Darkstream: How Arkhaven will shake up comics

From the transcript of the Darkstream:

How Arkhaven is going to shake up the comics industry. We’ve been talking about this a fair amount today on the blog and this was really sparked by discussion of someone saying, “well, you know, what the right-wing needs to do is we need to band together, you know, we need all the creators to team up to create a new Marvel.” But the problem is that creators teaming up is not creating a new Marvel, creators teaming up is creating a new Image Comics. And that’s not going to work because Image Comics has not been successful overall as a organization. It’s not going to work and the reason it’s not going to work is three-fold as far as I can tell.

Number one, people on the right are pretty individualistic. They have a tendency to want to pursue what is of maximum interest and value to them at the moment. They don’t tend to think in terms of building organizations and institutions, and they definitely don’t think in terms of taking over existing organizations and institutions and modifying them to their liking. So that’s the first reason. If you look at what is happening already, look at what has happened since we launched the Alt-Hero campaign and set off this whole comics Kickstarter thing, if you look at what has happened, the guy from Diversity & Comics has had a lot of success, Ethan van Sciver has had a tremendous amount of success, you’ve got folks like Tim Lin and Chuck Dixon doing Trump Space Force, Will Caligan has been doing some other stuff, Jon Del Arroz has done Flying Sparks and he’s got another, bigger, project in the works.

If these people were all thinking in terms of institutions and infrastructure, then they would all be working with Arkhaven or Dark Legion, but most of them aren’t. Some of them are, yeah, we’re going to be publishing Jon Del Arroz’s stuff at retail, we’re going to be publishing Will Caligan’s stuff  too, but everyone else wants to do their own thing.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that! Please understand, I am not criticizing! But what is going to happen is the same thing that has happened in the world of independent publishing, which is that you’re going to have a few really big winners, and they’re going to do very well, and almost everyone else is going to pretty much go by the wayside and be unable to really do anything at all. And in comics, it’s just that more difficult because it’s a lot easier to just write a book and put out an ebook on Amazon than it is to put together the various moving pieces that involve the writing, the illustrating, the coloring, the publishing, and the selling. You know, there are people who can do all that – Ethan van Sciver is very clearly one of them – but you’re not going to be able to build a publishing company off that. We’ve already seen this in the world of independent publishing.

Castelli House was supposed to publish Milo’s Dangerous. Four times we were told “yeah yeah yeah we want you to publish this,” but then they got all excited about the fact that they had a number one Amazon bestseller in pre-order and all that sort of thing, and thought, “well, you know, we will
start a publishing house around it.” The problem is that a publishing house involves a considerable amount of infrastructure and a lot of strategic relationships and that sort of thing, and what most people don’t understand is that we had this infrastructure assembled since 2014. We did the Alt-Hero
kickstarter in October 2017, so we already had everything in place for more than three years. The kickstarter was just the thing that allowed us to take it to the market, but we already had all the infrastructure in place.

It’s also very different publishing other people’s stuff than just doing your own thing. Now, I’m not saying that people are not going to be successful. Quite to the contrary, you know some people are going to be very successful, just not most of them. If you look at independent publishing, you look at how well people like Nick Cole and Jason Anspach are doing with Galaxy’s Edge, you look at how well a writer like Richard Fox is doing with The Ember War, but that is one-tenth of one-tenth of one percent of all the people who are tempted to play there, and the Amazon marketplace only exacerbates that “win big if you’re lucky, most of you lose” situation.

The other reason, the second reason, is that most illustrators can’t write. We had this discussion when we first started Arkhaven and I told people not to worry about the art. We had the writing, we had the stories, we had the characters, and as for the art, we were going to improve. People have already seen how we are improving the art and yet those first issues are still selling very well. Why? Because it’s the stories that matter. Art is great, the art attracts a lot of attention, I’m not denigrating the art, I’m simply saying that the art is one part of the puzzle, it’s one ingredient in the cake, and it’s not the most important one, it’s just the most obvious.

