Support the HOTBLOOD! Kickstarter

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I think it’s in the contract of a guy called “the Centaur” to support the Kickstarter for the HOTBLOOD! comic – “A Centaur in the Old West!” This quirky centaur-themed comic with a “Brokeback Mountain” vibe – about a centaur secretary, his criminally minded boss, their romance, and exploding trains – completed earlier this year, and has already hit its first goal, so the HOTBLOOD! print omnibus will be, well, printed. But now the project’s just 18 hours – and 5 thousand dollars – away from the “stretch goal” which will enable Toril Orlesky to offer for free the sequel comic, Zarco, about the centaur sheriff who will track our two heroes (or villains?) down.

Toril’s art has been becoming increasingly accomplished and ambitious, and I hope you’ll all consider supporting the Kickstarter to bring the sequel to this great project to life!

-the Centaur

Unexpected Acts of Kindness

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For those of us who are hermits, it’s sometimes good to get a reminder of the great things that can happen via social support. At the recent Write to the End meeting, I stepped up as facilitator when Keiko O’Leary was delayed on a plane flight – but when she showed up, after an offhanded comment by one of the members, we all decided to pretended that she was new to the group! We asked her to introduce herself, welcomed her warmly, and explained everything as we went, which she found hilarious – and comforting, since she didn’t have to do any work handing out prompts or monitoring the time. It was a great writing session for all, and couldn’t have happened without the happy synergy of all the different people working together.

I had a similar experience at lunch at work recently – I’m a loner, and normally go off on my own to read or write my books, but I do try to join the team a few times a week. At the lunch table, thinking of one of my problems, I said: “Wouldn’t it be neat if we could apply X technology to Y”? Suddenly, EVERYONE was chiming in: one TL scoped out the problem, another coworker had great suggestions, and after twenty minutes of discussion I offered to go write it up. But I didn’t have time before I had to interview a candidate, so when I came back I found a one-pager written by a coworker. I sat down to expand it, realized my coworker had a key insight, and ended up producing a half-dozen page design doc. I may have been the first person to utter “apply X to Y” but the final idea was very much a joint product of every person at the table – and could NOT have been done alone.

As an on-again, off-again follower of Ayn Rand, I guess this is exposes one of the many flaws of traditional Objectivist thinking: its black and white nature, particularly with regards to committees. Several of Ayn Rand’s books lambast the work produced by committees, and I indeed have seen horrors produced by them – but call a committee a “brainstorming session”, and you can literally produce things which no-one could have produced alone. Of course, a single person or small group must then refine and focus the ideas so they can be implemented, or everyone will go driving in different directions – but even that seeming aimless search can be a success if you’ve got a large technology space to explore and a diverse group of committed, dedicated engineers to explore it.

But the possibility of brainstorming is not really what I want to focus on: it’s the great things that come out of treating your fellow people right. Being nice to each other greases the wheel, sharing your ideas and being open to theirs improves intellectual debate, and treating one person as special on a special occasion can really lift their day – whether it’s a thank you card and gift to a former manager, a day off for the facilitator of a group, or just giving a friend who’s into centaurs a centaur statuette that you happened to pick up two of by accident. These little things don’t just brighten our day – they change it, making the world a better place, one small act of kindness at a time.

-the Centaur

Pictured: a gift of a friend, via a friend, the first of whom professionally collects genre materials and ended up with two of the same statuette, and the second of whom brought it to the writing group for me because she knew I liked centaurs.

National Novel Writing Month 2013: MAROONED

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Well, it’s that time again: National Novel Writing Month! This year, I’m working on MAROONED, the continuation of my short story “Stranded” from the anthology of the same name. A brief excerpt from Part 2, “Conflicted”:

Serendipity stirred. She was cramped and folded. Her hooves caught on rough ballistic tarp. Her back hurt, her rump hurt … then she heard sparks and smelled smoke. She unfolded with a start—and klonked her head on a support beam, tumbling off the cot onto the grille.

Disoriented, she stared up at a dim line of light. The tilted walkway she lay in was barely wide enough for her; the cot she’d fallen off of had definitely not been long enough for a centaur. Beside her was a half-locker with her satchel; above, the wall of a bunk jutted in.

