Category Archives: Announcements

Hey, there’s something coming up that I want to tell you about!

Come find me at Salt Lake City FanX!

FanX, the spring installment of Salt Lake Comic Con¹, is this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I’ll be in Artist’s Alley with my friend Jim Zub at tables  Berry 5 and Berry 6. Jim and I also have three panels together! My schedule is posted here on the official FanX site, and I’ll break it out for you below.

If there’s Schlock Mercenary merchandise you’d like to acquire at the show, email and Sandra will make sure we’ve got it on hand. we’re packing a little light this year, because there’s just not much room at these tables, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring the stuff you want².


My FanX Schedule


  • 1:00 PM—Why Webcomics Matter, 255E: Aneeka Richins, Howard Tayler, and Jim Zub talk about what twenty years of webcomics³ have meant to the industry, and the world
  • 3:00 PM, 255E—Funny Books Can Actually Be Funny: Howard Tayler and Jim Zub tell you how to write comedy for comics
  • 5:00 PM, 255F—Real Science in Sci-Fi Literature and Film: Charlie Pulsipher, Sarah E. Seeley, John Steiner, Eric Swedin, and Howard Tayler help you put enough science into your writing to sell the story to the reader.


  • 12:00 PM, 255E—RPGs and Empathy: Aaron Burton, Laura Hickman, Tracy Hickman, Whitney Johnson, Josh Lee, Daniel Swenson, and Howard Tayler discuss how role playing games can turn us into better people. For real.


  • 2:00 PM, 255C—Spotlight on Jim Zub: Howard Tayler holds Jim Zub’s feet to the flames and leads the audience in a quest to find out everything there is to know about the enigmatic word-putting storysmith behind the Skullkickers, Wayward, and Samurai Jack comics
  • 6:00 PM, 250A—Writing Excuses, The Panel: Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells talk about writing, and then go meta by talking about talking about writing. Lots of talking, but it’s going to be way more fun than I just made it sound.

Table Times

We don’t have posted table times yet, but Jim and I will definitely be there a lot, along with Stacy and Sandra. If we’re not there (like, if we need to put food into our selves) we’ll make sure to have a sign up letting you know when we’ll be back.

Artist’s Alley is literally° the first thing you hit if you come through the General Admission door on the south (the left side of the map). If you follow the crowd due north along the avenue between the tables and the booths, Berry 5 & 6 will be the fifth and sixth things you see on your left.


We should be pretty easy to find.


¹ Full name: “Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Experience,” which is too long and kind of confusing. FanX will get you there.

² Assuming that what you want is something we still have in stock at the warehouse, of course.

³ Actually, it’s been twenty-three years. As far as I know, the first comic to be posted online for http access via web browsers was Doctor Fun, which appeared in 1993. But even if something beat Doctor Fun by a few weeks or months, 1993 was when the Web was born, so that’s our start date.

° Two things here. First, we mean “literally” as in “actually.” Not “literally” as in “your head will literally explode.” Which it will not, no matter how cool our tables are. Second, I ran out of alt-key codes for superscript numbers, and was too lazy⁴ to look up the HTML codes for a superscript 4.

⁴ Somebody else found it for me. 




A Planet Mercenary Update

I just posted an update to the Planet Mercenary Kickstarter page. Here’s most of it:

We plan to ship in September 2016, rather than in May as originally planned. May is now impossible, and even July would mean rushing the editing and final layout phases. We don’t want to “rush” anything. We want this book to amaze and delight you. And now we plan for that delighted amazement to land in Autumn rather than Spring.

  • Backers can change their shipping addresses using their Backerkit links (email, if you’ve lost your link. We’ll re-send it to you.)
  • This schedule should let us have PDFs out to all backers in July.
  • If you will be at GenCon in August, we will have a few advance copies for people to handle, but not to take home.

(Details on the schedule slip are below. Please don’t be distracted by this picture of an Ursumari and a Human)

Art by Rodolpho Langhi
Art by Rodolpho Langhi

Back in December we began working with Patrick Kapera, who is serving as our editor, and as an RPG expert who does not know the Schlock Mercenary universe. When Patrick joined us he was pleased to see that we were much closer to a finished product than he expected us to be. We were not, however, as close to a finished product as we thought we were.

At that point we expected that we would be sending things to our printer in April rather than February. Shipping to the printer in April would have meant that we could ship books to backers in July, and then have books to sell at GenCon Indy in August. During the last week of February, however, we carefully evaluated the progress we’d made, and realized that April wasn’t realistic.

Sandra and I decided immediately that we would not try to have the books at GenCon¹. That would have been terribly unfair to you, our backers, who wouldn’t receive your Planet Mercenary goodies until after people who bought them at the convention.

