Thursday, March 23, 2023

New Release: Sidearm & Sorcery Volume Two!

Find it Here!

I hope you're having a good Friday as we head into spring! Winter is finally over, and I have another surprise for you to end this week. As you can clearly tell, it's a good one!

The first question you might be asking is if I planned this. No, I can assure you that I did not plan to have two anthologies release in the same week! It just worked out that way. These things are not very easy to release as it is. But it is a great surprise to have! It isn't every day one gets to have two different anthologies release in the same week. So let us get to the meat of it. Today, Sidearm & Sorcery Volume Two releases!

For those who read the first volume of this anthology series, you know the score. Sidearm & Sorcery is framed around classic sword and sorcery stories that take place in the modern day among normal people like you or me. All the power of man against magic, but in a place where technology rules and where magic is underestimated. I'm sure you can see what that can lead to! What you get is a unique expansion on a storied and treasured genre.

Sidearm & Sorcery Volume Two is even bigger than the first volume, with many more stories and authors new to the series. The second entry contains seventeen (!) different stories of magic slicing through modernity, from a chunk of the most exciting authors in NewPub. This is no small tome, and you will find no shortage of adventure in these pages.

Here is the description:

Supernatural evils lay hidden, deep in the shadows of society. Be these dangers man or beast, they will strike at unsuspecting, everyday people. What if there are no selfless wizards around when a demon steps from the alley? What if there are no supers to be found when the ancient demigod awakens? What if there is no prophesy and no chosen one to stand in the way of the dark forces? In these cases, the regular people must must courage to face the foe. The protagonists in these stories have no magic powers, but they refuse to be powerless. This collection of 17 short stories brings you new adventures and new dangers, all in modern settings.

Welcome to Volume Two of the Sidearm & Sorcery series. This anthology includes:

  • Flaxen Wires by Bryce Beattie
  • First Kiss, First Kill by Beth Buck
  • They Delved Too Deep by Misha Burnett
  • City Eater by JD Cowan
  • Swamp Serpents by Nathan Dabney
  • In the Hall of the Crocodile King by Michael DeCarolis
  • Personal Mythologies by Dale Glaser
  • Scent of the Sand Wurm by James Krake
  • A Moonblessed Hunt by John Longtain
  • Den of the Necrolord by TJ Marquis
  • Ain't No Grave by Jason McCuiston
  • The Red Horse of War by Z. M. Renick
  • Souldrinker by Frank Sawielijew
  • A Shilling for your Troubles by Mark Schultis
  • The Baron of Nevada & His Branded Broads by David Skinner
  • Infestation by H.A. Titus
  • The Galveston Incident by Luke West

Over 400 pages of adventure and wonder. Combine this with Swords & Maidens and you're looking at a more excitement in one week than most people can handle. I told you 2023 would have some surprises up it's sleeve, and the year has barely just begun.

So let us get to it.

As you can see, I have a story in this collection called "City Eater" and is the fourth tale here. I suppose I should talk a bit more about it, since I've been rather vague on what this one is about since it was first revealed. "City Eater" is the longest story I've ever submitted to an anthology or magazine, and I probably could have made it longer if I didn't practice restraint. There is a very good reason it is so meaty, though.

"City Eater" is about a family that very slowly realizes the city around them is slipping into madness and the world is seemingly turning towards some sort of Armageddon. Monsters appear, and nightmares arrive, but where are they coming from? And is the city itself the monster they need to battle? Or is the source something else? Read on to discover for yourself!

A few tidbits on this one. I want to say more without ruining any of the fun. "City Eater" was quite the blast to write.

The first tidbit is that "City Eater" is related Y Signal, and not in the most subtle of ways. You should be able to figure out very fast what the connection between the two stories is. Another morsel to share is that the pink anime rabbit girl who bookends the story you might recognize as having similarities to VTuber Pipkin Pippa. What better way for a father to be mystified over current technology than coming across a computer avatar his son watches talking about esoteric weirdness and monsters? I really don't think anyone in the past could have foreseen this invention coming and it gives the story's events more context in the times we live.

A lot of this story is about old and new, strange and normal, past and future, but with a family twist. To make it out of this situation, our family will have to come together and put aside their differences to reach their goal. Or are they doomed to be consumed with everything else in the city? What even is a City Eater supposed to be?

You will have to read and find out for yourself!

And be sure to check out the other stories in the anthology. There are a lot of names in this one, and some unique tales unlike those you've seen before. Unlike others proud to ripoff the classics while dumping on them, we are excited to be able to build off and connect with those who came before us. I know I'm proud to have been in both volumes of this series so far and hope there will be more in the future. But there's only one way to make sure that happens and more projects like this come to life! Pick up Sidearm & Sorcery Volume Two today!

Once again, I want to thank the readers for all their support. We most definitely could not do any of this without you!

And we're going to keep going, because there's more on the way. There's always more on the way!

Monday, March 20, 2023

New Release: Swords & Maidens!

Find it Here!

Welcome to a new week! Let us start it off with a new release!

As the above trailer says, it is time for Swords & Maidens, an anthology unlike any you've come across before. Here are 11 stories of chivalry, high adventure, and more wonder than you can shake a blade at from some of the best writers in the world of NewPub. Hope you like a good time, because you're going to find one here.

Here are the eleven stories included in the anthology as well as the authors who wrote each of these fantastic stories for you to indulge in!

  • “Wings of Ether” by T.J. Marquis
  • “The Shrouded Tower” by Michael Gallagher
  • “The Winged Horse” by Hawkings Austin
  • “Three Swords” by Blake Carpenter
  • “Harem Fantasy in Another World” by John C. Wright
  • “Azrael” by N.R. LaPoint
  • “Crazy Like an Elf” by Declan Finn
  • “The Gift” by Anne Clare
  • “The Supercomputers of Rai” by Alexander Hellene
  • “Vivre Le Patriarchy!” by L. Jagi Lamplighter
  • “Judgement Sun” by J.D. Cowan

This one has been a long time coming, and today it's finally here. I couldn't even begin to tell you have much time was spent putting this together, and it has been worth it!

I'm very honored to have the final story here, as I feel Judgement Sun, the story of the struggle of salvation for the last remaining souls on a dead world is the perfect note to end on. It is still one of my favorite stories that I've written to date, and I'm happy it is back in print. And that doesn't even go into the rest of the tales here!

I have more projects on the way still to release, so please be sure to keep an eye out. I've even updated my Works page with some new releases and a new Out of Print section for you peruses at your leisure. But don't think there isn't more on the way! I can't wait to show you what is coming down the pipeline very soon.

Once again, you can find Swords & Maidens here!

Friday, March 17, 2023

The Same Sound You've Always Known

What makes something what it is? What is it that gives anything the defining traits that give it an identity? Is it aesthetic preferences, or is it the fad of the times? How does one stand out among a sea of contemporaries to connect with a wider audience?

This is quickly becoming a lost art. In the world of Cultural Ground Zero, it is quite near a myth, at this point.

Lew us take Rock music. This is a genre of music that came into existence nearly three quarters of a century ago (feel old yet?) as a combination of the Christian music genres of Blues, Country, and Gospel, to form a kind of hootenanny dance music that anyone can get into and is meant for all who want to get on that dance floor to blow off steam. It is no wonder that it quickly gained popularity around the world. Everyone knows about Rock music, it was the biggest genre of music for around half a century for a reason, but it is now known as a relic of its time and is quickly fading away into the background into novelty.

