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  More A* ink art for sale!May 30, 2015 8:11 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:The Big A* Original Art Sale continues! That's the great deal where currently all of my pieces of original art made for the comic—watercolor paintings, ink illustrations, and so forth—still available for sale through this site are going for just $10 each. : ) Yes, everything must go! ^_^ Just look for the gold "original art" link at the lower left corner of the images as you browse the comic, and that'll take you to the sale page of the original piece of art from which that comic page was scanned.
 
For instance, here are a couple ink drawings that are still available, from all the way back in episode 17, which is when I switched from ink wash to straight ink! Click on the thumbnails to see bigger photos and more info about each piece (such as that these two are both 17" wide, for instance):
 
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Those and many more unique pieces of the A* story are yours to own for just $10 as long as this sale lasts—unless someone else buys them first! : )
 
 
 
 
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  Supermassive globs collideMay 29, 2015 5:48 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:There's a new BBC article about colliding globs of plasma shot out of a supermassive black hole which is kind of fun—Hubble spotted this over the span of 20 years, and it was able to see this happening at the center of galaxy NGC 3862, 260 million light years away, because the supermassive black hole propelled the plasma up to 98% of the speed of light!
 
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Listening to free audiobook recordings of the Sherlock Holmes short stories got me on the path of this amazing and extremely rough : p coincidence in common or once common systems of measurement: a league is to a mile as a parsec is to a light year as the circumference is to the diameter. Right? Sorta? Spoooky.
 
 
 
 
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  Space mice grow thin skinsMay 28, 2015 5:22 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Mice in space develop thin skin declares a new BBC article—but it isn't that space mice take insults to heart more than Earth mice, it's that, after 91 days on the ISS, the skin of three test mice was actually thinner than normal. Also, the hair follicles on it were stuck in "grow" mode. While only a small scale test, so its findings can't be considered conclusive, it may start to help explain why "astronauts tend to experience increased skin irritation and find that minor wounds, such as scratches and abrasions, take longer to heal." It is thought that these changes are due to the relative lack of gravity in orbit, and they could have serious implications for extended exploration of space by humans—not to mention their mice.
 
 
 
 
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  Finding supermassive black hole binariesMay 27, 2015 1:14 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:A post on Google+ led me to a recent research paper succinctly titled A Periodically Varying Luminous Quasar at z=2 from the Pan-STARRS1 Medium Deep Survey: A Candidate Supermassive Black Hole Binary in the Gravitational Wave-Driven Regime. It's a bit technical, but the upshot is that a) lots of galaxies should have not just one but *multiple* supermassive black holes at or near their centers, because this is what you'll have, at least for a while, after galaxies have collided, since each galaxy would have its own central supermassive black hole to throw into the mix, and b) these supermassive black hole binaries ("SMBHBs" :) should be detectable by looking for tell-tale variability in the light they give off—oh, and c) the researchers think they've found one using that method: quasar PSO J334.2028+01.4075, about 10 and a half billion light years away from Earth. And they think lots lots more will be found once this type of analysis is applied on a large scale!
 
 
 
 
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  Pushing too hard on the merry-go-roundMay 26, 2015 12:32 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:I made a silly animated gif out of today's page and posted it on my tumblr, because that seemed like a good idea.
 
 
 
 
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  Cool people just show you one eye at a timeMay 23, 2015 11:03 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:I need to make it an iron-clad rule to draw just one eye on people in close-ups, because two eyes is just too hard. . P Anyway if you want to see all the white ink I tend to pile up over one eye or the other in the actual A* artwork, you can take advantage of the Big A* Original Art Sale that is going on now and buy one of the actual physical paintings behind the comic pages—for just $10! Just look for the gold "original art" at the lower left corner of a comic page as you're reading through: the pages with that gold link are still available for purchase, and clicking the link will take you to their shopping page with more views and info about the piece.
 
Thanks to all the people who have bought pages so far—I now have more room in my closet for all the future A* artwork I have to do! ^_^
 
 
 
 
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  Care Less, Paint Better?May 22, 2015 6:08 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page: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.
 
 
 
 
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  At least her neck is warmMay 21, 2015 5:22 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page: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! : )
 
 
 
 
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  Gettin' it doneMay 20, 2015 4:31 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Boy, I'm really doing an awful job of sticking to 24 hour days during the week. Darn that time management thing! Hmph!
 
 
 
 
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  Russian rocket fails--but is this bad?May 19, 2015 1:06 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page: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!
 
 
 
 
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  The Big A* Original Art Sale wants you!May 16, 2015 10:50 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page: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:
 
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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!
 
