Come on Sydney, you skate on one kinda racist thing, and your next sentence is “Since you’re not white…” She sort of has a point though. In my experience, white people’s name generally don’t mean anything. My name is David, and if you look up David on baby naming sites, they’ll tell you David means king or beloved, but it doesn’t really. There was just a David of note who happened to be a king. No one speaking English stands on the bow of a ship and yells “I’m the David of the world!” In Japanese, Hana means flower. It’s also a common girls name, that or Hanako, which means Flower Child. Aki means Autumn. It’s also a woman’s name, as is Akiko. (Autumn Child) “Ko” means child if you weren’t picking up on that. Akira is a boy’s name that also means “A seminal work that anyone into anime should see if for no other reason as to round out their literacy of the genre. Also it has an amazing soundtrack, and a space scene that has no sound at all cause it’s space and that’s awesome.”
That’s not to say there aren’t any white people with names that actually mean something, (Summer, May, June, Sky(e), etc) but generally they just mean that their parents like that name. Maybe other cultures are the same way, but I get the impression that outside of white American culture, names tend to have a bit more meaning, unless of course your is also that of a famous person from a religious text or literature. That may just be my own Amero-centric perspective. It’s certainly Sydney’s anyway.
Edit: I meant to add this along with the post but I forgot. I gave Xochitl a side cut on a whim because I’ve recently decided it’s basically my favorite hairstyle on a gal. I tend to go for that Suicide Girl look anyway for some reason. It was only after I drew her that it occurred to me that it makes her look a bit Mohican (or at least the Hollywood representation thereof) so at the last minute I decided to add the mini comic to address it. Really, the flexible Uniform Dress Code going on around Arc-SWAT pretty much deserves it’s own full page, so I may yet do that, but in the meantime I didn’t want people to think Xochitl’s appearance was based on my idea of what Aztecs are supposed to look like.
If you’re not familiar with the Boston area accent, Xochitl sounds a lot like Nancy from 30 Rock.
I’m a fan of 4th wall humor, as long as it’s not abused. I think the last time Sydney did it was way back on page 54, so I’m comfortable I’m not overdoing it. I recently started watching Magnum P.I. on Netflix (along with this rewatch podcast) Every episode someone mugs to the camera. Then again, Abed from Community is basically 4th wall incarnate, and I dig that show, so I guess I’m down as long as it’s handled with care.
Today’s page again colored by Keith.
I have more multi tipped screwdrivers than I have any reasonable need for. Every time I go into a home improvement store, I feel a compulsion to buy one. Or a LED flashlight. It’s the same compulsion I get when I go into a comic shop. It’s nearly impossible for me to leave without a new set of dice.
Ren’s powers aren’t really just super speed and strength. It’s really more reflexes than speed. He can move very fast, but it’s not the sort of super speed that lets him outrun a race car. “Super adrenaline” is really more of his elevator pitch for his powers. There’s more to them than that, but I should get out of the habit of trying to explain everything on one or two pages right as it’s introduced. It’s ok to throw an idea out there then revisit it later when that person is doing something with their power in a more show don’t tell fashion, or more realistically for me, show and also tell. It’s something I’d like to try and transition the comic to. More explain as it happens rather than people standing around talking about stuff.
#MakeComics: I hear people ask artists if they use a lot of references when they draw. It depends on what you already know how to draw and what you’re drawing. I’m generally pretty good with anatomy, but my webcam folder is full of shots of my own hands, and I always need pictures of expressions and heads in different angles. And expressions in different angles. In addition to those usual references, here are some other things I searched for to use as references:
Hallway: for lighting reference in panel 6. The “corner” behind Ren is supposed to be a wall that ends at the lightswitch, then the blueish wall is a perpendicular hallway leading to another room, but I couldn’t figure out how to make the lighting look right. Still need to work on that. The problem with googling “hallways” is that almost every shot I could find was just a photo taken straight down a hallway, no hallways connecting to a room. I googled “kitchens” after that looking for rooms with connecting hallways and didn’t have much luck. My human bodies/faces/hands reference folders (and pre-existing knowledge) are pretty flush. Obviously my architectural knowledge, and the lighting thereof need some supplementing.
