From the time of our earliest ancestors first making their way out of the trees, violence has been an integral part of the human experience. Our ability to find new and creative ways to kill with greater and greater ease has marked the trajectory of human development from those earliest days all the way up to the present.
Today, however, most of us experience violence at a remove. It’s something we see on the news rather than experience firsthand. That is inarguably a step in the right direction for us as a species, but a part of us is still inexorably drawn towards the mud and blood and death of the battlefield. We’re fascinated by arms and armaments to the point where they appear in nearly all of our entertainment.
If you’re a writer or a comic artist, chances are, you’ve written or drawn a character with a sword, a gun, a bow, or some other deadly weapon. And, unless you live in a part of the world where access to such things is commonplace, you may have struggled with how to depict it in a manner that felt authentic. After all, if you’ve never held a sword or fired a gun, how are you to know what your character feels when they do?
This Encyclopedia Armamentarium seeks to rectify that problem by providing a reference source specifically aimed at writers and artists.
I’ve been all over the world and play with everything from 18th century muskets to hyper-modern rocket artillery. I can build a Glock out of my box of spare parts, and I maintain a small arsenal of swords that routinely get beat to hell and back in the practice ring. Also, in what you might could say is a staggeringly fortunate coincidence, I’ve also been known to put pen to paper from time to time.
In short, I’ve already done the grunt work, and now I’m telling you about it so you don’t have to. I’d say you could thank me later, but y’all did the thanking already by donating 68,799 ink to make this shindig happen.
Cheers, you beautiful bastards. This one’s for you.
Before we begin, I want to establish some ground rules.
First and foremost, I can’t make this as formal and scholarly as I’d like. Tapas isn’t designed for things like bibliographies or indices, and if I can’t cite my damn sources as I go, there’s no point in really trying for Super Serious Scholar Shit. Therefore, I can promise, with a fairly high degree of certainty, that I’ll be drunk while writing most of this.
That doesn’t mean I’m not going to do all the proper research, mind you. It just means that I have no intention of presenting it in a dry, academic sort of way, and you probably ought not try to cite it for papers in school. I mean, I guess you could, but I take no responsibility for what happens if they actually check your sources. Stick your naughty bits in that hornets’ nest at your own risk.
Speaking of hornets and nests, weapons are a hot button political subject the world over. There will be moments when I have to acknowledge the political factor when discussing the history, but by and large, I ain’t touching it unless I absolutely have to. Just bear in mind that not everyone holds the same beliefs everywhere. There are places where you can own just about anything you want and no one will blink. There are also places where you could get arrested for carrying a pocket knife. That Overton window swings so wildly back and forth that all we can really do is keep an open mind and remember that our normal is someone else’s what the fuck.
In theory, that should just about do it in terms of caveats and alibis. I can’t think of anything else relevant at the moment. If someone else pops up in the future, I can just edit it in and no one will ever have to know. You won’t tell, right?
Problem: despite the prevalence of weapons of all stripes in comics and webnovels, most writers and artists have precious little firsthand experience using them. Trying to depict them in an authentic manner can be frustrating, especially since access to weapons is banned or restricted in much of the world. To make matters worse, there are precious few resources geared towards creatives looking to portray them.
Solution: The Encyclopedia Armamentarium seeks to rectify that by providing creator-oriented references for commonly used swords, guns, and other weapons, as well as the history of arms development around the world. We'll also take a look at common weapon tropes and how they're used in entertainment, as well as do some fun side by side comparisons between pop culture icons.