Goth Chick News: Visiting Great America’s Fright Fest, I Mean Hell Fest… Well Neither Actually

Thursday, September 27th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Six Flags Fright Fest

It was in my second year of writing for Black Gate, that I was invited to my very first Halloween press event, which was to cover our local Six Flags Amusement Park’s Fright Fest. Launched in 1993, the Gurnee, IL attraction, Six Flags Great America, is hosting its 25th Fright Fest this year, and the Friday prior to its opening Saturday night has traditionally been used as a “dress rehearsal” for the staff while also hosting corporate outings and press. Attendance is held to 2000 people which is awesome for a park that reportedly has a capacity of 30K. This means lines are short and its actually possible to hit up all the rides as well as the special “haunted attractions” in the five hours the park is open that evening.

Over the years Fright Fest has had its ups and downs which seems to have loosely followed the mood of America itself. In 1999, Six Flags licensed and opened Alice Cooper’s Brutal Planet “haunted house,” featuring music from the album and using leather-clad go-go dancers as entertainment while you waited in line – assuming, I can only suppose, that something called “Fright Fest” was meant to be more of an “adult” event. Six Flags also licensed other intellectual properties for mazes and scare zones over the years, including the Saw films. Décor in the park back then pulled no punches, with elaborate and sometimes very gory scenes set up in the grassy areas, and impressive, movie-quality makeup on the actors.

Following the real-life horror of 2001, Great America pulled way back. That year and for several years after, Fright Fest became family friendly in the extreme with almost no decorations and the scares confined to a corn maze and lots of creepy clowns. I didn’t mind. We’d seen enough stuff on the news to last us awhile.

Read More »


Goth Chick News: Wizard World’s 2018 Chicago Comic Con

Thursday, September 6th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Wizardworld Comic Con Chicago 2018

Nothing says summer in Chicago like the annual August bacchanalia that is Wizard World’s Chicago Comic Con. Granted, the title Granddaddy of All Comic Cons still belongs to San Diego, which paces our attendance at 167K fans annually, but the local Midwest version is still a sight to behold.

Though exact attendance figures haven’t been made public since 2009, estimates place the August, 2018 event at the Donald A. Stephens Convention Center at over 100K. With more than 300 exhibitors, many of which attend a number of Wizard World shows across the country every year, all (and I do mean all) of the 840K square feet of exhibition space is consumed. Black Gate photog Chris Z and I have covered this event since 2010 and its been amazing to watch the show nearly double in size, both in the number of exhibitors as well as attendees, during the past eight years. It is equally amazing to consider the guy who works on your car during the day may be dressed like Superman for four days every summer.

Because though it is billed as a “comic” convention, Wizard World draws in a large number of cosplayers from all over the region, and they are what make this event one we never miss. The costumes are simply incredible, but just as entertaining are those which are not; created from cardboard and fabric scraps and held together by the sheer love of a particular character.

Read More »


The Games of Gen Con 2018

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

PathfinderPlaytest

As you walk through the convention hall at Gen Con, moving from demo to demo and panel to panel, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the advertisements everywhere, trying to catch your attention for the latest big game. Usually, there are one or two big new games that just seem to overwhelm the convention, often tied into big properties.

This year, the big new game at Gen Con wasn’t new. Not really. Pathfinder has long had a strong, even overwhelming, presence at Gen Con, so the promotion of the release of the Pathfinder Playtest this year felt pretty natural. Next year, we can anticipate the big release to be the Pathfinder Second Edition RPG, but for now the playtesting has begun.

I’ll cover the details of the Pathfinder Playtest in more depth in the upcoming weeks and months. I played two Pathfinder Society sessions of the playtest, at levels 1 and 5, so got a fair idea of how the bones of the new system operates. Fortunately, you don’t have to, because the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook along with all other materials needed for play are available for free download at the Paizo website.

These downloads include the Doomsday Dawn campaign, a series of 7 adventures ranging from levels 1 to 17. These adventures aren’t all played with the same group of characters, although the core group of characters created for the level 1 adventure are re-used every couple of adventures at higher levels, so they’re really the “heroes” of the campaign. There are also three Pathfinder Society scenarios built for the playtest, to teach and test various elements of the game. And, of course, the Rulebook contains everything that a Gamemaster needs to create an original homebrew adventure or campaign for their group, to test out the rules in ways of their own devising.

