Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Back in Town & Back to Work

I just returned home last night after being out of town for the last five days (for xmas). I should be able to start page 11 tonight. My self imposed date for publishing the new chapter is January 8th and I think that’s a reasonable timetable. I don’t think there will be more than a few more pages left to complete and I have more than a week to get it done.

For those interested in the print version of the comic, once chapter 9 is done, I will work on Part Two. Part One was a book that included the Prologue and the first four chapters. Part Two will include chapters 5-9. Now that I have an improved publishing program, I hope to make this part look better. I learned a few lessons from my first attempt, so we’ll see how well this goes. ;-)

I’d also like to do some more work on the RPG. I’ve made progress, but it’s still the “red-headed stepchild” of this enterprise so I’m not working too much on it. However, it would be nice to get it out there and see if anyone is willing to buy it, or even think it’s a good game. As I’ve said before, I’m procrastinating a bit, partly due to fear of rejection. Nevertheless, I can’t spend my time worrying about that!

Monday, December 19, 2005

$ Down the Drain

I completed the renders for page 9, which begins the final stretch of the chapter. At this point, I’m not sure how many more pages there’ll be, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it goes to 15 pages.

I also spent the weekend getting some of the props/ships ready for the rest of the chapter. This will be a fairly complex space battle involving a few surprises. As part of that, I downloaded a couple of assets from DAZ, one of which is actually for Bryce, not Poser. Although I’ve used Bryce somewhat, I’ve always found it a bit confusing. However, after reading some online tutorials, I felt more comfortable with the program. As for the regular Poser asset I downloaded, I decided not to use it after all. In fact, I was a bit disappointed in how it looked once I starting working with it. Hopefully I can incorporate it later, but for now its $10 down the drain. ;-)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Kate and Alexander

I completed pages seven and eight. These last few pages have been a conversation between Alexander and his sister, but I decided to cut it a little shorter than I originally planned. I just didn’t feel it was going anywhere, and I’m now able to focus on the action at the end of the chapter. I have a few things I need to create and/or buy for the last few pages, but I can do that tonight maybe.

The work from my day job is mostly over until the beginning of next year, so I can focus on the comic more. However, we’re leaving town later next week, so I won’t have too much time. Nevertheless, I think the chapter will be done on time without any problems.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Choose Your Own Adventure

I’ve completed pages one through five, and the renders for page six. I think the progress on the current chapter is largely on schedule, although again my work (day job) has meant some very long (and late) hours. I’m in the middle of three weeks were we’re deploying a lot of late night code, so it means my sleep cycle is a little screwed up. Also, I’ll be out of town for at least four days over Xmas, so I won’t be getting anything done during that time either.

Last week I took a few hours to work on a quick mockup for an idea of mine. Using the Imperium universe, I thought about creating a so-called “choose your own adventure” story online. Basically, each webpage would have a render of the scene, a description, and then some choices for the reader to progress through the story. If I really chose to do this, however, I’d want it database driven so I wouldn’t have to do 100+ web pages. Instead, it would be a single page that repopulates based on what the reader chooses. Although I don’t think it would be too hard, I’m not knowledgeable enough right now to do that technically, plus I don’t have the time to work on the story itself (although I have a few ideas).

I’ve also worked on the role-playing game, especially the formatting of the actual rules document. I bought an older version of Microsoft Publisher and I’m using that now instead of just MS Word. Although this version of Publisher isn’t as good as the one we have at work, it does give me a lot better freedom to position text and images. Back when I had a poetry magazine, I used Publisher then too, so I’m pretty familiar with the program. It’s not PageMaker or FrameMaker (other publishing programs), but it lets me do what I need to and it was cheap(!)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Humans Suck: Long Live Robots!

Page 4 is almost complete: just the post work remains. I haven’t been able to do much over the last couple of days due to my work schedule, which has been pretty intense lately.

As some of you may know (such as by reading the bio section), I worked at turning Imperium Online into a MMORPG for two years before abandoning that idea and starting the web comic. Since quitting the game, however, I have suffered sporadic dreams of again turning my vision into an online game. This would be a terrible idea for several reasons, which is why I always chide myself for having these thoughts. Today, I came across a post mortem by Radu Privantu who wrote about a MMORPG he created. Although programming has its own headaches, I found that most of his issues were created by the people playing the game, including cheating and other hacks. Considering my love-hate relationship with Humanity, reading things like this post mortem will hopefully keep my game development dreams in check for a while longer.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Chapter 9 Started

Over the four day Thanksgiving holiday, I was able to finish the first three pages of chapter 9. The beginning takes place on the bridge of the Provocateur, which was first shown at the very end of chapter 6. However, for the current chapter, I actually reduced the overall size of the set so I could remove some extra figures (instrumentation, etc.) that might slow down render times. Since none of that was shown in the chapter 6 render, I have the luxury of making the changes now.

