The Pittsburgh area Cos-Play scene is growing in a MAJOR way!!
Once again, the crew at Steel City Comic-Con did an AMAZING job! Great celebrities, Artists, Vendors; and yes.... COSPLAY!
From "The Walking Dead" to "Batman", "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Game of Thrones", there was no lack of supply when it comes to originality, talent and passion in the Pittsburgh Area Cos-Play Community.
There were so many fantastic costumes and characters, to pick a favorite is near impossible. With Local and National Cos-Play celebrites in attendance such as "Knight Mage" , "Envy the Green Fairy", "Admiral Apgar" and more, the talent level was brimming over the rim.
With each passing Steel City Comi-Con, the effort put into creating costumes and the joy that comes with Cos-Playing grows ever stronger! I can't wait to see what shows up in April 2017's SCC. Heck as a Cos-Player myself, I can't wait to drop some jaws with the costumes I have in store!
Stay Geeky friends!
First published in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast, Magic was the first trading card game produced and it continues to thrive, with approximately twenty million players as of 2015.
When I was about 14 or 15, this game came out. Magic the Gathering. I was already a huge geek, and when this game came out I was all in.
Starting with the original series, I played for many years. Then I joined the military. I was a little too busy to play as much as I liked but occasionally found time to play a hand or two or even manage to scramble a D&D group together.
After I got out of the service, Magic fell to the way side. Work and family took priority. Now that my son is older and I own my own company, I have the ability for more leisure time. BOOM! Magic came back into my life. I had forgotten how thrilling it was to get a booster pack and open it!
Almost like a child on Christmas day, the sheer anticipation of what cards you are going to get is an addictive feeling. Creating decks out of cards you pull from packs, coming up with new strategies to beat your opponent; it's a challenging and rewarding hobby.
However with all things, there is a down side. You can only play casual MTG for so long before you get pulled into the realm of tournaments. And here is where MTG has changed over the years, and not for the better I fear.
Apparently, there are two types of MTG players I have noticed.
Players like me, who take time to put together decks on our own, formulating stratagems, coming up with new ideas, concepts and even 'Themed' decks. This, I recently discovered is known as "Home Brew" decks. Sounds harmless right? Wrong. Apparently players like me are largely looked down upon by the MTG Elitist cliques.
These 'Cliques' are known as "Net Deckers". A Net Decker is someone who carbon copies championship decks from the internet, or mirrors other successful decks almost verbatim. "It guarantees I have a better chance at winning..." one player told me at a recent tournament. Now, I see nothing wrong with wanting to perfect your game play, in fact I encourage it. But being a bully about how better you are than other players, while doing it? THAT I have a problem with.
Hell, I'd have a problem with a Home Brewer being a bully, and would be the first to speak out against it. But I haven't seen that, YET.
It's not the fact that people are unoriginal and can't utilize their own imaginations to create something on their own that bothers me (it does a little actually); it's the attitudes and social inept behavior that comes with it. Magic used to be about fun, and friendship and creativity. Sadly as I have become witness as of late, it's largely about the gratification of the win at any cost.
Now I am not saying that this is ALL MTG players by any means, however it does seem to pollute many tournaments and game stores I attend. When I see a grown man defeat a kid and rub the kids face in it calling him a "faggot", we have issues.
Yes, that actually happened. It took every ounce of pissed off Veteran restraint I had not to take the guy outside and put my foot upside his head. Like, Really dude? You're a grown man! You carbon copied a blue/green crush deck from the 2016 Standard World Championship to beat a kid, and then you act LIKE THAT? You're a piece of crap dude, and I hope you get to read this article.
Bullying has become a serious problem in the realm of MTG. I have seen new players, female players and even veteran players all treated like filth by the "Net Decking" elite. Shame on all of you. God Forbid you create something on your own.
None of this is MTG's or Wizards fault. It is the fault of society en masse. And like any problem, the way to fix it is to realize that there is a problem. I love MTG, I play every chance I get. The MTG elite can keep their Net Decks. I'll create my own Home Brew decks and have fun. The way that Magic The Gathering was MEANT to be played since the beginning.
Set for release on October 11th, 2016 on Xbox One and PC, the latest installment of the "Gears Of War" franchise looks spectacular!