Read More »


E3 2018: Xbox Press Conference

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018 | Posted by Matt Drought

E3-2018-Xbox-E3-Briefing-E3-1-small

Every year, in early summer, the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) showcases the industry’s upcoming games, gaming tech, and gaming culture. Studios from around the world vie to create a buzz for their brands by announcing new games, new content for existing games, and upcoming new hardware.

The largest Studios, such as Xbox, Bethesda, Playstation, etc. hold live, large press conferences that can be viewed in person, streamed live, or be watched later on the internet. These press conferences are fairly long events, often lasting over an hour. Typical content for these events are live game demos, prerecorded demos, and short video teasers for games not far in development. These presentations sometimes include celebrities and often include developer commentary.

This year, the first press conference was held by Xbox.

As I have mentioned in the past, Xbox has been losing the “console war” to Playstation. With the Playstation 4 outselling the Xbox, the Microsoft brand had a lot riding on this years E3 conference.

In order to convince consumers that their consoles are the place to play the best games, Xbox needed to double down on compelling exclusive games, timed released games, and DLC. They would need to create games and content that they can get nowhere else.

Read More »


Origins Game Fair: Games Galore

Thursday, June 28th, 2018 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

moonshaestormsTwo weekends ago, I trekked out to Columbus, OH, from my home gaming grounds of central Indiana, in order to experience my first Origins Game Fair. I’ve covered it in a couple of previous posts, the Origins Awards and my talk with the folks at Paizo about their upcoming Pathfinder Playtest and organized play options. But, of course, when you’re at a convention like this, one of the nice things is to walk around the exhibit hall and get exposed to new games.

Origins is different from GenCon, in that many companies build their entire annual release schedule around having big GenCon releases and announcements of upcoming releases. Origins, on the other hand, is more about playing games, and there seemed far less of an emphasis on having the early release of brand new, never-before-seen games. Still, there were some new treasures there … either ones that were completely new, or ones that I was exposed to for the first time, at least.

One of the big new releases being shown off at Origins was Catalyst Game Labs’ new expansion for the Dungeons & Dragons deck-building game Dragonfire. The new “campaign box” expansion, Moonshae Storms (Amazon), was available. Moonshae Storms adds new adventure cards and continues the “An Ancient Evil Arises” campaign storyline from the Dragonfire base game, and also expands the options with a Mountain setting, various new monsters to fight (including lycanthropes and fomorians) and market cards and magic items for players to acquire as part of their decks, as well as 8 new character cards. Dragonfire has had a couple of smaller Adventure Packs released over the last year, and a couple more on the horizon, but Moonshae Storms is a much more substantial increase in the game options than presented by those smaller adventures.

Read More »


DMR Books Brings Pulp Sword & Sorcery Back Into Print

Saturday, May 5th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Sapphire Goddess The Fantasies of Nictzin Dyalhis-small The Thief of Forthe and Other Stories by Clifford Ball-small

Last month I rented a booth at the Windy City Pulp and Paper show here in Chicago — my favorite local convention — and piled it high with brand new hardcovers and trade paperbacks I was giving away. I had 31 boxes of leftover review copies, duplicates from my collection, and hundreds of rare advance proofs to get out of my basement, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Bob Byrne and Steven Silver made long drives to the con to help staff the booth, and we were looking forward to handing out books to grateful attendees.

Reality was a little bit different. Most folks passed by our booth with barely a glance. If Bob and Steve and I hadn’t been tirelessly peddling books, handing out free copies as people passed by, and carting books by the dozens to the freebie pile at registration every few hours, we’d probably still be there. This was an audience more interested in pulps and vintage paperbacks than brand new science fiction and fantasy, apparently.

It’s not true that there was no interest in our booth. After eight long hours unsuccessfully giving away books on Friday, Dave Ritzlin from DMR Books joined us on Saturday, and we gladly made space for him in the booth. Once we did interest picked up immediately, as folks zeroed in on his attractive selection — and especially his new releases, The Sapphire Goddess: The Fantasies of Nictzin Dyalhis and The Thief of Forthe and Other Stories by Clifford Ball.

Read More »


The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in March

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Pathfinder by the Pound at the Frog God booth at Gary Con 2018-small

The most popular topic at Black Gate last month was the Gary Con gaming convention in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Gary Gygax’s home town. Part 1 of my convention report, in which I detailed the angry fallout among Pathfinder licensees to Paizo’s announcement of an impending Second Edition — including the “Pathfinder by the POUND!!” liquidation at the Frog God booth — was our most popular post for the month, by a pretty wide margin. Part 2 of my report, a 17-photo pictorial walkaround of the gorgeously well-stocked Goodman Games/Black Blade booth, came in at #3.