I think there might be a way for us to add some value at Dark Legion by putting together writers and illustrators and bringing them together to start you know working on new IP, new creator IP, that Dark Legion could publish. Now, I just started thinking about this today, I haven’t figured out exactly how the model is going to work. There’s always the problem because the artist has more work and it takes him more time, but the story created by the writer is actually more important in the long run, so how do you balance that? You know, what’s a fair division of labor there and so forth? I don’t know, maybe some of you will have ideas if you’re at all involved in that sort of thing.

And then the third problem is that you have to be willing to follow the leader. You don’t have to like the leader, you don’t have to agree with everything they do. Do you really think that everybody who joneses to get published by Marvel agrees with everything that Marvel’s editor-in-chief thinks? Of course not, you probably don’t even know who he is or what he thinks! Oh speak of the devil… Ethan’s here!


Run, Bill, run!

Because the French/McMuffin debacle wasn’t embarrassing enough, the traitorous Trotskyite is considering the possibility of seeking even more humiliation in 2020:

Bill Kristol, the former editor-in-chief of The Weekly Standard, is considering challenging President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primary.

Kristol, who is consistently one of the most vocal anti-Trump Republicans, has been considering a run for months, a source familiar with Kristol’s thinking told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Kristol, who remains an editor-at-large for the Standard, said he has no plans to run but declined to rule it out when asked by TheDCNF.

“No plans to run. But I’m randomly in Boston today, and happen to have had lunch with someone who does a lot of work in New Hampshire,” Kristol wrote in an email. “As he’d say, ‘Ya nevah know.’”

The New Hampshire primary, the second electoral contest after the Iowa Caucuses, is a key hurdle in the presidential nominating process.

Kristol previously sparked 2020 rumors in March when he popped up in New Hampshire to speak at “a must-show event for potential presidential contenders,” as Inside Sources noted at the time.

While I would love to see Kristol the Younger repeatedly humiliated on a national stage, trying to argue his Israel First policies in public against the God-Emperor, even he is not quite that stupid. Captain Underoos, on the other hand, just might be.


Compassion is not a virtue

The Manchester bombings, like the Battle of Adrianople and the unconstitutional anti-BDS laws in the United States, demonstrate why refugees should never be permitted to enter or settle in a civilized country.

The Manchester suicide bomber was rescued by the Navy from war-torn Libya three years before his pop concert atrocity, the Mail reveals today. HMS Enterprise plucked Salman Abedi, then 19, from the Libyan coast and took him to Malta for a flight home to Britain in August 2014.

Last May he set off a bomb in Manchester Arena that killed 22, including seven children.

Abedi’s younger brother, Hashem, who is in jail in Tripoli facing trial over the attack, was also rescued by HMS Enterprise.  The presence of the Abedi brothers among the 110 evacuees from Libya in 2014 was confirmed by family friends in Libya. One said: ‘They were sent together by the Royal Navy to Malta.’

They also demonstrate the utter foolishness of giving citizenship to foreigners practicing alien religions. Even the Muslim countries don’t permit their fellow Muslims to settle in their nations, so why should the West do so?


Simulation and AI

At DevGame, a Devstream on two different types of simulation, for process and for effect.

When you use simulation for process, you almost always have a situation where the results are not going to be realistic. The process is complicated and it is intrinsically inaccurate. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about an AI attempt to replicate human intelligence, whether you’re talking about an attempt to replicate an infantry firefight, or whether you’re dealing with something like a football or soccer game, in all of those cases you’re dealing with multiple layers of abstraction, and every abstraction, every assigned variable is going to be different than the real world

Even if you build a very complicated model using very accurate statistics, the small errors, the small differences, are going to multiply so that by the time that you get to the end result, you’re not going to end up with very realistic numbers.

Also on DevGame, a reader raises an interesting question about whether the transformation FPS games is related to r/K selection theory.