On the previous page I searched for “firing range” “shooting range” “military firing range” in order to find some common signage you’d find in such places to populate some of the background with, but 99% of the stuff I found was shots looking downrange or across the shooting… area. You know, all the people doing the shooting. I searched for “firing range signage” and still got really sucky results, but eventually found one sign about “Always treat your gun as if it was loaded” yadda yadda.
Then I came to the thing I needed a reference for that I though would be super easy to find on the interwebs: “Woman smushing boobs together” It’s not that I needed reference for the boobs, it was the hand position I was having trouble with. I had surprisingly poor results, so I tried variants; “Woman squeezing boobs” “smushed boobs” “squeezing boobs” Really poor results. I think the problem is people don’t name photos “woman squeezing boobs” they name the picture “Angela_showing_off_the_girls.jpg” and google has no idea what’s in the picture other than Angela and girls.
So I turned to crowdsourcing my search on Twitter, figuring someone had a folder on their computer of this exact thing. I wound up getting a few people who thought I was asking for selfies, and I’m not going to say no to that (after making it clear I wasn’t looking for anything explicit) So thanks very much those who contributed. You can see the results on this page. I’m not sure why Harem is hefting herself other than that’s what I pictured her doing when I wrote her dialog.
It must be an oversight that I haven’t included The Hero Biz on my list of recommended webcomics. I think I’ve linked to it before, but it should live over there. It’s basically a superhero comic strip from Arianna’s point of view. The Director of PR character actually looks rather a lot like her. Anyway, they’re running a kickstarter, so check out the comic and then the kickstarter if’n you like what you see.
From what I understand about basic, you spend a fair amount of time learning about guns before you get to use them. Seems sensible enough. Sydney is joining mid stream here, so it’s a fair bet no one will hand her a loaded gun today.
Part of me didn’t want to roll out a bunch of new characters at this point if for no other reason that the more characters in the bank, the less screen time each one gets. This is obviously where Sydney would meet the other recruits though, so we’ll need to do introductions. Also I think they’re all generally entertaining. I’m just saying there were only so many Barkley episodes because the officers generally got the bulk of the dialog. There are actually only two of them that haven’t appeared in the comic to date though. Ren and the gal with the side cut. Blondie appeared way back when Harem yoinked all the boys’ shirts. Jiggawatt is the only one who got to show off at the press conference because her powers make for such a good show.
That’s Shawn the ex-Seal in the firing range, I realize he’s probably hard to recognize without his hat and seal shirt.
It occurs to me that half the gags in this comic seem to come from the fact that I get bored drawing talking head panels, so I throw the dialog to captions and draw whatever nonsense I like. Seems to work out ok, but sometimes those panels wind up being smaller than I’d like cause I’ve already drawn the rest of the page. In case you can’t read it, the three in the background of the last panel have Wrath, Lust and Gluttony written on them.
I have no idea if ooblek normally has much if any tensile strength when you smack it like Claire is having to do in panel 5, so I don’t know if that particular setup would work, except to say of course it would since that deathtrap uses the kind of ooblek that does have incredible tensile which makes it perfect for that sort of 2 person deathtrap.
Predictably, Claire is the competent explorer, and her bumbling friend was the one who touched the idol that gave her the somewhat unreliable powers of Distress Damsel. I tell you, if Empowered wasn’t already a thing, I could totally do a Distress Damsel comic. You know, along with Grrl Power, Demon High and Grrl Power After Dark of course. (And two others I have ideas for that are super smutty.) If I could have any power from my comic, it would definitely be Harem’s.
Oobtek is brought to us by Machina Industries predictably. It almost sounds ridiculous to have armor made out of goo, but I didn’t make this up. This exists in the real world, at least in prototype form. Apply it over kevlar and it’s practically impossible to get a shiv through it. Its ability to dissuade even armor piecing bullets is significantly improved as well. Google “oobleck armor” for a bunch of info about it.
