The Invocation: Issue 2
Let me be the first (as far as I know, anyway) to officially welcome The Invocation to the fan made Warhammer webzine club. Yes, I realise this is their second issue, but I don’t consider something a proper webzine until it reaches issue two. Putting together one issue is piss easy, but following through and doing another displays your dedication. And to that, I tip my rusted, dirt encrusted helmet.
So, how is issue two looking, especially when looking back at issue one?
On the article side of things it is looking really good. There is a nice mix of articles types. Painting, tactics and stories all are featured. I particularly like the army showcase ‘Unholy Masterpieces’. The Carnivale de los Muerto is worth the hefty download price alone. The fact that the Vampire Counts players are championing such a different, but appropriately themed, army is good to see. Those armies that have had such time and effort put into them should be celebrated.
Besides this article, and the painting one, the articles were of no great interest to me. This is largely because I am not familiar with the Vampire Counts army book, and so know next to nothing on what they are talking about. From what I did read, though, the articles seem to be well written and edited. Poorly written and edited content is the bane of any publication, and a tough problem for webzines that rely on volunteer work to overcome. It seems The Invocation has a skilled team behind it, and I hope they can keep it up.
I would like to see some more articles that push the background of the Vampire Counts though. While tactics articles and battle reports are fine, the webzine format offers the opportunity to really flesh out the Warhammer mythos. Army books gloss over the details, and even supplement material like WFRP books only drill down so far. These webzines offer a terrific chance to sit down and just look at one aspect of the background that would otherwise go unconsidered. Not only does this create a greater sense of involvement in the material, but it also inspires other Warhammer players by giving them new details to work into their armies and fiction.
The design has certainly improved, but it is still a far cry from Skavenblight Gazette, or even Word of Hashut. To be honest, I prefered issue ones font size to issue twos. I realise that the physically displayed size of the text will differ depending on the readers screen size and magnification preferences, but the overall ratio of page dimension to point size of the text is off. It looks like they have used Times New Roman, or something based on it, as their main body font. Times New Roman can suffer, in the digital realm at least, from looking a bit too bulky and squashed up. It was designed with low quality papers and inks in mind, after all. Considerations a digitally displayed format does not have.
Their article titles need a little beefing up, too. At the moment, as far as I can tell, there is a section header as well as an article title. Section headers are the recurring topic articles appear under. Painting, would be a simplified example. Article titles are the titles of the written piece. Normally the article title is larger than the section header, because the section header is a constant visual que over multiple issues, and so does not need to have attention drawn to it.At the moment, though, The Invocations titles do not make sense. I can’t tell if the larger headers are section headers or article titles. The problem again happens to the next title, which is under the first and smaller.
Up until page 17 the text format seems sensible enough, bar the too-small type. After this the format switches between two column and single column designs. The two column works fine, but the single column looks just a bit too messy. This is compounded by the use of images centred to the paragraphs with large amounts of space equally on each side.Visually it just loses a lot of the coherence the two column formats creates.
I’m also not a fan of the overuse of the parchment background. Changing the background design of an article is a good visual indicator to the readers. Not only can you use it to quickly show them that they are reading a new article, but you can use it to tell them what the article is about, it’s context, and even how they should feel about it. The use of colour and simple iconography should never be overlooked.
This is something I am always on about, so I’ll only briefly cover it, but I think A4 landscape is still the way to go. In this case I am even more confounded by the retention of A4 portrait, but some pages are full page A4 landscape illustrations. My mind boggles as to how the decision to do this came about. I’m also a bit put off by the massive 45mb file size. 120 pages is a lot, but asking people to download 45mb seems a bit presumptuous. Not to mention, if The Invocation ever get its own website to host its issues on, 45mb issues are really going to hit the server hard.
Oh, that reminds me too. Get your own website, The Invocation. And track your website traffic. It will be worth it, especially when you start trying to extract stuff from Games Workshop and their affiliates. Not only will you be able to say you are the webs most popular Vampire Counts webzine, you will be able to back it up with hard numbers.
Alright, to sum it all up, and save you smart people who skipped all the way to the end for the wrap up spiel. The Invocation issue two is a worthwhile read. The articles are good, especially if you are a Vampire Counts player. While the design and layout side of things has a way to go, it is still easily navigated and understood. 45mb might seem like a hefty price to pay to read it, but ultimately it is worth it.