The Ruffled Crow

Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things

Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual and Other News From Retropolis

Anymore it seems rare to come across a website that is simply beautiful and exudes a scent akin to fine digital Corinthian leather.

Gwen with the Toaster in her Hepmobile

In the case of Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual the scent is probably closer to light machine oil and Naugahyde, but the craftsmanship is in clear evidence.

Straight out of the retro-futuristic worlds of the old sci-fi pulps and World’s Fair ‘Worlds of Tomorrows’, Bradley W. Schenck has put together an astounding collection of work over at Webomator. Over several projects, Mr Schenk restores and re-imagines vintage graphics at The Retrovert, as well as gives us various glimpses into Retropolis (The Future That Never Was). Considering my partiality to the art deco style, this self-admitted front for a widely varied catalogue of merchandise is a potentially serious danger to my credit card balances.

Containing such departments as The Retropolis Transit Authority, Travel Bureau, and more. (even celtic art. seems kinda left-fieldish at first thought, but celtic and deco styles do have some affinity really)

Thrilling Tales however, is my favorite portion of this steampunkish empire. Currently it presents two tales; an interactive story, The Toaster With Two Brains, and an in-progress serial, The Lair of the Clockwork Book.

The Toaster With Two Brains is less like the Gates (by hal hefner) digital graphic novel and is more akin to the ‘Create Your Own Story’ book format. With a primary illustration per page, the text serves more to fill in the story around the detailed image and lets the art be what pulls the reader through the tale. What sets this divergenary account apart, besides the extraordinary art, is the ability to ‘look’ at the objects the character you are following is carrying, reminiscent of countless MUDs and RPGs I’ve played. Another nice, interactive bonus to The Toaster.

Between his 3 sites one could certainly get lost for hours just clicking around gawking at Mr Schenk’s artwork, as I can attest to personally, and it is a worthy trip indeed.

Now, you can chalk it up to a sense of duty, a need for entirety, or (as is the actual case) the seizing of an opportunity to digressively promote Good Things; I’d like to note that Seattle Public Library has their own version of Thrilling Tales every couple weeks Monday noon. Granted a brown-bag lunch-time mystery short story reading appears to be a far cry from Retropolis’ Tales, but here again something other than the words themselves pull the ‘reader’ along, namely the story-teller – the voice. If you’re in the neighborhood it’s worth a listen in on. (and remember to support your local library. and read a book. and sit up straight)

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