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  This week's featured original A* art sale!Jan 31, 2018 9:20 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Wednesday A* original art archive sale on an actual Wednesday! Yes for the next week an original 16" x 6.75" watercolor illustration I painted for the comic—one that I think came out particularly well—will be on sale starting at a special low price of just $16.99, and this week it is page 69 of this episode, a searing action shot of Selenis diving for cover from a burst of gunfire in the amphitheater! Strong diagonal composition! Dynamic poses! Subtleties of lighting and coloration! Yes it can all be yours within the week, right over on eBay!
Small versions of the larger images included in the eBay listing:
Thanks for checking it out! : D (My other A* original art sales—including the latest week's worth of brand new page illustrations—can always be found through my eBay profile.)
  Evidence for black hole feeding cycles foundJan 30, 2018 9:04 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:This BBC article talks about NASA's Chandra X-Ray space telescope finding evidence for a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy 800 million light years away having emitted two clouds of gas, 100,000 years apart, which would seem to confirm the theory that huge black holes can go through feeding cycles, where the intense radiation and high-energy particles thrown off during such a black hole's active period serve to push other material around the hole away, resulting in a quiet period in which the hole has nothing to "eat"—until material again drifts close enough for the hole to feed, and the cycle begins again. Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy, is, in this theory, in one of those quiet periods between feasts.
  SOFIA: space telescope in a 747!Jan 29, 2018 9:56 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:NASA and the German space agency, DLR, have a flying infrared space telescope housed in the fuselage of a highly modified Boeing 747: the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or "SOFIA," flies above much of the water vapor in the atmosphere that could block infrared light. Just recently, it helped show how dust grains in the Rho Ophiuchi nebula—one of the star-forming regions closest to us—align along magnetic field lines.
  Have some space attitude! : DJan 27, 2018 2:12 AM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Here's a sketch I snail-mailed to a reader as their monthly reward for supporting the comic through the A* Patreon campaign : D (you can support the comic for as little as an easy, automatic $1 a month—I know it doesn't sound like much, but it makes a big difference to me! : D Higher support levels get various rewards—$10 gets you a monthly original pencil sketch, like this one : ):
Thanks everyone for your support, it means a LOT! ^_^ Thanks for reading, and have a nice weekend!
  Original artsy-wartsy salesy-walesy!Jan 25, 2018 9:33 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Let's pretend it's still Wednesday and do one of our once-in-a-weekly A* original art archive sales! That's where I pick out a remaining piece of art I made for A* that I think is particularly nifty, and put it up for sale at a special sale price—and this week's selection is the 16" x 6.75" watercolor painting I made for way back for page 67 of this episode, in which Selenis is vaulting a partition in the Falquarium nightclub to escape from one of Falco's thugs—and from the bar fire she herself started. ]_] : D It was the last page I did with my old brush and so it has extra texture-y lines; I also thought the action poses and fire-lighting of the two dynamic dames worked out pretty well, and the color gradient and impressionistic background carried off the fire idea rather decently. : ) So there's all that and it can be yours in the next week, starting at the teensy-weensy price of just $16.99 right over here on eBay!
The auction listing there has high-res images of the painting, but here are some tiny-winy ones for a nibble:
Thanks for checking it out! You can find that and all my special A* art sales—which always include the latest week's worth of brand new painted artwork pages!—over on my eBay profile.
  Consistency is keyJan 25, 2018 1:24 AM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Just another uneventful day. : P
  Many paints were harmed in the processJan 23, 2018 11:23 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:This was one of those pages where the first painted attempt didn't quite come out, so it became lots of layers of caked paint and white ink and smearing stuff around for a while—and it doesn't always work out, but you do always get something kinda unusual out of it, so that's something. ^_^ It becomes more paint-y than illustration-y, I guess is one way I think of it.
And actually, Selenis' suit ended up coming out—not planned, mind you—sort of like something I saw someone do in a watercolor demonstration video on Youtube once, where they were painting a face, but first they just laid down a big gradient blur of color, then painted shadows and dotted a few highlights over it. I'm still much to scared to try doing that on purpose—especially with a face, jeepers! = oo
  Not "Um"--"Mum"!Jan 23, 2018 12:35 AM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:All I can think of is silly stuff to put here, so I think I'd better just wrap it up and go to bed! = x
  The future probably has more motorcyclesJan 20, 2018 8:30 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Here's an ink sketch I got to send to a supporter of the comic through the A* Patreon campaign : ) :
Thanks to everyone who's helping me out! Your support keeps this comic going! : D
(Also, if you do ride a motorcycle, unless you have your own cloning operation going and don't really care if your current brain meat ends up a horrible mangled wreck, please wear a helmet! = o)
  USPS shipping prices go up next week : PJan 18, 2018 11:13 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:The US Postal Service's rates go up next week, which will make it cost close to $1 more for people to have me ship A* art to them. Dang. Well, if they can use some of that money to have heating at my local post office so the clerks there don't freeze their fingers off in the winter, that wouldn't be all bad.