And it happened almost over night. One day it was there, and the next it was gone, replaced by record labels for carefully constructed fads that funnel product off an assembly line and into the ears of those captivated by sources said record companies own. Now all that is left are cheap CD boxsets on Amazon, Spotify playlists, and old music videos with millions of views on YouTube. The music industry is already dead, and it took Rock down with it as it died.

So why is that? Why did the biggest music in the world suddenly fall out of relevance, from out of the garage before ending up back in there again by the end of the century that spawned it in the first place? How can something have such a large and well detailed rise and fall without falling into endless stagnation (Rap), a flash in the pan punchline (Dubstep), or being just plain forgotten (Ska) by the mainstream? If one didn't know any better it would almost seem calculated.

And to be sure, it is calculations, formulas bandied about by "experts" that did eventually lead to its downfall. This is a story that has happened before.

Would you believe if I told you the answer for what killed Rock is the same for what genre fiction was killed for? A combination of genre-fication and misplaced religious worship is what did it in, disconnecting it as a form of art and entertainment. And the fact that you can see it in the above recent quote should show you that it is still very much alive and the reason why the genre cannot make a return as long as cultists exist to hold it back from its true potential. It's audience does not understand it at all. This is what happens when something is not properly gatekept.

But let us get to the subject at hand.

For those unaware, the White Stripes were quite possibly the best rock band of the 2000s decade. After the 1990s had gone so far into the alternative sphere that was beginning to eat its own tail, the genre was beginning to lose focus and fire, much as it had before metal and punk gave it a shot in the arm back in the 1970s. This time, it was losing all connection with its roots for pomp and ego as it had back then, but at the same time as this was when Cultural Ground Zero was happening. Rock was beginning to lose a lot of ground to the payola-backed bubblegum acts that the major labels were pushing. It was dealing with a war on both the inside and out.

Rock music needed more than posturing and attitude to keep up--the Cobain era was long over. It didn't need technicality: Dream Theater's wild success despite lack of any true mainstream penetration should have been a clue to that. No, it didn't need aesthetics or image to reclaim its balance. It needed to remind listeners what made Rock music so endearing to mass audiences in the first place. The genre needed its roots.

Enter the Garage Rock Revival boom of the 2000s, the last time the genre fittingly had any mainstream attention. The Strokes, the Hives, the Black Keys, the Vines, and the White Stripes, were but a few of the bands that made a splash during this era. Yes, returning to the classic "The Xes" band naming was part of their success, the postmodern trend of naming your band a sentence at the time was mostly left to the emo crowd. Nonetheless, the Garage Rock Revival wave was desperately what the genre needed at the time it was starting to fly up its own rear as sales and audience attention was waning. Tradition was on the way out for endless novelty, where it still is today.

The White Stripes formed in 1997 (that's right, the very year of Cultural Ground Zero) with two members, Jack White and Meg White who played at being siblings. They were actually formerly married, but this was part of their schtick. A large part of the White Stripes sound and appeal is formed in their image as traditionalists from another time and place, playing as if the world of music had gone in an entirely different direction than it actually did.

They played blues, but it was informed by the garage, particularly kids who grew up listening to both revivalists like the Lyres and more modern acts of their time like the Replacements. Here you end up with a collision of the early days of rock with what its eventual change over the decades would become by the end of the century. It wrapped into their weird charm, especially for as deliberately luddite as their sound and presentation was. Guitar, vocals, and drums, a key feature of their obsession with the number 3: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as it is. Jack White being a Catholic features into the songs as Christianity was so instrumental to creating Rock music in the first place. This makes a lot of their more obscure lyrics and sound choices make more sense in retrospect, though still clever enough that you can interpret your own meaning from them.

The number 3 even spread over into their image. Red, white, and black, were the central colors the White Stripes were known for. You can see it in the image above. Just as every song rarely ever had more than three instruments (they were including vocals as an instrument, of course), the band itself never broke from their colors or their code. This helped add to their early mystique, and they never stepped away from it from their formation to their eventual disbandment.

The band put out their first two albums in 1999 and 2000, the self-titled White Stripes and the sophomore De Stijl, quickly gaining a lot of indie cred during a time when mainstream rock was... pretty bad. We can admit that by 1999 Rock music was not at its best anymore. This was that strange era of Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth, when one-hit novelty wonders suddenly overtook the charts as bubblegum began to buy the radio stations. In one corner you had lightweight pop and in the other was post-grunge sludge and misery. It was a battle of two extremes that never should have become extremes in the first place. No balance remained.

But then, in the summer of 2001, the White Stripes released their third (and best) album, White Blood Cells. It was not only a great album: it was also a surprisingly large hit. This was pre-9/11, remember: it was before Bush-era lunacy and pomp from arrogant musicians and yet just after Rock had begun its descent down the charts for its replacement. No one could have called Garage Rock storming the charts, but it did. This album seemingly made the band famous overnight, for being in the right place at the right time and also reminding everyone who made rock music what it was in the first place. And they were no flash in the pan, either.

This is the lead song off the album, the one I played back in the day to convince others that this band was worth listening to. Put yourself back in the summer of 2001 when nu metal and bubblegum was all you would hear on the radio. It does not sound as if it is from that era, and that is why it has managed to age so well.

This album hit for a very good reason, one whose context has been lost by those more concerned with bells and whistles. Let me show you how out of joint this was for the time: White Blood Cells is lean, tight, and powerful. The album is almost exactly 40 minutes long, sixteen songs total, a throwback to before CDs overcluttered albums with filler, guest-stars, and overproduction. Every song is short, concise, and punchy, never overstaying its welcome and keeping it both rooted in traditional styles while also leaning into newer ideas that could only have come in the later days of the 20th century. It is truly justice that it would be the band's third album be the one that broke them out, as the number 3 was so important to them.

This was only the beginning, however.

It was after this that they released their fourth and most popular album in 2003, Elephant, and hit superstardom with it. There they became the titans of the decade they are remembered for being. "The Hardest Button to Button," "Ball & Biscuit," "The Air Near My Fingers," "Black Math," and the mega-hit "Seven Nation Army," are only a few of the classics that adorn its track list. This is a perfect album, easily on par with White Blood Cells, and well deserving of being considered the peak of its era when Rock was on the decline. If you know the White Stripes at all, it is almost certainly because of this album. 

They didn't stop there, though. Somehow the band maintained momentum throughout the rest of the decade. They put out a total of 7 albums (6 LPs and 1 live record) before they finally called it quits in 2011 and moved on to new things. With that, the Garage Rock Revival era petered out and Rock itself faded away.

The White Stripes left quite a legacy behind them, all their releases are still high quality and worth seeking out, transcending their time. They were also a tremendous live act, and are still thought of highly today by those who managed to see them. All in all, they are probably the best overall band in the Garage Rock Revival, and one of the last that mattered culturally.

