8FOLD/META: 2014 Year in Review

Tom Russell joltcity at gmail.com
Thu Jan 1 10:50:39 PST 2015

             2014 YEAR  IN REVIEW

I'll be honest-- it's been an awesome year for Eightfold.

To put said awesomeness into context, you have to remember that
Eightfold was never intended to be a one-man show, let alone mine. It
was Jamie Rosen who put out the call for writers for a new shared
universe he was founding. I signed on as a sort of a lark. At first, I
thought of it as "Jamie's universe", the way one would say that ASH is
"Dave's universe" or Starfall is "Ted's universe". In the weeks
leading up to Eightfold's 2005 launch, Jamie and I collaborated enough
that we thought of it as "our universe". At the same time, it wasn't
meant to be just ours. It was always our intention to bring more
writers into the (Eight)fold. We wanted it to be a thriving and
diverse universe, like the LNH or the old Omega. That's one reason why
it encompasses all manner of weirdness and genres, without an
underlying core feature; our core, we maintained, what our universe
was "about", would be damn good writing.

We were unsuccessful in expanding our roster of writers (due, at least
in part, to a certain flame war). After a couple of years, Jamie
stopped writing for RACC, leaving me in charge. Strangely it went from
being "Jamie's universe" to "Jamie and Tom's universe" to "Tom's
universe". And other than a few (wonderful) Saxon Brenton stories in
JOURNEY INTO and MY FATHER'S SON, It has pretty much been a one-man
show. In 2013, Eightfold saw its 99th publication-- a
less-than-thriving average of 0.94 issues per month.

2014, by contrast, saw 36 publications-- an average of 3 per month!--
written by six (!) authors. A third of this is due to our new
anthology series, MIGHTY MEDLEY, regularly featuring at first four,
and now five, one-page stories a month. (If we were counting "stories"
as our individual unit instead of issues, we'd have 81.) So let me
take this opportunity give a big shout-out to Stalwart Saxon Brenton
and Amazing Andrew Perron, my fellow regulars on the Medley rotation,
as well as guest luminaries Magnificent Mary Russell (Hi wife!),
Penultimate Peter Jurich, and Wondrous Wil Alambre. This is the first
year that Eightfold's really been the thing we always wanted it to be,
and that's because of you. Take a bow!

In celebration of this banner year for Eightfold, I now shall commence
with our annual Year in Review, listing the stories, authors, and
characters for whom you might like to vote for come the next RACCies.

This includes, of course, the RACCie for Favorite Universe, or as we
in the newsgroup business like to call it, "The LNH Award". ;-)

100. Mighty Medley # 1

"Open Letter" by Andrew Perron
Debut of the Dyzen'thari. A lovely story, in some ways typical of
Andrew's work-- full of thoughtful and big-hearted optimism.

"Terror of the Tribots!" by Tom Russell
The first story starring the third Darkhorse (though not her first
story). Nice little action story, though I was still definitely
finding my feet.

"Beyond the Fields" Pt. 1 by Saxon Brenton
(Comments for the entire serial.) Saxon's supernatural serial
concerning an angel, a paranormal investigator, and a painting by
Hitler from an alternate unreality that is corrupting and warping the
Eightfold universe proper (or at least one small town therein). Also
featuring a treasonous Nazi Necromancer, zombies on the Eastern Front,
dinosaurs, and all sorts of other weirdness. Saxon's a great
world-builder, full of great ideas with great twists. I don't think he
gets enough credit however for the sharp quality of his
characterization, or the brisk, eminently readable nature of his
prose. There's a reason I've been a big Brenton fan since day one, and
a reason why I tried to get him involved with Eightfold early on.

"Up To Their Necks In It" by Tom Russell
A short, ostensibly humorous story about the Twain (Quash and Danalee
of ORPHANS OF MARS) hiding in dinosaur faeces.

101. Mighty Medley # 2

"Thorns of a Dilemma" by Tom Russell
The second Darkhorse story finds her in a villain's death trap. Said
trap robs her of the use of her speed powers. I think I did a better
job here getting across her force of personality, and her

"Beyond the Fields" Pt. 2 by Saxon Brenton

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Pt. 1 by Tom Russell
My own serial set in Eightfold's Weird West, a sort of mixture between
AGAINST THEBES. I've tried to keep the prose lean and stylish, and I
think sometimes I succeed.

