Raunch Review: Carnival Row

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews. Welcome.


The Author: René EchevarriaTravis Beacham

Work in Question: Carnival Row

The Profanity: “Critch”


In the world of Burgue from Amazon’s fantasy-fueled steampunk fairytale Carnival Row, humans live alongside mythical creatures who have fled their war-torn homeland. As you expect with any setting featuring this sort of mass immigration of refugees, there are examinations of xenophobia, bigotry, classism, and segregation. Most humans dislike these newcomers, and throughout the series, the viewer witnesses it from a variety of perspectives that of the commoner, law enforcement, and the elite.

As you’d expect, this plays out often in language, particularly with the word “critch.” Like any language designed to dehumanize, “critch” is the catchall term for any non-human species. It’s derived from “creature” and wielded with a particular venom by the various bullies throughout the series.

This is an interesting slur, focusing more on a class of people rather than a particular species. However, those species-specific insults are also in Carnival Row’s world as well: “Puck” being faun-specific, “Pix” for the Faerie, “Brute” for the Trow, and so on. And in many ways, these work better because they focus on each species rather than a random group. So “critch” exists in an odd space, clearly meant to harm and degrade, but it’s also so broad it loses some of the edge, which would make a slur like this so pernicious. Falls a little flat under scrutiny.

Final Score: 3.5


🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


Ishikawa: A Free 17th Century Brush Set for Fantasy Maps 

Sourcing high-quality images to extract brush sets can be an arduous process, especially if you’re looking for something fresh and unique. There are hundreds of resources out there, but most are limited to western sources and skew more European. (Especially the prolific Dutch.) This is fine, but for a while, I’ve really wanted to diversify my brush sets and bring in more varied approaches and artistic voices.

So, when I recently came across a 17th-century map from Ishikawa Ryūsen (or Tomonobu), I got excited. Ishikawa Ryūsen was a Japanese writer, ukiyo-e painter, and cartographer from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century who primarily worked for the Edo-period shogunate. His work became the foundation of Ryūsen-zu, a style of woodblock map prints, and because of their artistic value, were often printed on folding screens. His maps have been reprinted many times, so I found it a little surprising that it took me so long to come across his work. But the version I found was perfect for a brush set, and after pouring over it for hours, I knew with a little work, it would be the perfect source for my first non-European brush set.

Today, I am happy to announce the release of Ishikawa, an extensive cartography brush set extracted from 日本海山潮陸圖 (Map of Sea, Mountain, Tide, and Land of Japan) depicting the Japanese islands of HonshūShikoku, and Kyūshu during the Edo period. It’s a stunning set with loads to offer, and it will help create maps that stand apart from the traditional European-influenced fantasy maps.

A sample of the brushes in the Ishikawa brush set - Lots of Japanese styled buildings and Torii gates as well as more modern markers.
A sample of the settlement brushes you’ll find in Ishikawa

There are some obvious stylistic differences here. From the almost kanji-inspired flora to the elegant, calligraphic mountains, but it’s also familiar. For the most part, this is a hill-profile style of map. Some exceptions come in the form of settlement markers, and those skew graphical—the large circles represented jitō manor houses, squares were fortified towns, ovals were traveling stops, and small circles were outposts. Yet, even with these graphical representations, Ishikawa still drew the roofs of the homes and shops that surrounded these points of interest. What we end up with is a fascinating hybrid style, not exactly hill-profile and yet not fully “modern.”

I want to extend a huge thank you to Dr. Amy Bliss Marshall for her help with translation and for providing some deeper dives into the koku-fueled Edo-period Shogunate. Her effort helped significantly in the creation of this set.

More of the Ishikawa brushes, landforms and flora as well as ocean waves and boats.
More of Ishikawa’s brush offerings

Since this is my first Asian-sourced map set, I wanted to make a splash. Ishikawa is enormous. Over 700 unique brushes fill out the set, making this my third largest. (Only Vischer and Ogilby are larger.) While it took more time, I went ahead and removed the kanji from all the simple settlement markers allowing you to use them as you wish.

