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.
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 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.
Here are some close-ups of the books Tom and Rita are reading. Click for full-size.
The title of Tom’s book is a terrible machine translation of “Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum: A Memoir”, which is a title swiped from a King Crimson song off of one of their later albums. It contains one of my favorite guitar solos ever, right after Adrian Belew says ‘Play it for me, Spider-fingers’.
And while I am making you listen to King Crimson let me also include one of my favorite songs of theirs of all time: Dinosaur. I find myself singing this every now and then in a certain kind of mood.
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.
Ughhhhh this page took beyond forever. I’m sure you can see why. I’m really glad I’ve made my peace with this; most advice on Making Comics On The Web tends to emphasize HAVE A SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT COME HELL OR HIGH WATER but that advice also tends to come from strippers, who have a much more limited canvas to work on. (And hell, I’m sticking to my official schedule: “aim for two pages a week, don’t fret when that doesn’t happen”. Real life gets in the way, and so does making crazy detailed pages when the story demands it.)
Wanna see some progress shots from this page? Go here.
As with the previous EPIC PAGE, if you’re backing my Patreon campaign you get a high-res copy of that last panel.
I’m off to Portland for Furlandia, maybe I’ll see you there! The next page is a LOT simpler and might even get finished on the train down there.
And while I’m suggesting places to put your entertainment money, let me direct you to this.
Open world parkour Jet Set Radio. By a French team. With music by the guy who did Jet Set Radio’s soundtrack. And occasional stealth bits. How can I not back this? This is the game I’ve been putting off learning enough 3D skills to make myself.
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.)
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.
Oh man I am so glad to be uploading this page. It sat half-done for what felt like forever, as I fought seasonal depression. Several times I contemplated just deleting the entire green tier and starting again on those because I kept on looking at them and not liking them.
I bought a huge sunlamp a couple weeks ago, and it’s been helping a lot. And ultimately I decided those upper panels were fine, just unfinished, so I finished them in about an hour and a half. There was another green panel sketch up there, and a couple more brief lines of dialogue, but they just didn’t need to be there.
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?
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.]
Tom2’s shirt is a horrible bastard of a tomcat named Chingado, created by my buddy Jill C.
While this page obviously took a while to draw, surprisingly most of the time it took was spent in looking at the panel I’d marked out as “money shot of Vespa spaceport”, not in actually drawing it.
The main thing I was thinking of while drawing that panel was the Cygnus from “The Black Hole”, especially the way it was all lit up from within. Supposedly one of the main inspirations for it was Gothic cathedrals. (Skip to about 1:40 in this video to see it lit.) I wanted that sense of something massive, without it feeling dead and alone the way the Cygnus did.
Oh, and here’s a high-res copy of it if you want a new backdrop or something.
Cons are upcoming! I’ll have some art in the show at Foolscap this weekend, plus some Tarot decks and other stuff in the print store. The weekend after that, I’ll be behind a table at Rainfurrest, selling art and decks. There’s a slim chance I’ll have copies of book 1 of Rita, but I’m not holding my breath.
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.