December Sun – A Web Comic

December 29, 2009

Merry Christmas!

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Yes, I’m late with this, as I’ve been avoiding the computer during most of my Christmas break, so here’s the belated Christmas image for this year.  I have no idea what this image is about, but it is definitely NOT cannon December Sun!

Merry Christmas everyone!Merry Christmas December Sun

December Sun #4 – Page 18

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A shape-shifting Appalachian Shadow pays John another visit.

December 21, 2009

December Sun #4 – Page 17

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You know, in looking back at this page, I hope it doesn’t seem as if I’m narrating this thing.  The dialog in the first few panels is spoken by Appalachian Shadows watching from the sidelines, not me, Rob, the story-teller.  That would be just, frankly, silly.

The last panel is situated on a hilltop, where powerlines cross a clearing.  The setting overlooks the town below at night.  Very much based on places I once lived in Pennsylvania (I wrote a post on it a few days ago).  In hindsight, I’m not sure if one could get away with a campfire in that sort of clearing, but it just seemed artsy and cool so I wanted to draw it.  Plus DS could always easily put out the fire if he needed to.

A few more pages to go, then issue #5 will kick off.

December 15, 2009

LastFm vs. Pandora

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LastFm "neighbor" #1: Grandpa WilsonI’m still divided on which of the two, Pandora or LastFm, I prefer more.  I listen to a LOT of streaming internet radio, and I love both of these stations in terms of the volume of music offered, in addition to the ability to rate music, so that (supposedly) future musical suggestions will match up with my tastes and preferences (again, supposedly.)

LastFm had a number of pros and cons.  Pro is that you can endlessly skip tracks if you want (unlike Pandora).  Another pro is the comprehensive system of tags, so that you can scale down your search to the most obscure genre of sound.  I like that because, depending on my mood, I might be interested in R&B one day, classical another, film music another, etc.

Negatives of LastFm would be the obnoxious ad that starts up each time I use it (generally featuring some actor guy selling phone service.)  Another negative would be the fact that the LastFm player, being a flash-based app, doesn’t always start up on my old Sony Vaio machine.  I find a number of times the player just hangs, unable to connect or do anything, and I need to go back to the root LastFm directory and start it again.  One other thing would be a poor rating system: raunchy music lyrics should be filtered if that’s what the user doesn’t want to hear, but I don’t see how and where that configuration could be made.  It baffles me how I could get profanity-laced songs randomly appearing when a majority of my listening trends are either John Williams scores or electronic music.LastFm "neighbor" #2: Gothy Gary

Pandora is nice in that it starts very fast and the genome music thing is fairly close to finding matching music.  Negatives include all of the awful ads that pop (far more than LastFm) and the fact that you can’t skip songs (a work-around, sort of, is the fact that you can create a bunch of stations and, when you can’t skip a track, you just change stations.  Sometimes this works, and sometimes it’s just too frustrating to bother with doing.)  Pandora rarely hangs like LastFm does, but something must be different with the way in which Pandora operates because when each song starts (particularly when played on my old computer) the tracks will get scratchy and jumpy for a few seconds before the song starts.  Once past that, though, the song sounds fine.  An interesting observation is that Pandora lets you pause songs and LastFm does not.  Of all things, that has to be one of the most obnoxious features of LastFm (especially if you’re enjoying a song and, perish the thought, you need to take a call, or use the bathroom, etc.)

LastFm "neighbor" #3: "DJ Decoupage"So of the two, LastFm wins out for now.  Fewer ads, endless music, and I’ll deal with no pause feature for now.  One of the interesting things about LastFm is the “neighborhood” feature, which can stream in a strange and interesting collection of songs that are, I think, vaguely related to tastes of people similar to you (I think.  I’m still not clear on exactly how that works.)  So using ‘Neighborhood’ can stream in anything from bizarre ambient, to Glen Miller, to Anne Murphy, to Megadeth, etc.  It can be a fun experiment – if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing.

Here are links to both of my stations:

LastFm

December 14, 2009

Williamsport, Mountains, & Hillside Homes

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The kids were painting this weekend so I joined in and did some paint “doodling” this weekend, using a Dollar General brush and some computer paper, and I painted one of the images I remember from living in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and that’s residential homes/streets that would partially wrap up the side of a hill.  In fact, I used to live on a hillside home on a street like this one, and I remember vividly how the street would only go so far up the hill before it just ended and woods.

At the end of the street was a trail, leading up through the trees into the hillside, that would connect with other paths and trails.  In fact, most all of the neighboring streets had trails at the end of the street, so you could figure out the paths of navigation and work your way around to other streets.  The trails would weave around the hilltop and would take you all over the place.  Generally the paths would meet up with a clearing where the powerlines crossed the hill.

I spent a lot of time hiking around these trails, and aside from the litter and junk you’d find dumped in the woods (which was unfortunate) it was great to get away from everything and just hide out in the hills.  The view from the top of the surrounding countryside was always amazing.

