The text in this page is not glitched for story reasons. It’s glitched because I’m going to do a couple of “get your name in the story” Kickstarter rewards, and this is one of them. The text has been replaced now!
Secondly, I feel like this is a good place for a public service announcement. We’ve seen Rita-1 use multiple backups over the course of this story. What’s your backup strategy? Does it happen without any work on your part? Have you tested your backups by pulling a few files off of it?
My backup strategy is a one terabyte drive connected to the same USB hub as the tablet on my desk, and Backblaze. The local drive is managed by Apple’s Time Machine, of course. Whenever I’m at my desk, my machine is keeping multiple backups of every new version of my files, and whenever I’m connected to the net, it’s updating the copy on Backblaze’s servers.
The backup strategy that works best for you may be different. If you don’t have one, or you have one that’s such a pain you never do it, have a look at World Backup Day for some suggestions on how to implement both local and off-site backups.
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.
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.
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.
Oh god this page took like six hours to draw and I did pretty much everything but the very vague rough and the close-up of Carol in one day. I’m kinda glad to get things moving but man that was a lot more solid work than I’ve been used to lately.
Still: by uploading this just before midnight on Wednesday, I get to continue to have one page in the buffer after the preceding page drops one minute after midnight on Thursday. PROJECT BUFFER CONTINUES.
…and then I fooled around with it on Thursday and Friday to tweak the dialogue a little and add the red triangles. Which are done by making huge pattern fills the size of the page with scribbles of a pressure-sensitive pattern brush, and applying them to the shapes – it’s a very sideways and Illustratory way to say “hey I want to paint in these twenty shapes”. Big thanks to Nick for helping me decide that yes, I do want to make an ambiguous statement in the language of color this story has going – I think we talked about it for like an hour.
Also, here is the reference self-shot I used for that panel of Carol plugging herself into the car.
One: I’m playing with the name for the car. Originally I had it as “Mazzigatti”, but Nick was of the opinion that sounded too much like a parody of “Maserati”, which was not my intent – I just wanted an Italian name, because Italians + cars = impractical, gorgeous, fast things.
I went digging around for Italian cryptographers, and found Silvio Micali, one of the co-inventors of the zero-knowledge proof. Which is a thing I have vaguely heard of but honestly cannot be said to really understand.
Two: This past weekend, I went down to the Stumptown Comic Fest for an important rite of passage – losing my first award. This didn’t bum me out too much; I found myself contemplating some clear indicators as to why I didn’t do well in a popular vote for “best new talent”. But more importantly, the day after the awards, I said hi to Phil Foglio. Who, it turns out, has been eagerly following Rita since I gave him a flier at ECCC 2012 and loves pretty much everything about it except the frequency of updates.
I’d already been thinking that it’s really time to get my work habits and Rita’s schedule back in gear; having one of my top three or four living influences give me a kick in the ass over my schedule was a hell of a reinforcement of those thoughts.
So I’m trying to make some changes in my habits and my expectations for myself. No promises. But hopefully chapter 10 will spool out a LOT quicker than 9 did.
This took a lot longer than I intended it to. I’d decided to pause for a few weeks after finishing the previous chapter, to deal with some other projects that had been sitting on the side entirely too long. But then I sprained my rib in aikido class, and spent a couple weeks mostly just sitting in the living room, playing Skyrim.
It also took a while because I dipped my toe into a new world: 3D modeling. I made a little reference maquette of the car in Silo!
I ended up getting it into Illustrator via an awkward process involving dropping a copy of the half-finished page into Silo, posing the model to match the loose sketches, then screengrabbing that and registering it with the image in Illustrator.
And then I treated the car images like any other thing on my sketch layers, and drew what you see here. I can see one or two refinements to the process – mostly, make two screengrabs of the setup in Silo, one with the page, one without, and swap them in Illustrator once I think things are registered – but that’s really it. I may also end up doing separate reference shots for future pages, with more varied perspective on the car.
This is the last page of chapter IX! At last. It hasn’t been a long one, but it took forever to draw because of life getting in the way. Now to nail down a prop I’ll be using extensively in the next chapter.
