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Welcome to Supermassive Black Hole A*, the hard sci-fi webcomic! A*--pronounced "A star"--tells stories of a human civilization at the center of the Milky Way galaxy: an area of space dominated by a gigantic black hole, where energy is abundant and life is cheap.
 
A* comics arrive daily Monday through Friday--although sometimes they don't get finished and uploaded until the wee hours of the next morning, technically speaking.
 
In case you're wondering, yes, there really *is* a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy: Sagittarius A*, so named by scientific observers because it appears as the brightest part of a high energy radio source, denominated "A," located in the constellation Sagittarius when viewed from Earth. Sgr A*, the center of the Milky Way galaxy, about 26,000 light years from Earth, is roughly 4,000,000 times as massive as the Sun.

 
    Many thanks to my readers, who keep A* going with a buck or two a month through Patreon!    
 
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Hello! I'm Ben Chamberlain; I live in Seattle and make this comic. If you'd like to contact me :) email me at smbhax@gmail.com, PM me on the A* forum, or contact me at any of the networking sites in the link list above.
 
I quit web design for game design and quit game design--where I had ended up as the sole remaining writer and designer on The Matrix Online--for A*, which began in 2009 as a digitally produced animated webcomic and has gone through a number of production permutations since.
 
Currently using: an H-grade Uni Mitsubishi Hi-Uni Pencil with a Kokuyo Campus B/HB Student Eraser on 300 lb hot press Arches Bright White Watercolor Paper, cut to A*'s 16" x 6.75" page size with an 18" Dahle Vantage Paper Trimmer. Colored with the Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolors Quinacridone Magenta and Ultramarine Blue (Green Shade), using a Ĺ" Winsor & Newton Artists' One Stroke Watercolor Brush, with a size 4 RaphaŽl 8404 brush for details--or even a size 0 for super-details!--and Deleter White 2 for highlights/corrections.
 
When I ink, I use the 8404s with Deleter Black 3; spatter effects like stars come from flicking a Speedball Hunt #22B nib dipped in Deleter White 2 across an old credit card, like this. I use a Rotring Tikky Graphic 0.1 mm and a Faber-Castell Pitt Big Brush pen for sketches in a 5"x7" Robert Bateman Cover Series sketchbook, and sometimes I doodle using a Copic Multiliner SP BS brush pen. Work happens on a 24"x36" Berkeley Drafting Table and sometimes a 20"x26" Airlite Drawing Board. Art is scanned into Photoshop 4 (the ancient one) with a Mustek Scan Express A3 1200 Pro USB Large Format Scanner.
A brief history of A*'s development:
  • Feb, 2009 - work begins--offline--on the first episode of A*
  • Mar 18, 2009 - A* episode 1 goes online as a silent Flash movie
  • Apr 15, 2009 - A* episodes 1 & 2 redone with sound: my voiceovers, and royalty-free music from the Internet
  • Apr 17, 2009 - First A* episodes appear on YouTube
  • Jul 1, 2009 - With the start of episode 5, began converting daily A* animation work into comic pages so that viewers would have something to follow in the long gaps between animated episodes
  • Feb 27, 2010 - Switching entirely from animated movie to comic format for episode 8; comic image size upgraded from 717x375 to 956x475
  • Aug 24, 2010 - With episode 10, page 80, started drawing the comics at 4x their screen resolution (previously was 2x)
  • Sep 14, 2010 - With episode 10, page 109, started touching the art up with GIMP's Ink tool
  • Feb 22, 2010 - With episode 12, page 23, started drawing the comics at 8x their screen resolution
  • Apr 8, 2011 - With episode 13, page 2, started drawing the pages with an Intuos4 tablet; I had broken my Intuos3 tablet after finishing most of the line work for episode 11, page 67
  • Jun 9, 2011 - With episode 13, page 47, started putting colons around the main character's subtitles to aid identification--previously I'd been doing it by rendering their subtitles gray rather than white
  • Oct 11, 2011 - With episode 13, page 136, started making the pages using traditional ink wash, rather than all digitally with the Lasso Tool in Photoshop as I had been doing before
  • Apr 18, 2013 - With episode 19, page 2, started drawing the pages directly in pencil, rather than inking over pencil
  • Aug 2, 2013 - With episode 19, page 116, started applying flat, limited digital color under the pencil lines
  • Oct 4, 2013 - With episode 20, page 21, threw ink back into the mix
  • Dec 17, 2013 - With episode 21, page 11, started adding watercolor
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