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  You can buy my A* "poster" illustration!Mar 30, 2017 6:54 PM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Okay I got this week's special auction of A* original art from the archives posted! It's the 11" x 17" illustration I made for an online poster contest back in 2012—so, a good deal bigger than my daily 6.75" x 16" A* pages, and all done in ink. The auction for it runs for a week and it is right here on eBay.
 
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Thumb not included. : o You can see the final poster design I made from it in the 2012 blog entry.
 
Thanks for checking it out! : D
 
 
 
 
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  One of these Wednesdays...Mar 29, 2017 10:27 PM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Gee whiz I'm still not leaving myself enough time to get one of these big ol' ink pieces scanned and written up for a real Wednesday A* art archive sale. Mmmaybe tomorrow might work. Blah! Still working on this whole daily comic schedule thing. : P
 
 
 
 
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  Small galaxy, big supermassive black holeMar 28, 2017 8:24 PM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Was 49 is a binary galaxy, in which a larger galaxy is merging with a smaller one. This type of interaction doesn't appear to be unusual in our local universe, but something else about the pair is: using data from NASA's NuSTAR X-ray space telescope, scientists have found that the smaller galaxy has a significantly more massive central supermassive black hole than expected, and it is active—far more active than the supermassive black hole at the center of the larger galaxy that encircles it. NASA's article on this says that normally in a galactic merger, the "gravitational interactions create a torque that funnels gas into the larger galaxy's central black hole"—but that doesn't appear to be happening in this case; in Was 49, the smaller galaxy is eating the larger one! The scientists are now trying to find an explanation for the unusually high mass of the smaller galaxy's supermassive black hole.
 
 
 
 
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  Episode 31 begins! /endMar 27, 2017 10:52 PM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 2 new A* pages:New episode starts! Wooo~~~
 
 
 
 
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  Out on the new frontierMar 25, 2017 5:58 PM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Here's Selenis in a big cowgirl hat, it's a sketch for a reader who's supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign :") :
 
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Rope skills! : o Thanks everyone for your support, it means a lot to this here lil' ol' webcomic! : D
 
 
 
 
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  Well it ain't Uncle SamMar 23, 2017 8:07 PM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Readers keep A* going by supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign; here's a sketch I got to send to a reader for their support:
 
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I want to thank *you*! ^_^
 
 
 
 
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  But can you really spoil a cliched plot?Mar 23, 2017 1:00 AM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:No special archive art auction this week—I gotta get some sleep! : o
 
My brain got into working on episode outlines today, maybe because this current episode—30—ends on Friday! Two pages left!
 
So next week, episode 31 starts; we'll be leaving The Pearl after that episode, but first we'll be seeing what goes on in the lower levels of the planet, where the Council is not fully in control—or are they?
 
I even found plots of two more future episodes popping into my head this morning. Although the murder mystery on a remote planetoid one probably still needs work; the initial outline I came up with ended up being way too Risk movie / Diagnosis: Murder episode / Harlan Ellison "Daredevil" comic / uh some other comic or movie plot—oh! Maybe one bit of the She-Hulk graphic novel. : P So I would probably have to scrap that all the way back to the opening line, because how can you go wrong with the old "By the time you receive this message, I will already be dead" bit? Eh. Hrm... Okay so that one needs a lot of percolation. : P Might just be too cliched, even for me. : o
 
The other episode idea started with catchy opener too: "[Character name to be determined] owes me money!" Aw yeah. And then somehow gets into nightclub pursuits and electromagnetic mind battles. Okay that one is a *definite* lock, woo!
 
 
 
 
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  Ink shmink!Mar 21, 2017 11:57 PM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:I have an 11" x 17" A* ink illustration whose auction on eBay ends tomorrow; it's one I did back when was first moving to doing the comic traditionally, rather than digitally, and I was experimenting with things like white ink on sea sponges to make starry backgrounds. I've only got 6 or 7 pieces of original A* art left in this size—bigger than my current watercolor format, and all done in ink—and I'm going to be auctioning them off in the coming weeks. Once they're gone, they're gone, so keep an eye out if you're interested in such things. : )
 
 
 
 
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  The best news everMar 20, 2017 11:51 PM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:It's Monday and I got a page done!
 
