Today I am happy to announce that we have an updated version of our Of Mages & Pages: Teento’s Revenge game demo! The update includes updated graphics, an improved graphic user interface, new music that’s different from level to level, and a much needed new game mechanic: re-spawning obstacles! One of the most received constructive
When you consider some of today’s comic-book writers and artists, for example, (writers) Stan Lee, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, and Frank Miler, and (artists) Jim Lee, Jack Kirby, Frank Quitely, George Perez, and John Byrne, you probably think there’s no way they don’t earn the big bucks. Well, in some cases, namely the examples provided, you would probably be right; however, in other cases you would more than likely be dead wrong.
According to Superhero Nation, the average comic-book writer earns anywhere from $80 to $150 per page, though some earn less and some earn more—some considerably more. As for artists, the situation isn’t much different. Their pay rate may be somewhat higher than for writers; however, it takes them longer to complete a page, and in most instances they also do the lettering and coloring so, according to Stan Lee, in Origin of Marvel Comics, “It all evens out.” In addition, unlike with books, play or movie scripts, and even song lyrics, the majority of writers and artists do not receive royalty payments, residuals, or even retain copyright ownership. What he or she is initially paid is it. There is no more.
There are, on the other hand, exceptions. For instance, some comic-book writers and artists are actually paid a yearly salary, which, according to State University, runs from around $20,000 up to $48,000. Moreover, larger publishing companies like Marvel and DC offer writers and artists royalties if a series sells above a certain level, so for a really successful series, a writer or artist could conceivably earn $200,000 or more annually. In fact, “Extremely popular writers have been known to earn as much as $20 million in a year” (para. 12). And that, my friend, is by no stretch of the imagination a paltry sum. Again, however, such instances are the exception, not the rule.
In the end, as Lee says, a comic-book writer or artist has to be three things: “A comic-book freak,” dedicated to comics, “and certainly not in it for the money” (p. 14). So, if you have aspirations of becoming a comic-book writer or illustrator, earning a fortune, and retiring to a tropical paradise to sip frosty drinks and work on a dynamite tan, perhaps you need to hold on to your day job, at least until you’re assured of earning a living wage.
Lee, Stan (1974) Origins of Marvel Comics. New York: Simon and Schuster
Stateuniversity.com (2015) Comic-book Writer Job Description (Salary). Retrieved from careers.stateuniversity.com
Superhero Nation (2011) How Much Do Comic-book Make? Retrieved from superheronation.com
This week I’m going to introduce you to one of the five ancient mages from the Age of Kings. They were sort of like the Council of Wizards is in the Age of Wizards, but each was separate and unique. Three of the ancient mages still live in the Age of Wizards, and one more actually became a wizard himself. It is that ancient mage we meet today: Aju the Ancient One. The below text is an excerpt from The Magic Spellbook, a companion piece Steve Surine and I are compiling to go along with our upcoming games.
Aju lives in an ancient temple many believe he built himself. Being an air dragon, Aju rarely touches the ground; he doesn’t even have legs, just arms and a long flowing tail. He also doesn’t have wings, which puzzles many, but air dragons don’t need wings to fly. Every dragon has a special breath. Most who know little to nothing about dragons think dragons breathe fire, which is true for some dragons, but other dragons breathe ice, some poison gas, others tar, and the list goes on. A few dragons breathe things that are not physical like ice or fire, Aju is one of these dragons. Aju breathes wisdom, and those he breathes it on either receive their own form of wisdom or are revealed to Aju for what they truly are.
In Aju’s temple there are many pupils, and Aju is one of the few dragons who has always permitted non-dragons in his presence. Aju is also extremely respected by all dragons, and if a non-dragon is seeking out Aju’s guidance, dragons will let him or her alone instead of eating or scaring the non-dragon away from their land. Aju’s temple is atop the highest peak of the tallest mountain in the Brown Realm, also known as the Dragon Mountains.
