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Writing

Interview With Darlene Jacobson!

Kat & Tat reached out to Darlene Jacobson, a well known author, to hear more about her writing journey!

1. What inspired you to become an author?

Thanks so much Tatiana and Katya for inviting me to your blog today. I am really excited to share my author experiences with your followers.

I’ve had a love of reading since I was a girl. I also loved making up stories in my head. As I’d gotten older, and had a few short stories published, I realized I wanted to try and write a novel. I made a couple attempts while my kids were younger and was able to write some horrible stories from beginning to end. So, I knew I could do it. But to do it well, I really needed to learn from those who wrote the kind of books I wanted to write. The books that resonated with me were the ones with kids who solved their own problems and tried to figure things out. 

The thing that also motivated me was the idea of leaving something lasting behind after I’m gone from this earth. To be able to pen a book that children will value and enjoy reading seemed like a way to immortality. Don’t we still treasure the books from authors of our own childhood who are no longer with us?

2. What are some advantages of being a KidLit author?

Being a kid lit author means I get to hang out with other authors who write some of the most amazing books! And, I get invited to classrooms to meet amazing kids who tell me how much they enjoyed my books. Getting thank you notes from kids is something I never expected and it always makes me smile. I realize how lucky I am to be able to do what I love and have it make a difference in a child’s life.

3. What are some disadvantages of being a KidLit author?

I can’t think of any disadvantages. Maybe just the fact that because of Covid, and remote learning, many classroom visits have been put on hold. I miss being with young people and look forward to sharing my books with them again. I’ve had a few virtual visits, but in person is something I miss.

4. What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an author?

Read a lot of books in the genre you want to write. Study the craft of writing by taking workshops, going to conferences, and sharing your writing with critique partners. Write something everyday if you can, even if it’s only a paragraph. The only way to get better at writing is to do it. Be prepared to accept criticism and rejection and learn from it. One thing I’ve learned, editors want good manuscripts that they can turn into good books. They aren’t rejecting you to be mean. Keep writing to improve your craft and stay with it. I was rejected by 36 agents before I got a call from Liza Flessig offering representation for my first novel WHEELS OF CHANGE. If I had given up after ten or even twenty, I wouldn’t be talking to you today.

5. Tell us about your books.

Both WHEELS OF CHANGE (WOC –  Creston) and WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (WISHES – Creston) are historical middle grade novels. 

The first one, (WOC) which you’ve read Katya, takes place in 1908 Washington DC during the last months of Theodore Roosevelt’s Administration. It deals with the sweeping social and industrial changes that are on the horizon and threaten Emily and her carriage maker father’s way of life. Racial intolerance, women’s suffrage, factory mechanization, are things the family must come to terms as well as deciding which changes are worth fighting for.

My recent novel, WISHES, is written in verse and set in the summer of 1964. Jack’s dad is MIA in Vietnam, and he, his sister Katy, and their mom are spending the summer with his dad’s family. Jack would rather be home moping and missing his dad than pretending to be happy with his grandparents. Until he meets a girl named Jill, who is trying to escape her bully of a brother.  They hang out together, along with Katy, and catch a fish named Fred. A fish who grants wishes.  A fish that could be the answer to Jack’s problem.  But when Jill makes a wish of her own, things don’t turn out the way they expect because every wish has a consequence.

6. What are you currently working on?

I am working on another noble in verse. It was such a joy writing WISHES in that format, I wanted to try another novel that way.

7. Plans for 2021?

It’s kind of hard to make any plans that involve author visits and the like while we are all still in the midst of Covid restrictions. I hope that by the fall, I’ll be able to go back to visiting classrooms, attending book fairs, and having in-person events with other authors.

Find more HERE

Review: Saving Breakfast with The Breakfast Bunch

Are you looking for a new series to start your morning with? Well, do I have the comic for you! Meet The Breakfast Bunch, a new comic written and created by Ryan Little. The story follows a group of cereal mascots, or “Breakers,” given the task to find the legendary treasure known as the Perfectly Balanced Breakfast as a dangerous foe rises up to steal this treasure. So sit down and grab a bowl of your favorite cereal, here is my spoiler-free review of the first issue of The Breakfast Bunch.

Right at the beginning, the reader is made aware of the threat that the characters will be facing. From what the reader is being told, a blight is ruining the crops that are grown to make each type and brand of cereal, and our heroes must find the three magic items that create “The Perfectly Balanced Breakfast” to defeat the blight and restore balance to the kingdom. As previously mentioned, the characters are mascots (known as Breakers) of their cereal brand and their cereal contains a different kind of magic, depending on which breaker’s cereal is being consumed. Just one bite of their cereal and BAM!! The consumer gains a portion of that magical power. While there are many different Breakers, the story focuses on three (so far): Commodore Crackle, Midknight, and Fortu-Nat. Commodore seems to be the leader of the group, given that she was given the task by her master Honey before they parted ways. She’s also charming, headstrong, and helps new Breakers with finding themselves while they start creating their brand of cereal. With Midknight’s character, he’s the mascot of the last homegrown cereal and from the looks of it, he’s still trying to figure out how to put that special magic into his cereal. Fortunately, he’s had Commodore teaching him how to get there. Despite the small setbacks, he has plenty of confidence in his abilities and doesn’t let anything bring him down. As for Fortu-Nat, it’s a bit tricky figuring out her character, given that she was introduced near the end of the first issue. She has a bit of a mischievous rogue-like side to her, but not to the point where she’s a villain. Other than the main protagonists, I love the villain of this story. While he’s only had a small amount of “screentime,” the evil that the heroes will face made a strong enough impression on me. From the few pages he’s shown up in, this villain is going to be a looming shadow throughout the series. He hasn’t even been addressed by a given name and he’s done more than enough to prove that he can back up his words. Along with destroying the crops, he’s also stolen boxes of cereals (along with the mascots) in order to have more power and claim the three relics for himself. I can’t wait to see how much trouble he’ll give our heroes. What I also love is how the story makes sure to give some attention to the real world, given that it seems to affect the Breakers’ strength and ability to keep on existing. At least, that’s what I’m understanding from the explanation (I could be wrong). Which brings up the question: what happens to a breaker if their cereal is discontinued? Given how severe the results could be, I can’t wait to see where that could come into play.