Man, writing news is a snap. =P
 
 
 
 
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  Masks and martinisMar 18, 2017 6:06 PM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Here's an ink sketch I sent to a reader for supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign :") :
 
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It makes a huge difference—thank you very much! : D
 
 
 
 
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  Cassini's last visit to MimasMar 17, 2017 12:21 AM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Just as NASA's Cassini probe, in its final tour of the Saturnian system, last week returned some great up-close photos of the tiny moon Pan, now it has got some from about the same distance (25,000 km) of the larger moon Mimas:
 
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image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute (source)
 
If you crank up the brightness and contrast, you can even see the side of the moon that is dark in the above image, since it is actually very faintly illuminated by light reflected from Saturn itself:
 
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NASA has a less grainy but also less seamless mosiac image doing that on the same NASA source page.
 
This is not the closest Cassini has come to Mimas; in 2010, it passed within 9,500 km in 2010, and got a clearer if less dramatically lit image of the Moon, including its large crater Herschel, which is about the right size to make Mimas look kind of like the Death Star from Star Wars (although in this case, it is a moon : p):
 
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image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute (source)
 
Mimas is about 400 km across, but if you look closely at those photos, it might start to look a little funny to you; you see, it isn't quite round! It's "about 10%" taller than it is wide—prolate—due to the tidal force Saturn exerts upon it, scrunching it up a bit.
 
 
 
 
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  A* art archive sale: ink & sea sponge stars!Mar 16, 2017 12:14 AM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Okay! I'm out of original art pieces I consider particularly nifty from the last few A* episodes to try to sell you on in our weekly Wednesday archive art sales, so now we're going back in time—way, way back to late 2011, toward the end of episode 13, when I had just switched from digital to traditional art, and was experimenting with various techniques. I had just got some crisp new paper to try out, and I had picked up a few dried sea sponges on a whim at a local art store, so I took those with some ink and ink wash and lots of white ink on the sponges and came up with this extra-large illustration on 11" x 17" paper which is now up for auction at a special sale price right over here on eBay:
 
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If you look closely you can see a rectangle in light pencil sort of just inside the sides of the illustration, marking my normal 6.75" x 16" A* page size. At 17" long, this one is a little too big to fit in the imaging area of my current scanner. : P You can see it in full in this photo (bigger images in the eBay listing):
 
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I should probably do more sea sponge stars because those came out pretty cool! Then again, I feel kind of bad for sea sponges, so maybe not. Back in the day (my 2011 blog post for this piece is here) I called this one "Ripple" because the 70 lb Bienfang Raritan drawing paper I was trying out was thin enough that it sort of rippled up in the margins after the center part was inked over.
 
By my count, counting this one I have six remaining 11" x 17" A* pieces left to sell—I guess seven if I want to take the one at my parents' house that we've been putting in art shows out of its big frame...maybe we'll see how these others do. Three of them are A* comic pages, while the others are special A* illustrations like this one. They're all in ink! So those will keep these Wednesdays busy for the next few months. : )
 
 
 
 
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  Boxes and tapeMar 14, 2017 10:50 PM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:I gotta go pack up some A* original art for a few eBay bidders :") so I'm skippin' out of blogging, woo-hoo!
 
 
 
 
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  Cassini sees tiny Pan's giant ridgeMar 13, 2017 9:48 PM PDT | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:NASA's Cassini probe is getting some great stuff in its last sweeps through the Saturnian system; it just passed within 25,000 km of the tiny, 35-km-wide inner moon Pan and found the moon's shape dominated by a massive equatorial ridge:
 
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image by ASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute (source)
 
^ More photos of the strangely shaped moon on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's site at that "source" link. : ) The equatorial ridge forms when material from Saturn's nearby rings falls onto the moon as it sweeps past them. Such ridges are not unusual among Saturn's moons: Atlas and the much larger Iapetus have them, for instance.
 
