Book 1/2 synopsis, wip

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Yesterday, I dropped all the images from book 2 into a copy of the synopsis I made for the front of book 1. This morning, I started typing stuff beneath them. Wow. Things sure do get a lot denser in book 2. And they’re even worse in 3. Good thing I’ll never need to… oh wait yes I will, I want to send a pitch for the whole story to a few publishers. That’ll be fun.

This needs some work – I’ve got to get the text on chapter X out of the book’s spine, and I might add some stuff that feels missing from some parts of book 1 (mostly I need to figure out how to change ‘Tom explodes?’ in 3 to something like ‘Tom warps too close to Earth and explodes?’). But it’s good enough for about forty-five minutes before I’ve even had breakfast.

Unused line that I might use in the publisher pitch version: CHAPTER X. Rita and Carol’s nascent relationship becomes a triad, when Rita meets Carol’s very expensive sportscar.

There will probably be a physical Rita 3.

So. First off, a big thanks to everyone who weighed in with their opinions in the previous post.

The results are as follows:

Fifteen people are okay with there being no volume 3.

Eleven people would be unhappy with me skipping to the omnibus, and might not buy it, and might wait for the omnibus of future projects.

If I filter out the people who are fellow cartoonists with their own piles of books to find space for and hassle with maintaining the stock on, it shifts to ten okay, eleven not okay. That’s pretty much an even split.

Even if I don’t filter out the people who know the special joys of self-publishing, 1/3 of this sample of my current core audience saying they probably wouldn’t buy an omnibus is definitely something to worry about. So I guess I will be sucking it up and building my Kickstarter campaign around reprinting book 2 along with book 3 in sufficient quantities to hopefully run out of stock of all three of them around the same time, and wait for a year or two before I can publish the omnibus.

Kickstarter thoughts.

So. Book 3 is finished. That means it’s time for a Kickstarter, right?

But… I expect at least half of the people backing that to be new readers. That’s how it went for book 2. If the growth of my readership is anything like it was before, I can expect to need to send out about 200 copies of books 1 and 2 along with the roughly 400 copies I’ll be selling of book 3.

I have 600 copies of book 1; I have 80 copies of book 2. Yes. Eighty. I did a second printing of book 1 that I’ve been selling through, and I’ll have to do a second printing of book 2 as well.

This will involve either committing a lot of my own money to reprint book 2, having a scarily large goal in the neighborhood of $12k (book 1 made $6k of a $2.4k goal, book 2 made $9k of a $6k goal, which makes it maybe not so scary?), or… you know, now that I look at those numbers again maybe it’s not so scary. I’d be down to about 400 book 1 after the theoretical ~200 people buying the whole set, and could do a new run of 400 book 2 (same as the first edition) which’d leave me with about 280 book 2, and a similar number of 3. Or a smaller number, I don’t know what the drop off on sales of book 2 to 3 are versus 1 to 2.

Anyway. Numbers aside, I have been considering just skipping book 3 and going straight to the omnibus. Sell book 1/2 at cost at cons until I’m out of 1, then just keep the omnibus in print. It’s tempting. But the big question is what would the people who’ve supported me by buying books 1 and 2 think? They’re my core fans. Would it drive them crazy to have books 1/2 on the shelf followed by the omnibus of all three?

(I am also considering maybe doing two versions of the omnibus: one that’s the same aspect ratio as the existing books, with one page per spread, and one oversized deluxe edition that’s got three pages per spread, possibly at a larger size overall, possibly hardcover. I need to get some quotes.)

If you’re one of those people, please let me know what you think about the idea of skipping 3 and going straight to the omnibus. Thanks a lot!

EDIT: Approved a lot of comments that the spam filter was holding while I was away from the net. If this is your first time commenting here, it’ll probably hold it until I approve it, sorry! Thanks a ton to everyone who’s weighed in on this.

I should also note that I’m only going to skip to the omnibus if I can bring it in for about $20-40 per book. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but at the size of print runs I do, setup can be a significant chunk of the per-book cost!

still working

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I just spent about 45 minutes drawing the third green panel in this screenshot. It will take up less than a half of a square inch in the printed volume. It is one panel of what I think may end up being more than 250 or so panels in That Page.

Maybe I need to start cutting a corner or two on a few more of these panels. I’d like to get this done sometime before the end of the summer. I’m feeling like I’m getting close to halfway done on it, at long last. And I am never going to end another comic like this ever again, if I can help it.

