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  Far out, menApr 30, 2010 3:14 AM PDT | url
 
Added 4 new A* pages:Random space factoid I came across today, which everyone else who would care probably already knows: each of the former Beatles got an asteroid named after them in the mid-80's. There's 4147 Lennon, 4148 McCartney, 4149 Harrison, and 4150 Starr. Harrison's is the "farthest out"--from the Sun. Hah. Whereas the Rolling Stones all have to share a single asteroid, 19383 Rolling Stones. And there are other rockers with asteroids named after them, too. And, for that matter, there are loads and loads of asteroids named after people; I wonder what Freud would make of 4342 Freud, for instance.
 
 
 
 
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  A* Episode 9, Pages 4 - 9Apr 29, 2010 1:16 AM PDT | url
 
Added 6 new A* pages:Man I was on a Mar & Proctor roll today!
 
 
 
 
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  Luminal, not nonlinearApr 28, 2010 2:23 AM PDT | url
 
Added 3 new A* pages:Long distance communication at A* distances--farther apart than, say, a light minute--has to be monologue rather than dialogue. There will be a few rather long-range transmissions in episode 9, and at first I was worried about how to do them, since the receiver can't give immediate feedback to the transmitter, but then I figured maybe I could turn it to my advantage... So although this beginning will start to seem nonlinear at a certain point, it really isn't, thanks to my buddy the speed of light. You'll get it once you see it, I think--as long as you remember Mar's first line. ;)
 
 
 
 
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  Ep. 9 storyboard blitz; comics start tomorrowApr 27, 2010 4:54 AM PDT | url
 
Finished the episode 9 storyboards! That means regular episode 9 comics will start tomorrow (Tuesday). :D Here's a randomized selection of some of the more presentable of the 65 or so storyboard doodles I made today for the episode:
 
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And a quote not from the episode!
 
A trip to the moon
On nuclear wings
Just one of those things

 
- Louis Prima
 

And a thingy to click to visit the new page of my weekend fairy tale comic, The Princess and the Giant:
 
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  Episode 9 storyboards, rocket scienceApr 24, 2010 5:24 AM PDT | url
 
Some squiggly storyboards for the upcoming episode:
 
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Got to thinking about acceleration speeds in A*, like, I kind of wish I'd shown Vero being pushed back in his seat when he took off into the magnetic field at the end of the last episode. On the other hand that might have interfered with what else I wanted him to be showing, so eh. But from there I got to thinking about acceleration speeds for these spacecraft and travel times and so forth, and got kind of paranoid about it--the numbers maybe not working out when tolerable accelerations for the human body are considered, I mean--but after doing some double-checking I've reassured myself that yep if I assume my travel distances are on the light days / weeks range, and travel times in the months-ish range, then that more or less works out okay.
 
And I did find this Space Math page, with a nice handy calculator for figuring out actual relativistic travel times, should I ever need to get that specific (hopefully not, it's so much easier when I don't have to give numbers ;), as well as some other potentially useful calculator functions; don't really need that Schwarzschild radius calculator for black holes, though, 'cause you just rough it as 3 km (radius) per solar mass, and you're pretty darn close.
 
The non-relativistic parts of the rocket calculations come from what's known as the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, and if you take a look at the math there you'll see why I wanted to find a program to do it for me. ;)
 
As for the relativistic side of the equation, I came across some of that on a page called The Relativistic Rocket; I wouldn't bother linking it because who really wants to try doing that math...but it does have some nifty descriptions of what the observer in a near light speed rocket would see, and gritty details of the concerns of near-light-speed space flight, such as "After only a few years of 1g acceleration even the cosmic background radiation is Doppler shifted into a lethal heat bath hot enough to melt all known materials." Well! So maybe don't go quite that fast. :P
 