Thanks to my brother for tipping me off to the new Pan photos. : )
 
 
 
 
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  Stuck in the '20s I guess : oMar 11, 2017 5:35 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Selenis as a cigarette girl? Well I don't know but anyway it's a sketch I sent to a reader for supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign : ) :
 
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Thank you very much! : D
 
 
 
 
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  Don't ask me what the story was here : PMar 09, 2017 9:52 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:We haven't had any Selenis in the comic for a few days now, so here's our heroine in disguise in a sketch I sent to a reader for supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign : ) :
 
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Thank you! The support I get from readers through Patreon is HUGE in keeping this comic going! ^_^
 
 
 
 
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  Three times the Selenisusses!Mar 08, 2017 9:43 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Wednesday archive art sale! And this is the last one I have from recent episodes; after this I'll probably have to start rescanning older good bits of art I still have, because I scan them more accurately now than I used to. : P And that will take longer and maybe I won't manage to have a new sale each week. But this week we're still all set! The special low-priced auction, which is right here on eBay, is of the 16" x 6.75" watercolor painting I made for episode 30 page 19, where Selenis is being examined by The Pearl's mysterious Council and, thanks to the holographic projections of former Selenis-like visitations they're displaying, we get a single illustration with not one but *three* Selenises : o
 
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Three times the danger! Three times the fun! A convergence of this magnitude may never happen again, I don't know! The auction only lasts a week!
 
As always, you can follow along and catch my other various A* original art sales by watching my eBay profile. Thanks for checking out my art! : )
 
 
 
 
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  Not a monocle or a quizzing glass, hmMar 07, 2017 9:29 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Here's a sketch I sent to a reader for supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign:
 
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Thank you *very* much! Your support makes a huge difference! : DD
 
 
 
 
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  Ceci n'est pas un smileyMar 06, 2017 10:32 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:: )
 
 
 
 
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  Don't look in there! : oMar 04, 2017 5:57 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Readers supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign are a big part of what keeps A* going! Here's a sketch I got to send to one of them for their support:
 
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Thank you very much! : D
 
 
 
 
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  1st measure of black hole "wind" temp swingsMar 02, 2017 10:53 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:NASA just linked to a Caltech article on the first-ever measurement of temperature swings from "winds" emanating from an active black hole. The research, using NASA's orbiting NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) X-ray telescope and the ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray space telescope, measured the active supermassive black hole at the center of "galaxy IRAS 13224-3809 in the constellation Centaurus," which is apparently about 1.3 billion light years away. Observing the "winds" of gas shooting out of the black hole's accretion disc at 1/4 light speed, the scientists noticed that the gas would stop and start absorbing certain parts of the X-rays coming from "the edge of the black hole" within spans of a few hours. "The team concluded that the X-rays were actually heating up the winds to very high temperatures—millions of degrees Fahrenheit—such that they became incapable of absorbing any more X-rays. The winds then cool off, and the absorption features return, starting the cycle over again. 'This is the first time we have seen that winds are interacting with the black hole's radiation.'"
 
 
 
 
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  Archive art sale! Knuckle-blowing like a bossMar 01, 2017 9:56 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:Wednesday watercolor archive art sale! : D From episode 29, we jump to *page* 29 of this current episode, episode 30, with the watercolor painting for what is, I think, the definitive rendering of gang boss Vincent Fairway. This painting, "Knuckles," is currently up for auction on eBay right here for one week at a much lower price than it would otherwise have through my archive, and it captures Fairway and Selenis engaged in some characteristic gestures during their intense job negotiation. I think this was one of my most successful pages in terms of capturing faces and bold color!
 
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Thanks for checking it out! You can always find my other current A* art sales through my eBay profile.
 
 
 
 
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