Taller mountains exist and used to exist in other realms, like the far northwest of the Blue Realm where the Pegasus King resides (another Ancient Mage), and there were even relatively large hills in the lost White Realm where the Giants lived. But a taller mountain is not necessarily easier to traverse. Aju sculpted a trail of trials into the mountain leading to his temple. Even flying creatures find it quite challenging in places. So those who seek advice or wish to study at the tail of Aju must earn the right.
Though there have been many that have made it to the top of the mountain and up to Aju’s temple, he has turned them away just by looking at them. For even without his breath, he sees with his wisdom those who seek power or knowledge for personal gain. Sometimes Aju turns them away not because their quest is selfish but because, through his wisdom, he recognizes that he is not a large part of their path. Though in his wisdom, he also realizes that just by attempting to see him, they know he is a small part of their path.
A year or so ago, I watched a video on YouTube of Tobuscus (Toby Turner) playing Terraria on the Xbox 360 for the first time. I was very intrigued. It is a 2D fantasy platformer in the vein of Minecraft. You start the game and can build any number of structures and craft weapons and armor. You also have to be wary of nightfall, because, just like with Minecraft, when night comes, so do the zombies. I happily gave my money and bought a digital copy of my own. The next couple of days, I played as often as I could, digging deep into the offerings of the game. However, after a while, I moved on to other games and stopped playing, at least for some time.
Then, about six months ago, I watched a trailer on Gamespot for Starbound. This was Terraria, but with a sci-fi setting. I am a fan of the fantasy genre, but sci-fi is my passion. In Starbound, you start on your own spaceship, albeit a damaged one, and then you beam down to the planet you are orbiting in order to find the materials to fix your ship and travel to other star systems. You are able to create any number of structures and craft weapons and armor. And, although night is dangerous, the same monsters are out at all hours. Again, I happily gave my money to buy my copy of Starbound, this time on my PC through Steam.
One night, however, I was playing Starbound on my laptop, and my sons were playing Terraria on the Xbox 360. They had played longer than I had and progressed further into it than I ever did. So, watching them off and on as I built my house on my home planet, I began to feel a longing to play again. A few days later, when I was home alone, I turned the Xbox 360 on and started playing. To my dismay, I had gotten used to the gameplay of Starbound, and my thoughts kept turning to, “That wouldn’t happen in Starbound,” or “I can do that easier on Starbound.” Terraria just wasn’t the same anymore. I didn’t have the same feelings playing it as I did when I first played. So, I turned it off and went back to my laptop and booted up Starbound.
I still play Terraria on occasion, usually when one of my sons asks me to play, but if I want to play and I’m on my own, I choose Starbound. The best part is that the most recent stable update of the game added pets. So, my new character, a human, has a cat on board his ship. The pets aren’t for combat, but my cat is always waiting for me when I beam back to my ship.
So the Superhero machine keeps chugging along. Finally, We have what appears to be a decent representation of Kara-Zor El, in a TV series of all things, coming to CBS this fall. After reviewing the trailer, I came away. . . mildly impressed. Taking this iteration a bit more seriously than Her comic interpretation has been at times (and a galactic leap more serious than the 80’s Helen Slater debacle), I have hopes (medium if not high) for this series.
DC Comics has done a fair job of bringing its Universe to television (some would argue better than its achievements at the cinema) by keeping things balanced between comedic, action, and characterizations. We will see what the future holds for the “Girl of Steel” on the small screen and beyond!
As Jason’s post earlier this week explained, 3twins is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. And if being a part of 3twins has taught me anything in those years it’s the power of ideas.
When Jason, Andy, and I started this company, all we really wanted to do was find a medium to share the stories we’d written. None of us were primarily artists, web designers, cinematographers, or video game developers. But we had worlds of characters in our heads. We had notebooks full of brainstorming sessions and scripts. And we had the determination to produce those ideas in a way that was family friendly without becoming too childish or cheesy.