The Oobtek inserts were my idea, so I don’t know how realistic that is, but we can assume Machina Industries has razor edge tech which at the very least prevents the Oobtek from just pooling in the bottom of each pouch. The inserts more than double the weight of the AFDs, but enormously distribute the energy of any sort of blow. By the way in the third panel, Ashley isn’t saying armor piercing pistol rounds are no sweat for the AFD’s, he’s letting her know where the definite cutoff is. The take home message for these outfits is, as with any armor; “don’t get shot, but if you do, you have a better chance of not dying, assuming you don’t get hit in the neck or head. It will still probably hurt.”
The major disadvantage to this sort of material is that I imagine it probably doesn’t breathe well. The Kevlar/ooblek stuff I found online looks like waterproof canvas, so probably hot and generally not that comfortable. We’ll assume the Q-vex/Oobtek version overcomes this to some degree, as well as lining the inside with a wicking fabric that channels sweat to the seams. They’re still working on variations for extreme environments, but as a domestic force they don’t have to be worried about being deployed in a 120 F desert unless some supervillain decides to build his base in Death Valley. You’d think that would happen more often just for the name and the ambiance, but finding henchmen willing to make that commute is tough.
The “officially because the materials weren’t ready” line is my oh so clever way of covering my own butt for not having designed these outfits earlier. I originally had planned to have the team in variants of Maxima’s green outfit with the leather trim, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted them looking more like actual soldiers, so I’ll have to come up with a reason they have the green and brown outfits. I think it was a paramilitary outfit that Maxima liked to wear that got slowly adapted into the teams outfits until the Q-vex stuff was ready. Or maybe those are their casual patrolling outfits, whereas the one Sydney’s in now would be what they put on under their vests and tactical gear when they’re going door kicking.
The pattern on her outfit is based on the “Scorpion W2″ pattern that will be replacing the digital one we’ve come to know over the last decade or so. Apparently the digital one has some issues in certain environments. It’s too bad because it looks nice and distinctive, whereas the Scorpion W2 kind of just looks like the old green and brown forest cameo with slightly different squiggles on it. Of course “looking neat” isn’t the point of camo at all. Except in the case of Arc-SWAT it kind of is. They’re military, yes, but they’re not going to be hiding in bushes waiting to ambush patrolling supervillians. (Ok, Peggy might.) They’re cops, and they’re supposed to be noticed, but they’re also supposed to look military. This outfit was the compromise they came up with.
On an almost completely unrelated note: Did you know “The Old Man” from Robocop also played Grigg in The Last Starfighter? I was surprised when I learned that but now I can’t not hear it.
Sydney’s next assignment is apparently having the PR lady review all the news that’s been published about her since she got up a few hours ago. Obviously Sydney had a lot more to say to the press than we saw in the few pages we got of her at the comic shop. Arianna can’t get too mad at her – if they wanted to keep her away from the press entirely they should have sequestered her in the base overnight. There were so many other things going on after the fight last night that that detail slipped through the cracks. Yeah, I just used a sentence with “that that” in it.
Sydney is awfully fidgety on this page. She keeps changing position in her chair. Maybe she has to pee.
Mentioning my Patreon in the comment here for the first time in a while brought in a few more pledges, so thanks to everyone who’s jumped on board. (And of course thanks to everyone who’s been on board). I try not to be obnoxious about self promotion and hat-in-handing cause I know people are here to just read a comic and not be harassed like I’m some obnoxious street vendor. “Superheroes, get your superheroes right here. Naw, we ain’t gots no Superman or Spidermens, we got those, whatcha call it, lady superheroes. No sharp edges like the Bat Guy. Much easier on the eyes. Hey don’t walk away, at least take a flyer!” On the other hand, I’m pretty bad at self promotion so there’s probably balance somewhere in between. Speaking of self promotion, check out the vote incentive if you haven’t. Or even if you have. You can comment on it here.
