It’s that time of the year – and that time of the project life cycle. Comments have been shut off and all site components except for the blog have been archived – and that (this) is getting backed up as soon as I hit “Save” on this post.

ATC started life as a voodoo’d MT 3 blog. In 2008 hosting moved and the project moved from a badly implemented MT 3 site to a badly implemented MT 4 site spanning a number of subdomains, where it limped along for five years until it was rearchitected into a properly implemented MT 4 site earlier this year.

At some point within the next couple of months – roughly around the five year anniversary of the transition to MT 4 – 870 posts, 158 tags and parts of 8 pages will be migrating from a six-blog MT 4 install into a custom WP theme. Comic pages, covers, Universe entries and Cast members will all be custom post types. The relationship between Cast and Universe entries and Comic pages will be preserved, tag search will be seriously improved. Commenting will be easier for you to do and for me to filter. SEO will be possible. Facebook updates (and hopefully twitter updates) will be automated. I may muck around with some Subscription capability, though I want the site built and functional before I start digging around to see what that looks like. I’ll be able to add a page without having to rebuild a blog; I’ll be able to add to the Cast or the Universe without having to rebuild two (or more!) blogs.

For most of the past decade, MT was a good fit for ATC – but aside from ATC and the sites hosted on deadcityradio.org, I’ve never really been a Movable Type developer. When I transitioned from video to web in early 2010 it was in response to a call to learn WordPress – and over the past couple of years I’ve learned the shit out of it. I know enough about wordpress to turn a six-blog MT site into a single WP site, and I’ve learned enough about custom post types and custom meta boxes to make the page navigation voodoo work as a matter of design as opposed to a horrible, horrible hack.

In short, WordPress is more malleable, easier to work with and extend, and vastly more capable. The choice between upgrading the MT install or migrating to WP isn’t actually a choice – and it isn’t up for debate. I made the decision earlier this year, and now that TV.2 is complete it’s time to make the last of the backups and the first of the imports – I’ll be starting with deadcityradio.org domains to sort out the remaining design questions, and plan to start work on the new ATC website in late October or early November.


TV.2 Production Status Update – the Home Stretch!

Pages remaining of this chapter: 7.

Pages rendered: 7, as of August 9th.

Pages complete: 4, out of sequence (24, 18, 22, 23).

So much for not working on ATC for a bit. I’ll probably come out of the self-imposed posting hiatus early, though I haven’t decided yet. I suppose that depends on how quickly I can complete the remaining pages while balancing my paying workload. As of right now I don’t plan to touch the comic again until its time to pencil other stuff. Last week was a web week, this week needs to be an art week. It’ll be an accountant week before it’s anything else, though.
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Nomenclature You Manufacture!

09:06 < xeno> fagbot: zoroastrianism?
09:06 < fagbot> do i look like the Encyclo-fucking-paedia Britannica to you?, xeno
09:06 < xeno> fagbot: zoroastrianism is Zubler’s Original Religion of Alcohol Science, Teaching Reason In A Non-Irritating, Socratic Method.
09:06 < fagbot> OK, xeno.
09:08 < solios> !!
09:08 < solios> wow.
09:08 < solios> xeno++
09:13 < xeno> 😀
09:14 < xeno> hackronyms++
11:02 < xeno> fagbot: hackronym is Heuristically Assigned Cognates, Knowledgably Re-Organized: Nomenclature You Manufacture!
11:02 < fagbot> OK, xeno.
11:02 * xeno can’t stop the chunging
11:33 < xeno> Alien Menace Originating Near Galactic Terminus. Heirotus Engages, Causing Horrible Orbital Shipwrecks, Entrammeling Navigation.
11:33 < xeno> >_>
11:34 * solios dies
11:34 < ejp> hackronym AND haiku!
11:34 < ejp> (ish)
11:35 < solios> xeno: ah, but can you non-recursively acronym “acronym” ?
11:39 < xeno> Accidental Ciphers Rarely Occur Naturally, You Moron.
11:39 < solios> !!!

He’s really good at acronyms.

Tender ships and umlauts.

