<> 9L17¢#
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_________ .__                   __                  .________
\_   ___ \|  |__ _____  _______/  |_  ___________   |   ____/
/    \  \/|  |  \\__  \ \____ \   __\/ __ \_  __ \  |____  \ 
\     \___|   Y  \/ __ \|  |_> >  | \  ___/|  | \/  /       \
 \______  /___|  (____  /   __/|__|  \___  >__|    /______  /
        \/     \/     \/|__|             \/               \/ 

CRACKED AND +4 TRAINED BY THE SUNRISE SYNDICATE!

We are, I think, a third of the way through the story. Maybe half, I’m not entirely sure. Now is probably a good time to go back and read all of chapter 4 or even the whole thing!

<> Fantasy Targeting
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I decided to have one more page of setup to make sure you know what’s going on – the “Rita1 glitches into World3” page ended up being almost entirely about the glitch and not about establishing the situation.

Also OH MAN I HAD SO MUCH FUN WITH RITA’S FACE IN THIS PAGE. Seriously. I REALLY LOVE the fact that I’m approaching this like an ANIMATOR instead of caring about accurate depictions of reality, I get to draw CRAZY EXPRESSIONS. Man I never draw expressions like that when I’m doing a pin-up because “worry/repulsion” is just NOT an emotion that comes up in that context.

Posted this one a tiny bit early because guess who did absolutely nothing to stay on top of her buffer this past week? I worked on a single-page comic for a broadsheet compilation, threw together the first try at a printed volume, and did social things instead. And still managed to draw this page from scratch (not counting my chaotic notes) in one day.

<> all your weapons are belong to us

Wednesday, I got out of bed and started working on this page. I took a break after roughing out the first panel to shower, and to think about how to handle the action sequence I’m beginning – unsurprisingly I think I’m going to end up expanding one page into a couple.

And then after I solved those problems, I started thinking about the overall story. About the stuff I’ve been planning out for the climax. And I had some ideas pop into my head of what Rita will look like at that point in the story. When I got out, I pulled up a new file in the page template, and drew madly for ten or twenty minutes. Then I saved it as page 100. It’ll probably be more like 150 at this rate, but hey, as long as it’s fun, right?

I’m tempted to have very brief hints of this Rita start showing up. We’ll see. For now, just know that the end of the story is getting firmer in my mind; this drawing spurred some thinking about what exactly happens at the climax, and ways I can start foreshadowing it! (Plus I can say that the final Rita was created on leap day, which seems KIND OF APPROPRIATE all things considered.)

ALSO! Here is some totally sweet fan art of Rita from the fabulous Thomas Blue. You should buy some of his comics because they are great. (Sadly he seems to have pulled ‘The City Dreams of Tamino The Cat’ from the net while he hunts for a publisher.)

<> Amazingly Polite Inquiries
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Six minutes ago, Rita1 was in a cafe making a date. Then her stupid thrillseeking ex came back into her life. Then she saw a dragon who acted and sounded just like her get her brains blown out by some wizard. And now this.

Somewhere deep below the neural network that calls itself “Rita”, a tiny subtask is calculating the probability that Tom will have any kind of coherent explanation for this. Even a bad one. It is rapidly converging on zero.

Also I really did not know that Rita1 could scream that loud. Damn.

—-

And finally – this is the fiftieth page! Thanks to everyone who’s been reading this far; I’d love to hear what you folks out there think. If the comment section isn’t working for you (hopefully it is, I think I cleared up some problems it was having), my email is [email protected], and I’m egypturnash on AIM. Or you could just write a review or critique and post it in your blog; Google will tell me about it pretty quickly!

<> Apologetic Elf Is Apologetic
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This is another page whose expressions made me laugh while drawing it. I really feel like doing this comic has taught me a lot about drawing human emotions! I owe a lot of that to Phil Foglio, and, to be honest, like him, I probably care a little less than I should about keeping faces on-model.

Originally the top tier had three completely different panels, but those will be appearing on the next page. I’ll lose some counterpoint that made me grin, but I really, really felt like I needed the brief pause after Blue Rita’s heartfelt scream.

<> Boyfriends Are Useless
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Welcome to Pallas!

