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.
The background in panel 2 of the lower tier took a lot longer than I expected it to. Totally worth it, though.
Also taking longer than expected: hosing things out after a malware intrusion. Le sigh. Man, first thing I’m gonna do when the ad revenues actually exceed the outlays here is pay for someone to build me a backend for my sites based on a framework that is much more anal about intrusion than WordPress.
There is a layer in this page called “I thought I was done drawing bookshelves when I finished chapter 1 of Absinthe”. It contains abstracted books, cut and paste from that comic.
“Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up.” – Wally Wood
Also, Mattie’s shape is inspired by some of the work of master photomanipulator J. K. Potter, most specifically his portrait of Lydia Lunch.
This one took a while! Lots of finicky stuff. It would have taken less time if I hadn’t come up with silly titles for the books in the second panels of the lower tiers, but sometimes you just have to do these things.
I dunno if we’ll ever see Tom10 (Heckboy) or Tom12 (Steampunk Vampire) again. I had to draw the entirety of each Tom, so here’s that panel without the world-layer effects…
And also here is a shot of the library close enough to read it. If you can figure out what all of the titles are mutations of, then… you’re probably me.
ALSO here is a model sheet I finally threw together of Dragon Rita. I really need to make these for more of the characters, to be honest. I’m lazy.
As it turns out I think this one would have been a little late even if I HADN’T spent Wednesday doing dirty Adventure Time fan comics and going to see “John Carter Of Mars”. Having two characters start to tell stories in parallel, with a whole bunch of new designs on the page, made it pretty slow going.
And if you’re wondering, I would have cut and paste that drawing of Elf Barrett even if I wasn’t drawing seven other panels completely from scratch. Sometimes you just gotta do a hold!
Also I hope that it’s pretty obvious from the context that a “sundrop” race is one whose route takes it REALLY STUPIDLY CLOSE TO THE SUN.
Welcome to Pallas!
I was really tempted to slack off and finish this Tuesday but, well, I got started on this one late because I spent a couple hours on the phone with one of my idols. And one thing I am continually amazed by when we talk about getting stuff done is HOW FAST HE IS.
So, you know, I let myself take some breaks and browse the web a bit, but I kept on thinking, man, Matt Howarth wouldn’t be doing this, he’d just be sittin’ there at his desk, chain-smoking and drawing up a storm. So I ended up making myself stay up late enough to finish this page.
There is a growing part of me that wants to go back and make the expressions of the earlier pages a bit wilder; I really feel like I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with all these characters as time goes on. But I’d rather press forwards and keep telling the story. Speaking of which, there should be EXPLANATIONS forthcoming for both of the on-stage Ritas next page!
Also I got my first rejection letter from a publisher for this project. IT’S A REAL THING NOW.
Six minutes ago, Rita1 was in a cafe making a date. Then her stupid thrillseeking ex came back into her life. Then she saw a dragon who acted and sounded just like her get her brains blown out by some wizard. And now this.
Somewhere deep below the neural network that calls itself “Rita”, a tiny subtask is calculating the probability that Tom will have any kind of coherent explanation for this. Even a bad one. It is rapidly converging on zero.
Also I really did not know that Rita1 could scream that loud. Damn.
And finally – this is the fiftieth page! Thanks to everyone who’s been reading this far; I’d love to hear what you folks out there think. If the comment section isn’t working for you (hopefully it is, I think I cleared up some problems it was having), my email is [email protected], and I’m egypturnash on AIM. Or you could just write a review or critique and post it in your blog; Google will tell me about it pretty quickly!
Now you know why Carol (the sorceress) looked so confident in the last page.
Also, huzzah, I’m actually putting a couple pages in the buffer for once along with this one!
Further Confusion + mostly finishing off game art project for now – sufficient sunshine + complicated damn pages = OH GOD THIS ONE TOOK FOREVER AND I’M SO GLAD TO HAVE FINALLY GOTTEN TO DO THIS ONE. It’s pulling one of the tricks I’ve been waiting to do since I started this comic.
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; if you want a copy. Or get a PDF for five bucks if you’re going all digital.
I’m kinda thinking of moving the unofficial schedule to Tuesday/Wednesday. Especially now that I’m doing three rows per page.
Things I googled for reference while drawing this page:
• David Bowie’s Area
• Rigging diagrams
Also holy crap drawing three tiers on one page takes forever. Now I know why nobody does this multiple-stories-in-parallel thing for very long. It’s going to get worse, too.
Yes, this is still a sci-fi comic despite the dragon, the elves, and the lady on a flying boat with a magic sword. Trust me, okay?
ROSA from Jesús Orellana on Vimeo.
Here is a short, dialogueless film called “Rosa” about some very, very, very pretty robots. I mean seriously pretty, the kind of space I was going with the Wind-Up Boy in Five Glasses of Absinthe (NSFW).
Sadly it gets kinda wound up in its fight scene; halfway through I kinda quit caring about the green-eyed lady as a character and just wanted to see how pretty she was for a little while longer.
And speaking of green-eyed ladies, yep, now there’s FOUR Ritas in play here. This one may be riffing on the ideas Nick and I had for the first sequel to Five Glasses of Absinthe, though I swear I didn’t pick the color palette with that in mind. For that matter I wasn’t expecting to have a fourth world in here for a while yet! I need to update the cast page to reflect this, and finish documenting the other three worlds in it for that matter.
One of the initial inspirations for Decrypting Rita was the first issue of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I didn’t actually read it, mind you – I just read an appreciation of it, with a couple of pages scanned here and there. The description of it starting with Fury climbing a tower to fight a mysterious man resonated, and a little later that day I’d opened up Illustrator and drawn the title page of Rita.
The other night, I decided to finally read the damn thing. I found a torrent and set it to downloading. Today, I stuck the first volume of the comic onto the iPad and started reading.
The first issue quickly establishes that Fury is unkillable – first by killing Fury four pages in, then revealing this was actually a robot double on a testing exercise. Then by making Fury run two miles in less than ten minutes and catche a moving rocket sled to escape from a missile when a test of his invulnerable-to-explosions suit goes wrong.
Meanwhile, this down-on-his-luck dude is handed a briefcase full of two hundred thousand dollars and a bomb, phones home to tell his wife and kid, and is blown up.
It’s like Steranko wanted to eat his cake and have it too in the same way I’m doing with Rita: he’s got this wild tale of super-action and a story about normal human emotions. But in the end he gives up on it when Fury’s hyperkinetic action steals the show. Later issues are much more firmly about Fury. Me? I’ve got this crazy formalist experiment I want to try, so I keep having to think about the normal world as well as the crazy superpowered one. I also have a lot more space to work in, so I don’t have to dump huge chunks of plot via dialogue like Steranko does!
Of course, it also helps that I have no deadline on this thing, so I can keep on tying my brain in the knots required to write two stories at once. Steranko’s run on Nick Fury is all of about half a dozen issues before he moves on to other things.