Storm Giants and Comic Book Shops

Nerdz Garage has 2 D&D 5E campaigns running right now that alternate Sunday’s depending on which Dungeon Master is available.  They go live each Sunday at 5 o’clock, est on Twitch.  Last week Dylan was the DM for his continuing Heist campaign,  the current arc is ” Water Heist ” using the new seafaring rules from the Ghosts of Salt-Marsh.


I was on the road last  week and Dylan knows that I take a mobile mini figure painting station with me for when I am not working and at the hotel. He gave me some furnishings and barrels to paint that he needs as scenery for this Sunday’s adventure. He let me know this morning that a particular rare figure he had ordered was not going to make it in time for Sunday and could I look around for one on the road….

Heading into Augusta GA that afternoon with time to kill, I set off on my mission. With a little help from google I zeroed in on a shop, Cardboard Castle Games. Quiet on a Thursday afternoon, they were helpfully enough but did not have what I needed. They did have some more miniature barrels and furnishings so I bought these and headed to a comic store they recommended, Top DogComics.                       




An amazing little store to say the least. Staying on mission, l made a note to return sometime and delve into their collection. After a great conversation with the owner about the comic store community in general, I headed to his  recommended store, Augusta Book Exchange. The sign outside says it all.  Uncommon for a game or comic shop they had a thirty foot sign out front hailing to one and all that their island of nerd is there. Said sign also looking 40 years old.


Jackpot! This place has everything and is worthy of a full afternoon browse or an evening to avail oneself of a game table. Super kind folks and they had an epic cloud giant figure , which will easily do as a storm giant once painted…by Sunday!

Derek Smith

Nerdz Garage

Frank Miller’s Ronin, 1983 and D&D



I went to my Local Comic Shop yesterday and my guy there said, “ Hey, you might like this trade (paperback) it’s a re release of Frank Millers series, Ronin from the eighties.”

I turns out, I love it.

The cover of DC’s re release of Frank miller’s Ronin series (1983).


I was in Burlington for the day to play some A D&D at a meetup in the public library. I was a bit nervous, going to play with total strangers. Would they let me play? Would they like me? Would I be good enough? Typical teen angst I guess, but it was my angst. Turns out, The answer was yes to all those questions, D&D has always been an accepting community. But I digress.

To kill time and calm down I went to a nearby arcade for a while and then to a comic book shop, Earth Prime.  I was browsing ( I had no more money to spend, I had bought some new D&D stuff and the rest was gone on arcade games) my usual books, Batman, Superman and Sgt. Fury when the counter guy interrupted.

“You might like this, I saw the D&D books in your bag.”, he said by way of explanation.

What he handed me changed my world. . It was book 2 in Frank Millers “Ronin “ Series , a short run 6 issue DC comic.  Only it wasn’t a comic. Not like Superman , Spiderman or anything else I had ever read. It was Gritty, had a real story and the art was out of this world. I loved everything about it. And, Samurai. Say no more. I already liked Samurai but this put me on the hunt for everything Samurai, Movies Books, games, everything.

As far as comic books go, it changed my world. I Understood with reading that one book (in the store without buying it) that comics were more than classic super heroes, that they were a vehicle for storytelling , archetypes and multiple layers as much as any novel. I just had to find the people that were making those comics.

From that I walked over to the public library, early, and found the room for “Advanced Dungeon and Dragons Game Meetup, 12:00 – til Closing (8:00 PM). The door was closed and I opened it to find 6 kids already there. The looked up from the table and in an instant sized me up and Cheered, “ Hey! We have a seventh!” Getting up to welcome me. They didn’t even know me.

“What’s your Name” “ What class do you play” “We have two Dwarves and an Elf” “A Druid and a Paladin, and a thief” “How long have you played” and on it went…I was instantly a part of this group and the Dungeon Master Looked me in the eye after everyone had settled, “ Welcome to the rest of your life, Derek. Your Party will be searching for a lost Tomb today, What Race and Class do you want to play as?”

“Samurai” I said , with only the hint of a nervous question.He laughed in a way only a Dungeon Master can,”  A D&D does not have a Samurai Class. Yet. We could design a class like that later on”.

So that day I went into the ”Tomb Of Horrors” with my brothers as a Human Ranger. I  lived and Fought as a Samurai  until the Library closed.


Derek Smith

Nerdz Garage



21 January 2017

Storytelling and Illustration

by Derek Smith, Janitor Supervisor at Nerdz Garage

By way of introduction to this new Nerdz Garage Blog about Storytelling and Illustration, I will say that I love all forms of these two things. That being, I am told, too broad of a topic to cover in a somewhat frequent blog posting I will narrow the focus. Let’s dial it in to the printed arena(with the possibility available to stray into the world of anime as it related to printed series).  Ok narrower still, the focus will be on the medium of illustrated narrative stories.



