All Squires Must Audition For Knighthood.

Wow...I feel bad for that guy in Panel Two.  He is getting worked.

Wow…I feel bad for that guy in Panel Two. He is getting worked.

Seriously…that guy in Panel Two needs some sympathy. He’s some kind of Bestial, sure…but unless he has the concentrated powers of like, a major Pachyderm, he is hating that panel. The protagonist of the strip has been shown ripping open Iron Man Suits, wrestling Hulks, holding up mountains, and hurling things into the Sun. Even if that guy has the durability of a dozen Hippos, he’s still just hating it. Poor Panel Two Guy…the powers of animals just don’t really stand up that well against Alien Americans.

Panel One features a Magic Talking Sword. In Old School Dungeons and Dragons, some serious magic swords are both intelligent, and can talk. It was a good way for the Game Master to keep things moving, since if the players got stuck, the @#$% sword could give them a hint, or just push things along. Your players generally wanted one of them because like serious items in online games like Warcraft, they made the battle sequences of the game much more satisfying with mega-damage and unbalancing powers. About the same time that the wizard is getting Crazy Magic, like dragon disintegrating spells, these magic swords kept the fighter relevant, with a huge amount of damage per round and magic powers that were competitive with the spell casters.

Those swords, they tended to be a big deal for players. The culmination of a big quest, the kind of thing handed off when the fighter or paladin finally becomes a knight of some order, etcetera. Things like the Vorpal Sword, or +5 Holy Avenger, which really changed the way that the fighter could participate against increasingly powerful enemies. Think about Thor with Mjolnir, vs. Thor without the sledge. You really want the guy with the Hammer, although the guy without the hammer still has acres of Undiscovered Muscle on him.

So…what the @#$% is the art, and the post about? Good question, and that comes together in Panel Three.

Panel Three has some Sage of the Bestials observing the serious @#$ whooping being doled out by our hero. Although he agrees with the sword (“Cutter”) he comments, explicitly, that she is not a Knight yet. He seems reluctant to hand over Cutter, like there is still some sort of vital Trial Period to be observed. And there, really, is the point of the post.

I’ve gone to a bunch of meetings…finally gotten an informal tour of campus. I’ve come loaded for Bear on the topic of planning lessons, of making units happen. As the “new kid on the block” I’ve practically run those meetings, if only because I had two things going…not wanting to waste my own time, and a mess of planning that I have to do anyway if I want to run a new class, and can easily discuss. It has been made clear that those efforts have been valued, and I’m seen as key to the process…a good asset, to be sure.

But really, at the end of the day, I’m an Outsider. I’m not yet part of the Sworn Knighthood, and there is some undisclosed “quest” or “proving ground”, like getting the Magic Sword in an RPG that needs to take place for that to happen.

The thing is…I’m at a very different place in my life and career. I am very interested in putting up big student achievement numbers, and getting a massive number of passing grades on the California High School Exit Exam. Those are driving motivators to me, as well as the opportunity to attempt a more complex level of curricular development and content exploration. It isn’t all that important to me to be the Leader, to be the Department Chair or “Grade Level Lead.” Those things have increasingly lost meaning for me over time, gotten less and less important. Teacher/student relations, school activities, academic achievement…those matter more to me, through quality of work, than the idea that the group “looks up to me” in some organized sense.

In other words…I’m ready to do the job hard, like the massive punch in Panel Two. I just don’t think I have it in me to care that much about being an “Insider” as opposed to an Outsider. I used to, for sure…but those times are somewhat behind me, in what I call in old stories about teaching “The Days of High Adventure.”

So, about the art. The Science Fantasy setting has been fun to explore…if it was generated by accident. It is startlingly hard to get certain elements of it together…I need more diversity in Bestials (they are pretty much all mammal based), I need a better handle on settings, and finally, I need to practice the basics of the genre. Tomorrow’s post will pretty much be a couple of pieces I’ve done exploring those ideas…new kinds of Bestials (still mostly mammals) costuming (HARD), and creatures relevant to the setting. I’ve immersed myself in Art Adam’s work, the art of First Edition Dungeons and Dragons (Erol Otus, Bill Willinghan, Jeff Dee, and Larry Elmore), and a mess of Conan art as a sort of mental dive in.

Old School Dungeons and Dragons art is NOT as cool as we remember.

Still…tomorrow is more about art and concepts…since educational plotline is quite thankfully running slowly, if at all, during the beginning of summer.


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