Saturday, June 8, 2013


Whoa. Running real late. Shall we unfurl the usual parchment of excuses? It's been a busy week at work. I've been writing fiction again. I've been writing long emails to old friends. I've been participating in a two-man Romance of the Three Kingdoms book club with Jon B. Also I've been . . . well, we'll get to that in a moment.

I intend to follow up on that last post about free will, especially after reading some of y'all's thoughts on the matter. But that will wait until next week.

The ladyfriend is in Indonesia for some reason, so I don't think she's reading the blog. Good. Because I have something to confess, and I am not proud of it.

So. I found out about this job at the Quaker conference center through my friend Jason, a buddy of mine from college. He was also an early and enthusiastic fan of How to Make a Sprite Comic in Eight Easy Bits (which celebrated its tenth birthday last month).

Jason is off the wagon. He's playing Magic: the Gathering again. He talked me into playing a few games with him in the EDH/Commander format. Since then I've built a deck and now I'm off the wagon. AFTER FOURTEEN FUCKING YEARS I'M PLAYING MAGIC AGAIN. I'm not bankrupting myself buying cards just yet (between a pack of cigarettes and a Magic booster, the cards just don't stand a chance), but it might be only a matter of time. (For the record, my general is Spirit of the Night, whom I've wanted to incorporate in a deck since Mirage first came out.)

So Jason and I were tweaking our decks one night, and I remembered the old 8EB-themed Magic cards I made with an old version of Magic Set Editor. This must have been back in 2005; I stopped playing Magic after the Weatherlight set, and at that point hadn't thought much about the game in a while. When I recently went back and looked at the cards I made, I was appalled. As cards, they suck. They're unusable. So then Jason and I started talking about viable 8EB-themed cards, and . . .uh.

Let's get this over with. Here's a bunch of phony Magic: the Gathering cards inspired by an ancient sprite comic, designed by the author of said sprite comic. WHOO HEE. I am proud of where I am in my life. If anyone wants to stage an intervention, do feel free.

(Note: not that it matters, but I didn't bother making an expansion symbol.)

The Author is a man of ideas. (Some of his ideas might be good ideas; that's what you're hoping.) He is also a spazz. When told to go to the graveyard, he refuses and makes with the histrionics. He gets on everyone's nerves, and then eventually gets his way. (The only way to deal with him is to quietly mill him.) The flavor text was originally filler, but given who we're dealing with, I'd say it's actually rather apt.

The Author has ideas. The Girl shoots down his ideas. To be fair, she's almost always justified in doing so.

The Friend is known to raid garage sales and junk shops for old video game consoles and music equipment to tinker with, so his card seems fairly appropriate. Sure, you're depleting land to get new swag, but you can also dismantle your old swag for resources to bring in the new. He has a dissonant color alignment because he's kind of an oddball.

She's a sweet kid, really. Good to have around. She's so well-liked that any of her friends would be willing to take a bullet for her. (This was the only decent image of her I could find. Eck.)

(Looking at her again reminds me of that 8EB spin-off comic I started mapping out a few years ago. It was going to be called "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Burning Man," and it would just star The Author and the, uh, Other Girl. It never happened because I couldn't convince anyone to do the art. Maybe I'll take a shot at soloing it if I ever hit a serious wall with my fiction.)

Myer might not seem like much of a threat at first, but opponents write him off at their own peril. He's a master of battle strategy and understands the value of a tactical retreat.

Simea (Chris who?) blows people and things up with elemental spells and goes on the defensive with barrier magic. If Myer can hold him off for eight consecutive turns, Myer wins. (He'll need a miracle.)

As the obligatory damsel in distress, Mesia doesn't do much in Crystalis. In 8EB, she's the one saving everyone's asses with impregnable forcefields.

We didn't see much of Ryan in 8EB before it folded (I blame myself), but we know that he likes to get in fistfights and is really, really good at it. He's been known to attack before getting permission to do so.

You do a lot of thinking and get a lot of ideas when you don't sleep. But putting them into action can be a problem.

Is the seeking of sanctuary not predicated by a renunciation of the world? YES, OF COURSE IT IS. DON'T BE STUPID.

(I apologize. I have not been sleeping well lately.)

I am still in love with Mr. Wolff's rendering of Chinatown Fair's exterior. (Incidentally: a couple of weeks ago, some friends and I went out to visit the "new" Chinatown Fair. It's absolutely heartbreaking. Like walking into your average shopping mall arcade circa 2004.)

The Mall is a soulless place that sucks the vitality out of everything around it. There you have it. In the presence of The Mall, even the mighty Praetors of New Phyrexia lose all their menace.

Megawhat exists outside of continuity; Megawhat gets to be a planeswalker. Megawhat has nothing good in him and makes everyone around him miserable. Sure, everyone can keep playing once he activates his final ability, but what's the point?

"Yay! Magic cards!" Toby gets beat up on a lot and all of his friends are losers. But his optimism in the face of disaster is absolutely indomitable.

Speaking of indomitable optimism...Sisyphus is a hard worker, but his toil is ultimately pointless.

Oooh. That could be fun.

I really should make more Sisyphus comics instead of fake Magic cards based on Sisyphus comics.

I can wait on that intervention, but don't let me do this to myself for too long.


  1. We cannot, indeed, let you do this to yourself any longer.

    I mean, that wording is awful; the sacrifice of permanents in some of these cards needs to be templated as a cost, not as part of the resolution. Neither red or white get reach, nor white-black gets the mana flare effect. To the card-designing boot-camp with you!

    More seriously, I got a chuckle out of these.


      bloody hell you're right

  2. I'm impressed how up to date these are given that you recently came back to MtGland. Would the Author be the sort who actually played MtG himself?

    1. I think there was one (later) comic when he was destitute and sleeping in the streets, trying to convince some hobos to play with him. He got shanked over a Juzam Djinn.

  3. Love the cards, though all this post did was make me realize how much I miss 8EB. For what it's worth, it was consistently one of the funniest webcomics out there.

    1. I have to agree. The author and his long, scholastic-but-slightly-demented ramblings and self-serving tendency to circular logic always put a smile on my face no matter how many times I re-read them.

    2. Yeah...when I go back and think about some of the stuff I had planned, it almost makes me regret my choice to discontinue it. Almost. Then I remember how crazy it made me feel.

      I don't think I can ever pick up and continue the Author/Myer/Tetris Blocks arc, but I definitely intend to do more stuff with The Author and his crew. At some point.

    3. Well, if you ever do want to rebuild the old website, it seems like you should be able to drop the NSA a line and get everything back up in record time. ;)

    4. Actually -- while scouring my computer for some of the old guest comics, I found all of that retrospective commentary I had thought lost.

  4. I almost got into MtG in middle school, but for a lack of people to play it with. Needless to say, my social situation wasn't very stable back then with the frequent moves and school changes and such, so that was probably most of it.

    Nowadays, there are viable online versions of MtG, but I'm not interested, so take that as you will.

  5. I was really into Magic when I was younger, but it's been longer than you now...I stopped around, what, 1995? Honestly I wouldn't know where to start with a set past 3rd edition. I had a good time while it lasted though.

    1. All that comes to mind is the obligatory OH GOD WE'RE OLD observation.