Comic Review – Kim & Kim #1 (Black Mask Studios)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I’m reviewing the first issue of the new Black Mask Studios series Kim & Kim, written by Magdalene Visaggio and illustrated by Eva Cabrera, with colours by Claudia Aguirre and letters from Zakk Saam.

Cover art by Tess Fowler & Kiki Jenkins

Cover art by Tess Fowler & Kiki Jenkins

Kim D & Kim Q are a pair of down on their luck galactic and interdimensional bounty hunters, struggling to get a decent job after their most recent payday fell through. Their target was ‘vacated’ and the bounty rescinded, with the Marshal refusing to even pay their expenses. Some old friends try to lend a hand in the form of teaming up on an exclusive bounty contract, but after she left The Catalans, their organisation run by her father Furious, Kim Q still harbours some resentment towards them. Instead, the girls decide to chase the bounty themselves, heading to the planet Clovis to find the mark, who has been quietly murdering people across the dimensions. With no leads, no real information on the target and The Catalans looking for him too, Kim and Kim may be in over their heads.

There is a definite punk and Riot Grrrl feel to Kim & Kim, both in the characters and plot, and in the book’s aesthetics. Kim Q even uses a bass guitar as a weapon, which is fairly punk rock (seemingly a common choice with a lot of my favourite characters,  looking at you Marceline the Vampire Queen). Black Mask describes the book as a “day-glo action adventure that’s bursting with energy and enthusiasm and puts queer women and trans women front and center.”, which is pretty spot on for a few reasons. Kim Q is a trans woman, and Kim D is bisexual: important facets of their characters that are put front and center in an honest and completely non-cynical manner, with both characters already having rich personalities in just one issue. Magdalene Visaggio deftly creates a warm and believable friendship between the girls that is big part of what makes this book work well and why they feel so fully fleshed out so quickly. Also it is basically a punk rock LGBTQ Cowboy Bebop or Firefly and I really can’t think of a better selling point than that.

Art by Eva Cabrera, & Claudia Aguirre, letters from Zakk Saam

Art by Eva Cabrera, & Claudia Aguirre, letters from Zakk Saam

The art from Cabrera and Aguirre is bright, beautiful and fun. There is an obvious Tank Girl vibe, but also an Adventure Time/Bravest Warriors aesthetic to the art too. The excellent character design of Kim and Kim put them at the center of attention in every scene, while the action feels fast paced but never too busy and the quieter moments of reflection are softer and focused on conveying well the emotion of the scene through body language and facial work. The colours finish off the art strongly with a bright palette in the city scapes at the start of the issue, a warmer glow sunset glow to the scenes on Clovis, and the “day-glo” colours reserved for Kim and Kim themselves.

Kim & Kim is a lot of fun, full of heart and an interesting plot with great art, and is a strong LGBTQ-positive book which is something fiction always needs more of. And as I said: punk rock LGBTQ Cowboy Bebop. Why haven’t you bought it yet? Pick it up at your LCS or digitally now.

Score: 8.5 Tentacles out of 10

 

Would You Kindly Get Me Into the Gaming Industry – Resurrection

 

Our contributor Nathan continues his journey into games design.

Now it’s been an awful long time since I have written an article on my journey into the gaming industry and it’s because of 2 reasons. Reason the first, I have moved house and I have spent a lot of time sorting, unpacking and throwing out stuff. Reason the second is applying and obtaining a new job. In case you don’t know, I am a communication engineer, I won’t go into detail, but I have to make ends meet somehow, I decided to leave my old work in search of of better pay and opportunities so I had to dedicate some time into applying, interviews and eventually learning the ropes of the new job, so unfortunately the Train2Game stuff has had to take a bit of a back seat. However it is the new year so it is about time I started working again.

So I have to pick up from the decision you guys made last year on what game I should design. Before I carry on I want to say a huge thank you to all that took part in looking at my ideas and voting for them. I was shocked that the hacking action adventure game won seeing as Watch Dogs was out and I believed that everyone would vote the survival horror purely for that reason. However, I am happy with the result and I believe I can take this game a long way if things go well, especially as I have knowledge within the IT industry through working in it for almost 5 years. I have even given the game a name, X: initiate. The idea behind this came from work where you use certain commands to perform certain tests. I chose X: as a back door way into computers and networks and initiate as in to initiate commands.

There are still a lot of things to consider, especially as my brief has to between 15-20 pages including sketches, story bible, storylines, character creation, gameplay controls etc. There is still a lot to do but at least I have a name and a basic idea of the game.

