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Kid Dungeon Master’s Neighborhood Reign: Nostalgic Confession Inspired by “Die”

Die 1!

Teen RPG fan Solomon brings foreboding gameplay setup to Die #1. Art by Stephanie Hans, words by Kieron Gillen, letters by Clayton Cowles.

1. A Long-expected Party.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my annual comic book reviews included a promise of a future entry inspired by Die, the new Image Comics series by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans that I encapsulated like so:

What if you took the structure of Stephen King’s It, but instead of fighting a murderous super-clown, the kids and adults in their respective eras were reliving the ’80s Dungeons and Dragons cartoon as a horror story, and the Big Bad was Tom Hanks from Mazes and Monsters turned into a truly mystical, manipulative interdimensional overlord?

Painted art by Stephanie Hans is like a high-end gallery showing on every page, while writer Kieron Gillen is engaging in ambitious, phenomenally detailed world-building, worrisome in its six-digit word count and rising. He’s exploring fantasy tropes and toying with them from within, but he’s also designed an entire RPG from the ground up to facilitate his vision, one that’s dredging up so many childhood memories for me — some I would dare label “definitive” in regard to my personal backstory — that I’ll need to devote a separate entry to this series in the near future. I have a lot of baggage to unpack here, and I blame Gillen for wheeling the baggage cart right up next to me.

I had the pleasure of meeting painter Stephanie Hans at this year’s C2E2, where I gave her the elevator-pitch version of this entry and she encouraged me to share it. I got a kick out of meeting Kieron Gillen at C2E2 2013, where we briefly chatted about his Britpop-magic fantasy Phonogram and he asked me which character I identified with most. I honestly hadn’t given much thought to it and was ashamed to have no answer, either prepared or improvised. I’m not used to pros at a con asking me a question beyond “Where are you from?”

(Having had time to think later, my answer came to me, obvious if twofold. As a young adult from 1989 to 2000 I imagined myself Seth Bingo, self-anointed tastemaker and DJ, bringing my boom-box and tapes/CDs to entertain at work after-hours — no requests allowed, sharing my collection with peers who just didn’t get me or my nightly playlist. For my life 2000-present I’ve been closer to Lloyd, engaging with music intellectually via long thinkpieces written only for the audiences in my head, but rarely physically and never socially, thus arguably denying its greatest powers. If only I could’ve written all that on an index card before approaching Gillen’s table. Or narrowed my answer down to just one of those two alienating dudes.)

The farther I’ve read into Die, the more I’ve found myself reflecting on my own experiences with Dungeons and Dragons, an integral part of my preteen years. It was a compelling confluence of entertainment and imagination. It was a big hit with the other kids who joined in. It also ushered in the end of my circle of childhood friends.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover Celebrates 2,000th Entry with Gratuitous Food Metaphors

Indiana State Fair 2009!

Portrait of the author at the 2009 Indiana State Fair.

At times blogging can be like State Fair food science.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover vs. the 7-Year Itch

Funko Pop me!

When you weren’t reading, we held a lottery to give away this Midlife Crisis Crossover exclusive anniversary edition Funko Pop, and my wife won that lottery, so hey, big thanks to everyone who forgot to enter!

I launched Midlife Crisis Crossover on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process on my opinions of, applause for, revulsion at, and/or confusion arising from various works of art, expression, humanity, inhumanity, glory, love, idolatry, inspiration, hollow marketing, geek life, and sometimes food. It was also my way of finding a way to give myself excuses to write during a time when joining other people’s conversations was becoming increasingly dissatisfying and rare. Nobody talked about what I wanted to talk about; when they did, my opinions usually got me sent to go stand in the corner or flat-out ignored. And just not typing my thoughts was killing me.

Here we are celebrating MCC’s seventh anniversary, still chugging away like the Little Engine That Could. No book ideas suggested or dreamed of, no writing gigs applied for or parlayed, and no danger of me ever describing myself unironically as an “influencer”, which sounds like an upper-class euphemism for “drug dealer”. But I keep writing anyway.

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Another Convention, Another Sleepless Night Before

Badges!

Badges! And papers! On every table-shaped surface! So. Many. PAPERS.

My brain is buzzing too much to write paragraphs right now. Our ninth foray to C2E2 in Chicago is this weekend, and I think we’re ready, but I dunno if we’re ready ready.

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My Doggo, My Drug Buddy

Lucky!

Lucky in repose atop the only IKEA product in our entire house. Thankfully we were able to get his giant urine stain out of it.

When drugs get a foothold in your household, they don’t always belong to your first suspect. Sometimes there’s more than one.

Our home’s recent influx of new pharmaceuticals began shortly after Baby New Year 2019 arrived to kick out grizzled, bitter Grampaw Old Year 2018. We had such high hopes after the changing of the guard.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover 2018 in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Blogly

me at club!

4/23: Me at a business lunch, which are two words I haven’t strung together in over a decade.

Hey-ho, reader! Welcome to the seventh annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review. This tiny sandbox was formed on April 28, 2012, as a place where I could entertain myself by making essay-shaped things out of whatever words and pictures I had at hand, as opposed to surfing social media and waiting for excuses to reply to strangers who didn’t ask my opinion. Often it’s been a fulfilling use of galleries, memories, and peculiar opinions that might otherwise either languish unwritten in my head or collect endless rejection emails from every professional website ever. At other times it’s been less fulfilling, but something I continue cobbling together anyway, as long as I can keep the fires of motivation stoked.

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