Soda Pop Soldier now in print!

SODA POP SOLDIER by Nick Cole is available in paperback from Castalia Direct for $19.99. It is also available via Kindle and Kindle Unlimited on Amazon.

The war starts at 6 A.M., in-game time. By 6:45 we’re losing Hamburger Hamlet as our entire line begins to disintegrate.

It isn’t a total collapse. Pockets of resistance hold out in key positions, buying ColaCorp time, expensive time, to fall back and reorganize. On my right flank, Kiwi holds a high hill overlooking the Song Hua river basin. We call that hill WonderSoft Garage because of the small power station and vehicle spawn depot located there. WonderSoft had made the capture of that hill and power station a primary objective in the last three battles we’d fought at this end of the basin.

And it looked like they were gonna try for it again today.

Over BattleChat, Kiwi swears as he burns through the ammo that an air resupply Albatross barely managed to get through. In my mind, I can see empty lager cans parading around the workspace that is Kiwi’s keyboard and monitor, as ambient in-game sound resounds in a metallic symphony of ammo brass expended in adult-sized doses. If the sound of auto rifles and explosions is a kind of music, and to some of us it is, then Kiwi is Beethoven.

Through graphically rendered feathery willow trees and the game-supposed heat waves of the day, I can barely make out what’s going on up at the top of the hill in brief glimpses. Three fast-attack WonderSoft Goats, their version of a jeep, and a Thrasher light mech are burning. Thick oily smoke belches from the mech, and a moment later it explodes in a shower of sparks. More WonderSoft Goats and Thrashers climb the road to the bridge that leads to our side of the river.

WonderSoft infantry scramble from cover, racing to other cover, as Kiwi fights hard to keep them from crossing the choke point at the bridge and capturing WonderSoft Garage. It’s about to get real intimate, real quick.

“Command, we’re gettin’ killed up here,” shouts Kiwi over BattleChat. His transmission is broken and distorted by automatic weapons fire in the background. “I’m down to three grunts,” he continues. “Request reinforcements or evac, A-S-A-P! If you’ve got fire support, I’ll take it now, but you’d better drop it right on top of my position, your choice, Command.”

Minutes earlier I’d requested Command point two transports of grunts our way as reinforcements. One of our dropships got jumped by a flight of WonderSoft Vampires as they’d approached the LZ. The other, piloted by RiotGuurl, had gotten away.

I hope.

RiotGuurl is as good a pilot as I’ve ever worked with. Losing the first transport hadn’t been an easy choice for her, but when a WonderSoft Vampire caught your electronic scent, there weren’t many options left for a transport squadron other than to split up and run like hell to get away from that wicked ground attack jet.

Since then RiotGuurl was maintaining radio silence. I know she’s chasing every nook and cranny in the jungle-clad hills that surround the basin on all sides, flying her gunship way too close to the computer’s representation of the ground, looking for a route back into Hamburger Hamlet so we can resupply and reinforce the river crossing. Maybe even help Kiwi.

“Be advised, Command, it’s just me now. All my grunts are KIA.” Kiwi again. “Two ammo packs left and multiple Softs inside the wire.” Kiwi never gives up. Even when he’s being overrun. Maybe it’s an Australian thing. Once this war is over, I plan on taking some of my winnings and heading down under to spend some time in Gigaboo Flats at the Wonky Boomerang, Kiwi’s favorite post-battle watering hole. But hopefully the Cola Wars will never end, or else how will I get paid?

“Kiwi, evac not possible at this time. Sorry about that, son.” It’s RangerSix, ColaCorp’s tactical commander. The fact that he’s overseeing our little firefight reinforces how crucial this battle really is for ColaCorp.

Using my targeting monocular, I scan the sloping hills and tall grass behind and above Hamburger Hamlet for our commander’s avatar. RangerSix is the kind of guy who can change a battle with a basic rifle kit and some explosives. As usual I can’t find his hiding place.