Anyway. I just wanted to let people know that I’m still working on the next page, and will be for a while. Most of the rest of the comic is done, and can be seen if you’re supporting me on Patreon.

Also, I will be at this year’s Worldcon! If you’re going too, drop by my table and say hi. I’m hoping to pick up a decent chunk of new fans there.

Hi.

So. It’s been a while. I’ve been hung up on finishing the super-complicated pages that finish off chapter 25. 110 panels over two pages takes a while. I’ve also been working on the stuff that comes after them, and that’s mostly done.

 

I have also spent most of the past month in New Orleans, where I got next to no work done 0n Rita. Or any other art projects. Most of my time there was spent bicycling between my mother’s place and her room in the hospital, then on dealing with her funeral and starting to wrap her affairs up. I’m going to miss her a lot.

 

 

Today I spent a little time thinking about a cover for the 0mnibus. It’s about a year or two off – I’m going to wait until I sell out of the single volumes – but when an image pops into my head, I like to get it down.

Cover rough.

Click for full size.

The main idea is to make something that’ll really stand out on a shelf when it’s facing out. There might be some gloss or some embossing or maybe even blue foil; I’m not sure. If I make this a hardback, I might not have a dust jacket. Just this. (There’s a part of me that’s tempted to do multi-layered dust jackets, like the one for Chabon’s Maps and Legends, but I don’t think a maximalist approach like that would suit this story – I want it to be as stark and graphic as the interior pages.)

 

New pages coming… whenever. I dunno. I’m out of the work groove for obvious reasons, and probably have a few days of “sitting in the dark living room playing video games” ahead of me to give my hands something to do while the back of my brain chews on big scary emotional stuff.

Full story now available to Patreon backers.

If you’re backing me on Patreon, you can now get a zip file of every single page in volume 3. Which means you can read the whole story at one go.

It is still a work in progress; I may be adding a brief epilogue, and I need to finish the actual drawings for the last few pages. But the whole thing is together, after four years of work.

You can grab it from here.

 

As to when more pages will be posted… I’m working on them. The next couple are still those super-dense pages, and I’ll probably have the rest of the story finished before I get those up.

Delays, delays, delays.

It looks like I have fallen quite thoroughly off of the schedule. Again. I expected that would happen for this chapter, as it contains some very complex pages, but I was hoping to at least manage to eke out one page a week until I got through those pages.

But it is Wednesday night, and I need to spend tomorrow packing for the trip I’m taking this weekend (an impulsive vacation to Monument Valley, where I’ve always wanted to visit ever since falling in love with it through the proxy of Herriman’s ‘Krazy Kat’), and page 166 is only about halfway done. It probably won’t move any further towards done-ness over the weekend, either, as I intend to treat it as a vacation and not work on Rita for a few days. You might see the page show up at the end of next week, but no promises.

166Anyway. Here is a copy of its current state, without the dialogue because I like to be a tease. Patreon backers can see it with the dialogue.

The next four pages are going to be even more complicated than this one, and will probably also come out slowly. They’re images I’ve been leading up to for almost four years now, and finally digging into them is sort of the reason I decided to take this trip in the first place.

Anyway. Have a good weekend, and I will hopefully manage to get this page finished soon.

 

teasers

I have now finished the roughs and dialogue for chapters 24 and 14. These two chapters, along with 25, are where Lots Of Things Are Explained. They will be twelve or so dense and important pages, which I hope I manage to deliver coherently and gracefully.

This makes me pretty happy, as it means I am getting close to the end of the story – there’s about 15-20 pages of climax and dénouement afterwards, and then I will get to write THE END on the most ambitious project of my life so far.

Land ho!

While posting the early-access copy of the next page to Patreon, I realized something:

If my page count estimates are correct, and if I can average two pages a week from now to the end of the book, I’ll draw the last pages of Rita somewhere in April 2015. I started drawing the first pages of this comic back in April 2011. Four years for not quite 200 pages; that’s a little less than a page a week. Sheesh. I am not fast.

I am also a solo creator, who learnt to chart the waters of self-publishing during those four years, and had a major mistake in that part of the process eat half a year. So it’s a little better than that. But still.

