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Posts tagged as “San Diego Comic Con”

Day 031

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the centaur by a brook As it says on the tin. A brief experiment in a cartoony style, inspired by the work of my see-them-only-at-San-Diego-Comic-Con friend Travis Hanson. I found it relatively hard to make a cartoony style work, much less getting coloring "right" even when the coloring didn't need to be even vaguely realistic. Clearly I'm going to need to practice coloring per se, and not just rely on Photoshop filters. This exercise gave me a lot more respect for Travis Hanson's art style, and I already had a lot of respect for it! (It's his art on the wall of my old library in the current blog header; can't wait until that art gets here, though I already have some of my wife's art hanging where I can see it, just a few feet away). Drawing every day. -the Centaur

To think, I could be in epic crowds right now!

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And instead, I’m eating veggie quesadillas with salmon, reading about neural networks and reinforcement learning, and waiting to find if my jury number is going to be called. In truth, I miss Comic-Con this year, but I only have myself to blame for not renewing my professional registration, and in truth I need the time to work on PHANTOM SILVER.

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As you can see, I’m way behind, in part because of my Tahoe trip, in part because I’m also trying to finish THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, and in part because work is cuh-RAY-zee. But I’m making progress; I just cracked 20,000 added words..

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Back to work. Comic-Con, next year.

-the Centaur

I Think I’m Calling It

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Welp, looks like I’m not going to Comic-Con this year. My fault - I had a Professional registration, but received my renewal email when I was working to get a novel to the publisher and read the REGISTRATION DUE email as NOT DUE. Found out like the day after the professional registration closed. And then, even though I was reading the Toucan blog that announces such things, I was so busy working on another project that I missed Attendee Preregistration. And, as of now, even though I’m in line … it’s sold out:

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That happened while I was typing the above paragraph. At this point, three of the five days are sold out. My favorite night, preview night, sold out first:

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Comic-Con is awesome and overwhelming. I’d wondered if I would go back this year, but if I was not to go back, I’d prefer not to go back, like, on purpose, not through oversight, accident and bad luck. I look forward to going again next year. But perhaps I should focus less on going like a fan and more on doing the work that will get me invited there as a guest.

As my wife would say, focusing on making my next creative project spectacular.

-the Centaur

Update: while posting this …

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O.M.G. While TYPING that …

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Yeah, this ain’t Cave Johnson, but we’re done here.

Resurrecting Fanu Fiku

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SO, I have this webcomic some of you may know about, f@nu fiku (that's Fanu Fiku, stylized with an @ sign, because aren't I oh so clever :-P). f@nu fiku is about Xiao Dreamweaver, a fifteen year old girl who can travel between all possible combinations of all possible realities … only she doesn't know it yet. What you may or may not know is that this webcomic is cursed.


Early on working on f@nu fiku, I broke my arm in a karate match, forcing me to use guest artists and rough notebook scans for several months. I blogged that extensively, but what I did NOT blog - because it was too disruptive - was the failure of the computer and theft of the notebooks on which I did f@nu fiku.

Back then, I produced f@nu fiku on this great Windows laptop, but eventually its cooling fan gave up the ghost, and I decided - purely as an experiment - to try out an old Macintosh laptop that I had gotten in a clearance sale, since I already used a Mac at work. Four days in to this new laptop, I attended an art show in San Francisco - and my car was broken into.

Many books were stolen. My personal laptop was stolen. One of my writing notebooks was stolen, including the one with the original outline of the Dakota Frost series. My f@nu fiku sketchbook - in which I created the pages - was stolen. None of this was ever returned, of course, but I retained all the data, I had all the scans, and in theory I could easily have resumed the comic.

Only one problem: the laptop was stolen before I realized I couldn't produce f@nu fiku on the Mac.

I edited f@nu fiku in Corel Painter (a creditable replacement for Adobe Photoshop) and lettered it in Xara (a powerful, but much easier to use version of Adobe Illustrator). Corel Painter exists for the Mac … but Xara does not. At the time, I was completely inexperienced at Adobe Illustrator, and found working on the comic extremely difficult.

