Expulsion, Avatar

Expulsion has been covered. Real proper-like. More production info in the page metadata.

The Earth renders took longer than expected – four hours a pass, and I wound up redoing them thanks to the clouds being more at-issue than usual. Aeon was originally facing the other way – flipping it resulted in better lighting. It also matches the Expulsion intro scene and continues to obscure the ligature on the starboard side of the boat.

Usually, longass renders means time spent doing paperwork, surfing, and otherwise being fabulously unproductive. It used to mean drawing panels, but the CG backlog still needs to be knocked down before production is ready to resume. Sunday, thanks to my friend Martin, I was watching Avatar in 3d (in a high-end-but-not-IMAX theater) while one of those passes cranked out.

Avatar is the first movie of my adult life that’s lived up to the hype. Exceeded it, possibly – the 2d trailer, the 2d stills… 2d anything really doesn’t do this movie justice. After the years of hype leading up to the steaming turd that was The Phantom Menace, my heart hardened and my bullshit detector started spidering the upgrade tree like the Starcraft “AI.” That orgasm of hyper-hype made it easy to ignore The Matrix, its sequels, Lord of the Rings (and its relentless over-commercialization in DVD), and everything else that’s made lots of noise over the past decade.

That Star Trek was muddled fun, that District 9 was the best social satire since Robocop, that The Road puts the “bleak” in bleak… I could have watched any of those on a 19″ display and enjoyed them just as much. Not as big, and stereo-only, but ultimately… the same experience. The biggest home theater I’ve seen (Hi Greg!) isn’t big enough for Avatar.

I don’t know if Avatar is a “game-changer” or not – I don’t care. I’m more interested in the world. I want the Director’s Cut. I want to see it again.

This week, if possible.

In that respect, I suppose it is a game changer.

Eggs &

Incursion has been re-covered. Happy holiday, etc.

Also, perhaps more importantly, I have very solid ideas for the Expulsion and The Dualist covers. Lots of rendering, a good-sized chunk of line art… they’ll both look AWESUM and that leaves four more cover puzzles to solve.

Finishing work remains either ahead of schedule or has fallen far behind schedule, depending on how you look at it. I’ve drawn three covers this week, but I’ve only shopped one… and that cover had only one piece of art to go with it. A piece I had to draw twice, so I’m going to count it twice. Dammit.

The Expulsion set should have either no drawings, or integrated drawings – it’ll depend on the cover. The first of these should roll out at some point in the next couple of days.

Beef: He’s What’s For Dinner

Clarity has been re-covered. I’m now out of my stock of pre-canned backgrounds – I busted out the first four in May (or thereabouts) and have been busy with other stuff since then.

The Beef, he’s Beefy.

Four down, seven left… I’d say I’d have the cover for chapter five started, but the fact is that my initial flailings have been quite unproductive. Frustrating, even. Back to the drawing board and so forth – hopefully this weekend. Or sooner.

In an effort to stem the steadily rising levels of comment spam, I’ve changed blog comment settings for Immediately approve comments from : from Anyone to NO ONE. While I’m not happy with this, it’s only temporary*. Turning comments off completely breaks existing templates (sloppy design on my part), and CAPTCHA or some other form of authentication just isn’t going to be hacked into the current design. Period. When the time for Work comes, it’ll be Work on a New Site, not patches to this one.

So for the time being, you can still comment – comments will be held and screened prior to publication. Any further spam won’t have the opportunity to stink up the public side of the site – I hope this has the desired effect!

* For the moment. If it works super-awesome, I may stick with it.

Typornography & Cover update(s) 2

Type fixes to details -21-, priorities -1-, reflex -2- and friction -7-. Friction -7- also received a minor art correction. Thanks to xeno for all catches and recommendations.

Covers – TV.1 is re-covered. Jacket design now matches The Dualist – third version of that cover and it finally looks good and has a logo. That last bit didn’t exist until late last week and wasn’t shooped until yesterday. Talk about lag!

