Running for My Life at GenCon 2016   1 comment

This year I wasn’t going to go to GenCon. I went to Origins. I’ve done my part to sell Flying Buffalo games and to fly the flag, but a funny thing happened in June. A guy named David Reid started a new computer gaming company called MetaArcade, and he wanted to license Tunnels and Trolls as his first app. He backed up that plan with real money, a dedicated team of computer professionals, and boundless energy, and he planned to debut his first prototype at GenCon. I talked him into using my Naked Doom solo from 1977 instead of Rick Lo0mis’s Buffalo Castle–mainly because B.C. has been used so many times already as the intro adventure for T & T.  I still wasn’t planning to go to GenCon, but a month before the show, David got in touch with me, offered to pay my expenses, and argued that he needed me there for publicity. So I went.

And that is why, just for fun, I found myself running for my life at GenCon . . .

Running for Life Yeti

Help! There’s a yeti after me!

Running for Life Yellow Robot 2

Help! Bumblebee the Transformer is after me!

Running for Life Yellow Robot

Help! He’s still after me!

Running for Life thru City

Help! I’m lost in the City of Night!

Running for Life Junk Robot

Help! There’s a crazy robot after me!

Running for Life Cyclops

Help! There’s a cyclops after me!

Running for Life Blue Robot

Help! There’s a Warhammer Space Marine after me!

Running for Life Blue Troll

Help! There’s a stinky blue troll after me!

Running for Life Bear

Help, There’s a giant bloodthirsty teddy bear after me!

Running for Life Pikachu

Help! There’s a giant pikachu after me!


Heh! I had fun taking this terrorized tour of the GenCon Dealers’ Hall. There were many other great props and banners but, imho, these were the best.  You’ll be happy to know that I did escape from all of those monsters. And you won’t be surprised if you don’t see me at GenCon next year.


If you were at GenCon this year, and saw some of these monsters, or took your own pix of them, why not leave a comment?

–Ken St. Andre, Aug. 10, 2016

Posted August 11, 2016 by atroll in Uncategorized

Strange Prehistoric Creature   2 comments

April 29, 2016. I am on Long Island, headed for a beach with my oldest friend, who is now a distinguished college librarian and author of library-related books. His name is Terry Lee Ballard, and he’s the man who first got me into fandom and introduced me to Robert E. Howard and Conan the Barbarian long long ago, in a previous century when i was young. I am taking a week and staying with him in his comfy  home in Merrick, New York. Terry was named after the title character in the old Milton Caniff newspaper comic strip, TERRY AND THE PIRATES.

As my native guide Terry took me to places I would never find on my own. Today he took me and my son James to Freeport  to walk a nautical mile–it seemed shorter than a land mile. Before that we went to a beach. It was cold and a brisk breeze made things worse, but Atroll loves to explore beaches and so we went. The pictures that follow show my beachcombing adventure.


Strange mushrooms apparently grow on eastern Atlantic beaches. I did not see anythPing like them on the west coach last year. People go inside to have beach parties during inclement beach weather–that may just mean too much sun for eastern trolls in the summer, or it could be rain or high winds.


James and Terry posed at the first beach we visited. It was just an inlet, not real ocean. James is wearing Terry’s World Series Mets jacket.


James and I are here at the same place. I am balancing on a flat rock that wobbled underfoot, and using James to be sure I don’t fall. He is on solid ground. We left this rocky shore and went to a better place.


Selfy with me and Terry on the Mushroom beach.


Atlantic Ocean beach, tide receding–this is a rare sight for a troll from Arizona.

After admiring sky and water for a few minutes, picking up and discarding clam shells–I kept 2 of the best for my return to the desert–I decided to go exploring along the water line.


After going about 20 feet I encountered this strange creature well above the water line. I thought at first it was a sea turtle because all I saw was shell, but Terry told me it was a horseshoe crab. We thought it might be dead, but when I nudged it with my foot, the tail moved. THE THING WAS ALIVE. Terry told me I had to pick it up and put it back in the ocean. No way! Crabs have claws, and I was not about to put my fingers in danger. Instead, Terry and I moved it with our feet back down into the waves.