Along with the story, writing, and characters, it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the art style. The art style has a cartoonish feel to it, but not to where it becomes distracting during the serious moments. It’s an art style that both older and younger audiences would enjoy. Honestly, the cover left me unprepared for what was in store for me, which is a good thing. At first, I thought it was going to be a goofy fantasy adventure story, but after the first few pages, I knew that there was much more to the bigger picture. While there are moments where the characters are smiley and goofy, the writer doesn’t hold back when things have to get serious, especially at the beginning. Like the perfect breakfast, the different shades of colors (bright and dark) are perfectly balanced and complement each other. Even the characters, with their different designs, to go with their cereal brand, help balance each other out. 

After reading all of this, the big question that’s popped into your brain is “That’s nice and all, but where can I read this comic that you’re reviewing and praising?” Unfortunately, at this time only the first 16 pages of The Breakfast Bunch can be read on its Kickstarter page, which made it past the original (big congrats on the achievement). In other words, I don’t know if it’ll be available in stores for those that want to read the story but were unable to support the Kickstarter. However, I’ll be keeping an eye out for any news of future releases of the series. The second I see and/or hear any news, I’ll be sure to re-tweet it online for anyone that is interested. For those that are interested in a taste of the adventure, here is a link to the Kickstarter page HERE

You can also follow Ryan Little on Twitter @PlasticSwordPrs for any updates on upcoming projects.


Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Need coverage? Please send an email to Allagesofhr@gmail.com

Tracy Preston is a contributing writer at All Ages of Geek. You can follow her/him/them on Twitter @CuriousCat_13 and Instagram @curiouscat_13.

Tracy’s 15 Favorite Monster Hunter Elder Dragons

Elder dragons: ancient monsters that are so rare and powerful, that by simply existing they can affect the environment around them; in other words, they’re literal forces of nature. Some can summon intense electrical storms, while others are living mountains. The reason this list is so long is that it’s the elder dragons, it was impossible for me to narrow it down to only five or ten (also there is no particular order of favoritism). While I haven’t hunted all of them enough to create a full set of equipment, each one has left a strong enough impression to be put on this list. So grab your farcasters and ancient potions, it’s time to take a look at fifteen of my favorite elder dragons.

15: Kirin 

As one of the smallest elder dragons, Kirin is one unicorn that hunters have learned to not take lightly. While it might not look like much, the Kirin has been able to take out a full hunting party with little to no effort. How does it take out full parties? Well, it likes to hop and prance about while summoning bolts of lightning. It also likes to kick and charge with its horn. Although I don’t enjoy fighting the Kirin, I still find its overall design enjoyable to observe. Along with the resemblance of a unicorn, the Kirin’s body is covered with scales (as opposed to hair) and has a majestic mane of white fur on its head and neck, not to mention that the fur is also on the end of its tail and near the hooves. A simple, yet effective and memorable design, which always brings about different emotions whenever anyone sees it in the area.

Kirin | Monster Hunter World Wiki
Photo from monsterhunterworld.wiki.fextralife.com

14: Teostra

The lion king of explosions and fire. While there are mixed feelings among the hunters about hunting the Teostra, I personally find a good challenge in the hunt. With the way he spreads explosive powders from his fur into the wind like pollen, only to detonate it into an explosion with his teeth, it never stops making the hunt exciting. Also, as a super special attack, Teostra can create a supernova-like explosion that covers a large area. This attack has claimed a number of hunters, even veterans can get unlucky and take a massive hit. Along with the explosive fur powder, Teostra is also able to breathe fire, which also brings plenty of pain to hunters. Even if you are able to dodge these attacks, the Teostra still has plenty of claws, teeth, and a tail to deal damage with. While the other members of the list all have fantastic designs, Teostra’s is one that always has a way to stand out. Like the Kirin and Kushala Daora, Teostra always finds a way to return.

Teostra - Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Wiki Guide - IGN
Photo from ign.com

13: Lunastra

The sapphire-colored queen of flames who will fight alongside the king, which makes the hunt interesting, and more challenging, when they’re together. While she used to have the same explosive abilities that Teostra has, Lunastra went through some changes when she moved to Monster Hunter: World. Now, a blue powder is spread about and creates blue flames that can sap away at a hunter’s health (if they don’t have equipment that protects them from it). She has similar regular attack patterns to Teostra (i.e. claw and tail swipes) Also, as a super move, Lunastra can fire a heat wave that drains a hunter’s health at a more dramatic rate. That’s not all that hunters have to worry about, oh no. Not only is there a health-draining heat wave, but the heat creates a large area of blue flames that are difficult to avoid. If that wasn’t bad enough, wind pressure is created from all this to keep unlucky hunters trapped inside. Oh yeah, remember when I mentioned that Lunastra and Teostra can fight together? Due to their bond, they can bring out a one of a kind move called a “special bond attack,” which is a combination of Teo’s supernova and Luna’s heatwave. While it doesn’t happen too often (unless you let the hunt drag on), it’s quite the terrifying experience. Other than that, it’s fun to watch the queen in action every once in a while. 

