Blogs:

Random Data On The World of Dr. Nick
by -3-

I realize that it's been too long since the last blog post. So instead of working on next week's comics (sadly that buffer ain't what it used to be), i'll ramble here for a bit.

Last time, i mentioned the existance of Luminiferous Aether. WTF, you might wonder. You see - the current understanding of light is that it acts as both a particle and a wave, depending upon circumstance. Back at the turn of the last century, it was noted that light acts as a wave. Now, while particles can travel through a vacuum, a wave needs a medium to carry it. So if light is a wave, there must, perforce, be a medium to carry that wave. Hence, the Luminiferous (or 'light bearing') Aether. The existance of said medium in the world of Dr. Nick has significant ramifications in physics, but not much that the reader will consider to be of note. The one thing that will be significant at some point is that the Luminiferous Aether is a medium that can be traversed - sailed like an ocean of water.

Hey! Let's talk about Kutna Hora. You'll remember, i'll pretend, that our story opened there, and we'll be returning there tomorrow. Why was Kutna Hora selected out of all of Europe to be a focal point for our tale? Because it's frelling awesome, that's why. First, a bit of historical background:

Kutna Hora, under various names, has been around almost 1000 years longer than the USA. But it gained significance in 1300 when King Wenceslas II issued the new royal mining code, the IUS REGALE MONTANORUM, which defined the terms and conditions necessary for the operation of mines. Kutna Hora became a silver mining center, and, in time, the mint for the Bohemian Kings. The name derives from both the cowls that monks who operated the mint wore, and the word for 'mine'. Kutna Hora became the second most important city in Bohemia, and it maintains the old world feel and architecture to this day. It is a World Cultural Heritage site - the whole freaking city! (Not to mention the various sites contained within, like the Santa Barbara Cathedral, the Bone Church, etc.,.)

As noted earlier, it also contains the world's oldest Museum Of Alchemy. There's a marvelous Plague Spire. Not to mentioned the previously mentioned Ossuary. (AKA 50,000 Dead People In A Church).  And while the history and cultural focus of the city made it a perfect choice, what really decided it for me was that it's a beautiful city to draw. Take a look at tomorrow's strip (MAD SCIENCE! 020) and get a glimpse of the statuary lining a simple avenue behind the monastery. Not to mention the amazing archetecture of the cathedral at the end of the lane.

If i ever go world travelling again, Kutna Hora is at the top of my list.

(All this is rambling off the top of my head, after wine & recreationals. Go learn for yourself, correct any errors i've made, and see the wealth of beautiful imagery you find along the way)

Technology in Dr. Nick's world.
by -3-

As mentioned previously, scientific development has been significantly altered. A secondary sociological effect of the Church has been to weaken the effect of suppression of new tech by entrenched money. If a private inventor develops something that the current moneyed business doesn't like and they try to keep it off the market or stifle the development, the inventor can just go to the Church and see what kind of help they'll provide against those who stand in the way of following God's command to understand the world. (See the previous Secrets Of The World blog entry)
So, while in our history Westinghouse may have decided is was impractical to meter & bill for broadcast power, the money was easily found to develop it. At least in Europe, and the Persian Empire is considering the advantages of developing such a system.
Did you know that a method for generating electricity from cosmic rays (yep - the same stuff that gave us the Fantastic Four) was patented way back in the 1800s? Think of what might be accomplished by another few decades of development by the time of our current tale. Dr. Nick is perhaps the world's greatest authority on energy & electrical power. The heavy belt he wears is actually a portable cosmic ray energy generation system, coupled with a broadcast power emitter. Thus, any device enable to receive broadcast power is automatically powered whenever Nick is nearby. And, of course, all of Nick's own gear is built with such a design. That includes vehicles. Fuel is never an issue, though much tech still uses steam, and so requires water. No messy coal, though - heating elements are electrically powered.
Technology at this time is in a state of constant advance and exploration, with very little standardization as yet. And different countries/kingdoms can have vastly different tech levels in general. But one never knows what technology individuals or small groups are developing here and there. This leads to such contrasts as zeppelins with electrical beam weapons.