What's worse, at the time the Mac's support for Python wasn't so hot. I wrote the f@nu fiku webcomic software myself, but found that it adapted poorly to the Macintosh, requiring a partial rewrite of the image processing layer. I eventually got the software running, but by this point FROST MOON was taking off, and without meaning to, I let f@nu fiku drop.

Fast forward more than half a decade. I'm more committed than ever to Dakota Frost, but I'm also more involved than ever with the comic community - with Blitz Comics on the 24 Hour Comic Day Survival Guide, and with our umbrella organization, Thinking Ink Press. At Comic-Con, I got energized, and decided that I should resurrect f@nu fiku, perhaps even in print form.

At first it seemed impossible. Many originals were gone. Some of the completed art was corrupted. And all of the art was way, way too low resolution to be printed. It was depressing. And in truth, this is the real state I've been for the past few years on f@nu fiku: too depressed about it to come back to it, regardless of how much time I had. And I started to give up hope.

But it is a half a decade later, and I've learned to never give up hope. This was a hard won lesson: when I left the PhD program, I despaired of ever using my degree. Well, it took ten years, but eventually I returned to that work … and now, I'm using those skills more than ever. Over time, I've learned that the more patient and perseverant I become, the more I am rewarded.

So, when I started to lose hope … I really had just forgotten how paranoid I am about backups, and soon found the original scans AND backup copies of the completed art. And I had just forgotten how perseverant I have become, and how much I have changed my thinking about solving problems just like this one. And soon, after a little thought, I found a way to get high resolution images.

As before, I had a spare laptop lying around - this time a Windows 8 machine, that I'd tried as a replacement for the Mac (and quickly discarded for that purpose, though it isn't really bad). And IT will run Xara, and IT could load all my old f@nu fiku files. I don't know whether I'll try to save these as Illustrator files, now that I'm comfortable with it, but regardless, I now have a way.

I almost always find that if you think something's impossible, you're thinking about it the wrong way … and a solution awaits you nearby. I don't have to solve the nearly impossible problem of getting Xara to run on the Mac (I have tried virtual machines, but they were virtually impossible to use) but just the far simpler problem of using Xara on a PC to dump high-res images.

Now, I have almost 60 issues of f@nu fiku backlogged … more than a year's worth, almost ready to go. It will take me some time to get all of them beaten into shape, to rework the site, to get set up on tapastic and get a posting schedule going. But it will be worth it: it will not only break this creative logjam, it will help me prepare for new comic projects, like Quarry.

So don't give up hope. It's just an excuse - just a way to give yourself license to wallow in self pity and to fall into inaction. Often enough, the files are saved on backup, the original scans are on disk, and there's a laptop laying around somewhere, waiting for the software to be installed on it that will give you the power to resurrect something you thought long dead.

You just have to have a little faith, and work a little harder.

-the Centaur

Pictured: the Windows laptop, with Page 1 of f@nu fiku successfully loaded in Xara.

Mission Accomplished, Part 1 of N

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A year ago Nathan said he wanted to be on a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, and to shake the hand of Scott McCloud, creator of the 24-Hour Comics Day challenge. I told Nathan the first goal would happen but was ambitious, that it might take us a few years, but that he'd certainly meet Scott if he set his mind to it.

What neither I nor Nathan ever expected is that not only is Nathan going to be on a panel, not only did he meet Scott McCloud, we together gave Scott a signed copy of the 24 Hour Comic Day Survival Guide. And not just any copy of the guide: Scott got the #1 of a limited print run of 100 done as a Comic-Con Preview Edition.

And we got to listen to a very nice talk by Scott too.

Nathan's appearing - along with Nate Gertler, Chris Brady, Jimmy Purcell, and Marco Devanzo on Friday at 5:15 in Room 18 to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of 24-Hour Comics Day. I'll be in the audience, and the two of us will have (roughly) fifty copies of the Guide which we plan to give to all the participants.

Excellent … it's all falling into place.