After establishing 3twins, the first story we decided to try to tell was The Adventures of Hatman & Indigo. We envisioned this series as either a cartoon or comic book, and so having dabbled in comic book art in middle and high school, I attempted to take on the project. I wasn’t even a full page in, however, before I realized the enormity of the task I’d gotten myself into. If it had been entirely up to me, Hatman & Indigo, and 3twins right along with it, might have ended right then and there. But the power of the idea demanded we keep on going. So we found another artist to get us started, and eventually I got back on board and penciled 23 comics. The story was told, even though at the onset it hadn’t seemed possible.
A little further down the road we decided to tell the story of Midieville as a cartoon, even though we had no experience in animation. But with a bit of trial and error, Andy learned how to do some basic animations and I provided him with the initial drawings for the project. Once again we tackled obstacles we’d previously thought impossible to overcome in order to fully realize our idea.
And now here we are, 10 years in, and we’re learning to work in yet another medium for telling our stories: video games. 10 years ago I never would have guessed we’d be taking on such an expansive project or that we would be working with such a big team to do it. But that’s exactly the road this desire to tell stories has taken us down.
So my question is, what’s your idea? What’s the thing you’ve had in mind to do but have never pursued? Is being uncertain about how to make your idea a reality the only thing holding you back? Ten years ago that was me. But today I have a website where I’ve published comics and cartoons, and now I’m working on a video game. Why? Because ideas are powerful. Don’t sell yours short.
Until next time,
3twins is 10 years old today, May 11, 2015! Well, at least that’s what we’ve agreed upon. I’ll explain further down.
Before 3twins was 3twins, I called my creations Hyperfiction. I created the lightning bolt and atom logo, and as you can see from the progression of our logos over the years, those two elements have remained constant, even though they have evolved over the years. I think I coined the term “hyperfiction” around 1998 or so, and I also came up with a catchy little tag: “Yet another gem from the minds behind Hyperfiction.” All told, I think we actually used that tag only once on a video project.
Fast forward to around 2002, and I had completed my first screenplay called Star Flick: The Motion Sickness (what eventually led to our much neglected Star Fetched cartoon property). At some point in 2004, Andy, Steve, and I decided to officially join forces and rename ourselves Three Twins Productions.
Now, I had thought all this time that our official business creation date was in May of 2005, but in digging around in my physical files to refresh my memory in anticipation of this article, I discovered that Andy and I actually filed the DBA paperwork for our partnership on August 11th, 2004. However, Steve didn’t officially join us on paper until May 11th, 2005 (I have a notarized “articles of organization” to prove that date). We discussed this and have agreed for the purposes of our “anniversary” our official start date will be May 11th, 2005 because without Steve it was just 2 twins!
We also officially started our website in June of 2005. We purchased 3twins.net instead of 3twins.com because at the time there was a band named “The 3 Twins” who owned 3twins.com. Back in 2005 not having a “.com” seemed like a horrible thing, but today it’s not a big deal at all. In the time since then we’ve just worked hard to brand ourselves as 3twins.net. Now, 3twins.com sounds foreign to me, anyhow.
I finished school successfully in the fall of 2013, and we had released a few Hatman comics in the interim, but not many. We had also started discussing redoing all the old comics and cartoons in a different format since Flash was dying out. We still have plans to convert our old material, but are focusing on the bigger picture for the moment.
In the spring of 2013 while I was still about 6-months from finishing school, I had an idea that it would be cool to make an RPG based on Midieville. After briefly looking into it, I decided a puzzle game might be easier. So, in the summer of 2013, I came up with the core game play mechanic that is Of Mages & Pages: Teento’s Revenge. Not long after that I read an article that Nintendo Wii U was opening their doors to Indie Developers, so I applied, and we were accepted in September of 2013.
Last year in March, we re-organized our company once again and became 3twins.net Incorporated. Now we have a board of directors that meets every month and a co-founder’s board. We also have 30+ people working on or in the wings to develop our first two video games!
This last year has been extremely rocky, and if you’ve followed our posts at all even from the start of this year, you’ll know we experienced one of the biggest tragedies any company or individual can experience. My twin brother, Andy, the original co-founder, passed away in a car accident January 9th. It is exciting to think about how we’re 10 years old, but it’s also difficult to think about all the huge milestones we’re about to experience without him.