Gears 4 introduces three new characters: J.D. Fenix , Kait Diaz and Delmont Walker. According to IGN:
"JD Fenix is the son of Marcus Fenix. He and his close friend Del are on the run after a "classified incident" that forced both men to leave the COG. Kait Diaz is an outsider, born in the wild lands outside humanity's fortified citadels. Kait is the daughter of Renya, an important Outsider figure." (Read More From IGN)
One thing is for sure, I can't WAIT to play this game!!!! Yes, I have already pre-ordered it.
Coming Soon: Irregular Mischief Publications will be starting up our Podcasts again, as well as the YouTube channel, a new Twitch account and a Gaming channel on Youtube! Stay tuined. Spread the word and Stay Geeky people!
(Photo Credit: http://www.hdwallpapers.in/walls/gears_of_war_4-wide.jpg)
SteamPunk Pipe works is creating some of the most original and fascinating light fixtures I have ever seen.
I met Randy Voltz at Steel City Comicon a few weeks ago. The introduction came because my wife saw his booth and was infatuated with Randy's craft. She nearly ran people over to come get me and show me the Steampunk Pipeworks Booth.
All I had to say was "WOW!"
The imagination and skill to make such fantastic pipe work creations is surreal. Randy sure knows his trade and has the fortitude and vision to create some of the most bizarre lights, lamps, sconces and fixtures I have ever seen.
IMP- How did you come up with the concept for your light fixtures?
SPPW- Believe it or not, I woke up in the middle of the night with the basic idea of building a lamp out of old pipe fittings. By the time I fell back to sleep, I had the design worked out. Over the next few weeks, I would go to the hardware store and gather various pieces and parts that I didn't have, only to put them all back. For some reason I kept talking myself out of moving forward. Eventually I decided to quit messing around and go for it.
IMP- How long have you been making electrical fixtures?
SPPW- I've been in the home remodeling business for about 35 years. Very early on I discovered that I love electrical work. It requires attention to detail and allows me to "stretch" my brain, if that makes sense. I perform all aspects of construction, but electrical work I enjoy. I guess the answer to your question is that I've been making electrical fixtures officially for about a year and a half, but I've been getting ready for years.
IMP- What are some of the challenges in making your masterpieces?
SPPW- The most challenging part of making the fixtures is when I find a particular piece. I immediately try to figure out how to incorporate it into something. However, it can't be just anything...it has to be cool.
IMP- What are some of the strangest/ most unique items that you have made into light fixtures?
SPPW- I've made lamps from steel pipe and copper pipe. I've integrated electric outlets and dimmer switches. I've even used old valve handles as dimmer switch knobs. The most unique lamp, however, is made from an old aqualung scuba diving tank. It even has the backpack and old inspection tags still attached!
IMP- What would you like to make a fixture out of most?
SPPW- That's a good question...I can't really answer that. The sky's the limit. Who knows what I'll see tomorrow? What I hope to avoid is making something "cheesy". Anybody can drill a hole in an object and stick a light socket in it. I truly want my creations to be functional artwork that belong anywhere from a desk, to a nightstand, to an office setting.
IMP- Any projects in the works that you're excited about?
SPPW- Recently I've been thinking about using an antique fire extinguisher as a lamp base. There are some very ornate ones out there that deserve to see more life. It would be a crime for something that may have saved someone's house from burning down to end up in the scrap yard.
IMP- What is your favorite piece that you have made so far?
SPPW- I truly enjoy making all of the fixtures, but my favorite is the scuba tank. When I found it in a warehouse, I was like a little kid at Christmas time. It's fun to see what you can do.
If you're unfamiliar with the Fallout universe, then let me educate you.
Fallout is a series of video games that take place in an alternate history time line. The Action RPG (Role Playing Game) created by Bethesda is a cult sensation.
The premise for all the games is along the lines of this. Nuclear Winter has swept the globe and most of the only survivors made it because they were in underground bunkers. Those on the surface have struggled and scavenged, become murderous raiders or even mutated into zombie looking creatures called ghouls. Mutated creatures and monsters lurk around every turn, and you have to rely on skills and fighting abilities to make it.
Needless to say, with my passion for dystopian and alternate history stories; I have been a fan of the Fallout saga since Day 1.