So … what should we put on the agenda to do next year?

-the Centaur

Pictured: From left to right: Nathan, Scott, and me. How am I taller than Scott? I always imagined him as ten feet tall..

Back to Comic-Con

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It's back to Comic-Con this week. I have no appearances, no obligations; I even sent the revisions of "Stranded" to the editor before my departure, so it's just a fun week soaking in the concentrated geekery of one hundred and fifty thousand of my spiritual friends. I don't even know the schedule of the con yet; here's to having fun.

I do have to say it's getting ridiculous in size, though. Hotel rooms aren't quite as bad to come by as Dragon*Con - which you need to order a year in advance, whereas Comic-Con opens up hotel rooms at more like six months - but the ticket procedure is crazy. If I wasn't going as a professional, I wouldn't be able to make it; I logged on as early as possible that morning and still failed to get a normal ticket. I don't know how other people do it, but clearly, one hundred and fifty thousand of them do.

Still, the programming is great, the dealer's room is awe-inspiring, and San Diego's Gaslamp district is a wonderful place to hang out with friends for dinner (or even to retreat to with your laptop when inspiration strikes and the lines and crowds are getting a little too much to deal with in the Convention Center).

Here's hoping the Comic-Con team can find a way to continue to offer this wonderful event!

-the Centaur

How Crazy is Comic-Con?

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How crazy is Comic-Con registration? I logged on at 8:00am this morning to get in the waiting list and by the time I cleared the "waiting room" for the signup page (at 9:10ish) it was completely sold out. This is what I saw when it finally "let me in" to register: I hate to do it, but I have to lay the blame squarely on Gmail. Comic-Con sent me a registration form, I clicked on the link at 8:00am, just like they told me to ...
The wait is over! Comic-Con 2012 badges will go on sale at 8:00 a.m. PST on Saturday March 3rd, 2012. To access the EPIC online registration website, click the following link: (link deleted for security reasons)
. The link kept timing out, as one might expect from an overloaded system, but after 5 or so minutes of click ... timeout, click ... timeout, I started to get suspicious. But the problem wasn't in the site ... it was in something Gmail was doing to the URL. Clicking on it didn't work; copying the link location didn't work. Copying just the text and pasting it ... got me in at 9:10AM. Too late. Ah, Gmail, can't live without you, but every once in a while... BANG! ZOOM! To the moon. Oh well, here's hoping I get in as a professional like I did the last two years ... this year I have even more claim, I guess, as I have a second book out, appear in two more books, and am involved with Blitz Comics. Crossing my fingers! -the Centaur Pictured: Lots of stuff. Fair use and whatnot ... parody, informative commentary, transformative and educational uses, and so forth.

Taking Criticism

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At Comic-Con I catch up with a lot of old buddies, particularly one of the Edge who's solidered through many drafts of my early stories. He's got a script he's working on, and is making a lot of progress. In contrast we know a friend who's written a dozen scripts and is making no progress at all. Why? One of the conclusions we came to is that it's important to accept criticism of your work. Timely feedback is critical to improved performance - but you must respond to it. I think writers should put down all their dumb ideas and then convince everyone that they're brilliant. Your quirky ideas are your contribution - I mean, who'd think a story about a naked blue guy and a homeless vigilante investigating a murder would make one of the greatest comics of all time, but hey, that's Watchmen. But you've got to sell those ideas. "Ideas are a dime a dozen, but a great implementation is priceless." So if you show someone your story with a naked blue superhero and they don't buy it - you have to fix your story. That doesn't mean you take out the naked blue guy, even if your critics want you to. It's your story, and just because it doesn't work for someone they may not know the right way to fix it. It's up to you, the author, to figure out how to solve the problem. Readers give bad advice about how to fix stories because people are notoriously bad at introspection. If someone gets a funny bad feeling about the manuscript, they may latch on to the most salient unusual feature - not realizing it's the bad dialogue or structure which gives them indigestion. But authors are also notoriously bad at accepting criticism because they take the criticism as a personal attack. But if you get criticism on your story, you've done a great thing: you've produced a story that can be evaluated. Authors are also bad at accepting criticism because they have fragile little egos. But you can't afford to explain everything away. If people are complaining about your story, they did so for a reason. You need to figure out what that is - and it's your problem, not theirs. So, if you get criticism on your story you don't think is fair, you get one --- ONE --- chance to explain yourself. If your critic doesn't immediately get it, then --- even if you don't agree --- say, "Yes, thank you, I'll take it under advisement." Then put it in your trip computer and remember it for later. If others see the same thing, you have a problem. If you personally start to feel even slightly the same way, you have a BIG problem. But your biggest problem is not taking criticism at all. Me and my friend have encountered a fair number of leaders whose egos are so fragile they've insulated themselves from all criticism. You can still achieve some degree of success in an echo chamber if you're willing to critique yourself and you have high artistic standars. But usually it just makes for unnecessarily flawed stories, movies and products - and an unnecessary slide towards the dustbin when your ideas stop working. So if you're lucky enough to have someone who reads your pre-baked work and gives you feedback, listen carefully, explain at most once, and take the criticism gracefully. Your art will be the better for it in the long run. taking criticism graciously -the Centaur