This was insane. They had the entire run of Independence’s cargo bay. She’d sleep on the floor if she had to. She winced at a spark of pain at the join of her backs—then heard real sparks and smelled fresh smoke, and sprawled and stumbled, trying to get up before she died.

Her hand hit the hatch in panic and found it firm, and she beat at it with her palm in the dark, fumbling for the latch as she brought her nightvision and filaments online. There was another spark, and Serendipity pounded the door again. “Dashpat!”

“Sorry!” cried a voice beyond the door—one Serendipity recognized as Andromeda, Independence’s chief engineer. “Leonid’s prepping breakfast, I came to wake you, but you were snoring, and the lights, they’re out, so I … I started to work with this panel, but then I—”

Andromeda sounded completely rattled. From the other spacers, Serendipity gathered that Andromeda had been de facto master of the ship … until a couple of days ago, when the boy Sirius pulled the fuse on the life support system and forced an emergency crash landing.

The voice on the other side of the door didn’t sound like someone who’d been a captain for three years. She sounded like a little girl, a scared little girl who’d been caught with her hand in the cookie jar … or maybe a refugee who’d had her whole world pulled out from under her.

Serendipity knew that feeling.

A hundred white computer filaments slid out of the shock of hair on Serendipity’s right forearm, probing the air, lighting the doorframe with a fiber optic glow, revealing the handle. Microscopic cameras fed images to her eyes: T7 LOCK HDL / FLM INDEPENDENCE.

Almost instantaneously, recognition rattled through weave of computers built into her: a Type 7 Lock Handle, from the Faster-than-Light Module Independence. Yes, that was right: the NCE class “ships” were originally modules, built to fly the arkships away from “dying” Earth—

Serendipity seized the handle, hiding the image beneath her hand. She drew a breath. As cramped as this space was, it was just a bunk. As long as she didn’t open the door, she could imagine she was at summer space camp, and not on a seven hundred fifty year old starship.

Not stranded halfway across the galaxy, utterly cut off from her people.

Serendipity opened the door.

People who read this blog may have noticed an extended hiatus. There’s been a good reason for that: I had too many writing projects stacked up, and couldn’t tackle them all at once. I had to start putting things on hold.

So I had to buckle down, focusing first on editing DOORWAYS TO EXTRA TIME (now out to the world) and finishing a draft of LIQUID FIRE (now out to betas). One of the first things to go was this blog. Another was social media: the Serendipity pages on Facebook and Google+ got short shrift; only what I had to for 24 Hour Comics Day and Dakota Frost got any attention.

I’m working to change that, but I’m going to continue to follow the same procedure. National Novel Writing Month comes first, and the first book I’m working on for Nano, MAROONED, comes first. Then life. Then blogging and social media, just enough to keep it going. After that, I’ll be writing notes for a story called QUARRY, just so I don’t lose them – it’s a brand new idea.

The consequence is, there won’t be that much blogging this month, unless Nano and life are both taken care of. But hopefully more than there has been over the past few months while DOORWAYS and LIQUID FIRE were the primary focus of my attention. Now that those are out of the way, I feel like I can breathe easier.

At least, as long as Serendipity and Leonid can keep the oxygen farm running…

Onward, to MAROONED!

-the Centaur

P.S. Yes, I did make sure I did my daily quota before blogging this:

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A 24 Hour Comics Day Timeline

24 Hour Comics Day can be quite the intimidating challenge, especially if you haven’t done it before. Because Nathan Vargas and I had tried it before and failed, we started thinking hard about how to succeed – and I in particular started thinking about timing: how to break down your hours, how long you typically take breaks, and so on.

To keep myself on track, I started writing down panel timings as I was working, an almost unconscious decision that soon turned into a policy. As a result, I produced a nearly complete timeline of events of a successful 24 Hour Comics Day.

Everyone’s method will be different, and this may not apply to you. But it shows at least ONE successful approach: preparing ahead, bringing good food, other refreshments and adequate supplies, getting planning done early, keeping each page tight, noticing that you’re falling behind, finding faster ways to do things, taking breaks to stay energized – and never, never, never giving up.