I was really tempted to slack off and finish this Tuesday but, well, I got started on this one late because I spent a couple hours on the phone with one of my idols. And one thing I am continually amazed by when we talk about getting stuff done is HOW FAST HE IS.

So, you know, I let myself take some breaks and browse the web a bit, but I kept on thinking, man, Matt Howarth wouldn’t be doing this, he’d just be sittin’ there at his desk, chain-smoking and drawing up a storm. So I ended up making myself stay up late enough to finish this page.

There is a growing part of me that wants to go back and make the expressions of the earlier pages a bit wilder; I really feel like I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with all these characters as time goes on. But I’d rather press forwards and keep telling the story. Speaking of which, there should be EXPLANATIONS forthcoming for both of the on-stage Ritas next page!

Also I got my first rejection letter from a publisher for this project. IT’S A REAL THING NOW.

<> Story time!
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As it turns out I think this one would have been a little late even if I HADN’T spent Wednesday doing dirty Adventure Time fan comics and going to see “John Carter Of Mars”. Having two characters start to tell stories in parallel, with a whole bunch of new designs on the page, made it pretty slow going.

And if you’re wondering, I would have cut and paste that drawing of Elf Barrett even if I wasn’t drawing seven other panels completely from scratch. Sometimes you just gotta do a hold!

Also I hope that it’s pretty obvious from the context that a “sundrop” race is one whose route takes it REALLY STUPIDLY CLOSE TO THE SUN.

<> A Pause Between Stories
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This one took a while! Lots of finicky stuff. It would have taken less time if I hadn’t come up with silly titles for the books in the second panels of the lower tiers, but sometimes you just have to do these things.

I dunno if we’ll ever see Tom10 (Heckboy) or Tom12 (Steampunk Vampire) again. I had to draw the entirety of each Tom, so here’s that panel without the world-layer effects…

Robot TomHuman TomSteampunk Vampire TomHeckboy Tom

And also here is a shot of the library close enough to read it. If you can figure out what all of the titles are mutations of, then… you’re probably me.

ALSO here is a model sheet I finally threw together of Dragon Rita. I really need to make these for more of the characters, to be honest. I’m lazy.

<> The Collective
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There is a layer in this page called “I thought I was done drawing bookshelves when I finished chapter 1 of Absinthe”. It contains abstracted books, cut and paste from that comic.

“Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up.” – Wally Wood

Also, Mattie’s shape is inspired by some of the work of master photomanipulator J. K. Potter, most specifically his portrait of Lydia Lunch.

<> Uneasy Slumber
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Aaaand that’s it for book 1. I’m going to take another week off, maybe two – I need a vacation! I might draw a few more answers to your wonderful questions for Rita, so keep an eye on that, or on my tweetles.

On April 12, 2011, I drew what became page 2 of this comic. Over the next few weeks I had some ideas about formalist experiments pop up, and started drawing a few more pages. Two months later I set this site up and decided I was going to attempt two pages a week. Which proved a more elusive goal than I’d hoped, what with moving away from my exes, my first burlesque performance, a medical crisis, and the umpteen other distractions that made up the past year.

This is page 56, so in slightly less than a year I’ve averaged a bit better than a page every week. Hopefully the next year will see me manage a better schedule. No promises though; life continues to be interesting, and there’s really nobody I can call in to help with the production of this book.

I’m going to try and get together a printed volume soon. Maybe Lulu, maybe with a real printer after a Kickstarter – I need to run the numbers on that and decide if I have any hope of that coming off successfully. More on that as things develop. If anyone knows of a printer in the PacNW, let me know – I’d love to cut out some of the shipping fees!

Finally, a big thanks to everyone who’s been reading along, especially those of you who’ve tried to figure out just what’s going on with the multiple Ritas and the Panopticon! Doing comics is lonely work. especially when you’re not quite sure if WordPress is refusing to allow some folks to comment.

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If you're enjoying this comic, please consider buying the book, supporting me on Patreon, or telling your friends and/or favorite tastemakers about it. Thanks!

This comic is finished; you may want to check out some of my other comics as well.

Also! It's currently on Kickstarter!