The Newsletter of the World of Where Yamara Has To Live



Gary Trudeau Defends Relevant Complexity in Comics


The latest news is that the editorial staff at Dragon are all surprised by your vehemence. They've been impressed by the number of letters you guys have been sending, and although they're really not Yamara fans themselves, they MAY decide to bring Yamara back as a four-panel. Frankly, we're impressed ourselves. It makes us feel all mushy. Thanks to all of you who wrote in, even if the Dragon editors change their minds at the last minute and we wind up having to move Yamara to some other publication (Better Homes and Gardens, Ebony, Smithsonian).

So, keep those cards and letters coming. If you haven't written in, your vote may do the trick. But if you HAVE written, please respect their bodily cyberspace-- one comment they had at Dragon was that one young gentleman had e-mailed them five times in one afternoon on Yamara's behalf, and that this heinous act had made them doubt the advisability of reinstating the strip. "What kind of people are these Yamara fans, anyway?" Now, I happen to know who this is, because he confessed his crime to me fully. Fie, fie on thee! If I ever see him in person, I'll take action. Kiss him, or let him wear my special coat, or something.


In related news, Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury strip for Sunday, Christmas Eve lampooned his own reliance on dry wit and complicated characters, while encouraging readers to find out more about newsworthy events. The installment portrayed the Doonesbury characters running a toll-free help line to assist befuddled readers in getting his jokes.

Despite this vindication of intellectual strangeness, we're determined that should Yamara return to Dragon, we'll make it more legible. Ya can't please everybody, and it's a miftake to try. But the great Steve Jackson, whose advice we take seriously, has also counseled us that simpler is better.


Merry Christmas, guys. Thanks for all your support in these recent months; though all to ruin fell Yamara, and were dissolved and backward hurled, --whoops, fell into the Tolkien-- even if we never sail again, it's great to know that a strip as peculiar as Yamara can call forth such a creative and supportive bunch of fanatics. (That's what "fans" is short for. Never forget that. Be proud.)





The next issue of d8 magazine will run an interview with us, conducted by the remarkable Manu Eleihu. Mostly we talk about things which you lot already know, but this is new information to all those worthies who don't know of our greatness but might casually pick up d8.

Surely you've heard of d8. It's a truly fine magazine, devoted not to the nuts and bolts of roleplaying, but to the idea that we who roleplay represent our own subculture. D8 runs articles about gaming, interviews with industry people, reviews; but it also reviews other things which might interest us when we're not gaming, such as music, fashion, books, movies, fun places and things to do. They're also running our odd graphic story, Hob--an act of extreme bravery on their part. We shove you all rudely in d8's general direction, hoping that you'll forgive our brusqueness when you find out how good it is.




Exclusive to Radio Free Wyhtl

by Jolly R. Blackburn


I met Leslie Gabarga three years ago in Butte, Montana at BattleCon XX. The con is famous for its poor turnout. It was founded by an eccentric gamer who happened to be Jewish and had set the con up to always fall on Christmas Eve so he'd have something to do other than watch "It's a Wonderful Life" on television.

BattleCon, for one reason or another, tends to attract the social outcasts of the gaming community. The open gaming rooms are usually littered with strange little groups who have pulled their tables and chairs into darkened corners to play forgettable games, like Mutant Blitzkreig or TechnoColored Civil War. One particular group, known as the Nonconformists, are famous for the fact they drag in a Maytag refrigerator crate to set up in Open Gaming. From within, they play only God knows what, emerging only long enough to restock their supplies of Twinkies and M&M's.

One traditional game played at BattleCon is the legendary monstrosity, D-DAY: The Obsession; the board of which covers a 20 by 20 foot area with thousands of cardboard counters, each representing one soldier participating in the Normandy invasion. It's puzzling why the game is pulled out each year by Victor Chimes (who happens to be the only gamer who shelled out the $189 bucks for the game when it hit the shelves in 1978) when to date no one has ever managed to finish a game during the four day con.

At any rate, it was at this convention that I met Leslie, who I'm often reminded of on Christmas Eve. At 4 foot, 3 inches, Leslie had more temper and attitude stuffed into one frame than I've ever encountered before or since. The first time I saw him, he had drawn attention to himself when an opponent had cleverly drawn out his squadrons of ME 109's into an ambush comprised of red dragons, a one-eyed wizard and the fighting Irish gnomes of Texasville (of course I'm referring to the classic game, Messerschmidts and Wizards by TriAgain Games). Leslie flipped the board over in rage and began pummeling the poor girl who had baited him with the move. More accurately, I should say, that Leslie attempted to pummel the poor girl - for in fact, for all his temper he wasn't much of a brawler and was soon getting the worst of it.