Inside Ishikawa you’ll find…

  • 23 Cities
  • 30 Individual Roofs
  • 50 Grouped Roofs
  • 27 Individual Buildings
  • 25 Blank Outpost Markers (Small Circles)
  • 15 Blank Travel Stop Markers (Ovals)
  • 25 Blank Jitō Manor Markers (Large Circles)
  • 15 Blank Fortified Town Markers (Squares)
  • 5 Blank Named Manor Markers (Larger Squares)
  • 5 Blank Region Markers (Tall Rectangles)
  • 43 Torii Gates
  • 15 Unique Settlement Markers
  • 100 Individual Trees
  • 100 Forests (Grouped Trees)
  • 3 Unique Flora Markers
  • 71 Individual Mountains
  • 67 Grouped Mountains
  • 73 Waves
  • 2 People Cartouches (Sword Fight!)
  • 4 Directional Cartouches
  • 18 Small Boat Cartouches
  • 21 Large Boat Cartouches
  • 15 Sail Cartouches (These could also work as banners, just sayin’)
  • 1 Group of Boats Cartouche
  • [🚨 BONUS!] 7 Directional Road/Border/Line Brushes

I’m excited about Ishikawa’s bonus brushes. They are something many people have been asking for, and I’m pleased to finally be releasing them. Yep, directional “road” brushes. They’re a bit finicky, and I recommend taking your time with them, but they’ll allow you to easily paint roads and borders that follow the styles from the 17th and 18th centuries. I’ll most likely expand them into their own more fleshed-out set in the future, perhaps even combining them with Ende, my Littoral Edger brushes, but for now, they get to be an Ishikawa bonus.

The button below links to a ZIP file that contains a Photoshop brush set (it’ll also work with GIMP and Affinity Photo) as well as three large transparent PNGs, Settlements (5.3 Mb), Flora & Landforms (3 Mb), and Water Features & Cartouches (2.5 Mb), in case you’re using a program that doesn’t support Adobe brush files. They’re black, and on a transparent background, so they’ll look broken in some browsers, but trust me, they’re all there. (If you want to throw a few bucks my way to help with hosting this stuff, I wouldn’t complain.)



As with all of my previous brush sets, Ishikawa is free for any use. I distribute my sets with a Creative Common, No Rights Reserved License (CC0), which means you can freely use this and any of my brushes in commercial work and distribute adaptations. (Details on this decision here.) No attribution is required. Easy peasy!

Enjoy Ishikawa? Feel free to show me what you created by emailing me or finding me on Twitter. I love seeing how these brushes get used, and I’d be happy to share your work with my readers. Let me see what you make!


Ishikawa in Use

Want to see how I’ve used this set? You can see the results below. It’s a bit of a blend of styles, but I am happy with how it turned out. There’s a lot you can do with these brushes. There are three versions, a colored, black and white, and a decorated sample. Click on any of the images below to view them larger. Perhaps this will inspire you as you get started on your projects! Feel free to use these for whatever you want. Your next book? A D&D campaign? Lots of possibilities.

2813×5000 (8MB)
2813×5000 (6.9 MB)
1080×1350 (1.1 MB)

Sample Details: Location names were taken from various places and points of interest on Hokkaido. The font I used is a modified version of Bizmo, which was licensed from Envato Elements. I do not recommend laying this many western characters vertically, but I wanted to evoke some of the elements from Ishikawa’s original source and decided I was okay with it being a little illegible. The paper texture is from True Grit Texture Supply’s Infinite Pulp, and they’re also where I got Atomica, which gives me ink-like effects for the text—big fan of their tools. The boar illustration in the key is from an 1857 woodblock print by Utagawa Yoshitora and is available for free on Deviant Art.


Support this Work

If you like the Ishikawa brush set (or any of my free brushes, really) and want to support my work or just help cover the cost of hosting, consider buying one of my cosmic-horror-soaked dark urban fantasy novels. The first book—The Stars Were Right—is only $2.99 on eBook. I think you’ll dig it. You can find all my books in stores and online. They make great gifts. Visit the Bell Forging Cycle hub to learn more about the series. Tell your friends!

The Bell Forging Cycle

Buy me a coffee?

