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The Blue Tracer – Military Comics #1, August 1941

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Today is Veteran’s Day, a holiday which evolved from Armistice Day. Originally intended to recognize veterans of World War I, the holiday’s purpose was changed after World War Two to honor veterans of all United States wars. This is not the same thing as Memorial Day, which is intended to remember those who have died in American wars. Over the years the two have become not only conflated but nearly reversed in the minds of many citizens. Memorial Day was intended as a day of sombre remembrance. With the rise in the 1950’s of “consumer culture”, Memorial Day devolved into a happy, albeit unofficial (as well as astronomically incorrect), “first day of summer” rather than a day to remember the fallen. Veterans Day (somewhat unconsciously) in the minds of many became a conflated military holiday for recognizing the living and memorializing the dead. More

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The Deacon character sheet for the Hideouts & Hoodlums roleplaying game

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Obscure? Here at The Big Blog o’Fun we love obscurity! (And by “we” I mean “me” because this is essentially a one man show. Get yer own soapbox on a different corner, kid.). In the previous two blog posts we’ve all been enjoying the adventures of an obscure, somewhat goofy, 1940’s character named The Deacon who made his four color home in the pages of Cat-Man Comics. It was only natural that I’d want to stat out The Deacon for use as a character in the Hideouts & Hoodlums roleplaying game, itself something of an obscurity (and very undeservedly so, as it puts a whole new twist on old school RPGs. Instead of yet another elf/dwarf/magic fantasy retro-clone, H&H explores a whole different, completely unique concept: what if The World’s First Roleplaying Game Which I’m Not Allowed To Legally Mention By Name had been based on Golden Age comic books instead of the Tolkeinesque fantasy genre?). More

Blitzkrieg crime wave! – Cat-Man Comics #5, December 1941

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In the previous post to The Big Blog o’Fun we met a Holyoke “mystery man” character known as The Deacon. In that post I mentioned that I’d seen The Deacon described on another web page as being similar to Batman but “with religious overtones”, and I went on to question that assertion. In the week subsequent to my post that web page has been edited and the phrase has been deleted. Interesting… More

Blackhawk: Death and Resurrection (Part Three) – Military Comics #10, June 1942

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The last two posts to this blog were occasioned by the oft-repeated myth that, after his apparent death, the French airman André was reintroduced to Quality Comics’ Blackhawk series without any explanation for his reappearance. In those post, we’ve seen the stories which contained his apparent death and his (wholly explained) reappearance; now we’ll finish the trilogy with the tale that completes André’s reintroduction to the team. More

Blackhawk: Death and Resurrection (Part One) – Military Comics #3, October 1941

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A few months ago I noticed that this blog was getting an occasional visitor from a reader (or readers) in China. I was cracking wise on my Facebook page about how my blog hadn’t yet been blocked by the Chinese government and I wondered what I was doing wrong.

This post’ll be the one that does it. More

A lynching is no laughing matter – Silver Streak Comics #13, August 1941

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The early 1970’s Green Arrow/Green Lantern teamups are among the most often republished comic books of all time. Written by Dennis O’Neil and drawn by Neal Adams, these “street level” tales found the heroes tackling a variety of contemporary social and economic injustices which included discrimination and drug abuse. These stories are often cited (in various documentaries, as well as in print) as being the first time that comic books addressed “real world” injustice, but that statement is wholly incorrect. As far back as 1941, costumed heroes were occasionally confronted with socioeconomic dilemmas. More

Torchy’s Back! (And her front’s looking pretty nice, too!) – Modern Comics #55, Nov. 1946

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. I’ve been pretty busy with some paid writing and narration work (some of which even involves Golden Age comics!*), so there hasn’t been much time left to write for fun. That’s too bad, too – I have a couple of posts containing some good historical info percolating in the back of my brain right now. So, in the absence of any real substance, how about a little bit of Torchy instead? Nah, I didn’t think you’d object… More

Hideouts & Hoodlums Roleplaying Game – The Raven

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As mentioned often in this blog, I’m an occasional contributor to the Hideouts & Hoodlums roleplaying game. H&H is based on Golden Age comic books; while the game encourages players to create and play their own characters, it’s certainly possible to adapt actual Golden Age comic heroes for use in the game (either as player characters or NPCs). That’s exactly what H&H designer Scott Casper has done in the game’s latest supplement booklet entitled Captain, Magicians, and Incredible Men, Pt. 1 (a publication which was recently featured in this blog’s virtual pages).

While Captain, Magicians, and Incredible Men, Pt. 1 is packed full of 1930’s and 1940’s comic characters, the author’s just one guy – which is why some characters aren’t fully statted out and many other cool, deserving characters regrettably had to be omitted from its pages. While flipping through the Keltner Index, I noticed a character who absolutely should have been in the supplement but had to be excluded due to time constraints: Ace Magazines’ character The Raven. More

Captains, Magicians, and Incredible Men

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First: a disclaimer. This is not a review – it’s a preview. Although I derive no direct commercial benefit from the book in question, I am connected with the company which produces Hideouts & Hoodlums, and I’ve written a published adventure module for the game (see sidebar on the right of this page).

