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  Episode 12 starts WednesdayJan 31, 2011 6:44 PM PST | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:Writing episode 12 went well on Friday, so well that we'll be able to start in on the new episode this Wednesday, which also means two pages of episode 11 both today and tomorrow to put that one to bed.
 
Episode 12 is gonna be quick and dirty: quick because that's just how this next section of the story fits into an episodic structure, and dirty because I get to draw an actual fight scene, which I've been looking forward to for a long time now. Whee! It'll be a fun episode, I think, but then again I say that every episode (and I'm always right! :PP).
 
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My Sunday fairy tale comic "The Princess and the Giant" updated over the weekend, and you can check out the latest page if you want by clicking this little stamp-sized preview:
 
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Oh yeah, also I put a rotated, isolated version of Selenis from today's page 11:131 into the episode 11 gallery, and here it is:
 
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Final two pages of episode 11 tomorrow!
 
 
 
 
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  Man you guys are like four pages behind stillJan 28, 2011 4:48 PM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Boy, pretty much *everyone* got shot in this episode, didn't they? I'm so mean to my characters. :o
 
I finished drawing the remaining art for this episode--four more pages--yesterday, so that means I start writing the script for episode 12 today, and then get the storyboards done in the first-half-ish of next week.
 
I don't really like working ahead and not being able to post what I've just drawn; for one thing, I keep spending extra time twiddling around with it nervously while it's just sitting here, and then I've got to be careful I don't upload the wrong future page, as I did accidentally on the ComicFury A* mirror for about fifteen seconds :P. And it's all got to be kept very secret and I certainly couldn't do something like take part of one of the future pages and slap it up as a shiny new background on A*'s Twitter page. No, what a horrible, irresponsible, spoilerish action that would be--jeez!
 
So it's tough. ;_;
 
 
 
 
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  Supermassive music holeJan 27, 2011 7:44 PM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Oh man! Am I going to end every episode with Selenis blowing a stickup and getting shot? Well... Uh... Okay so episode 12 *probably* won't end that way. Although that could change if I get really inspired. >_>
 
Speaking of inspired (see how I did that), obviously you've all been wondering what gets listened to while A* is drawn, and happy day, I'm here to bore your ears off about it! See I've been kind of obsessed with Pandora for the past three weeks or so, basically ever since SomaFM's seasonal "Christmas Lounge" station went off the air (;_;), because I spent like a week looking up other streaming Christmas music stations and none of them were really very good--so I decided to try making my own on Pandora!
 
You all probably know that Pandora is this online music thingy where you tell it what music you like, then it plays music that isn't quite what you like, *except* that once in a blue moon it plays a track that you probably already have on CD, at which point you click the little Thumbs Up icon for it in the hope that Pandora will play it again for you at some unspecified time in the future, instead of clicking the little Thumbs Down icon you click the rest of the time because it's decided you like bad country music or rap. So obviously it's a great deal of fun and I'm completely addicted to it.
 
My Pandora profile is here, and I think you may need a Pandora account to see it, but anyway it should show you the little channels I'm trying to manage, underneath some horrible picture of me. My "QuickMix" is currently a mix of classic vocal jazz Christmas music (Bing Crosby, Nancy Wilson, Nat King Cole...hopefully) and modern techno-ish remixes of them---basically trying to copy SomaFM's channel. And it actually kind of worked! Except that suddenly this past Tuesday at about 2:30 pm the Christmas spirit left me, so I probably won't listen to it for another ten months or so. Ah well, there's always next year.
 
In the meantime I'll probably be listening to the little trip hop station I'm trying to wrangle there (stop trying to make it a Brazilian lounge music channel, Pandora; I like Brazilian lounge music but that's not what this is supposed to beeeee :P), and actually mostly to the (hopefully) classic vocal jazz station, because that old stuff keeps me nice and peppy while drawing. And oh man is it so satisfying to ban overplayed modern "jazz" singers when they come up--I won't name names but they've been torturing me for the past year and a half while listening to the streaming music stations I used to try.
 