Also talking about lag, the Been Done For Awhile covers for signal and convergence are now in place, with spreads in the metadata and for the time being, wee thumbnails in the book index. Those will be replaced by the full strips with the next version of the website – my layout ideas for New And Improved Indexes would be why the new site is on hold until these bits are done.

Typornography & Cover update(s)

xeno’s read over the first half (for the second or eighth time) and caught a few more-

Commitment -4-, Commitment -6-, Convergence -2- and Light -9-. There’s probably some more. Lurking.

Base cover bits are down for the chapters of The Dualist and TV.1. The TV.1 cover render is grinding away; backs have been done for TD1-TD4 for awhile. TD5-TD8 have been sketched and I’ll get rolling on those after the TV.1 render is done – I’ve been busy supervising that instead of drawing. Drawing is hard.

You have found this post informative.


11:17 <solios_> oy.
11:17 <xeno> awesome
11:17 <solios_> The Dualist and TV.
11:17 <xeno> you typed that right when i farted.
11:17 <solios_> typornograph plz.
11:18 <xeno> …
11:18 <solios_> we RULE.
11:18 <xeno> like, *now*?
11:18 <solios_> like, this week if possible.
11:18 <solios_> doesn’t have to be now-now.
11:18 <solios_> but the pages are as done as they’re going to be until, oh… you know. :P
11:18 <xeno> has it occurred to you if you’d stop rerererererererererewriting the goddamned thing, i’d only have to typornograph *once*
11:18 <xeno> and i’d be long done already?
11:18 <xeno> :P
11:18 <solios_> yes. :|
11:19 <xeno> or if you knew how to goddamn spell.
11:19 <xeno> that’d help too :P
11:19 <solios_> hey, I caught one you missed.
11:19 <solios_> so THERE.
11:19 <xeno> yeah, after a brazillion pages, my eyes tend to go numb :P
11:19 <xeno> i typoed that as nump and should have left it XD
11:20 <solios_> nump++

And I’m thinking (while I’m thinking)

And I think I think too much. If you’re in my age range, the rest of the Stone Temple Pilots lyrics are probably filling themselves in now. I don’t even know if that’s correct, and frankly I don’t care – I wish The X would get over its aggregate federally-mandated Bush and Smashing Pumpkins boner and play the half a dozen mind-90s radio tracks I actually liked.

When I was exploring CCR and The Animals and Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, my dad bristled. He “hates that shit,” he said, for good reason – he couldn’t get away from it then, and now? Now it’s all the classic rock stations play. A purgatory of a few dozen top forty rock tracks on endless shuffle.

Which has nothing to do with the ultimate subject of this post, that being DCR status as it relates to ATC production.

Here’s a simple fact: DCR.2 (“The Operative”) is heavily outlined, mostly scripted, and needs two or three major CG assets to proceed. It’ll need these assets for the rest of the story. DCR.2 already has four pages (16 strips) complete. These will be acceptable with a little bit of work on the writing to correct grammatical errors and such.

TV.2 (“Water”) has a firm outline but no actual script, and a CG to-do list that is, in a word, insane. There’s a TON of work to do to get the chapter ready, and almost all of it is one-off work. One-off for Transitional Voices, anyway. It’s stuff I could use later, and it’s stuff I can use for portfolio development (a high priority after immediate production goals are met, along with securing income, employment, etc), but between the shape of the script and the shape of the assets, well… DCR.2 would be ready for production even if I worked on DCR and TV assets in parallel.

DCR needs Whitehouse’s apartment (in some detail), Jesse’s apartment (skeletal), the outside of Gheny (for closeup balcony shots, and the parking lot for top-down shots at the end of this chapter), and the skeleton of an Aeon corridor. And a DCR.1 rewrite (THIRD EDITION!), but after a very quick skim that can be done in a day.

TV needs a finished Banshee (aerospace fighter), tweaks to Sabrosa textures, a section of sickbay, and part – or all – of the Daedalus bathroom. And that’s just for the first scene. From there it’s all new exterior stuff, but it’s complicated new exterior stuff.

