This page is exists almost entirely due to the fact that when I’m descending in an airplane, I have enormous trouble telling where I am. Mind you this is on the return trip – when I’m coming home to the city I’ve lived in for ~20 years. Obviously I know I’m near and/or heading toward the airport, and sometime I can pick out a massive landmark like a huge mall, but if I’m high enough and can’t read the store names, I’m not positive which mall it is. Also, you’d think one of those big mix masters on the highway would clue you in to which road you’re above, but a sufficiently large city has one every 5-10 miles, so you can guess but you still might be off by quite a bit.
This is mostly my own fault. I mean besides the fact that everything looks different from above when you’re used to seeing it from 6 feet off the ground, but for all the time I’ve spent living in Dallas, I really don’t know it very well. 90% of my haunts are probably within 10 miles of where I live. Once every 3-4 months I’ll wander down into Dallas proper for one reason or another but considering the size of the DFW metroplex I really don’t go exploring a lot. That’s why when I spot a mall from the air “near the airport” I still rarely have any idea where I really am. Sydney’s probably the same way, most of her regular destinations are ~10 miles from where she lives, with the odd trip out further to the specialty game store or a small comic convention in a satellite city. If she wanders too far off her beaten path without a working GPS she can get lost real quick.
That top panel took like six hours. :…..( While I have a functional understanding of perspective, a city scape like that is more or less beyond me, at least making it look convincing. So my solution was to take several photos and stitch them together, then use that as a base to paint from. That’s harder to do than it sounds cause finding aerial photos taken at roughly the same altitude can be tedious, plus most of the pictures I found were either taken smack in the middle of the downtown area, were suburbs with nothing but residential housing, or they were countryside and farmland. Maybe I’m bad at Google but industrial urban sprawl aerial shots all in the right perspective were few and far between. Once I have the reference pictures melded together I wind up fudging a lot of details anyway, but it’s useful to have the base to work from. I do that partially cause I don’t want to just plop a photo in there, even with attribution and permission I’d still want to paint over it, and partially because I want to be vague about what city they’re based in, at least until I decide it’s relevant to the story to establish it. The point is the characters may fly over this exact spot a lot. :)
It occurs to me that I didn’t draw Sydney with a purse. I gave her a little blue one in some of the early pages when she was at the bank but then I completely forgot about it for the next 250 pages. Even though she doesn’t carry cosmetics around with her, it seems unlikely she’d be able to get by with just a phone and wallet in one pocket and keys in the other. (And The List in her back pocket) Yes, if she was only running to a grocery store and back maybe, but she’s leaving her apartment for the day. Very few women are so minimalist. I don’t blame them. If I could carry around a purse like thing that was acceptable for a man, I would fill it with all kinds of garbage. The perfect example is a shoulder bag I bought for carrying stuff around conventions. It’s exactly the right height and width to fit an iPad, but obviously it’s deeper than that with three separate zippable compartments. Now it has, in addition to a small sketchpad, some pencils, a phone charger with 4 separate USB outlets on it and the appropriate cables attached, and a small stack of the postcards I use to pimp the comic (perfect for a convention naturally), it has every adapter known to mankind so I can hook the iPad up to any video display, with the possible exception of UHF. The bag is now weighs 18 pounds. Oh, also one of those very small screwdrivers with all the interchangeable heads stored in the handle. Because I’m a guy.
March snuck the hell up on me. :P I seriously thought there was like a week left in February. :/ Edit: The vote incentive is finished finally!
It’s weird seeing Sydney in a different colored shirt, but this ain’t no Hanna Barbara cartoon. If you’re wondering where the orbs are in the first few panels, she stuffed them back in the tube.
I’d like to draw Sydney with different hairstyles every now and then, but braids are much more time consuming to draw and color than ponytails, and French Braids are a straight up pain in the ass. I got distracted with the braid step by step (there’s even an additional panel of that sequence I penciled but cut before I started inking) and meant to show Sydney covering up her bruise with cosplay supplies. Obviously her makeup box would be inadequate for the task. The only things in it are chapstick, which Sydney considers to be makeup, probably a light shade of lipstick, and only because it has sunblock built in, an eyeliner pencil that she used once but stabbed herself in the eye, and a bunch of different colored hair ties.