I’ve sprinkled our logos from the past along this post, but I’ll leave you with a picture of Andy that I took in 2006. This was him working on my computer in my old office (which is now my daughter’s room). The date says it was taken on September 28, 2006, If memory serves, we would’ve been working on our first Big Giant Pumpkin Headed Man story for Hatman & Indigo around then.
We couldn’t have done ANY of this without Andy, and if it weren’t for my awesome dedicated people, we wouldn’t have been able to continue. Though we’ve faced loads of obstacles, set-backs, and tragedies, we’ve kept going. Now we have more of a reason to keep going. So, here’s to another 10 years, and we know whatever storms may come, we’ll face them head on.
I know that Transcendence, a late-2014 science fiction film, received some bad reviews. For instance, according to Wikipedia, “Publications such as The Guardian, Forbes and International Business Times considered the film to be largely a critical failure, and The Guardian called the film ‘one of 2014’s bigger critical turkeys.” However, as most of us know, taste is highly subjective when it comes to anything, including cinema. Therefore, a film one person might love, another might hate, and I, for one, strongly disagree with the critics who panned this film.
In my opinion, as well as my husband’s, Transcendence is a definite see-again movie, not only because it’s highly entertaining, with superb acting, but also because, unlike many movies today, it actually makes you think, in this case about just how far technology can go and the possible, perhaps disastrous, repercussions.
Rated PG 13, and directed by Wally Pfister, with a script by Jack Paglen, the film’s lead actors are:
• Johnny Depp, one of today’s most talented actors, as Dr. Will Caster, a genius and artificial-intelligence researcher.
• Rebecca Hall, as Evelyn Caster, Will’s wife and fellow researcher.
• Paul Bettany, as Max Waters, Will’s best friend and another researcher.
• Morgan Freeman, who happens to be one of my all-time favorite actors, as FBI agent Joseph Tagger, Evelyn’s long-time friend.
• Kate Mara, as Bree, leader of an organization known as R.I.F.T. (Revolutionary Independence From Technology)
• Cillian Murphy, as FBI agent Donald Buchanan
• Cole Hauser as Colonel Stevens, a military officer.
• Clifton Collins, Jr. as Martin
• Cory Hardrict, as Joel Edmund, R.I.F.T. member
Brief Summary of the Storyline of Transcendence
In a nutshell, the film is about an artificial-intelligence scientist, Dr. Will Caster (Depp), who has developed a super quantum computer that is self-aware. When facing an untimely but certain death himself, thanks to an organization calling itself R.I.F.T. (Revolutionary Independence from Technology), Will has his wife Evelyn (Hall) upload his mind to the computer. From this point forward, Will lives through his creation, and as he “adapts” to his new existence, Will grows increasingly stronger and gradually discovers the power he now possesses–the power to change the world. Or does he?
The question, of course, that you find yourself asking as the story unfolds is just how far can technology go? Can a computer “feel” what we feel? Can it relate to human suffering? Can it heal the lame and cure the blind? Can it end war, famine, pestilence? Can it raise the dead? Can it play God? Can it, in fact, become God?
Granted, yes, there are a few holes in the plot, and at times you are required to “willingly suspend your disbelief,” to borrow from Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Moreover, there are some unexplained occurrences and seemingly missing pieces. For example, you find yourself wondering what is going on with R.I.F.T. since the organization is strangely quiet and inactive while Will is busy evolving over a period of approximately two years. Did the members all take a vacation in Tahiti? Are they sitting around a Starbucks and sipping chocolate mocha lattes? Are they watching reruns of the Star Trek television series? Any problems aside, however, Transcendence is still a good movie, if not a great movie, and I would definitely see it again, as would my husband. After all, it isn’t often that we moviegoers are asked to think while in the process of being entertained and to come up with conclusions about “possibilities,” some of which we may rather not even begin to consider.