Ultimately, after the current round of re-covering is done, after the website is done, it looks like I’ll be targeting DCR for production. The fact that the chapter has an almost-complete script and already has pages weighs favorably, given the amount of work required to get TV.2 into a similar state.

That leads to the puzzle of DCR formatting and layout, with a special emphasis on the DCR website. For the last several years it’s been a blog with an occasionally updated strip-format comic. These strips have been the “draft” form of DCR pages and in some cases bear little resemblance to the whitehouse that appears on the ATC website. The story can either continue in strip form (as, after a fashion, my “commentary” on other college newspaper comic strips), drafted in DCR.org and showing up here as full pages, or it can mutate into straight-up Full Pages, in which case, the ATC site is a more natural vehicle. What with being completely geared towards comic presentation and whatnot.

I plan to have the thinking on this done by the time the chapters and site rework are complete. At the moment it looks like production is going to be DCR assets, DCR.2 while TV.2 assets are generated, then TV.2. Then either DCR.3 or TV.3. However things develop, DCR.2 actually has pages – which puts it firmly in the “unfinished business” category. Unfinished Business is what the past eighteen months have been about – it would be foolish to keep the project on the back-burner at this point.

The Operative will be short – shorter than Whitehouse – and with four pages already done-for-art, it’s that much shorter. In terms of work left to do, anyway. 18-20 pages as strips, possibly 22-24 if I “expand” to pages or expand the strip format from 4x to 3x or even 2x.

Any way I cut it, regardless of the amount of time I spend on it, we’re not going to see anything in the way of new pages on any front until February or March at the earliest. Maybe January if I’m phenomenally lucky and accomplish everything that needs to be done to close out The Dualist, update the site, etc.

Another round of Thinking Out Loud, brought to you by Philosmatika, Garfield Artworks, and a clock radio that can’t let go of the 90s.


For a few days (closer to two weeks, actually), the first seven pages of chapter two had been overwritten by the first seven pages of chapter six. Whoops.

I’ve temporarily fixed this by changing the basenames of the first seven pages of chapter six. The best permanent fix will be to re-change those names back to normal while changing the name of the first scene of chapter two.

The trick is finding an applicable scene title that isn’t used somewhere else in the story. Commitment works, at least for the time being. It happens to have the same number of letters as convergence, which is a bit visually confusing.

For purposes of hardcopy, unless I go all Delany – adding scene names and chapter names above as well as page numbers below – the only function that chapter scene names provide is an indication to web readers that they’re coming up on a shift in plot focus.

Also, fun (unrelated) fact : Counting all covers, counting all posted pages of all projects, not counting the small number of reasonably ready-to-go DCR.2 strips, ATC presently stands at 438 pages (424 actual).

Aaaalmooost there…

The Dualist (Second Edition) – Main content complete.

Transitional Voices : Earth – Rewritten.

TD2E needs a bunch of covers – a couple are done, a couple are ready for art. TV needs a couple. One, at least.

Then the website, restoring more or less everything removed with version 2008.1.

All told it looks to be approximately 18 months of downtime between the last new page of TV and the next new page of DCR or TV.


TV1 Rewrite

  • Ornix’s shirt was replaced previously. This was done around the same time he showed up in The Dualist. Shirt fixes were applied to both TD and TV in sequence, and the altered TV pages were mass-uploaded. Like the Ornix Shirt Upload, the TV1B upload is a full replacement of the existing pages. Unlike TD2E, the first version hasn’t been kept around for comparison purposes. In my opinion, it hasn’t changed enough to merit it.
  • Rewritten and re-lettered. Technology and character dialogue is now consistent with TD2E, plot events are consistent with TD2E, and you’re probably not going to notice anything really different, with the exception of earth -13-. Panel one of that page is probably the most important panel in the chapter – if not the single most relevant panel in the story to date.
  • In some cases the rewrite is a reword – large sections of the original script are intact, though a lot of dialogue has been changed. Most of it between earth -7- and earth -37-.
  • “Astral speak” is now correct – Grij speaks Times as he always has, all other voice is now Courier, as it has always been. First version used Times for all “Astral speak,” which may have created the impression that Grij is a schizophrenic motormouth. He isn’t. He’s just wordy.
  • Very minor art changes to earth -17-.
  • Consistent with the new chapter segment titling of TD2E, earth -1- has been titled.
  • Unlike The Dualist, there have been no massive show-stopping reformats.* Core elements of plot have not been changed, nobody’s really different. The dialogue is now consistent with TD2E (written after TV1a) and there’s a bit more exposition. As with all other exposition, it occurs organically.