"Picnic" by Andrew Perron
The Norse god Balder and the Egyptian goddess Bast hang out. Like a
lot of Andrew's stories for the Medley, I'd like to see more of these

102. Nonfiction # 2

"Other Life" by Tom Russell
Most of my superhero fiction is celebratory-- even, I'd argue, the
usually downbeat JOLT CITY-- about the transformative and invigorating
nature of wonder. But life in a superhero-class universe might also be
absolutely terrifying-- I know I wouldn't want to live in one!-- and
this story focused on that sort of experience.

103. Mighty Medley # 3

"Grudge Match" by Saxon Brenton
Terry Pratchett fights and slays Early Onset Alzheimer's. It's funny
but about very serious things-- and so is itself very Pratchett-esque.
Incidentally, I owe Saxon my thanks for his assistance in suggesting
starter Pratchett books for Mary, who is on her way to becoming quite
a fan (particularly of the Moist and Death books).

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Pt. 2 by Tom Russell

"Beyond the Fields" Pt. 3 by Saxon Brenton

"Strange Profit" by Andrew Perron
Wonderful vignette about The Merchant, who sells people what they want
and in return asks of them what they need. One of several gently
cosmic stories Andrew has contributed, and the Eightfold universe is
richer for it.

104. Weird Romance # 3

"Ache" by Tom Russell
A vampire story in which there are two vampires: the literal vampire,
and his victim, who becomes something of an emotional vampire in the

105. Jolt City # 21

"Promise and Terror!" by Tom Russell
The introduction of FEVER, the maniacal body-control terrorist group.
I'm especially proud of the Blue Boxer/Knockout Mouse action sequence
in the underground research lab.

106. Mighty Medley # 4

"Four Minutes" by Tom Russell
The third Darkhorse story, and one of the better ones, I think. She
must defuse a series of bombs planted around Atlanta while solving
puzzles that lead her to the next bomb.

"Beyond the Fields" Pt. 4 by Saxon Brenton

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Pt. 3 by Tom Russell

"Wide Awakening" by Andrew Perron
An outlier in Andrew's usually cheerful oeuvre, in which a mad
scientist gets his comeuppance.

"Reign of the Cyborgs" by Tom Russell
A gleefully ridiculous, over-the-top, crazy-violent story about
Inspector Three-Nine and his human partner (a part-time gravure idol)
fighting a gang of Cyborgs covered in laser-proof dinonium.

107. Orphans of Mars: To Bell The Cat # 1

"Tharsus and Deimos" by Tom Russell
The second Orphans mini, and the basis of the second Orphans book.
More tightly-plotted than its predecessor, I'm fairly proud of several
of the action sequences and plot twists. I'm prouder of the book
version, which introduces a new (and quite significant) twist right
before the end. The story titles listed here are retroactively applied
from chapter titles in the book, as the episodes originally didn't
have individual titles. The first issue sees Nisja crash-landing on
Earth, and introduces Fenn, who takes down an ankylosaurus

108. Mighty Medley # 5

"Splat!" by Mary Russell
One morning I woke up and Mary had written a story for the Medley. Her
first solo effort is very bright and charming, perfectly capturing the
voice of a young teenage girl, and uses genre elements to explore
issues of puberty and the accompanying body transformation.

"Beyond the Fields" Pt. 5 by Saxon Brenton

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Pt. 4 by Tom Russell

"Debate in Dialogue" by Andrew Perron
Two cosmic beings argue about the nature of life, the universe, and
everything, and use Earth to settle their argument.

"The Bergeron Run" by Tom Russell
The fourth Darkhorse story isn't an action story, but a quieter,
character-oriented piece dealing with the death of Dani Handler from
breast cancer, and Darkhorse's own impending mortality.

109. Orphans of Mars: To Bell The Cat # 2

"Teneve" by Tom Russell
Ress undergoes her Teneve, finding the first Martian ship. We discover
that Ress had poisoned Jarissy, and is at least partially responsible
for her death.

