Random Access Memorabilia
Written and Illustrated by Howard Tayler
Colors by Travis Walton
Margin Art by Keliana Tayler
Bonus Story: The Roboticist’s Apprentice
Written by Sandra Tayler and Bob Defendi
Illustrated by Michael Mayne
Lettered by Howard Tayler
Weekly webcomics are hard. A Daily Webcomic is harder. Trying to find a good balance between daily punchlines, and a roughly year-long story arc is even harder still. With Schlock Mercenary, Howard Tayler not only does it, but has managed to do it so long that his early Schlock Mercenary strips can now vote, and get drunk anywhere in Canada. Given the way the comic often goes, not necessarily in that order…
Random Access Memorabilia is not the start of the Schlock Mercenary story, it’s not the most recent story either. Tagon’s Toughs are up to Book 16 in print, and are mid-Book 19 online. But it’s where I picked up the story, as “research” before tackling the Planet Mercenary RPG game.
The story is split into three parts. Part I: Read started on November 13, 2011. I won’t lie, I got a bit nervous reading through Part I. I was jumping into the deep end and this was basically one part setup for the story to come and one part closing out loose ends from the previous book, and I was lost. The important points came down to the fact that The Gavs, an entire species comprised entirely of 950 Million clones, have come up with a way to artificially rewrite their memories and DNA to become individuals. The other important bit is the set up for a secondary story around retired General Tagon and by extension his son Captain Tagon, leader of the Tagon’s Toughs mercenaries. There was also a wedding subplot, that I assume was finishing up a previous plotline, and even though I was largely clueless about the story, it was pretty amazing.
Part II: Write started on January 29, 2012, with Tagon’s ship, the Touch-and-Go, arriving at the Gavcorps dig base on the artificial planet Oisri. Gavcorps hired the mercenaries in order to to provide security for their ongoing excavation of an ancient artifact. I loved so much of this part. There’s a headless zombie, the best shortcut ever, and the worst shortcut ever. Eventually, more Gavs become zombies, which was the inevitable result as soon as someone said the word “zombie”.
Part III: Execute, which started August 19, 2012, has many explosions, a lot of focus on the General Tagon subplot, and ton of things I don’t want to spoil for you. I know the story is 7 years old, and I know you can read it online for free this very minute, but I’m going to make you actually read it.
While you can read the main story online, the printed version comes with some extras. There’s a great Foreword by Brian McClellan (The Powder Mage trilogy), a ton of footnotes to clarify certain details, and some amazing artwork by Keliana Tayler that helps break up some of the strips and gives a neat view on things.
You can read Random Access Memorabilia online HERE along with everything else Schlock Mercenary related, including ordering the physical book.