So yeah, Pandora--it's super-productive! >_> :)
 
 
 
 
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  Refract this!Jan 26, 2011 7:01 PM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:"What?" may be exactly what you're wondering at this point too but, never fear, at least some of this strange sequence should be a bit clearer before we hit the very end of this episode in a week or so. We've got some drastic action yet to go here, too!
 
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This article shows a cool time lapse, using ISS astronaut Paulo Nespoli's photos from space, of how the moon appears to squish--or unsquish, rather--as it comes up over the Earth's horizon; it's something you can see for yourself from down here on the planet, but the effect becomes much more pronounced if you're at the right angle just above the atmosphere, which is refracting light from the moon, making it appear to bend.
 
This is atmospheric refraction, and here's another example of it, as seen from the Space Shuttle Discovery:
 
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image by NASA (source)
 
But you should check out that first-linked article, 'cause it's got a pretty striking demonstration of the phenomenon. Also, while bumbling around that site, I found a link to these spectacular photos of the Earth seen from the ISS. Really amazing stuff.
 
 
 
 
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  Die Schwerkraft ist etwas hochJan 25, 2011 6:59 PM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:"Warum musste Sig sterben!?" That's the question facing our hero in the German translation of the animated A* episode 6, by Vitruv and Starschwar.
 
Great work, guys! Thanks a lot! :D
 
If English is more your thing, you might also want to check out the English version, which still features my silly voiceovers.
 
All of the animated A* episodes (1-7!) are available from the episode list page, accessible from this site's top menu.
 
 
 
 
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  Just sayJan 24, 2011 7:03 PM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Guhhhh this page took forever to draw and there's still all kinds of things that bug me about it. Ah well, life is pain, etc. =P
 
I did a new page of my Sunday fairy tale comic, "The Princess and the Giant," over the weekend, and you can check it out by clicking on this stylish preview banner:
 
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Also, I owe thanks to Jeff Marsh for including The Princess and the Giant on his links page. Thanks for the link, Jeff! :D
 
 
 
 
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  Honeysuckle, this is HoustonJan 21, 2011 3:46 PM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:If you watched that short NASA documentary on Apollo 13 that I embedded/linked a few days back, you probably heard those characteristic periodic high-pitched beeps in the background of the radio dialogue between mission control and the spacecraft. If you need a refresher, here's an Apollo radio dialogue with a bunch of the beeps: listen (specifically, this is a transmission system test between the NASA Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas ("Houston") and their Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station near Canberra, Australia ("Honeysuckle")). ("Honeysuckle is go!")
 
Turns out those beeps have a name! They're Quindar tones, named after the manufacturer of the tone generation/listening equipment. There are two of them: one triggered when ground control pushes a button to open their microphone channel to the spacecraft, and a slightly lower one triggered when ground control finishes talking and releases that button to close the transmission.
 
The beeps were actually a signal to NASA's worldwide network of transmitting stations to open or close the broadcast channel, so it only stayed open while mission control was actually talking to the astronauts; without that system, that channel would have to have been left open all the time, subjecting the astronauts to static and mission control background noise 24/7. So while the somewhat shrill tones are a little annoying, in theory they probably saved the astronauts from a lot of headaches! Or "save," rather, because they're still in use in use in half-duplex UHF Space Shuttle transmissions--at least until the shuttle program ends later this year.
 