The reason I am bringing this up is to relate it back to the image with the silly quote at the top of the page. People like that are why Rock music is dead now, and is not in any way ready to rise from the grave. Their religious devotion to technicality and ego fellating goes against every single thing that made Rock connect with the common man in the first place. All they want is to convince themselves they are listening to the best music--they do not love the music for what it is or what it does. It was one of the worst aspects of the time period when music fans on message boards would have to posit themselves as music scholars to explain why it took 5 years and countless bus rides to understand the appeal of OK Computer as if they were some kind of judge in a Roman coliseum deciding over execution. This overwhelming arrogance is what Rock fans became entangled with and it seems to exist to this day.

But let us address the charge.

First, is Meg White a bad drummer? No, she is not. This is not arguable. She does exactly what a drummer is objectively meant to do: she keeps the beat and the minimalist tone that the songs call for. She is not an outlier either. There are no early Rock drummers who play over the top technical fills or rolls the 1960s brought in, so neither does she. This is the point of the band: to reclaim that era and bring its ideas to the modern age. Simplicity is the point. That it is still being argued about to this day is indicative of the undeserved arrogance Rock fans still refuse to exorcise from themselves, and refusal to understand when they are wrong.

It wasn't that those drummers from back then couldn't play like that, most of these guys were Jazz drummers and far beyond even most Metal or Progressive drummers. They didn't play that way because the songs were not about technicality: technicality was not the point of the Blues. The genre was about atmosphere, tone, and mystique. Meg White is emulating these guys because that is what the band's sound is. Without her, it loses all of that feel and the identity of the band is lost. As an example, listen to the stuff Jack White has done without her--it sounds nothing like the White Stripes. This is because her drumming is part of why they were big in the first place. That we still have to point this out over a decade after they disbanded is proof that Rock fans have yet to shed their cultism and obsessions over understanding the genre they purport to love.

Just because she doesn't play fills or rolls like newer drummers are known for doing doesn't make her a bad drummer. Nor is she bad because she plays simply. This isn't how it works. She isn't the drummer for the Shaggs and pretending otherwise is disingenuous. Technicality has nothing to do with the appeal of Rock music and it never has. Johnny Ramone is one of the most influential guitarists of all time and he never played more than a handful of chords and never played a single guitar solo. Wanting to brag about a band purely for the musicianship reeks of childish behavior.

What this comes down to is, once again, paint worship. There is nothing wrong with technicality in a Rock song, but it isn't the point of a song. The song itself is the point. Listen to what the band is doing, not what you wish it was doing instead.

Let us get to the bottom of it. What makes Rock music what it is? Is it guitar solos? No, there are plenty of bands without guitar solos. Is it a double bass drum? No, most bands don't even use them. Is it slap bass or walking basslines? No, that's a minority of bassists. Is it an operatic singer? No, there are plenty of examples of successful bands with untechnical singers. Technicality has nothing to do with what makes Rock music hit with audiences, though it can help depending on the identity of the band in question. It is, nonetheless, not what makes the genre what it is and does not necessarily make a band better. There are plenty of extremely technical bands that can't write a half-decent song to save their lives. The tools are not the point of the craft and we lost that knowledge a long time ago.

One should also mention that popular and well regarded Rock bands have existed without a vocalist, guitar player, bassist, drummer, keys, horns, harmonica, or even plugged or unplugged instruments. You can find plenty of examples of each. Therefore, the instruments themselves do not make the genre or give it an identity.

So what is it?

We can take this question to other arenas. What makes wonder stories what they are? Why did we need to cut them into genres so we could worship the parts we are obsessed with and shun what we don't understand? Because we want to put ourselves over the art itself. We do not want to understand it or connect with it: we want to rule it with an iron fist.

This is the opposite of what Rock is. A Rock band is a group of fellas coming together to make noise in a garage and get the audience moving with a fun sound that excites them. You might have your preferences in sound specifics, instruments, and styles, to get that to happen, but that is the core of what it is. Whatever gets that job done is the core of the genre--the Rock Solid center of it all.

There is no one formula to getting this done, and thinking there was is why the genre is dead now. People can now only operate in manufactured genre clichés and outdated gimmicks in place of reaching across the aisle and grabbing what they can to build their own sound and focus. Technicality can help, as a musician, but it is not why people listen to the songs. They don't listen to be impressed, they listen to be taken somewhere else.

As long as those in the genre refuse to look beyond their narrow scope, to continue in dead end fads and styles that wore out their welcome decades ago, to run off novelty and gimmicks over craft and purpose, then Rock will stay dead.

It isn't just about music, but about everything. Why we insist on holding to rotting 20th century frames at the expense of something more eternal is a mystery for the ages. We aren't here for no reason, therefore what we do can have great meaning.

What makes something what it is? That's a hard thing to define, but it certainly isn't the bells and whistles that come out of it. What makes something what it is goes far deeper under the surface into the center of it all into the core of our being. Unless we keep digging, we'll never find it. This is what makes art so special.

That is, after all, why we're here at all! To create and to grow. We need to keep on doing so. Otherwise we'll never truly find what we are really capable of.

Just don't forget that you sometimes also have to look back to trace your steps, or else get lost in the haze with everything else in the modern world. You can't move on without a clear direction forward, after all. And it is art that can help us find that path we have been seeking so desperately. We just have to keep searching for it.

As always: to those who knock, the door will be opened.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Weekend Lounge ~ Left in the Dust

It's been quite a year so far, but spring is just ahead of us. I think we're about due for it, especially after the winter that just wouldn't end. We could use some warmth.

Before we get to that, let us take a break. That is what weekends are supposed to be for, after all. I would like to share a few videos from YouTube on things that we lost along the way to the great future we were supposed to already be at by now. Let us reassess where we might have stumbled along the way, and how we might orientate ourselves anew.

For those who remember back when video games were actually for everyone, as opposed to being dumbed down for a mythical wider audience that doesn't exist, they might think on a time when gamers would play anything, as long as it was fun. Believe it or not, there was a time when the gameplay itself was the reason people picked up a video game. If you were a kid in the old days of the medium, you played RPGS, platformers, sports games, shooters, strategy games, point and click adventures, puzzle games, and even racing games. Yes, even racing games.

This was because genres didn't use to be walls, they were signposts for varied gameplay experiences that everyone used to find fresh experiences. No one stuck to their corner and dismissed everything outside of it. It wasn't like it is today.

Believe it or not, back then what mattered was quality. As long as it was fun and the gameplay was solid, we played it. Genre ghettos didn't exist. Now that they do, everyone tends to keep to their own lanes and rarely do they venture out of them. As the video linked above shows, the reason for this is partially because of the people who make the games now. Somewhere along the way they forgot where their very medium came from, and now endeavor to forget it on their quest to find the perfect audience that doesn't exist.

Sound familiar?

At some point, the gameplay became secondary to aesthetics and image, getting into the genre clique's good graces, and their quest ended up chasing out the majority of the audience for a fringe niche that continues to hold said genre back from doing anything interesting. Yes, we've seen this mentality before. The Fanatic mentality is not just a problem in genre fiction. As the video shows, it has become an issue in gaming, too. It's even worse there because they haven't had decades of revisionism to tell them the past was bad and must be destroyed--they only have a decade and change of it. But we've covered that before. It is the same poisonous mindset that must be abandoned if one cares at all about their medium of choice. The past is not an enemy to be destroyed.