Monster Hunter: World - Title Update: Lunastra arrives on November 22! -  Steam News
Photo from store.steampowered.com

12: Kushala Daora

Kushala Doara is another elder dragon that I rarely hunt but still love nonetheless. Kushala’s design, while not super flashy, is still memorable and breath-taking. It’s a dragon with shiny metal skin that can control the wind (as in create crazy tornados) . Sure, its wind attacks can be a pain to deal with, but that can be fixed with poison weapons. But yeah, there’s not much that I have to say about Kushala. It’s cool looking and the equipment that you can forge from it are pretty cool as well, they give off a Greek or Roman mythology kind of vibe in its design.

Kushala Daora MHW : MonsterHunter
Photo from reddit.com

11: Nakarkos

The Nakarkos is a massive cuttlefish-like monster that hangs around with bones and uses said bones as lures. This elder dragon was one of the final hunts in the main story for Monster Hunter Generations and it shows. This thing can destroy entire ecosystems just to satisfy its never-ending appetite, giving the Deviljho a run for its money. But yeah, I love the overall hunt and just the whole design of this thing. It’s challenging, it’s weird, and it’s just an awesome and epic fight. You start off just fighting the lures, which are covered in the bones of specific monsters (that it has devoured) and uses the abilities of said monsters to fight back. Do enough damage and hunters facing this monster for the first time are faced with a crazy plot-twist. What they’ve been fighting this whole time isn’t even the monster’s real face. While the hunters were spending most of their energy dealing with the lures, Nakaros’s real face had been biding its time to strike when the timing was perfect. Once it turns around, the fight becomes 100% more epic and adds an extra challenge, given the numerous ways it can deal status ailments (almost all of them) hunters (which the bone lures are responsible for). Even for veterans that have taken all of this knowledge to heart, this elder dragon can still provide a challenging hunt. As for the equipment that can be crafted, it has a macabre tone to it that also makes it eerily beautiful. All-in-all, Nakarkos is definitely one of the most creative monsters CAPCOM has created, not just as an elder dragon but as an overall monster.  

Nakarkos True Decayed Skull Male Armor - Blossom Layered 2.0 at Monster  Hunter: World - Mods and community
Photo from nexusmods.com

10: Vaal Hazak (both versions)

The elder dragon that would fit in perfectly in the world of a number of survival horror games (i.e. Resident Evil, Silent Hill, The Evil Within). Given the title “Corpse Coat Dragon,” Vaal Hazak is one of the elder dragons that reminds fans that CAPCOM is more than capable of creating creepy monsters (even though it’s impossible to forget that fact). When it’s not sleeping under a literal pile of corpses, Vaal Hazak enjoys taking lovely strolls through the Rotten Vale. While going on its stroll, it has a habit of constantly emitting a miasma that slowly saps away at the strength and health of all who come into contact with it. This miasma (soon given the name Effluvium) is one of the reasons this hunt can lead to challenges for hunters. Without the proper equipment to counter the Effluvium, the hunt becomes tedious with the numerous healing items being used. So not only do you have to be careful about being in close proximity and dodge its regular attacks, Val Hazak can fire this Effluvium from its mouth and even create a massive cloud. If this wasn’t crazy enough, Vaal Hazak’s more powerful version, the Blackveil Vaal Hazak adds more challenges to the hunt. Blackveil is where you take a regular Vaal Hazak and combine it with spores from The Last of Us (although it’s more moss than fungus). Thanks to the moss (I say with great sarcasm), the Effluvium has an easier time affecting enemies and prey (although it does make the elder dragon look awesome). While the weapons aren’t anything to write home about, the armor itself has a hauntingly beautiful macabre look to it (not to mention that it provides protection against that pesky Effluvium). But yeah, both versions of Vaal Hazak are nightmare fuel and I love it.

Ruler of the Vale (Vaal Hazak Render) : MonsterHunter
Photo from reddit.com
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Blackveil Vaal Hazak Guide - How to Defeat  Vaal Hazak | Tips | Prima Games
Photo from primagames.com

9: Namielle

The queen of the sea that has one of the best and most breath-taking introduction cutscenes in the entire series. If you love sea-life in every shape and form, you’re going to love Namielle. I still remember when some of my friends told me about this elder dragon and were hyping me up for this encounter. Every once in a while, I look up this specific cutscene online, just to relive the moment. Namielle is the combination of numerous deep sea creatures, but her design is done so perfectly that everything flows perfectly. Along with the bioluminescence abilities of deep sea life, Namielle also has the characteristics of jellyfish (hence her occasional electricity attacks) and manta rays. Given her design, Namielle mainly attacks with water, which also affects her appearance (use too much water and she literally dries up), but will also add some electricity to spice things up. Namielle also has some of the most beautiful equipment in Monster Hunter World, with the way it glows and really brings out the ocean’s beauty. This hunt will always be one of my favorites and I’m always up for facing Namielle whenever someone wants to hunt this absolute treasure of an elder dragon.