BEFORE THE EVENT

T-Minus 1 year: Fail to finish 24HCD … Again. Resolve to take more life drawing classes. As a result … actually took more life drawing classes and practiced.

T-Minus 4 months: Reminded by Nathan about 24HCD. Started to panic. Nathan mentioned he was thinking about how to succeed this time. I started thinking about that too.

T-Minus 3 months: Drunk guy at a comics booth at the Sub Zero festival hears us talking about 24HCD. He suggests we should do a tutorial. We go to Slave Labor Graphics, find out they aren’t set up to host a full 24 hour event. A tutorial or boot camp starts to sound like a better idea.

T-Minus 2 months: We decide to do the boot camp. After a marathon brainstorming session where we came up with the name BLitz Comics, we start meeting every Wednesday, producing tutorial materials.

T-Minus 1 week: We do a runthrough of the bootcamp. Around this time, we find out that 24HCD at the venue we’ve chosen is not October 1 but September 24 … 1 day after our boot camp. Panic.

T-Minus 18 hours: Last minute trips to University Art to buy notebooks, pens, pencils for the boot camp (which will also be used at 24HCD as well).

T-Minus 15 hours: BLitz Comics hosts its first 24 Hour Comic Day “boot camp” at Kaleid Gallery. The camp includes a 45 minute tutorial (that ended up going on for an hour and a half) and included 2 1-hour drawing exercises. I learn precisely what I *can’t* draw in just 1 hour.

T-Minus 12 hours: Boot camp concludes. Hours of packing required. Get to bed at 3:30am, get up at 7.

T-Minus 3 hours: Pick up Nathan. Trek to Mission Comics begins with a hearty breakfast at Stacks, a trip to Starbucks for coffee, and a trip to Safeway for bagels, cereal, tangerines and bananas.

T-Minus 1 hour: Traffic jam. Panic should be in full swing now, but we just had coffee, a hearty breakfast, and have gone through boot camp. No worries.

T-Minus 1 minute: Pull in front of Mission Comics; Nathan runs in with our art supplies and I leave to go find parking.

24 HOUR COMIC DAY BEGINS

11:00AM, September 24th: Driving around for parking. Find a great place.
11:15AM: Arrive at Mission Comics. Nathan has found primo spots halfway back the main table; we’re sitting opposite each other but are in easy view of the window, door, bathroom and 10,000 comics.

11:21AM: PLANNING PHASE Start comic with a planning page. Consider two ideas; decide to go for broke and adapt my novella “Stranded” rather than wussing out with the stick-figure “Story of Blitz Comics” which I had already done a 1-pager on anyway.
11:30AM(ish): Skim novella I’m adapting, especially chapter headings. Decide on a rough breakdown; can probably draw half the novella. Pick a good stopping point.
11:38AM: Did the 24-page thumbnail sheet. Laugh at my foolish notion that I can draw half the novella. Some things that take a line in the novella need a full page; other things that take a full page don’t even need to appear at all or need to be completely rewritten. Added talking animal to the plot as the only way to make the story work (it’s OK, it’s a robot). Break down the pages into approximately the first third.
12:13PM: Done planning.
Total planning time: 52 minutes In my experience, it can take 2-4 hours to plan if you don’t have a story in mind (the first two years I had vague stories in mind but no novella in hand to adapt). As it turns out, that extra 3 hours of planning would not have hurt me.

12:13PM: START PAGE ONE Did a space scene (not recommended from the boot camp!) as the first image.
12:30PM: Panel 1 Done. Blacks are surprisingly time consuming even with wide Sharpie.
12:45PM: Panel 2 Done. More blacks, more time; starting to get worried.
01:08PM: Panel 3 Done. Damn spacecraft again. Almost no blacks, but it took longer.
01:34PM: Panel 4 Done. Closeup of a character in a pose I’m bad at. Argh.
Total page time: 1 hour, 15 minutes. Did some calculations; need to DOUBLE my page rate to succeed.

