Here’s to strong friendships and new discoveries in 2020!
Also… Nintendo, I do not ask for much, but please give these two characters their own game!
The Legend of Comics is a collection of drawings and short comics I posted on Tumblr between 2014 and 2018. This zine is 32 pages long, standard half-letter size, and filled with my love for the Zelda series.
This zine was fairly successful, but I don’t think I’ll do another print run. I had little to no idea what I was doing on Photoshop until relatively recently, and my art has evolved significantly since then. The way I drew Ganondorf in particular makes me cringe.
I also had a strange experience on Etsy in which someone bought this zine as a present for their six-year-old child. My understanding of both zine culture and Tumblr culture is such that I never would have expected someone to associate either of those things with the notion of “kid-friendly,” and the parent was (understandably) offended that the zine contains adult humor. I therefore had to put a disclaimer on the Etsy listing that reads “The zine contains two instances of strong language and one mildly risqué allusion to an old internet meme, and it’s probably not suitable for young children.”
This incident helped me realize that presentation and curation are important, even for an amateur fanzine. I think it might also have been good to include captions for some of the comics whose humor is closely tied to my specific corner of Zelda fandom. I printed this zine in February; and, after six months of reflection, there’s a lot I would do differently now. Instead of trying to revise this zine, I’m looking forward to implementing my ideas into a new Legend of Zelda fanzine that I’m planning to publish next January.
Secret of Mana is a charming action-adventure game about grinding for unnecessary upgrades. It’s not for everyone, but I adore it.
The game plays a bit like Kingdom Hearts in that you run around a two-dimensional isometric map and hit adorable enemies with a sword (or your choice of seven other weapons). There’s a satisfying cronch when your weapon connects, and the enemy death animations are super cute. For example, mammal-type enemies will explode in a poof of bones that make rattling sounds as they drop to the ground in a neat little pile. The magic animations are also lovely, and they become more elaborate as each spell grows more powerful.
The game’s story is about protecting seeds and saving a tree, and it’s filled with gorgeous Instagram-style ~nature~ that has its over-saturated anime filter slider pulled all the way to the top end. The tree leaves rustle gently, the grass sways in the wind, the sun sparkles on the surface of water, the frost glistens with a rainbow-hued shine, and so on. Your job as the player is to walk around these beautiful fantasy-themed environments killing critters for the points you need to max out the levels of your weapons and magic.
The way this works is that each of the eight weapons has eight magical orbs, which you earn by defeating bosses, and each orb unlocks an additional level for that weapon. Once a new level is unlocked, you can earn points by defeating enemies in order to achieve the special attack for that weapon, all of which are laughably impractical and none of which you will ever use. There’s no real reason to level up your weapon attacks; but, if you want to, it becomes more difficult with each progressive level. To get to Level 2, each enemy kill nets you 8 points (out of a necessary 100). To get to Level 3, each enemy kills nets you 7 points (out of a necessary 100). And so on. Ditto for each of the eight magic element sets.
Each of your characters has to level up all of the weapons and magic elements separately, so you’re in for some grinding. But only if you want! Again, it’s not necessary, but I find it relaxing.
The PlayStation 4 remake changes almost nothing about the original Super Nintendo game, and the updated graphics and music are wonderful. For a good six months after the release, there was some sort of bug that caused the game to crash if you went for too long without saving, but the developers have patched and fixed whatever was causing the problem.
The PS4 remake of Secret of Mana takes about ten to fifteen hours to finish if you don’t grind and a little less than thirty hours if you do, and either way it’s good wholesome content for when you need to turn off your brain and chill out for a bit.
I’ve been very impressed by all the videos (like this one) showcasing gameplay demos of Breath of the Wild mods that replace Link with Princess Zelda, and getting to play as Zelda herself is all I want from the sequel.
I know a lot of people are upset about J.K. Rowling retconning Hermione’s race and Dumbledore’s sexuality, but I’m all for it. In fact, let’s have more canon retcons! Here are some suggestions:
– Harry Potter belongs to an ancient wizarding family that came to England from India. His great-grandparents believed in fostering stronger local wizard-muggle relations, which is why they changed their family name from “Patil” to the stereotypically British “Potter.” Parvati Patil, who is obviously way out of Harry’s league, only went to the Yule Ball with him because he’s her distant cousin and her parents told her to be nice to him.
– Cho Chang is a lesbian, and her relationship with Harry helped her come to terms with her sexuality. Her actual name is Chomei Zhang, and “Cho” is just a nickname. She went to grad school in Hong Kong, where she received a doctorate in Physics. She returned to Hogwarts as a professor before eventually becoming the Head of Ravenclaw.
