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Science Fiction

Survive the Future

After a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, Tanemaki Designs recently introduced a new animal-themed board game called Vivarium. The basic premise is that in a future time of environmental destruction, a bio-dome has been set up as an “ark” to house and hopefully preserve a part of Earth’s remaining animal species. According to the official web site, “Vivarium is a strategy board game for 2-5 players where you assume the role of a species fighting for survival inside a new environment. Equipped with just your instincts and fears, you must utilize your species’ unique abilities and adapt in order to survive. By acquiring new cards, claiming territory, enduring natural disasters, defending the Oasis and completing objectives you can increase your fitness to survive. The species with the most fitness at the end of the game wins! Vivarium has 8 distinct species, a modular game board and varied seasonal events that ensure every game is unique and layered with strategy.” It’s been making an appearance at various game and comic book stores, so look for it near you.

image c. 2017 Tanemaki Designs

Beware of the Penguin Conspiracy…

Some new discoveries from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books… including some things that maybe Man Was Not Meant To Know!  We met author Steve Hammond, who introduced us to his new science fiction saga Rise of the Penguins. “The War of the Species has begun. An ancient race of penguin has reemerged. From this race a powerful leader declares himself Overlord and unites the penguin clans of the world. His goal: to drive the human presence away from Antarctica and to exact revenge for the atrocities of the past against penguinkind. Through shadowy alliances and manipulation the Overlord launches a full scale war against the humans. The Overlord’s tactics are ruthless even against penguins under his command. Those who don’t conform to the Overlord’s ideals are pressed into obedience or worse. In the midst of bloody conflict against the humans a small Chinstrap penguin, Lavour, begins to see the folly of war and questions the motives of the Overlord. But can one penguin bring an end to the bloodshed and change their course of the war and restore peace?” No less than six books in the series are available now from Rockhopper Books, and a seventh volume is on the way soon. Visit the author’s web site to keep up to date. And remember to treat birds nicely!

image c. 2017 Rockhopper Books

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Listen to the Masked One!

More tie-in stuff coming our way as we get closer to the release of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol.2. Now Marvel Press give us a new hardcover illustrated book called Rocket’s Rules. “Ever wonder how to navigate a quantum asteroid field? Escape a deep-space maximum-security prison? Insult a powerful adversary without anyone catching on? You’re in luck! In this ultimate intergalactic survival guide, Rocket covers everything you need to know – including what it takes to be a good member of a team. So pay attention and read up!” It hits the shelves (like a missile!) right before the movie comes out, but you can pre-order it now over at Simon & Schuster. [Tip #1: Don’t call him a raccoon!]

image c. 2017 Marvel Press

So Fluffy… And Cute

The creator of 100% Soft describes himself this way: “Truck Torrence lives in Los Angeles and makes kawaii pop art under the moniker 100% Soft. He is the designer of the official emoji for Star Wars and the creator of the Kaiju Kitties. His work has been shown at Gallery 1988, Bottleneck Gallery, Giant Robot, and Spoke Art. His clients have included Lucasfilm, Disney, 20th Century Fox, Fandango, Nickelodeon, and Marvel Studios.” And as you can see on his web site, he’s been busy making emoji, message stickers, plush kaiju kitties, and more for a while now — including an entire set of stickers for Disney’s Zootopia!

image c. 2017 100SOFT.US

One Woman’s Transformation

Jessica Chrysler is an artist who creates mostly fantasy works, with some occasional anthropomorphics. But when she goes anthro, she goes for it in a big way! First there was Cody the Coyote, a Native American folklore re-imagined as an illustrated book for children. It’s still available on-line. More recently she’s been writing and illustrating a science fiction novel called Monolithium. “After surviving torture for treason, Elara wakes to find herself transformed into a creature known as the enemy of the empire. While she must flee her home planet to stay alive, she soon discovers that Queen Varina had not only meant to take her life, but also her uncle’s throne and control of the realm.” That creature in question is the blue feathered reptile you see below. Jessica has been selling an illustrated teaser booklet for Monolithium at conventions, so look for her at one near you. And visit her web site to get updates on her progress.

image c. 2017 by Jessica Chrysler

Hot and Dry and Truly Strange

Another one we missed last year, but caught up with this time: Lost Cactus is a full-color on-line comic strip written and illustrated by John Hopkins. Lost Cactus is also, it seems, a top-secret government facility hidden in the desert, where our leaders hide things they don’t want the general public to know about. Things like an irradiated, talking squirrel; a giant anthropomorphic bee; and a small-sized anthropomorphic dinosaur or two. Much silliness ensues when these and other denizens of the Lost Cactus facility interact with the human scientists and military there to run the show — supposedly. Many of the comic strips (and other goodies) have been collected in a new Lost Cactus book, Lost Cactus: The First Treasury. It’s available over at Amazon. You might find out more over at the Lost Cactus web site, but we can neither confirm nor deny that rumor…

image c. 2017 by John Hopkins

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Watch Out For That Tree

Not to be out-done, this May Marvel will also bring us I Am Groot, the first solo comic featuring everyone’s favorite simple-talking anthropomorphic tree. It’s written by Christopher Hastings (Gwenpool, The Unbelievable) and illustrated by Flaviano. “When the Guardians of the Galaxy get caught in a wormhole, a smaller-than-normal Groot is separated billions of light-years away from the team. Falling to a planet below, Groot discovers he is on an entirely alien and unknown world full of strange creatures and societies. Seriously underdeveloped and with nobody who can understand him, Groot will need to make the journey to the center of this world and find the way back to his family!” Comicbook.com has an interview with Mr. Hastings talking all about it.

image c. 2017 Marvel Comics

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Rocket and HIS Old Friends!

In what is perhaps a strange move (given his currently ever-growing popularity!) Marvel Comics have canceled their most recent Rocket Raccoon comic book series — only to replace it with a new one called Rocket, according to Bleeding Cool. “He thought his paws were clean, that they were on the up and up. But just when he thought he was out, they grabbed him by the fuzzy tail and pulled him back in. One day, and old flame (who happens to be an Otter) swims back into your life and just like that you’re back in the game…the heist game. From the dingy alleys of Knowhere to the far corners of deep space, they’ll speak in whispers that one of the best there ever was is back. If you need a safe cracked. If you need a vault busted. If you’ve got a big score that needs taking…you call Rocket. Just don’t call him a raccoon. It won’t end well for you.” Good Grief — the return of Lylla?? Look for it this May, written by by Al Ewing (The Ultimates, U.S.Avengers) and illustrated by Adam Gorham (The Violent).

image c. 2017 Marvel Comics

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Short-Attention-Span Raccoon

From out of nowhere department, largely! Things are still ramping up for this summer’s release of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. According to our friends over at Animation Scoop, “Marvel and Disney XD announced today a 12-episode series of Rocket & Groot animated shorts. The shorts follow Rocket and Groot (from the Guardians Of The Galaxy) as they try to figure out how to get enough credits to buy a new ship after their old one breaks down. A compilation of all the shorts will premiere on Disney XD at 7:00am ET/PT on April 10th. Rocket is voiced by Trevor Devall (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Johnny Test) and Groot is voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, The Cleveland Show). Featuring animation by Oscar-nominated Passion Pictures, the shorts are directed by Arnaud Delord and written by Chris ‘Doc’ Wyatt and Kevin Burke.” The Animation Scoop article has a preview.

Image c. 2017 Marvel/Disney XD