One of the more common tropes in modern filmmaking is a celebrity cameo. Even if the movie is not that memorable, sometimes the special “treats” for people who get the references stick with the audience long after it’s been sent to the $1 bin at Best Buy
Someone who’s become famous for cameos is Stan Lee, the creator of many of the most memorable characters in the Marvel Comics universe. In a recent commercial, he made fun of himself and the cameo trend in a commercial featuring him and other stars doing cameos. Check it out:
Now here’s the real question: Without looking, what were they selling in the commercial and how was any of this relevant to the product?
It really doesn’t matter; you caught the product because they wrote the commercial to be entertaining with the intent that if you liked it, you’d share the video and show it to your friends. In the end, someone’s going to remember Audi as the company that made the fun videos with Stan Lee and the positive impression left by a good story.
So what’s your favorite cameo in a movie or TV show?
One of my favorite authors, Sir Terry Prachett, died on March 12th, 2015, eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. According to BBC News, “The author died at home, surrounded by his family, with his cat sleeping on his bed.”
In a career that spanned 44 years, Sir Terry wrote more than 70 books. Starting in 1983, he wrote more than 40 installments of his Discworld series. These books are what captured my imagination.
Discworld is a flat world that rides on the backs of four elephants that, in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, the Great A’Tuin. Sir Terry used this setting to write comedic fantasy tales that tell the stories of the lives of the residents of Discworld in order to create a satirical view of the real world. His books discuss everything from equal rights for women and civil rights, to the creation of a national bank, all in his quirky, full-of-one-liners voice.
One of the most popular characters from the pages of Discworld is Death, an anthropomorphic vision of death, complete with a black robe and scythe. When Death spoke, Sir Terry would compose his words in all capital letters. As such, his death was announced on his Twitter account with: “AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER,” followed by, “Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to a black dessert under the endless might.”
This fall, Sir Terry’s last Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown, a book about a young witch named Tiffany Aching, will be released. This tale will allow for one last great hurrah; then, maybe, I’ll go back and re-read them all from the beginning.
Steve Surine: Today I’m interviewing a member of the Of Mages & Pages team who has been around 3twins since the beginning: Chuck Bedard. Chuck, tell us about yourself.
Chuck Bedard: I started out in education and want that to be my career, but most of my professional life has been in retail management. So as far as who I am professionally, that’s me. As far as who I am personally, I’m a creative person who loves music, art, fiction, movies, and the usual stuff that draws people into this kind of field. Which is why on meeting the Kuders and yourself I was able to get excited about putting together some of the ideas that ultimately became 3twins. I’ve been there as a friend since the onset of the idea of this whole thing. Since I had input in the company and the website through some writing, character creation, and voice work, I was excited to be a part of the company at large when we became official.
S: How did you originally get involved in 3twins?
C: Through my association in church with the Kuders. I met Jason first, and he and I started brainstorming about story ideas. We shared notes and outright scripts for projects that Jason had already started working on but hadn’t put into place yet. Through the course of developing that, and sharing and helping, I met Andy, and we formed a friendship that led to my introduction to you, Steve Surine. As this developed we started seeing sites like Homestarrunner.com, and we thought, “Why don’t we do something like that?” From there I helped on several of the 3twins’ projects.
S: One of those early projects you worked on was Star Fetched, which was one of the first stories 3twins created. What can you tell us about your early involvement there?
C: I personally came up with the name Star Fetched. We had decided that Star Flick: The Motion Sickness might happen one day, and Jason’s original vision for that was a live-action movie with roles planned for people he knew. He even designed costumes and sets. But as that became a bigger and bigger project, we thought, “Why not do this as a TV show?” We thought we could set most of it on a bridge, which would minimize the project in terms of how intricate it had to be. But then we looked at it and thought, “How can we make it even smaller?” and came up with the idea for the animated shorts. Jason wanted a new title, we kicked around some ideas, and I ultimately came up with what we used.
I also wrote a couple of complete scripts for the television show. But I didn’t get as far as writing any for the shorts. I was waiting to see how that developed and how the characters fleshed out. Jason also talked to me about doing some voice work, but as the villains of the series, the Remesians, haven’t been exposed yet, I haven’t needed to do any recordings. I don’t think I had one of the good guy characters to work on, but I know I was going to be the voice of Aq’yaz at one time. I was actually picked to be Captain Walleye on the original television show, but I don’t think he was going to be in the animated short.