And just a few other things I stumbled across: Could NASA Get to Pluto Faster is an interesting polemic by a space industry dude talking about how you've got to switch to nuclear propulsion if you want manned space missions farther out than, say, Mars--and he goes on kind of a suspicious jaunt about how the Russians will have some kind of science-fictiony-sounding super advanced nuclear rockets by 2050 or something; and then the StarTravel page shows what certainly looks like an impressive (not free) program for calculating some rather sophisticated space flight paths around our solar system, as well as graphs of relativistic space flight. You'd think the program's target group would be pretty limited: science-minded people who really need specific numbers but can't calculate them themselves...oh wait that's hard science-fiction writers! :o
 
 
 
 
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  Pinocchio cameo in episode 9?Apr 23, 2010 6:59 AM PDT | url
 
Wrote out the episode 9 script today, huzzah. As I mentioned before, we'll have some characters who haven't been around for an episode or two in this one, as might be indicated by this sample line:
 
"That long-nosed son of a--"
 
Hm! What else did I do today... Ah, on the A* forum, I engaged in lots of ridiculous speculation about gravity being a manifestation of vacuum energy's negative pressure, and I embedded NASA's cool video of the first images returned from their spanky new Solar Dynamics Observatory.
 
I also whipped up the final version of episode 8's button for the episode list page; it came out looking like this:
 
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  Messin' aroundApr 22, 2010 5:18 AM PDT | url
 
Spent today messing around with advertising stuff, then getting art from One Off, -word-, and A* episode 8 ready to take to the printer later this week to get some cards and prints made.
 
Sooo yeah boring stuff; I did get sidetracked into a doodle contest sort of thing last night though: the idea was to start with this guy's really simple sketch of a head and sort of add on to it. That started up on the ComicFury forum, and mine ended up going like this (starting with the sketch by the OP, Shaggers):
 
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Turned into some kind of gender-switched Annunciation thing, go figure!
 
Tomorrow I gotta sit myself down and write out the full episode 9 script.
 
 
 
 
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  Episode 8 complete!Apr 21, 2010 5:35 AM PDT | url
 
Added 3 new A* pages:And that's it for A* episode 8!
 
Episode 9 begins maybe Monday but probably more like Tuesday of next week. In between I'll be writing the final version of the episode's script, spending several days drawing hundreds of storyboard sketches--some of which I'll be posting here in news updates, so there'll be stuff here to check out if you want to drop by--and it also looks like I'll be printing--or trying to print--cards of some of my comic stuff that a few coffee shops around town are gonna let me put up for their patrons to peruse while sipping their super-duper latte mochas or whatever, which is of course what good Seattlites spend all their free time doing. So that'll be interesting.
 
Episode 9 will--wait lemme check my notes here so I don't get this wrong... Right, we'll be seeing some cast members we haven't seen in an episode or two, huzzah! Since the (surviving) cast is relatively small you can probably guess who they'll be so eh... Well I guess that's enough spoilers. :D
 
Oop and yesterday I forgot to plug the latest page of my weekly comic, The Princess and the Giant, that went up over the weekend. You can jump to it by clicking on this handy-dandy preview/banner thingy:
 
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  It's full ofApr 20, 2010 4:36 AM PDT | url
 
Added 4 new A* pages:Ooh possible influences for that last page: this (listen at the very beginning :p--oh and this is the beginning of the movie "2010") and this. Heh.
 
Three pages left in this episode, so I'm on-track to get it wrapped up tomorrow!
 
 
 
 
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  Secret loveApr 17, 2010 4:02 AM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:I sure seem to have developed a liking for drawing older men and their wrinkles. Maybe it's because they're just so expressive?
 
 
 
 
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  The end is near! ...of episode 8Apr 16, 2010 3:59 AM PDT | url
 
Added 3 new A* pages:About nine pages left in episode 8 now, I guess that means I should be wrapping it up (or leaving you hanging for a few days, more like ;D) around the middle of next week. Whee exciting!
 
