<> Various Affections
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This took a lot longer than I intended it to. I’d decided to pause for a few weeks after finishing the previous chapter, to deal with some other projects that had been sitting on the side entirely too long. But then I sprained my rib in aikido class, and spent a couple weeks mostly just sitting in the living room, playing Skyrim.

It also took a while because I dipped my toe into a new world: 3D modeling. I made a little reference maquette of the car in Silo!

I ended up getting it into Illustrator via an awkward process involving dropping a copy of the half-finished page into Silo, posing the model to match the loose sketches, then screengrabbing that and registering it with the image in Illustrator.

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And then I treated the car images like any other thing on my sketch layers, and drew what you see here. I can see one or two refinements to the process – mostly, make two screengrabs of the setup in Silo, one with the page, one without, and swap them in Illustrator once I think things are registered – but that’s really it. I may also end up doing separate reference shots for future pages, with more varied perspective on the car.

<> The Other Woman
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Two things.

One: I’m playing with the name for the car. Originally I had it as “Mazzigatti”, but Nick was of the opinion that sounded too much like a parody of “Maserati”, which was not my intent – I just wanted an Italian name, because Italians + cars = impractical, gorgeous, fast things.

I went digging around for Italian cryptographers, and found Silvio Micali, one of the co-inventors of the zero-knowledge proof. Which is a thing I have vaguely heard of but honestly cannot be said to really understand.

Two: This past weekend, I went down to the Stumptown Comic Fest for an important rite of passage – losing my first award. This didn’t bum me out too much; I found myself contemplating some clear indicators as to why I didn’t do well in a popular vote for “best new talent”. But more importantly, the day after the awards, I said hi to Phil Foglio. Who, it turns out, has been eagerly following Rita since I gave him a flier at ECCC 2012 and loves pretty much everything about it except the frequency of updates.

I’d already been thinking that it’s really time to get my work habits and Rita’s schedule back in gear; having one of my top three or four living influences give me a kick in the ass over my schedule was a hell of a reinforcement of those thoughts.

So I’m trying to make some changes in my habits and my expectations for myself. No promises. But hopefully chapter 10 will spool out a LOT quicker than 9 did.

<> P.E.T.R.O.L.
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Oh god this page took like six hours to draw and I did pretty much everything but the very vague rough and the close-up of Carol in one day. I’m kinda glad to get things moving but man that was a lot more solid work than I’ve been used to lately.

Still: by uploading this just before midnight on Wednesday, I get to continue to have one page in the buffer after the preceding page drops one minute after midnight on Thursday. PROJECT BUFFER CONTINUES.

…and then I fooled around with it on Thursday and Friday to tweak the dialogue a little and add the red triangles. Which are done by making huge pattern fills the size of the page with scribbles of a pressure-sensitive pattern brush, and applying them to the shapes – it’s a very sideways and Illustratory way to say “hey I want to paint in these twenty shapes”. Big thanks to Nick for helping me decide that yes, I do want to make an ambiguous statement in the language of color this story has going – I think we talked about it for like an hour.

Also, here is the reference self-shot I used for that panel of Carol plugging herself into the car.

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<> My uncle has a country place that no-one knows about…
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Monday, instead of finishing this page before Tuesday’s page went up, I went out running in the evening. I’m mmmaybe attempting the Couch-to-5k thing with the help of the Zombies, Run! app. Then when I got home I basically collapsed in front of Skyrim until midnight. My lizard-girl assassin is now receiving visions from the dessicated corpse that runs the Assassin’s Guild.

So I spent Tuesday working on this, and now I get to spend all Wednesday working to try and have something in the buffer again once this page goes live. A minor setback in Project Build A @#$% Buffer, but I’m not letting it get me down.

PS. You should basically be playing your favorite THIS FAST CAR IS WAY COOL song while reading this entire chapter.

ALSO! Elon Musk is talking to Google about putting their autodrive technology in Tesla’s cars! Bits of this story are set a looong while from now, but other bits are really only about a decade off. HELLO FUTURE.

<> My Weekly Crime
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Tree ref courtesy of finishing this page while looking out the window on the train from Seattle to Portland.

The title of this page and the previous one is a reference to Rush’s song “Red Barchetta “. What’s your favorite song about COOL CARS WHAT GO FAST VROOM VROOM?

Also holy cow this is page #92. This is getting close to being the biggest thing I’ve ever done.

<> vrooom vrooom
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The spell circle dragon-Rita’s sitting in owes a ton to imagery from The Dark Crystal. I had the art book from the movie when I was young, and I think it shaped something subtle and important that runs beneath the surface in my art. There was gonna be some purple in it at one point but then I was all “wait no Barrett doesn’t have that access in the it’s-all-a-hackjob interpretation”. It is hard to write four narratives at once and try to make things work with at least three different interpretations of What’s Really Going On, but if you’re gonna write reality trouble stories, you kinda have to. Geez, writing stories with only one layer of reality is gonna feel so easy when I’m done with this.