 
 
 
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  Pencil or paint?May 15, 2015 9:30 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page: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)
 
 
 
 
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  BBC's free Asimov "Foundation" dramatizationMay 14, 2015 7:38 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page: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!
 
 
 
 
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  Note to self:May 13, 2015 3:48 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page: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
 
 
 
 
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  Emergency old comic salvage op!May 12, 2015 12:02 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page: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!
 
 
 
 
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  More A* original art for sale!May 09, 2015 8:45 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page: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!
 
 
 
 
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  From the first 50 years of lunar photographyMay 08, 2015 2:50 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:This University of Cambridge page has three photos of the Moon from 1890 ("taken by brothers Paul and Prosper Henry (telescope makers), Paris Observatory") that are really worth checking out! So close-up and detailed, and they really captured some great lighting of the craters—if you ever want reference for drawing cratery space surfaces, these could be useful! Besides all that, the way they're composed is quite artful. I didn't realize the Moon looked this rad back in 1890. : o (Compare to what I blogged about back in November: the first photo of the Moon (or any celestial object, for that matter), taken by John William Draper in 1840.)
 
I found out about 1890 photos from a tumblr post by Humanoid History.
 
 
 
 
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  Ooohhhh, art!May 07, 2015 2:45 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Oh man, so frustrated with the drawing and painting right now! Oh well, at least that got me thinking up some things to try (one for drawing, two for painting!). Although probably I'm just overthinking the whole thing. : P
 
 
 
 
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  Lots of sketches to show, better get startedMay 06, 2015 12:48 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page: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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Thanks everyone for the support, it keeps A* going!
 
 
 
 
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  Nobody ever accused me of being too sharpMay 05, 2015 12:57 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:I got the latest month of A* e-book rewards emailed out to Patreon supporters (at the e-book reward level : ) over the weekend. Also got some Patreon reward sketches mailed out—gradually catching up on those!
 
Also spent way too much time starting to reprocess the comic images for the last three episodes or so with a much stronger sharpening effect (I had settled on Photoshop's "Sharpen More" at 80% opacity, as opposed to my usual "Sharpen" ("Sharpen" = Sharpen More at 50% opacity)), and I had episode 25 all replaced online with really sharp versions for most of Sunday, but then I realized it was a bit too hard on the eyes—and if I think some part of some image is too blurry, well, it's my own darn fault for not painting it in high enough contrast. : P So that's something I'll try to do a better job of!
 
 
 
 
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  A* art show at Lighthouse Roasters, SeattleMay 02, 2015 8:05 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Got a new show of A* art up today! It's at Lighthouse Roasters in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood (map)—17 A* pieces for your viewing pleasure, expertly framed by my dad, who also helped me rig them all up on the walls there, which is no mean feat with their deluxe double suspension line hanging system. Thanks dad (as well as the other folks instrumental in these things, who know who they are : )! The A* artwork will be looming there for the whole month of May. Check out the swank little feature about the show right there on their site at the link above. : )
 
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Speaking of art showing, the Big A* Original Art Sale is entering its third mighty week right here on this site, and the two ink pieces I featured last week both ended up selling, so I guess I'd better point out a few more! These are just examples, mind you; the sale applies to all pieces of art for sale through this site—each one is just $10! Yep that's right, you too can snap up the original 16"x6.75" watercolor paintings I make each day for A*'s comic pages, as well as any of my ink illustrations, pencil drawings, painting experiments or whatnot, all for just $10 a pop. : o Look for the gold "original art" link at the lower left of the comic images, or for a similar "buy" link next to artwork in the episode galleries.
 
Okay so the examples still available for sale at the time of this writing that I'm picking this week are two quite recent ones! The first features Selenis in action, cannon fire, and explosions—what more could anyone ask for? : o And the second is a detailed and moody portrait of Selenis that I only just made available for the sale, since I had extended its initial appearance, on eBay, for an extra week after a buyer there asked if I could keep it available a bit longer. But now it's up for the free-for-all that is the Big A* Original Art Sale here, so have at it! Clicking either thumbnail image below will take you to that piece's shopping screen with a big photo of the actual painting in my hands, and more details:
 
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And there are still plenty of others left to buy, just keep an eye out for that gold "original art" link at each image's lower left corner as you flip through the comic. : ) Thanks to everyone who's been buying the art!
 
 
 
 
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  The Show Must Go UpMay 01, 2015 6:25 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Me and some other folks are gonna be hanging up a new show of framed A* artwork here in Seattle this afternoon. : ) I'll reveal the secret location tomorrow!
 
... Also I may have used Baywatch and the Hoff as a bit of reference for today's page >_> Thanks, Google! : o
 
 
 
 
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