 
 
 
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  Space & Scanlines IIApr 15, 2010 3:01 AM PDT | url
 
Added 4 new A* pages:More experimenting with space & computer screens today; I used multiple layers of stars at different opacities to get more of a sense of depth in the space shot, and used bolder, simpler scanlines for the computer screen. I think these are improvements! Okay so advanced monitors shouldn't have scanlines, but uhh hey, look, these are curved! Super advanced! <_<
 
The funky close-up in 109 wasn't planned in the original storyboard, but ya know, I can only draw Vero thinking to himself in that cockpit so many times before I start to get a little nutty with the camera.
 
Speaking of which, we've got about...let's see here...twelve pages left in episode 8. Can I fit some sort of cliffhanger in in that time? HmMmm? Okay well obviously yes, or I wouldn't be teasing about it. Bah I'm not very good at teasing. :P
 
 
 
 
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  The great, the great, the greatApr 14, 2010 3:00 AM PDT | url
 
Added 3 new A* pages:Got to work on how to use the flat shading for space and computer screens today, came up with some ideas that hopefully worked okay; still room for improvement I think! Used a distort map with the overlapped curved and horizontal scanlines in that last one--it seemed to do the trick but anyway I'd just been dying to use a distort map for something at some point, so there's that itch scratched. ;)
 
Ohh yeah, also I did a new picture poem today for my strange font-based comic thing, -word-. The idea for this one came out of a line I read in a medieval alliterative poem this morning, and includes both alliteration *and* rhyme, because I am crazy like that. And if you don't know what the title, "Trismegistus," alludes to, you obviously need to spend more time looking up things like medieval alchemy and astrology on Wikipedia. :D I ramble on some more about that stuff in the -word- forum thread, and about how I almost named it after a jazz lyric whose performer I can't even remember now. Awesome.
 
 
 
 
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  Lots of comics got read this weekendApr 13, 2010 3:38 AM PDT | url
 
Added 4 new A* pages:Hey, a change of scene! We might even have a bit of action coming up here shortly. I know, crazy!
 
This weekend was a good one for A* and my weekly comic, The Princess and the Giant; A* hit a record traffic level on Saturday, and the Princess hit a new high on Sunday. Yay! A lot of people visited A* from Mysteries of the Arcana, which was nice enough to run a full-page A* poster on Saturday. It looked like this:
 
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A little blunt and probably too many dots, but hey I had to whip it up in a hurry. :P And if you haven't, you could go catch up on the latest Princess and the Giant comic; here I'll make it easy, just click on this teaser banner thingy to get there:
 
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  Shading, other comics, and cosmic inflationApr 10, 2010 7:12 AM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:Whoop! That mini-cliffhanger will have to tide us over the weekend. Normally I'd get more than two pages done in a day, but I got involved in experimenting with some new shading techniques that I think are going to be useful for A*--in fact you can already see them at work in these latest two pages if you look closely. This is probably boring for everyone but me but I find it fascinating ;D so here's the breakdown:
 
- What I had been using was an array of soft brushes:
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- But you can also use hard brushes for both a harder and more painterly look:
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- Or you can layer lasso-carved semi-transparent shadows for a kind of cel-shaded approach that matches the technique used to create the base b&w drawing:
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So that's fun. :D Thanks to the authors of the webcomics Galaxion and Tweetics for their thought-provoking feedback and suggestions in this area!
 
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Speaking of other comics, Mysteries of the Arcana is taking a break between chapters, and using that time to promote other comics; I see we've moved into Saturday here, which is A*'s day to have a full-page spread on MotA's front page. It's sort of a little poster thing I whipped up, so I dunno, check that out and the rest of the site. And if you're coming here from there, well hello!
 
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Speaking still more of other comics, I posted links to a few bizarrely fascinating ones in the "other comics" thread on the A* forum, which you might be interested to read over for all kinds of webcomic linkage, but if you can't be bothered with that, here are the two latest directly: Floating Henry Rollins Head Haiku and Gunmonkey. Yep!
 