* There probably should have been – Dan Minksy has issues with the first two panels of earth -3-, and for good reason. That may be over-hauled at a later date. This round of work was rewrite-only, and I’m sticking to that – time for covers, etceteras.

TV1.b on deck.

While I’ve fixed Ornix’s shirt, I’ve also completely re-written earth to bring it in line with all of the changes made to The Dualist. This rewrite will be implemented over the next couple of weeks. No other formatting or graphical changes will be made, and I don’t think any additional metadata comments will be necessary.

Implementation begins this weekend. As I seemed to average about eight pages a day rewriting TD2E – with a day job – I expect TV.1 to be ground out a bit faster. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Proofreaders, start your engines!

Subversion is up, and so is Interstitial. The second edition is content complete. For now, the only things likely to change are typos and – possibly – nixing that Fridge Logic pointed out in the TVTropes entry.

TD2E is functionally complete. Start here and read till you hit the end – if your nick isn’t xeno and you find a typo, feel free to email me or comment on this blog post, pasting a link to the relevant page with your comment.

Done for words (I hope), but not aesthetics – I still have to implement my ideas for the reworked covers for TD2E and TV and implement the TV.1 rewrite. Then comes the website re-work, which will (FINALLY!) bring the last of the missing bits back, hopefully in a more navigable format. Think cast, lexicon, shipyard, etceteras.

Far from finished, but the visual re-working should be complete. I’ll know for sure when I get around to re-reading DCR, and I don’t plan on doing that until TV.1 is brought up to plot spec. There’s no way in hell 28 (closer to 32-34 counting the bits of DCR.2 that are done) pages could possibly take as long as the 350+ of TD2E. That was over a year in the doing – a year and a bit of change after the covers are completed and wired in.

I’m still meditating on which project is going to resume first – DCR or Transitional Voices. I’ll have a better idea after I’ve knocked the to-do list down to “pick one.” That’s still a few weeks away, at the earliest.

7 Up – The Difference is Clear.

Starting with two new pages here and here, the rest of TD2E Chapter Seven has been uploaded.

I’d plow straight into the once-over and upload of Eight and Interstitial, but I have a social event tonight to get ready for, followed by lunch tomorrow and (hopefully!) a trip to Ralph’s. While I’ll be able to proof the pages, I may not have time to put together a mass upload until Saturday. Before then, with any luck.

42 pages remaining – 43 counting the C8 cover. All processed, all documented, all pretty much ready to go.

Also. Holy crap, ATC’s made it into TVTropes! SQUEEE!!!!

Side note – many years ago, a fan contacted me about creating a wikipedia article for ATC. I gave enthusiastic permission; the article was written and promptly deleted by the site editors due to a lack of “notability.” That article later surfaced on Comixpedia (which is offline or no longer extant as of this writing). Fortunately, TVTropes has a much more admirable stance on notability, so with any luck this entry will stick around. Hopefully other tropers read the article and build on Puffenstuff’s work! :)

As for me… after the SQUEEE!! wears off, I gotta figure out what (if anything) to do about that Fridge Logic.

While you were shopping…

…38 pages of impact were uploaded. 37 if you don’t count the chapter cover.

13:20 <solios> massive amounts of ATC uploaded.
13:20 <xeno> yeah, i saw
13:20 <solios> no point in a final typornograph until it’s ALL done, though.
13:20 <xeno> it shat all over my reader :P
13:20 <solios> :>
13:20 <solios> FLORP!
13:21 <solios> :D

As with the previous Big Big Uploads of chapters five and six, all of these pages were Done months ago, and are expanding onto the website following the completion of Expulsion.