 
 
 
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  A new interstellar sport is bornJan 20, 2011 10:17 PM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:We've got about ten pages to go in episode 11, and it can take me up to a week to write and storyboard the next episode, and I want to have comics for you while I'm doing that, so...if my math is right--I'm sure I got this wrong somehow--then I need to start giving you just one page per day, so I have pages on reserve to cover my writing/storyboarding time in a week or so. Bleh! I hate holding back pages, but I think two weeks of one page per day is better'n one week of two and one week of none, so...eh. Such is life! But we've still got some significant twisting and turning to do here in these last few pages of episode 11, so don't think you can skip out! =p
 
Here's a self-serving suggestion for more comics! In addition to A*, I do another daily comic--which you probably haven't heard of--kind of a secret *cough*--called Sketchy, and this is a dandy time to start following that, since I've just started another of Sketchy's infamous *cough cough* tall tales, "The Mercenary and the Mariachi"! A rollicking tale of southern adventure, 't'will be. It begins here, we're on the third page today, and just to complete the confusion, here's page 2 as a sampler:
 
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"How many weird comic series does this nut have?" you might be wondering. Well, five...sorta. Three of 'em are updated regularly, and the other two are more fly-by-night affairs. There's a handy auto-updating list of them on the more comics by me page, always available from this site's top menu.
 
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A super-big thanks to Project: Universe, who I just noticed have A* on their links page. Yay! Thanks for the link, Project: Universe!
 
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Is Selenis about to play a round of Mar-ball? (:o)
 
 
 
 
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  Link me notJan 20, 2011 1:20 AM PST | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:If you've been waiting for my usual banner link to the latest page of my Sunday fairy tale comic, The Princess and the Giant, now's your time! You can click this sneak peek banner to jump to the Princess' latest page:
 
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Speaking of other comics drawn--at least partly--with the Lasso Tool, I found one that isn't by me! And it calls itself sci-fi, even--and although it's a little early to tell exactly what it's about, it's certainly pretty far-out. I'm talking about Schizian, so check that out if you're interested in what other comic folk are doing with this unusual drawing tool.
 
 
 
 
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  Bring Charlton Heston back, we got troubleJan 19, 2011 12:02 AM PST | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:A damaged nuclear reactor in Earth orbit is hit and fragmented by an unknown object. Silly disaster movie? No, this is real stuff! Remember how I was talking yesterday about the SNAP (Systems Nuclear Auxiliary Power) nuclear generators used to power space electronics in the Apollo, Pioneer, and Viking programs via radioactive decay of plutonium? Well, there was another type of SNAP, which was an actual miniature nuclear reactor, and one of those, SNAP-10A
 
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image by USDoE (source)
 
was sent into a sneaky polar orbit in 1965. It sounds like it was a test, and it was meant to be able to keep the satellite housing it powered for a year, but 43 days after launch, a short in the spacecraft caused the reactor to shut down. So it was just up there orbiting the planet peacefully--as peacefully as a deactivated nuclear space power plant can--until 1979, when something happened that caused it to "shed" fifty pieces. It isn't known what that was, or whether or not radioactive material got out.
 
And it's still up there, sailing silently above our heads. Oh, SNAP.
 
 
 
 
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  What I Didn't Know About Apollo 13Jan 17, 2011 9:51 PM PST | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:I said a little while back that I wanted to talk about the Apollo 13 mission a bit, and here's my chance!
 
Launching in 1970, Apollo 13 was going to be the third mission to land men on the Moon. But as their ship neared the moon, an electrical short-circuit in the Service Module--the module carrying the main engine and propellants--caused one of the oxygen tanks to explode. In addition to depleting a great deal of the mission's oxygen, it also left them without the use of the engines needed for landing on the Moon, and left the Command Module--the pod at the nose that houses the astronauts during Earth re-entry--on limited battery power.
 
So there's the three man crew, most of the way to the Moon, in a severely crippled ship! They had to evacuate into the Lunar Module--the thingy that lands on the Moon--and survived in there for four days while careful burns of the LM's engine looped them around the Moon and back toward Earth. Because they were on limited power, the temperature dropped down to somewhere in the 30's (I think--now I forget where I read this :P), drinking water was very limited, and they had to MacGuyver an air filter in order to be able to breathe.
 
