PS3s? With about 24 hours to go till deadline, I got a flurry of emails saying “sorry, but expect my pledged to bounce cuz I just cancelled my credit cards, due to fears of being hacked.” And on my own end, I was afraid of doing much, despite being a possible victim myself, since A) I was on the brink of accepting funds for a fundraising initiative, and B) I ‘m about to travel out of country to conduct business. Thankfully my bank was able to lend a hand without needing to make any changes to my account; basically my activity is being HEAVILY monitored. Perhaps admitting all… specifically how I have yet to change my credit card info, despite it potentially being in the hands of hackers… is rather foolish, but that would mean that they read this blog and that would be kinda neat. But yeah, wish I could say “Dear Sony, fuck you for having such inept security measures, because it cost me X amount of my Kickstarter!” I almost did when I was especially pissed. Thankfully, a chunk of the money that was lost (which I’m sad to say was considerable) is slowly being recovered (though I doubt all of it will). Though the process hasn’t been easy, and more than anything else, time consuming, hence another reason for the delay.

Also, even though I began principle work a good while ago, I got hit with the worst case of writer’s block in a long-ass time around late March/early April, due to various real life nonsense that only recently l’ve been able to plow through. Plus, assorted outside assets materialized far later than expected, but hey, that comes with the territory with such things. I guess the final decision came when I got word that Cory, whose doing the logo-work for the front and back covers, was getting sick. I felt so bad, him staying up all night, cranking out some amazing graphic design on my behalf. I was also stressing out something hardcore myself; as noted, bringing up books and prints to sell in Canada, as it turns out, is a very tricky thing, mostly the hard-ass customs officials that I’ve heard nothing but nightmare scenarios about. Even receiving Attract Mode goods has been a three ring circus, mostly due to how I accidentally pissed of the mail guy that handles special deliveries; he basically threatened me the other morning, going so far as to imply that the next time he handles something intended for me, that I should be shocked if something bad happens because “what goes around, comes around!” and “you are FUCKED.” For those wondering: yes, I have been dealing with US Postal investigators ever since, which is a whole different headache for another time.

Back to the zine and my stupid excuses: in order to make deadline, I also had to cut an article, on-top of having to rush in general, something that I absolutely cannot stand doing (which in many regards is why THREE did not turn out as well as I had hoped). So I’m actually happy to throw in the towel, even though I know a few folks were expecting it this weekend. Though when it does come out, which is still very soon… I get right back to work once Toronto is over with, especially since I have promises to keep amongst all the Kickstarter donators… it’ll be worth the wait, I promise! I wish I could show you the absolutely gorgeous cover artwork that Farel whipped up for me, but it’s not quite ready yet. Feel better Cory, btw! So here’s a sneak peak instead, of just the front, sans inks and colors and logo…

As for the inside, I have a Grasshopper fan art contest winner, aka this particular issue’s centerfold, to announce and reveal!

And The Winner Is…

Holly Summers by Georgina Chac?n!

Making the call was extremely tough; there were a number of truly amazing pieces to chose from, as you’ll see. Funny thing is, Georgina sent hers in literally less than 15 minutes till the deadline. She mentioned in an email that a friend of hers tipped her off to the contest, perhaps relatively recently, and thusly and quickly whipped the above up.

Great job Gina! The prize package is all yours, and deservedly so. And for those interested in checking out what else Ms. Chac? has done, simply check out her Deviant Art account

Like I said, there were a select few that I was agonizing over, as to which should win. Here are my other faves, starting off with a pair from a French artist who calls himself Sem

The level of detail is simply astounding…

Each lovely lady stands alone by herself just as well…

Here we have Shinobu by the truly amazing Jovan Velkoski, located in Japan…

Along with another, by one of my favorite artists on Tumblr, without a doubt, Mira Ongchua

I also really dig her take on Jeanne…

Though by far, Shinobu was the most popular character among all the entrants. Hardly a shock, I know! Here’s a third delectable rendition by Xavier Garcia. Sucks that he couldn’t finish it in time, but it’s awesome nonetheless…

Time for another group shot, this time courtesy of Hugo Dourado

The second most popular character, btw, was surprisingly Alice Twilight. Here’s another fave rendition of her, via Breno Girafa

There’s just something by this image of Bad Girl by Rosemary V, that’s just… mysterious I guess is the word?

From before, but totally worth sharing again; the hottie from Flower Sun Rain, by the Italian pixel pusher who calls herself Luca!

One final featured entry, by my gal pal, with a little something for the ladies out there. Or dudes who like dudes, that’s totally cool!

… I seriously mean it when I say that I really wish I could send you all something, but aside from the financial difficulties that would be involved, there just aren?t a whole lot of Grasshopper goods out there. But yeah, thank you all for your tremendous work and kick ass talent!

