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.
Not really. But this is the end of chapter 23. And we have finally come around to the unglitched version of this moment we saw back in book 2. (And might I also direct your attention to the end of chapter 13? Repeated imagery is fun.)
About 40 pages left. Then it’s The End for real.
So much for that buffer. I spent the last week doing pretty much nothing but playing video games and having a cold.
The next page is mostly done, so that should be going up on schedule. All I have for after that is my outline, so I guess I’d better get to drawing. But right now the sun is about to set and I’m probably going to fall back into the mindless embrace of trying to get a 100+ kill streak in Diablo 3 or something.
Barely staying on schedule. Must fight seasonal depression.
It’s a page!
Next page status: 4 panels; 3 roughed, one finished. Patreon supporters can see the whole chapter in its current state.
And now to go run some errands, then decide between drawing some more Rita, drawing some other stuff, or playing more Dragon Age Inquisition.
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…
Rita’s boss is pixellated out because you’re just not cleared for that.
Or maybe they’re pixellated out because they’re a YCH who’s going to be a Kickstarter reward. Possibly at a stupidly high level because I really kinda like having them be a mystery, although I may want to rework them a little bit to make it obvious they’re definitely not Barrett beneath all the pixelation.
Anyway. There’s still some stuff left in this chapter. Guess I’d better get to drawing it.
The second panel of Fantasy World made me giggle so much. I love it when my characters start insulting each other.
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?
You might be wondering why there weren’t any pages last week. That would be because I spent a lot of last work doing final approval and tweaks on the files for book 2 – the presses should be starting up soon, then I get to watch the books make their way from China to Seattle!
Holy cow you do not want to know how long the backgrounds in Fantasy World took. And the worst part of it is that I’m going to be using a completely different camera angle on the conversation for the next few panels – I’ll have to do another complex background to use for that before I can cut and paste stuff.
Or I could have some blank space behind them talking, but honestly I only want to do that if it’s actually appropriate to the setting. Future Rita’s apartment is blank because she has very few physical possessions and relishes empty space, so I’m fine with having that vast expanse of white wall on the top side! (Plus it seems to fit her mood, of wanting to shut down.)
Anyway! The next page is written and has its rough layout, so it’s very likely that you’ll see it next Tuesday.
Man I dunno about that page title. I’ve gotta fill it with something and I’m really just out of crypto jokes. So instead you get a Jethro Tull song that came up while I was posting this. I guess I could just do the page number (this is 120) but that’s really, really boring…
The dude having a quiet smoke in the left side of the lower right panel is Badou from Shirow Miwa’s “Dogs”, which I picked up at the library last week and am kinda quietly in love with. There’s some really solid cartooning going on in that book.
Anyway. This is the first page I’ve done since setting up a Patreon campaign, and thanks to the generosity of the folks who’ve pledged, my drink at the cartoonist meetup tonight will be paid for by this page. Huzzah! If you wanna help support this comic, and maybe give me a bit of a carrot to push myself to work more on it, then go check it out. Or you could keep enjoying it and maybe buy books when I print ’em, whatever, I’ll keep drawing it anyway.
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.
Oops, somehow I managed to forget to queue this one up in all the craziness of the Kickstarter and Further Confusion and whatnot. Hooray for backdating.
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!