Imagery of Pennsylvania and mountains are prominent in December Sun, but I’ve never actually name WHERE the story takes place.  (Nor will I.  It’s intended to take place in a nebulous place in “northern Pennsylvania.”)  But Williamsport comes pretty close to what the setting would be.  It isn’t, but it’s close… :)

Anyhow, just being nostalgic here.  Beautiful countryside up there, but no way I’d ever leave Texas to live up there again…

Hillside streets in Williamsport, Pennsylvania

December Sun #4 – Page 16

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December 10, 2009

A Little Insight Into The Page Creation Process

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Rough pencils and inks from a page of DS#4

Here is an example of a page from December Sun: I basically start with a very rough pencil breakdown and then ink everything.  Where I can be lazy and finish the image with Photoshop, I do so, and make marks/notations of where to make the changes.

Notice above my stupidity with panel #4: John’s left is to the window, yet there is the waitress pouring coffee?  Yes, Photoshop is a wonderful thing for dummies like me.

Some other notes about this page:

  • Panel #1 features a lot of wax pencil for the street texture.  I like the effect, but I’m probably going to stick with half-tones in the future.  Also note the poorly-drawn car: I actually found an old french curve tool that I used for that.  The sun was a dime that I traced.  Yeah, I’m cheap.
  • I leave notes for myself in the margins, knowing that I will cut these later out of the picture during digital cleanup, but every now and then, I leave notes for myself that don’t make any sense, or that I forgot what I took the note for.  For instance, to the right of panel #1, I have no idea what “crazy ink on windows” means.
  • To the far right, you can also see a sketch of a costume idea that will appear in issue #5.  Stay tuned!
  • Panel #3 – yes, I can’t draw cars, and yes, my skills with perspective are a little bit off.

Anyhow, that’s about it.  I’d take this, scan it, clean it up, adjust the contrast, enlarge/crop where needed, then once sized right, I add dialog, aiming to place dialog strategically in places in the panel where I don’t like the artwork.  Seriously, I’ve covered a lot of bad art through these issues with a well-placed dialog balloon.

December 8, 2009

Pharmaceutical Mastermind

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Sneak Peak: future panel from December Sun #5I have a character in December Sun named Rick Wellington, who was introduced in issue #3 of December Sun.  Without giving much away (I hate substantial spoilers) he will be a big player in future issues of DS.  Rick is basically a rotten individual who from youth dedicated himself to filling his mind with twisted medical sciences.  To Rick, science books are things of pernicious evil to be utilized for that purpose.  He’s thrice divorced, collects butterflies (I’ve always found that hobby particularly disturbing for some reason: capture a butterfly, kill it, and pin it to a wall to admire) and shares an obsession with the evil global cabal to systematically… I’m giving too much away here.  Moving on…

One of the biggest inspirations for Rick comes from a Living “magazine” that I get in the mail for free.  It’s less of a magazine and more of a flat-out-advertisement publication for every degree of cosmetic surgery and grotesque manipulation of the flesh imaginable (one ad for a cosmetic surgeon even posted the oblique comment of their practice as “A Family Tradition” – what on earth does that morbid statement mean?  Modifying bodies to the third and fourth generation?)  Anyhow, I read every page of this publication with relish when I receive it, because I find the grizzly bodily manipulations advertised to be something that I need to encapsulate into my comic character.

So Rick is a product of that mindset, and his past was one devoted to cultivating cryptic and diabolical manipulation of the flesh through countless hours of unwavering study.  Augmentations, tucking, lifting, tissue manipulation, banding and binding and clipping valves and pipes in the stomach, etc of a very rich base of clientele… he mastered it all, but due to… medical irregularities, he was forced out of the medical mainstream and had to go underground, and during this time, he turned his attention towards the world of pharmaceutical medicine, ultimately leading to his current role with Adam’s group.Rick's mugshot from the About page.

Beyond Living magazine, I love reading ‘Readers Digest’, but not for it’s inane, pithy “slice-of-life” stories, but rather for the page after page of pharma ads.  I’ll read through all of the prescribing information, because I find these pages more fascinating than the actual content of RD!  ‘Prevention’ magazine is another excellent source of detailed pharmaceutical ads.  With the story, and with Rick’s character, I want to firmly establish the bond that this character sees between the craft of manipulating flesh, and it’s natural extension, the deliberate manipulation of biological organisms at all levels of cellular life.

Now a note: I know that cosmetic/reconstructive surgery has it’s place.  When someone is injured by disease or accident, then cosmetic surgery is a perfectly valid, understandable and helpful field of medicine.  What I’m telling with this story is that Rick’s line of work is principally focused in NOT helping those marred by sickness or auto accidents, but rather, he selectively has only worked with the rich and powerful for physical manipulation solely to look younger, and basically he chooses only those who will pay him the most for his medical services, and likewise, it is this select body of powerful individuals who serve as guinea pig for Rick’s distorted medical experimentation, but again, I’m getting ahead of myself here…

Rick will be in issue #5, which will be kicking off soon here.

December 7, 2009

December Sun #4 – Page 15

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The chase comes to an abrupt end.

December 4, 2009

Updates to the “About” Page of This Site

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New image for the About pageI just updated the About page of this site with some images that I drew the other day, and included some character bios.  The About page had been a little skimpy up until now, so I just added a little bit more detail about some of the principle characters.  Nothing really earth-shaking in detail, but just a broad overview.

I thought about doing individual profile pages, but I just don’t have the time or attention to detail, plus I hate giving away spoilers, and if you do stuff like that, you’re bound to give away something that hasn’t already been said in the book already.

Ah, well.

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