I was playing solitaire Bunnies and Burrows and found the whole thing distracting (the algorithm tables and calculations are a real bear in that game as you know) and gathered my things together to head for Henschel's snack bar for a soda. It was there a few minutes later that the disheveled Leslie staggered in and asked if he could share a seat at my table.

We began to talk about games of course, and I was delighted to find we shared an interest in Gary Jackson's lesser-known series of gamettes, Turn On-Tune Out. Eventually the conversation turned to backgrounds and where-froms. That's when Leslie began to talk about his former employer and why he had chosen to spend his Christmas Eve preoccupied with gaming. Leslie, you see, was a disgruntled elf formerly employed by the jolly old man himself.

Leslie claims he worked himself up in the 'workshop', moving from various departments, until in the late sixties he pulled a political coup (sp? my mind is blanking on the spelling) and landed Head Elf of the newly established Conflict Games department. Things were going well in a sterling career until role-playing hit the scene. Strangely enough - most gamers weren't asking Santa for new games or systems for Christmas, they much preferred writing such things themselves. Instead the great demand was for polyhedron dice - any shape, form, color, etc. available. Dice became a pet peeve with Santa, according to Leslie - he hauled them onto the sleigh each year by the thousands. They had a tendency to cause all manner of problems because they were always being dropped here and there (Santa's pudgy fingers weren't suited to handling handfuls of dice while stuffing stockings). One year three of the reindeer became dreadfully sick with the hershey-squirts (I'm reporting it as it was told to me folks), when they had taken to eating several metal-flake gem dice they found on the stable floors, that had been carelessly left behind by some elves playing Goose Mrs. Santa (a subversive game which fortunately Santa never had knowledge of). Another time, Santa had the misfortune to tear a hole in his bag while descending a chimney in Oshkosh, only to discover that the GameMaster 1000 twenty-siders were highly flammable, and a potent form of explosive when ignited in small confines. That little incident earned Leslie his first letter of reprimand, and gave rise to the GREAT UFO SCARE of 1978 in Oshkosh, and sparked a DEFCON 3 alert.

There were other problems with the dice - gamers being perfectionists began to complain of roll-ratios, accuracy, dice-wear, etc. Santa began to issue impossible production standards for the Conflict Gaming department. He imposed a brutal research and development schedule at a time when Leslie was already feeling the strains of burnout.

The matter came to a head a few years ago when Leslie was sumoned to Santa's office to demonstrate his latest dice design.

"Well? Let's see it?"

"Uh, this is the GameWiszard Polymorph Dice sir."

"Polymorph? I hate the name - reminds me of tadpoles and squishy things. Kids will hate it."

"Name isn't important sir. This die is incredible - it's based on the same principle as the Rubik's Cube."

"Say, Rubey was a good line - they loved that one."

"Exactly, I've used the mechanics to design a die that can be morphed - from one configuration to another. Need a four-sider? Align the green face here with the red and tweek this.......da da!! A four sider!! Need a twenty sider? Twist this and pull that......there it is?"

"What if I want to roll 2d100?"

" two polymorphs should suffice sir."

"hmmrrrffff! Kind a diminishes the appeal doesn't it? Uh, where's the compass?"

"Sir, you weren't serious about that were you?"

"I want a damn compass built in - a compass increased sales on the Red Ryder BB gun by 40%!! And the G.I. Joe Action figure! Remember what the compass did to the Deep Diving Suit Accessory pack!! Through the roof!!"

The incident drove poor Leslie insane. Although he's not clear on what happened, apparently he laid into poor Santa with flying fists (of course taking the worst of it). He was booted out on his ear. He worked for TriAgain Games for a short time as a mascot for their Nerf Minature line (a virtual bomb) and ended up donning a costume for Boris the Bat for a failing franchise, Pizzacula's Pizza.

That was the last time I saw Leslie (at BattleCon XX). Rumor has it he was working on a collectible card game of his own design when Magic hit. The letdown sent him spinning into oblivion and no one seems to know what's become of him. But every year as I sign in at the register at BattleCon - I hope to see his name somewhere on the guest list. I'm quite certain I'll run into the little guy someday, and that when I do it will be in Butte, Montana. Until then, I will always think of him as I pull out my copy of Solo Bunnies and Burrows in my preferred darkened corner (right behind the Nonconformists' refrigerator crate) in the main foyer.