After it reached the water it became livelier, and soon scuttled and swam away. I felt good. A life had been saved. Terry told me that in years of walking on New York beaches he had never seen a live horseshoe crab before. Dead ones, yes.Alive no.


After that I continued along the beach toward some wading birds. I wanted to see how close I could get to them. IMG_20160429_113935866

As I moved closer, they moved away. Just as I got close enough for a good picture, these 4 took off and flew away from me.


I tried to get a selfy of me with birds behind me, but as you see the light washed out everything behind me.


I never did get a good close picture of the gulls.


As I walked I searched for shells. This was the best I found. Both halves were still attached to each other by ligament, but there was no clam inside. I think the gulls ate it a little earlier. The shell was too large to carry off, being a good 9 inches in length, so I left it on the beach.


After the shell I headed back to the car and left the beach behind. It was time to walk a nautical mile and have lunch, but that adventure will have to wait for the next blog.


If you have ever found anything weird, prehistoric, or interesting on a beach, why not leave a comment?


Posted April 29, 2016 by atroll in Beachcombing, horseshoe crabs, Uncategorized

7th Sea Party   Leave a comment


(When I got some pizza and a can of Coke, I jokingly asked John where the rum was. What kind of a pirate party has no rum? So John showed me the bottle of run he brought–Captain Morgan, of course. And yes, I had a shot of it in my Coke. So did he.)

I have amazing friends. I hope you can all say that, but most of you are not going to have the same level of amazing that I have. This blog isn’t about me. It’s about my friend John Wick who has just finished a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign to publish a new second edition of his 7th Sea role-playing game.

On Feb. 9, 2016 John started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to do a new edition of the 7th Sea rpg. On March 13, 2016 that campaign ended, and in the month and 4 days he raised over 1.3 million dollars–the most ever raised for an rpg on Kickstarter. In the process, he broke every previous funding record for this type of game.

I had the pleasure to attend his victory party last night at Imperial Outpost. I went as a participant, not a reporter, so I didn’t get a lot of photos. But I thought it might be fun to share with you all the ones that I did get.  The party started at 7 p.m. and ended at  10 p.m. It took place at Imperial Outpost, Darren Johnson’s game store on West Thunderbird Avenue at 49th Avenue. There was pizza and chips and soda pop and a chocolate covered peanut brittle for all. Half the attendees came in costume as pirates or other 17th century types. We gamed, and we schmoozed, and we ate, and we drank, and we all had a great time. John stood up on a table and told us a “trick the devil story”.  I have to tell you that he is a great storyteller, and that was the high point of the evening for me.


The man in red, waving to us, is Darren Johnson. It’s his game store–Imperial Outpost. It is the biggest and best game store in the Phoenix area located in northern Glendale at 49th Ave. and Thunderbird road.


Don’t all parties look kind of like this?


Mark and John showing off the grand total their KS brought in. They joked that if you took the 1 off the front of the number you’d see what they thought they were likely to get.

The other man in the photo is Mark Diaz Truman, a game creator in his own right, and the man who orchestrated John’s successful Kickstarter project. Much of the credit for this accomplishment should go to Mark, and I tip my trollish hat to him. I got them to ham it up a little bit when the kickstarter closed. Were they happy? Yeah, I think so.


Here are the final totals. 11, 483 backers. (Yes, I’m one of them.) $1,316,813 raised for the project which includes 11 new sourcebooks and maps and other goodies.

No, I didn’t pledge $130. That was Darren’s pledge. I’m in at a rather basic level for $65.

Excellent party! Stupendous project! Now comes the fun part, actually creating all the game material promised.  Good luck, John and Mark!


If you attended this party, or other kickstarter funding parties, why not leave a comment?