Graphic Novels.

Periodic tales illustrated in color or black and white.

The line blurs even further as we access Anime and other illustrated video content.

Ok? You get the picture?

I would have said, “Things you find in a comic book store”, but that sort of blows up again into once again too large and unwieldy of a subject matter.


I have always been mesmerized by a good story.  A story with pictures. Now there is something I can get behind. So here we are, blog number one.

Blog is a blunt term, not very sexy.  I think a better term for this narrative commentary might be Nerdz Illustrated #1.

Yeah. OKAY, Here we go…

As far as I am concerned we are living in the golden age of the illustrated medium of Comics, Manga and Anime.  I can go to a regular bookstore, a specialty “comic shop” and of course on The Web to find any number of incredibly crafted examples of great art and story craft.   These are not the days gone by where reading “a comic book” was only for children, and most of the story lines were, well, not very deep. The available choices were limited and reflected or typified the culture of the day.

No, today the freedom of creators to produce publish and circulate what they feel is important seems to be at a pinnacle in history.  Any type, any genre any flavor from stick figures to flowing abstract illustrations combined with storylines that are anywhere from one offs to series with no end in sight, Action Comics, featuring Superman, is nearing 1000 in one series alone. He is a constant. There are so many more, not to be so narrow as just one classic.   The list is endless from new content at the frontier —- space cowboys, spies, future universes and so on.

The access to this content is unprecedented. It is a great time to be a reader, a fan, a connoisseur, a collector and just to be alive.

That is how we at Nerdz see it.

What We are reading at Nerdz Garage right now:

A couple of selections at the top of our list:



Story: Jeff Lemire

Art / Cover: Dustin Nguyen

Published: March 4, 2015-


In the present day, I am fascinated by the Descender series from Image Comics by Lemire and Nguyen. I picked my first Descender book up at Awesome Con this past summer in Washington DC.  It was a random pick from a booth off the main traffic lane on the Con Floor. The cover art jumped out at me, Issue number one of the comic series.

It was not until I was on my flight home after the Con that I was able to dig into this title.  The art style drew me right in as did the story of an android, last of its kind(?), its race having been oppressed to near extermination out of another populations (humanity) fear. The story kicked off and by the end of this first issue, it left me wanting to believe in the good side of humanity and fearing the dark side of it as I reflected on the title of the series, Descender.

The story is powerful and brings to bear many ideas and concepts pertinent to our world today. This alone makes it a valuable comic.  The story set in a future where space has been conquered by humanity and the corporations seem to be kings is always a good place to start a fine sci-fi yarn.

Personally, I prefer to read and handle individual issues as they are released, or as I find them in back issues boxes. However, in this case, as soon as I returned home from the Con I ran straight away to my Local and pulled the available Trade Paperback compilations of Descender off the shelf as soon as I found they had none in back issues. I had to read all of it, right away.

I am not sure how this title escaped me for so long since its first publication in March of 2015, but I am on it now and better for it. And trust me, I have gobbled up thes rest of the series right up to the current edition,  Descender #20! Great stuff!

We give this one Nerdz Love, 5x (out of 5x).

This of course led me, as new finds often do, right down the rabbit hole to another title by Mr. Lemire who teamed up with Scott Snyder for, A.D. AFTER DEATH, BOOK 1.


Story: Scott Snyder

Art / Cover: Jeff Lemire

Published: November 23, 2016


This periodical book comes in a larger than average “prestige” format, magazine size, with a heavy cloth like paper cover. This alone draws me in. When I pulled this from the shelf of my local and opened it, I was instantly mesmerized by both the incredible artwork and the weaving of the story. Crazy good.  There is an eerie sketchbook quality to this piece that really works to its advantage and draws you in.  Art that makes me think and delve deeper into my own thoughts, more than normal, is a sure fire five-star hit.

On the image comics website, the lead for this book is “WHAT IF WE FOUND A CURE FOR DEATH?”


My only misgiving about this masterwork is that it is a limited run of three issues. All good things must end. I guess. I am very much looking forward to what these artists next have in store for us.

Read this Book!!! Nerdz Love 5x+ (out of 5x)(the + indicates an elevated level of Nerdz Love)..

That is all for now. Let us know what you think and by all means, share your comments and let us know what you are reading these days. We will be back soon talking more about Manga, Comics, our “local” and more!  Thanks for checking us out.


Derek and the gang at Nerdz Garage