Not interested in my books but still want a way to support the #NoBadMaps project or help pay for hosting these brushes? Why not buy me a coffee?


More Map Brushes

Ishikawa is just one of many brush sets I’ve released over the years. You can find it and other free brushes covering various historical styles on my Fantasy Map Brushes page. Every set is free, distributed under a CC0 license, and open for personal or commercial use. I’m sure you’ll be able to find something that works for your project. Click the button below to check them out!


Want to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information. Sign Up Today →

Raunch Review: Wizard of Oz

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


The Author: L. Frank Baum

Work in Question: Wizard of Oz (Series)

The Profanity: “Hippikaloric”


Reviewing words or phrases played for laughs is always a little tricky. But L. Frank Baum’s use of “Hippikaloric” in Ozma of Oz—the third book in the Wizard of Oz series—arrived on the Raunch Review docket not because of its comedic nature but because of how it’s described. Let’s see the quote.

“When the bell rang a second time the King shouted angrily, “Smudge and blazes!” and at a third ring he screamed in a fury, “Hippikaloric!” which must be a dreadful word because we don’t know what it means.”

Ozma of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Clearly, it’s an expletive. We see it’s used as such, and we’re told it must be “dreadful.” But it’s also nonsense. The lack of knowledge by Baum and the reader removes any potential for effect. As it exists, it becomes a form of “symbol swearing,” where something is said, but it means nothing.

“&^%@!”

We can pretend it’s dreadful, but it’s no more dreadful than any random string of typographical symbols, and as faux-profanity, it’s a swing and a miss.

Final Score: 1.0


🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


Raunch Review: Dresden Files

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


The Author: Jim Butcher

Work in Question: Dresden Files

The Profanity: “Stars and Stones”


The world of Wizard-for-Hire Harry Dresden is vast. The Dresden Files series currently stands at seventeen novels, a whole bunch of short stories, and there’s a lot more on the way. As you’d expect for an immense series, it now extends well beyond the streets of Chicago. Readers have been introduced to the intrigue and politics of the White Council, the magical world of the Nevernever, the Faerie Courts, and so much more. And with many new upcoming releases, there’s still plenty of mystery and speculation out there.

That includes today’s faux-profanity, “Stars and Stones.” Usually uttered as an oath, the phrase’s origin is a bit mysterious, and it’s sparked plenty of fan discussion and theories on the meaning. As an oath, it works rather well, but that mysterious aspect holds it back slightly in its final score. To be efficacious, profane oaths require a little foreknowledge. The original intent, after all, is blasphemy, either in an act of impiety, nihilism, or iconoclasm. Without that knowledge or belief, the word becomes only a mild expletive. It’s like swearing in a different language. The phrase fills space and serves a role, but it no longer works as effective “profanity,” faux or otherwise.

Once the series is wrapped up, I feel like I’m going to want to revisit this one.

Final Score: 4.0


🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


de Fer Cartography: A Free 17th Century Brush Set for Fantasy Maps 

This spring, I released the second in a series of sets coming from one individual: Nicolas de Fer. He’s an interesting historical figure, a famous French geographer who eventually became the official geographer of the Spanish and French courts. He was a prolific engraver and publisher, stole unabashedly, and while his work isn’t considered historically accurate, he brought a uniqueness with his cartography that helps it stand apart artistically from his contemporaries, making his work the perfect base for fantasy map brush sets.

Hey look it’s Nick de Fer! His wig is freshly fluffed and he’s ready to impress you with his maps.

Today, I am happy to announce the release of de Fer Cartography, the third and final set in my de Fer Collection, and my twenty-fifth brush set! This is an extensive cartography brush set based on the first plate of de Fer’s Le Cours de Missisipi, ou de St. Louis, an early 17th-century map depicting headwaters of the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes region. The map itself isn’t as accurate as other maps from the period, but like his other work, de Fer’s artistic ability is what shines here. He goes into extensive detail, creating a unique art piece with signs and symbols that stand apart and work exceptionally well for fantasy maps.

