Drama and Portents

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Aaand that’s the end of chapter 12. According to my notes there are eight left in the story, and some of them are pretty short.


So I was idly looking at some of the stuff currently advertising on Rita, and saw a very pink ad for “Mock Girl”. I instantly guessed what genre it was in: the Semi-Autobiographical Trans Narrative. It’s a difficult genre for me to love. Most instances of it tend to be boring in the same way I find any autobio boring, and it tends to be someone’s first effort at a Real Comic to boot – so they’re working uphill at something that’s already kinda difficult to get right in my eyes.

“Mock Girl” is doing it right.

The drawing is pretty much ‘serviceable’ to my jaundiced ex-animator eyes, but it’s enough to serve the writing. And the writing? Anything for a laugh. There’s some moments of seriousness, but mostly it giggles wildly from “vanished sister turns out to be an assassin” to “unexpectedly nice and helpful Creepy Clown” to “spooky magical voice from the darkness turns out to be a cranky turtle” and “while stuck in a coma talking to metaphors for her different drives, the main character’s Lust takes the time to crack wise about the size of her boobs”. The transition is an occasional subject for humor, but it’s completely normalized by the fact that it’s pretty much just one more thing to goof on.

Anyway. Go check it out.

Power Cycling

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The quilt covering Ordinary Human Rita was an interesting experiment with a corner of Illustrator I don’t use too much: distortion meshes. Well, okay, I use super-simple d-meshes all the time; pretty much every bit of hovering HUD text in this comic is in a d-mesh that’s had a perspective transformation applied to it. But this was my first time really trying to do complicated freeform distortions.

You can read more about it on my blog if you’re curious.

ALSO is it just me or there a lot of missing images when you look at this whole chapter?

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!

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.

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.

A Challenger Appears!

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Hey, it’s a page! It was nice to have an excuse to draw Blue Rita again, even if she was in Red Rita’s palette.

And since this is the first page of the new year…

Also, I went back through the story so far and tagged each page with what character shows up on it! Maybe later I’ll edit the theme so the tags actually show up near the page. But right now I should get some stuff together for Further Confusion.

(I was hoping to have some printed copies of Rita to sell there, but that’s just not gonna happen. I will however have some copies of the first chapter of Absinthe, and a few Tarot decks!)

Encounter Screen

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This page took too long. Way too long. A week of distraction followed by two weeks of vacation and a funeral, followed by a week of recovery. Today I finally managed to get together enough sustained effort to do several panels in one day. I’ve got partial scripts and pageflow for the next four pages; hopefully they’ll come a bit faster. Sheesh.

Meanwhile… My old friend Gabe’s been doing this cool little strip about growing up in the seventies. It’s kind of the polar opposite of this story about the future, really. He just came out with a collection of it.

You can pick it up here</a> if you want a copy. Or get a PDF for five bucks if you're going all digital.

SIG_TERM

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I had to draw the top tier twice because Illustrator crashed while I was undoing a Matrix-looking bullet-time shockwave trail on the bullet. Oh well. Note to self: save before playing with blends that involve distortion meshes. And after completing every panel for that matter.

Also hooray, two pages in one week again!

Lossy Decompression

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Looks like I’m getting back on track – I’ve got rough script for at least the next two pages of Rita1′s side, maybe three or four depending on how I pace the visuals, and an idea of where Rita2 and Barrett2′s conversation goes. Will Rita2′s wisecrack defuse Barrett’s mood, or make it worse?

Working in two stories at once like this is an interesting challenge. I find that usually one narrative or the other leads the page, and the other is written around it – sometimes in harmony, sometimes in counterpoint. This time Carol’s question was the first thing written, with the staccato overlaps of Barrett2 and Rita2′s argument coming in second; in other pages, it’s been the lower half that needs to be written or drawn first. I think Rita1 comes first a little more often than Rita2 but I’m not entirely sure, I haven’t been keeping any statistics on this!

Relationship Maintenance

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On top of everything else going on in my life, I had a kidney stone this week. In honor of this, I declare that every glass shown on this page is full of water. You should probably drink more of it too if you don’t want one. And believe me when I say you don’t want one; the only safeword that pain respects is “morphine”.

(Book text excerpted from The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy; I believe two pages of a novel constitutes fair use.)

Circumlocutions and Lacunæ

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At this point I have pretty much introduced all the elements I want this comic to be About. I’m sure a few more will pop up as I play around with these and try to get to the places I want to take the story and the visuals; I’ve already had things twist and turn in ways I didn’t quite expect.

“Blue Train, LLC” came from a Cibo Matto song that iTunes served up while I was trying to come up with the right name for the Mysterious Organization that Rita(1) works with. It just tasted right.

Publicly Disclosed Secret

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Sorry this is getting a little depressing; there will be more action soon!

As an experiment I also put all the pages to date into a very very wide image. This is sort of its native format and sort of not. I don’t think it quite works like that but it’s an interesting failure; one of these days I kinda want to do a comic that does work like that. (Maybe even one that’s one huge continuous image with panel borders over it. Now that’s a stunt and a half.)

Also now I think this should be getting posted at midnight Seattle time instead of midnight GMT. Oopsie.

And finally I decided to add a footnote explaining my c64 video game reference to page 7.