Back at Comic-Con

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the gateway to comic-con I'm back at San Diego Comic-Con again ... my con home away from con home (my con home being Dragon*Con). Comic-Con is also where I get to visit with 125,000 of my closest friends. the crowds begin Like Dragon*Con, San-Diego Comic-Con has grown far beyond its original roots. The con is about far more than just comics: it's now a full bore genre media event. the convention floor They've got sexy space girls ... star trek babes ... sexy space guys ... the 5th, 11th and 10th doctors ... and everything in between. the total recall car and robots And lest there be any doubt about what I meant, here's what I took the closeup of in that last tableau ... I am a roboticist after all: the total recall robot While I'm here, I'll not just be renewing my creative juices ... I'll be working on the final proofs for BLOOD ROCK, which is due the day after I get back. If only I had a way to get more time...wait, maybe I do! me and the tardis Wish me luck! -the Centaur

A Funny Thing Happened Before My Trip To Comic-Con

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Axually by the time you reads this am already atz the con now - but just befores I waz completely discombobulated from cats:
Anthony Last night our home was invaded by a quiet, timid but quite feral cat. 2 hours trying to locate the capture him - no dice, he was a wily fucker. Then 3 hours cleaning the pee he left behind when he bolted out the door. Emailed that I wouldn't be coming in and got to bed at 4:25am. Sheesh. Donna OK...while I am sure that REALLY sucked, I have to admit I also am still laughing. Sorry that happened...Febreeze works well. Anthony He's an adorable little cat. He's also a master of hiding (he tucked himself into the tiniest possible space in a bottom bookshelf) growls if approached closely and smells of pee. I think he's been causing my other cats to spray. I'd be laughing too if the situation wasn't so serious - just last night I lost two books, half a dozen magazines, some papers, and possibly an heirloom kitchen table I got from my grandmother to pee. The behavioral effects on our other cats are so severe one's on Diazepram, the other's on Prozac, and we're thinking of getting rid of them. I'm locked out of my own library most of the time because we can't let them get in there. I went out for coffee for an hour and a half and found the black cat on top of some clean laundry. Donna Oh no!! I take it all back... No longer funny :( I hope it gets better! Anthony There's some small amount of funny, I admit it. When not gnashing my teeth, I like to remember that it's better than a kick in the head with a golf shoe! William Good lord! I think you need the Cat Whisperer. Cortney Decoite O. My. That's almost as bad, if not equal to, a burglar. My deepest sympathies. John Have you ever tried a kick in the head with a golf shoe? It's not so bad. My eyes are still crossed and I'm falling down a lot, but I don't think it has anything to do with the kick to the head...
Iz funny in a lolcats trainrecks kind of way. Don't worries, will not get rid of teh cats. But just catching the ups now. Response will be the slow, please be the patients. -the Centaur