The AAA mentality in gaming ate away at ambition and creativity, leading people in the industry who should know better down a road of ignorance, arrogance, and just plain disrespect to the very medium they profess to love. There are plenty of examples where modern developers will outright spit on those who came before, despite not being able to live up to them in the slightest. Again, it's a familiar attitude, and one not without precedence. There is no love, no sense of gratitude, no attempt to make art or connect with others. It's just selfishness all the way around. 

Not even creators of formerly beloved properties can escape the siren call of the Fanatic as he embraces his ego over the art. That's right, it's not just newer people, but even those who should know better are proving that they do not. This is how you know when the Golden Age of an industry is long gone and forgotten by those inside of it.

The perfect game even exists that demonstrates this exact process happening. You might be thinking of several, there are many similar examples, but this one sticks out for the simple reason that the people involved should have clearly known better than they did, and just didn't. Feast your eyes on the perfect example of AAA failure that is Lawbreakers. This story isn't one people will forget anytime soon because of how absurd it was.

For those who need some back story, one of the people involved with the rise of gaming megacorp Epic Megagames and helped it into what it is today, somehow completely forgot why people played video games in the first place and created one that simply flatlined and died in record time. It is quite the story, but not uncommon among former celebrity figures in an industry that cares more about appearance than gameplay..

This isn't even to say that Lawbreakers was necessarily a bad game. The quality of gameplay wasn't even the main selling point of the game, and has little to do with its failure. The point of what happened has little to do with the quality of the product. This goes beyond game design, and into everything surrounding what caused such a product to exist in the first place, and where it very quickly ended up. This is the sign of a creatively bankrupt industry.

It isn't the perfect example of AAA hubris because they aren't unaware that AAA is killing gaming. They even understand the problem with the market, but complete misdiagnose the solution and lack the self-awareness to see that they are part of it. And it ends up resulting in, well, the exact industry we are trapped in right now.

This is Lawbreakers:

It's hard to watch that rather short video and not marvel at how clueless the industry has become over the years. It took OldPub decades after the 1930s to completely destroy their past; it only took AAA a mere decade after going HD to obliterate their industry. From racing games not understanding their base appeal to race, to the creators of beloved classics no longer getting what audiences clicked with their creations in the first place, the spark has just been completely lost. AAA is gone, and now it is in the slow slide into the muck.

The old industry is dead, and it isn't coming back. The future will not be coming from them, but by the mavericks outside the system. It is time for better ways.

The last thing I want to leave you with is one more video about a video game franchise that came from the old days back when gaming just went HD. This is one of the last original franchises that came around before everything sank into the mudgenre and developers were slaughtered and gutted to make conveyor belt games. This game is Dead Rising, specifically the game in the series that ended up killing both the studio that made it, as well as the franchise itself.

For those unaware, Dead Rising was a game with a unique design, especially for HD. You were dropped into a zombie apocalypse situation with a time limit to get your wider task done. You then needed to fit your playtime around getting said task done in said limit as best as you can. Your performance would then net you the ending you would earned from your choices therein. The entire game was wide open with many places to go, but that just made it harder to reach the goal you wanted to reach. Every playthrough in Dead Rising was a new chance to figure out the best path forward and get the best ending. It was a good wrinkle and mashing up of arcade design and open world gameplay that no one else has done before, or since.

So naturally they made it into a franchise and, AAA being what it is, ended up turning it from a unique experience unlike any other into another mudgenre open world game with no defining features. In other words, they turned it into the opposite of what it once was, because AAA is anti-gaming at the end of the day. It is merely bad movies and busy work disguised as gameplay. Dead Rising 4 was so bad it killed the franchise stone cold.

This is how you successfully kill a successful creation and wear it as a skinsuit: you do what they did to Dead Rising. Keep in mind, it only took one decade from the original game to do this. That is how fast AAA has deteriorated into what it is today.

AAA is over, OldPub is over, and Hollywood is over. We are going to need to look to be sources before we lose these mediums entirely. There isn't anything left to be gained by supporting an industry holding back its own potential.

It is time to leave them in the dust.

That is all for today! Take heart in the knowledge that we can now clearly see the problems that have plagued us for so long, and now we can finally get to work working them out. It has been a long time coming. The AAA industry might be dead, for much the same reasons as OldPub now is, merely living off the momentum of past successes they do not understand in the slightest yet think they should profit off of, but there are other places to go where the medium still thrives. There are always alternatives and, especially today, they are are frequently the better options.

You don't have to put up with those who wish to destroy, whether intentionally or not, but can instead find creations on par (and in some cases, better) than what came before. Inspiration and creativity still exist outside the mudgenre money pit that is the modern industry, and that is the case with every medium today.

You just have to know where to look. Ask around and you'll be surprised at just how much good stuff there is. And there is more of it all the time.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Banned Brains

Average depiction of a modern Book Cultist

Sorry to say that for today I will be going back on the recent tone shift around here. I apologize, but it must be done. Recent events have proven to me just how hopeless OldPub really is, and we need to expound upon it here. Hopefully we can move on from this in future entries, but today, right here and right now, this must really be addressed.

You know the score by now. It wouldn't be the modern day if we didn't worship products, industries, and celebrities, despite how hollow they might ultimately be. It's been decades of decay, and still we cling to the bad habits of idolatry and materialism that led us down this rabbit hole in the first place. And somehow we are still hitting new lows.

The 21st century is a guerrilla war with bodies and rubble laying strewn across a blown out countryside. The thing is, all of the chaos you see from it are remnants of the 20th century, battles long since fought and won, or lost. We are still trapped here in this same forever war, firing at zombies that refuse to stay dead and ghosts we refuse to admit already are. It's a conflict long since over, with no reason to still be going, but still we fight over nothing regardless. We do this despite there being nothing left to go to war over. It's all already all gone.

And there are still active landmines buried all over the place for the survivors to still watch out for. One such place where they remain plentiful, is in the arts and the entertainment world. It is as if it were boobytrapped by those who laid down inside those buildings and died decades back. We're still fighting those ghosts today.

The most obvious example of this tiresome climate, is the old book publishing industry. OldPub destroyed reading as a hobby for normal people long ago, and they are very interested in keeping it dead. Destroyers can never stop destroying.

The worst thing that ever happened to the hobby of reading was mystifying it and turning a simple pastime into a personality trait for hipster types and loners. This has not led to anything good. The process of transforming something anyone can (and should) do into an identity for antisocial people has transformed the entire industry into an ongoing war against general customers and the Average Joe. It has chased normal people away from something they should already be doing normally by weaponizing stories instead of giving them what they want. Not only that, but the hobby has been refashioned into a (failing) industry based on syphoning money through said antisocial behavior to spread even more antisocial behavior, with plenty of money laundering, of course, and is even backed up by the public school system to continue this nonsense forever. One can argue, correctly, that this is a symptom wider cultural problem in the West, and not a recent one, but I am increasingly under the belief that this particular industry was where it all started from.

The book industry is patient zero to every modern ill the West is currently suffering from, and the one most diseased and closest to death from its long unaddressed and untreated sickness. Its death from self-inflicted wounds has been a long time coming. Were it not for NewPub, the entire system would have already collapsed by now.