Across the river, WonderSoft artillery begins throwing everything they’ve got at us. Head down inside my command post, I crank my speakers to full ambient in-game sound, cutting off Catherine Wheel’s seminal late-twentieth-century album Ferment. I’m waiting to hear RiotGuurl’s turbines. She’s Kiwi’s only hope now.

“Sixty rounds left. How about fire support, RangerSix?” It’s Kiwi.

“Negative at this time.” I hear the quiet frustration in RangerSix’s smoke-stained voice.

“Die in place again, huh?” grunts Kiwi.

Behind me, in the detailed squat bamboo and stone village that is the game designers’ representation of a fictional Southeast Asian river basin village, a place we call Hamburger Hamlet as a nod to the often bloody struggles for online supremacy that take place there, our armor rolls through, retreating farther to the east. We’ve been holding this side of the river, waiting for our massive Charger IV battle tanks to cross the muddy brown shallows under heavy mortar fire. Now, it’s time to bug out.

WonderSoft Garage has always been the key to control of the river crossing at Hamburger Hamlet. There’s no bridge, but the river’s shallow enough to get most vehicles across. Now that the overwatch Kiwi was providing at the garage is on the verge of being taken, the battle, at least here alongside the river, is lost for ColaCorp. Any of our units on the far side of the river aren’t getting back to our lines without an airlift. The game day still promises more fighting. It’s Saturday, and the network goes big on coverage for the weekend. But to lose good armor this early would spell disaster for whatever Command has in mind for us to do next. We’ve gotten the Chargers back to this side of the river. That’s enough for now. We’ll have to fight another battle somewhere else.

“Afraid so, son,” says RangerSix to Kiwi over BattleChat regarding any kind of assistance. Or to be more specific, the complete lack thereof. “Sorry.”

Kiwi doesn’t reply.


The League of Creeps

In case you ever wondered what SPLC stands for. From “a recently-uncovered court document from the divorce proceedings of a prominent Sexually Perverted League of Creeps figure”, co-founder Morris Dees:

“She went to her room and then went into the bathroom,” the document says. “Looking out the window, she saw Morris in the bushes beside the bathroom window looking in. She said ‘Morris, is that you’, but he said nothing and ran away.”

Two months later, things got worse.

“[M]orris entered [Holly’s] room from [Morris and Maureene’s daughter Ellie’s] room, through the bathroom, the document says. “He was in his underwear and he sat on the bed where Holly was lying on her stomach facing away from the door. He touched her on the back and woke her up. He told her that he had brough [sic] her a present, and he presented her with a vibrator. He plugged it in and said he had brought it to her. He proceeded to rub it on her back and said ‘Let me show you how to use it.’”

According to Holly’s testimony, she declined, but Morris proceeded anyway.

“[H]e started to place it between he [sic] legs when she raised her voice and said no loudly,” according to the brief.

He was wearing only a pair of bikini underwear shorts during the incident, according to Holly.

“About two hours later, she had fallen back asleep and he came back in,” the brief says. “He brought the vibrator with him, plugged it in and said again, ‘Let me show you how to use it.’ He tried to show her again by putting it between her legs, but she raised her voice again and he stopped.

It’s amazing how so many of these self-appointed thought police turn out to be deviants and sex criminals. Being attacked by these creeps should be viewed as a badge of honor. No wonder they’re so terrified of “hate”. Any decent individual of any race, creed, or color is bound to hate them.


Those excellent Minnesota schools

Minneapolis Southwest struggles with its vibrant diversity:

Safety concerns arise as violence continues to escalate at Southwest High School.

On top of an already failing administration, Southwest High School staff are struggling to maintain peace between students. Last Friday, March 2, multiple fights broke out during the school’s second lunch period. Despite attempts to sweep the issue under the rug and downplay the violence, persistent students and parents forced the administration to address the situation.

Videos of the fight posted online forced the administration to hold an emergency meeting.