There’s a cafe in Seattle called Trabant; I was sitting there when I drew the first panel, and borrowed its name and logotype for the high-end restaurant Carol took Rita out to. If you’re ever in the U District during winter I thoroughly recommend their “Freddy Quimby”, a yummy concoction of chai and apple cider.
Also! If you’re here because you met me at the Emerald City Comic-Con the other week, then hi! (and if you went to ECCC and came home with a very green 9 of Wands card with a galaxy on the back, that’s from my personal Tarot deck that I was using for display – I’d love to have it back.)
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 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.
edit: thanks to nick for TYPO PATROL
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.]
I’ve been trying to push myself on the backgrounds, lately.
Here’s a closeup of the last blue panel… maybe you want a new backdrop or something.
Ye gods this page took forever to work out. It didn’t help that a lot of my “work on Rita” time this week was spent on putting together some packages of it to ship off to a few publishers – having the Tarot deck get international distribution really spoilt me on all the hassles of self-publishing, and I want to do more stuff that way!
Meanwhile in the “when can I be like Rita1” news, check out this video of Boston Dynamics’ new bipedal robot.
This page’s title refers to Tales Of The Beanworld, which is totally worth buying. I don’t cite Marder as an influence on how I make comics or anything, I just think Beanworld is totally awesome. I’ve got all three of the recent hardbound reissues/new material, and am eagerly awaiting the fourth.
Any guesses as to which agency is going to cover a new window at McMillian’s? So many possibilities.
I had to do most of the bottom left panel twice due to Illustrator crashing on me. Sadface. Variable-width strokes are now on the list of Stuff To Save Before Blending.
“Sandbenders” is a William Gibson reference – in Idoru, they’re a company that takes commodity components and puts them in a really beautiful package, with a pretty OS. Hand-carved cases, semi-precious stones for the buttons.
I’m debating if I want to explain this anywhere in the story or not. Probably just having Carol refer to her Sandbenders on-camera again will be enough to say “this is the company that makes her computer”.
The title of this page comes from a cryptically-named room in “Jet Set Willy”, which in itself took the title from a line of dialogue in ‘The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers’.
(I do not recommend actually trying to play Jet Set Willy unless you have armed yourself with an array of cheat codes – like most 8-bit action-adventure games, it’s punishingly difficult. That’s just what floated up from the back of my brain when I looked at the ‘title’ field of Comicpress’ upload screen.)
People who have suffered through my spotty update schedule in the past month or so will be glad to know that I currently have rough layouts and dialogue for the next SIX pages, with notes in my sketchbook for three more. This should hopefully make it easier for me to get back on some kind of schedule, even though my life’s been delightfully busy of late!
Oh! And also I feel I should mention that if you’re reading this comic via RSS feeds, you should come look at it in the actual website now and then – there are certain things that you really can’t see if this is getting shown on a bright background.
Sorry about the wait on this one, folks. This was sitting around like 80% done for most of last week while I ran around like crazy getting ready to do Foolscap – which went very well – and my first paying performance of my “Still Alive” striptease. Which also went amazingly well, the full house loved it and all the rest of the nerdy acts in the show!
Edit: Aaaand I decided to make a lot of the breaking glass solid white instead of white outlines, it reads a lot better that way. Shift-reload if you still see it as outlines. I decided to do this while reading the second collected volume of Jeff Smith’s RASL, which is an awesome SF comic about multiple realities that you really, really should be reading if you like “Rita”.
I had to draw the top tier twice because Illustrator crashed while I was undoing a Matrix-looking bullet-time shockwave trail on the bullet. Oh well. Note to self: save before playing with blends that involve distortion meshes. And after completing every panel for that matter.
Also hooray, two pages in one week again!
I wonder if I should try making Barrett’s t-shirt and offering it for sale. If Barrett was a furry his fursona would totally be an octopus.
Also thanks to everyone who helped brainstorm the slang for “knowing you are about to lose everything since your last backup due to impending death”.