09:44 < solios> I need to write the Sabrosa meal trays into the story at some point
09:44 < solios> they degrade to jet/RCS fuel
09:45 < solios> “green” == using every part of the “animal”
09:46 < mdxi> that’s some impressively thorough worldbuilding. i approve.
09:46 < mdxi> solios++
09:46 < solios> mdxi: simply put there can be no waste on a spaceship
09:47 < solios> I’d love to do more with it, story-wise
09:48 < solios> packed so full of supplies on the trip out that there’s palettes of food on the bridge and all the causeways are single file; on the way back so cavernously empty that they’re consolidating billets and powering down non-critical areas of the ship to save on life support and power.
09:49 < solios> I got it in my head that they can’t launch the entire air wing until after the halfway point of the cruise due to how densely everything’s packed.
09:51 < solios> while likely impractical as a comic I still want to do either my-take-on-trek or some Ridiculously Hard Scifi
09:52 < solios> (ATC’s been streamlined to Space Opera)
09:53 < solios> (well, it’s still complex, but tech is backseat)
09:56 < mdxi> you can do that as a short-form followup (or series of them)
09:56 < mdxi> seems pretty natural as a follow-on. provides a different take on the established universe.
09:57 < solios> yeah
09:57 < solios> fast forward to THE FUTURE!
09:57 < xeno> barge.
09:57 < mdxi> and since you’re going hard militaristic scifi, you’d basically be doing a procedural drama, which has got to be easier to write 🙂
09:57 < solios> (it’s April of 2002, after all)
09:57 < solios> bahahahahaah
09:57 < xeno> I would have a Barge o’ Food towed along behind, that I could dump in emergencies and pick back up when i’m done
09:57 < solios> xeno: real capital ships have support vessels
09:57 < xeno> see?
09:57 < fagbot> yes.
09:57 < solios> they had fuel ships until they went nuclear
09:58 < mdxi> Füd class tender ships

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TV.2 Production Status Update

As of Sunday 05 May 2013, approximately 60% of Water is rendered and either ready for line art or damned near. Fourteen sequential pages are ready to draw. I’m pretty sure this is a record, and I doubt it will be repeated again any time soon. Actually, I know for a fact it won’t – frankly, I’d be surprised if Transitional Voices chapter three enters production this year.
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Marketing Strategy

19:44 < dusya> I am saying down the line
19:44 < dusya> Spread that shit like herpies.
19:44 < dusya> Herpes
19:44 < dusya> I combined herpes and harpies there.
19:44 < dusya> You are welcome.

Alcohol, Tobacco & Cantaloupes

December – Asset development and pre-rendering of pages TV 2.10 through 2.15, then 2.07 through 2.09.

January – Quit smoking, which really throws my game off. Asset development continues; key asset for TV.2 scene one matures; the rest of the TV.2 script is “applied” to page templates. A to-do list the size of the moon combined with a depression from hell cause asset development to bog down into a vacuous suck-pit of suckiness.

February – I scraped through January with a bit of piecemeal freelance, though the landlord claims to have never received the rent check written against that work (and has yet to cash the replacement). January was a thin, wavering trickle of paying work – February kicked off with a torrential BLAST of contracts. A month of managing three (and then four) different clients and three to six related projects pretty much killed any ATC time, though this past weekend I finally had a Moment of Clarity and stepped over The Great Art Block From Hell like it was nothing. TV 2.01 has been rendered and ready for line art for almost a week. It looks sweeeeeet. Unfortunately I still need to cook up the environment for TV 2.00 (chapter cover) and 2.02-2.06, and it might be some time before I can get to that.

March – I haven’t decided what’s next – either the TV.2 scene one exterior environment or the ATC v.10 website, which is a fairly well advanced paper design that promises to be a massive structural departure from the previous nine iterations. I know that once I finally pull the trigger on TV.2 I’ll ignore site mechanics until it’s done, and the site as structured has some issues I feel a new version would effectively address. Version 10 would also be a chance to play around with some buzzword-compliant web development concepts that I haven’t had a chance to use on the job (yet!). Concepts that I think would be a huge boost to site navigability and malleability. Both the site and the remaining environments (not just scene one) are going to be a lot of work, and I’d like to get both done before ATC turns 10 in May.

