Woo. This is the start of chapter 25. The next few pages are gonna be pretty damn complicated. I’ve had the image sprawling across this chapter sitting in my notes and my head for the entire duration of this project, and it’s both scary and delightful to finally get to start drawing it.
The start of a new chapter! In which we will find out what Mattie said to Rita that had to be so deeply encrypted.
This page concludes chapter 24. Which has generally just not been a good chapter for Rita, has it?
Next up is, at last, the full version of chapter 14.
30-40 pages left. I really need to figure out what the hell goes on in the chapter marked ‘denouemont’, my notes on chapter order just say “How long is this? What exactly happens here? Does it really exist or does it just shade into the epilogue?“. Which is not very enlightening when trying to estimate how many pages this final volume will be.
I was tempted to build a 3d model of this flying pirate ship to get this up-shot looking right, but I won’t be drawing it any more after this. Not worth the time. Instead I just looked at some pirate ships on 3dwarehouse.sketchup.com in their 3d viewer and eyeballed it.
I can’t help but think that this is a pretty cool artifact of living in the future. I can look at a 3d model of a pirate ship without ever even leaving my browser.
Next page status: 150 and 151 are done; 152 has a sketch and will finish this chapter at long last!
I think I drew the bishiest Savage Henrys ever in this page.
Man it feels so strange to be looking at finishing this comic in the foreseeable future. I’ve been working on it since 2011. We’re getting pretty close to the climax, though there’s still a few jumbled-sequence chapters to fill in everything I want you to know before it ends.
This page may look a little familiar!
I think this will probably be the only page for this week; I don’t have any sketches for the next page. I might have a wild fit of productivity tomorrow and take it from “loosely laid out dialogue” to “final art” but I’m not gonna count on it. I did actually spend three solid hours working on this, which is like three times more than I’ve been able to make myself do for most of the past few months, so you never know. I think spring may finally be coming! (Edit: I had a wild fit of productivity tonight while hanging out at SICAGA and got the next page roughed, holy crap. Lots of complex backgrounds in that one though, so who knows how long it’ll take..)
Aaand I also spent some time throwing together a Patreon campaign. I had a few people ask if I had one; now I do. Basically it’s an ongoing Kickstarter that will pay me per-page, for those of you who’d like to support me that way instead of (or in addition to!) buying a copy of the book about once a year. You can find out more here.
(I’m still going back and forth with the printer on contracts, this is just taking crazy long this time. I will be so happy when I get book 2 in print.)
I finished this page sitting on the show floor at Wizard World New Orleans. That is all.
Well that was a longer break than I intended it to be. It’s been a complicated winter, when it hasn’t been one with absolutely no energy for working on anything. Sorry about the wait, everyone!
Book 3 is quite thoroughly planned out. I’m excited to get back to it, and hope it all hangs together – there’s a fine line between ‘explaining too much’ and ‘not explaining a damn thing’ that realityfuck stories like this have to walk, in my opinion, but I know I’m too damn close to the story to really know if I’m explaining quite enough. (Which reminds me: thanks a ton to everyone who’s commented in the past, saying they’re confused by one part or another of the story, and patiently suffered me editing bits of the previous pages instead of just explaining exactly what you were wondering. I think the story’s better for it.)
I’m sure a lot of you are also wondering about book 2. Vacations and sick leave on the printer’s end slowed things down, plus me getting some hellacious con crud after this year’s Further Confusion. Getting book 2 dealt with is pretty high on my list of priorities right now.
Anyway. This is going to be the last third of the story. There’s things coming up that I’ve been planning since before I even drew the first page, so that should be fun to finally draw. Thanks for sticking around, everyone.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Cameo appearance by Megan Rose Gedris, aka “Florence of A Labia”. I do not know how that woman finds the time to draw so many awesome comics and squeeze in the occasional burlesque performance. I really must get my own spangled ass back up on the stage sometime soon.
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.
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.
Holy shit it’s another page! Two in one week!
I got this finished Thursday night, so I get to post it for this week. I dunno if I’ll have another one on next Thursday what with ECCC but WHAT THE HELL.
(Also – I’ll be at ECCC! Booth 2503, hidden in a corner among tattooists and autograph sellers and stuff. Next year I gotta grab a booth earlier.)