As many words as there are in English, if you write enough you keep coming across situations where you find there isn’t a word that means what you need it to mean. That or you just don’t know it, which is usually the case for me. This time I was looking for a word that means “the thing that makes you mad” I wound up using the word “trigger” as in “people’s pet trigger.” The problem is trigger has its own meaning and while it works here, it skews Sydney’s meaning a bit. It obviously a little subjective, but it would be ideal if there was a word that meant exactly “the thing that makes you mad” and had no association with any kind of past trauma. I googled a bunch of stuff, hit the online thesaurus and asked on twitter, but trigger was the closest thing to what I was thinking of. Hot button issue, hulk out topic (different from Hot Topic), I just wanted a single word that meant the thing I wanted it to. I’d make up my own word and try to slip it in to general usage via social media (which wouldn’t help me with this page) but for some reason I am enormously bad at making up words. The stuff I come up with sounds like Melmacian Holidays. Sclab-flurmin… gorf. I’m also enormously bad at any kind of letter jumble game like the one on Countdown. I’m assuming those things are related. Anyway, after this big honking paragraph on the subject, I expect someone will immediately post “the word you’re looking for is ______ you big dummy.”
Non Seguitur*: This is a pretty cool looking tool. A virtual tabletop space with video chat, multi layered maps, music, the works. I just found it so it might be janky but I thought I’d share. Too bad I don’t have time for tabletop RPGs these days.
* A portmantau of “segue” and “non sequitur”
This page is admittedly a bit goofier than Grrl Power tends to get, the fashion ninjas are definitely a bit Gold Digger-y, but I’m ok with that. Besides, having actual ninjas hanging around Archon HQ is probably pretty good for security, even if they’re more concerned with your hemline than poisoning people from the rafters.
So, the fabrikinetic tailor here is the first Patreon funded cameo in a while, via Adam Glocker. (Have I mentioned lately how much I appreciate the support?) I really should have worked his name on to the page so he’d be on the Who’s Who. (The tailor’s, not Adam’s.) The ninjas too. Bleh. Anyway, for easy reference his name is Ashley and his handle is Iron Cloth. This cameo is a bit weird because I had considered a fabrikinetic for the comic already as an antagonist. I had stuck him firmly in the maybe column because lets be real, someone who can control clothing vs a team of largely female super heroes? I wasn’t sure how that would end without a furiously nude Maxima removing his spine and putting it back in upside down. When Adam’s cameo character had the same power as my maybe guy, I figured I’d un-maybe him and let Adam’s character’s details flesh out a lot of details I hadn’t considered. Most of which don’t make it on to this page but will eventually be revealed.
Think of him as a fabric controlling version of “The Paper” from Read or Die, (if you haven’t seen it, don’t spoil anything by clicking on the link. Just track down the three episode OVA and watch it) which in a weird way makes him one of the more powerful members of the team. He’s not a proper member of Arc-SWAT though, he’s actually in Arc-SPARQ, which is ARCHON’s collection of engineers, tinkerers and inventors. He’s more interested in plying his power and craft for the benefit of the team as a whole, as well as making a healthy living in the private sector.
The Theiss room mentioned on the last page, as many of you immediately figured out, is a reference to William Ware Theiss, the venerated costume designer for the original Star Trek series. He is known for his Theiss Titillation Theory which basically says that the sexiness of an outfit is directly proportional to the possibility that a vital piece of it might fall off. This isn’t to say everyone who goes into the room comes out with a side-boob revealing costume held together with the glue they use on sticky notes, just that they had to name the room something, and the people who did had a bit of a sense of humor.
Flaky Pastry is one of my favorite webcomics and is also 10! Check them out if you haven’t. It’s not about pastries.
I guess Maxima made her save, which means she’s only 50% affected. It was the double whammy of the puppy dog eyes combined with Sydney asking if she got Max in trouble instead of being defensive or even contrite. Sydney will eventually bring the comic book day issue up again, but right now she’s got that feeling like just scrambled on to the boat after a shark she didn’t know was there brushed against her leg.