With this decision made, we knew that the earliest we could ship books to our backers would be September of 2016. We are now driving toward sending books to the printer by mid-June, and shipping things to backers 90 days later (it takes 90 days for our printer to turn around an order of this size.)

So where are we, really, in terms of the book?

  • Editing is 100% done on the Mayhem Cards and Mayhem rules. This means the cards can go to print now.
  • Editing is 75% done on the rules text.  These sections on character creation, basic rules, ship combat, charter rules, and equipment are by far the most time-consuming part of the editing, because there are words that must be used very precisely to avoid confusion.
  • Layout is running in parallel. As pages clear Patrick’s queue, they get final layout. Overall, the layout is only about 10% done, but every day more pages get finished.
  • Art is about half done. We took a long break when we realized that we needed much more layout finished before we could know what art to go get. During March, April, and May we’ll be grinding hard on the art.
  • The “fluff” text is about 75% done. Once Patrick reaches that stage, he and Howard will be blasting through it very quickly. Patrick’s job is to make sure that Howard tells players what they need to know while finishing the various worlds, cities, warrens, and Big-Dumb-Objects that will go into this book. In word-count terms, Howard probably has another 15,000 words to write. That’s about a week of work, once Howard knows which 15,000 words Patrick wants players to have.

It’s worth noting that one of the most popular elements of this project, the in-universe copy ofThe Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries, is coming along nicely. Howard has about 3,000 words to write here, but we already have book-blanks in hand that are telling us we’ve picked the right paper, and the right aspect ratio for the pages.

There is a remote possibility that the 70MoMEM books will go to the printer early—far enough ahead of the core RPG book that we will be able to ship Maxim books separately. We’ll post an update if the print schedule and the shipping budget can be aligned to make that happen.

We’re sorry to slip the schedule, but we believe that the extra three months are necessary for us to deliver an RPG that meets the high standards you’ve come to expect from us. Thank you for your patience, and again, thank you for your generous, enthusiastic support for this project.

—The Planet Mercenary Team
Howard, Sandra, Alan, and Patrick

1: Yes, this decision costs us about $10,000 in lost sales at GenCon Indy. We budgeted this project independently of selling things at GenCon, so we’re not actually losing any money by doing this. We’ll find other things to sell in Indianapolis this August.

Gods of Egypt

GodsOfEgyptGods of Egypt is a secondary world fantasy which, for reasons I cannot divine, was branded with Egyptian mythological names. It didn’t need Egypt at all, and probably would have been stronger if it had dropped all pretense of being Egyptian, and simply told a story that stood up to the pretty amazing quality of the effects.

The effects? So pretty. Some of the battle scenes are worthy of blockbuster summer releases, passing the tests of comprehensibility, story, and character arc while being a visual treat.

Ra’s ship, moving the sun across the sky? Stunning in its physics-defying absurdity, right up to the point that this might as well be a flat world scenario… and then lo, it’s a flat world after all (with apologies to Walt Disney and Terry Pratchett.)

The goddess whose bracelet prevents the demons of the netherworld from claiming her? SO COOL when she uses that bracelet for something reckless, stupid, and effective. It would have been even better if this had been her story, and hadn’t been set in Fake Egypt, and hrr—

I was going to add a third item to that “even better if” list, but the list ballooned into a script for a completely different movie so I deleted it.

Gods of Egypt did manage one thing: it cleared my Threshold of Disappointment by virtue of being cool to look at when I was in the mood to simply look at cool stuff. It doesn’t really qualify as a popcorn flick, and fails completely to leverage the mystique of ancient Egypt for anything other than the initial ticket sale. That alone promises to disappoint a large number of people who want more from their movie money than I wanted today.

Life, The Universe, and ConFusion this weekend

This weekend I’ll be attending the 42nd annual ConFusion science fiction and fantasy convention, aptly dubbed “Life, The Universe, and ConFusion.”

I’m not on any panels, because I didn’t want to be on any panels. I’m not selling anything, because I didn’t want to be stuck in the dealers’ room. I’ll have a badge, but I’m not really *at* the convention as anything other than as an attendee who is taking a vacation this weekend.

PlanetMercenaryLogo-250pxExcept, of course, for the bit where I’m running a Planet Mercenary RPG session on Saturday morning with several of the convention’s notable guests as players. That’s a little bit like work, and it’s something that fans can come and watch. When it’s done, I will hide in my room and edit a bunch of the Planet Mercenary stuff, focusing on the bits my party of fine storytellers and wordsmiths ran roughshod over.

If you want me to sign something, or sketch in a book, I will do that for you, provided you don’t try to get me to do it during the RPG session, or while I’m eating.

If you want to talk to me, hey, that’s cool, assuming you choose to do this in a setting where approaching people for conversation is appropriate. If I’m not feeling approachable, I’ll probably hide in my room and write.