The upload stops here for one reason – there are two more NEW pages to create. The last new pages of the book. When those are done, all remaining pages will be uploaded.

This particular chapter is more than just a reformat and re-write. Several pages have new panels, adding a sub-arc that fleshes out part of the story. The plot hasn’t changed – it’s more like an Obvious Gap has finally been filled in.

The pages with new panels are:

friction -1-
friction -2-
friction -3-
friction -4-
impact -1-
impact -2-

All told it’s roughly a page of new content, spread across six. While new pages have been added here and there, some artwork cleaned up, the entire story rewritten… these are the only “invasive” edits of the Second Edition – the only time new line art is injected into the same page as old, the only time the pacing has been tinkered with.

A breather, then I figure out how I’ll be going about rendering the next two pages. I expect to have them completed within a week – which means The Dualist should be finished within a week.

For the record, the two-day upload total is 117 pages.

Happy holidays!

While you were sleeping.

All of Expulsion was uploaded yesterday afternoon. After that, I once-overed Motion, caught a few typos, and left the house for a bit.

Then came my first proper Thanksgiving dinner in approximately 13 years (thanks, Chris and Laura!). Then an attempted phone home followed by a four hour “nap.”

Then Motion was uploaded in its entirety. Following that, Descent was given a once-over. One error that I’m aware of, followed by upload.

That’s 77 pages in less than 24 hours. Months of No Updates exploding like some kind of Big Bang With Boobs.

I’m going to take another nap (or loaf around for a bit and then take one, I haven’t decided yet), then upload 38 more TD2E pages when I wake up. The Adult Stuff I’d planned to deal with today (and should have dealt with two weeks ago) can wait till Monday. Today, I am Ahab.

Yes Virginia, there is a webcomic.

17:06 -!- Nomikos [~nemo@etc] has joined #dotnet
17:06 < Nomikos> Booyah
17:06 < Nomikos> ATC is updating again? I must’ve missed that
17:10 < Nomikos> I’m glad, thanks.
17:10 -!- Nomikos [~nemo@etc] has left #dotnet []


Expulsion is done. Unlike incursion, this is All New Material. Lots of firsts, the biggest of which is a clear glimpse at The Overplot. Unlike (most) of the other actors in this drama, Yang and Aeon are in possession of most of the facts. Unlike previous posts, I’m comfortable divulging this information.

Seven new pages worked over the past couple of weeks, uploaded in one swat. You’d think being laid off from my day job 12 days ago would have been a big kick in the ass, and it was – just not necessarily in the way I’d expected. I’m still just as Deeply Unmotivated as I have been for the past two years – the difference now is I’ve got plenty of paperwork and other stuff to keep me busy. I’m also FINALLY catching up on sleep. Eighteen months of five to six hours a night (eight, rarely) has left me Truly, Madly, Deeply burned out. Finally having a PC that can run games and do ATC renders in 1/10th the time of previous setups has turned out to mean hours of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. : Shadow of Chernobyl, finding out what the big deal with The Orange Box was,* and Team Fortress 2. So much Team Fortress 2. Production has suffered accordingly. As of the 13th, I’m out of excuses, and I’m out of real-world roadblocks – for a couple of weeks, anyway.

If I felt any less motivated – if I had any less energy – I’d be violating a few laws of physics. More than a few. That doesn’t change what needs doing, where things are, how much has been done, and the massive amount of uploading I’ll be doing over the next few days. Chapters Five and Six have been done for awhile – my next task will be Once Over-ing both of them while setting up renders for the two remaining pages of Chapter Seven.

Then seven and eight go up. Then it’s on to a wealth of other Things That Need Doing – some of it’s is ATC related, some of it’s Finding A Job related. There is some overlap. There is potentially a lot of overlap. The lack of energy is most likely a combination of seasonal and layoff factors, as well as all the fear and uncertainty that comes with the latter. Part of my slate has been cleared for me – I figure it’s on me to clear the rest of it as quickly as possible, making the beginning of 2010 the start of Life 2.0.