But in the end, they made it back to Earth safely! Pretty incredible. A couple years later, NASA released a little documentary movie about it, named after the famous phrase used to report the explosion back to Earth, and now thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can view "Houston, We've Got A Problem" (actually the real phrase was the slightly less dramatic "had a problem," but hey) on archive.org.
 
When they were getting back to Earth, they released the crippled Service Module, so they could finally get a good look at the damage, and were surprised to see that the explosion had actually blown off some of the module's outer hull:
 
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image by NASA (source)
 
Once they landed and got medals and stuff, President Nixon didn't miss a chance for a heroic photo op:
 
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image by NASA (source)
 
The Wikipedia article (that top link) had a couple other notes about the mission that I found interesting. One of the astronauts developed a bad urinary tract infection during the mission because he wasn't getting enough water--that couldn't have made things easier. :o And speaking of urine, after the explosion, they were ordered to stop ejecting urine from the craft temporarily so as not to alter the ship's course, but they misunderstood, and stored all their urine for the rest of the entire flight. :p
 
And speaking of icky things, the mission's Lunar Module carried 3.8 kg (8.4 lbs) of plutonium-238 in what was called a SNAP--Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power; the plutonium's radioactive decay was going to be used to power a package of experiments to be left on the Moon (and five of them are on the Moon as we speak), but what with the accident and all, it unexpectedly came back to Earth! The Apollo 13 lunar module burned up in the Earth's atmosphere (as planned--the crew had moved into the Command Module for re-entry), and the SNAP fuel container, as it was designed to do, survived, its trajectory having been crafted so as to send it to a depth of 6,500 meters (20,000 feet) in the Tonga Trench in the South Pacific Ocean, where it appears to have settled, safely sealed. Whew! The fuel will remain significantly radioactive for about 2000 years, and its containment capsule is expected to hold up for 870 years. Hm. :P Well, there are lots of worse radiation risks we've dropped into various oceans over the years, particularly back in the swinging early days of the space program. Radioactive SNAPs are also on Mars, having powered the Viking landers, and winging toward the star Aldebaran and the constellation Aquila, aboard the probes Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, respectively, although their SNAPs are pretty low on power now (the craft were last heard from in 2003 and 1995), and will be completely decayed once the probes get near those other stars a few million years from now.
 
The Apollo 13 mission was dramatized of course in the 1995 Ron Howard film starring Tom Hanks, "Apollo 13," which...I haven't seen. Maybe I should check it out?
 
 
 
 
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  Weighing supermassive black holesJan 15, 2011 1:48 AM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Remember I was mentioning antimatter recently, and maybe how it's hard to make—like, you get it in supernovas, and in very small quantities in particle accelerators. Well if NASA's interpretation of readings from their FERMI Gamma-ray Space Telescope are correct, then antimatter also comes from thunderstorms! In tiny amounts, of course... But anyway, the theory is that really really fast electrons—near the speed of light—rocket out of the storm cloud; when they hit something, that releases energy in the form of gamma rays, which, if they hit another particle, can create an electron/positron pair (the positron being the antimatter form of an electron). Here's a rather nifty video they put together showing the theory in action:
 
(view in NASA's video gallery)
 
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If you've poked around the A* forum a bit you may remember that seeing a photo and reading about the 5000-light-year-long jet shooting out of the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy Messier 87
 
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image by NASA/ESA (source)
 
was the kick-off inspiration for me to make A*. Well, M87's supermassive black hole is in the news! It seems that by tracking the speeds of stars going around it, astronomers have been able to measure the hole's mass more precisely, to about 6.6 billion solar masses—I think this was announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting that just happened here in Seattle.
 
