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A* Episode 25 
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Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm
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Hey did you know that the Big A* Original Art Sale is going on now? That's why when you click on the golden "original art" link at the lower left corner of the comic images, the ensuing info page displaying the original piece of A* artwork behind that particular page lists that original piece--be it watercolor painting, ink illustration, or pencil drawing--as being available for purchase right there over the internet for just $10! And that price goes for any piece of A* original artwork that is currently for sale through the site!

Here's an example of one that's still for sale (there are lots more, just look for that gold "original art" link at the lower left corner of the comic image, that means it's available!): an ink wash page from way back in episode 17, just after Selenis had landed near a remote moon base to do some serious infiltration. You can click on the following little thumbnail image to go to the piece's info page with full details, a bigger photo, and of course the Buy button so you can purchase it for that silly low sale price before anyone else gets it instead:

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One of my better ink wash jobs with dust and other textures, I think, oh and a pretty detailed rendering of Selenis' ol' space suit. As of this writing that and plenty of other pages are still on sale!


Sat May 09, 2015 8:44 am
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An emergency situation arose this weekend when my brother contacted me to say that the next day he'd be giving away our comic collection! My childhood! So I rushed over there to make sure that we salvaged the good stuff before the kids he hoped to give it to got their hands on it. ^_^ I'd forgotten we had so many comics--I think there were about hm a little over a dozen long boxes, I guess, although I think he's added some to those since we more or less stopped collecting in the early '90s--so most of our stuff is mid-to-late '80s, primarily Marvel.

Most of *that* stuff I can read digitally on Marvel's "Marvel Unlimited" app / web site service, but I'll be darned if I'll give up, say, my complete John Byrne "Fantastic Four" run anyway. ; ) But my brother was already keeping that to read, so no problem there. I saved a bunch of other Byrne stuff and brought it home with me, though--and a lot of it I didn't even know we had and am super-excited to (re)read, because most of it isn't on Marvel Unlimited for one reason or another: his Superman stuff, his very first comic for Marvel (Champions #11), his Iron Fist run, his Alpha Flight run, his Namor and She-Hulk series, his short Hulk, Avengers, and Star Brand runs, the "What If Phoenix Hadn't Died" issue he did, oh and some What Th-? issues where he had some little parody stories done in a really good cartoony style.

And other stuff! Frank Miller's weird "Ronin," loads of old Marvel Two-in-Ones and Marvel Team-Ups, Incognito (which is a more recent series my brother got lately), the "Bwa-ha-ha" Justice League issues, the old Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, a few Bill Sienkiewicz "Moon Knight" issues, some old Marvel graphic novels (like the Byrne "She-Hulk" one, and the Miller and Sienkiewicz "Daredevil" one), Arthur Adams' old "X-Men" annuals, some beat-up super-old stuff like Kirby's "OMAC" #1, an old Kirby Captain America "GIANT SIZE" annual, some tattered and ancient Avengers issues (as early as issue 13! : o), some "Asterix" books my brother picked up somewhere, and a couple other odds and ends; all in all it's a little over one long-box full of stuff. My brother set aside another four or so boxes of keepers at his place, and I guess all the rest he's working on getting into young impressionable hands.

Yay old comics!


Mon May 11, 2015 11:59 pm
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This has to do with a note I wrote myself last week after being frustrated with the drawing I'd done on a page; the note says "draw until real (head!)--contour not form." Now, strictly speaking that probably makes not much sense, but it helps me remember to keep drawing and erasing and redrawing until something sort of decent starts to come along; it seems to take me at least two or three restarts until I begin to get there. : P


Wed May 13, 2015 3:47 am
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I've finally been able to get through Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation series--the first three books, anyway! Well okay I didn't get through the books, but I listened to a dramatization of them that BBC Radio did in the '70s, complete with crazy old-school sci-fi sound effects now and then. Their proper and peppy British accents make the huge tomes relatively breezy listening, even if the decades-old audio recording is rather rough in spots (including the first half-hour or so : o), and the sound effects are sometimes a bit painful. You can find this version of "The Foundation Trilogy" all over the internet, since it's free, including at archive.org (I listened to it via the free "Librivox" Android app). Go ahead, learn your psychohistory!