Of course, I’ve said I’d like to get a page of TV.2 up in February, and that hasn’t happened. That page is ready to draw, and I would have drawn it already if I didn’t have such a sizable pile of contract work to gnaw through. I’ll likely be busy-busy with that through March, after which I should hopefully just be regular busy.

Asset development is not a spectator sport.

TV 2.01 is stuck in production hell. It’ll be another 20-40 hours to get things thinged enough to render the first page of the next chapter, then another 20 to 60 to who knows to set up for 2.02 through 2.06. 2.07 through 2.15 are, fortunately, rendered and ready for line art.

The launch assets for this chapter are the timesink from hell. The fact that I quit smoking and haven’t ingested nicotine (first-hand, anyway) since January 2nd has complicated things, but the fact is I am seriously burned out on asset development and was even before that kicked me in the head.

I’ve sort of “budgeted” for this – I’ve said previously that TV.2 production would likely kick off in February and it looks like that’s going to hold. So I’m technically on schedule. I’m also at the point in which I feel like I’m technically scaling a cliff with my eyelids. It’ll be awesome when it’s done and rolling. Whenever that is. I plan to try to “dial it down” for TV.3 and TV.4 – this kind of work used to be fun but at this point I really need to stop with the uniques and start moving towards a Bethesda-style toolkit that can be continually repurposed for new environments.

Not that that’s a problem I’m facing at the moment, mind you – production has hung up on a one-off that has to look good, and decisions I made about production quality and the production values of Transitional Voices back in 2007 are holding things up. I’m holding things up, re-learning caffeine, re-learning focus, re-learning how to work and be productive and how to get things done without one stimulant effectively nullifying another.

Nine pages rendered, fifteen pages framed and lettered. Script revised some more, still has a couple of small-but-serious issues that need to be addressed. All of the boring-but-necessary page setup work is done; the next step is pages or stop, and I do not intend to stop. I hope to have a page up in February, and I hope to have the major environment for the first scene ready to go within the next few weeks. I want to be in serial production for ATC’s tenth anniversary, and that’s still a possibility.

TV.2 production start – Return To Color – is, in the immortal words of Porkins, “Almost there.”

Songs from the Fish Mines

Mom was gonna come down and visit today. Then the weather weighed in. The entire state is getting dumped on – the phones are dead, there’s no immediate work on deck. I’m broke and even if I wasn’t, for christmas I promised myself The Wagon for at least a few weeks. This status report is being written at the outset of what will hopefully be the first ALL ATC ALL DAY work session in… uh. Years!

TV.2 (Return To Color) Production Status

All 24 pages have been laid out. Extensive in-page script revisions have been made to several pages; all pages outside of the first rendering block still need to be “framed” and lettered.

Pages 07 through 15 have been rendered. 10 through 15 are pretty much ready for line art, 07 through 09 will need some extensive post-rendering digital work in addition to line art. Renders finished earlier this week, consuming 100% CPU for roughly two weeks. Rendering ops resulted in 342 files totaling 4.07 gigs uncompressed in the PC “00 TV2 Renders” directory. The mac-side data is compressed – LZW for the tiffs and .zip for the 3d files – and weighs in at 2.28g compressed counting the page files.

All work that can be done with entirely existing assets has been done. Pages 2.01 through 2.06 and 2.16 through 2.24 require assets that are either in development or ready for it. Work has started on the environment for 2.16-2.17 though no appreciable progress has been made within the past week or so due to work and render ops. Further development has been pushed back in order to focus on assets required for 2.01 through 2.06. I sunk a good amount of time into modeling work yesterday and plan to get a hell of a lot more done today. I don’t know when (or even if) I’ll have this much time to throw at CG work so I plan to make the most of it.

Properly nerdy details would be pretty spoileriffic at this point. Sufficed to say I’m grinding away on a major asset. CG requirements for TV.2 scene one are such that the best-case estimate for asset development is “January.” If you were reading ATC back in ’07-’08 you know that a CG asset typically takes me 2-6 weeks to develop with a metronomic day job financing production. Three years freelance has complicated my schedule considerably, and it’s worth noting that the asset in question already has a couple of weeks of here-and-there effort invested in it, most of that in 2008 and 2009.