I haven't found a video of that—maybe they don't have the data in visual form, I dunno—which is too bad, because the ESO's video of stars going around A*—the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way—is pretty neat:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3qSr5HmGkI
 
Our A*, though, is only about 4 million solar masses. :P Anyway, the wired.com article I linked there mentions that some day they're hoping to be able to see M87's black hole by detecting the slightly dimmer area at the center of that galaxy's active nucleus, where it should be blocking—or swallowing—light from the stars on its far side. Although it's supposedly three times the size of the orbit of Pluto—which is really big—I gotta think that's still going to be tough to spot. It will sure be neat if they do, though.
 
I also thought this NASA artist's rendition of what M87's supermassive black hole might look like
 
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artist's concept by NASA (source)
 
was interesting, not so much because of the questionable lumpiness of the dust in its accretion disc, or the remarkably clear view in what I would have thought would be an area of space pretty much obscured by dust and superheated gasses and so forth, or the reddish light below the blue of the jet, which would represent light red-shifting as it gets sucked toward the singularity, but because you can see how they tried to represent the density of stars in a galactic core, which is something I've been wrestling with in A*; the problem with how they've done it, which is probably the most accurate way, is that the stars are so small and dense that they just end up looking like a static pattern, and it's really hard to discern anything. Probably the closest I came to drawing stars that way was page 83 of this episode
 
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which I was reasonably happy with, but it did take a long time to draw, and probably only worked because I masked the stars off from the central ship with a big dust cloud or whatever in the background; I also cheated by a) making the dense star area cover only part of the sky and b) leaving relatively star-free areas around the ships in the background so you could see them. So since then I've been compromising on bigger, more interspersed stars, which are easier to draw and seem to be easier to look at. (Come to think of it, the larger stars I'm doing look kinda like the ones in that ESO A* video above.) Maybe I'll be able to come up with a technically more accurate rendition at some point, I dunno. :P
 
 
 
 
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  Don't belittle gravityJan 14, 2011 2:27 AM PST | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:On page 114, the smoke from the gun barrel isn't wafting upwards, it's just tracing the movement of her hand downwards—or at least, that's what I was trying to draw. Anyway since the ship is in free fall here, there's no "up" in the pressurized cabin where the smoke would go, so it will just disperse gradually wherever it is left, unless it's blown somewhere.
 
This got me wondering if I could find any pictures or videos of smoke or vapor in zero gravity, but all could find was footage of flames, like this:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZTl7oi05dQ
 
Notice that the video description carefully calls it "microgravity," which is the NASA-approved term; it's supposed to be making the point that there's always some gravitational force at work no matter where you are in the universe, so there's never really "zero" gravity, but I think this is a case of pedantic people overthinking semantics: "microgravity" is harder to say, and I don't see how it's any less confusing, because it makes it sound like there's some really small gravitational force around rather than a big one like the Earth, which isn't what it means at all; what these terms are trying to say is that gravity is the only force acting on the object, and is only felt in one direction, so to the object, it feels like there is no gravity, because they're just floating along—which is why "free fall" is really the best term, I guess, but still people know what the heck is meant by "zero gravity," so why complicate things by trying to invent new and longer words?
 
Anyway! People get microgravity aka zero gravity like you see with that flame either in orbit around the Earth, which is the most sustainable type of free fall available to us, or at the apex of a plane flight (NASA's "Vomit Comet" plane for astronaut training), or in "drop towers," where an object, rigged up with cameras or sensors or whatnot, is dropped from a great big height, and shielded from wind resistance by a floating outer shell. NASA's Glenn Microgravity Drop Facility is one such drop tower, and it kind of has its own YouTube channel, where this video does a pretty good job of showing how it works (you drop stuff down a big chute! yay for rocket science :), and this one goes through the particulars of how candles work in gravity.
 
 
 
 
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  Oh Proctor, behaveJan 13, 2011 3:07 AM PST | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:Guh well here's an animation showing just how much screwing around it took me to get page 113 worked out:
 
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Tried a few freehand layouts first, then reverted to blowing up my original storyboard sketch and working from that. Then I ran into some trouble placing Proctor at the end. Pshew! Oh well I guess I got it done finally. =P
 
 
 
 
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  Me not fail English?Jan 12, 2011 2:37 AM PST | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:Gosh, episode 11 pages 110 and 111 on 11/01/11. :o WHAT DOES IT MEAN!??!
 