S: In addition to help with Star Fetched you also did some artwork early on, namely Hatman covers and parody covers. How did you originally get involved in artwork? And what was your inspiration for the parodies?
C: For Hatman & Indigo I was predominantly involved in art, mainly drawing some frames here and there that filled out some areas where Jason felt the art was limited. In some cases I helped finish work that hadn’t been completed. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of satire and parody in entertainment, and I’ve loved comic books since when I was a kid, so having the opportunity to create parody covers of some of the iconic comic covers I grew up loving, and looking at, and in some cases holding in my hands, was a unique way to bring our world into that. I did parody covers of Action Comics #1, Hulk #1, and Fantastic Four #1. And I did a digital graphic arts cover for the 50th issue of Hatman & Indigo, which has yet to be released. Jason and I had kind of lost some touch, and 3twins was in a little bit of a lull, so he asked if any of us wanted to submit artwork for that project. I was working in graphic arts at the time and I thought I’d try to knock one out while seeing how photorealistic I could make characters that have no basis in reality.
One of the things I always loved about getting a comic book was the cover, and when you’d open it the splash page. DC would sometimes even do a cover that had nothing to do with the story that was in it. I loved that art. If I ever had a whole room I could dedicate to that kind of stuff I’d get some floating frames and stick comics in them and just cover a room.
S: You’ve also been a big part of Midieville since it’s creation. Can you tell us more about that?
C: I was absolutely at the forefront of that. I was there when Andy told me the inception of the whole idea when it was still a germ in his own mind. He was planning a whole idea of a story that kind of paralleled the story of David and Saul in the Bible. The other end of that is that he chose to use medieval characters. He always had a fascination with those types of stories, and we were into the Lord of the Rings stories at the time. But instead of going into that complete fantasy direction he wanted to go into more of the lore of knights and those types of characters, but still with some fantastic types of creatures. It started with knights, dragons, fairies and the things you’d expect to be in those stories, but now has even expanded beyond that. I love the direction it’s going. I was there to help talk about how Andy wanted to handle it, and I was the voice of one of the first characters, the Black Knight, which is one of my favorite things I do at 3twins. I love the deadpan humor and the interaction between he and Anell. I was also able to draw the first version of Naaj the Witch and the Master Magician, all based on the descriptions that Andy gave me. He was there to tweak those and he was at my side, so I knew I was doing what he wanted to be done. I love the direction the art is going in this video game. Naaj, in her current manifestation, is still very close to what I did, so I’m very happy with that. I also drew some early versions of Xilva and some other characters that weren’t fully decided on.
As far as the Naaj goes, I gave separate pieces of the artwork so that the actual motion could be put into them. So not only did Andy get a drawing from me, he also got pieces like Naaj’s head, arms, and legs so he had independent pieces that could move. That was a lot of fun.
S: You’ve also done some logo work for Of Mages & Pages, such as the phoenix logo of Midieville. What can you tell us about that?
C: Jason described what he wanted, I sent him the artwork, and he liked it right away. It went off without a hitch, and next thing I knew he was taking off with it. I’m really proud to have designed it. Along the way I did an anarchy symbol for Anell. It has the phoenix bird, but black and upside down, with the anarchy A in the middle of it. Whenever I can knock these things out, I enjoy it. I’m also working on a scorpion logo for Iniquity. The key element with the phoenix is fire, so we incorporated that into the logo. Iniquity’s big thing is smoke, so I have to come up with a smoke pattern to go around the scorpion.
S: What can you tell us about your overall role in the company?
C: I have a weird role, I feel, because at the end of the day I’m kind of in a special position of friend to the company. I’m not one of the Three Twins, and I’m not someone who does a steady thing. So as far as it all goes, I’m pretty confident that I’ll always have a place, and down the road that might be better defined. I like to think of myself as the janitor of the company that sweeps and cleans up and occasionally is asked to do other jobs here and there.