CONvergence is nearly upon us, he said, coming up for air long enough to realize just how close the deadline for The Good, The Bad and the Munchkin is (it’s not so much breathing down my neck as giving me a really nasty hickey).

Looking at my calendar, which I don’t do nearly often enough, judging by how often I find myself in these hickey-based pickles, I notice that CONvergence is my last convention appearance for, well, ever. OK. Not really, but apart from a couple of tentative plans, it really does seem to be it until Dorkstock, in November.

Now, I bring up CONvergence not only because it’s a hellacool regional con that everyone must visit at least once in their lives, but also because I have a question for Minneapolis/St. Paul Foodies.

What’s the food scene like in the Twin Cities these days? I’ve had some great sushi in the uptown area, and had a fine time at a Polish supper club that seemed to have an oddly Polynesian theme, but what else is there? For the amount of time I spend in the cities, I know precious little about the restaurants and markets of the region

The New York Times had a piece that piqued my interest. Yet while a list of A-class restaurants is handy for those times I want to take out a mortgage, I’m really more interested in what’s bubbling below the surface. Anything from greasy spoons on up. Street food? I’m so there. Burgers? You betcha! What do you believe are the restaurants in the area that aren’t to be missed? What’s the best in local grub?

****

Munchkin rolls on.

Munchkin 5: De-Ranged is, apparently, out (I’m often the last to know these things). Munchkin Cthulhu II: The Call of Cowthulhu is at the printer, and The Good, The Bad and the Munchkin is nearing completion. Plus, I’ve been asked to do the cover for the next full Munchkin card game, so that means it should be announced fairly soon. Not allowed to tell what it is, but I know it will make a lot of folks werra, werra heppy.

So in the meantime, here’s some The Good, The Bad and the Munchkin niftyness.

Ever wondered how a cover comes about, for instance?

Well, to begin with, Steve will send me a list of stuff that the cover Munchkin might be using. I’ll mull them over, and come up with a quick cover concept sketch. (All of these are done on 17″ x 11″ comic book paper).

Note the unfortunate placement of the waterdrop image on the stage-right boot and the Belt Buckle Gun. Ahem.

Anyway, once I’ve got some idea of what we’re looking for, and assuming another cover concept isn’t needed, the proper pencil sketch comes next.

Basically, here, I’m trying to make things a bit more dynamic and interesting. Note the moustache is changed, to show the toothy grin of the Munchkin who’s been gracing so many cover shots from the start. The Belt Buckle Gun has also been modified, to make it look slightly less phallic.

I make a few more changes, and note that this seems a bit lightly-armed, for a Munchkin, so add in a Seven Shooter, Blinderbuss, Bullwhip and Elixir Bottle. Oh, yes, and a Branding Iron. The Chewing Tobaccy spit from the sketch never really looked like Chewing Tobaccy Spit, so that goes. And the Belt Buckle Gun is made less phallic yet again.

Finally, the colors are added.

And the finished cover is done, with some slight color tweaks by the Steve Jackson Gems art folks. Color theory’s never been my strong point, and I let people I work with know this ahead of time.

The start-to-finish cover process usually takes the better part of a week, due mostly to communication lags and the need to sit and think about things.

Lastly, here’s a test I did on some flesh tones for the character classes.

Since these aren’t actually Cowboys and Indians, but Munchkins who are playing Cowboys and Indians, and frequently getting it wrong, the flesh tones will be the same for all the classes.

Tomorrow’s Lesson: How to only draw three fingers on a cartoon character, and make a living from it!

John

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