This fucking page.
This fucking page took like half a year to draw. Admittedly there were a couple of months in there where I got absolutely no work done on the comic due to my mother dying. But this fucking page.
Now it is… well, okay, not totally done. But done enough that I’m going to post it. And the entire rest of the story, because I finished all of that off while slowly grinding away on this page, too. The blank spots remaining are mostly reserved for friends who said they’d draw a few panels for me and haven’t yet. I’m not gonna name any names; I know all too well how complicated life can get sometimes.
Major thanks to the friends who did fill in some spots for me: Ethan Kohak, who does Black Mudpuppy, Ötty Justason, who does Zukahnaut, and Melissa Fox, who does a lot of cool art.
Tell your friends. Decrypting Rita is finished. Kickstarter for book 3 soon.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it.
Pretty much everything else in the comic is done. I just have this one spread. And a couple other little bits, but mostly this spread. Getting it done seems a little bit closer now that I’ve finished this page of it, and now that I’ve gotten a few of my friends to pitch in for the next page of it.
I am never doing a spread like this again. Future me, if you’re looking back at this thinking that it’s been a while since you did this trick and maybe you’re ready to do it again? Don’t. Working on a climactic spread that takes months to do is a dreary, dispiriting thing.
Admittedly it also doesn’t help when your mother dies in the middle of the process. That ground work on comics to a halt for a couple of months.
It’s been way too long since a new page showed up here, hasn’t it? I’ve been slowly working on this page over the past month or so. I’ve also been working on future pages; folks supporting me on Patreon have been seeing these as they happen, in the context of full WIP chapters.
this spread is taking nine kinds of forever isn’t it
The next couple of pages are going to take a while. I think there is a pretty good chance I will finish the entire rest of the story before I finish them.
Anyway. I guess I should do my taxes now or something. What a great reward for finally finishing this page, huh?
(Slight edit because apparently the apostrophe in the old title was not being properly escaped, and was breaking some RSS readers.)
Well this one sure took a while. It didn’t help that my Monument Valley trip took longer than intended due to getting snowed in, and nor did me getting a cold and being pretty much useless for the week afterwards.
It also didn’t help that this is a complicated page with a LOT of stuff going on. I’d work on it for a little while and it really wouldn’t feel any more done than it was when I started; that’s kind of disheartening, and makes it hard to keep going.
But now it is done.
The next two pages are going to be at least this complicated, if not more so. But they’re also the two pages that I’ve been planning for since the beginning of the story; when I finish those, it’s all downhill from there.
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.
Today I walked from my mom’s place to a cafe in the French Quarter. As I did, I wrote down all kinds of things I was noticing as part of the look of New Orleans – both in the Quarter and in other parts of the city. Ultimately I hope to only draw a lot of these things one or two times, and turn them into parts of a massive library of art brushes, graphic styles, and symbols that I can use to make drawing ‘The Drowning City’ go super-fast.
And then I sat in EnVie for about an hour and drew the big central world 2 panel, and edited a copy of the first one into the second one. And now this page is done.
Tomorrow I fly back to Seattle, and this page gets posted. Buffer? What’s that. But I’ll be able to draw on the plane.
I mostly finished this page on the plane to New Orleans, and did the final tweaks while sitting at my table on the first day at Wizard World New Orleans.
Next page status: fully sketched. And here I am with a few hours of the first day of a con stretching out ahead of me. Yeah I think there’s a good chance of me getting back on schedule.
Next page status: 152 has a sketch and will finish this chapter at long last!
(I’m posting this ten days before it goes up; I think the likelyhood of me getting page 152 done before then is PRETTY GOOD.)
EDIT. Yep, 152 is in the can. And I’ve been sitting on my ass for the past couple of weeks playing video games and being mopey so I’d better scramble to get the next few pages together.
ALSO! In response to the number of people speculating about just who that face in the last page was, I have this to say: Vg vf gur Tbqqrff, naq vg vf nyfb abg gur Tbqqrff. Ure ahzore vf Nyrcu-0. uggc://ra.jvxvcrqvn.bet/jvxv/Nyrcu_ahzore. Lbh jvyy frr zber bs ure va puncgre gjragl-frira. (Rot13’d for your protection, in case you don’t want even the tiniest hint of a spoiler.)
Barely staying on schedule. Must fight seasonal depression.
Large parts of this page were drawn while hanging out at Lucid sharing drinks with cartooning friends.
Next page status: four panels, all roughed, none finished. Pretty sure that’ll be done by the Thursday, and then pretty much the entire rest of the chapter is finished.
Next page status: Done and in the queue!
I think it is time to admit that I am out of clever page titles for a while. I’m spending so much time jumping aroubd back and forth drawing this chapter that I kinda have no inspiration left for those. Not that it really matters now that the site’s really emphasizing the chapter rather than the individual page.
Next page status: 6 panels, 3 finished, 3 partial. Damn it feels good to be back in the groove of putting out pages on a regular schedule again.
I agonized over the song Tom is singing the end of for a while. (Yes, it’s Tom – he’s got a new Hat. There’ll be some dialogue on the next page mentioning his name.)
See, it needs to sound good. On the next page, Rita’s saying it sounds beautiful. But let’s be honest; my strength as a writer is not in writing lyrics. So I didn’t want to have something half-assed that I try to convince you is beautiful.
I experimented with censoring it, but that felt weird. It gave it extra significance that it doesn’t need to have; it’s just a bit of texture to this sequence of ‘lots of time passes in the green world’.
Ultimately I just decided to go with the final line of what’s clearly a longer song, and a bit of onomatopoeia for distorted guitar playing. Which is basically swiped from the last riff of King Crimson’s “Dinosaur”; the Skylands are very definitely a prog-rock fantasy world, so of course Tom is a prog-rock guitarist.
Next page status: 1.5 panels out of 3, maybe 4 done.
This is the end of chapter 13.
This page took a hell of a long time. Mostly because I’ve been busy doing stuff for Rainfurrest. I’m still not quite done with the conbook cover for that.
Also of course there’s Kickstarter fulfillment starting to happen. I probably need to get some friends together for a shipping party soon…
This page may look a little familiar!
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.
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?
Well so much for getting ahead of schedule, huh? The past couple weeks have been full of revamping the website for the upcoming Kickstarter, working on said Kickstarter, preparing for two cons at the end of this month, and taking a trip to visit my mother; updates will probably be sporadic for the next few pages.
I’m also thinking of taking a brief vacation from drawing pages once I get book 2 finished. I need to take some time to get the story organized for book 3 and work on some non-Rita things.
Also, you cannot really see it, but the trees outside of the windows in the green world are totally based on the trees I saw while I was working on this page in New Orleans’s City Park. Morning Call opened up a cafe in the old Casino building in the park and it’s the <em>best thing ever</em> to sit there drawing and eating beignets. Until the mosquitos come out, at least.
Workin’ on the cover for book 2.
Ah, there we go. That’s right. I’ll take it from quick rough to finished art sometime this week. First I probably should work on the next page, as the one this blog entry is attached to is the end of the buffer.
Hey! Fan art!
TWO pieces of fan art!
The first one is from Alethea, and the second one is from Heuwyn Phynn. (Let me know if there’s anywhere you want me to link it to…)
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!
Guest appearances in the mostly-befuddled audience, L-R: terrible referenceless caricatures of my college buddy Jason Fonseca, Sigil, Orv, Dana.
Some of these sound effects might look familiar.
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.
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.
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.