– Draco Malfoy was a big kid, and one of the reasons he wanted to be the Seeker for Slytherin’s Quidditch team so badly is because it was important to him to prove that you don’t have to be slender and muscular to be a good athlete. Although Lucius Malfoy is a racist and a certified asshole, he loves his son and supported his ambitions by buying the entire team equipment that helped them train and enjoy themselves regardless of their body shapes.
– Gellert Grindelwald is Jewish, and he hates Muggles because of the ultranationalist anti-Semitism that was so prevalent in Europe in the early twentieth century. Dumbledore didn’t want to fight him not just because he was once in love with him, but also because he understood all too well that Grindelwald’s anger was justified.
– Nymphadora Tonks is queer and genderfluid. Remus Lupin is gay, and he met Nymphadora during a period when she was presenting as male. The beginning of their relationship was awkward not because Lupin is a werewolf, but because conversations surrounding the validity of bisexuality within the gay community were still evolving in the 1990s and early 2000s.
– Sirius Black’s family disowned him because he had trouble presenting as neurotypical. He was able to survive Azkaban because he already had experience dealing with the symptoms related to the mental and emotional strain caused by dementors. Also, Azkaban got really good wireless reception, and Sirius used the skills he gained while creating the Marauder’s Map to pioneer the magic internet, which is how he became independently wealthy and was able to have a Firebolt delivered to Harry for Christmas.
I spent the month of August working on my book project and two academic essays, but I can’t stop thinking about the novel I want to write. I’m starting to get a sense of the story progression and the major twists in the plot, and I’m also beginning to visualize a few of the dramatic high points. Although I’m sure I could (and I will) write pages and pages of chapter outlines and character details, what I’d like to do first is write something resembling a pitch. I’m still working on this summary, but I thought I’d share what I have so far…
People say that a tall and terrible tower rises from the dark heart of a wasteland swarming with evil, and that a dark lord reigns over the monsters of his hideous domain from the top of this tower. Balthazar is that dark lord, and he’s doing the best he can. Despite his godlike power, he just can’t get people to stop pestering him with administrative annoyances.
The biggest thorn in his side is the kingdom of Whitespire, which is ruled by Princess Ceres. Ceres is beautiful, flawless, and adored by her subjects, but she has an unpleasant habit of sending “heroes” into the wasteland to fight the demon king. Balthazar is nothing short of invincible, and no ordinary hero has the slightest hope of defeating him. Ceres knows this, which is why she uses Balthazar as an excuse to rid her kingdom of dangerous upstarts and dissidents. Balthazar knows exactly what’s going on, but he tolerates it. In fact, he and Ceres are in regular communication. Although they get on each other’s nerves, the demon king and the princess are secret allies and perhaps even something resembling friends.
This state of affairs is disturbed by rumors that a hero has drawn the Dawnsword sleeping deep in the caverns under Whitespire Castle. This sword is an ancient relic believed to have been forged by the very goddesses who created the world. The rumors that a hero has drawn the legendary sword prove to be true, and before long this hero appears in the wastelands, demanding the right to challenge the demon king. Balthazar has the hero escorted to his tower, only to find that she is all of ten years old. The girl can’t seem to remember how she drew the sword, where she came from, or even her own name. Not knowing what else to do, Balthazar decides to care for her until he can figure out how to destroy the Dawnsword, which is indeed the only weapon capable of harming him. He calls the girl Hero, and the name sticks.
Balthazar is a wizard whose power is without equal among mortals. He built the tower that rises over the wastelands through the sheer force of his will, and the scale of the monument has attracted other nonhuman races to the territories he has claimed. He is a competent administrator but not a particularly nice person. He’s called “the demon king” not just because of his fierce temper but also because he is a rare full-blooded demon. Despite being large and muscular, Balthazar finds violence distasteful and often leaves the dirty work of dealing with invading “heroes” to his four generals. His hobbies include dressing in flashy outfits and reading trashy romance novels. He’s in his late thirties but looks much older.
Ceres, the radiantly beautiful princess of Whitespire, is in her thirties but looks much younger, an illusion she goes to great lengths to maintain. She has inherited the magical abilities of the royal bloodline, but she’s careful not to draw attention to the true extent of her power. As the public face of the monarchy, Ceres seems to be a paragon of wisdom and virtue, but she employs a number of confidants to conduct her business from the shadows. In fact, Balthazar may be one of the least unsavory people who knows her true face. Ceres is constantly under a great deal of pressure, and she has a bit of a drinking problem.
Hero is a rude and savage girl of unknown origins who seems to be roughly ten years old. She managed to draw the sacred Dawnsworn that has been sleeping under Whitespire Castle for hundreds of years, but no one knew anything about her before she suddenly appeared at the castle gates claiming that she would be the one to defeat the demon king. Although Hero is generally good-natured, she fights with the skill of an experienced warrior, and she possesses extraordinary powers that tend to manifest at inopportune times. She worships and adores Ceres but only barely tolerates Balthazar.