Thu May 14, 2015 7:36 am
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The preceding pages were getting lighter and lighter as I was spending more and more time trying to make really detailed pencil drawings, and then was sort of scared to cover them with heavy watercolor... The pencil drawing for today's page was the most detailed yet, but I needed dark contrast on the face, so I went for it with dark watercolor--and predictably, lost the drawing, and, as a result, certain details of the figure. This reminded me that I keep telling myself I need to break the page down into light and shadow areas, and I should really be doing that in the pencil phase--but then again, sometimes interesting things come out--eventually : p--when letting the shadows fight and build themselves up in the watercolor. I suppose the real trick is knowing when and where to do it one way vs the other! (I really should try doing it in pencil more often though, I keep slacking on that--or, well, actually I just get too precious with the pencil drawing and don't want to take the eraser to parts of, say, the brushy eyes I just spent an hour or two drawing. Gotta get over that! : P)


Fri May 15, 2015 9:28 am
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The Big A* Original Art Sale is still going! Another bunch of original A* pages sold this week but there's still some good ones to choose from I think! While browsing the comic, just look for the gold "original art" link at the lower left corner of the comic panel--if it's there, that means the original artwork behind that A* page is available for instant purchase! Clicking the gold link will take you to the sale page for the piece, with more details on the artwork and so forth. Oh yeah and the sale part: every piece of art for sale through this site is currently just $10! Either one of these two watercolor paintings made for recent episodes can be yours (they're still available at the time of this writing, anyway! -- click on the thumbnail to go to their info page) for just ten clams, for instance:

Image Image

Those are just a couple examples--just keep an eye out for the gold "original art" link next to artwork you like as you browse the site!


Sat May 16, 2015 10:48 am
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Over the weekend a Russian rocket malfunctioned; this one was attempting to carry a Mexican telecommunications satellite into orbit. It's the sixth Proton to be lost in the last five years, which sounds bad, but how bad is it? 100 Proton-M rockets have been launched since the model's introduction in 2001, and of those 100, 10 have failed--but most of those failures have come in just the past five years, which makes sense because more launches have been taking place per year of late: just over 10 per year in the last five years (52 total).

Is a ~10% loss record bad as far as rocket launches go? Well, in the '80s, out of ~104 launches of their Proton-K rockets, the Soviet Union lost just 7. To compare with the US in that same period, 5 of 42 Atlas rocket launches failed. So a loss rate of ~10% for the Proton-M is actually pretty decent, comparatively--it looks even better when we see that over its lifetime, the earlier Proton-K lost 35 out of 311 launches. The second BBC article I linked *does* mention that other Proton-M launches have been grounded due to maintenance issues, but I don't have stats or comparative stats for those (and I'm not going to try to find them since I have to go to bed : P)--at any rate, we can say that as far as actual *launches* go, the Proton-M isn't really doing too badly!


Tue May 19, 2015 1:00 am
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Boy, I'm really doing an awful job of sticking to 24 hour days during the week. Darn that time management thing! Hmph!


Wed May 20, 2015 4:29 am
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Here's a sketch I mailed to a reader as their monthly reward for supporting the comic through the A* Patreon campaign:

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Thank you! : )


Thu May 21, 2015 5:20 am
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I was trying to reproduce the 'paint the interior, then the background around it' approach I used yesterday that resulted in some sharp white space outlines around a few of the characters, but as usual when I try reproducing an effect on purpose, it doesn't strike me as having the same impact it did when it just happened on its own. Speaking of which, pretty happy with the shading on Thierry here--it was strong enough that leaving the face white still worked, as the rest implied the shadow on it. That's a trick I'd love to be able to pull off more! It'd help if I could approach painting Selenis with the same devil-may-care attitude I seem to adopt toward the secondary characters.


Fri May 22, 2015 6:07 am
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