The disadvantage of working at 600 dpi is it’s sometimes hard to gauge how legible little details will be at web size, so here’s a closeup of the package on the counter.
If I was a girl and had a choice of birth control, I would definitely go with the one with the funny name. BTW this doesn’t imply Sydney has a boyfriend at the moment, a lot of women use the pill to moderate their symptoms and even control when they get their period to some degree.
I’m sure no woman has ever done this. I’m also fairly certain most women have wanted to. Yes that’s right, Book 2 opens with our heroine punching herself in the ovaries. That should set the tone nicely. Eventually I will go back in and draw a splash page to insert before this one indicating the new chapter.
I thought a lot about whether book 2 would just start with the next day or jump ahead a few months, maybe to catch us up with the flash forward at the beginning of the comic, but I knew if I did that, then half the comic would wind up being flashbacks to Sydney going through basic training because there’s a whole lot of humor to mine there. Plus my favorite part of most superhero stories is the origin tale slash discovery phase where they’re learning about their powers and limitations. (Except when a movie studio is rebooting a franchise for the third time and for some reason feel the need to retread the origin story. It’s like sitting through a long joke that you already know the punchline to. Everybody knows Superman is from Krypton and Spider-Man got bitten by a spider!) But don’t worry, day two will not take another 300 pages to get through, in fact I think book two should cover several weeks of time.
Also, evidently Sydney’s version of quarters is played with 20-siders – although the 20-sider in panel 5 seems to be sitting outside of her bowel, which is… concerning, now that I think about it. In any case I may have taken some liberties with the background of that panel. Sydney does not, for example, have a broken Guyver unit where one of her kidneys should be. The dragon thing is probably true though.
I don’t envy women for having to wear bras (also known as boob jail), or buy them certainly, they can get quite pricey, but getting to take them off at the end of the day, that’s got to be a good feeling. Nearly on par with taking your socks off and slipping them around under the sheets right when you go to bed.
This is actually the last page of book 1. It’s kind of a weird tone with the succubus recharging bit, but really the point of the page was trying to tie back into the flash forward from the first few pages. I will level with you guys, when I started doing the comic five years ago, I really hadn’t thought all the way through to the end of the book. I thought the only good way to do it was to at least partially address the point of contention from the role playing game, namely lasers vs. transparent things. Obviously if Sydney was trying to claim that lasers should go through transparent shields and everyone at the game knew Sydney was a superhero with a shield that blocked lasers (which they did) someone would have pointed that out to her. I maaaaay go back and edit a line in those first few pages to read something like “I didn’t buy that advantage for OmniGal, so KopyKraut* can’t have it either.” so it all ties in better. I don’t think that would change the feel of those early pages.
As far as sticking a succubus sex joke in (really it’s a Sydney gets embarrassed joke) it does bother me a little when people include succubi in stories that never really act a lot like succubi. It’s like writing a story about Vampires that never drink blood. Besides I like the “I’m in the middle of something/something’s in the middle of me” flip, and you guys can have fun speculating on who it is that will be sleeping it off tomorrow cause all his, uh, electrolytes have been drained. Yeah… electrolytes.
In case I don’t say it enough, I really appreciate the support you guys have given me-slash-the comic over the years, and not just financially… though without the success of the Patreon campaign, I’d still be working an 8-5 job and we’d only be halfway though fight right now. Granted I might have edited it down a bit harder but still it’s a depressing thought. I never take it for granted, every day I don’t have to waste an hour and a half being completely unproductive while commuting, or just straight up working at a job that I only care about because it pays the bills I want to jump around and be all “Yeah, take that “the man!”” It’s been quite a journey from thinking “I should make a webcomic” to now, and I’m eager to get to book 2, starting Monday!
*Yay for intercaps!
Sydney does talk like Zim on occasion.
Why settle into bed gently when you can slam into it mid laugh? For those of you wondering, Sydney used to go with the geeky sheets, but eventually she decided she wears her geekdom on her sleeve enough already, and generally speaking you can get better quality sheets if they’re not concerned about having Star Wars or She-Ra printed on them. This was originally the last page book 1 but I realized I needed to address at least one more thing, so the next page wraps it up and then we’re off to book 2!
