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Now Available - Lovecraft's Monsters Playing Cards!

Holy mackerel, am I excited about this one!  Now available in the DriveThruCards store - The Lovecraft's Monsters Poker Deck! Cont...

Monday, February 3, 2020

Brunatics Rejoice!

Fans of Bruno the Bandit, Ian McDonald or just good writing in general, it's a good day!  Long after hanging up his pen on Bruno, Ian McDonald is writing again!
Ian has begun posting his short stories on Wattpad, starting with three very powerful tales, "Bloody Buddy", "President Cthulhu" and "I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me".
I've been lucky enough to be given to read each of these stories (and others yet to come!) in advance, and let me tell you, you're in for a treat!  Ian's writing has matured in interesting new ways since ending his webcomic, and these stories show some entertaining and insightful new directions for his work.  Ian always had a way of subtly working social satire into his Bruno strips, but with these new works, there's more than just humour...Ian draws on politics, popular media and personal experience to create stories that are equally amusing, horrifying and touching.  Each of them are a great reading experience, and taken all together they show that Ian is developing into a decent writer well beyond the scope of his previous work on Bruno.
But don't just take my word for it...go see it for yourself!  Head over to Ian's profile page at Wattpad and check out these stories, and see if you don't agree with me!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Reading the Unreadable #5: Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.

"Gravity's Rainbow" is less a novel than it is a test of patience.  More than any other book I've read, it belongs on the "unreadable" list, just for its sheer incomprehensibility.  Reading like a less coherent American version of Umberto Eco, this book makes me think of nothing so much as the Doonesbury cartoon in which Uncle Duke (Trudeau's stand-in for Hunter S. Thompson) sobers up enough to read an article he wrote while under the influence of whatever he was taking and comments "There's words on the page, but they could mean anything."

Taken line by line, or even scene by scene, Gravity's Rainbow is understandable.  Even, at spots, enjoyable.  I see elements in there that were clearly an influence on later writers, especially on some of the work of one of my favorites, Alan Moore (see his Cinema Purgatorio for examples of what I mean).  Stylistically, Pynchon has his stuff wired tight and clearly accomplishes whatever he set out to do, a laudable goal that apparently can only be known by him and his two closest friends.

However, any attempt (at least by me) to understand this book on any kind of larger scale is bound to be met with frustration.  Looking for any kind of bigger picture or overarching theme leaves one so quickly bewildered as to create a desire to go back to the aforementioned Mr. Eco for a light read.
I can see some of the ideas that Pynchon is developing here about the military industrial complex and the people who work within it, but pinning down any point that he's trying to make about those things is as futile as nailing jello to a wall.

Because, for me, the overarching questions of Gravity's Rainbow is "Why?" Not, "why do the events in this book happen, or happen as they do?" Nor "Why is this world that Pynchon writes about such a disordered mess?" But rather, "Why should anyone want to read this book?" and also, "Why would Pynchon ever write it?"
Maybe that's philistine of me.  Certainly, Wikipedia would have me believe that there's some overall sense to this thing.  Damned if I can see it though.  I mean, I'm no dummy....I've majored in English literature and done analytical study of great works from every major culture and time period, so I kid myself that I know how to read a book...but for the life of me, I can't see anything about this book that justifies its existence as anything other than a masturbatory paean to pointless self-indulgence.  I mean, if you write a book that's only understandable to a highly specific subset of the species, with very particular knowledge of a small point in time and space, and with apparent cultural, philosophical or spiritual relevance outside its own attempt at worldbuilding, with language and structure that shifts gears mid-sentence, occasionally dipping into deliberate attempts at profanity, racism and xenophobia, are you committing literature, or just word salad?
The most surprising thing about "Gravity's Rainbow" is that by some cultural fluke, it is considered among the top 100 novels of all time, when in any rational world it should be a classic of vanity press.  Perhaps this is a fine example of work that, like the paintings of Barnett Newman, is only considered important exactly because it is incomprehensible.

I don't know, and after spending several months hacking my way through this book, I don't care to find out.  The best thing about this book, to my eye, is that I never have to open it again.

Up next, we head into more familiar territory for me with Joanna Russ's "The Female Man".  I remember enjoying her "Picnic in Paradise" when I was in high school, so maybe this one will leave a better taste in my mouth.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Now Available - Lovecraft's Monsters Playing Cards!