In the end, I received submissions from all corners of the globe; a little over 50+ plus folks entered when all was said and done, which isn’t half bad. Some truly interesting, and at times flat out bizarre stuff popped up in my inbox throughout the contest, with the definite “highlight” being a sexy drawing of Suda 51 himself. Most folks sent in a single piece, maybe two at most, though one artist in particular passed along THIRTEEN unique pieces, including one featuring the girl from Shadow of the Damned. Yes, the game that hasn’t even come out yet; Sexy Suda was from this same artist, btw. I was also shocked to see not just one, not just two, but three different people pass along depictions of a sexy Speedbuster (you know, the fat old lady with the gigantic canon). Mediums also varied quite a bit as well, covering what you see above, to scanned in charcoal drawings, even oil paints!

Ultimately, I think it was a success, and thanks to everyone who spared a little of their time and talents for this initiative! Will I do another one? Well, it entirely depends on if I’m able to top myself with the next prize package, which to be honest, I don’t think I’ll be able to anytime soon. I will need another pin-up for the next zine (yes, even though 4ANSWER is not even finished, I already have plans for #5, mostly stuff I couldn’t fit this time around for starters), though I will more than likely be calling up one of the runner-ups!

The Checklist

Once again, totally blows that my new thing won’t be at TCAF this weekend, but another reason why it’s not the end of the world is because I’ll have SO much awesome stuff, that it practically doesn?t matter! Basically, I’ll have…

- The first three installments of the fort90zine, including #1, which as noted last time, I will be retiring. The screen that I use to create the covers is on it’s last legs; fingers crossed that it’ll last to make enough covers for a batch of interior pages that I recently uncovered in a corner of my closet, but I somehow doubt it. Those will be sent to Attract Mode HQ as the absolute last print run, so what I’ll have this weekend will mark the debut issue’s final con showing!

- Issue #3 of Raina Lee‘s groundbreaking 1Up MegaZine will also be handy. I forget how old it is, because it’s just as fresh today as it was however many years ago! You know about Billy Mitchell, right? Sorry, Raina was all over him WAY before he was a household name. Plus tons more; basically, everything that video game writing is still trying to be was already done by Ms. Lee.

- The instruction manual to Calvin & Helen’s Bogus Journey, the ARTXGAME by Derek Yu, Hellen Jo, and Calvin Wong (which some might recall from Heavenly Symphony last fall). I will have the only three copies left! Once they’re gone, THEY ARE GONE.

- Not only will I have copies of Mar?‘s Letters To An Absent Father mini comic, but remember that beautiful image he created on the behalf of Attract Mode, for the TCAF Comics Page? I’ll have a mini print version of that as well!

- Also remember Nick Maynard‘s Game Boy zine from before as well? Well, it too has completely rocked the Tumblr-verse, and I was able to get a nice stack for the show!

- Eightbit Fighters, the wacky shmup zine that’s imported from Japan will also be present! It’s truly a one of a kind package, no joke.

- Two of Attract Mode’s prints that made their debut at Giant Robot’s Game Over 4 show a few months back (and which frankly rocked the house, if I don’t say so myself), will finally be available from us! I’ll have both Farel’s future game playing cat design, along with Hilary‘s eloquent tribute to Tetris as well!

- Plus, there will be Katie’s ode to shumps and cats print as well, along with… get this… a Castlevania print courtesy of Angie Wang?!?! I haven’t even set eyes upon it myself (Adam wrapped everything nice and tight). So come this Saturday morning, I’ll be opening it’s sleeve up like a kid on Christmas morning. Though Adam has promised me it’s epic, and the man does not lie!

… Oh, and speaking of Saturday morning, that’s when I’m moderating a panel! It’s called Beyond the Panels: A Panel on Art in Comics & Other Spaces and will include Graham Annable, Benjamin Rivers, Miguel Sternberg, and George Walker. Here’s the official description of the panel…

“Comic artists often lend their talents to more than just comics. What is is about working in different mediums that appeals to and encourages artists? Are there stories to be told in one space that wouldn’t work in another? In a discussion with four artists, this panel will look at how the comics form is shared and explored across different disciplines such as game design, animation, woodcuts, and more.”

… I’ll also be hanging out with The Hand Eye Society, giving their new Torontron High Roller cabinet a go! There will also be plenty of other awesome folks, including my zinester compadre Ryan (who, once more, is behind what will be THE book of the show, aka Thickness), and a host of others. TCAF 2011 shall be an epic show indeed… and if you can swing by, I’ll be one half of table 247 (which I’m sharing with Katie, obviously) on the second floor.

New Job(s) Get

Though as amped as I am for TCAF, I’m also excited for the week immediately following it back hom. Why? Remember me saying I had an announcement at the top of this post? Well, I’m starting a new gig later in just a few. I’ll be writing for… GameSetWatch!

Yes, the same site I’ve contributed towards for many years now. But many changes are afoot, ready to take in effect very soon, so keep your eye’s peeled on that end for the full deal. But I will say right here, right now, that I’m being added to freshly assembled, brand new daily crew! What that means is all the wacky game oriented stuff I generally post around here will be now be packaged for a much winder audience (something I’ve wanted to do for YEARS, finally realized). Can’t wait!