Most of the posters in Sydney’s room are movie posters, but the one above her computer is a Rainbow Dash I found at DeviantArt (used with permission :)
Be sure to check out the Valentine’s Day Sex Drive picture I did this year (NSFW, as are all the participants). I particularly like the Star Cross’d Destiny submission as well, so be sure to check that one out through their vote incentive, and check out the comic too (click on the comic thumbnail on the left.) The main character tends to look a bit like Maxima at times. She does have purple hair, but she only looks like she has gold skin occasionally because Blair, the artist, actually takes colored lighting into account when she colors. :)
I hope to have the vote incentive updated by next weekend, but I’m having some much needed foundation work done on my house this week and that involves jackhammering through the floor in a few places in my office, disassembling the computer and general distractions as I have to deal with all that stuff, so we’ll see.
The more I think about it, the more I think this page should have come before the previous one. I’d have to redraw Sydney without the peacoat though. I may do that when I do my editing for the book cause I think it flows a little better that way. In any case, this isn’t quite the last page of the book, but it is the last page in which that parking lot appears for a long time, Xenu willing.
Let me break this page down by rows since there’s a lot going on. Maxima might say this outright in the comic at some point, but she wouldn’t mind sporting a crooked nose since some people would consider it a -1 to comeliness, which is fine with her, and it makes her look more like a scrapper. The problem with that is she doesn’t want to walk around sporting any particular villain’s trophy injury on her face.
Achilles winds up being either enormously useful in fights, or gets pinned under rubble/tossed over the horizon. It’s about 50/50. Also, what the hell is that poster tube made out of?
Some people have a chronic nervous laugh, some people have something called the Pseudobulbar affect, which is actually a neurological disorder or can be caused by a brain lesion. It causes uncontrollable laughter or sometimes crying. I assume the Joker has this affliction. Deus… just seems to be privy to a joke only he gets. I think I should draw a tablet or something in his hand in that last panel, otherwise it looks like he was staring out the window down at the parking, and his building is nowhere near that fight. Also I realized after I finished the page that I should have revisited the dramatic lightning gag in panel 9, but if I put lightning behind him, then the “oops, busted” look over his shoulder wouldn’t work right. :P
Whoops. Well, I’m a big dummy, set this to post at the wrong time. Oh well, enjoy the early comic!
A quasi montage page for you guys to wrap up a few items, including a little cheat by me to explain why the highway outside a restaurant at dinner time was curiously devoid of cars. (even though there should have been some on the first few pages of the fight. :P ) Oh, and in that panel, Sydney’s just doing one of her unnecessary truesight sweeps. That cop isn’t really an oni or anything. Also, I really like the idea that teleporters startling people. I don’t ever recall anyone jumping when Nightcrawler bamfed into a room. I imagine it’s happened a few times over the many years of comics, but not with enough consistency that I recall it being a thing.
Arguably this page would serve well as the final page in the book, but I have just a few more things to get to first. Nearly there though. It’s exciting! Of course, once book one is finished for realsies, I need to go back and make a bunch of corrections and set about getting the book put together for a kickstarter, which is utterly daunting since I already barely have any spare time. I think I may put out a call for a part time colorist, which I know was a milestone for the Patreon campaign, but it turns out finding someone good enough, fast enough, cheap enough and available enough is a tall order. I’ll make a separate post about that in the next few weeks I think.
I don’t have an update for the vote incentive quite yet cause I’m working on a Valentine’s Day Sex Drive piece concurrently. I’m trying something new with the coloring on it which may turn out nice but it’s taking longer than I’d like, but I’m hoping to have it done in time as well as the vote piece before the end of the month.
This page should help wrap up some unanswered (and possibly unasked) questions. Harem’s the obvious choice for this since she can interview 5 people at once. Well, 4 at the moment. “Vanilla” Harem got her wrist broken and is currently un-teleported.
After I drew the panel of Sydney smacking that fire guy into the ground, I thought it was a bit much, I mean people can break bones just from tripping. Even if I’m conservative and say what Sydney did to him was the equivalent of a 1 story fall, he’d still be really hurt.