Holy mackerel, am I excited about this one!  Now available in the DriveThruCards store - The Lovecraft's Monsters Poker Deck! Containing all new color illustrations based on Lovecraft's descriptions of his own creations, all wrapped up in a unique one of a kind tuckbox.
I've had this one in my back pocket for a while now, waiting for me to find the time to put the finishing touches on it.  To say I'm a huge fan of Lovecraft is a Cthulhu-sized understatement, as the Necronomicon on my bookshelf can testify.  I've enjoyed creating art based on the HPL canon for years,and it's about time I put something together to share with AIM Comics fans and followers.  

From the products description page: 
"The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them.”

The Old Ones (and their minions!) are HERE! In this 54-card deck, you will find Lovecraft's deities and monsters in all new, full color illustrations from artist Michael Dominic. Each depiction is based on descriptions provided by Lovecraft in his work, produced BY a Lovecraft fan, FOR Lovecraft fans!
Michael Dominic is a freelance illustrator with a taste for all things Lovecraftian, having previously HPL-related work featured in Lovecraft E-Zine and the Drabblecast podcast."
You can see the product listing and order the cards in both physical and pdf formats here:

Wednesday, July 24, 2019


All of AIM Comics books are currently on sale at DriveThru for their Christmas in July sale!  Check out our books as well as thousands of other titles on this huge annual sale!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Reading the Unreadable # 4: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"One Hundred Years of Solitude" is one book that probably does not belong on the list of difficult to read books.  I can understand why it's there, given that keeping the generations of characters straight when so many of them have the same or similar names is a daunting task for the close reader.
However, when reading for the numinous enjoyment of the book itself, without any expectation of fully grasping every aspect, this book is quite enjoyable and often beautiful, with nuanced characters, strong visual imagery and lyric language.
I have been looking forward to reading this one for a while, having been inspired to seek it out by reading the "Love and Rockets" collections.  I don't have much experience with magic realism, and actually tend to shy away from books involving magic, as it tends to be an easy out for lazy writers.  Yet it is the mundanity of magic in this book that partly makes this book so appealing; magic is not a cure-all for the problems of the characters; rather, it is just a fact of existence, like the cycles of sun, earth and moon, and almost invisible when it appears.  The lives of the characters do not depend on the magic; they just accept it.
This book is about character, and situation, idealism and romance, the absurdity of existence, in both the meaning of things very small and the meaninglessness of things very large.  It is about the continuity and fluidity of time and existence, in how lives overlap and intersect and inform each other, often in unexpected ways.  It is about the richness and beauty to be found in those intersections, in how the unforeseen turns of life produce their own kind of magic that can be as strange as that other "magic".  This is all told as a sort of historical narrative that gives each of the characters their turn on stage with nearly equal weight, drawing out those moments or features that are distinctive about each of them, despite their recurring nomenclature.  The language is poetic to the degree that there are individual sentences that make you want to go back and experience them again, sentences like,
"With her waiting she had lost the strength of her thighs, the firmness of her breasts, her habit of tenderness, but she kept the madness of her heart intact."


"He did not feel fear of nostalgia, but an intestinal rage at the idea that this artificial death would not let him see the end of so many things that he had left unfinished."

or perhaps most tellingly,

"Always remember that the past was a lie, that memory has no return, that every spring gone by could never be recovered, and that the wildest and most tenacious love was an ephemeral truth in the end."

In the end, too, the book is meta-textual, in a way to rival Jorge Luis Borges.  It ends in a way that reminds the reader of the literary reality of the entire story while inspiring metaphysical questions about our own authorship.  Who is reading, and what is read?  I can't explain it better than that...you'll have to read it for yourself.

Up next, one of the books that supposedly every literate person loves but no one has finished..."Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon.  As always, follow along on Twitter and see if I survive the experience.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

AIM Comics Roundup!

Time for a quick roundup of what's available where.  Consider it a cheat card for finding everything from or related to AIM Comics!

AIM Comics flagship title is The Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit, an ongoing series collecting the webcomic by Ian McDonald.  Find it in a number of places, in a number of formats, depending on your preferred method of reading...

The first two volumes are available in both print and Kindle editions through Amazon, while volumes 3-7 are available on Amazon in print only (honestly, I really don't recommend the Kindle editions; they're just not formatted correctly, and I haven't had the time to fix them).  The best way to find them all is by searching "Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit' at the Amazon storefront for your country.