01:37PM: START PAGE TWO No black space vistas on this page at all. Maybe easier going?
01:43PM: Finished roughs for the page.
02:10PM: Panel 1 Done. Getting a grip on figures, sound effects, word balloons.
02:25PM: Panel 2 Done. Needed to know fuse ratings to fill in detail on the end of a fuse pulled by central character. Decided to use phone instead of computer to look it up – the answer was “in kA” and 207 is a good super-high number. This worked so well I resolved not to turn computer on until I was “way ahead”.
02:39PM: Finished Panel 3. Liking this “draw people from the back half obscured” trick.
Total page time: 1 hour, 2 min. Need to pick up pace by at least 20 minutes.

02:39PM: START PAGE THREE One huge panel, but 4 characters and some perspective.
02:48PM: ~10 minute break + boxing in outer panel border.
02:58PM: Central character outlined
03:02PM: Dialogue outlined, drawing characters around word bubbles. LOVE the technique! Had to spend more time looking up the appearance of a bird’s eye for a drawing. In hindsight, I’m glad I did that rather than wing it, I had to draw that bird eye on a helm maybe a dozen times or more over the comic.
03:22PM: Page finished. Finally ahead (ish) but not really: hour 4.5 with only 3 pages
Total page time: 43 minutes. Counting the 9 minute break.

03:22PM: START PAGE FOUR Back to a multi-panel page with black areas.
03:34PM: ~12 minute break.
03:39PM: Panels done. Realize my target time (45 minutes) is 4:07. Oh shit.
03:51PM: Roughs done for Panel 1, a closeup of a character’s face.
03:58PM: Panel 1 done. Came out rather nice, perhaps the nicest face in the comic.
04:02PM: Panel 2 done.
04:11PM. Panel 3 blacks done. Great music from band “07” is playing over Mission Comic’s sound system.
04:16PM: Page finished.
Total page time: 54 minutes. Almost on schedule.

04:16PM: START PAGE FIVE More panels, 5 this time, but no black areas.
04:21PM: ~5 minute break.
04:24PM: Pencil panel borders done.
04:27PM: Ink panel borders done.
04:40PM: Panel 1 done. Realize my human profiles suck. So do my full figures. Ugh.
04:49PM: Panels 2-3 done.
04:55PM: Panels 4-5 done.
Total page time: 39 minutes. Not sure how I pulled that off.

04:55PM: START PAGE SIX More space vistas! And crosshatching!
05:04PM: ~9 minute break.
05:05PM: Pencil borders done.
05:09PM: Ink panel borders done
05:11PM: Dialogue done – needed adaptation from novella.
05:16PM: Frame 1 roughs done
05:31PM: Frame 1 blacks done
05:38PM: Frame 2 done
05:45PM: Frame 3 done
05:53PM: Page finished.
Total page time: 58 minutes. Black backgrounds will kill ya.

05:53PM: START PAGE SEVEN
05:55PM: ~2 minute break ... then pizza arrives!
06:38PM: ~43 minute dinner break. Yum!
06:39PM: Pencil border.
06:43PM: Ink panel borders.
06:48PM: Roughs.
07:10PM: Panel 1 “done”.
07:19PM: Further polish (it’s a large and important panel that introduces Serendipity, the protagonist).
07:29PM: Panel 2 done.
07:36PM: Panel 3 done.
Total page time: 1 hour, 43 minutes.

07:36PM: START PAGE EIGHT
07:53PM: ~17 minute break (flagging a bit?)
07:54PM: Pencils.
08:00PM: Panels
08:08PM: Panel 1 rough / dialogue. Realize we’re in hour 10 now.
08:24PM: Panel 2.
08:38PM: Page finished.
Total page time: 1 hour, 2 minutes.

08:38PM: START PAGE NINE
08:54PM: ~16 minute break
09:06PM: ~12 minute break (someone came by to talk?)
09:08PM: Panels penciled.
09:13PM: Panels inked.
09:18PM: AAARGH! Blocked. PHUQ IT.
09:26PM: Panel 1. Some of the facial positions are hard. Screw it.
09:35PM: Panel 2.
09:44PM: Page finished.
Total page time: 1 hour, 6 minutes.