110. Journey Into # 17

"Back From the Dead" by Saxon Brenton
One of Saxon's stories about the Longitude family. The previous
installment in this saga, "All Us Zombies", was an imprint highlight,
and this one, in which the diabolical Professor Longitude takes over
Doctor Longitude's body, is no different.

111. Journey Into # 18

"This Man... This Rutabaga!" by Tom Russell
The Human Zeppelin accidentally starts the Pulse War (or so everyone
thinks). A goofy little farce, but I tried to make sure that goofiness
came out of the characters, and I think I succeeded.

112. Mighty Medley # 6

"Log File Wait, no, I mean, This is My Story"
  by Andrew Perron
(Seriously, Andrew, that's a very long title.) Kid Enthusiastic makes
his Eightfold debut. I was reticent at first about letting characters,
or version of characters, from other imprints (particularly the LNH)
cross over into Eightfold, and had in the past refused these requests.
But this story turned me around on it, and after mulling it over, I
gave Andrew-- and a certain other party-- permission to proceed as
they originally intended.

"Breathing Underwater" by Tom Russell
The first of several Darkhorse stories set during her June 2014
"vacation" in Lemuria. This is the one where she puts out a fire in an
underwater discotheque and defeats some raiding Apelantians. Also the
one with all the sound effects: CHAKATHOOM.

"Beyond the Fields" Pt. 6, by Saxon Brenton

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Pt. 5, by Tom Russell

"Vox Dei" by Tom Russell
Gregory Dingham returns to existence, and is kind of a jerk about it.
More on this later-- maybe this year, maybe next year.

113. Orphans of Mars: To Bell The Cat # 3

"Secrets of Cydonia" by Tom Russell
This is the one where Nerrine discovers that the White City knew that
Earth was hostile all along. Danalee has her first duel with Nisja,
which I think is a perfectly serviceable sci-fi action sequence.

114. Nonfiction # 3 [PW-01]

"The Next War" by Tom Russell
Takes the form of a weekly news magazine article. It deals with the
declaration of war by the Pulse, the various reactions to it, the
readiness of mankind for such a conflict, and the other challenges
facing the Eightfold universe in 2014. (Not, "the present day",
because much like JOLT CITY, which ends its run in 2015 but is set in
2008, publication date does not equal timeline date.)

115. Journey Into # 19

"Wobblies on a Train" by Tom Russell
Knockout Mouse and Dr. Metronome II-- the latter being Eightfold's
first-ever superhero-- have a team-up in 2008. A fun story about a
couple of plucky young ladies kicking butt. It occurs to me that
Eightfold has a lot of plucky young ladies kicking butt-- these two,
Darkhorse III, Wazowie, even Van Morrison and Dr. Fay to a degree--
but, look. I like plucky young ladies kicking butt.

116. Mighty Medley # 7

"Beyond the Fields" Pt. 7, by Saxon Brenton

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Pt. 6, by Tom Russell

"The Case of the Troublesome Texts" Pt. 5,
   by Andrew Perron
A cheeky "fifth" part, and conclusion, to the latest case of the
Agents of SMAK (Science, Mathematics and Abstract Knowledge Team). So
geeky. So goofy. So much gleeful fun.

"The Cure for the Common Cold" by Peter Jurich
A supervillain in therapy. Cute, with surprising emotional resonance.

"I Am A Good Dog" by Wil Alambre
Wil's first story for Eightfold, and it's an absolute delight. I love
how Wil captures the very specific dog-ness of his protagonist.

117. Orphans of Mars: To Bell The Cat # 4

"The Thief and His Harem" by Tom Russell
This one has the really great and violent fight between two
pteranodons, and sees Ress's successful seduction of her sister,

118. Jolt City # 22

"October Surprise!" by Tom Russell
It's hard to summarize any installment of JOLT CITY, because first of
all they're so frigging long and more than a little ornate. This is
the one with the mob war, FEVER, the Day of Terror, the Dyzen'thari,
time travel. Pretty much everything, really.