The answer to the question I posed under the previous page as to whether you’re a private on the first day of boot camp or the last was a resounding “it depends on what branch you’re in” So I think for Archon, Sydney will remain a recruit until she’s finished basic. Seeing characters advance is always fun.
If you missed it, Maxima makes a cameo in Superbitch. I guess in case the whole Archon thing doesn’t work out.
I am working on a new vote incentive, I know the current one is a bit stale.
Sydney seems to have escaped relatively unscathed… for now.
I may need to futz with the dialog on the page a little. For instance I’m not sure if “the thanks of the office of the president” is too much, like if that carries some sort of official recognition or if that’s just how you talk when you’re president. Also I’m not sure how the prez would actually address her. “Miss Scoville” seems ok, but then he’s the Commander in Chief and she’s in the military now, so it seems like he should call her either “Recruit Scoville” or “Private Scoville” only, I’m not sure at what point she would actually become a private. Is it the first day of boot camp, or the last? She’s been rolled out in the PR event, but she hasn’t been issued her gear yet or even taught how to salute. She’s basically just stepped off the bus. I probably should have asked on Twitter before this page went up but I assumed I’d have to tweak it a little in any case.
Things I learned while drawing this page: when women put their hair in a bun (or anyone with long hair I guess) there’s this spongy donut thing or a rolled up sock with a hole in the toe inside the bun to give it shape. I just assumed it was all hair. It’s possible to do it with all hair, but then the bun is usually hollow and keeps its shape largely due to hairspray. I was looking up acceptable military hairstyles for women to make sure I was getting Max’s hair right. I think her bun might be a little low but lets ignore that for now. If I was a gal in the military I’d just go all G.I. Jane for the duration instead of having to walk around with 27 bobby pins in my hair all the time. On the one hand you’d have an ample supply of lockpicks if you need them, on the other hand you’d be screwed if Magneto attacked.
This must have been pre-ARCHON.
No, Sydney… just no. You don’t go barging in whatever room you like in a military facility. She’s done some bone headed things in the past. This may top the list. Well, it’s in the top ten anyway, this is Sydney we’re talking about here.
There was a tiny part of me that wanted to make the last panel Sydney just looking over her shoulder and going “Oh, hey.” but Sydney’s not quite that sedate.
Maxima’s not the most regimented commander in the armed forces, still, I assume Sydney’s in for about a million hours of night watch or whatever would happen in this situation. It may be unprecedented.
Normally to get a slot in the Who’s Who, someone has to have a speaking part on the page as well as be introduced in the comic by name. I thought it was ok to make an exception in this case. General Faulk’s aide speaks but hasn’t been named, which is ok because I haven’t thought of a name for him yet. He’s the same guy from way back on this page, though now that I look like it I realize his hair is the wrong color… and the wrong style… and his shirt is different. Ok, maybe it should be a different guy. I really should not rely on my own memory for reference.
Colors on this page provided again by Keith. This time with far less touch up on my part.
Edit: Many people have already pointed out that this would probably never happen due to layers of security in a facility like this. Yes, you’re probably right, but in my defense, this isn’t a classified meeting taking place. It’s a North American-Super-Mutual-Defense-and-Public-Relations type meeting, as evidenced by Arianna being in attendance, as well as (and I don’t expect anyone to recognize them) the press secretaries of the US and Canada. (and probably Mexico, but I ran out of room) So slightly lower security on the room. Besides Sydney’s already made it through all the other security, and there was just the one door in her way. Maybe the aide came out to greet her.
As far as using recognizable people like this, yes it can create a problem with “comic time” later on, but that’s just the nature of comics. Besides, this is supposed to be our Earth now, just with supers going public. Also this gag wouldn’t have worked well if I had just drawn some statesmanly looking guy with an arrow saying “President” pointing at him.
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The good ‘ol Paypal tip jar, good for hit and run donations.