09:44PM: START PAGE TEN
09:50PM: ~6 minute break
09:52PM: Penciled panels.
10:00PM: Inked panels. Realize it’s hour 11 (actually 12, but never mind) and you should be working on page 12 or more. Cut it in half!
10:11PM: Panel 1 done. Damn black space around spaceships again.
10:28PM: Panel 2 outlines done. Was intimidated by this crowd scene, easier than I expected. 5 people and 4 ghostly background outlines – 9 people total!
10:34PM: Panel 2 done.
10:40PM: Page finished.
Total page time: 56 minutes.

10:40PM: START PAGE ELEVEN
10:46PM: ~6 minute break
10:47PM: Pencil outlines.
10:49PM: Panels inked.
10:57PM: Dialogue for all panels inked. This really helped, but as I found out later, I was reading in columns but other people read left-to-right, so this was a flaw. Zoned out around here.
11:14PM: Panel 1 done.
11:28PM: Page finished.
Total page time: 48 minutes.

11:28PM: START PAGE TWELVE – on a roll, no break. Thought it was hour 12, actually hour 13.
11:34PM: Panels and dialogue complete. Met Google guy, should contact later. Also found out about Mobcomics, a comic publishing platform.
11:38PM: Panel 1 done.
11:44PM: Panel 2 done.
11:51PM: Page done.
Total page time: 23 minutes. That seems almost impossible! But it happened, in part because I was skipping pencils or just doing light pencils on certain characters.

11:52PM: START PAGE THIRTEEN
12:00AM: Break. Didn’t even realize it was midnight and September 25 now. Did realize it was not hour 12 but hour 13 (not true, actually hour 14 had started). “On Schedule” … NOT! 🙂
12:07AM: Script complete. All those people who are complaining that by adapting a novella I’m “cheating because the script is worked out already” can go jump in a lake. It isn’t that simple. That’s why they call it ADAPTING, folks.
12:21AM: Page done.
Total page time: 29 minutes. This page went fast because it was primarily diagrams and dialogue, no figures – this is the point where the crew of Independence realizes that they’re screwed if they don’t land.

12:22AM: START PAGE FOURTEEN
12:32AM: ~10 minute break.
12:45AM: Panel 2 done.
01:03AM: Page done.
Total page time: 41 minutes. I don’t know it yet, but I’m just about to get caught up with where I “should” be to finish on time.

01:03AM: START PAGE FIFTEEN
01:04AM: No significant break, really.
01:14AM: Panels done.
01:38AM: Page done.
Total page time: 35 minutes. I don’t know it yet, but I am now officially AHEAD.

01:38AM: START PAGE SIXTEEN
01:55AM: ~17 minute bathroom break
01:58AM: Panels done. I now realize my hour count was off and this is hour 15.
02:06AM: Panel 1 done.
02:15AM: Panel 2 done. I am digging that it’s hour 16 and I’m progressing on page 16.
02:23AM: Page done.
Total page time: 45 minutes. We may win this thing yet!

02:23AM: START PAGE SEVENTEEN
02:31AM: ~8 minute break
02:34AM: Panel borders
02:45AM: Panel 1 done … digging that it’s STILL hour 16 and I’m on page 17.
02:54AM: Panel 2 done.
02:58AM: Page done.
Total page time: 35 minutes. I am now officially a page ahead.

02:58AM: START PAGES EIGHTEEN AND NINETEEN – DUAL PAGE SPREAD
02:59AM: On a roll, jazzed that I have finally gotten to a dual page spread, will LEAP ahead now. Sure, it’s a gigantic outer space vista that requires some actual diagramming and thought, but its SO COOL that I’m going to go from just about ahead to way ahead in one swell foop!
03:07AM: Borders and sketch done.
03:16AM: Inks done.
03:39AM: Blacks done.
03:47AM: Page done.
Total page time: 49 minutes. I am now TWO pages ahead.

03:47AM: START PAGE TWENTY
04:04AM: ~17 minute break.
04:21AM: Panel lines done.
04:28AM: Page done. First (and only time I had to use whiteout) because I was inking and not sketching.
Total page time: 41 minutes. I am now THREE pages ahead.