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Also on the forum, in the "YouTube Party" thread, I posted a video and some minor rambling of and about Alan Guth, who gives a good lecture on the theory of cosmic inflation that he first came up with in 1980 to explain some things that the standard Big Bang model didn't quite account for, like why the Universe is so flat and smooth--cosmically speaking, anyway.
 
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Hm that seems to be just about everything. Have a nice weekend, and maybe don't forget to check for an update to my weekly fantasy comic The Princess and the Giant on Sunday!
 
 
 
 
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  Shading, Sketchy, and similarityApr 09, 2010 3:02 AM PDT | url
 
Added 3 new A* pages:96 might be the most elaborate shading job I've done in A*. I'm constantly at war with myself on how much gray to add over the black and white, but, well...sometimes it's fun. Too much? Maybe you can judge for yourself if you see the plain B&W and shading separately:
 
B&W:
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Shading:
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Together:
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I made a bunch of rambunctious new icons for my other daily comic, Sketchy! Whee:
 
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Guess who in history looked frighteningly like Niels when he was about 69 years old? Did you guess Isaac Newton? Then you're right!
 
Newton:
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Niels:
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Hm!
 
 
 
 
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  Possible cheese cubesApr 08, 2010 1:32 AM PDT | url
 
Added 4 new A* pages:Today I got booked to have prints from my various comics shown in a swanky coffee house in my neighborhood of Ballard, in Seattle, during November and December. If this holds up there would likely be a reception shindig around the beginning of November to kick it off, so if you're nearby at that time with nothing better to do, I'd love it if you dropped by the reception to make it look like I actually have friends. We'll call each other by the wrong names and make up embarrassing art school stories, it'll be rad. There may even be free cheese cubes on toothpicks, or something like that. *If* we're lucky.
 
It's kind of exciting. >_> Thanks to my dad, who appointed himself my business manager, and has been tirelessly taking my prints around to local coffee houses. He's the best.
 
Anyway November's a long way off so who knows what could happen by then, but I'll keep you updated. If you can't wait until then to get your mitts on prints of any of the comics you see here, why, you can always click on the "buy as signed print" link next to whichever ones you like here on this very site. It's actually way easier than going out somewhere to buy them. You don't get cheese cubes, though. I think that would require much more expensive shipping.
 
 
 
 
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  Maths and stuffsApr 07, 2010 3:18 AM PDT | url
 
Added 3 new A* pages:It's sooo technical!
 
 
 
 
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  Comic things to click onApr 06, 2010 1:15 AM PDT | url
 
Added 4 new A* pages:Whee four A* pages today, and I've been doing other stuff too that you can click:
 
- Not just one, but two new -word- comic poems
 
- This weekend's "Princess and the Giant" comic came out in kind of a different style, check it out by clicking on this tantalizing piece of it:
 
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  Lots of words today in the comics I meanApr 03, 2010 4:23 AM PDT | url
 
Added 3 new A* pages:Hey in addition to these, I did a little -word- poem thing this evening. Super-productive!
 
 
 
 
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  Icons and FooleryApr 02, 2010 3:17 AM PDT | url
 
Added 3 new A* pages:I made some icons out of Niels:
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This day we've just blown through was April 1st, otherwise known as April Fools' Day, and apparently some webcomics stage extra-funny japes or pranks on such a day; Dresden Codak, for instance, had this as the front page for the day. Hm! After seeing all the fun I wanted to get in on the April Foolery, so for a while at least, episode 8 page 78 looked like this (see if you can spot the differences :o):
 
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Yes we went all out here at A*! :D
 
 
 
 
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  The god of warApr 01, 2010 1:35 AM PDT | url
 
Added 4 new A* pages:I gotta stop watching Carl Sagan's old "Cosmos" series on YouTube; it keeps making me spend all night looking stuff up on Wikipedia. 8p Anyway I dug up some spiffy Martian photos and put them on the forum starting here; they include stuff like things on frozen dunes that look like trees but aren't, and a Martian sunset with its super-tiny sun. Oh, and did you know about Google Mars?
 
 
 
 
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