Tomorrow's Monster Hunter World: Iceborne update adds Arch-tempered Namielle
Photo from vg247.com

8: Nergigante

This elder dragon has two main goals that it lives by: destroy everything in its path and eat other elder dragons, hence its title “the Extinction Dragon.” As the flagship monster for Monster Hunter World, Nergigante shows up in numerous parts of the main story to give the hunters plenty of trouble when they’re already dealing with another elder dragon. Unlike other elder dragons, that have status ailment abilities, Nergigante solely relies on brute force to overwhelm hunters and its prey. With its body covered in tough, regenerative spikes and its massive horns (don’t even get me started on its claws and fangs), this elder dragon can give even the most skilled of veteran hunters a run for their zenny. Nergigante is an elder that made me go “never again” after hunting it in a mandatory story quest, then proceeded to cry when I learned that I had to hunt it at least two more times later on. However, despite my desire to never face this terror again, I still love its design. While the weapons only look breath-takingly awesome in their final upgrade form, the armor has a barbarian look to it (which really fits Nergigante’s behavior). Hopefully Nergigante won’t find its way to Monster Hunter Rise, I don’t think I’ll be able to handle that if it happens. 

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne - MHW:I Monster Figure: Nergigante on Steam
Photo from store.steampowered.com

7: Chameleos

Chameleos is one elder dragon that more than deserves to make a comeback to the series. If the name itself isn’t a big enough clue, Chameleos’s design is largely based on the chameleon. A weird, giant chameleon. The eyes, the feet, the tail…heck, even the way it occasionally walks is inspired by the very reptile. Given its unpredictable behavior, hunters are constantly kept on their toes with its various abilities that can change the flow of the hunt. It can breathe out a fog (which can also be a poison cloud) that can help it camouflage with its surroundings and suddenly attack hunters (usually from behind). If that wasn’t tough enough, Chameleos can also use its tongue to steal items from hunters, so keep a sharp eye on your item pouch or you’ll find yourself missing an essential healing item. But yeah, this elder dragon moves and acts weird and I love it. Some of the equipment are given a unique design that works really well with the monster itself. The armor set reminds me of a djinn (or genie), which makes the designs of the hammer, hunting horn, and bow gun even more brilliant (genie’s lamp design). Given how long it’s been since we’ve seen Chameleos, I would love to see and hunt this brilliant elder dragon again in Rise

What a monster needs to be classified as Elder? I don't see Chameleos as  dangerous as Rajang/Deviljho/Zinogre : MonsterHunter
Photo from reddit.com

6: Shagaru Magala

Remember when I talked about the Gore Magala in the previous Monster Hunter article? Shagaru Magala is what it becomes after it’s fully grown and has shed its skin enough times. This frenzy virus elder dragon of a brilliant gold color is more brutal and vicious than its immature stage, which makes the final in-store confrontation all the more memorable. Throughout the story of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, every encounter with Gore Magala has been building up for this big moment. The hunters know that it’s just at its immature stage, that it’s going to get bigger and more dangerous and now we get to see what that stage is like and it’s glorious. Heck, with titles like “Heavenly Revolving Dragon” or “Heaven’s Wheel,” it’s almost ironic given how it affects the numerous ecosystems. At the same time, it’s all the more fitting given how it feels like you’re fighting a fallen angel. Even its equipment shouldn’t be as beautiful as it is, but it just works so well. 

Man Of The Monsters — Entry 30 - Gore Magala and Shagaru Magala Name:...
Photo from monster-huntologist.tumblr.com

5: Shara Ishvalda

Shara Ishvalda is one of those endgame hunts that will forever remain in the memories of every hunter that faced it. With its numerous stages and the overall difficulty of the hunt is what makes it both memorable and gives it a spot on my list of favorites. Throughout the stories of both World and Iceborne, hunters have been investigating this mysterious “song” that can be heard throughout the various ecosystems. After numerous investigations, we finally find the source of the song; the source being Shara Ishvalda. At first, you’re fighting a winged being covered in stone that can create vibrations in the earth, which can knock hunters off their balance. Once they chip away enough at the stones, Shara’s true form is revealed. Underneath its earthy armor is a fleshy being of purple, white, and yellow, with fingered “wings” and two bulging yellow eyes. It honestly looks like something straight out of the Souls games. Which makes this elder dragon more unsettling, is the fact that the eyes are constantly staring at you. What I mean is that it’s staring at you, the person playing the game, not your character. So, while you’re trying to avoid getting hit by literal soundwaves, you’re also trying to ignore the fact that this elder dragon is constantly staring into your soul. While the hunt itself is one of the most difficult, completing the hunt is all the more rewarding, giving how breath-taking the equipment is (brings me back to Shagaru Magala’s equipment designs). Fun fact about Shara Ishvalda, it’s design focuses on the ideas of Hinduism (not to be mistaken with Buddhism, which is a different religion).    

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne - MHW:I Monster Figure: Shara Ishvalda 1 on  Steam
Photo from store.steampowered.com
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne - MHW:I Monster Figure: Shara Ishvalda 2 on  Steam
Photo from store.steampowered.com

4: Velkhana

The flagship monster of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is one that I couldn’t avoid talking about. Both beautiful and deadly, Velkhana is an elder dragon that I’ve grown to appreciate in both its design and hunt. This elder dragon probably has one of the most elegant themes in the series (in terms of elder dragon themes), which is perfect given how it acts and its overall design. While it already looks beautiful by itself, Velkhana becomes even more stunning when it covers itself in armor made of ice. I will admit, I didn’t enjoy hunting this elder dragon. Over time, however, I warmed up to it, despite its mastery of the ice elements. Hunting Velkhana reminds me of a pair skating performance, which is honestly the best way I can describe the overall experience. You’re literally dancing around each other, striking only when you see an opening, and it’s really beautiful. The equipment is all the more beautiful as it makes you look like the ruler of an ice kingdom. Honestly, everything about this elder dragon is breathtaking and it will forever hold a special place in my memories. 