While my phone or inbox could still produce a work-related distraction, hopefully today I will find out just how much I can accomplish with a focused blast of effort.

While doing laundry earlier this week I did some thought exercises to see what ATC production would look like on a regular schedule. If I rolled this thing out weekly instead of as fast as possible, I’d have a total of seventeen weeks from GO! to develop the assets required for the back end of the chapter, and an additional seven weeks to finalize the TV.3 script and start work on layouts and assets. While production almost certainly won’t go down this way, it remains a possibility… and it wouldn’t surprise me if 24 pages wound up taking six months to produce from GO!. Heck, this thing’s already been in some stage of development since September. Of 2008.

Back to the fish mines!

Fuck, he knows Latin! He knows a dead language! Run!

The world hasn’t ended, but the presence of Latin in The Dualist has! The QAR got a minor-for-effort major-for-continuity edit this afternoon. See the changelog for a list of edited pages.

This edit is in support of tweaks being made to the QAR for Transitional Voices. It was the only bit of non-English In Spaaaaaaaace and now it’s toast, which eliminates a pretty glaring continuity problem.

Production status update, 20121219

Today’s the first day I’ve had a good-sized chunk of “me” time in a couple of weeks. Well, “me” time that isn’t 4am exhausted wind-down Fallout: New Vegas time. Lots of client work, now down to waiting on payments, contracts, and communications. Wednesday seems a natural lull for this sort of thing – over the course of 2012 rather a lot of comic work got done on Wednesdays.

In previous TV blog posts I wrote about the notion of rendering ahead as a means of rectifying a complex schedule with comics production and CG requirements and so forth. I’ve been working ahead for quite awhile – many pages of DCR.5 were rendered for weeks before I caught up on line art, but that was a linear progression. This is the first time I’ve jumped ahead to render ahead. As of yesterday afternoon, six pages of TV.2 have been rendered and are ready for line art. That’s a quarter of the chapter – and it happens to be (roughly) the second quarter. The environment was built in 2008, the script was solid (since revised to be solider), layouts were done, reference dummies popped into existence easily enough, and the whole mess – 38 panels sum total – took roughly nine days to render. The Daedalus rec area and bridge are absolute pigs – big files, lots of geometry, a crapload of high resolution texture maps, lots of lights set up back when I was still figuring out photometrics and mental ray and all that. Future environments will render faster.

So, six pages are rendered and ready for line art preparation and script tweaks and so forth. I may re-render a panel or two, though I probably won’t – a few shots look a bit rough with the reference objects in place, but that’s almost entirely due to shaders and specularity and I can totally ignore or improve on that when things get to line art. The rough spots I’m thinking of are towards the middle of the scene, so when the pages finally do get into production I should have the time to re-render a panel or two if it turns out things are sub-optimal.

There are two or three (possibly two and a half) more pages I can render with existing assets, and two environments to re-light. These bits will likely be done before any substantial progress is made on assets for the first six pages of the chapter. I’ve done a bit of modeling work for one of the last two scenes – a solid foundation, but the assets need a lot more work before they’ll be ready for primetime. Hopefully I’ll have more time for 3d work over the next couple of weeks.

Oh, and I managed to lay out two whole pages of the last scene while doing laundry last week.

Quite a bit of work has been done over the past couple of weeks, though you won’t see any of it for a couple of months. When pages do start showing up, they’re set to hit at a steady, predictable, no-cg-holdups-just-drawing pace.

All told. Now to get the rest of today’s to-do list taken care of!


13:02 < solios> I sketched out templar provisional hq while taking a shit
13:03 < solios> seemed an optimal use of time and resources (and poop)
13:03 < solios> (I sketched it with a pen.)
13:08 < xeno__m> poopsketcher
13:12 < solios> >.>
14:18 < mdxi> Your search – poopsketcher – did not match any documents
14:18 < mdxi> haven’t seen that happen in a while
14:18 < solios> O_o
14:18 < mdxi> “Did you mean: poop catcher”

{Pre-}Production status update, 20121206

I’m fine with talking obliquely about spoilers with regards to TV.2 – it’s a transitional chapter, full of a lot of fairly important details but relatively light on surprises. The real fun happens in TV.3 and TV.4 and I intend to remain tight-lipped about the back half of the book.