04:28AM: START PAGE TWENTY-ONE
04:35AM: ~7 minute break
04:43AM: Script done. Repeat note to snarky guys who don’t know what “adapting” means.
04:44AM: Boxes done. Wow, that was fast for that many panels.
04:51AM: Panel 1 done.
04:54AM: Panel 2 done. Largely skipping pencils now.
04:57AM: Inks on Panel 3 done.
05:04AM: Panel 3 blacks done.
05:09AM: Panel 4 inks done.
05:13AM: Panel 4 blacks done.
05:26AM: Panel 5 done.
05:31AM: Panel 6 done, page done AND IT’S STILL HOUR 18.
Total page time: 1 hour, 3 minutes.

05:31AM: START PAGES TWENTY-TWO AND TWENTY-THREE
05:33AM: ~2 minute break. I am so glad I put in two dual page spreads. And this is my favorite page – a redo of the very first drawing I did of Serendipity two or three years ago, before I even knew her name: a young centauress with her barrel draped in tapestries, bouncing along a field of wheat towards a castle beneath a gas giant floating in the sky. Had to completely redo the drawing, but ultimately this was the point of the story.
05:38AM: Border done.
05:48AM: Sketch done.
06:06AM: Page done.
Total page time: 35 minutes. Woo woo on dual page spreads!

06:06AM: START PAGE TWENTY-FOUR
06:13AM: ~7 minute break. The last page is a huge single panel “to be continued”. Go for it!
06:41AM: DONE and DONE!
Total page time: 35 minutes.

DONE and DONE! Total comic time: 19:20 minutes!

AFTER THE EVENT

Not timing it. Chilling out. Futzed around for an hour or so, talked to people, texted my wife. Took a nap around 7:40 to 8ish, then read a comic I’d bought during one of my breaks. Chilled out a while, looked at other people’s finished and unfinished comics, then when Nathan finished, bought one more book, thanked Leef of Mission Comics and went to get the car. We packed up, had a great breakfast at Mel’s, and I dropped Nathan off at his apartment right at 11am – two 24 Hour Comic Day victors.

And that’s it. I’m pleased to see that even with adapting the novella on my side, I still finished early enough to absorb the 3-4 hours I took getting the story straight on the previous two 24 Hour Comic Days, so I think the technique would work even if I didn’t have a story to tell. Knowing how many stories I have buzzing around in my head, that’s never likely to happen – but if you’re a 24 Hour Comic purist, it’s good to know that preparing ahead, carefully tracking your page timings and shooting for 45 minutes or less per page is a technique that can make you succeed.

Best of luck on your own comics!

-the Centaur (Anthony Francis)

Crossposted at BLitz Comics.

Who Am I?

me in front of the bell bridge books promotional material for BLOOD ROCK

Who are you? Good question. I’m Anthony Francis, and I write stuff and make computers jump through hoops for a living.

What have you done? I’m most notable for the EPIC award winning urban fantasy novel FROST MOON and its sequel, BLOOD ROCK, which are about magical tattoo artist Dakota Frost and are therefore hopefully both more interesting than my ~700 page PhD thesis on context-sensitive computer memory. Also on the computer side, I’ve done some exploration of robot emotions.

What are you doing next? Forthcoming in the Dakota Frost series is the third book, LIQUID FIRE, and this November for National Novel Writing Month I plan to work on HEX CODE, the first in a spin-off series featuring Dakota’s adopted daughter Cinnamon Frost.

Are you working on anything other than Dakota Frost? I’ve also recently completed a rough draft of the first book in a new series, JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE. A short story set in this universe, “Steampunk Fairy Chick”, will be included in the forthcoming anthology UnCONventional.

What are you working on currently? I’m also currently working on a fourth new series with the working title STRANDED, a young adult science fiction novel set a thousand years in the future, featuring a spoiled young centauress who must rescue a shipload of children who have crashlanded upon a world she wanted to claim as her own. This story’s set in the “Library of Dresan” universe from which this blog takes its name and which was setting of my very first unpublished novel “homo centauris”, which I am now happily milking for its 57 billion year backstory.

Anything else? I have a flash fiction story called “The Secret of the T-Rex’s Arms” to appear on the Smashed Cat Magazine. I’ve also published one short story, “Sibling Rivalry” in the Leading Edge Magazine. I have a webcomic, f@nu fiku, on hiatus. And I’m actively involved with helping people succeed at 24 Hour Comics through tutorials that I and my friend Nathan Vargas have put together at Blitz Comics.