When a great friend of mine, Comic book writer/artist Shane Ronzio told me his brothers production studio was making a Fallout Fan film, I jumped at the chance for an Interview! As happenstance would have it, Shane and I were both at Steel City Comicon a few weeks back and his brother showed up. In COSTUME! SO AWESOME!
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Shawn Ronzio and I hit it off! Such a great dude, and his passion for Movie Making and Fallout may actually be the only competition I have for Dystopian Zealot of the Year.
IMP- What inspired you to make a Fallout universe fan film?
A&O- Well, Long ago in a place called the 80's, Before our minds were saturated with mass media. I spent a lot of time with our VCR watching movies like Damnation Alley, Mad Max, Space Hunter, Escape from NY, Night of the Comet, Battletruck, Hardware, Warrior of the lost to name a few. The wheels of the post apocalypse were always spinning in my mind. in 1997, I got my first taste of fallout on PC and it started there, burning in the back of my skull, keeping me up at night, imagining about survival in that place of suffering and loss.
The movie has been brewing in my mind for quite some time, The world of Fallout was reborn into my life through my children, I had left home to go to LA to work in the special fx film industry in 2000. as my kids grew, My Daughter Zoe was the one to bring Fallout back into my life with Fallout3. We would spend hours role playing inside the wasteland, creating our own stories and having adventures. Then, we caught word of New Vegas was soon to break loose, and That is where this all started. I sculpted the Ranger mask well before the game came out from screen shots and concept art.
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IMP- How long did it take to make the movie?
A&O- It took one day to shoot, about a month to edit. 4.5 months to create all of our weapons, costumes, Bloat fly and sculpt and mold the Protectron.
I teach a class at the Savini School of Special Makeup Effects at DEC in Monessen PA, day one of class, on a whim, I walk in and say, you guys like fallout?? And just like that, My students lit up like a nuclear explosion and we worked like crazy people to create the opportunity to tell a short story in that place we only get to visit in our imagination, video games, and movies.
So It took about 15 weeks of build and prep for a one day shoot, the process of writing a gigantic story and breaking it down into a little chip of a tale to shoot for a one day project with my class.
IMP- What are some of the challenges of making an Indie Fan Film?
A&O- Well, the biggest challenge is the team, there are so many aspects to creating a film that require the right minds and energy, you have to really have to give it the best you got and nothing short there of when you make something like this. Location is huge, you have to have the locations and imagery that coincide with the story, costumes and acting has to be spot on or the translation will not work, and to get everything and everyone on the same page is an entire dance of nimble feet that is not easy to learn or perform. Time spent in the film industry really helped me prepare for such a thing, because if you want the world to see what is in your head and put it to moving pictures, you have to wear many hats. You must do everything to lead the crew to victory, and you must stay awake longer and finish what others can not, make phone calls, have meetings, sculpt. I could go on and on, the mind is never silent and you must also listen to everyone and their advice and concerns too, you must bend in the wind and not stay rigid or the whole synergy could break and derail the momentum of the project.
IMP- Do you have other projects already made/in the works?
A&O- I always have something brewing in the back of my brain, We are always up to something creative at Standard Art Works, plotting the next project or story. We have a massive Fallout story we would like to continue, but we need to see there are people who want to see it. We always have projects in the shop, that is what we do, I have been building things for over 30 years.
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IMP- What are some of the difficulties in adding special effects/cgi?
A&O- Well, The biggest difficulty with CG is having the right person to assist with the knowledge of adding CG and when to add it, We were blessed to have Dorian Cleavenger, who is a world reknown artist and is a visionary himself, cover our sound enginerring and CG elements. In his hands, you can always expect to be blown away and he delieverd. He got together with me and we decided on a few green screen pick up shots to pull elements of the film together that we missed during the shoot. Very blessed to work with that type of mind when creating art work, So happy he just stepped up and loved what we shot and then wanted to add some pivotal visuals to make it a better film, we worked very close together to get things tight, he is an amazing artist.
IMP- Will we get to see some power armor in the next films?
A&O- I would love to include power armor and we have some great stuff story wise to tell yet, we have one hell of a story, we would like to make the prequel to Angels and Outlaws and then the sequel. there is a lot of ground to cover and a lot to break down into story boards and location shot lists, a whole lot of work is ahead of us, and a lot of budgeting to come in the future, takes a long time to make things right and to get the support needed to do more.