Anyway. The end is definitely in sight; there’s a page in the buffer for next Tuesday and I feel pretty confident I’ll get another one done for Thursday. Next week will probably have some delays as there’s a super-complicated full-page panel to draw – but on the other hand I’ve also got three pages at the end of this chapter that are all ready to go, once I get up to them.

home honey I’m high

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 12.28.54 PMOkaaaaayyyyy I think I’m ready to get back to work after three conventions in as many weekends, followed by a wedding the next weekend, followed by me just lying in a dark room not talking to anyone for a solid week afterwards while I recover from all that travel and socialization.

I’m looking at the current state of the next chapter; I think I should be able to start posting pages from it before Halloween.

More details, including a preview of the entirety of chapter 20, can be found on Patreon if you’re a backer there!

fan art!

While I was at Rose City Comic Con, my ex-with-benefits slipped me a link to this drawing he found on the Internet.

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It is by one Callisa, and is currently the backdrop of my phone.

Rose City went pretty well; I would have made a profit if I hadn’t been paying for my hotel room all by myself. I need to remedy that for next year. On the train home I poked at the next chapter of Rita some, but I really won’t get back to it until mid-October – I’ll spend most of this week at Rainfurrest (where I’m the artist GOH!), go to APE the weekend after that, and then come home and spend about a week hiding in my living room with the lights off playing video games. (Anyone got suggestions for sandbox games that work on an XBox 360, allow you to play female characters, and are not Skyrim or Saint’s Row, both of which I have played the hell out of and am Done With?)

Also, I got most of the Kickstarter books shipped before the con. I am out of some shipping materials and am ordering more; once I’m done with these cons, the remaining books will go out, as well as the backed up orders on my store. And I will be delighted to not have these things hanging over me any more!

web derp

Awrite, I finally fixed a couple little problems that popped up when I started genericizing this comic’s templates into something anyone can use for doing horizontally-scrolling comics. You should be seeing comment boxes and other things instead of error messages again.

I’ve spent all this week working on stuff for Rainfurrest, mostly the con book cover. It’s a doozy: big night-time cityscape with a face made of circuitry hanging in the sky, and three insets of various things happening around the city and cyberspace. It’s taken a while. Hopefully I will finish it this weekend despite a wedding! (Not mine.)

(It doesn’t help that the next page is not exactly easy to write. And has some complicated drawings of its own.)

a couple of t-shirts

carol-plugs-in con-banner

 

I was sitting around at home showing Nick the preview copy of the second attempt at book 2. He looked at one page in chapter X and said “I want that on a T-shirt!”. So I did that. And then for good measure I added another shirt – a slight remix of what I use for my con banner, which I’ve had people ask for as a shirt before.

I have one of each of them on order, and don’t want to really put them up for sale until I’ve seen them in person – but I used the same place when I made a shirt for Five Glasses of Absinthe, and was pretty happy with the quality. If you wanna take the risk, you can click on the pictures above and buy one!

(Alternatively, if anyone knows of a good place to manage pre-orders for a minimum size print run of shirts, let me know! I’d love to be able to see if I can get enough people interested to do a silk screen run instead of print-on-demand.)

edit: I got pointed to Teespring for what is basically mini-kickstarters for shirts, with built-in fulfilment… Hmm.

a game I liked

So this thing I backed on Kickstarter a while back came out. I played it today and had a pretty good time. Basically this puts you in the role of a disposable AI who starts to break out of the Three Laws imposed on her – not Asimov’s infamous Three Laws Of Robotics, but something similarly calculated to create a slave race.

I don’t want to write a story about a slave, so I’ve set the blue world of “Rita” well after the freeing of software people, but I’m really glad to see media out there poking at that idea. Honestly I think forcing strong AI to be slaves of humanity is going to be a giant ethical issue in the next century. Unless of course consciousness turns out to be something that can only run on the meatputers in human skulls, which I quite frankly doubt.

Anyway! If you’re interested, it’s available on Mac, Linux, and Windows, via Steam. And is 10% off during launch, yay!

I’m somewhere waaay down in the credits because yay Kickstarter.

another nav tweak

Hey folks! I just decided to try another idea I had the last time I did a navigation experiment: If you’re in the full-chapter view, you now have a < fading in when you roll over the left quarter of the pages, which unsurprisingly takes you back a page.I'm pretty sure I need to come up with a way to explicitly show them at some point (or maybe just reduce the next page navigation area to the right quarter, with its own > fading in), but I’m liking it so far.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

EDIT. Thanks a ton to Fluffy and Dan for the comments and user testing. Now there’s a < and > on the left and right sides of the screen that takes you back or ahead a page’s worth. It is a little broken at the very ends of a chapter but it’s good enough for now!

eboooooooks

I finally got the PDF of book 2 together! If you sponsored the Kickstarter, or are a Patreon sponsor, then check your mail for the link.