Is that enough questions for now? Yes, it is. Please enjoy.

-the Centaur

Future Books

piles of notes between caffeine fuel and computational engine
An exchange from Facebook:

Anthony: Just finished a rough draft of JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE … my fourth completed novel!

Wallace: Anthony it is great that you have 4 what are they? We know Frost Moon, blood Rock, what was the 3rd? Barbara enjoyed putting them on audio.

Anthony ‎#1 is one you haven’t heard of … HOMO CENTAURIS is my first completed novel written in the early 90’s. The next two were FROST MOON and BLOOD ROCK … the third one in that series, LIQUID FIRE, is about 75% done. THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE is the first in a new series.

P.S. The working titles of the next three Dakota Frosts (4,5,and 6) are SPECTRAL IRON, PHANTOM SILVER and SPIRITUAL GOLD. The working titles of the next next three (7,8, and 9) are something like SPIRAL NEEDLE, HELICAL LANCE, and CIRCULAR KNIFE.

And the working titles of … I’ll stop there. I can keep going, but I won’t … don’t want to spoil the surprise. I’ve already mentioned some of the later ones online. 🙂

Assuming I get that far … no, I’m planning to get that far, and farther, God willing.

-the Centaur

Pictured: piles of notes between caffeine fuel and my computational engine.

A noble failure

Well, it was a noble failure, but a failure it was. I had indeed not overcome my food poisoning, not that I threw up or anything but I indeed got gurgly. During Page 7, I started having sleep microbursts during my crosshatching. And finally, as I was recovering from gurgle and looking at Page 8, I realized it was even more complicated than the previous page, and flipping through the remainder realized I needed to finish each page in ten to twenty minutes … and I was taking forty five minutes per page. There was no way to make it.

So that was it. Took a brief nap, freshened up, and started packing it up. What a fantastic experience. I have a complete 24 page story roughed out, 7 inked pages, and a lot more learning under my belt. Two of the five people who were at our site look like they are going to finish. Oh well … next year! Ad comika!

-the Centaur

The Halfway Point

What you see is Page 24 of my rough layouts – THE HALFWAY POINT: On time, on schedule. 24 roughed up pages complete. For those who don’t know my process, the act of putting together a comic

  • begins with some scribbled sketches and notes
  • continues with 24 tiny scribbled panels all one page
  • continues with 24 super rough letter size (actually 9×12, what I had on me) pages
  • continues with 24 “detail roughs” on larger (10×14, what I had on me) pages
  • then I pull out the lightbox and the vellum and trace each page over and over itself until it looks good

Normally I’d scan those pages and screw around a lot with Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter and Xara, but screw that. This time I’m inking, lettering, drawing panel borders by hand. No time. No time. To help me along, these are the tools of the trade, my crutches, and my models … that and Google Images.

We’re doing this at Noisebridge in San Francisco, a great shared hacker space I should blog. Later. It’s their second, or third, birthday. Huge loud distracting party. I’ve met quite a few friends from The Search Engine That Starts With A G. I’ve explained 24 hour comics day like 24 times. More on that … later. Here’s another hardworking comicker:

Here’s Nathan Vargas, who shanghaied me into this:

And here I am, from a few hours ago, looking a lot fresher than I do now.

And this is me closing the laptop and getting back to work.

Out of time to blog. Page 1 of the roughs becomes a real page now. See you in 12.

-the Centaur

24 Hour Comic Day Begins

SO once again I’m participating in 24 hour comics day, the insane attempt to complete a new 24 page comic from scratch in 24 hours. Add to that that I’ve gotten less than 8 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours because of food poisoning, fully expect the food poisoning to kick back in in about 12 hours, and the fact I need to go back to my church and set up some tables, I think this is more likely going to be a 4 hour comics day. 🙁

However, I’m not going to bail too early: my buddy Nathan Vargas has shanghaied me up to Noisebridge in San Francisco, a great shared hacker space you can see below. So here goes nothing! TRANSNEWTONIAN OVERDRIVE: The Front begins now…