  A great big fishy A* original art sale!Jan 17, 2018 9:13 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Let's do a Wednesday special A* original art archive sale! Been a while : o but this is where I fish out a piece of original A* art that I think is particularly keen, and put it up for auction at a special sale price. : D This week it's the 16" x 6.75" watercolor painting I made for episode 32, page 44, when Selenis had just entered that den of aquatic iniquity, the Falquarium, and a big fishy was looming up in a fish tank behind her! It is the most fish (or robo-fish?) by volume we've had in the comic, I got to play around with more watery effects in the paint, and it is for sale for just the next seven days—starting at just $16.99!—right over here on eBay.
The auction listing has hi-res images; here are some lo-res ones to wet (see what I did there? : P) your appetite:
Thanks for checking it out! The most recent week's worth of new A* page paintings are also up for sale on eBay—you can find all my A* art sales through my eBay profile.
  I guess I should attach a comic to the blogJan 16, 2018 8:28 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:I've been reading old Superman comics lately, and stumbled across a reference to an artist named Paul Cassidy, who ghost-drew for Superman co-creator Joe Shuster in many of the early comics. Turns out Cassidy is also the author of the first graduate-level American research paper on comic books, and his 1942 thesis paper cites a Gallup poll (or anyway, a poll by Dr. George Gallup : D) that examined how many people read the news and/or the "funnies" in the newspaper: 68% of men read the comics, and 47% read the news, while 71% of women read the comics, and 36% read the news.
... Which makes me wonder if writing a blog attached to a comic is a bit of a waste of time. ; ) Ah well, keeps me out of trouble. : P
  Commemorating MLK on MondayJan 13, 2018 8:05 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:I'll be off on Monday as here in the United States we take a day to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who was brave enough to speak out against racism, hatred, and bigotry.
  But what the heckJan 11, 2018 11:52 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:I didn't really get anything else done today. : P
  Clouds of Jupiter by Juno againJan 11, 2018 12:34 AM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Hey I've done one of these before but it's late so let's do another (new) spectacular enhanced-color view of Jupiter's clouds assembled by citizen scientists using data from the Juno probe:
image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran (source)
  I for one welcome our giant space overlordsJan 09, 2018 11:26 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:There was an article today by the BBC about a Japanese astronaut on the International Space Station who is worried about having grown 3.5 inches (9 cm) since arriving on the station three weeks ago. (Update 1/10/18: He actually grew only 2 cm.) The article explains that astronauts typically grow (temporarily) 2-5 cm in space, due to the spine expanding in the nearly weightless environment.
Even on Earth, you may be about a half-inch or so taller when you get up in the morning than when you went to bed, due to the spine being able to expand while you were lying down!
  Heavenly Palace to Spacecraft CemeteryJan 08, 2018 8:52 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:If you guessed that the oceanic pole of inaccessibility is the spot in the ocean furthest from land, you are correct! And because of that remoteness, space agencies not wanting to hit anyone with their de-orbiting spacecraft have turned that spot on Earth, in the southern Pacific Ocean (also known as "Point Nemo," "nemo" being Latin for "no one") into our planet's spacecraft cemetary: "more than 263 spacecraft were disposed of in this area between 1971 and 2016."
China, whose Tiangong-1 ("Heavenly Palace 1") prototype space station has in recent months been reported to be out of control and destined to crash down in an uncontrolled manner somewhere on Earth, now says that the station is *not* out of control, and that they delayed the scheduled September 2017 re-entry "in order to ensure that the wreckage would fall into an area of the South Pacific ocean where debris from Russian and U.S. space stations had previously landed"—which is the oceanic pole of inaccessibility, as we all now know. : ) Some western analysts are skeptical of China's claim of having the station under control; in this case, let's hope they can hit the bullseye! : o
  Trogs still gotta watch it : oJan 06, 2018 8:20 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Regarding my blog yesterday about my PC being too old for newly uncovered CPU vulnerabilities, reader Walter Milliken rightly pointed out to me that my old Windows XP OS is nevertheless not the most secure these days, since Microsoft no longer supports it—and that I should change antivirus programs, since the one I've been using, having dropped its XP support, will no longer receive program updates. He also pointed me to this Ars Technica article, which does a great job of describing what the Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities are. As to the threat they pose,

"The most vulnerable users are probably cloud service providers; Meltdown and Spectre can both in principle be used to further attacks against hypervisors, making it easier for malicious users to break out of their virtual machines. For typical desktop users, the risk is arguably less significant. While both Meltdown and Spectre can have value in expanding the scope of an existing flaw, neither one is sufficient on its own to, for example, break out of a Web browser."