The background is slightly futuristic, you play a computer hacker with a very unique set of skills. He/she (haven’t decided yet) has an implant in their brain to control and monitor their epileptic fits (a bit weird and probably can;t be done in real life, but this is video games). Through the years of being interested in computers and hacking, the player has managed to hack their own brain and plant themselves in the computer and network world. The players main aim is to get recognised by a well known hacking group in order to fully unlock his potential and safeguard his future as a hacker.

I have some ideas for missions too which are as follows, some inspired by real life events:

  • Hacking a record company for a rival company so they lose money by leaking a new album
  • Planting yourself on a USB drive to access a highly secured technology firm to ruin a launch party of their latest product
  • Bringing down a firewall for a local council to expose their secrets
  • Hacking a bank account of a celebrity and donating money to a charity due to slanderous things they said
  • Hacking a video website and playing a music video instead of the video they searched for (this will be known as Black Bettying after the song Black Betty)

These are a few ideas I have, there are more that need tweaking but hopefully there will be some progress with the storyline through the next couple of months. I will keep you guys updated with any thoughts and ideas I have, also if you don’t like any of my ideas or think you can improve on some, please let me know and if the game gets created, I will make sure you are rewarded (highly unlikely but a man can dream).

In terms of the work for Train2game, this has also taken a back seat as I realised that I need to start doing the portfolio work before I proceed any further. I will have to go over everything I’ve learnt, hopefully the portfolio will help me out a little bit in recapping but we shall see. In conclusion, I am very excited for my year ahead with Train2Game, there is also another Game Jam taking place later this year. I am unsure whether I will attend, but we shall see. Hopefully it will be better than last years experience.

Nath

Would You Kindly Get Me Into the Gaming Industry? Chapter Four – Jumping the Gun

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Our contributor Nathan continues his journey into games design.

So as you may have seen from my last entry about my journey of getting my foot in the door of the video game industry, I was somewhat annoyed at the fact that I hadn’t had any coursework to do as of yet. It turns out that I may have been a bit over enthusiastic. I emailed my tutor team to discuss my concerns and I got an email back stating that there is coursework and I should’ve started it 2 sections ago. I did what any student would’ve done. Panicked, drank a bit, panicked some more, drank a bit more and then slept and thought this is a problem for future Nathan.

When I woke up, slightly dazed and confused about the situation I was in, I decided to have a look at the project to see what I needed to do and it turns out it was exactly what I was doing anyway, but it goes into more depth. I have to look at titles, genres, platforms, age classification, the pitch, key features, gameplay description, quantifiable features, story, setting, progression, mechanics, visual styles, presentation, audio, key differentiators, time scales and budgets.

It is a lot to work on, but I would be doing this if I was working in the industry anyway. I’ve just got to keep plugging away and get everything down on paper. It has to be 10-15 pages long too. Not quite dissertation or PhD thesis length, but certainly one of the largest pieces of work I’ve done for a long time.

It’s ok though. I have a strong passion for gaming as you may well know, so no doubt I will get stuck into to it right away. I have an idea to work with as I have told you in the last article, however whenever I am bored at work (which is a lot) I start thinking of new ideas. Last week I had a particularly stressful day at work, but on my way home I came up with a new idea for a game, which now puts me into a bit of a dilemma. I was originally going to reveal certain aspects and ideas of my first game in each article however seeing as I have to write a project on a game, I will have to put it to a vote. So here are my 2 ideas:

1. A survival horror game called “It begins”. You play a security guard in a large multi-national corporation that specialises in medicine, organ donation and stem-cell research. Your shift starts as normal, however after a blackout, nearly everyone in the building is dead. It turns out a violent poltergeist is loose and is causing havoc and carnage around the building. Your aim is to stay alive and investigate the cause. This can be played on Playstation and Xbox, however it will optimised for Kinect and Oculus Rift for a truly terrifying experience.

2. An untitled, action/adventure sandbox game, where you play a computer hacker. Before I carry on, no this isn’t a Watchdogs clone. You play a hacker who works for the government, but after finding out some ultra-high classified information, you are disposed of. However, you survive and do what you can to take revenge and expose the secrets of the government. Sounds generic, but the idea is that the hacker has the ability to insert himself into the virtual world and run around at will, running from anti-virus, climbing firewalls, disguising himself as viruses, trojans, worms etc. This will be on all platforms.

I know it’s not a lot to go on at the moment, but I am struggling to think which one to do. I was thinking the first one, however the more I think about it, I think the second one could be quite spectacular. Please let me know your thoughts*, I would greatly appreciate any feedback on this topic.

Nath

 

 

*This week’s Not-So-Weekly Argument (which you can find here) will be the chance to vote for which of the two you think is the best game concept. Please help Nath out by voting, but please feel free to comment below with any feedback for him too!