Posted March 14, 2016 by atroll in Uncategorized

Walking in Wickenburg   1 comment

Some of you may know that I do a lot of walking in an effort to preserve/strengthen my health. Being old sucks as you get sick & hurt more easily. Walking is very pleasant when one has a companion to walk with. Usually, I do not have that companion. So, to gain my revenge upon all those walking companions who failed to show up, I create these walking blogs to take you, dear reader, along on a mental journey with me, and show you just how much you missed by not going with me when I invited you.  Heh, it’s a kind of trollish revenge that doesn’t actually hurt anyone, but gives me a good justification for inflicting all my amateur photography on the world.

So, on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 I drove some 45 miles from my home in north central Phoenix to take my walk in the town of Wickenburg, Arizona. Wickenburg was once the gold-mining capital of the territory (before Arizona became a state). Now it is a kind of dude-ranch pseudo-western tourist destination, full of antique shops and boutiques designed to separate the tourist from their money. Mixed in with all the cowboy kitsch are some good authentic things if you know how to recognize and find them, and care about that sort of thing–I recognize them, but I don’t care about them for the most part. Pointing out the touristy crap made in China and the authentic stuff made in the west (including Mexico) would be a totally different blog. If you have your walking shoes on, then let’s take a hike. For the most part I will just show you pictures and let you make your own mental commentary.


(Unwanted) “improvements” in the way WordPress constructs its blogs for us has made it more difficult for me to achieve the effects I actually want in these little travel essays, including making it more difficult to insert individual comments. So, the pictures are not in the sequence that I took them, nor is there space to make individual comments. All I can say is that I saw all this during my walk in Wickenburg. Biggest surprise, the railroad stuff. I had no idea it was even there. My thanks to Conductor Jim for showing me around the rather Spartan facilities inside the caboose. This place didn’t allow me to climb into the engine like I did when I was in Washington last year–still it is a magnificent piece of machinery.

If you’ve ever been to Wickenburg, or if  you have a question about any of  these pix, why not leave a comment?

–Ken, Feb. 21, 2016




Posted February 21, 2016 by atroll in Uncategorized

City of Metal Monsters . . . Part 2   Leave a comment

Somewhat to my surprise, I ran out of space while creating this blog long before I had finished my tour of the town. But I’m not going to just quit. I have a lot to show you and a little to say, so, onward, my friends.


Cave Creek was founded in 1870. In those days people traveled from town to town in stagecoaches that looked something like this, but made out of wood, not iron.


For a town built around nostalgia and western kitsch, what could be more nostalgic than a 50’s style diner?  No, folks, cowboys  don’t go to the drive-thru for a hamburger. You’re more likely to see Fonzie and the gang here.


Cars really did look like this back in the 1950s. With this front, it was probably a pickup truck, and cowboys do love their trucks.


Just beyond Big Earl’s was the psychic shop. Plenty of people were eating hamburgers, but no one wanted their palm read.


And a shoe shop, and the Sockfish Trading Post.


The fish may have wanted me, but I looked, and I didn’t want anything that it had for sale.


Frontier Town was a complete shopping mall, old west style. You’ve heard of, or maybe you’ve seen the car on the roof. Back in the day, the put a covered wagon on the roof. Many odd denizens could be found in Frontier Town.


. . . the red, white, and blue moose, somewhat out of place in the desert . . .


. . . the velociraptor–too small to be a T-Rex. I wanted to take my picture with him, but was too stiff to get down to his level . . .


the Arizona State University Sun Devil and his little pal. They look like they are suffering from heat stroke.


I found someone I could not talk to, but he didn’t mind being in a picture with me.


Do you know where the Petrified Forest is? You probably thought it was up in northern Arizona near the Painted Desert, but nope, most of it seems to be right here in Cave Creek Arizona. (I have never seen such huge pieces of petrified wood before, and I’ve seen a lot of petrified wood.)



I walked a couple of blocks past the petrified forest shop, but I had run out of things of interest on this side of the street. I crossed the street and started back toward my car about a mile behind me.