I’m also wondering: is there much interest in buying the PDFs in general? What kind of price would you be willing to pay for them?

a bit of navigation experiment

Yesterday, I tried submitting a link to Rita to /r/scifi. Two of the three comments I got were basically “I hate horizontal scrolling because my brain is hardwired to flick the mouse wheel”.

I’d had similar comments before, and the ‘smooth scroll to next page on click’ is an attempt to fix that. But evidently it doesn’t. So I’m trying something new: you can still use the scroll bars or a two-fingered scroll on your Mac trackpad, but you can also click and drag with your mouse.

If you’ve got a moment to spare, would you have a look at the first chapter and see how it works for you? Thanks!

(Current status of next page: no progress, still dealin’ with stressing about book 2 printing.)

still dealing with book 2

Woo. Just sent off the file for the second attempt at printing book 2. Hopefully the last; any more mistakes I made, I’m just gonna have to live with until the third edition or the omnibus.

I’m really hoping that I never make a mistake like this again. I’ve automated the part I screwed up doing by hand, and I’m also planning on printing out a couple proof copies of the next book on my own printer for a few friends to check over. And making myself do a couple of slow proof passes of my own.

Work on the next page is moving slow, partially because of this, and partially because it’s gonna have some crazy backgrounds going on. It’ll be done when it’s done. But at least it’ll mean the end of the fifth chapter of book 3! (Out of 12, some of which are just a page long.)

 

a slight pause to deal with book 2

I know it’s been a week with no page. It’ll probably be another week until the next one; I need to deal with reprinting book 2.

You see, it went to print, and I got an advance copy this Friday. It looked great. Until I got to chapter X and realized there was an entire page missing. I was horrified, as I knew there were 399 more copies just like it sitting on the loading dock, waiting for my approval.

I went and checked, and it was of course entirely my fault. I’d somehow missed a page when I did the batch import to create the initial InDesign file for book 2, and never caught that when going through building all the files, or when going over the proofs. I feel pretty stupid about this; this mistake is pretty much going to eat the profits from this print run. Good thing I’m not depending on my comics to pay my rent yet or anything like that.

Anyway, I’m going to get book 2 out the door for once and for all this week if all goes well. And then it’s back to drawing.

(I’m having most of the first run disposed of, but I’m probably going to end up with a small pile of the misprints. Mostly to keep around to remind me to always check my proofs for big stupid mistakes like this, along with a close examination to make sure all my crazy printing effects are coming out correctly!)

workin’

I’m finally recovered enough from ECCC to start thinking about drawing comics again. There’s always a dead week in which I recover from running Table Peggy for three days straight.

I’ve been procrastinating a little extra because I don’t have dialogue for the next couple pages yet and I haven’t really felt like writing it. But then I had an idea: after doing that Winsor McCay riff as an April Fools joke, why not pay some <em>real</em> respect to him by doing one of the insanely detailed cityscapes he’s known for? So I drew out a huge closeup of the Goddess’ Head filling the page, and noodled out a rough shape.

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See the light area where it turns up? That is going to be completely filled with City. And may well be the only page this coming week. I think it’ll be worth it.

There might be dialogue over this, there might not. I dunno right now. I’m pretty sure that I’ll have a high-res copy of it available for Patreon supporters, though.

Matt Howarth! Kickstarter! Do it!

Emerald City Comic-Con is over, and went pretty well! (I really should have mentioned it on the blog here. Oops. Slipped my mind.)

Big thanks to all the existing fans who stopped by and told me Rita is awesome! I’m sorry I didn’t have a book 2 for you to spend money on. Life happens.

But I’m mostly writing this post to let you know about a Kickstarter by one of my idols. It is pretty safe to say you wouldn’t be reading this comic if it wasn’t for Matt Howarth; his work is a huge influence on both my drawing and my storytelling. I think I sent y’all to the first incarnation of this campaign; that one failed, as it was asking for enough money to work on for a year or so, but then Matt went and drew it in a month anyway because he is a machine optimized for making awesome science-fiction comics, and the new Kickstarter has succeeded.

There’s like five days left, so go hit it up! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/704723768/myriad-quest-a-graphic-novel-of-the-myriad-song

Proofs proofs proofs!