119. Mighty Medley # 8

"Future Insurance" by Wil Alambre
Stop me if you've heard this one before: Wil Alambre takes a clever
premise and delivers an exceptionally clever story!

"Beyond the Fields" Pt. 8, by Saxon Brenton

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Pt. 7, by Tom Russell

"The Song in the Night" by Andrew Perron
A strange, lovely little story-- more a style/mood piece. Which is I
think ideal for the shorter MEDLEY format. As I always seem to be
saying, there's such a gentle lovely kindness, and a bigness of heart
typical of Andrew's work that's very much in evidence here.

"Coward's Tree" by Mary & Tom Russell
Another story about the Twain in a precarious, but comical, situation.

120. Orphans of Mars: To Bell The Cat # 5

"Leviathan" by Tom Russell
The highlight of this one is Nerrine's fight with the tylosaurus.
There's also quite a bit of POV-intercutting in this one as the Twain
and Nisja have what proves to be their final skirmish.

121. Red Hart # 1 [PW-02]

"The Gods of Algebra" by Tom Russell
(Title given retroactively as I forgot to title the first issue.)
Probably the most ambitious thing I've done for Eightfold, and
certainly the craziest. It's Kirby cosmic by way of Grant Morrison by
way of the Bard. This one reveals the true motive of the Pulse, and
properly introduces the annihilating God-Flood (itself unleashed due
to the Dyzen'thari invasion in mentioned in MIGHTY MEDLEY # 1 and seen
in JOLT CITY #22-23).

122. Red Hart # 2 [PW-03]

"The Beasts Set Loose" by Tom Russell
The Gods of Algebra attempt to control cosmic beings that will allow
them to defeat the God-Flood, and instead unleash "doom upon doom" in
the form of the Never-Lord (who possesses Sedenion) and the Death-Moon
Awides. Vanessa "Van" Morrison kills Octonion, rather than become a
vessel for his cosmic power and lose her identity.

123. Red Hart # 3 [PW-04]

"The Forest Prince Returns" by Tom Russell
The Red Hart gets a human host, and some proper superheroes get into the act.

124. Mighty Medley # 9

"Wetwork" Pt. 1 of 2, by Tom Russell
The Blackfin hires an assassin to kill Darkhorse, and said assassin
goes over his plan.

"Space Invaders" by Tom Russell
A very "formal" story, in that its formal conceit-- the narrator is
infected with a linguistic virus that rearranges words and spaces into
new words-- is really the "point" of the story.

"Beyond the Fields" Pt. 9, by Saxon Brenton

"Original Characters" by Andrew Perron
Andrew writes a story about the original Green Knight and the Acro-Bat
taking on a very Mxyzptlkesque villain.

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Pt. 8, by Tom Russell

125. Orphans of Mars: To Bell The Cat # 6

"Rex on the Beach" by Tom Russell
The conclusion and denouement for the web version of this story
(though the book version adds about two-and-a-half chapters, and a
pretty significant twist).

126. Red Hart # 4 [PW-05]

"The Constant Moon" by Tom Russell
Van meets up with the Seven Wonders and the Red Hart, and they
discover the imminent threat posed by the death-moon.

127. Nonfiction # 4

"The Top 5 Explanations for Ranovia" by Tom Russell
All the Nonfiction stories take the form of some kind of pastiche of a
form of nonfiction: comics scholarship (# 1), blog (# 2), news-weekly
(# 3), and here, a listicle (# 4) about a country that doesn't exist,
but maybe did for a few days.

128. Red Hart # 5 [PW-06]

"The King of Dragons" by Tom Russell
One thing I tried to do with every issue was introduce some crazy new
cosmic thing, and the impossibly large, impossibly old dragon who had
murdered the Red Hart's entire pantheon fit the bill nicely.

129. Red Hart # 6 [PW-07]

"For All Mean Well" by Tom Russell
This one introduces Nox, the Queen of Night, who asks that Van betray
the Earth to regain freedom in the stars.

130. Mighty Medley # 10

"Venting the Cybercore" by Andrew Perron
Superheroes discuss corporate politics while punching stuff? I'm in!
Andrew creates a lot of "throw-away" concepts for heroes and villains
that have just enough to them to make them real, and to make the
reader want more.