We went around the group and got these promises out of them. Okay, that's just a narrative device. You're much too canny, we could never get one over on you.



I resolve not to get married in private anymore. I resolve to not go on depressive eating binges after crying all night about losing my godhead. Um, let's see. Be nicer to Ralph. Keep track of Arcalula's music career, and only scream in envious rage when I'm in Space, and she can't hear me. Steal more; I really ought to. And learn to put up with Stress' snoring.



I resolve to be kind to my new wife, as the Revered Blort was kind to Pathorsa, whom he met at the well. And I resolve to fight by her side against the rising tide of anti-undead prejudice on Wyhtl, as Blort and Pathorsa fought arm in arm to abolish the Random Harlots Subtable. I shall be kinder to Ralph in the new year, as his mind has been put under a great deal of strain lately. I'll recommend one of our St. Nobian Dynamic Austerity weekend retreat seminars. Sleeping in snow would do him wonders.



I resolve to love Joe forever and to discover what St. Nobian worship is all about (I knew there was something I was overlooking). But I also resolve to keep an open mind, and to determine where mushrooms and dairy products fit into the Nobian cosmology. And poor Ralph, I should really stop leaning on him for all the advice on eating habits, making love, and how to use these new flush toilets. I don't think he's ever had experience as either a vampire or a biped.

O, and finally: SWEAR OFF GAMBLING. And warn kids that even the most innocent card game can lead to murdering thousands, and the drinking of their life essences. And point out that those things are wrong, too.



I resolve to introduce Yamara to my other wives. I haven't been home in years-- I'll see if Withers can free up my schedule. Give Ralph more responsibilities this year. Put the tail back on the ship, and seal up all those bullet holes.



1) Leave the boat. 2) Hire more hit men to get rid of HIM. 3) Take Matron Neuralgia up on that deal to develop my own line of hair care products. 4) Fry toad. 5) Not do anything to myself I wouldn't let anyone else do to me. 6) Warn Yamara. 7) Work on whist-derived collectible card game.



Be a good Marshall of St. Nobian's Enforcement Division no matter the cost. Kill things that radiate Evil. Kill things that taste funny. Like toads. Hang on, I'll ask the questions here. Identify yourself. FREEZE.


Arcalula (picked up by a HAM radio operator with a penchant for monitoring subspace): --clip's empty-- Thanks. THREE O'CLOCK. If we get out of this, I'm going to drop Rusty. I'm sick of the marks those pseudopods leave. HAIIIEEEE-- and I'll buy a little red-- HA-- a little red Maserati and drive around Milan just waiting for a Bertolucci film to happen to me. --She's down. Kaf? Wait a sec, I've got it right here. Cover me. --That's better. ....Oh my God. What the-- [Kafira in b.g.: Nooo!] What the hell IS that ovoid--



Look into doing weekend seminars like Snoopy's "Twelve Steps to Furry Comic Stardom". Seek the company of other toads. Learn less about Thrand. Be nicer to myself. Stop reading French cookbooks before turning in at night.



And now, here's our own New Year's Promises:



Threaten to go blonde. Take over the world, I saw it first. Let Manu orchestrate my love life. Find out about the forks, once and for all.



Refuse to enter Radio Shack all year unless they apologize for those mind-wrenching-- and double-repeated-- Aptiva ads. Keep getting jobs I like. Refuse to enter Radio Shack all year unless they apologize for those mind-wrenching-- and double-repeated-- Aptiva ads.


And we both resolve:

*When asked to critique a magazine for its relaunch, don't compare its current look unfavorably to "Highlights for Children".

*Bring you more YAMARA in the coming year, by hook, by crook, or by Steve Jackson.

*Be nicer to Ralph. Give him his own strip for next Christmas.




About Yocchi. Barbara never intended for her to get out of hand. But Chris liked her a lot. He really wasn't happy without her. This is why she came to prominence in the plot. Barbara really is rather sick of Yocchi, which is why she's become a distant menace. We fight over Yocchi more than most things, these days.

Big women are Chris' hangup, not Barbara's. Anyone who's seen that recurring theme in our work, like Jenny the Giantess in that scenario we did for Chaosium, should know that it's really just a taste of Chris', and not a feminist statement. Barbara is all in favor of female power, especially for herself; but Yocchi can only be reassembled so many times.



(The following letters are a lot more emotional than usual, due to the strip being cancelled. Also, they were written by people who are new to the fold, and who may not have been aware of RFW. Apologies to anyone who may not have wanted their letter printed; but they were all so emphatic, and so remarkably kind.)