This seems like a good place to end this segment of the blog. We are 2/3 of the way through this tale of wonder (as in I wonder why Ken is telling me all this).

To Be Continued.



City of Metal Monsters and Creatures, Part 1   Leave a comment

On this beautiful warm January afternoon, I went out and explored the hidden Arizona town of Cave Creek. The town is a little Scottsdale somewhat off the beaten track, nestled among the volcanic hills 20 miles north of Phoenix. I’ve been hiking in the area a couple of times and thought I’d like to see the town. Come walk through it with me now.


I started on the southwest corner of downtown and walked through it. Most of the interesting places are on the south side of a street that is basically running from west to east at this point though it was north-south before getting to this sign.


The horse almost looks real, doesn’t it? I passed this on a wrong turn before I found the town itself. Cave Creek is farther east than I though it was, and you get there from the Carefree Highway.


The hills are on the edge of Saguaro desert country. Vegetation is about half cactus, and half mesquite trees.


It’s kind of a WTF moment. Why would anyone create a life-sized metal rhinocerous. It is just about the first creature you see when entering town.


It’s for sale, you know, but I don’t know how much it would cost.


It’s a well known fact that desert crocodiles lurk beneath the sand and lurch upwards to catch their prey.


There was also a rusty dragon hoping a pedestrian would come too close. I told him I was really a troll, and he let me go by.


Not all the animals in Cave Creek are made of iron. Here is a beautiful ceramic pig, only one of many painted denizens of this desert town.


There were plenty of metal people around. Lots of musicians, though I think they’d clank a bit.


Metal critters don’t eat each other, so you can find all sorts of unlikely groupings.


Metal, ceramics, and also painted wood. As wooden Native Americans go, this girl is a real beauty, probably a mom, though as she seems to have a kid and a dog. I didn’t notice the skulls at the time, or I might have bought one.


Kokopelli? It looks like a Navajo flute, but his finger work is atrocious.


Half man, half buffalo, this guy appears to be dancing. I find this all very strange, as there were no buffalo in this part of the country.


Almost looks like a unicorn, doesn’t it? Hi ho, Ironsides! Away!


Can I have a shot of that, pardner?


Now this is a critter you might very well meet in this part of the world, and you don’t want to make him mad.

To be Continued . . .


Comics Grab Box Bonanza   3 comments

A Huge Box of Comics for $30

Today, December 4, 2015, when I visited Samurai Comics to get my holds, I saw them selling grab boxes of comics for $30 each. Each box had 4 comics showing on the outside, one for each side, and the guy at the store, assured me they were not supposed to be full of duplicates, so I took a chance and bought a box. The box I bought showed these 4 comics:

Just for the fun of seeing what was in it, I thought I’d make this page and list the contents of the box by publisher and title. I’m not going to show all the covers, but if I see any that I really love, I will insert those pix.  The third pic above is B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #4.  The books are listed in the order in which I took them out of the box under each publisher. You understand they were all scrambled together and I had no idea what was coming out.  The ones without parenthesis after them were on the outside of the box. For the rest, I will insert a number like this to show what number it was coming out of the box. (x)

America’s Bestcomics

Top Ten: Beyond the Farthest Precinct #1 (36)

Top Ten: Beyond the Farthest Precinct #2 (37)

Top Ten: Beyond the Farthest Precinct #3 (38)

Top Ten: Beyond the Farthest Precinct #4 (39)

Top Ten: Beyond the Farthest Precinct #5 (40)


(complete mini-series


Plunder #3 of 4 (162)


Dead Man’s Run #0 (1)

Dead Man’s Run #1 (2)

Dead Man’s Run #2 (3)

Dead Man’s Run #3 (4)

Dead Man’s Run #4 (5)

Dead Man’s Run #5 (6)

Dead Man’s Run #6 (7)


(Sweet! A 7 issue run in continuity of a comic I’ve never seen before.)