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IMP-How long have you been making movies?
A&O- My Brothers, Shane and Terry and I have been making movies since the early 80's when we were kids, I went on to earn my degree in Industrial Design and then went on to Hollywood to work and have been working in film now professionally for almost 20 years. I had the opportunity to work with Oscar and Emmy award winning FX teams and work in and behind the scenes to block buster motion pictures, it changes how you see the world, I have never been the same since returning back to the east coast and instead of seeing wreck and ruin, all I see is Opportunity.
IMP- Need any actors? (I perform for beer...LOL.)
A&O- Things go right, and we get to finish this story, we will need a LOT of actors, a literal TON of talent! The best is yet to come with this tale from the world of Raiders, Robots and Radiation!! Working for beer, beer is always good, lol. especially after the shoot, for safety ;)
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With a November 11, 2016 release date, Arkane Studios and Bethesda's Steam Punk Shooter, "Dishonored 2" promises to out do the original.
Set 15 years after the events of the first game, Dishonored 2 marks not just the return of Corvo Attano but Emily Kaldwin as well. However, the adult Emily is a fully playable character this time around.
Will you choose to play as Empress Emily Kaldwin or the Royal Protector, Corvo Attano? The game promises to be quite the challenge. Filled with Bizarre and wonderful music, imaginative architecture and other worldly abilities; the Steam Punk FPS will be a no holds barred thrill ride.
Will you stalk your way through the game unseen, make full use of its brutal combat system, or use a blend of both? How will you combine your character’s unique set of powers, weapons and gadgets to eliminate your enemies?
The story responds to your choices, leading to intriguing outcomes, as you play through each of the game’s hand-crafted missions.
Check out some of the gameplay! I can't wait for this game to hit the store shelves!
I have heard a slew of stigmas and slander about people that play table top games such as Magic the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons in my years.
"...people who play that crap are social inepts..." , "...only geeks play that junk..." etc...
I am here to tell those people, shut your mouth. I spent MANY years, over 23 to be truthful, in the U.S. Military, Emergency Medicine, Law Enforcement and Fire Service. Guess how we passed the time when things were slow and there was nobody to fight, save, arrest or rescue?
We played Magic. We played D&D. We played a myriad of games that, yes were fun; but also kept our minds fresh and strong. Not all of us, but a fair portion. From Infantrymen to Machine Gunners. Combat Corpsman to Mortar-men, we all found ways to keep our minds occupied in our down time. Table Top gaming provided this distraction from the reality, that we have to do what most people can't/won't.
Logistics, Tactics, Psychology, Reading Human Behavior; all these things come into play when you're at the table with another opponent who you have to 'battle'. So when my Brothers at Nether Void Games said they were holding a Magic the Gathering tournament, I just HAD to go.
I have never competed in a tournament before, so I was a little anxious I must say. A 'Pauper' tournament (a.k.a. poor mans deck) , all card decks in play, MUST be made with all "Common" cards. No rare, Uncommon, or Mythic cards are allowed. For those who have no clue what I am talking about; in MTG, some cards are stronger/more rare than others. In this type of tournament, you can't use them. A true challenge.
From a 6 and a 1/2 year old to full grown adults, we battled until a victor emerged. A boy named Jason, and my own 6 1/2 year old Tristan attended. In this game, age, race, gender, social up bringing; none of it matters. We are all equal on the battlefield. Metaphorically speaking. I personally played several hands against the 6 1/2 year old Jason, who I must say...is a force to be reckoned with. The kid has NO poker 'tells'. Honestly. His face, was like watching paint dry, he was that focused. A little scary, if I am to be truthful. I won my hands against him, but I have to tell you; this kid held his own against me. Tit for tat, he was in it to win.
R.J. (the store manager) and Adam (not Andy, as I once called him in a previous article. Sorry Dude.) Had their hands full and I must say, they performed beautifully! Registering new competitors to the Wizards Of The Coast, and running the competition. They were exemplary!
One thing is for certain. Veterans, to store clerks. Firefighters to college students, there were many different people from many different walks of life in attendance. Smiles, small talk and new friendships all seemed to be produced in the inaugural sanctioned tournament held at Nether Void Games.
