It’s all Geek to me

Wow, Bill Amend really nerded one out of the park today.

The Foxtrot cartoonist regularly “rides nerdy,” with rampant references to D&D, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek-v.-Star Wars, and even calculus humor. Seriously, calculus humor — look it up. There are plenty of examples out there, yet Amend is probably the closest you’ll get to enjoying a math-based joke.

But today he dropped the atomic nerd bomb with a reference unrecognizable to all but a slim subset of geekdom. Fortunately, I speak Geek.

I'll bet Amend LARPs, too.

I sure wasn’t expecting a line like, “Where’d all my Warhammer miniatures go?” from my Sunday funnies. That’s “Warhammer 40K,” a tabletop wargame that requires scads, if not gobs of lead miniatures, preferably hand-painted. And sure enough, young Jason Fox is worried that his mother’s carelessness will scracth up the precious painting of his Orks and Space Marines.

I totally get it, J. Like you, I see each fallen flake of paint as a gaping wound on my little pewter buddies.

I wish more nerds knew what I was talking about. First of all, there’s the gaming aspect: Miniatures games are strategy contests like Risk on a protein shake diet, or Chess with, you know, something interesting to look at. Miniatures wage war on grids of every description. Warhammer, for instance, is set in a sci-fi/fantasy storyline where, obviously, Orks and Space Marines duke it out for supremacy. I’ve never played that one, but I am quite fond of HeroClix and Star Wars Miniatures. They’re fun alternatives to Risk or other overdone board games.

Yeah that's right: Sward-wielding Frankenstein versus Hoth Princess Leia. You know you wanna see it.

Heroclix (l) and Star Wars Miniatures; note that these are pre-painted plastic miniatures, thus denying the participant the true satisfaction of a paint job well done.

But almost better than the joy of playing these games is the painting itself. It’s small work, all deft movements and held breaths and itty bitty strokes with single hairs of a paintbrush. I rhapsodize about the benefits of miniature painting often, and when people give me the watch-out-he’s-got-swine-flu look, I compare it to fishermen tying flies — as in, hand-tying little tufts of feather and thread around hooks to resemble, uh, something a fish would want to bite. This is an almost holy sacrament of fisherfolk, and it seems everyone understands that metaphor, and the attraction of doing small work, something totally out of proportion to the rest of the day.

And so it is with me. When I get a chance (and I sooo rarely get the chance these days) I love sitting down with an unpainted lead sculpture no bigger than a knuckle and turning it into something colorful and awesome. The pieces may be useful for a specific encounter in some D&D session, or a game I’m always meaning to try,  but more often then not, I just want to see what comes out from under the brush. And while it’s fun just being a casual hobbyist, I love admiring what’s possible when you really put your mind to it. I’m glad Bill Amend understands.

Monk versus monkey! A furious-fisted Shaolin monk (my first effort) battles an elastic super-ape (in progress). Note the chipped knuckles of the monk. Humans 1, Simians 0!

Monk versus monkey! A furious-fisted Shaolin monk (my first effort) battles an elastic super-ape (in progress). Note the chipped knuckles of the monk. Humans 1, Simians 0!

I've even roped my boys into the act. The castle on the left is a Work in Progress authored by Younger Boy; on the right are two rock-like warriors (from the game Wargods of Aegyptus, another one I keep meaning to try); anyway the fellow on the far right is the work of Older Boy.

I've even roped my boys into the act. The castle on the left is a Work in Progress authored by Younger Boy; on the right are two rock-like warriors (from the game Wargods of Aegyptus, another one I keep meaning to try); anyway the fellow on the far right is the work of Older Boy.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “It’s all Geek to me

  1. You and your monkeys! Geesh! But the painting of minis is a whole ‘nuther aspect of gaming often overlooked. In my very non-artistic life, it has been my one artistic outlook and offered me insight into what it means to create art and be proud of it!

    • jdrewscott

      I think Hollywood has been very clear that monkeys will some day be our overlords, Poet. And when they are, my special collection of ape-related comics and tchotchkes will let me insinuate myself among them, saving me from certain doom in the banana mines. Ook ook, brother. Ook ook.

  2. Kat

    Wow. You’ve no idea how much I’ve missed this sort of geekdom. No one can geek out quite like you, “J.” Just awesome.

    • jdrewscott

      Aw, thanks, “Kat.” The truth is, though, that you and I both know there is at least one other whose geekiness is Yoda to my mere Luke. That would be the “Desert Son” who has already posted at this blog, and who sat not 10 feet from you and me in our clustered cubicle. So I guess that would make you, uh, Princess Leia maybe? Mon Mothma, perhaps? Heck, Nien Nunb might have been female, for all we know…

  3. Man. You are a bit bigger geek than even I imagined.

    “And I can imagine quite a bit”

    🙂

    -ST

    • jdrewscott

      It is time for the apprentice to become the master, stolin my good man. And I think you’re up to the task … into the Dagobah swamp to face dream-Vader, then.

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