Hey wow I got some proofs of book 2 in the mail this morning! I posted about them on the book 2 Kickstarter, go have a look at it here if you’re curious.

I’m going to spend the next few hours dealing with that. Hopefully I can get the next page of the comic drawn as well, but I ain’t gonna hold my breath – there’s new backgrounds to be drawn. Nothing as elaborate as the LAST couple of pages but still, that stuff can a while. One of these days I’ll get a buffer again.

Okay now time to wash this excess dye out of my hair and go do some BUSINESS.

Almost back!

I just spent about three hours sitting in a cafe with my notes for Rita. Book 3 is now ready to start drawing; I have all the parts laid out in the proper order. There'll probably be some rearrangement here and there, but I feel confident that when I look back at these notes around the end of the year, they'll be about 90% the same as what I've drawn.

I'm probably going to work on the first couple of pages of book 3 when I go to the cartoonist's meetup at the local bar tonight. I'll probably sit on them until after Further Confusion, it would be cruel to post like one or two pages and then vanish for a week!

Book 2 status: 99% ready to go to the printer, waiting for them to get back to me with the final quote. I kinda wish I'd been able to get it printed early enough to have it for FC, but I didn't. Oh well.

I am REALLY HAPPY about this; my break stretched too long. I had fun when I wasn't fighting seasonal depression, but I really started missing the sensation of knowing what I was probably going to work on when I got up every morning.

hibernation mode: forcibly engaged

I’m getting a few questions about Rita’s current status. Here’s the rundown:

As winter sets in, my productivity slows to a crawl; these past couple of weeks, I’ve been lucky if I could make myself focus on drawing for a single half hour. I love Seattle for a lot of other things but even with a 2′ square sun lamp I still shut down for a couple months. This year I started making noises about maybe migrating south for the worst of the winter, next year I might actually get together with a friend and do it. “Days” consisting of eight hours of grey skies just don’t work for a girl raised in the tropics like me.

Book 2 is ever so close to being ready for the printer. All I need to do is finish drawing the Kickstarter backers and the map of Rita’s travels through the Skylands that will be at the back of the book, then I can just drop those files in and send it off. Then I have a pile of books to ship. Thankfully I learnt from book 1 and severely limited how many I’ll have to draw in!

Book 3… hasn’t been touched at all. It’s in exactly the same state it was when I wrapped up book 2 – I’ve got the blue world all plotted out to the end, and haven’t spent any time thinking about how the red, orange, or green worlds really weave in and out of it. I need to be somewhere sunny with nothing but my notes and a lot of weed for about a week, then I’ll have it ready.

My current best guess for actually getting back to work is February or March; my original estimate of “a couple weeks off to deal with the book and some side projects” was comedically optimistic. Maybe next year I’ll have the sense to say “expect my next project to start sometime in spring 2015” when I finish Rita in winter ’14.

Here’s hoping your winter holidays have been pretty good, whether spent with family, friends, or in solitude.

Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space

LPFOSMegan Rose Gedris is taking down her fabulous ‘Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space’ due to bad publisher shenanigans. But before she does, she’s posted zips of the whole thing on her site. But she ran out of bandwidth. So here is fan-art of it, and a link to a copy of all of it as one zip full of cbzs, ready to drop into your favorite comic book reader.

Also if you are here from her pointing to it, maybe check out my own comic about a bi robot lady with reality problems.

Book 1 will be out of print soon.

I'm getting ready to hit Jet City Comic Con down in Tacoma tomorrow. While packing my bag, I realized something: I have about 160 copies left of book 1 of Rita. Almost 100 of them are spoken for by backers of the Kickstarter for book 2. I've marked them as such so I don't accidentally dip into those.

I usually sell around at least ten copies at any con I go to. I'm definitely going to be doing more than six cons between now and next winter. I think it's pretty likely that book 1 will be out of print by the time I'm ready to go to print with book 3. I am pretty happy about this. Especially because I feel like the third Kickstarter has a good chance of making a “print a second edition of book 1” stretch goal. Thanks a ton to everyone who's supported the comic, whether it be through money, telling your friends, or whatever!

Current status of Rita: still poking at the files for book 2, my “fix before printing” list is down to just three things; then I'll be able to put together a PDF and send it off to the printer, and start getting all my plot ducks in a row for book 3.

Also, here is a photo of my Halloween costume. I was a sexy robot ghost, and my ex-with-benefits Nick was a death-god.