Astronaut Ink

The New Zodiax #1 (175)

The New Zodiax #3 (176)


Atlas United #1 (122)

Atlas United #2 (123)

Avatar Press

Dicks #3 (adult comic) (63)

Dicks #4 (adult comic) (62)

God is Dead #16 (179)

God is Dead #23 (174)

No Hero #0 (adult comic) (127)

No Hero #1 (adult comic) (129)

No Hero #2 (adult comic) (130)

No Hero #3 (adult comic) (131)

No Hero #4 (adult comic) (132)

No Hero #5 (adult comic) (133)

No Hero #6 (adult comic) (134)

Wee-Size D-icks #2 (adult comic) (64)


Legend of the Shadow Clan #1 (signed/numbered on cover) (136)


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes #1 of 6 (163)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes #2 of 6 (164)


Manga Shi 2000 #1 (101)

Manga Shi 2000 #3 (103)

Manga Shi 2000 #1 (101)


Sexy Swordplay in superhero Japan.

Dark Horse

Angel & Faith: Season 10 #2.

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: New World #4 of 5.

Dark Horse Presents #32 (anthology title) (43)

Dark Horse Presents #33 (anthology title) (42)

Dark Horse Presents #34 (anthology title) (41)

Dark Horse Presents #36 (anthology title) (65)

Grindhouse: Drive In, Bleed Out: Lady Danger, Agent of B.O.O.T.I #6 (178)

The Order of the Forge #1 (172)

The Order of the Forge #2 (170)




Animal Man Annual (the new 52) #2 (69)

Batman Detective Comics (the new 52) #20 (67)

Batman Detective Comics (the new 52)  #24 (44)

Batman Incorporated (the new  52) #2 (53)

Catwoman (the new 52) #24 (55)

Demon Knights (the new 52) #7 (100)

Demon Knights (the new 52) #8 (99)

Demon Knights (the new 52) #9 (74)

Demon Knights (the new 52) #11 (73)

Demon Knights (the new 52) #13 (75)

Doc Savage #5 (First Wave) (60)

Doc Savage #7 (First Wave) (59)

Doc Savage #8 (First Wave) (58)

Doc Savage #12 (First Wave) (57)

Eternity #1 (94)

Forever Evil (the new 52) #7 (68)

Future’s End: Wonder Woman #1 (the new 52) (holographic cover) (19)


(holographic covers with gif motion–how cool is that!)

Green Lantern (the new 52) #21 (54)

Justice #6

Manhunter #31 (126)

Mister Terrific (the new 52) #1 (110)

Mister Terrific (the new 52) #2 (111)

Mister Terrific (the new 52) #3 (112)

Red Lanterns (the new 52) #7 (56)

Shade: the Changing Man #9 (11)

Shade: the Changing Man #10 (12)

Shade: the Changing Man #11 (13)

Shade: the Changing Man #12 (14)

Shade: the Changing Man #13 (15)

Shade: the Changing Man #14 (16)


The Doom Patrol! #11 (137)

The Doom Patrol! #12 (138)

The Doom Patrol! #13 (139)

The Doom Patrol! #14 (140)

The Doom Patrol! #15 (141)

The Doom Patrol! #16 (142)

The Doom Patrol! #17 (143)

The Doom Patrol! #18 (144)

The Movement (the new 52) #2 (45)

The Movement  (the new 52) #12 (46)

Wildstorm: Dreamwar #3 of 6 (108\9)

Wildstorm: Dreamwar #4 of 6 (108)

Wonder Woman #23.2: First Born #1 (holographic cover) (20)


Magnus Robot Fighter #1 (124)


Django/Zorro #3 (61)


El Hombre Invisible # 480 (Spanish Western) (109)


Richard Corben’s Den #2 (98)


Dead World Restoration #1 (104)

Dead World Restoration #2(105)

Dead World Restoration #3 (106)

Dead World Restoration #4 (107)

G.I. Joe #209 (181)

Joe Frankenstein #3 (167)


Trio #1 (64)

Trio #2 (65)

Trio #3 (66)


Blood Red Dragon #1 (8)

Blood Red Dragon #2 (9)

Blood Red Dragon #3 (10)


Here I got a 3 issue sequence of a new martial arts superhero created by Stan Lee in 2011. It makes me wonder why Stan is writing comics for other companies in 2011.