Gary Con wasn’t the only topic of interest in March, however. The second most-trafficked article for the month was Rich Horton’s commentary on the Hugo nominations, and our look at Unbound Worlds’ suggestions on where to start with Gothic Space Opera came in at #4. Rounding out the Top Five was Bob Byrne’s recap of his epic adventures with Gabe Dybing, Martin Page and his son Xander, and the new Conan RPG from Modiphius Entertainment.

Thomas Parker got into the spirit of our recent Ace Double reviews with “Doubling Down, or Just How Bad Are Ace Doubles, Anyway?” and that was good enough to win him the #6 slot for March. Joe Bonadonna claimed #7 with his review of Tempus With His Right-Side Companion Niko, by Janet Morris. Sean McLachlan picked up on the vintage paperback theme nicely with “STRANGE! WEIRD! EERIE! The Odd, Unusual, and Uncanny Biography of Lionel Fanthorpe,” placing at #8.

Read More »


Goth Chick News: If You Sniffed Dracula, Would You Be Coughin’…? Or, Our Trip to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo

Thursday, April 19th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

C2E2 2018 cosplay 2

For the last eight Aprils, Chicago has played host to one of the most heavily-attended comic conventions in the US, not to mention the largest and most prestigious cosplay competition in the world. The final numbers for the 2018 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2 for you cool kids) have not yet been reported, but estimates have the attendance approaching the 100,000 mark, meaning that is indeed quite a lot of spandex all in one place.

And boy, do we love cosplayers.

I mean, press credentials aside, I would probably have payed the organizers, ReedPOP, for the privilege of hanging around McCormick center and people watching all day. Instead, Black Gate photog Chris Z and I got to do it for free (aside from the fireball shots John O still won’t let us expense).

This year’s show boasted 1370 exhibitors ranging from costumes to books, memorabilia to comics and wall-to-wall artists of all kinds. It was truly difficult to figure out where to look first, or how long to look before someone pointed at one of the signs posted throughout the facility declaring “Cosplay Is Not Consent.”

Where, oh where to begin.

Read More »


Goth Chick News: Two Shots of Fireball, Some Blankets and a Candle; or Our Road Trip to the 2018 Halloween and Attractions Show

Thursday, March 29th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

2018 Halloween and Attractions Show Goth Chick 1

Normally, our annual road trip to cover the first trade show of the year is not only something we look forward to (for the obvious reasons), but also a chance to get our first whiff of spring.

The TransWorld Halloween and Attractions Show has been the premier, international event for the haunt industry for the last 30 years, boasting over 300 vendors catering to the industry’s professionals. We discovered it 16 years ago when it used to make its home here in Chicago until it relocated to St. Louis. And though the location makes for a long day, we can usually count on St. Louis to be in the 50’s as opposed to Chicago which is usually getting its final blast of winter right around the March showtime.

Except for this year.

Last weekend the weather forecast was calling for an all-day winter storm to cut a 100-mile swath straight across central Illinois and pushing freezing temperatures (and freezing rain) all the way south to our destination – meaning we were facing a thoroughly crappy commute both ways. With Black Gate photog Chris Z at the wheel of his ridiculously huge, military-grade Jeep, my primary worries included a 5-hour one-way trip turning into 7-plus hours or sliding into a ditch in the middle of nowhere and having to wait hours to be rescued (most of central Illinois IS technically the middle of nowhere).

Read More »


Con Report: International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts 2018

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 | Posted by James McGlothlin

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE FANTASTIC IN THE ARTS

My day job is being an academic here in Minneapolis, where I mainly teach philosophy and theology. So when I attempt to go to academic conferences I tend to go to cons related to either of those subjects. But a couple of years ago I went out on a limb, academically speaking, and sent a paper proposal to a literary conference.

Why? Well, I had a “literary” idea for a paper. Oh, and the conference was taking place in Orlando in the middle of winter. So my Minnesota-self was quite motivated to get there. Surprisingly I got my “philosophy” paper accepted to this conference and I was excited to attend, so excited that I ended up going again this year.

The con in question is the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, ICFA for short, and it’s been going on now for almost forty years. ICFA is the official conference of, named aptly enough, the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. This organization was started in 1980 by literature professor Robert A. Collins (1929-2009) and like most small beginnings it has grown quite a bit but it still has a laid-back, workshop (though still professional) feel to it.

Read More »


  Earlier Entries »

This site © 2018 by New Epoch Press. All rights reserved.