All seven volumes to date are also available through our DriveThru Comics storefront.  Honestly (again), if you're into reading digitally, this is the best choice right now, as your purchase here is a DRM-free pdf that is a much better price for you than the Kindle editions from Amazon.  Perfectly portable and readable on just about any device.
If you want to save even more money, you can buy the Brutal Blade Bundle from DriveThru.  It contains all issues except the most recent one at a special discount, and is updated each time we release a new volume.

Volume 1 (only!) of Brutal Blade is also available on Comixology.  This format is very user friendly, especially with their guided view.  The rest of the volumes will be up there eventually, as soon as we can get them approved.

If you want to take your enjoyment of Bruno the Bandit to the next level, you can also pick up the Bruno the Bandit Card Game from DriveThru.  Prove yourself the best thief in Rothland by stealing the most loot in one night in this easy to learn, fun to play card game that not only gets you an exclusive card featuring art by Ian McDonald, but also gives you a code to download a free copy of Volume 1 of Brutal Blade!


Also available in our DriveThru store are four issues of the comic "The Journals of Simon Pariah".  Although this comic is currently cancelled, these stories are each standalone and worth a read in their own right.  In fact, one of them, issue 1A is a free issue, done as a wordless tribute to the recently deceased Steve Ditko.

Speaking of free comics, don't forget to snag a copy of our other free book, "Why Comics", containing an article of the same name written for Blueline's Sketch magazine so many years ago, as well as my first (and so far only!) attempt at a 24 hour comic. Exclusively from DriveThru Comics!

Another DriveThru exclusive for those who can't get enough of my artwork (both of you!) is my portfolio book "Believable Illusions", containing a good sampling of the work I've done for a variety of publishers, including podcasts, album covers, and other comics publishers.  You can even order this one as a hardcover book if you really want to!

Not directly related to AIM Comics, but as an ongoing project in which I am involved, there is the game Dread Streets available at the DriveThru sister site Wargame Vault.  Dread Streets is a cinematic swashbuckling game that "lets you direct a swashbuckling movie, complete with ridiculous stunts, pirates, musketeers, freaks, drinking, brawling and lots of taunting." I designed the miniatures for this one, as well as a fair amount of art for the rulebook.  

For those who like superheroic goodness, one final thing I should mention is the "Powers vs. Power" series by Robin Reed.  There's three volumes in this series (so far!) available at Smashwords, each of which is a collection of stories about a group of young superheroes.  Your humble publisher did cover art for all three volumes.

That's it, until/unless I think of something else that should be here.  But stay tuned, as there's more work on the way!  Volume 8 of Brutal Blade will be released later this year, and there's a graphic novel project and another special illustrated volume that I'm keeping under wraps for now.  Keep an eye on AIM Comics, because there's good things to come!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Walking the Dread Streets!

Anyone who's been following on Facebook will know that I've been doing some design and illustration work for a game called "Dread Streets", in cooperation with a talented Danish design team.
From the game's description:
As far as the eye can see, it stretches on and on, the endless cityscape known only as the Dread Streets. In the afternoon, true to form, the Commoners bar their doors and windows. For the Heroes of Dread Streets are about to awake from their drunken sleep, to beat each other up in yet another senseless brawl!
Dread Streets lets you direct a swashbuckling movie, complete with ridiculous stunts, pirates, musketeers, freaks, drinking, brawling and lots of taunting."

 Working on this project has been a lot of fun.  I've always been a fan of great swashbuckling films, and took a lot of inspiration from the classics when creating the look of characters for the game.  This was my first time creating work that was intended to be translated into miniatures, so it was also a learning experience for me when it came to important details like balance and thinking in three dimensions.

The game has been live on Wargame Vault  since 11 November, with a downloadable pdf featuring character designs and rulebook illustrations created by me.  At a "Pay What You Want" price, it's a steal.

Now, the team has taken the game to the next level with a Kickstarter program to help them produce the full featured version of the game with the miniatures and tabletop buildings that should accompany the rulebook.  You can play the game without the miniatures, but it looks SO much better with the figures.

The team is not asking much to make this happen, so it's a good opportunity to support them and help the game get off the ground.  Head over to their project page and check out the various levels of support.  If you can, buy in and get yourself some great rewards, sculpted from my very own art!  They will thank you, I will thank you, and you will thank yourself!