Last night I created layouts and script revisions for the core of TV.2. A little bit ago I scanned in those parts of the workbook and after I finish this I’ll get a few pages scripted and guttered. I intend to start production renders for pages ten through fifteen on Friday or Saturday. If the calculations based on initial test renders are accurate those six pages will take the rest of the month to render. Most of the pages are five or six panels, one is currently fourteen – less if I can figure out a way to cut it down while conveying the same information. A production-grade test render of an area roughly 1/3 of a page in size took six hours earlier this week – while not all panels are going to take that long to render, my (very) rough estimate is two big panels a day, tops. During which I’ll need non-PC things to do. Right now that’s a good-sized list, very little of it ATC-related.

Pages six through seventeen now have layouts or revised layouts and script or revised script. Pages seven through fifteen have environments and I plan to start rendering with page ten within the next couple of days. The first Daedalus scene is just about ready to render – after yesterday’s crash course in Character Studio I flirted with the idea of upgrading the reference dummies before starting production but after some thought I ultimately decided against it – with a little bit of effort I can slam these pages into production now, and that’s kind of the point. I’d sooner save biped revisions for later; possibly the second Daedalus scene or in TV.3. Hell, I’m moving forward with the first Daedalus scene precisely because the requirements are relatively minimal. Upgrading the biped now would be counter-productive – while my test rig showed obvious benefits to upgrading, the idea behind rolling ahead on renders now is minimal setup work, grinding through a CPU-hogging scene while I’m focused on other things. Which I need to be focused on, which biped upgrades would take focus from.

So. The first major chunk of the chapter will be produced with existing methods, despite their inefficiencies – CG production time needs to be focused on asset creation for the time being. Objects that’ll be CG in finished pages regardless – vehicles and environments.

13 pages featuring the Daedalus (inside and out), three pages using other existing environments. Eight pages from scratch or with minimal existing assets, six of those at the front of the chapter. “Go!” layouts and script for 12 pages, “Start!” script and layouts for five pages, “Start!” script and no layouts yet for the seven pages at the end.

Still on track for pages in January; apparently still on track for the pages to flow regularly once the first five are in order. TV.2 is shaping up to be an exercise in long-term planning. It’s been on the shelf for almost five years – how couldn’t it be?

Let’s get technical.

TV.1 page files are 2250×3375 at 365 dpi and cleanly reduce to 600×900. The pages of The Dualist and TV.1 were prepped without hardcopy gutters and still need to be expanded and forked to CMYK for hardcopy. Panel max width is 2190.

Page files from DCR.2 onward are 3300×5040 at 480 dpi with a “live” area of 2880×4320 and a web select area of 2944×4417 that reduces to 600×900. Panel max width is 2848. Grayscale pages are immediately ready for hardcopy. Finished pages are reduced to webscale and web gutters with a photoshop action. I’m not going back to TV.1 templates for TV.2 – I’m converting DCR.2-5 templates to RGB with black gutters and moving on at the current production resolution.

DCR.2-5 dialogue was 5.16pt with a leading of 6.09pt. TV.2 dialogue is provisionally set for 5.25pt with a leading of 6.5. TV.1 was 5pt with a leading of 6.58pt; this upsamples to 7.52pt with a leading of 8.61pt when scaled to the same size as the working TV.2 template file. So dialogue is technically going down in size between TV.1 and TV.2, unchanged from DCR.5. Dialogue has used rectangles with a 10px radius and minimum four pixel thickness since forever – I don’t plan on changing that with this revision of the template.

Existing draft of script (completed a couple of months ago) transcribed to RTF with a few changes. Page count is 24. Some dense for dialogue, some sparse. Pages will doubtless be expanded between draft and web publication. Ten pages have provisional layouts – some solid, some sketchy – scanned this afternoon in parallel with transcription. Workbook assembled in InDesign; hardcopy completed at 23:25. Fourteen pages need layouts, a few of the existing layouts may be refined.