As I’ve mentioned many times before, Hideouts & Hoodlums is a tabletop roleplaying game based on superhero comics of the Golden Age (1938 to the early 1950’s) with a secondary, rather unique, conceit. Back in the 1970’s, when Gygax and Arneson created the First Fantasy Roleplaying Game Which Was Totally New, Unique, Awesome, And Changed The Gaming Universe Forever (I hope that satisfies the trademark lawyers), what if they’d been fans of old school comics instead of fantasy literature? What would their trailblazer roleplaying game have looked like? More

Hideouts & Hoodlums Roleplaying Game – New issue of The Trophy Case!

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I neglected to mention this a couple of weeks ago when it hit the virtual newsstands — the latest issue of The Trophy Case, the quarterly Hideouts & Hoodlums RPG newsletter, is here! And, best of all (and most unusually), it contains not one single blessed word cribbed from The Big Blog o’Fun! More

Hideouts and Hoodlums: The Trophy Case Vol. 2 No. 1 has arrived!

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It’s that time again! The Trophy Case, the quarterly magazine supporting the Hideouts and Hoodlums roleplaying game, hit the virtual racks at RPGNow earlier this week, so head over there right now to pick up your free copy! The new issue is the biggest one yet and is chock full of goodies, including articles which can be read and enjoyed by non-gamers as well as an item or three which can be used in any comic-based superhero RPG. More

Hideouts & Hoodlums roleplaying game: Sons of the Feathered Serpent is finally here!

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Finally – my much-ballyhooed first Hideouts & Hoodlums RPG adventure module, Sons of the Feathered Serpent, is now available for purchase! Crammed within its 47 action-packed pages, written by yours truly, you’ll find all kinds of pulpy Golden Age comic goodness, like gangsters, femme fatales, zoot suited pachucos, dangerous robots, weird science, flying snakes, ray guns, poison gas, newsies with slingshots, a generous helping of sex and violence, an alligator or two, a mad scientist, and even some flaming poultry. Yes, that’s right — flaming poultry! More

Nazi soldier stats for the Hideouts & Hoodlums roleplaying game

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The Hideouts & Hoodlums roleplaying game contains plenty of material for Golden Age comics fun; there are all kinds of villains, animals, robots, and mythological creatures to choose from when populating a hideout. But I’m surprised that there are no specific stats for Axis soldiers, especially considering the game’s setting and time period. Comic book heroes of the Golden Age are often seen giving German soldiers a well-deserved drubbing. More

Giant Nazi robots! – Captain Aero Comics #1, December 1941

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American devotees of “geek culture” have this strange, intense fascination with Nazi “super science”. I don’t mention this at all critically – I’m right there with you. The very first comic book I owned had a now-legendary example right on the splash page: More

New! Trophy Case #7! And it’s FREE!

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The new issue of The Trophy Case just hit RPGNow! It’s free and it’s fun!

In this latest issue, you’ll find the newest tweaks and rules for the Hideouts & Hoodlums 1940’s adventure roleplaying game — including the new (and complete!) Aviator class, plus improvements to Scientists and Mystery Men. There’s also an interview with yours truly about the forthcoming H&H module Sons of the Feathered Serpent.

Even if you’re not an H&H player, there’s still some good reading in its pages. Scott Casper includes some nice capsule descriptions of a lot of 1940’s comic book characters, plus a writeup of a recent adventure in the legendary Reuter Mansion, and Scott provides some comic book news and previews!

Best of all, The Trophy Case is FREE! FREE, I say! Go download your very own FREE PDF of The Trophy Case at RPGNow!

Have fun! — Steve

Hideouts & Hoodlums RPG: The Trophy Case #6 is out now!

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Great Scott Games has released the latest quarterly issue of the official Hideouts & Hoodlums magazine: The Trophy Case #6 is available now, and it’s free for download! More

Suspension of disbelief

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You start with a blank sheet of graph paper, a pencil, and a few ideas.

Anyone who’s run a roleplaying game (at least those who did so before the days of computers and pre-printed cardstock “terrain tiles”) has been here. You begin by staring at the blank sheet for a few moments, then you start to fill in walls, rooms, and passages. It doesn’t matter whether you’re creating a subterranean dungeon for a sword-and-sorcery game, a secret missile complex for an espionage campaign, or a science-fiction space station, the basic process remains essentially the same. You’re playing at being an architect, taking a stab at designing a believable physical structure. That’s the easy part. More

NEW Hideouts & Hoodlums Supplement!

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Great Scott Games has just released the new supplementary rulebook for the Hideouts & Hoodlums roleplaying game. While the title Better Quality is derived from the title of a 1940’s comic book, the supplement’s contents remains true to that title. More

“The Vindicators” chapter index

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For my visitors who want to read my 1930’s pulp/”mystery men” serial The Vindicators, but don’t know where to find the previous chapters, I’ve indexed them in this post. More

The Green Dusenberg

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For those who came in late…

The time is the 1930s. A string of lethal tenement fires is plaguing the town of St. Nicholas, Maryland. A vigilante team of costumed “mystery men” known as The Vindicators investigating the suspected arsons discover an old subterranean bootleggers’ hideout which is now being used for some other unknown purpose. One of the team, Jed Singletary (a.k.a. The Twilight Phantom) has just made another interesting discovery at the county records office… More

Back from vacation

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I’ve returned from my vacation, which came just in the nick of time. As a writer/editor by trade, I’d reached a point at which I was really sick and tired of the writing process and very much needed a break. It was tough enough to meet my paid professional commitments; as for the “hobby” stuff, I couldn’t even think about this blog without wanting to throw up.

It’s been a hectic last two weeks. More