Comic Review: DIE #5

Die #5

Image Comics

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Stephanie Hans

Anyone following DIE knows it’s many things at once. How writer, Kieron Gillen, and artist, Stephanie Hans, manage to create an epic science fiction/fantasy story that is simultaneously a deconstruction and critique of the genre, is as breathtaking in its art, as it is thought-provoking in content. While younger readers may miss some references, comic fans with a bit more vintage will see much in this issue to ponder.


The Grandmaster, Sol, constructs a vast and time-consuming campaign for the Paragons. Three dungeons, each consisting of twelve guardians. If any of the Paragons want to get back to their real lives, they’re looking at months of planning and instance running. But then, Ash, Chuck, Matt, Isabelle, and Angela aren’t the old character classes you’ve seen in other fantasy stories. These characters, these classes break rules; break games. However, when all is said and done, it’s not clear what the cost of their actions are. The question is: what world is more real, the one of death and magic, or the one they left behind?

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On Getting Stuck

I’m stuck in a place in my script. I have all my players in a place. I have cause for each of them and tension between many. Despite all this, I find myself unable to write the conflict that feels natural and earned. The powers involved in this conflict are magical and, perhaps, divine, though that depends on who you ask.

The issue I’m running into is that, with 5 distinct characters in this scene/conflict, it is difficult to give them all enough page space to feel invaluable to the conflict. The question I keep coming back to, as I write and rewrite the scene in different ways, is this: why does this character (each character) need to be in this specific scene? How is their participation in this conflict essential to how the conflict concludes?

Like so often happens when I find myself in this situation, I turn to a technique that is both painful and, at times, feels futile: I try to write my way through it. This means I write and rewrite the scene every day until something just feels right. How do I know when I’ve got it? I’m not sure, but I know I do. This has happened with short stories before. I dealt with by writing the scene over and over again. At first, I’d write the same scene, changing nothing but the words I used–all the character actions were the same. But slowly, with the passing of the days and the rewriting of the scene, it would slowly start to change. The characters would do something just a little different. Their motivations would become more clear. Their essential natures to the scene would find their way to me.

Doing this same thing with a script, picturing the visual medium, is quite different. I can’t dive within the characters thoughts in the same way prose can. This, I find, is the constraint of the comic form. Prose has its own constraint.

But here I go again. Maybe today is the day I find clarity in this scene. Come one, characters! I created you. Now tell me where we go from her.

Comic Review: Isola #7

Isola #7

Image Comics

Writer: Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl

Artist: Karl Kerschl and MSassyK

Image Comics kicked off the year with a bang, bringing back Isola after the end of the first arc. Sadly, #6 didn’t pack the punch I was hoping for–instead, it felt like a filler issue, but #7, two months later, is still a welcome sight. Yes, you read that correctly, two months. Isola is now a bi-monthly publication. But enough logistics, let’s get into what Rook and the cursed Queen Olwyn face this month.


After stealing supplies from an army outpost in #6, Rook and the queen continue on their journey in search of the mythical land of Isola. Their route takes them to an ancient quarry. In the cliff face is carved a huge statue with a shrine at its feet. Locals that live in the caves nearby, identify Queen Olwyn, not as queen, but as much more than just a beautiful tiger right away. They invite Rook and the queen to stay with them as the hour grows late. But not all is right within this little community. There are no children. They have all been taken by someone. . . or something.

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