Maybe, just maybe;... if the entire World would just embrace their "Inner Geek" a little more, it could be just as AMAZING as Nether Void Games and all those who competed today. Today, we all went from "Paupers, to Kings." #ProfessionalGeek
So we finally have a date!!!!! It's not just the vague "August 2016" that we have all been waiting every single day for. Talk about leaving details to the ambiguous. Sheesh!
Before I tell you, here is the trailer from Bethesda in case you haven't seen it.
August 30th, 2016! This is the official word from Bethesda, naturally it is on a Tuesday. What's up with Game releases and Tuesdays I wonder? Any how, Bethesda has set the date. The 30th of August. August 30th. The day between the 29th and 31st of August. The 30th. Of this month. Of this year. Less than two weeks. Did I mention the Nuka World DLC will be out on the 30th of this month?
The anticipation MAY have driven me insane. Just saying. So, moving on. Here below is a GREAT analysis of the trailer and what we will and might see in the latest DLC for one of the greatest video games in history. (Personal opinion.)
We all have our heroes. Professional sports athletes. Movie stars. TV show stars.
When I was younger, I was in a rough spot in my life. Who am I kidding? I was bullied, abused and poor. Going to the food bank just to hopefully make it early enough that we could get food. Enough to feed the 7 of us. Ducking the gang of bullies waiting to beat me up on the way home. I wore my brothers hand me downs and was relentlessly tormented by the kids at school because I didn't have the latest fashions.
Burdens of growing up in a community of rich folk and going to a wealthy school district when your family is poor and lives in the same zip code. It was rough. I was constantly trying to find guidance and solace any way I could. No friends to speak of, because who wanted to hang out with the poor kid that smelled weird because his family didn't have a working washer and dryer?
My heroes, the only ones I could find were in comic books, movies, TV shows and cartoons. Daredevil and Captain America. G.I. Joe and the Autobots. Knight Rider, McGyver and the A-Team. Those were my friends. Those were my role models.
Years later, I overcame it all. A Paramedic, A Navy Hospital Corpsman, A Firefighter, A Police Officer, A Husband, A Father, A Friend, A Brother. I became, my own hero. Putting others before myself. Helping those that felt like I did. Being there for those, who had nobody. Like I was once. In the position of desperation, feeling like there is no help in sight.
Now, I am a successful Author and Businessman; I am in the position to meet my heroes that helped me get through it all. Heroes like Kristy Swanson and Michael Rooker.
In 1992, I was in 8th grade. It was one of the worst years in my life. My alcoholic relative was beating the hell out of my sisters and I, My 2nd brother was off for the Army ending Desert Storm/Shield with his unit. Mom and Dad cared more about Church and bible study than fixing the family. It was a hell of a time. I managed to sneak out one weekend. Instead of delivering my newspapers, I took my tip money and walked five miles across the bridge and down the highway to the movie theater to see a movie.
I had seen the previews on TV and it had caught my attention. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was filled with nothing but awe. Here was this girl. Lost, trapped in a world of popularity and ignorance. Maybe feeling somewhat oblivious to the plights around her, and BOOM! She finds out that she has a super power. She is there to rid the world of evil. For her, it was popularity and vanity, only to find out she can save the world. She went from stereo typical cheerleader to a hero.
I related on some strange facet. I was poor, abused, ignored and bullied; but what if? She went from "Top of the food chain" to hero. A Strong, independent female Alpha that wouldn't let evil win. What if I could go from a poor, abused, bullied weakling to the same? Later that year I became a First Responder and a member of Search and Rescue team. Leading to Emergency Medicine, the Military, Fire Department and more.
I have always held a place in my heart for Kristy Swanson. Not in a creepy way. She was so strong in that role, that it inspired me for years to come. She still does. I had the fortune to meet her recently at Steel City Comic-Con. I was in attendance selling my latest Fiction Novels and signing autographs as she was there doing photo-ops and signing autographs as well. I approached her and got an autograph and picture taken with her. I was completely star struck, but I think that I hid it well.
The next day at the hotel bar, I am outside getting some air with some friends, and she walks out of the door. Standing no more than a foot away from me. She joins in on the conversation, and I am still flabbergasted that the woman that pretty much kept me going all these years is standing next to me. Somehow, the conversation turned to Military Veterans. A dear friend, "Skippy", mentions that he, another and I are all Veterans.