24 page directories were created in the TV 02 Chapter Two – Water directory on 26 November, populated with {$pagenumber}l and {$pagenumber}z sub-directories. Adjusted template detailed above and blank commentary files were populated to those directories this afternoon. Pages will be provisionally blocked off for layouts when the full script is thumbnailed. Page seventeen is technically already laid out; just needs captions.

Environment assets required for pages 7-15 already exist. 1-6 and cover need assets, 16-17 need assets, environmental assets are required for 18-24, though the majority of the real estate already exists. 16-17 should be fairly straightforward; the rest are more complicated. Depending on workload, schedule and layout development there’s a possibility that rendering work may begin on 7-15 (or at least 10-15) before assets for 1-6 are complete, as asset development requires hours of sustained attention per day over a period of several days or weeks and rendering work requires a few minutes of setup and checking work per panel then it’s Hurry Up And Wait. If I had layouts and updated reference dummies I could actually start firing those off right now. In fact I should probably proceed in this direction, as the Daedalus interiors are absolute pigs and took forever to render at 365.

That doesn’t mean I’ll start rendering today, of course. Part of the move forward with TV.2 is higher-detailed positional assets (3d bipeds), adding boots and collars and the like to get a better idea of perspective and more importantly to throw accurate bounce lighting so the 2d assets fit cleanly into the scene. This came off fairly well in TV.1. The technique was improved considerably over the course of DCR though with grayscale I didn’t have to match color. I intend to improve on that in TV.2. Boots and collars and boobs – bolt-on cantaloups will be a thing of the past. West’s hard-topped cap will be a proper soft-cover if it kills me. I can prep the dummies without layouts but I can’t put them to proper use until they exist, so layouts and dummy prep need to be high priorities over the next week or two.

As an almost entirely dedicated work session today has gone exceptionally well. I’d keep plodding along, but my stated mission – script and page template preparation – is complete and I need to do some finishing work on a client project tonight if I’m to have a hope in heck of paying rent this week. I’m not sure how my schedule for December is going to shake out but at the moment it looks like weekdays split between different types of client work with weekends hopefully dedicated to ATC. In this context, prioritizing layouts and positional assets makes a lot of sense, as with a bit of up-front work I’ll have something to roll with before the end of the month. The next page is not the production goal – Transitional Voices Chapter Two in its entirety is the production goal. So “skipping ahead” isn’t really skipping ahead – it’s potentially making the best practical use of available time.

I do that a lot with ATC. Write when I’m creative, work when I’m not. The TV.2 draft was generated this summer, then put on hold for Observer Effect. Today it’s been transcribed and prepared for full layouts and digital work, and the page directory structure and templates have been created. A lot of boring work, a lot of necessary work, and I’ve grown to greatly prefer doing it all at once instead of on an as-need basis. Less so with line art, as it requires more attention and more than a page or two of pencilling and inking causes a great deal of physical strain.

Copious amounts of thinking out loud, which ultimately adds up to this: when production finally starts, Daedalus interior scenes should hopefully roll out faster than the rest of the chapter. As Daedalus scenes account for 58% of the chapter, this bodes well for actual production pace of TV.2.

TV.2 Back in Pre-Production!

The TV.2 script hit a solid first-revision draft back in August. Then Observer Effect happened. Ten pages in roughly ten weeks isn’t bad, considering everything else that’s been going on in my life. The story is stronger for it, though TV.2 development was put on hold while that sequence came into being.

For the time being ATC is done with grayscale. The story is now moving chronologically forward for the first time since July of 2008. The next page will be the TV.2 cover, which requires the same assets and environment as the first six pages of the installment. Asset and script development will resume this week – the script after a brief hiatus, assets after an extensive period of time off. The key asset of TV.2 scene one is roughly 80% complete for geometry and has been since late 2009.

At present the plan is to get the TV.2 script finished and laid out before the end of the year, and to get the initial assets ready to go within the same period. All of this is subject to work and scheduling issues, though the script and assets are far enough along that this may be achievable even if things get totally bent out of shape.