A sample of what you’ll find in de Fer Cartography

Much of what you’d expect in a standard cartography set will be found here settlements, landforms, and fauna; however, there is a uniqueness de Fer brings to his work that would add a nice spin to fantasy projects. I particularly like how he’d rendered each building in settlements really fills out a space. And, I hope you like cartouches because this set comes with plenty! They work well to decorate empty spaces and bring an air of authenticity to a fictional piece. While they aren’t historically (and occasionally biologically) accurate and often feel like the illustrative version of a game of telephone, they’d be easy to manipulate for other narratives and purposes.

The cartouches within this set are varied and can really add flavor to a map

The de Fer Settlement set features over 290 brushes and includes the following:

  • 30 Grouped Settlements
  • 15 Individual “Peaked” Structures
  • 15 Individual “Arched” Structures
  • 10 Individual “Square” Structures
  • 14 Forts
  • 5 Unique Settlements
  • 50 Mountains
  • 20 Mountain Pairs
  • 10 Swamps
  • 30 Forests
  • 50 Trees
  • 11 Animal Cartouches
  • 6 Canoe Cartouches
  • 13 People Cartouches
  • 4 Burial Cartouches
  • 1 weird thing I couldn’t figure out
  • 3 Anchorage Symbols
  • 8 Portage Symbols
  • 2 Map Elements

But wait… there’s more. While most of the interesting signs and symbols came off the first plate, there was a second plate as well, and while the second wasn’t as detailed as the first, it was filled with many more cartouches. Not everyone needs ’em, but if you want to round out the set, there will be a link below the button for the de Fer Cartography BONUS set that includes sixty other cartouches to decorate your maps! HOORAY for bonuses! Unless you hate cartouches. Then BOO for bonuses. Cheer or boo, whatever.

The button below links to a ZIP file that contains a Photoshop brush set (it’ll also work with GIMP and Affinity Photo) as well as a transparent PNG (3 Mb) in case you’re using a program that doesn’t support Adobe brush files. They’re black and on a transparent background, so they’ll look broken in some browsers, but trust me, they’re all there.



DOWNLOAD THE DE FER CARTOGRAPHY BONUS
– View the BONUS transparent PNG –
(2.5 Mb)


As with all of my previous brush sets, de Fer Cartography and its bonus cartouches are free for any use. I distribute my sets with a Creative Common, No Rights Reserved License (CC0), which means you can freely use this and any of my brushes in commercial work and distribute adaptations. (Details on this decision here.) No attribution is required. Easy peasy!

Enjoy de Fer Cartography? Feel free to show me what you created by emailing me or finding me on Twitter. I love seeing how these brushes get used, and I’d be happy to share your work with my readers. Let me see what you make!


de Fer Cartography in Use

Want to see how I’ve used this set? I created a sample map based on “The Peninsula of the Palm” from Guy Gavriel Kay’s wonderful 1990 fantasy novel Tigana. (Link goes to IndieBound. Pick it up!) It was fun to rework another map as a sample and doing so has made me want to revisit the book. You can see the results below. There are three versions, a colored version, one black and white, and a decorated sample. Click on any of the images below to view them larger. Perhaps this will inspire you as you get started on your projects!

2238 x 4050
2238 x 4050
1080 x 1350

Supporting this Work

If you like the de Fer Cartography brush set (or any of my free brushes, really) and want to support my work or just help cover the cost of hosting, consider buying one of my cosmic-horror-soaked dark urban fantasy novels instead of a donation. The first book—The Stars Were Right—is only $2.99 on eBook. I think you’ll dig it. You can find all my books in stores and online. They make great gifts. Visit the Bell Forging Cycle hub to learn more about the series. Tell your friends!

The Bell Forging Cycle

Not interested in my books but still want a way to support me? Buy me a coffee.


More Map Brushes

de Fer Cartography is just one of many brush sets I’ve released over the years. You can find it and other free brushes covering a wide variety of historical styles on my Fantasy Map Brushes page. Every set is free, distributed under a CC0 license, and open for personal or commercial use. I’m sure you’ll be able to find something that works for your project. Click the button below to check them out!