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Bestiary Day 3 – Elder Dragon Velkhana -  Game Informer
Photo from gameinformer.com

3: Safi’jiva

While I wanted to put the juvenile form Xeno’jiva on the list, Safi’jiva left a much more powerful impression on me. As the final, fully grownup form of Xeno’jiva, this red dragon (that will never stop reminding me of Smaug from The Hobbit) offers plenty of challenges to all hunters that make it this far in the story of Iceborne. Instead of a hunt, you’re performing a siege to weaken it enough that it can be hunted (which is not easy). It has tough scales, which have to be tenderized before hunters can deal any real damage, and powerful blue blasts of fire and pure energy that can take out a careless hunter in seconds. Along with these attacks, Safi can also absorb energy from the surrounding area to heal any and all damage done to it, before moving to the next stage (yes this hunt had multiple stages). Also, can we take a moment to talk about how breath-taking and terrifying its “sapphire star kiss” ultimate attack is? I know its official name is “Sapphire of the Emperor,” but “Sapphire Star Kiss” sounds just as epic and terrifying. So while you’re trying to avoid and survive everything else Safi’jiva is throwing you, you also have to worry about whenever this ultimate, insta-kill move is going to be fired. You heard me right, this ultimate move will instantly kill any unlucky hunter that doesn’t find cover behind the few indestructible stone pillars in the final stage. Another thing that I love is how epic the music is, which more than fits perfectly with the siege; let’s not forget that moment where there’s silence, minus the heartbeat that can only be heard when Safi sends down the Sapphire Star to bring in that moment of destruction. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to say about the equipment. There are two sets of armor that can be crafted, but I never did that. Also, the weapons are more siege rewards, which can be “awakened” and I never got around to that step. So, I love Safi’jiva’s design, theme song, and the siege/hunt, I’m just not a fan of the equipment part. 

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne - MHW:I Monster Figure: Safi'jiiva on Steam
Photo from store.steampowered.com

2: Gogmazios

CAPCOM!! Please bring back this beautiful elder dragon!! In case that wasn’t a big enough hint, I love Gogmazios. I love its design, its equipment, and even the overall hunt (which is beyond epic). This elder dragon has been in only one game (Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate) and we haven’t seen it since. Covered in indigo scales and tar, with a freaking draginator sticking out of its back, it is both breathtaking and terrifying. It also has this scowling face on its throat (which is kinda cute) that adds plenty of extra character to its design. During the hunt, everyone has to be alert and ready to move when things get hairy, or in this case, avoid getting stuck in puddles of tar and exploded by gunpowder-fueled fire attacks. This thing literally eats gunpowder for breakfast (and every other meal of the day), which adds more punches to its attacks. Heck, its ultimate attack is just Gogmazios firing a super concentrated beam that creates a massive explosion. It might not sound impressive, but when you see this happening in person, it’s a sight to behold. This is also why the only location you can hunt it is in the Battlequarters. As for the equipment, Gogmazios has one of my favorite designs. The weapons are a mixture of medieval torture devices and gothic macabre styles; even the armor is breath-taking. Again, CAPCOM, please bring back Gogmazios, more newcomers to the series need to experience this hunt at least once. Also, I really, really miss the iron maiden hunting horn.  

Gogmazios Siege battle for Iceborne anyone? : MonsterHunterWorld
Photo from reddit.com

1: Fatalis (all of them)

They had to be on this list, it would be a literal crime to not have all of the Fatalis on this list. These are the ultimate elder dragons, the ultimate challenge for hunters to face. When Fatalis was originally introduced, it was an online-only quest and for good reason. The big rule of the Fatalis: you don’t hunt any of them alone. I know that there are hunters that can take one on alone, but come on, it’s more epic and manageable when you have a full party. Whenever there is a new Monster Hunter game, Fatalis will always find its way back to give hunters one final challenge. While there are technically four different Fatalis, I’ve only had the honor of hunting three: Fatalis (aka Black Fatalis), Crimson Fatalis, and the infamous White Fatalis; each offer different levels of challenges. While Fatalis is your standard black-scaled dragon that breathes fire and is only found at Castle Schrade. Crimson Fatalis focuses on fire and is mainly found in the Volcanic Belt environment. After these two is the White Fatalis (also known as the Ancestral Dragon), which is one of the most difficult monsters (in my opinion), and can summon storms that send down red lightning. Yes, you heard me right, White Fatalis summons red lightning, which is a nightmare to deal with. What is even more concerning is the lore. These elder dragons are so powerful that all monsters, including other elder dragons, fear them. And when things get tough, White Fatalis can summon monsters known as the Origin Dragons, which includes the other Fatalis (thankfully this doesn’t happen in the actual hunt). After doing some more research, I also discovered that the Fatalis will melt together hunters that it’s killed and wear them as armor. In other words, it’s mocking every hunter for the very same thing they do with monsters they hunt. Yeah….that’s disturbing beyond words; I wonder if CAPCOM will have us face a Fatalis with literal hunter armor. Also, the lore brings up a rumor that any hunter that wears White Fatalis armor will eventually transform into a White Fatalis (that’s a scary thought). Also anyone that wears the armor of the regular Fatalis is said to hear abyssal screams that lead to them going mad and the Crimson Fatalis’s armor leads to hunters hallucinating and possible possession by a dark entity. But hey, the theme songs are awesome, yeah? So, long story short, if you want your character to live a somewhat decently long life, don’t have them wear any type of Fatalis armor. Oh, who are we kidding? The armor looks awesome and is some of the best in the game.