As an example, take the scam known as Banned Book Week. This forged celebration centered on an ad campaign for Big Publishing is a way of mystifying the act of buying a corporate product as if it were some sort of suppressed religious text from the Enemy. But that isn't what it actually is. You've probably heard the justification for supporting it, too. "If it's banned then it must be worth reading!" they scream as they hand over their money to buy books that simply weren't placed on one random school's reading list in some random state once. That's right, the definition of "banned" means less than nothing. And these lists never have books that have always been and are still banned to this day, including recent ones scraped off of Amazon itself for dubious reasons. Why are these banned? Because they don't contain the Cult's religious tract in it. "Banned Books" as defined by OldPub simply means what stock they want to clear out that week. They have successfully convinced cultists that rule the industry that The Man is somehow in charge and fighting against freedoms or whatever vague nonsense they were taught by their cult leaders, and buying corporate product will help you fight back. Yes, book cultists actually believe this. Truth is, it's just a lie to spur the ingroup on to spend more money buying more cultist tract and give the illusion that they are some kind of warrior for the cause. It has nothing to do with books, banned or not.

Want an example of how it's a scam? The Bible, an actual religious book, is never on any of these lists or sold at the front of the store during the sham festivities. One of Solzhenitsyn's last books has been suppressed in the West since it originally came out, because no one wishes to discuss the contents within. Not much for freethinking, these freethinkers are. They do not think and they are not free; they are merely cogs in Big Publishing's machine. 

But weren't we told that reading was supposed to be about expanding your mind and growing as a human being? Is this not what it was sold to you as back when you were a rug rat watching carefully curated episodes of Reading Rainbow on the old PBS back in the day? Isn't reading a magical act that makes you whole, especially for understanding perspectives outside your own? Wasn't censorship of books supposed to be bad because it goes against this? How can you address ideas if you can't face them down or argue against them? By having the billion dollar corporations and their pals in governments and schools do the thinking for you, after all. 

If any of the above was actually is true then why do all of those frauds continue to ignore the elephant in the room with their mystical talk of books? Why do they still pretend to be oppressed despite being the oppressors and having billionaire friends in every space and adjacent industry, able to suppress whatever they desire? These people even brag about censoring their enemies. They aren't fighting the censors: they are the censors.

Reading is being destroyed as a hobby, it has been since at least Cultural Ground Zero, and all your heroes are the ones burning the books and suppressing competing texts to their cult beliefs. And no one appears to be the wiser.

Let us get blunt. OldPub is currently in the process of gutting old works (or pretending to do so in order to gain publicity for newer releases, which is no better) in order to appease a small cadre of anti-social urbanites who won't buy these books in the first place. OldPub is speed-running its collapse in real time, showing the rest of the world what a fraud it always was in the first place, and it's taking everything it dubiously owns down with it. This whole set was never anything other than a cult that existed to indoctrinate you into the fold.

By now you've certainly heard about what happened with Roald Dahl's works, editors without tact licking their chops over butchering his works for children. Why? Because they have decided his words are not as important as their message. Because they are the Masters of the written word, they have free reign over all words past, present, and future. They can do whatever they want, and you have to obey. And every single person in the industry right now, and those who still buy their books, is culpable for their current false king status.

This is not the first time such censorship has been enacted, and if you think the second hand market will help fight the insanity going on, you might be surprised at how bad things really are now. The cult is winning in their quest to destroy reading.

When publishers banned Dr. Seuss books (Forget about this one? The book worshipers in OldPub sure have!) several were banned from even being sold on eBay, in the second hand market, essentially informing readers they wanted contraband and that was just plain illegal. The billionaire corps decided you can't read these books so by gum you will NOT read them. They are your masters, and they know better. And every adjacent industry and platform rushed to help them do it. This is only the first example. It will happen again in the future, because no one is interested in stopping them from banning books they shouldn't own the rights to in the first place.

By the way, Dr. Seuss has also not made it onto the corporate-approved Banned Books Week, either. What a surprise, the cult has not decreed it important! Scammers live to scam, and we're all fine with letting them scam.

Right now, more than any imagined time portrayed in a Book Cultist's fantasies, we are living through a cultural book burning celebrated by an entire government-backed group of supposed freethinkers and progressive creatives who somehow consider themselves rebels. And it is being lead by every aspect of the modern world, including those who pretend they are not doing so. It's not censorship if the billionaire corporation owns the rights to the art it had no hand in creating, it seems. They have free reign to edit any book and prevent selling of any older version. They own the very being of art. It's very normal, you see!

Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl are merely two targets, and are easy ones because the publishers can strongarm (or inject infiltrators) into the estates of these long dead writers and get "permission" (permission they should have no rights to have, by the way) to do whatever they want to art they had no input in creating in the first place. This is a clear loophole to the copyright issue, the flipside of the one the Walt Disney Corporation has been abusing for ages to no reasonable pushback from anyone. If you think extending copyright indefinitely on creations no one alive today had any hand in creating is good for creativity, I have a bridge to sell you. Dante and Homer didn't need to be owned by Disney to survive the passage of time, but somehow everything today does? At this point, everyone should be seeing this scam for what it is.

As an example, look up who owns the rights too Robert E. Howard's work and marvel at the fact that somehow these people think they have any right to profit off his name or creations. It hasn't been owned by anyone affiliated with him in any way for nearly a century. All it takes is one of these types to smell blood in the water, and do the same his works they are planning for the above authors. And what right do they have to do such a thing to his works?

They have none. Nonetheless, they will get unlimited support from the Book Cult to fleece readers forever. Truly an industry of rebels and freethinkers.

If you think it will stop here, then you have not been paying attention. Once the precedent is set, it never stops. Especially in OldPub, when it involves anti-art and anti-reader action above everything else. Eventually they will work their way up to J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and by then it will be too late to do anything about it. The book cult will remake everything in its own image. And yes, they will be saved for last. And nothing will be done to stop them.

The longer this goes on, the worse it will get.

Should OldPub continue their war against normality, everything they own, including that which it doesn't, will be destroyed. And yes, they will push to obliterate even that which it should have no control over too begin with, like the classic fairy tales we so take for granted. Nothing can be hated by this crowd more than purity or beauty, so it must be subverted or destroyed. There is no other option. This is the poison of the anti-social mentality infecting its soul. Eventually it turns against what created it in the first place.

It won't stop with fairy tales, it merely begins there. Just like our modern wonder stories do, so will the infection that fights to kill them.

As you can tell, this isn't stopping. The cultists are only attacking harder and harder, and have no one to push back the tide against their advance. When you leave anti-social and hate-filled bugmen in control of your entire industry of art, don't be surprised when they eventually learn to hate it as much as they hate you. They will eventually steamroll it all. This is where we are now.

There will be no survivors, if this crowd has its way. No more connection to the past, just endless rewrites and scripture updates for the ever-changing modern dogma that our betters will decide on for the rest of us.

Leaving Fanatics in control of anything was always a terrible idea, and we are living through the result of doing such a thing long ago. Until they are flushed out back to the margins where they originally skulked out of, they will only continue to destroy and find justifications so they can keep doing it forever. When one has their hearts poisoned by evil and cannot be reasoned with, they must be stopped. Otherwise everyone loses.

And one should be vigilante, even among those he trusts. Infiltrators are everywhere, and getting support from those who sell themselves on knowing better. It is getting darker out there, and it feels as if there are less and less of those willing to stand against them.