"Wetwork" Pt. 2 of 2, by Tom Russell
The assassin puts his plan into motion, and Darkhorse has to figure it
out and take him down. This is the story that Andrew said reminded him
of Mark Waid FLASH, and since that's the high-watermark for
speedsters, that's very high praise indeed. Certainly this is one of
the better Darkhorse action stories.

"Beyond the Fields" Pt. 10, by Saxon Brenton

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Pt. 9, by Tom Russell

"The Hourly Report" by Wil Alambre
Very fun, very stylish and punchy piece, positively dripping with ideas.

131. Red Hart # 7 [PW-08]

"Their Darkest Hour" by Tom Russell
Red Hart's human host doubts his ability to control him, and Van takes
the god-box to Sedenion. Introducing the alien scientist Jamy Lo.

132. Red Hart # 8 [PW-09]

"The Hero, Born of Woman" by Tom Russell
Van takes a stand against Sedenion, and is killed-- mostly, sort of.
The Seven Wonders are possessed by Sedenion, now fully aware that he
is the Never-Lord. A small part of Nox is freed, and she speaks with
the Red Hart, setting the stage for our finale.

133. Red Hart # 9 [PW-10]

"Deorum Et Machina" by Tom Russell
I'm not sure if I can really describe this adequately, other than to
say that this is a crazy series at its absolutely craziest. The
concluding spectacle is, as Andrew noted, pretty much impossible to
stage, and intentionally so.

134. Mighty Medley # 11

"Beyond the Fields" Pt. 11, by Saxon Brenton

"Rhapsody in Black" by Tom Russell
Monad, who was introduced in RED HART # 9, gets a solo story here,
about an abstract god-eating space-vampire thing.

"Doing It For The Art" by Andrew Perron
Another cute story from Andrew, with hero and villain working against,
and yet with, each other.

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Pt. 10, by Tom Russell

"The Froggy Problem" by Tom Russell
A logic puzzle. Hey, when you're short a page two days before
publication, you have to stretch a little.

135. Mighty Medley # 12

"Buddy Cops" by Andrew Perron
People can do bad things, and there is a sadness to that, expressed by
the protagonist in this story. I think that's why the story is
surprisingly moving.

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Pt. 11, by Tom Russell

"The Last Ghost" by Wil Alambre
A neat, if dark, twist on a Dickensian staple of Christmas-themed

"Beyond the Fields" Pt. 12, by Saxon Brenton

"The Bad Year Blimp" by Tom Russell
An emotionally raw story-- unusual for a story about the Human
Zeppelin-- and a reflection on what a hard, but wonderful, thing a
marriage is.

Holy crap, that's a whole lot of stories. Let's look at a few
potential eligibles for Eightfold:


* Wil Alambre
* Saxon Brenton
* Peter Jurich
* Andrew Perron
* Mary Russell
* Tom Russell


* Mighty Medley
* Jolt City
* Journey Into
* Nonfiction


* Orphans of Mars: To Bell The Cat
* Red Hart


* Beyond the Fields
* Seven 'Gainst Thebes
* The Pulse War
* The FEVER storyline


* Blue Boxer
* Knockout Mouse
* Green Knight II
* Nerrine
* Ress
* Danalee
* Quasha
* Joan the Angel
* Deidre the Human
* Darkhorse III
* Julie Ann Justice
* Human Zeppelin


* Ress
* FEVER/Kara Caller
* Sedenion/The Never-Lord
* The Pulse Collective
* Jack Peake
* The Diabolical Professor Longitude
* The old rex


* Fenn
* Joan the Angel
* Deidre the Human
* Marcus Oustler the Nazi Necromancer
* Vanessa Morrison/Monad
* Red Hart
* Sedenion
* Tina Wazowie
* Hank High
* Dash Adams
* Dyzen'thari
* Kid Enthusiastic (8FOLD version)
* About three dozen other characters Andrew created
* The Good Dog

[Note that Darkhorse III is not eligible as she previously appeared in
JOURNEY INTO # 15. I know, I'm sad about it too.]


* Peter Jurich


* Mighty Medley

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