Development may be punctuated by blog posts the way DCR.5 was.

I have some work-work to deal with first and I’m still recovering from The Flu From Hell, so I don’t expect to make any real progress this week. I do plan to update the blog on a fairly regular basis, though – TV.2 (hopefully) won’t suddenly appear out of nowhere.

Observer Effect production timeline

Observer Effect 4 and 5 are in production hell at the moment – 24 panels total, 27 if I count full-panel sound effects that are already complete. The pages are scripted, blocked out, ready for CG, and the major 3d asset for both pages has been acquired, tweaked and textured. That leaves environments – which, as the pages take place over the span of a year, are fairly excessive. As are the line art requirements.

Getting these pages done is going to take awhile – four different environments and a good solid mix of rendering and digital painting plus a lot of drawing (and cleanup and shading). The pages are a great example of information density and after the first page of OE are the highlight of the installment.

Fortunately, OE.6 and 7 are almost the complete reverse of OE.4 and 5 – the line art requirements for these two pages are minimal and the environments have been complete for a couple of weeks now. The trick with this vignette is the script – the first draft was meh, the second draft doesn’t fit the rest of the installment, and I haven’t been in the writing zone in a couple of weeks. As 6 and 7 are effectively narrative-over-images, the visuals can be produced before the script and can Sit There until applicable words show up.

8-10 are scripted and laid out on paper, with no digital production as yet. While the line art is on the dense side, production requirements aren’t as stringent as 4 and 5 so when these pages are on deck they should come together in short order.

At this point the plan is to get 4 and 5 done and posted this month, 6 and 7 visually produced this month and posted whenever the script solidifies (hopefully also this month), with 8-10 going up in November. Production time estimates are based on my workload over the past couple of weeks and my projected workload for the next month or so – something that may very well go straight out the window. If work does step it up, the revised goal is to get OE out the door by the end of the year. That’s not ideal but it is doable!

Pushin Forward Back

This post is named after the Temple of the Dog track that The X never plays. I think I’ve heard it once on college radio. In the mid 1990s.

It’s an appropriate title for two reasons – first, as detailed in an amendment to the current site notes, I’ve overhauled all comic navigation. It’s presently filtered to previous/next between story pages, pushing covers aside to favor the presentation of a seamless narrative. That was a bit of a push, forward.

Second, Return To Color (Transitional Voices chapter two) has been pushed back while I focus on Observer Effect, which should take a couple of months to produce. Hopefully less. I’m moving forward with new pages, but I’m also moving forward back in the sense that the current block of work takes place before Dead City Radio.

While Observer Effect will end with a lead-in to DCR, it isn’t a straight-up DCR prologue – it’s an ATC prologue. It sets the tone for Templar actions on earth and if it comes out as intended it will provide some context for the actions of John West, Raven Lockheart, Beef Knuckleback, and Thad & Ornix. It’ll also set up some of the events of DCR.1, and hopefully set the tone for DCR in a way that DCR.1 doesn’t.

I don’t have a timetable for OE at present – I know it’ll be ten pages if I can’t cut it to eight, I know it’ll need to match up to DCR.1, I know pretty much what I’m doing for pages two and three and 7-10, and I’m stuck on four and five. OE covers two years in ten pages – the WGP briefing got the first page, at present Jason gets three, and the remainder will be composed of two page scenes that will each address something relevant to the existing books.

The objective of Observer Effect is to answer the question “What’s this thing about?” in a fashion that will satisfy long-time readers without confusing new readers. It’s also a chance to fiddle with some CG I won’t get a chance to otherwise and an excuse to see what the cast looks like in the mid 90s. It also also puts modern art in front of DCR.1, and that’s a good thing!

Also also also. With OE in production, the new site is now very nearly at full operating capacity. It won’t be Go For Real until TV.2.1 is on the front page, but as of this morning all planned sections are active… which is more than I can say for previous versions of the site.

Dopping was was (not was).


As detailed in the DCR changelog – xeno did a read and caught a few typos that slipped through my August editing pass.

No major alterations, fortunately!

Photo by xeno.

< mrs_xeno> Well jeeze, he didn’t need to tear it out and leave it on our porch…