Hey, yamara dudes!

I think Yamara is one of THE best comics ever written.(right between Impulse and Calvin and Hobbes!!) Why, oh why, are you not placing the goddess-blessed Yamara in Dragon Magazine anymore??? Oh, is there any way I can get...old comics (Yamara, of course), or check you guys out online, etc?


A fan that will really miss Persey and that frog-thing,






You guys did a great job writing yamara. It became the first thing i would look for in coming magazines. My campaigns slowly evolved into yamara type campaigns and my players loved it. you guys are great!!!!! i have tons of questions to ask you guys: What exactly does Ogrek DO for a living and why do people fear him so much?


P.S. i have every episode... i hope you guys don't get cancelled!


Devoted fan,


John :)





Oh, weep! Moan! Gnash teeth! Wail! Sob, sob! Scream! AGONIZED HOWL!


How could TSR do that? I'll grant them that Yamara has gotten a little weird, and appears to be taking over the magazine--but that's a GOOD thing! (I've been vindictive ever since they rejected my best writing...) Oh, that's horrible! No, we mustn't let that happen! I don't actually BUY Dragon any more (the articles aren't worth the expanded cover price, and I've switched to White Wolf at that) but I always READ Yamara! And then I put the magazine down. How perfectly awful! I'll start a nasty hate mail campaign. Thank you for thoughtfully providing TSR's mailing adress, which probably wasn't a very nice thing of you to do at them. Oh, this is worse than CBS cancelling American Gothic! (, if you'd like to protest THAT one!)





Dear Yamara People,

Let me just say that I absolutely live the Yamara strip. It is by far one of the best features of DRAGON. Even when the rest of the magazine may have sucked, I have thought "Oh well, at least I got to read Yamara." I was saddened to hear that the strip is leaving. I hope it won't be gone for long.

Have you thought of putting out a "World of Yamara" AD&D accesory? I would love to see the stats for JOe Holy and Tim the Undead Giant Vampire Flying Squirrel Paladin (my two favorite characters). Speaking of Tim, why wasn't he at his mother's wedding? He must have been busy sucking the blood out of an acorn or something.

In closing, let me just say that as an aspiring SF/F cartoonist your strip will be a constant inspiration. Don't stay away to long.


Be Groovy to All,

Joshua B.





Dear Manui & Adams,


Since buying Dragon 203, I have been a dedicated fan of your Yamara comic strip. I have also bought the SJG compilation. So, i'd like to know:


What the hell happens next?????





Dan Walker








Yamara will not be appearing in Dragon during January or February, because that's the turn-around time for printers. Yamara-related material may be in again as early as March, so don't discard your Dragon Dice yet, folks.


The Yamara book [called "Yamara"] is available from Steve Jackson Games, P.O. Box 18957; Austin, TX 78760; (512) 447-7866; fax (512) 447-1144; It retails for $9.95, and is also supposed to be in B Daltons, Barnes & Noble, and finer hobby shops. It compiles the first five years of the strip and includes new things you just don't see every day, like: "You shall go without your supper tonight. And the hot irons shall be applied to your feet."


Radio Free Wyhtl #0, and #0.1 through #0.4 are still available from us, free, online.


HARD FUN SYNOPSIS--[We've promised this for months, and this whole cancellation business has had us too busy to wrap it up and respond to the growing lists of requests for it. Expect us to launch it to all who requested it by the first week of 1996.] "Hard Fun Plot Arc Exposed": For those of you who want or need a synopsis of the Hard Fun Octadectad saga-- whether you're just missing an issue of _Dragon_, or can't make head or tail of what we're on about-- this handy online guide is free, too. Just ask us for "that Hard Fun thing" here at



Yamara(tm) is a trademark of Aetherco.

All contents of "Radio Free Wyhtl #0.5" Copyright (c) 1995 Barbara Manui & Chris Adams. Permission granted to copy for personal use only. Yes, you can send it to your friends, but you mayn't sell it.


All letters and email sent to Aetherco are assumed Letters to the Editor, and may be redistributed by Aetherco by any means humanly possible. We'll do our best to respect property rights and requested anonymity, but Aetherco reserves the right to own things sent to it, unless expressly stated otherwise. Please declare ownership whenever you send stuff to people that you intend to keep for yourself. It keeps them honest.


"Leslie Gabarga" Copyright (c) 1995 Jolly R. Blackburn. Used with permission.


Other trademarks and copyrights mentioned in Radio Free Wyhtl are property of their respective owners.