This is, perhaps, one of the most critical scenes in The Dualist. It’s also Yang’s first color appearance, the first appearance of Aeon’s “avatar” (given the present Definite Shape of the pre-Dualist outline), my first animal, the first bit of Non-Crazy Astral Space** in the book, the first instance of the ligature to appear inside the story… and the whole thing’s orange enough to counteract the overabundance of blue elsewhere.

Forty Orange.

Forty Orange and the first blatant statement of what this whole damned thing – what these years of effort – might actually be leading to. It’s… unnerving. Like you’re in the middle of a meeting and you suddenly realize your zipper might be down.

Motion in a couple of days – and hopefully some motivation to go with it. Inertia will carry this thing through – I’d prefer some ZIP! and some ZING! and preferably some :D and some ^_^ to go with it. If they show up for the party, awesome. If they don’t… well, so be it.

* Portal? Five hours of awesome. Half-Life 2 and episodes? There’s quite a bit of goodness there, but it’s ultimately A Shooter With An Interesting Story. Emphasis on A Shooter. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is the kind of FPS single-player I’ve always wanted to play, and as such my opinion of HL2 boils down to “It’s the best Doom since Doom 3.” One of these days FPS games that aren’t Halo will implement per-weapon melee attacks and – holy of holies – bayonets. Optional breakable bayonets if my trusty AKM/74 with optional scope and grenade launcher (and in Clear Sky, silencer and accuracy mod) in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. are anything to go by. Did Bungee patent pistol whipping? Is that why every FPS I’ve played since hasn’t implemented it?

Rounding out the “review,” TF2 is the most online fun I’ve had since Wolfenstein : Enemy Territory. It’s basically WET (or Counter Strike or Team Fortress or Quake 3 or, yanno… whatever) with a hell of a lot more fine-tuning, beautiful art direction, a great sense of humor, and the same problem every online multiplayer game has – finding a good server can be a real pain in the trigger finger. You get over that hurdle, and the fun… the fun rolls on for hours. If you’re wondering why this scene wasn’t up sooner, don’t blame my former employer and the last week of craziness – blame Valve. Or if I do an ATC-themed game model (like I’ve been not-very-seriously considering on occasion), thank them.

** Strictly speaking, this isn’t quite Astral. The Aeon’s AI has organic components – it’s technically a sentient life form and as such, it has an astral form. That said form happens to be a dog is in keeping with the ship’s present mental state – it’s been lost, sniffing around the galaxy for its masters for the past forever-and-a-half. While this is technically some kind of Super Holodeck, there’s no actual interface hardware – this entire scene occurs as a psychic communication between Aeon and Yang.

As part of another required test protocol, we will stop enhancing the truth in 3 … 2…

Semi-weekly status “update” :

1. The TV.1 rewrite is plodding along and is presently at just over the half-way point. The rewrite is shaping up to be important from an exposition standpoint, though I may re-draft some of the chunkier bits before committing to it. Re-lettering will be done either after TD2E or while waiting on TD2E renders and in either case won’t be uploaded until after TD2E is complete, as the rewrite now Assumes You’ve Read The Dualist, rather than just toddling along where it left off.

2. TD2E script is still done.

3. Texturing of remaining CG is coming along very, very slowly. The to-do list consists of two objects, an environment, and two dummies. One of the objects is done, one of the dummies is almost done, and no work has been done on the second dummy or the environment. The second object has finally heaved itself off the launch pad and, after a couple of false starts, is finally starting to shape itself into something. While I’ve made substantial progress over the weekend, I still have no idea how long the thing is going to take. I’d like to have the base work done by the 25th and the “flavor” done by Halloween… but I don’t know how likely that is. The last vehicle I textured was the Hemera, almost a year ago… and it was considerably more forgiving.

Also, vastly less central to the story.

The single biggest hurdle of vehicle mapping – for me, anyway – has always been figuring out the final color palette. I’ll know generally what I want something to look like when I start out, but getting The Exact Colors is always a lengthy period of trial and error. That part of the ordeal is over with – now it’s down to refining the design and getting it Done.