Needless to say, that also means changes for around here. Then again, it’s not like I’ve been passing along a ton of game oriented articles or videos that much as of late, mostly just me talking about what I’ve been up to (which has been a lot in recent months, granted). It’s hard to say what the future holds, though I say expect a steady stream of random goodness as in the past, just a bit more harder edged, the stuff I simply can’t get away with on a big-time blog that has to worry about taste and the such. Like this H comic I recently came across that involves a dude at the arcade and his horny gf; don’t worry, it’s a SFW page, the only one actually. Also, since it’s straight from Japan, don’t forget: you have to read right to left…

More on GSW later! In the meantime… Did I ever mention that I also recently started posting for another bro site? Yup, Guyism.com to be exact! I mostly touch upon mainstream/headline news, though I also post the occasional wacky vid, sorta like at Heavy.com, though I’m able to add more of my two cents. All of my stuff can be found here. Might I recommend…

- This speedrun of Family Fued for the SNES

- What happens when you combine Star Trek: The Next Generation with Angry Birds

- A look at video games mixed with religion (even if you don’t want to bother with the videos, PLEASE just check out the comments)

- And a bachelor party: the video game

… Okay, that’s it for now. Time to staple some more zines together and finally pack. Hope to see some of you later this weekend in the Great White North!

  • http://hugohugo.deviantart.com/ hugo

    i’m so glad to be featured among these amazing art!
    (i wish i got a bizarre jelly 5 shirt though XD)

  • http://pietepiet.net Pietepiet

    Congratulations to the winners! Bummed that I didn’t make it, but oh well!

    Is there any chance we can have a gallery with all the entries? Would love to see what everyone made :)

  • froggy

    Not even one of my 13 entries made the cut to be featured?

    rofl well that was a waste of a month’s work.

  • froggy

    orite text mention.

  • Brett

    2) A gallery for over 50 peoples’ multiple submissions (many of which I assume were dreadful)? Who in the world does that for similar competitions? Um… yikes.

    3/4) You spent a month on 13 drawings for a swag contest? Um… yikes.

  • linzb0t

    Yeah! I want to see the other pieces!
    The ones that were featured are gorgeous but I want to see the other brave individuals who also took on Speedbuster! Hahaha.
    Great work everyone.

  • linzb0t

    5) Brett: I think it’s rude to assume a lot of the art was “dreadful”. Anybody who entered and tried deserves to have their art at least seen.

    The point of this contest seems like it was to basically collect art for a fandom that does not have nearly enough so I don’t think it would be stupid to put up a gallery. I assume most people are fans of the game like me, so they would be interested in the entries as well.

    Also what’s wrong with being determined enough to submit a lot of entries? If I had time, I would have too!

  • mira

    man such an honor to be featured with so many fantastic entries, i’m humbled! and congrats to gina!

  • http://meatfactory.tumblr.com rosemary v.

    congratulations, Gina! and it’s so fantastic to be featured alongside such awesome people, thank you! all the entries look great, i’m surprised mine is even up there…

  • http://www.burntheinternet.com Kyatt

    Looking at those entries confirms that I didn’t have a remote chance of winning, and not just because I sent in one of the three Speed Busters (really, there were two others? yikes).

  • http://hugohugo.deviantart.com/ hugo

    who did the last travis?
    i love it @_@

  • http://hugohugo.deviantart.com/ hugo

    oh, sorry, how stupid, your gal pal, meaning katie skelly

  • http://www.brenogirafa.com Breno

    Congrats to everybody it’s an honor to be featured here.

    I gotta say the pieces done by “Sem” are my personal favorites. Your art is amazing man

  • http://creative-license.tumblr.com Danni

    Count another one for that gallery!! I know a couple people who entered and weren’t featured, and let me just say, if the others that weren’t featured are just as good, I am really itching to get to see ‘em.

  • https://www.fort90.com FortNinety

    Hello again everyone!

    Now that I’m back from Toronto (look for my TCAF wrap-up in the coming days), I can finally address a few things:

    Sorry, but there will be no gallery featuring the other entries, period. My reasons are numerous; besides the fact that you just don’t see such a thing with similar instances, as Brett pointed out, I flat out don’t have the time and bandwidth to spare on such an endeavor. Though on that note…

    I know I’ll come off fairly jerky by stating the following, but the truth of the matter is, some of the pieces were just not cup of tea. To the point that I honestly believe I’m doing some people a favor by not exposing their handiwork in this instance. Also… and again, while I do appreciate all the time and energy from most… a few were clearly put together in the sloppiest of fashion, just so they could have a chance some free shit (or so I gather).

    There is even one that outright plagiarizes a fairly popular illustration that originated from Pixiv and has made the rounds via channels such as Danny Choo/figure.fm or similar). And that’s kinda sucks.

    For those who are upset, sorry, but that’s my basic position on the issue and I am not changing my mind. Actually, there will be one additional piece that I will feature in my next TCAF post, because I met the artist at the show. Otherwise, anyone who feels pretty vocal about the issues (including at least one ridiculously nasty email I’ve received), even still, can basically spare themselves the effort.

    But here’s some good news I guess: not sure if it was mentioned already, but I’m passing along all the entries to Grasshopper HQ, and I will leave it up to them as to whether they wish to reveal the rest of the goods to the public.

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