Oh hey! It’s a page!
I’ve been sitting on this new look for Rita4 for what seems like forever, what with all the things getting in the way of actually drawing the comic lately. So it may be jumping the gun a little since she’s naked right now, but I figured I’d share my character/costume designs for her.
These are the first couple pages, where I started exploring. The idea that I wanted her to be dangerously young emerged early. And I figured I’d emphasize her smallness by giving her a tiny, exaggerated hat to contrast with the eminently practical hat her previous incarnation had been sporting. On the right is where it really started to become a Thing, with me settling on a little military-looking hat that made me think of General Jinjur, a character in the second Oz book. It’s not actually the hat that John R. Neil drew on her, but I like it more than his hat, so that’s what I stayed with.
With the hat and hair finalized, I started doodling outfits. In the end I decided to riff on Jinjur some more, and picked up a detail from the stories: her goal was to conquer Oz, and as a symbol of this, she wore a skirt colored like the four quadrants of the country. Whether or not I’ll actually show this in the comic is doubtful, what with the color restrictions involved.
Basically my goal is to play with the idea of “age”; Rita4 and her companions Tom4 and Gary4 are basically Timelords. As such they live a VERY long time with multiple regenerations – tied, in the case of Rita at least, to their hats. So Rita4 here is probably several hundred years old at this point, and yet is manifesting as a little girl. Who behaves in a very adult fashion. (Including bedroom shenanigans but trust me, those aren’t going to show up on-camera. At best there will be VERY elliptical hints that her sex life really hasn’t changed except for a few issues of basic biomechanics. Mostly you’ll just see her smoking cigarettes once she gets dressed and settles into her new persona.)
I need to go back and edit some dialogue at the beginning of Chapter VIII to establish that Rita was on her last hat and thus not expected to come back; I’d originally written it as her having one more hat left, and have since changed my mind. Good thing that chapter’s not in print yet, huh?
(Also here is a drawing of the previous hats of Rita4. I might color this for the bonus material of the second book.)
I was originally going to have some kind of funeral rite being spoken by Gary4 in the first couple of panels, but I couldn’t get something written that didn’t feel like words for the sake of words. So I went with silence.
Also, in an amusing bit of life imitating art, I lost my hat on the bus this past weekend. It hasn’t turned up in their lost and found yet; if it still hasn’t appeared by next Monday when I call them again, I’ll assume it’s gone, and go hunting for a new one. Because winter in Seattle means needing something to keep the drizzle off; everyone thinks you’re a tourist if you use an umbrella, and I’m really just not a hoodie kinda gal.
[Later: Carol’s car used to be a Mazzigatti until Nick said that sounded like a comedy knockoff of Maserati, so I found an Italian cryptographer to namecheck instead – Silvio Micali, one of the co-discoverers of zero knowledge proofs.]
And here’s chapter 9.
If all goes well, the book should be off to the printer soon. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll have it in time for Rainfurrest (though I’ll have Tarot decks galore there!), but it should definitely be in my hands by the time I go off to APE.
I learnt a lot while putting the book together. Hopefully book 2 will go together a lot faster, since I’ll have actually done it before.
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
Barrett knows what’s best. Barrett always knows what’s best.
I really wish I’d been able to show this through Rita’s eyes but letting you in on what the Sunrisers are trying to do was more important.
If you follow my twitter and/or LJ you’re probably tired of hearing about this, but the Kickstarter is still going. I’ve set a secondary goal of $20,000; this will get spot gloss on the Panopticon, which should be AWESOME. The book’s happening either way; now it’s just a matter of how sweet the printing is.
I’ve got my studio mostly cleaned up from the past month of craziness; I was able to sit at the coffee table to finish this page. Hopefully that means the return of a semi-regular schedule. I hope I’m not inviting disaster by changing the schedule from “updates whenever” to “updates twice a week”.
Finally, here is one of the heads of Image responding to people saying that the way Marvel and DC have treated creators over the years is okay. It’s really nice to see someone that high up in the industry saying that no, it’s not okay for this to be business as usual, even if the contracts were all legal and above-board.
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.
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.