While I was finishing this page, I spent some time reading a manga called “Ultra Heaven“, which touches on a lot of the same themes as Rita for its first two volumes. The third goes off in a very different direction from where I’m going, and I think ultimately kind of punctures everything the first two volumes set up – but it’s pretty interesting while it’s going. If you’re looking for another reality trouble comic to read while I slowly finish this one, this isn’t a bad choice at all. Although it is really quite lacking in cute robot babes. Thanks to the ever-awesome Brandon Graham for the link.

Okay now to set up the next page and then go get baked and play board games with some friends.

<> Overture
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This one’s a day later than it should have been; I spent a lot of the time I would have liked to have been working on it this past Wednesday and Thursday on (a) stressing out over some Twitter drama and (b) recovering from my first try at running with minimalist shoes – that gave certain muscles and tendons that normally never get used a HUGE workout.

I also added some stuff to the previous page, so go have a look at that if you’re reading the pages as they come out – I decided I liked the rhythms better if both world 2 and 3 were overlapping the page boundary.

Also I would like to direct you to the Kickstarter my friend Ursula Husted is running for her new book, “The Lions of Valetta“. It’s about stray cats, art history, and the meaning of life, and it gets a big thumbs-up from me.

<> Les Augures printaniers
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Looks like I only managed one page this week. Not surprising, there were errands to run in the sun, the beginnings of a complete revamp of what I eat, and a much-needed visit from the ex-with-benefits after a couple weeks of that not coming together. At least I knocked off a couple of not-Rita art things that had been lingering for ages.

Also, if you are deep into the Tumblr thing and feel like being my unpaid promotion team, maybe you feel like reblogging some of the recent things I posted on the Ask Rita tumblr – I threw some big chunks of comic in there to see if I can get any new readers from what everyone says is the most hoppingest social media site nowadays.

<> GSV Youthful Indescretion

Iain (M.) Banks died this past Sunday.

Either that, or he had an emergency crop up halfway across the galaxy, and the the Mind of the GCU The Infuriating Fragility Of Life In A Pre-Contact Civilisation Displaced him away, leaving a slowly-cooling meat puppet in his place.

If you haven’t read his work you should. The gently posthuman future of Rita’s blue timeline is no doubt influenced by the “Culture” that shows up in about half of his SF books. (And his SF books are only about half of his stuff.)

Everyone has their favorite places to start; I, personally, feel that “Use of Weapons” makes for a really good introduction to his “Culture” universe, since part of it involves the hero being introduced to it as well. (As a bonus, it’s one of the inspirations for some of the tricks I’ll be playing in book 3.)

* * * * *

While I was drawing this page, I fixed a couple details in the preceding one.

<> And as I hit the magic hundred…
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This song totally sums up Rita1 and Carol1’s gestating relationship.

Also HOORAY, this is page ONE HUNDRED.

This page is a whole week later than it should be. Mostly because every time I’d look at it, it was scary and intimidating. And when I’d get a panel finished, there was still a huge amount of work left. Having ten panels on one page will do that to you.

I’ll be at Anthrocon this coming week, which will probably counteract the effects of going down to two Ritas per page for a couple of weeks – a cross-country flight plus the Biggest Furry Con There Is is probably going to leave me useless for anything more than playing video games for a half a week.

At any rate, if you’re going to be at Anthrocon, be sure to drop by my table!

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<> Hot Swap
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Anthrocon was fun, but took a lot out of me. I spent the first two days after the con unable to do more than lie naked on a giant purple beanbag chair and vaguely poke at the net. Hence the gap in pages.

On the way home I read the latest from Charlie Stross, “Neptune’s Brood“. It’s about a research banker who gets caught up in a galaxy-spanning financial scam, and forcibly rebuilt into a mermaid. It’s set in the same universe as “Saturn’s Children“, but much much much much later. I enjoyed it a lot. And only after reading the book did I realize that pretty much every important character is a lady. Hooray! More like this please, people.

<> Branch Table Reconstruction
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Sorry this one didn’t make it up last week, everyone. These three-world pages are just HARD TO DO.

This is, at long last, the FINAL PAGE of chapter X. There’s only chapter XI left to do, which should be shorter than this one was, and then it’s off to Kickstarter for book 2. And speaking of Kickstarter, here’s a couple cool comics that’re kickstarting books…

Yu+ME Dream, omnibus edition, and Spacetrawler book 3. Yu+ME involves layered dream realities, lesbian romance, and an amazing kaleidoscope of drawing styles; Spacetrawler is a comic space opera about slavery. Yu+ME is finished, Spacetrawler will be done when this third book goes out. And you can read ’em both for free online, too: Yu+Me, Spacetrawler. Go check ’em out and maybe buy the books!

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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!