Well so I'm not a professor of numerology, but my Sunday fairy tale comic, "The Princess and the Giant," is apparently good enough for educating students of a 300-level English course at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, 'cause it was analyzed in a blogged article on the course's web site.
 
Not bad for an art major I guess. :D
 
Speaking of the Princess (and the Giant), she (and he!) had a new page this past weekend--as usual--and you can check it out by clicking this little preview banner:
 
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  She could totally cosplay herJan 11, 2011 1:27 AM PST | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:Well I need to thank Gary Green for Tweeting me in response to my news/blog thing asking for links on Friday--thanks! He's got a rather interesting blog here. And two people one of whom may nor may not have been mentioned already <_< actually *donated* apparently in response to that, which was a nice surprise, thanks to both of you. Hm maybe I should ask for links more often... >_>
 
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It occurred to me that the portrait of Selenis in last week's page 106 sort of resembles this fashion photo of model Heather Stewart-Whyte. Well, a little. So anyway I was looking up more pictures of her, and came across this one where she's dressed in black, with her hair bleached white and spiked up, just like Selenis circa hm episode seven or so. Coincidence? Uh... Well I guess it is. But I always knew Selenis had good fashion sense.
 
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The bad poetry bug bit me again this morning for whatever reason, so you'll find two new picture poems on my -word- sorta webcomic poetry thing, starting here with a nice little ditty about leprechauns. The one after that is about like life and choices and boring stuff, except that I'm pretty sure the last line is totally a Tolkien rip-off. Ah well--steal from the best, they say.
 
 
 
 
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  Hey brother, can you spare a link?Jan 08, 2011 4:05 AM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Hello, fellow internet user! Do you read A* regularly? If so--and I'm glad of that!--please consider telling some of your friends/fans/followers about A*. Tweet them a link, put it in a status update on Facebook, mention it in your blog, add it to your site's link list--whatever! Word of mouth is vital to the growth of a webcomic, and you can bet that I will really appreciate it!
 
In fact, if you do happen to link to A* on your site in some way, I will happily thank and link back to you in one of my own news updates. I've done this for every lovely site--as far as I'm aware--that's linked to me in the past, but I wanna do more of it! So, hook a brother up. :) And if you do, I may spot the incoming traffic myself, but you can certainly say send me a PM on the A* forum, tweet me on Twitter, message me on Facebook (A*'s page on Facebook is right here, incidentally), pass me a note on deviantART, or whatever, and my thanks shall be forthcoming.
 
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In the mean time, I'll just keep linking to my own stuff. ;) If you haven't seen yet, you may enjoy this past week's "Princess and the Giant" page--that's my weekend fairy tale comic, you know--which you can get to in a flash by clicking this link picture thing:
 
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There will be a new one of those on Sunday, and otherwise I'll see you back here on Monday for more A*--we'll even have some character dialogue, egads!
 
 
 
 
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  Moona LisaJan 07, 2011 2:50 AM PST | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:You know, I used to be afraid of drawing pupils or irises or whatever you want to call them. I think I'm getting used to it, though.
 
I made two banner thingies out of page 106:
 
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Man! How clever was that? So clever.
 
Say, this reminds me of my own pet theory for the Mona Lisa, aka this famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci (a dude who totally would have been good at webcomics):
 
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(source)
 
You know how they say Mona's eyes "follow you around the room" or something? Well not that I've ever seen it in person, but anyway I think part of it is that while the head is painted as looking off to our left, the face is painted closer to head-on, so it *feels* like it's turning, because the face is actually sort of twisting toward you out of the head. Drawing heads in two different perspectives is something I do accidentally all the time--because I start on one part, then later I'm on another part, and sort of forget which way I'd been drawing the first part pointing, exactly--but we'll give Leonardo credit and say he did it on purpose... At any rate, it worked out for him.
 
