Fitting subject matter for a milestone. Four hundred and ninety-nine pages and finally, the first page of a scene that’s going to – in its own indirect, highly condensed, Things Left Out fashion – explain everything.
The way this thing’s structured, some of it will make sense immediately, some of it will make sense before DCR is done, some of it applies heavily to The Dualist, and the rest of what I’ll be hammering on over the next several weeks won’t pay off in a meaningful way until book five or six. I’m fine with that. I’ll probably be forty before I get there, but hey – I’m averaging roughly 62.5 pages a year. If I can sustain that, I’ll be a happy camper. If I can exceed that, I’ll be double-plus happy.
That’s 500 pages of story, by the way. The actual production count with all of the cover fluff is presently 518 – four DCR covers (no Book cover yet), a dozen bits and bobs for The Dualist, and book and chapter one cover for TV. Some people might count these towards the full total. I certainly count them as work.
A slow, measured, one-piece-at-a-time-as-time-allows approach is what finally got this page done. Scripted and laid out several weeks (if not months) ago, I started by souping up the borders for this page and the next (more on that below). Actually, I technically started with the panel two environment, which was created for the last panel of the previous page – roughly three weeks (!) ago. Last weekend I modeled the big tentacled thing (I’ve blathered about it on IRC but mum’s the word here for a few more pages, For Plot Reasons). Sunday for the panel one background and the bits shooting out of the Big Lovecraftian Thing in the last panel (more detail on the next page), and today for the character reference model and spear. Then pencils and inks, scanned in at 1924 hours. Then six straight hours of plodding away in photoshop. Base shading went fairly quickly – the real timesink was cleanup, tweaks, patching, and fiddling with the Make Art Button to get panel three into an acceptable state.
The border soup-up is part of a fairly major transition in production style. It’s happening in tandem with the story and it’s working very well with the plot. This page and the next are full bleed – not quite splash pages, but whenever this thing gets output to hardcopy the schmutz in the gutters will be extremely obvious. The textured smeary bits are something I used fairly extensively in parts of The Dualist – in this context the technique has been used primarily for aesthetic reasons (it looks cool). It also plays a bit of a visual language role – the visual framework of DCR started off as comic strips that stacked into comic pages, transitioned (rather well I feel) to full comic pages, and it’s now in the process of transitioning from black bordered panels with white gutters towards borderless panels with black gutters, by way of spiffy story-assisting visuals. With the exception of “captioning” fonts and a marked lack of color, DCR is about to start looking a lot like The Dualist and Transitional Voices.
This is intentional. Point of fact, if I eventually wind up doing “Crash” – if I don’t cut it from the roster and re-set DCR as book one – however it’s done, it’ll probably wind up transitioning into a strip-styled format in the last act – if it isn’t a strip work in its entirety.
The base layout for the next page is done, and all of the required CG assets finally exist. I intend to bust it out within the next week or so. After that it’s more mockup modeling – the core of this chapter is totally crazy in the assets department, and page production time is going to be climbing steadily higher for the foreseeable future. That’s why I set 500 – this page – as my goal for the year. I know I can bust out the next one before 2012, but anything after that looks hazy.
Five HUNDRED, folks!
Fun fact- all the past life regression bits have been “firing blind,” so to speak. I got hot on the concept for awhile in the late 90s and that bit of thinking (backed up by absolutely no research) eventually took root and grew into DCR. A couple of weeks ago I was reading Philip K. Dick’s VALIS on the bus and hit this bit:
The three-eyed people who Fat saw represented himself at an enlightened stage of his evolving development through his various lifetimes. In Buddhism it’s called the “super-human divine eye” (dibba-cakkhu), the power to see the passing away and rebirth of beings. Guatama the Buddha (Siddhartha) attained it during his middle watch (ten PM to two AM). In his first watch (six PM to ten PM) he gained the knowledge of all – repeat: all – his former existences (pubbeni-vasanussati-nana). I did not tell Fat this, but technically he had become a Buddha. It did not seem to me like a good idea to let him know. After all, if you are a Buddha you should be able to figure it out for yourself.
I had no idea Jason was a Buddha, and I’m pretty sure he’ll remain just as clueless as I was. Full paragraph quoted for the value of the last two sentences, as they apply to ATC at large. While multiple Aeon crew members experience some form of past life “event” over the course of the story, the context, value and interpretation of entire incarnations is specific to Whitehouse.