The highly anticipated fight between two students who have been off-and-on friends for years became physical during lunch last Friday. According to school officials, they knew of the impending conflict at least a week prior. The day of the incident, the administration claims that they reached out to the students “every hour” before the fight broke out. Unfortunately, the efforts were not successful and the violence erupted anyway.

The fight was not limited to the two students, who were reported by classmates to be a Somali-American and an African American. Over 20 students joined the chaos soon after the first punches were thrown and the original videos that surfaced were titled “Somalis vs. Blacks.” The original videos have been taken down due to pressure from school administration. The school’s resource officer was present in the cafeteria. In an attempt to control the situation, school officials put the cafeteria into lockdown for 15 minutes after the allotted 30-minute lunch period, keeping any students from leaving or entering, including the ones not involved. All staff members that were not otherwise occupied were called to action.

The police were not called, but 15 student resource officers from other schools were called for backup. In an eyewitness video taken by a student, the administration’s inability to diffuse the skirmish in a timely, appropriate, and safe manner was made clear.

So much for the idea that an absence of whites would lead to peace on Earth. All they need is to throw some Aztecs in there and things will get really… vibrant.


The name is Arkhaven

As I’ve pointed out before, the Right has no idea how to cooperate or play follow-the-leader:

I’m in Chuck’s comics circle online. I really feel like ALL OF US trying to do our Right Wing comics need to band together to form our own “Marvel” because it’s EXTREMELY hard to make comics without having any name. Here’s my AltRight web comic.

The alternative to Marvel and DC has already been created. We are well into the process of building the necessary infrastructure at Arkhaven. While we’re getting excellent support from both comics fans as well as culture warriors, and while we’re building key strategic relationships with a variety of partners, we still have relatively little support from a) the conservative media, b) the social media stars, or c) the aforementioned comics circle.

Now, just to be clear, that’s absolutely fine. I’m not complaining about it. We never counted on it. We have always been of the Gideon mindset; it’s better to have 300 warriors at your back than 10,000 counter-signaling moderates.

There are a number of obstacles to what this gentleman wants to accomplish. First, the attention-seekers can’t stand for anyone else to be the leader, no matter who it is. See: Comicsgate. Second, right-wingers are individualists who tend to focus on maximizing their personal situation at the expense of building institutions and organizations capable of supporting them. See: Milo Inc’s abortive attempt to create a publishing house. Third, moderates will not accept radical leadership for fear of rejection by the Left whose approval they still seek. See: Diversity & Comics and many indy authors.

Imagine where we would be if all those indy authors and social media stars and Baen authors had been willing to work out mutually beneficial deals with Castalia House. We’d already be in a much stronger position to defend the interests of everyone on the Right. Instead, it’s just more dog-eat-dog competition in a negative-sum game as Amazon methodically drains the pool of available ebook money. It will almost certainly be the same thing in comics, with one or two big winners and everyone else scrambling for the scraps. Again, not complaining, merely observing and analyzing.

Now, there are those who have recognized the situation, bought into the vision, and gotten on board. As for the others, a few will do great on their own, although they will fail to build any lasting institutions, and the rest will muddle along in obscurity. And while not everyone will acknowledge it now, eventually it will become obvious that the right-wing alternative was born on the very first day of the Alt-Hero campaign.


Winning: Arkhaven edition

An Arkhaven reader emails:

My son was recently punished, not allowed to play on his computer. I offered him some comics, because he is always allowed to read, no matter what; I offered him my World War Hulk, Dark Phoenix, House Of M, Decimation, X-Cutioner’s Song (w/ Stryfe), Age Of Apocalypse, etc.

His response: But I Like Fazer!

From Avalon #1: The Street Rules.

That’s winning.