Seneca’s never been formally introduced in the comic, but she’s shown up a few times, most notably demonstrating her sweet tooth. A page I was going to include involved her walking up to the defeated Vehemence, asking Dabbler if he absorbed violence when he was unconscious. Dabbler responds “Eh, like 10%” so Seneca kicks him and yells “That was attacking before dessert was served!” Sydney immediately admonishes her and tells her not to assault unconscious perps, and gives a thumbs up to Anvil, calling back to this page. Obviously I wound up cutting that stuff, but pretend it happened anyway.
While looking up Q words to finish out the Arc-SPARQ acronym, I came across “quaff” I always thought it meant to drink a quarter of something. I recall reading it a lot in fantasy novels. People quaff potions all the time in them, but nope! It means to slam back your drink. It’s weird when you learn a word that you thought you knew your whole life means basically the opposite of what you thought it meant. :/ Of course after trying to do actual work, I wound up just going for a funny word instead of trying to come up with a serious acronym.
Maxima’s statement about how everyone will be processed comes with a huge asterisk, primarily if anyone has any warrants out, they’ll be in trouble even if they had no part in planning the attack. I’d say warrants out for super powered crimes, but that wasn’t officially a thing up until today. “Boilerplate’s” tale of how he got recruited hints at the info they’ll collect during the debriefings, which I probably won’t actually show in the comic, but the team may get debriefed later with a short expositional summary.
Maxima arguably need some work on her diplomacy skills, something people involved with Arc-SWAT in early days were concerned with, and is one of the reasons the team has a permanent PR staff built in. Not just because of Maxima, this would be a hard sell no matter who was leading the team. At least Maxima knew not to bring up Harem’s point, even if she was thinking it. At least not yet.
Maxima also went right to the worst assumption about Hiro’s pantomime, largely because despite her general intimidatiness, she’s been hit on in far less subtle ways in the past. It’d be interesting to see who immediately got what Hiro was going for and if anyone thought what Maxima did, however fleetingly it occurred to them, and if that might be influenced by getting hit on in gross ways or at inappropriate times. (Something I’m sure is about 100 times more likely if you’re a gal. Not that guys won’t ever be in a situation like this, but let’s be real.) Max’s expression the third panel was supposed to be a mix of confused and mad, eyebrows pinched together but still angry eyes. I couldn’t quite get it right so I went with mad and surprised instead. In the final panel it’s a mix of contrition and “That was still entirely your fault.”
I think my favorite thing about this page is that Maxima is using a piece of rebar for a hair tie. (She did on the previous page but it was really small.)
I’ve finally updated the vote incentive with a probably not canon piece. I have it further along than the pencils but I spent a chunk of my afternoon watching coloring videos on youtube to see if I could up my game a little. We’ll see how that turns out.
I’ve also finally finished the book I was reading, “The Dark Lord’s Handbook” I had assumed I’d jump right to one of several superhero novels I have simmering in my kindle right after finishing it, but Handbook got rather good right toward the end and so I went and immediately got the next one. I’m eager to get through it though because I have Secrets of a D-List Supervillain, Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon, (a sequel to Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain) and Small Town Heroes (Wearing the Cape Book 4) waiting for me when I finish. Someone please make the day 8 hours longer. :/
Those of you who are not huge fans of Arianna will find this page cathartic. I’m not sure how much of the comic will be dedicated to the PR and political side of things. I suspect very little. Just the occasional reminder than it’s a thing.
A quick googling tells me it’s probably not a big deal getting properly loaded modern ammo wet. Long term storage? I assume it’s not ideal. Sure if you put it in something that’s water tight first, which if you’re going to store ammo in a well for some reason is probably how you’d do it. Sydney is less of an expert on the matter than I am, and it’s also possible she’s thinking about black powder charges or something.
Arianna isn’t about to turn to the press and lead in with the worst case version of events, she’s mostly just venting for a moment. She probably already has a plan of attack, and hopefully it’s something more nuanced than the oft-relied-upon-by-politicians flat out denial of facts.
I thing the font I used for Max’s gravelly voice might not be the best for the size it appears in the comic. Hopefully it’s legible enough, and it will only be around for a few more pages.
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