She hugged every single one of us and thanked us for our sacrifice. She went on to tell us how much she appreciates and is grateful for us; and of how her and Actor Gary Sinese do charity work for the Men and Women over seas in Afghanistan.
On screen and off screen, this woman is still my hero. Compassionate and kind. I now know for a certain, that I was right to hold her in such high regard.
Then, there is Michael Rooker. A class act ALL TO HIMSELF. In a good way. ;)
Guardians of the Galaxy, The Walking Dead, Jumper, Stargate SG-1, The Dark Half...
This man has been in so many movies that I have seen that I can't keep count. I first saw him in "Days of Thunder" with Tom Cruise. To be honest, I REALLY loved his character more than I did Tom's. Sorry Tom. Not everything can be Top Gun, Edge of Tomorrow or Jack Reacher. Which, side note; "Top Gun 2" Really?
Michael Rooker has the ability to take any role he plays, and make it HIS! Good guys, Bad guys; Michael can portray it to perfection! It feels like Michael can take any character he plays and get into their head and know what they would be like. Feel how they would react. Whether it's "Mr. Svenning" in "Mallrats" or "Merle Dixon" in "The Walking Dead". Michael brings the character to life.
Michael and I both belong to a fraternal organization called Z.E.R.T., The Zombie Eradication Response Team. Over 20K strong worldwide and growing. It is a group of people that bond together over training, survival techniques and emergency preparedness. So when I found out he was attending Steel City Comic-con, I just HAD to meet him. I got my autograph, and had my membership card in hand. "I hear that we're both Brothers..." I say to him playfully. He sees the card and laughs. "I know. We're EVERYWHERE." I respond. He shakes my hand like a man and embraces me under his arm to take a picture.
On the last day of the convention, my son was with me at my booth. Michael is in the aisle behind us and my son spots him. "Yondu!" He shouts at Michael! I can't be certain of what happened next, because my view was obstructed, but it looked like a cool, "Hey Lil' Man" finger point! And my 6 year old was head over heals. "Daddy! Yondu! Yondu said hi to me!" The grin on my boys face couldn't have been any bigger.
The world needs heroes. Whether they're actors and actresses. Sports figures or celebrities. And of course the women and men in uniform on the streets and in the service. Our heroes, protect us. Give us inspiration. Set examples of how AWESOME humanity can be. If it's either on the silver screen or on the streets; heroes can change the world.
A while back I was at Steel City Comic-con in Monroeville, Pennsylvania; when I saw two Cobra Viper Cosplayers walking down the aisle.
If you are unfamiliar with what a "Cobra Viper" is, it is my distinct pleasure to educate you. Cobra Vipers are the foot soldiers for Cobra, from Habro's toy line/comic books (originally by Marvel) and tv cartoon "G.I. Joe". Side note, G.I. Joe (the comic book) was one of the first comic books to have it's own TV commercial.
(Pictured above are professional Cosplayers- Joe Colton and Maggies Madness, go give them a LIKE on FB)
I have been a die hard GI Joe fan since I was a child. A love that has followed me into adulthood. So the Cosplayers and I begin to talk, and I quickly ask about their movie quality helmets. The tell me about this Prop studio called Pit Viper Studios.
I quickly found the Prop makers on Facebook and even ended up joining their closed chat group. Lenvil King the owner of Pit Viper Studios and I soon became fast friends. A veteran of the Merchant Marines, Len has forgotten more about prop manufacturing than I will ever learn.
From Ant Man to the Flash, Berserker Dwarves, to GI Joe and Cobra; The versatility of Pit Viper Studios knows no bounds!
Red Hood has to be one of my favorite pieces made by the master manufacturers. I have come to know many knew friends and grown my knowledge of Cosplay all thanks to Pit Viper Studios. I even have my own 1986 Cobra Viper helmet coming to me from Lenvil.
Salt of the Earth, the crew from Pit Viper Studios is the best in the business. Take the time to give them a LIKE on Facebook and check out their catalog. There is something for everyone on their, and the quality is beyond compare.
CEO Spike Bowan is the Pittsburgh based Actor/Director/ Author/ Creator of the Alternate History Genre/Fiction saga "War in the Backyard".
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