And then there's the luminiferous aether. Here, it exists. This leads to many small changes in the understanding/laws of physics - none of which might show up in this story, so we'll move right along.

Does Orgone energy exist? Has anyone besides the Traveller (of H.G. Welles fame) cracked the time barrier? And how prevalent is Magick in this world of Science?

So much waiting to be explored!
I'm all a-tingle.   

Scenic Kutna Hora
by -3-

Kutná Hora and the neighboring town of Sedlec are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The oldest Alchemy Museum in the world is only one of many fascinating things we find here.
One of the most important buildings in the area are the Gothic, five-naved St. Barbara's Church, begun in 1388. You can see its distinctive five spired roof in the first 2 strips.
Another world famous location is the Ossuary.

I don't know if we'll visit the Bone Church in this story, but if you happen to be passing near Prague, i highly recommend the side trip.
See, back in the late 13th century, King Otakar II of Bohemia sent Abbot Henry to the Holy Land. When the good abbot returned, he brought with him a pot of earth from Golgotha, which he sprinkled over the cemetary. Word of this spread, and soon it was seen as holy land in its own right, and people all over Europe wanted to get buried there. Things were booming right along until that pesky Black Death dropped in to visit. Now suddenly, we've got way too many people wanting/needing to be buried, and no place left to put them.
"Hey! I know!
Why don't we dig up the bodies, clean 'em up, and use the bones to build a church? Think of it as just moving all the old residents indoors. We're upgrading their accomodations!"

Well, some strange conversation like that must have happened, and this is the eventual magnificent result:





Irina Alexandra has a fine page of photos on Weirdomatic to give you a better look around.
 

A Chinese Sherlock Holmes (but real)
by -3-

Once upon a time in China, way back in the Tang dynasty (back in the 600s on the CE calendar), there was a Magistrate named Di (or Dee, if you prefer). Di RenJie worked his way up from a small town magistrate to a key court figure by virtue of his righteous character and his ability to solve seeming unsolvable crimes.
A millenium later, in the Ming Dynasty, Di became a popular literary figure, with detective tales written placing the Tang Magistrate into Ming dynasty life. Then, in the middle of the last century, Dutch diplomat Robert Van Gulick translated some of these Ming Dynasty tales, and even went on to write original Judge Dee fiction.

Now i could go look up some more accurate info than that top-of-my-head summary. But, no.
Instead i've been working on his descendant. Or maybe his reincarnation? We'll see.
Magistrate-Under-Heaven Di will be a significant figure from the new Chinese Empire. And his story walks hand-in-hand with that of Gwai WuMei - the "Lovely Ghost", with Sifu T'ien Lung weaving his web between.

When it comes to Sifu T'ien Lung, think a mix of Fu Manchu, the Mandarin, and Dr. Fate. Sort of. But sort of not.


To learn more about the original Judge Dee, may i suggest reading Dee Goong An (Celebrated Cases Of Judge Dee). It's a fine peek at detective novels that were written hundreds of years before they were "invented" in the West. (Of course, if you're a cheap old bastard like me, you might just pop over to the OpenLibrary and see what your options are for Judge Dee At Work instead.)

Jazzman was Axeman
by -3-

Up until a few months before our story takes place, New Orleans was held in the grip of the fearful Axeman. For at least the period of 1918-1919, possibly longer, he killed indiscriminately, without stealing from the victims, usually using the victim's own axe or straight razor. Then in March of 1919, he sent his final note to the media, warning that he would strike shortly after midnight on the 19th, but would spare anyone in a place where jazz music played. Came the time, jazz was everywhere - late night clubs were packed and hundreds of private parties raged all across town.

The night passed, and he was never heard from again.

Here's that last note he sent to papers:

Hell, March 13, 1919

Esteemed Mortal:

They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.

When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company.

If you wish you may tell the police to be careful not to rile me. Of course, I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigations in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don‘t think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.

Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship with the Angel of Death.

Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to pass over New Orleans. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a little proposition to you people. Here it is:

I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have just mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.

Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and it is about time I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fancy.

The Axeman