Monster Hunter World Iceborne's final update adds legendary black dragon  Fatalis • Eurogamer.net
Photo from eurogamer.net
Crimson Fatalis - Monster Hunter Generations Wiki Guide - IGN
Photo from ign.com
wilson nugraha - White Fatalis
Photo/Artwork from wilsonnugrahaa.artstation.com

And there you have it, a long list of my favorite elder dragons (in no particular order) from the Monster Hunter franchise. This one was particularly tough given how many there are and which ones I actually found any enjoyment in their design and hunts. Did you see any of your favorites on this list? Which of these elder dragons are your favorites and why? Feel free to let me know down in the comments, I really want to know. Also, since it’s the merry month of March, the release date of Monster Hunter Rise draws ever closer. So I just have to ask one last question: which of these elder dragons (other than Fatalis because it’s obviously going to come back) are you hoping to see again? Again, feel free to leave your answers in the comments below. Until then, this is Tracy Preston/CuriousCat-13: signing off. 

An Interview with Eleanor Bick – Freelance Author and Illustrator

For those who may not know who you are, who are you and what do you do?

Alright, so, I’m Eleanor Bick and I’m a freelance author and illustrator from Germany! I started publishing children’s books in 2017, about tiny dragons camouflaging themselves as flowers in our gardens. With the Gardendragon-book series I want to teach children about the importance of insects and their preservation. But online I am most known for my Pokémon Comics! I kind of accidentally created a whole webseries about the Alola region from the Sun and Moon games in my free time, and now “El’s Alolan Adventures” has become one of my main projects next to writing my books.

What inspired you to write/draw?

I think I’ve been drawing since the day I could hold a pencil – which comes to no surprise if you know my family. My mother is a freelance artist herself, so she always encouraged my creativity. And writing stories I began in grade school, where I got my first taste of how powerful a good story can be. I will never forget the day when just for once I wasn’t the shy wallflower of the class, when I had to read a short-story I wrote and made them all genuinely laugh. It still took me some time to realize, that writing stories was one of the main things I wanted to do. I think the internet helped me a lot in that regard, when I made another fancomic in my teen-years and switched from deviantArt to tumblr.

What is your favorite thing about El’s Alolan Adventures?

I think it’s the fact that the comic has forced me to get out of my comfort-zone, in more ways than I expected. First it was a challenge for me for the simple reason that drawing humans is one of my weak-points. Then there came new challenges, from complex backgrounds to trying new shading techniques, but it also became a journey of personal growth. I am finally learning to use short-cuts for my work and reuse assets, something that for some reason a lot of artists such as I thought were a form of “cheating” and felt guilty for doing. Which is nonsense, because when you already drew something, what’s so wrong about reusing it to make your life EASIER?
Writing my comics also made me reflect on myself:
El’s Alolan Adventures is a comedic slice-of-life series, but at it’s core it’s about relationships and personal growth. And the more I explored these topics as I kept writing scripts, the more I reflected on my own growth and what I value in a relationship, be it platonic or romantic.
When I look at the effects the comic has on my community, I really appreciate it for how it apparently is encouraging others to make their own comics, but also be as self-indulgent about their art as they want to be.
The Protagonist “El” actually started out as my “Trainersona”, which means the character is basically the Pokémon-equivalent of myself. The comics started out as simple shorts about my experiences with some of the games I played, but then I got very invested in the character of Guzma in Sun and Moon and made more and more comics about him and El interacting. When I noticed I was apparently turning this into a series, I just rolled with it and El became her own character as the story continued.
Over time I’ve gotten a lot of messages of people telling me that they’re now less afraid to just draw their Sonas interacting with their favorite characters or to publish stories about them, which I think is awesome!
Self-inserts have a rather poor reputation on the internet, so I’m glad if I can somehow contribute to their image in a positive way.
I think that if your story is good, it shouldn’t really matter if your main character is based on you or not. In some way we always put part of ourselves into our characters anyway.

Are there any plans to have El go to newer regions, like Galar?

Currently no, the story will continue to play in Alola, but we’ll still have a change of scenery within the region, since the majority has played on Mele Mele Island so far, but there are a lot of places in Alola we haven’t explored yet! Especially Ula Ula will be interesting, but that’s still a long way ahead of us…Though on the note of other regions, if I have to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of Pokémon Sword and Shield – Galar left a rather weak impression on me, so if I’d send the characters on a short trip somewhere else, it might be Kalos or Hoenn instead. Though again, there aren’t any plans for this yet…

What would you tell someone who wanted advice in writing or drawing?