Because these antisocial types are not only in OldPub, they are trying to squeeze into NewPub, as well. They are attempting to jump from their burning car into the neighboring train so they can crash that one too. And they are having old guard support from the industry to do so. Because destroying one industry wasn't enough for any of them.

We've been dealing with an industry on decline for longer than most of us have been alive. It's time to stop doing things like this. There is no excuse to be supporting people who not only hate you, but hate everything their industry came from.

There is no excuse for this one, sorry. I don't care if said magazine has roped in a Brand Name author or two for its table of contents, it doesn't excuse supporting subverters and destroyers of your industry at this juncture. They are not working to fix any actual issues, they just want to be kings of the junk heap and get back pats for saying the Right Things. There is nothing being fixed here, just more support of mindless cults.

I can't count the number of vanity projects like the above have been bandied about this sphere longer than I've been alive. They always have an initial pop from labeling and insiders pushing the project before instantly fading into obscurity afterwards, never attracting anyone other than a rabid fringe that disappears as soon as they see shiny keys elsewhere. If this sort of thing worked, they wouldn't still be rehashing these same tired ideas for well over a decade at this point to absolutely no fanfare or interest. And yet here we are again with the same failed nonsense.

These sorts of projects don't grow the market, they never grow the readership, they don't attempt anything new despite their cliched buzzwords being thrown around. The biggest red flag that is never addressed: It doesn't appeal to normal people, no wider audience. So who is this sort of project meant to impress? How many times are you meant to regurgitate the same idea and act as if it is fresh? Corporate buzzwords that don't even sell books in OldPub? Name Brand Authors from half a century ago being bandied about on crowdfund campaign pages? This isn't offering anything new, it is relying on selling ideas that haven't sold since the 20th century, if they ever sold in the first place. None of this exists to benefit the readers or the art--it's all ego. It's about the self over all, and that has been a problem with Fanatics in this industry since they seized control back in the late 1930s. They don't want art: they want to be a part of the in-crowd.

At what point do we begin trying to grow this space instead of deliberately shrinking it? How many more decades do we have to sit through where things just get worse and more insular while being told the opposite is happening by the same crowd censoring books and saying they are not censoring them? How long are they going to be allowed free reign to destroy? At what point do we stop playing stupid games without even any prizes?

As for censorship, don't think they will start with obvious examples like a 1984 or Brave New World. This industry has mastered only one thing besides virtue signaling to its cultist followers, and that is slowly boiling the frog, usually be distracting with Brand Names and misplaced nostalgia. By the time anyone notices they are being cooked, it will be much too late. And make no mistake, it is much later than you think.

Of course the censors will start with the more controversial, in their mind, yet less popular titles and authors before they move forward with bigger. That is also why they went after Ian Fleming's work. his is the source of a billion dollar corporate franchise, of course, so it needs to be wrestled away from its creator and made to be acceptable to the executives who get to profit off of it now. The same people who had nothing to do with its existence in the first place get to control the work now. Who cares if it bares little resemblance to what the original author wrote when we can rewrite what he wrote. All for the greater good.

What matters is that it says the right thing today in Current Year dogma. Because, again, that is all that matters to the zealot. You will have to constantly update it in the future, of course, but that is a job you give to your allies to justify a paycheck in a dying industry like this one. This is nothing more than another mean girls' table for people who never grew up.

And all the people who fancy themselves geniuses because they read books, because Reading Makes You Smart like the propaganda from the industry said, are so sucked into their cult that they do not even see what is going on around them. No, that is incorrect. They see it, but they are incapable of processing what is happening because they are the Good Guys. They can't possibly be in the wrong. No, as that Simpsons meme says, it is the children who are wrong.

There is no excuse to be silent over any of this, especially if you are involved in any form of art in any similar industry, even as an amateur or hobbyist. Yet, there is a palpable silence over this exact issue right now. We have case after case being reported, downplayed by the allies in the old media and ignored by the willfully blind Professional Authors. None of them are taking this seriously, and they are hoping you don't notice. The Book Cult have been dead quiet, talking instead about holding book conferences outside concentration camps in Chengdu and pondering how much money to give China while these Professional Authors can lecture on injustice to their home country out of the other side of their mouths. Because they loathe normal people more than they care about any form of justice, or any art. It's never been about anything else.

It's a scam; always has been and always will be. Antisocial hatred runs deep. There is no love to be found here.

Guess whose social media accounts are dead silent over the issue?

Not a word from the above crowd. Not a single solitary comment aside from self promotion and virtue signaling the same inane Book Cultist platitudes on their social media accounts. Because it isn't about the art, not really, and it never has been. It's about what you can squeeze out of it for yourself and get ahead of your supposed allies.

But be sure to check out the new adaption of their work streaming on the multibillion dollar streaming service right now! You don't want to pirate it, would you? That would be unethical! And we know this crowd is all about ethics. Things should be wiped out of existence if corporations can't pay me $$$ to terribly adapt my work in any sloppy and halfhearted way they decide to do it. Better for something too get wiped out of existence than me missing out on a single penny I could have gotten from desecrating what I made. I should also attack any reader who dislikes the changes because corporations are fragile little things who need my protection. Can't let a scorned reader potentially affect my bottom line. It's all so admirable.

These noble people even gave out wooden assholes at the Hugos once because the wrong people voted for their tiny, meaningless clique awards. Something they still seethe over at the drop of a hat today! They have their priorities straight. It's all about ethics and art for the people who really count! And those who count obey Big Publishing.

You won't see any wider pushback in OldPub or any of the old industries to this obvious insanity. It will not happen, at best it will be excused. It is always excused. Remember, this is the group that cared more about trying to take down the Internet Archive over fears they might not get a few pennies from it (more than what they are getting from OldPub, mind you) then they do about any form of creation or shared culture. It's all empty rhetoric meant to trick people. They will do anything to make a buck and scrap some clout to stand out among their allies in the unending struggle against normality. It's the mean girls' lunch table, because none of these people have ever moved on from high school. And they never will. They can't.

If anything, this whole scenario should give you definitive proof that reading doesn't make you smart. That's just another lie told by people who hate you and see you as a wallet with legs. Book Cultists are no different than those still obsessing over Disney or Funko Pops as if they are personality traits. They just go to WorldCon instead of drunk singles vacations to Disney World. It gives them the illusion of having principles or an identity because otherwise they have neither. There is nothing under the surface to be found except more Brand. It's all the same cult.

No, the only thing you can do is remember what is happening right now, record it into your mind in as much detail as you can, and really take into account how much these people hate you and wish to destroy everything around them. Make sure future generations see this nonsense for what it is. Preserve what you can, while you can preserve it, because in the next few years you will see a lot of things you have taken for granted disappear without a trace. It doesn't matter what it is, all of this is in danger of being erased, rewritten, or revised for modern audiencesthe cult, not unlike what I described happened nearly a century ago in The Last Fanatics. Those people never went away, they've just devolved into an even cruder mockery of what they once were, and they will decimate anything they can in their quest to claw their way to the top of their sad pack and rule as king of the junk heap. You will find no help from them, no respite from their constant barrage of attacks. They will destroy everything on their quest to destroy themselves. It is time to accept this nonsense for what it is.