The focus of the eyes is tricky, too. I like to have them appearing to look directly at *you*, the viewer, but if you have the eyeballs too close together, the figure looks cross-eyed, and if they're just a hair too far apart, they appear to be looking past you--and anyway I always just have trouble getting them lined up straight with each other. Myah!
 
I was reading the Wikipedia Mona Lisa page and noticed some interesting factoids! For one thing, Pablo Picasso was accused of stealing it when it disappeared for a few years. Not fair to Picasso! Actually it was stolen from the Louvre in Paris--this was in 1911--by this Italian dude who believed it--the product of an Italian artist--should be in Italy rather than France. So he took it to Italy and tried to get it into museums, at which point it was confiscated, exhibited all over Italy, then returned to France later, and the guy who stole it was kind of hailed as a patriot and only got six months in jail.
 
Also, in 1956, the bottom half was doused in acid, and later that year another vandal threw a rock at it, knocking off a chip of paint near the elbow. Those have been fixed up pretty good, I guess.
 
 
 
 
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  Antimatter cleans up its actJan 06, 2011 1:56 AM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:You may recall me talking a little while back about the ALPHA experiment at CERN having trapped antihydrogen (simple antimatter) molecules. Now thanks to advances in the Internet you can watch a video instead of having to read me making a hash of it; here's ALPHA's spokesman Jeffrey Hangst describing the antihydrogen trap:
 
[Edit 5/26/18: video no longer on YouTube]
 
He mentions that ALPHA is staffed by 40 scientists—probably not all full-time, I guess?—and has an annual budget of "a few hundred thousand" Swiss Francs; Swiss Francs are running about 1:1 with the Dollar, so...that's a tiny budget! For some of the most cutting-edge science on the planet! Gosh.
 
This Sixty Symbols video has various University of Nottingham professors talking about the antihydrogen trapping; among other things, they point out that antimatter is used in PET (positron emission tomography) scanners: the neat rainbow-colored images produced of things inside people's bodies
 
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image by Jens Langner (source)
 
are actually showing positrons (antimatter versions of electrons), produced by radioactive decay of an ingested/injected/whatever radionuclide, annihilating with matter in the body. That sounds bad/painful, but I guess it's in such small amounts that you don't even notice. So, hurrah for antimatter!
 
 
 
 
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  Art show ends, Sketchy stories, ghost shadingJan 04, 2011 8:11 PM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Thank my time management skills for just one measly page today! :P Eh and tomorrow *might* be just one because I gotta go take down my art show. It actually went better than I thought it would, and I got to meet some people who found out about my web site as a result of seeing prints up on the walls of this fine coffee shop, so that was nice. If you're interested in which pieces (about half of them were from A*) were framed and hanging for the show, you'll find them collected here on my deviantArt.
 
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In my other daily comic, "Sketchy," I just finished up a little stand-alone story called "The Tale of Death Boy," which started last July--click this banner thingy to start at the eh start:
 
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and ended here yesterday. Starting today we're doing some catching-up with Sketchy himself in his silly adventures (click this thingy if you wanna see):
 
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but not for long, because I have another story, which will be an action adventure comedy thing south of the border! I think. Well it should be fun whatever it is, so keep an eye out for that--or maybe I'll just post about it once it's started, anyway. ;D
 
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Here's what the shading on today's A* page looks like, if you make the black and white part mostly transparent:
 
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That's why we generally keep the black part fully opaque, yep! :D
 
 
 
 
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  Eggnog KOJan 04, 2011 2:07 AM PST | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:Guh! So maybe having a nice glass of eggnog in the middle of the afternoon is not the best zzzzzzzzz---
 
 
 
 
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