Have fun. Have fun no matter what you do. It’s incredibly general, but I think its the most crucial part. Learn what you enjoy doing and keep doing it. It will lead you on the right path eventually. If we want to be more concrete, I’d say go watch a lot of film-reviews and essays on YouTube if you want to improve on writing – they helped me a lot over the years to figure out what makes a story work and what doesn’t. If I’m allowed to make some personal recommendations, “Just Write”, “Sideways” and “CriticalHit” are one of my favorite channels, the latter being painfully underrated. “Sideways” is actually all about musical scores for movies, but still gives you a fascinating insight into the world of storytelling from a musical standpoint. And if you’re stuck on a story and you’re waiting for a strike of motivation, do take a break, but if motivation doesn’t come back, try to sit down and work on it even if you still feel stuck at the moment. Sometimes we can break through a blockade just by starting to type / draw again and you’re back in the flow. But in the end it all comes down to if you enjoy your work or finding out how you can make it enjoyable for you again.

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Conan The Barbarian – Comic Review

Marvel Comics retreads the history of old into a gateway of magic and monsters. The story of legendary warrior Conan The Barbarian leads a path of bloodshed as his adventures take him across the known kingdoms.

Writer Jason Aaron dives into the life of Conan, a Cimmerian born on the battlefield, who one day becomes King of his own land. Now, as a new monarch a deadly enemy from his past looks to conquer his future. In the midst of battle Jason aims to explore the many trials and enemies of Conan’s past leading up to the present through flashbacks. His style of storytelling brings out more depth to the character with each new quest set before him. 

The powerful artwork set in this world comes from the incredible talent of artist Mahmud Asrar. Environments are ever changing for Conan travels to different lands. People and monsters are relevant in giving shape to the culture. Dark outline and shadows become a necessity in creating fine detail with the characters as they interact with creatures or fellow warriors. 

Mahmud goes over every available space with quick detail lines to improve the state of people or objects in movement. Therefore, every image offers a clear presence for the reader to take as impactful to the story as a whole. 

Colorist Matthew Wilson creates strong depictions of light sources and color tones. The dominant colors to be present within the comic book are red, orange, and black. Red comes in the form of blood for conan cuts through enemies.

Orange gives depth to the time of day and highlights anything made of dirt and sand. The color also gives emphasis on the movement in action sets delivering a more powerful impact. Black complements the orange and red bringing focus to the specific characters or the environment as it pertains to the story as a whole. 

Follow the great warrior Conan into battle as he shapes the lands and becomes a legend through the eyes of the people. A comic book for those who love the fantasy tales of old but upgraded in the modern age. Witness how the lone barbarian transforms from savage hero to noble king in this ongoing series by Marvel Comics.  

The End of the Titan Era: AoT Manga comes to a close

On September 9th, 2009, the world was given a grave reminder of the world they were transported into. Now, 11 years later, that reminder will come to an end. On April 9th, 2021, the final chapter will be released, with the final volume having a release date on June 9th, 2021. Along with the manga arriving at its conclusion, the final season (currently on a short break) is currently airing, so the fanbase will have plenty of Attack on Titan content for a while during this year (and perhaps early next year).

It’s honestly hard to believe that Attack on Titan is going to have an actual ending. We’ll have to wait and see what happens to determine if it’ll be a happy or grim ending. Given how things are currently going in the manga, there are definitely death flags popping up for a few characters. Looking back, I can still remember when I first saw advertisements for the first volume. They would occasionally pop up in the final pages of manga that I would read (where they would advertise other manga series). My first thoughts were that it was going to be a science fiction fantasy series that takes place on Titan (one of Saturn’s moons), where humanity fights these monsters. Looking back, my guess wasn’t too far off, but I’m more than satisfied that I’m still following this fascinating series (even if there were parts I didn’t care for).

So who is emotionally ready for Attack on Titan to reach its bloody conclusion? I for one am not. I’m terrified for the characters and who might end up biting the dust. However, whatever the conclusion might be, I want to thank someone. Thank you Hajime Isayama, thank you for creating such an incredible world and all of these amazing characters that we have grown to cherish. Characters that have survived and died. Characters that we love and hate. Thank you for everything and we look forward to what you have in store for us. To those that have been reading this article: who is currently your favorite character? How did you get into this series? Did you start with the manga or the anime? Feel free to leave your answers in the comments below (try to keep them free of spoilers for those that aren’t caught up). Until then, this is Tracy Preston/CuriousCat-13: signing off.

Colonel Weird Cosmagog – Comic Review

#darkhorsecomics #sciencefiction #dreams

A narrative from Dark Horse Comics that transcends the mind and dimensions of reality. In the new title Colonel Weird Cosmagog follows our hero Colonel Randall Weird as he travels through the ribbons of the universe. 

Written by Jeff Lemire the creator of the Black Hammer series. The comic book serves as a spinoff title within the same universe focusing on the origins of the space adventurer. After discovering an interdimensional gate beyond our solar system Colonel Weird finds himself sifting through time and space.  

Jeff creates a variety of moods and pitfalls as Colonel Weird seeks to regain his lost memories. In an effort to find his memories he retraces his life through the eyes of his former selves. In specific scenes transitions of a young, old, and middle aged Colonel Weird are all present when traveling to other worlds, fighting aliens, and going to school. 

Tyler Crook creates the warping scientific journey of Colonel Weird with loose line work and bold colors. Tyler goes for a simplistic style that reflects a golden age essence in appearance. Colonel Weird brings forth notable emotions as he figures out his entire life. He can be cautious, scared, excited, and sad as memories flash before his face. One can witness the full scope of someone breaking down as they try to navigate a shattered construct of their own self awareness.  