That is indeed. And now it’s time to call upon the Arkhaven fans in the UK. Ingram and Arkhaven are about to launch our mailing campaign to all the comic book stores in the UK, which will put the first two Alt-Hero comics, plus Chuck Dixon’s Avalon #1, in the hands of the comic book store owners so they can see the quality for themselves. The idea is to a) convince all the stores to sign up with Ingram, and, b) convince them to carry Arkhaven’s comics.

If you are a UK resident and you’re willing to call upon a few stores, either by phone or in person, to help follow up on the mailing, please email me with ARKHAVEN UK in the subject and include the name of your local comic book store, if any, in in the body of the email.

I can also confirm that Castalia/Arkhaven Direct will begin shipping in the UK before December.


SODA POP SOLDIER by Nick Cole

Call of Duty meets Diablo in this fast-paced, action-packed LitRPG novel from the author of GALAXY’S EDGE.

Gamer PerfectQuestion fights for ColaCorp in WarWorld, an online combat sport arena where mega-corporations field entire armies in the battle for real world global advertising-space dominance. Within the immense virtual battlefield, players and bots are high-tech grunts, using drop-ships and state-of-the-art weaponry to wipe each other out.

But times are tough and the rent is due, and when players need extra dough, there’s always the Black, an illegal open source tournament where the sick and twisted desires of the future are given free rein in the Wastehavens, a gothic dungeon fantasy world.

And all too soon, the real and virtual worlds collide when PerfectQuestion refuses to become the tool of a mad man intent on hacking the global economy for himself.

Soda Pop Soldier is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. A Castalia House paperback will be available from Castalia Books Direct later today.

From the reviews:

  • I half-expected a light-hearted romp through modern video games. What I got was something completely different. Something telling about how many of us live our lives online and the anonymity that we expect…. Throughout it all, we see the real world, but in many ways Cole presents this as almost more fantastic and ridiculous than the online worlds that PerfectQuestion plays in. There are scientific advancements that take humans to other planets and planes that seemingly traverse around the world without stopping, but most of that is unavailable to the average person. The more the book explores those areas – the areas inhabited by the rich and powerful – the more the reader finds themselves in foreign territory. In many ways PerfectQuestion is more at home in the war and fantasy of his online games than in the real world.
  • This is a seriously well-crafted book, full of twists, loads of pop culture references, and a remarkable treatise on integrity, conviction, good versus evil, hero versus villain and several other themes. He picks up on everything that was (and is) fun about gaming, problem-solving and the creativity and story-telling that great games AND books have in common, and lectures in a good way about the joy of reading. This is a great story. If you played Pong and other games up to the current genre of first-person shooters, and enjoy a good story, with characters that you can identify with, buy this book. Read it. Share it. If you aren’t a gamer, but rather a well read bookworm, buy this book. Lose yourself in it, and enjoy something that is exceptional.
  • This book blew me away. I went into it expecting little, because it’s from an indie publisher. Big mistake. It feels like a blend between Catcher In The Rye, Blade Runner, and Warhammer 40K. It started off a bit slow and I wasn’t sure where it was going, but it morphs into a compelling story that I could not get enough of. I’d think about this book while I was working, waiting to get home. I went out and bought three more of his books just so I’d have some ready when I finished this one.
  • I love Cole’s work and SPS is probably my favorite one to date. 
  • It’s in my top ten favorite novels of all time, and it’s just wonderfully good.

This book is an absolute must-read for any gamer. People not unreasonably tend to think of Nick Cole as a pulp author due to the success of Galaxy’s Edge, but he is actually one of the better science fiction authors around, and there is no one currently writing who is more adept at playing on the emotions of the reader.

LitRPG has been around since Joel Rosenberg created it in Guardians of the Flame; my abortive first attempt at a novel was a Guardians imitation that very cleverly utilized Traveller instead of D&D. But the invention of the MMO and subsequent blurring of reality and game reality in the real world has transformed and popularized the genre, and Soda Pop Soldier represents the very best of it. If you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy and do so.

Castalia House will also be publishing the next two books in the Soda Pop Soldier series.