Dark Minds  #0 (sparkle cover) (28)

Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #1 (47)

Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #2 (48)

Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #3(49)

Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #4 (50)

Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #5 (51)

Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #6 (52)

God Hates Astronauts #05 (180)

Morning Glories #39 (92)

MP: The Manhattan Projects #13 (125)

Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #4 (169)

Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #5 (165)


Alpha Big time #1 (29)

Alpha Big Time #001 (30)

Alpha Big Time #002 (31)

Alpha Big Time #003 (32)


Cable and XForce #015 (148)

Kick-Ass 2 #5 (176)

Kick-Ass 3 #3 (177)

Moon Knight #15 (93)

Secret Avengers #26

Spider Woman #005 (135)

The Emerald City of Oz #1 of 8 (variant edition) (172)

The Emerald City of Oz #8 of 8 (173)

The First X-Men #1 (33)

The First X-Men #2 (34)

The First X-Men #3 (35)

Ultmate Extinction #1 (17)

Ultimatum #1 (18)

Ultimatum #3 (19)

Uncanny X-Men: Regenesis #01 (76)

Uncanny X-Men: Regenesis #02 (77)

Uncanny X-Men: Regenesis #03 (78)

Uncanny X-Men #05 (79)

Uncanny X-Men #6 (80)

Uncanny X-Men #7 (81)

Uncanny X-Men #8 (82)

Uncanny X-Men #9 (83)

Uncanny X-Men #10 (84)

Uncanny X-Men #11 (85)

Uncanny X-Men #12 (86(

Uncanny X-Men #13 (87)

Uncanny X-Men #14 (88)

Uncanny X-Men #15 (89)

Uncanny X-Men #16 (90)

Uncanny X-Men #17 (91)

Wolverine: the best there is #10 (adult comic) (145)

XForce #001 (147)

XForce #003 (146)

Northwest Press (NW)

Rise: Comics Against Bullying #1 (168)


The Life After #5 (113)

The Life After #6 (114)


Dept. of Monsterology #3 of 4 (96)

Dept. of Monsterology #4 of 4 (97)


Mono #1 of 2 (95)

Top Cow

Postal #3 (161)

The Darkness: Four Horsemen #1 of 4 (23)

The Darkness: Four Horsemen: #2 of 4 (22)

The Darkness #7 (25)

The Darkness #12 (27)

The Darkness #25 (26)

The Darkness #77 (24)

The Darkness #107 (21)

Top Cow/Image

Rise of the Magi #1 (166)

Rise of the Magi #1 (171) variant cover


Archer & Armstrong #1 (115)

Archer & Armstrong #2 (116)

Archer & Armstrong #3 (117)

Archer & Armstrong #4 (118)

Archer & Armstrong #5 (119)

Harbinger #25 (160)


DMZ #22 (72)

DMZ #24 (71)

DMZ #26 (70)

Jack of Fables #49 (121)

Jack of Fables #50 (120)


Ex Machina #40 (149)

Ex Machina #41 (150)

Ex Machina #42 (151)

Ex Machina #43 (152)

Ex Machina #44 (153)

Ex Machina #45 (154)

Ex Machina #46 (155)

Ex Machina #47 (156)

Ex Machina #48 (157)

Ex Machina #49 (158)

Ex Machina #50 (159)


All that was in this box–181 comics for $30. That comes to 16 cents per comic, which seems like a fair price to me for used comics that no one really wants. The average price marked on these comics was $4.00, though a lot of them had been in the $1.00 bins for some time. Just goes to show how overpriced comics are.

If you ever got a really good, or bad, deal when buying comics, why not leave a comment?









Posted December 5, 2015 by atroll in Uncategorized