Here's another harsh truth: the Book Cult also will work around the author to get what they want. Whether the author is a member of their ingroup or not does not factor into this. They will take what they want from them regardless. They are all disposable cogs in a machine, no different than any other random office job.

The most recent example of this happening is the news of censorship around author R. L. Stine's Goosebumps series.

The site in question is linked here

For those who don't know, Goosebumps abruptly vanished in the early 2000s because noble publisher Scholastic wrestled the rights away from its author and deliberately cratered sales and promotion to take it away from him. It is one of the many shortsighted moves the Book Cult has made to crush its own industry. They have control over the property now, including those totally coincidental Hollywood movies they keep making out of the series while the above censorship is going on. Can't have outdated word usage affect the modern dogma that needs to be spread among the sheepchildren.. This will also not be their last attack. They will never stop.

Everyone is a target in their path. This is the future looming ahead of us in the years to come. Assume no one else will preserve anything, and get to work doing it yourself. Prepare accordingly. Dark times are coming.

One of the most fascinating outcomes of the Cult of Books seizing control of reading as an industry has been their shift to worshiping multibillion corporations over appreciating the stories themselves. This is because the corporations make sure only the Good books with the Right messages will get printed, while the heretical competing texts will be filtered out. The new priest class has created the new official canon, one you must follow, and if it falls outside that limited ideological span then it is considered blasphemy and evil. It must be suppressed.

And this is what is happening on all the cases we have mentioned so far. There is nothing about quality factored in here, though their cult allies in education will make sure to force you to think it is quality work, but about purity. This isn't about reading, it's about obeying and being a cog in the machine of the new world. Obey your betters or be cast out.

There is no third choice. It isn't even a choice, in the end. Cults don't give choices: they give ultimatums.

It has gotten to the point that actual censorship of books exists in OldPub because it is Good For Them to be tampered with, as if constantly updating books like they were the satanic reverse of sacred scripture (in that must always change with the whims of those in charge instead of being eternal everlasting truth), is the end goal. This mutation of common sense really should show how degraded our culture is today and how much it's decayed. No one would have accepted this at any other point in time, except one with high levels of depression, heavy medication, self-destruction, and atomization, being ignored by the current cult in charge of it all. It's pathetic that we let it persist, at this point. And yet, that is what we do.

The solution to all of this is to keep a clear head. While Book Cultists, like every other person who turns their hobby into a personality trait, continue to spiral down the drain of worshiping their corporate overlords and justifying their hatred of everyone outside their silly club, you can bypass the whole lot of them by just being normal and continuing to be so. Just don't be one of them. The most rebellious thing you can be in a society that hates normality more than it does evil, is to just be a normal human being. Be something other than a cultist that lives off product and cloud and uses supplements to deal with the resulting alienation from their own backwards mindset. It shouldn't be that hard if you live the opposite life of literally everyone ruling these corporations.

What we need is a true revival of what we have forgotten, not more irrelevant corporate jargon used to sell more product to people only slightly less depressed than the one selling it to them. We need to aim higher than what we have now. This isn't good enough anymore, and it never was in the first place. Art is important, and should not be treated as a disposable commodity or worshiped like a cult tract. We should be ashamed at letting it get this bad.

Religious thought and worship belong to real religion, hobbies belong to everyone who wants to engage and learn, subcultures are meant for you to grow in and not for them to bend to you, and art is meant to connect instead of being ran by an iron fist by unelected commissars of the revolution. This is all backwards today, and it must be repaired before we can even thinking of moving forward from it. Whatever pathetic revolution these types think this is, they can never really win it. But they can take a lot of good things down with them along the way to the grave. Be sure to prepare accordingly. They still have further to fall, and they will most definitely not go quietly into the night once they realize how futile it is. They will not be able to lie to themselves forever and when they explode, we will get caught in the blast. Remember that, in the end, their motivator is hate, not stupidity. they know what they are doing. Never forget that.

We can't bend the knee to them anymore. We need to do better than supporting people who hate is. we need to push back against infiltrators like this:

I have never interacted with this account, by the way.

And that's the bottom line.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

In the Places You Least Expect

It's rare that one wakes up in the morning and the world is suddenly different. Most of the time it's a slow but steady change that leads everything around you to eventually becoming uncanny, a crude mockery of what you once thought of as normal. Sometimes, they just replace the lamppost lights with better bulbs, but that isn't as common these days as it once was.

Regardless, things don't stay the same forever.

As you are no doubt well aware, there is a sea change going on in the world of art and entertainment. NewPub being one of the examples of such a shift, but there are many others as well. We've gone over a few recently, but a lot of those are much more obvious. Today we're going to talk about anime, a subject we haven't really gone over much recently. Mostly because, well, there isn't much to say. I know I can repeat myself, but I don't go out of my way to.

What I've been watching in regards to anime isn't exactly what the majority is watching, outside of adaptions of manga I already read like My Hero Academia and whatnot. There is not much to repeat there. You already know what that is and if you enjoy it.

The industry has mostly been going the course, though with diminishing returns for anyone who has been watching for any length of time. It can get quite stale at times, and for good reason. For awhile the industry has needed a hot dose of adrenaline, and there is some to be seen, though not in the places you might expect. One of the weird shifts has been the turn the anime industry has made towards streaming services due to the overcrowded nature of their industry. But what they are doing with streaming is more interesting than what they are doing with TV, or what the west is doing with either of them. It is getting to the point where the more original and ambitious projects are being moved off of TV and into the online world instead. This is beginning to change the game, at least a little.

While manga is currently a booming industry with a lot of original projects being put out there, anime is a bit more stagnant. You can pretty much predict how everything that comes out each season will look and even preform and, outside of the obvious studios (BONES, David Productions, MAPPA, Trigger, etc.) it's more or less a glut of the same stuff recycled over and over again. You know what you're going to get every single time. That isn't the problem, though: it isn't about a lack of new ideas, but about execution.

It's fairly predictable how most things will play out. They just add colored hair, sometimes overdesign the clothes (usually to mask the fact that all the faces are interchangeable), and use the same angles and poses as everyone else. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of ambition.

Well, at least not in the big leagues. A few years ago, an independent student group created their own 18 minute animated project completely on their own (with some crowdfunding help!) and put it up for free on YouTube. this was a completely original project done with a small team. This would have been unheard of even a decade ago.

So what did they make? They created Kūchū Gunkan Atlantis a fresh spin on classic Gainax, Ghibi, and 1960s era anime ideas, but with that spirit of adventure you don't really see anymore in the mainstream. Especially not in film form.

You can see the full short anime here:

This is the sort of project that bodes well for any independent scene that might pop up over there, but even in the mainstream, companies appear to be using the untested grounds of streaming to try things a bit outside the box. Nothing quite at this level in terms of overall ambition, but plenty of things that could not be made otherwise.

You might have heard a lot about the Cyberpunk: Edgerunners anime last year. But if you didn't see it then you might not know that it didn't actually air on TV. It was an ONA (Original Net Animation) not unlike the classic era OVAs (Original Video Animation) from back in the day. That is why it had more freedom in its pacing and content than you would see from a TV series, and was allowed to be what it was. In a sense, it is a return to a style lost when the industry bubble popped at the end of the 1980s and the steam ran out by the '00s.