A watercolor effect is present, one that displays strong imagination. Brushes of color fade between light sources. Certain panels hold powerful emotion with the environment and state of characters. A poetic charm found in children’s books can be seen upon the pages. The comic holds wisps of outlines made by a calm hand as if using paintbrushes. 

A beautiful arrangement of color is present involving the entire spectrum. During the day colors become brighter within the sunlight. Inside of buildings those same colors become more cool and softer in appearance. The primary colors of red, blue, and yellow are the most consistent throughout the comic. 

Dark Horse Comics will follow the beautiful mind of Colonel Weird as he drifts into the unknown. A scientific journey that will have readers believing in the beyond and the gift of imagination.   

We Only Find Them When They’re Dead – Comic Review

A new intergalactic adventure is making waves at Boom! Studios for the new title We Only Find Them When They’re Dead, pins the survival of the human race on finding scarce resources on the corpses of alien gods.  

Al Ewing creates a universe with unknown wonders in deep space as the crew of the autopsy starship Vihaan 2 harvest the extraordinary life forms. The maverick crew is led by Captain Georges Malik and with his team including Coroner Ella Hauer, Quartermaster Alice Wirth, and Engineer Jason Hauer. 

When the crew encounters rival competitors and a battle hardened Space Officer it launches a whole new adventure beyond the galaxy. The Vihaan 2 sets out to find a live alien god whose active body could be worth millions and produce an abundance of potential resources.

The artwork is clean and crisp as Simone Di Meo leads the illustrations with a steady hand. Simone carries a style that is comic book realism. Detail in physical structure is present with bold lines near the eyes with loose lines creating the lips, mouth, and nose. The color takes over to complete the image with indention and shading. 

Mariasara Miotti does a fantastic job by developing a beautiful array of colors for each panel and page of the comic book. Vibrant hues pop upon the characters and background giving the reader something otherworldly and futuristic. Light sources fade and blend together creating auras of pink, green, red, and purple. Neon lights and technology shine in this regard immersing the reader in an era beyond that of normal comprehension to endless possibilities.

Captain Georges and his crew will continue to venture the stars as this ongoing series will take the reader beyond the edges of space. Witness the extraordinary threats this team will face as the alien gods watch these mortals clash in a sea of planets and opportunity. 

Moonshine – Comic Review

Step into the world of Moonshine, a period piece developed by Image Comics. A story that dives into the prohibition era and enters the supernatural underworld. In the countryside of 1929 Spine Ridge, West Virginia, our protagonist Lou Pirlo sets out to make the deal of the century. 

Writer Brian Azzarello does an amazing job blending the two distinct genres as the story unfolds between the moonshine business and the backcountry bloodline of werewolves. Lou Pirlo, a smooth talking middle man for the New York City Mob, is out to make a mint and establish a pipeline for the finest moonshine in all the country. 

But when he meets Hiram Holt, brewer of the famous Moonshine, and the mysterious people of Spine Ridge the body count rises. Soon, the Law, the Mob, and savage beasts all want Pirlo’s head; it’s only a matter of time before the fields are drenched in blood.  

Eduardo Risso is the talent behind the artstyle, being very simplistic holding solid colors and straightforward line work. Details upon both characters and background make out complete images holding moderate detail to display what exactly is on the page. 

The reader is never overwhelmed with massive amounts of detail or objects within the panels but rather goes for a subtle approach when changing scenes. A color pallet sticks to more pale pigments to create a dreary mood whether the location goes from the small town, to hills, and outskirts of the forest. 

Most notable colors come in the form of pale greens, faint yellows, and light brown. Red dramatically changes the scope when being displayed and portrays blood in moments of action or terror. 
Image Comics continues to push the ongoing story with a dark atmosphere. Follow Pirlo as he must figure out how to survive in a game built with lies, power, and bloodshed. In this supernatural noir thriller there is no telling who will be left alive under the Moonshine.

The Last Ronin – Comic Review

A new story of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is here as IDW Publishing delivers the ultimate story of loss and revenge. The new ongoing series The Last Ronin will focus on Michelangelo as he sets out on a mission to avenge his fallen brothers. The lone turtle will takes arms against the Foot Clan in the distant future. 

Written by Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman together these two create a powerful story deep within the heart of the lore that is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. New York City has changed in the far future with cybernetic security forces, flying cars, and a new order under the notorious Foot Clan led by Oroku Hiroto. The son of Karai Hiroto and grandson of The Shredder, Oroku controls his empire in the center of the city in his cyber fortress. 

Now, alone in the never ending war with the Foot Clan, Michelangelo struggles with the ghosts of the past as he stands to save the future by any means necessary. Michelangelo unleashes an assault of ninja technique and rage as he slashes through armies of robots to claim Oroku’s head, the killer of his brothers Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello. 

Esau Escorza and Isaac Escorza develop the notorious world through pencil work and colors as our hero journeys through the sewers, cybernetic labs, and city streets. The pencil work is dealt with a heavy hand as dark outlines make the characteristics of all characters and objects in the surrounding area. 

The details are professional in creating emotional states, muscle tone, and aspects of attire being wrinkles and tears. The comic itself spends the majority in dark areas creating an atmosphere of noir and action. 

A color pallet of solid tones creates a strong foundation. Pigments do not blend often but reflect the light source when dealing with shadow. Black, grey, and red are the most notable colors recognized upon the panels as the action and story moves forward. 

Follow Michelangelo as he continues his personal vendetta to vanquish the Foot Clan in the name of his family. IDW Publishing casts a huge banner in the name of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as Mickey becomes The Last Ronin.