Want to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information. Sign Up Today →

de Fer Battlefield: A Free 17th Century Brush Set for Fantasy Maps 

Last September, I released the first in a series of sets coming from one individual: Nicolas de Fer. He’s an interesting character, a famous French geographer who eventually became the official geographer to the Spanish and French court. He was a prolific engraver and publisher, stole unabashedly, and while his work isn’t considered historically accurate, he brought a uniqueness with his cartography that helps it stand apart artistically from his contemporaries, making his work the perfect base for fantasy map brush sets.

Why it’s Nick de Fer! Prepared to wow you with his engravings.

Today, I am excited to release de Fer Battlefield. An extensive battlefield brush set based on de Fer’s Le Combat de Leuze ou de la Catoire, a late 17th-century map depicting the fortification of the Belgium city of Leuze-en-Hainaut in 1691, and the Battle of Leuze, a French calvary victory from the Nine Years’ War. It’s full of the sort of stuff that makes these maps fascinating and energetic: charging calvary units, stalwart pike men, soldiers, explosions, battles, villages, and more.

Even in their time, Battlefield maps were a storytelling element as much narrative as informative. But, I know many people don’t understand how to effectively use brush sets based on them. My sample map for this set strives to inspire how these sets can enhance a narrative and help tell a story. There are many opportunities for fantasy maps to employ a similar tactic in their maps, moving away from a static approach of borders and cities that we are familiar with to one that details events in a fresh and exciting way.

A sample of what you’ll find in de Fer Battlefield

The de Fer Battlefield set features over 230 brushes and includes the following:

  • 8 Army Units
  • 2 Marching Army Units
  • 10 Pike Units
  • 12 Organized Lines (Could also work as fields)
  • 10 Organized Units
  • 20 Individual Soldiers
  • 15 Cavalry Units
  • 20 Charging Cavalry Units
  • 5 Marching Cavalry Units
  • 5 Attacking Cavalry Units
  • 25 Individual Cavalry Units
  • 10 Individual Cavalry Units Rearing
  • 6 Mixed Combination Units
  • 7 Battles
  • 10 Bushes
  • 30 Trees
  • 5 Forests
  • 10 Hillsides
  • 12 Towns
  • 4 Explosions
  • 9 Unique Brushes

The button below links to a ZIP file that contains a Photoshop brush set (it’ll also work with GIMP and Affinity Photo) as well as a transparent PNG (3.5Mb) in case you’re using a program that doesn’t support Adobe brush files. They’re black and on a transparent background, so they’ll look broken in some browsers, but trust me, they’re all there.



As with all of my previous brush sets, de Fer Battlefield is free for any use. I distribute my sets with a Creative Common, No Rights Reserved License (CC0), which means you can freely use this and any of my brushes in commercial work and distribute adaptations. (Details on this decision here.) No attribution is required. Easy peasy!

Enjoy de Fer Battlefield? Feel free to show me what you created by emailing me or finding me on Twitter. I love seeing how these brushes get used, and I’d be happy to share your work with my readers. Let me see what you make!


de Fer Battlefield in Use

Want to see how I’ve used this set? I put together a sample map, and you can see the results below. There are three versions, a colored version, one black and white, and a decorated sample. Click on any of the images below to view them larger. Perhaps this will inspire you as you get started on your own projects!

3000 x 3000
3000 x 3000
1080 x 1080

Supporting this Work

If you like the de Fer Battlefield brush set (or any of my free brushes, really) and want to support my work, consider buying one of my cosmic-horror-soaked dark urban fantasy novels instead of a donation. The first book—The Stars Were Right—is only $2.99 on eBook. I think you’ll dig it. You can find all my books in stores and online. Visit the Bell Forging Cycle hub to learn more about the series. Tell your friends!

The Bell Forging Cycle

Not interested in my books but still want a way to support me? Buy me a coffee.


More Map Brushes

de Fer Battlefield just one of many brush sets I’ve released. You can find it and other free brushes covering a wide variety of historical styles on my Fantasy Map Brushes page. Every set is free, distributed under a CC0 license, and open for personal or commercial use. I’m sure you’ll be able to find something that works for your project. Click the button below to check them out!


Want to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information. Sign Up Today →