Other similar projects include the Bastard! manga getting a new adaption (which, again, received an OVA back in the day) as its content would otherwise be impossible to air on TV. It almost makes one wonder why Berserk has not received the same treatment. This "Heavy Metal Fantasy" was more or less designed to embody all those edgy 1980s tropes you know but with a heavy dose of comedy (and not exactly the sort of comedy anime usually goes for) to the proceedings. You'd never know this originally ran in Weekly Shonen Jump back in the day since it is so juvenile, but only in a way adults can understand. The magazine has changed much over the decades, just like the industry has since its glory days.

One project that highlights this perfectly, is the ONA adaption of the Spriggan manga (which itself is finally getting a proper release overseas) done by David Productions, the folks behind the Cyberpunk: Edgerunners and JoJo's Bizarre Adventures anime series, themselves. Though it had a movie made back in the 1990s (helmed by no less than Katsuhiro Otomo of Akira fame himself), it was an adaption of one arc in the manga and also cut things out to fit the mood the director wanted. The anime aims to be more faithful to the manga while retaining the flair it is known for, the reason it was so popular back in the day.

For those unaware, Spriggan is a globetrotting adventure starring our main protagonist super agent Yu Ominae who wears an enhanced suit of body armor as he searches for ancient alien artifacts that blur the line between science and supernatural. These artifacts are a problem because can be used to destroy the world, because humanity is just not ready for them. It is his job as a super agent to keep them out of villains' hands, whether they be monsters, spirits, science experiments, super soldiers, or artifact wielders themselves. It's more or less an episodic adventure series.

Each ONA episode is structed like an OVA episode of old--a 45 minute adaption of one arc from the manga done at a surprisingly brisk pace with all the flair David Productions is known for. And because it is episodic (something that has been turned into a huge no-no these days), it remains an engaging watch one can handle at their own pace, one episode at a time. I am still hoping for a second season. Here's hoping it did well enough.

Here is one random, out of context scene to highlight what makes Spriggan so good. (Warning! Heavy violence and blood incoming)

This is the sort of hot blooded adventure and strange action you won't see from anime much these days, especially on TV or the cinema. Military action, supernatural, high tech, and enough bizarre characters and turns to shake a stick at. You have to find it here in steaming: online in a brand new and experimental format hinged to the cloud of streaming services. So it's not that much different than how Japan already handles its TV productions.

Is this setup ideal? Probably not, especially when physical releases are very slow coming (I don't think ANY Netflix exclusive produced series have had physical releases yet), but it does give a new way of producing them in the first place. That is definitely more appreciated in an age where everything blurs together in the tired TV landscape that has long since dried out.

The uncomfortable truth remains that the OVA era did allow more creative opportunities and venues for creators to approach their projects in an age when the industry, and the country's economy, were booming. But that was over three decades ago. Since then it has been about streamlining everything for television guidelines. The ONA venue might give some of that freedom back, especially as anime only increases in popularity overseas as the western industry flails.

Whatever the case, it is more freeing than where we are even a couple of years ago. Having everything locked to the same bland family friendly/pseudo edgy content allowed on television tended to make things awkward. More venues can only help, at this point.

I can't know exactly where the future for the industry lies, but when highly anticipated projects like Naoki Urasawa's Pluto (based on Osamu Tezuka's classic Astro Boy story) end up becoming Netflix exclusives with seemingly hour long episodes, you have to wonder how long things will stay as they currently are. The old ways are fading fast. We're going to have to get used to it.

Is this a good or bad thing? That will depend on what we choose to preserve, and what we choose to discard. Eventually we're going to have to choose the right path to travel. It would be better if the choice were not made for us.

At the very least, it gives a good excuse for classic manga to FINALLY get the western releases they always deserved, such as the above-mentioned Spriggan. I know I've been waiting for this one for a long time now.

Find it Here!

Results like this can only be described as a good thing for everyone involved. The wider availability of medium classics are always a net-gain, even if too many have been trained to only buy the newest release.

The change in distribution has also helped manga, as well. One can read every chapter of the earlier mentioned My Hero Academia on the official Viz site as it comes out, and yet each physical volume is still a #1 bestseller regardless of the content in it being easily accessible.. That is the sign of an industry currently booming.

As for the West, well, still nothing on that front. We have not learned any lessons from our neighbor's successes or our own failures. Nothing much has changed at all. Even in the indie space, it's all the same. Comics aside, animation is stale.

There have been no attempts to revisit something actually missing from the landscape like Don Bluth's style or unique adaptions like The Last Unicorn, it's all still post '90s subversive corporate deconstructionist edgelord stuff, exactly like that same mainstream stuff you see everywhere that no one is buying anymore. If anyone knows anything being offered outside of this, I'd like to see it. I'm not convinced we're anywhere near catching up with the East in this sort of thing, though. We're too deep in divisive styles that chased audiences away in the first place.

We are in an age where everything is more available than it ever has been, so being in a situation where we are still losing things can be disheartening. The above independent anime, for instance, is the only recent production that doesn't contain CG mecha. Why? Because apparently no one in the industry thought to pass down the techniques to do it. This means, outside of going independent, you literally cannot find something that was readily available as little as fifteen years ago--something of objectively superior quality than what is being made now.

Theirs is not the only industry with that problem.

Ask yourself what happened to third person omniscient narrators in books, for instance. No one teaches it today because "audiences do not want it" and yet due to that attitude, audiences are then never exposed to it. So if no one teaches this form, how does it get passed down? How does anything change? It doesn't. It just dies out. Everyone misses out. 

This is less common than the much more hated second person present tense form, of all things, is pushed by OldPub regardless of its lack of success. Should this lost art of third person omniscient be revived it will, once again, be up to independents to spearhead it. OldPub is too close to death to bother, busy censoring Ian Fleming and Roald Dahl while their lackey authors completely avoid discussing the topic. Perhaps they'll write more forewords to Fahrenheit 451 about their expertise in censorship. We could all use a good laugh in these trying times.

The point is that we are still losing things in an age where preservation is easier than ever before. We still have a ways to go before this ship gets steered away from the iceberg.

And we will also have to use another industry as an example to do it.

Teaser for the Pluto anime adaption.

But things change all the time, as we've seen above. As long as we're still kicking and biting, we'll always be creating. Art always remains, regardless of the times and regardless of the people in charge of them. You can't ever stop it.

Though we focused mainly on an example from one industry in another part of the world, it will soon become a reality in all of them everywhere. We have been stuck for the past 25+ years circling the drain in a dying landscape that is no longer relevant to anyone in it. A new one will arise in its place. What that will be remains to be seen, and it will have to be made by us. We certainly can't trust relics like OldPub to fix what they broke.

There is no reason to not anticipate the coming shift, however. There will always been eternal truths and cravings we as human beings will want more than the minimum expectations. Adventure, wonder, hope, and love, will never cease to be goals for us. It will never truly depart from our art, either. We will never change to the point that we never need it.

Tomorrow is coming regardless, however. Here's hoping we are paying attention to the changes ahead of us.

It is only by taking advantage of what is coming that we can keep this party going. And make no mistake: it's a party. Escapism is invaluable, a peak into the joy we will all hopefully come into someday. As Chesterton said, the only people who hate escapism are jailers. So let's open that cage wide.

We've got many more of them to open!