<> Meanwhile, back in the Skylands…
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I decided to document a bit of my process for this one. I also did most of it out on the hill in Gasworks Park – I love having a laptop!

Click on the thumbnails for full-size, of course.

The first thing I do is make a new file from my template. The dark blue lines are panel border guides, the light blue ones are the text-safe area. I have a gutter down the middle of the text-safe area because when I go to print, each page becomes a spread, so I don’t want to put text across that by accident. The template also has my color palette in its swatches, and a bunch of word balloons on the dialogue layer outside of the page, so I can just say “I need a normal dialogue balloon”, “I need an encrypted dialogue balloon”, “I need some HUD text” or whatever and drag a copy into the image area.

If I’m not doing an action sequence, I start with the dialogue. I usually have a rough idea of what it should be, but I don’t bother finalizing it until I’m working on the page. Sometimes the panel layout is first; I even have thumbnails hanging around that are nothing but panel flow from one page to the next.

After I’ve got the dialogue down, I rough in the action. This page is a bit unusual in that I used a photograph of something I’d previously scrawled in my sketchbook in pen; 99% of the time, I rough stuff out in Illustrator. Sometimes I do it in lines, sometimes I do it in rough sloppy shapes.

Most of the time I work from front to back. The figure is almost always the most important part of the panel; I compose the lights and darks of the background around it. Also, hooray for pattern fills on Rita’s skirt – that’s the same pattern I was using on her gloves, for the first appearances of Skylands Rita.

The figures are pretty much done here. And the bottom panels are definitely done; I was able to knock the out really, really quickly by cutting and pasting stuff from the middle of chapter 5. I generally prefer to draw stuff fresh instead of cut and paste, but if I can copy over a complicated machine I will totally do it. (Also note that Gary’s last line has been edited a little. I felt the new phrasing gave him a little more of an English feel; the green storyline is kind of me doing a riff on the countless hours of Doctor Who I watched in my teens and twenties.)

And finally I add in some background details. The big note in the sky is because I was closing the laptop to go back home, and didn’t want to glance at this page and think it was done.

<> Beautiful Monsters
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Further Confusion website: Done, barring one little tweak.
Feast Yer Eyes submission: Done.

Less projects hanging around means less time sitting around going OH GOD WHAT AM I GOING TO WORK ON NOW EVERYTHING IS HIGH PRIORITY. Plus the deadline-pushing of those two finished projects seems to have reminded me that yes, I can focus on drawing stuff for several hours in a row, which is only going to help the schedule for Rita!

Coincidence corner: This the 64th page of this graphic novel. As I was working on the last couple of panels, iTunes started playing the soundtrack to the Beatles movie “Yellow Submarine”. Which includes “When I’m 64”. I swear the mention of “lovely, Rita” in the flashback dialogue was wholly unintentional!

Also it greatly amuses me that Megaera’s roar has a bit of a French accent. The green world is sort of a tribute to French fantasy comics, after all. (And to Doctor Who but that’s another matter entirely.)

Future page status: blue world has rough scripts and even some thumbnails and incidental character designs for the next three pages, green world has rough scripts for one page and outlines for the next 3-4. Will there be another page this week? I hope so!

<> Thrilling Chase Sequence
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If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the Vespulines have been coming since the very first page of this chapter.

This is in part because I went back and added them in the background of the previous page – but they’re the tiny little dots changing in the very first panels of this chapter. So many things to keep track of!

<> Choose Your Destination
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Here’s the list of destinations Tom is picking from so you don’t have to hold your screen up to a mirror.

           destination  subjective time
            Straylight  3s
                 Vesta  14s
       Czarina-Kluster  23s
             Funk Soul  372s
     Shaeffer’s Choice  2942s
                  Höel  70042s
           Strangedown  78309s
          Eros Kluster  82409s
              Pasiphaë  146239s
                Sinope  146935s
              Amalthea  147001s
              Ganymede  147007s
         New Val Halen  147002s
              Callisto  147003s
     Shaeffer’s Choice  147014s
      The Moose Denied  147020s
Europa Nature Preserve  147004s
                Himara  147271s
                    Io  147692s
                 Elara  147848s
                  Leda  148234s
         New Amsterdam  183327s

Apparently Shaeffer chose both ways.

This is a mix of names I made up, orbital/asteroid habs from books that influenced me, and several of Jupiter’s moons – I guess Pallas is hanging out near the Jovian system at the time of this story. Which I suppose could give an enterprising nerd a guess as to the exact date this is happening, if I’d actually done any of those calculations myself. Which I did not.

And I don’t know about you, but I really do not want to visit a place called “Höel”. I think it was colonized by a bunch of Ren & Stimpy revivalists. shudder

<> Dangerous Invitations
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Oh geeze this page took entirely too long. I had it all written at the beginning of LAST week. And then I drew the first panel. Did a nice drawing of the Mattie, Reb, and Andrei clustered around the visualization of the spread of the Sunrisers’ work.

And I knew it was wrong. But I’d spent enough time on it that I was reluctant to do the right thing and abandon it. I took most of a week to decide to do that.

Of course, I also spent this week running around frantically trying to get a passport together, and when it became clear that was going to fail a mere few days too late for the impromptu European trip a friend had proposed, also going and being a stage kitten at a burlesque show. (A “stage kitten”, also known as a “pickup artist”, is the person who puts out props before an act… and comes out to pick up what’s been strewn about the stage afterwards. If she does her job right this involves showing a lot of ass now and then.) After that I spent a whole day doing nothing but lying around a quiet apartment reading.

And I ditched that panel, scaled the Earth up, and made it hopefully a bit clearer what’s going on. Because this is an Important Bit Of The Story.

Then I went to the comic shop and picked up a few things – the latest issue of Prophet (bizarre as always), the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (underwhelming), the latest issue of Atomic Robo (fun), and… a hardbound reprint of the entirety of Moebius and Jodorowsky’s Incal.

Which might explain how wide the other three panels in this page are; I’d been thinking for a few weeks that I need to start pulling my camera back and showing more of the world, and a big dose of Moebius’ drawings really made me excited about doing that. We’ll see how this affects future pages; I’ve been feeling like the stark style I draw this in makes it hard to really pull back sometimes.

Oh, and here’s that abandoned version of that first panel.

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