And thanks to readers for keeping this comic clicking along by supporting my work on it directly through the A* Patreon campaign! : D They can get themselves little monthly rewards in the process; for instance, here's a sketch I sent to a reader for their support:
Thank you very much! : D I couldn't make this comic without you!
  Being a troglodyte...pays off?Jan 05, 2018 12:03 AM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Security vulnerabilities in popular PC CPU chips—especially ones by Intel—were announced today, and patches rolled out to many systems. My new-ish Windows 10 laptop—I got that so I could stream my daily A* art-making : )—got a surprise update today. Supposedly the fixes—by design, apparently—can slow the system down, so uh hopefully I won't have to lower the detail setting of my streams or something, ew.
It's all a bad and apparently pretty thorny problem, and at least one vulnerability in many Intel CPUs remains. (That's "Spectre"; the "Meltdown" vulnerability is apparently easier for hardware and software makers to address.)
I was worried that my old, Windows XP-running desktop machine would remain a problem, since Microsoft doesn't seem to be in any hurry to put out a fix on that ancient operating system. Almost every article on the problem said pretty much any Intel CPU was vulnerable, with many saying "any made in the last 20 years" or something like that, but after some hunting around, I finally found a PCWorld article giving Intel's list of the affected CPUs...and apparently mine is so old and crusty (2006! woot) that its venerable architecture does not have the problem—if I'm deciphering that list correctly, anyway ("Intel Core 2" is different (and older) than "2nd generation Intel Core processors," as far as I can tell from the internet).
And to think, my friends made fun of me for running such an ancient machine and operating system. Haha! Er. And heck, even my free antivirus program raising a fuss about not being able to renew its authentication (in a free version? : o) yesterday, and apparently no longer officially supporting Windows XP, doesn't actually seem to have stopped it from functioning. So yeah, no problems here, no sirree! : D o_o
Update 1/6/18: Nevertheless, some important notes on XP security and Meltdown and Spectre in my next blog article.
  A* art show at Spin's in Wallingford!Jan 03, 2018 9:57 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Big framed A* art prints for sale are coating the main wall in Spin's Barbershop just off N. 45th Street in Seattle's Wallingford district (map)! The show will run for three months—through the end of March—so you've got plenty of time to let your hair grow out a bit first, if you like to do that sort of thing, like I do. Thanks to mom and dad for, well, doing most of the work in getting the show together, and thanks to Spin for having us back for a third time! : )
Here's a shot of just a fraction of the 18 framed A* pieces there—plus two little birdie extras : ) :
  Old DC comic bonanza at ComixologyJan 02, 2018 10:53 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Not sure how much longer it will last, but at the moment there's still a DC Holiday Superhero Sale on digital versions of DC collected comics editions on Comixology. I mention this in case any of you are like me, who didn't catch a whole lot of DC comics back in the olden days—I was a Marvel kid : P—and would kind of like to get up to speed on them; most of the collected editions in the sale—pretty much all are discounted to $4.99 each, from as much as $34.99, and run from 200 to 400+ pages—are stuff from this century, but I managed to dig up the following list of old ('30s to '80s) stuff I was interested in:
Challengers of the Unknown by Jack Kirby
The Demon by Jack Kirby
Mister Miracle by Jack Kirby
Justice League of America: The Silver Age Vol. 1
Justice League of America: The Silver Age Vol. 2
Justice League of America: The Silver Age Vol. 3
Crisis on Multiple Earths Vols. 1 - 6
Batman: Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 1
Batman: Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 2
Batman: Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 3
Legends of the Dark Knight: Alan Davis
Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Vol. 1
Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Vol. 2
Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Vol. 3
Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rodgers
Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert
Tales of the Batman: Archie Goodwin
Tales of the Batman: Carmine Infantino
Tales of the Batman: Don Newton
Tales of the Batman: Gene Colan Vol. 1
Tales of the Batman: Gerry Conway
Tales of the Batman: Len Wein
Batman: The Golden Age Vol. 1
Batman: The Golden Age Vol. 2
Batman: The Golden Age Vol. 3
Batman & Superman in World's Finest: The Silver Age Vol. 1
Superman: The Golden Age Vol. 1
Superman: The Golden Age Vol. 2
Superman: The Golden Age Vol. 3
Supergirl: The Silver Age Vol. 1
The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl (1982-1984) Vol. 1
The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl (1982-1984) Vol. 2
Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Vol. 1
Wonder Woman by John Byrne Vol. 1
There's some overlap there, and I sure wish they had more "Silver Age" (1960s) Batman and Superman stuff, but eh I think I've made a decent start at things—although this would all be easier if DC just had their own subscription service where you could read old comics to your heart's content, like Marvel does with Marvel Unlimited. But anyway I now have hm I guess 10,000+ pages of old DC stuff to read; at my comic or two a day rate, that will keep me busy for...years (and will make a nice switch-off with my Marvel Unlimited chronological read-through—I'm up to 1966 : D)!
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