I also did enough renders for a preview for chapter 9, which I uploaded to the website. I put the estimated publish date for January 8th, although I’m hopeful I can get it done sooner. However, since I’ll be out of town due to the Christmas holiday at the end of December, I wanted to hedge my bets a little and give myself more time if necessary.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Nav Bar Changes

I finished making the changes I had planned for the website. On the surface, it doesn’t look like there was much to the changes (new nav bar and a couple new pages), but it actually took me quite a while due to an early design choice I had made. Now, after these changes, I will be able to make additional changes (at least as far as the nav bar is concerned) much more easily.

I also finished one of the sets for the next chapter, namely Katherine’s stateroom on the Provocateur. The next chapter is called Durant Blixx and, not surprisingly, all the action takes place on his command ship. Creating Katherine’s room led my wife to comment that it’s like I’m playing with Barbies. And what’s wrong with that? Can’t a grown man play with virtual Barbies?? Anyway . . . I plan to work on a script for the beginning of the chapter today so I can get started on renders ASAP. I have this Thursday and Friday off due to the Thanksgiving holiday, so if I don’t pass out due to too much turkey, I’ll have extra time to work on the chapter. :-)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Chapter 8 Online!

I was able to finish up and publish the new chapter last night. It looks like I’m going to be working this weekend on my day job, so it was important that I get everything done before then (since I didn’t know if I’d have time).

Within the next week or so, I plan to upgrade the website slightly by redoing the navigation bar. I’ve never been very happy with it actually: although it looks fine using Internet Explorer, the bar moves out of place using Firefox (my personal browser of choice). So, when I have time, I’m simply put in a more conventional one that will function better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Almost Done w/ Ch 8

I finished the last renders for chapter 8 last night, although I still have the post-work (Photoshop) to do. I hope to complete most of that tonight and perhaps tomorrow, depending on my day-job schedule which has been a little hectic of late. Don’t you hate it when the job that earns you money interferes with the stuff that doesn’t pay you anything? ;-)

By the way, the other night while I lay awake, I came up with some ideas that will help tie things together later in the story. I don’t want to go into the details too much, but they involve the new character Maal-Bok and Lady Sophia in a later chapter. Another idea involves the little robot from chapter 8 (named Squirt) and the Magna Ambassador (again, in a later chapter). Although I didn’t necessarily need any of these to tell the story, by adding them I will make the story more believable and interesting.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Enter Maal-Bok

I completed page 11 and the renders on 12 over the weekend. I should only have one more page before being done with the chapter. This means I should publish chapter 8 within the next few days (the weekend at the latest).

For pages 11 and 12, I was using the third set of the chapter (inside Lord Tycho’s manor). I used Stonemason’s gothic construction kit with one of the additional skins that you can get with it. When I started doing the renders however (after the set was finished), I was not happy with how it looked, so I went back to the original textures. I’m still not 100% happy with how the walls react to the lighting, but it’s close enough.

Page 11 also introduces a new character, Maal-Bok. He is important, because of what he could represent in the plot (a possible escalation?). He’s also bad-ass looking which always helps.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Today I was looking at stuff for the second set featured in chapter 8: the interior for Lord Tycho’s manor. It’s actually two sets, one for an exterior shot and another main one for the interior. As originally envisioned, it will have a gothic feel, so lots of stone, etc. I plan to use Stonemason’s Gothic Construction Kit featured on Daz3d for the interior, with some additional furniture that I hope to scrap up from wherever I can find it.

Over the weekend I finished pages 8 and 9, although I think I could’ve done more if I hadn’t procrastinated as much. For the sake of full disclosure, I’ve been playing the City of Villains online game a lot since it was launched last week (and I was playing it in beta testing as well). It doesn’t really impact my work on the comic too much, but whenever I feel stuck, I end up playing the game instead of working on the comic. At the same time, I’ve been procrastinating on the role-playing game for many weeks as well. I have plenty of notes, but I can’t seem to get myself to type any of it up formally. In some ways it’s writer’s block, but in other ways I’m just afraid that it’s all for nothing and nobody would buy the game once it’s done anyway (thus wasting all that time and effort). The fear of failure (or perhaps even the fear of success) is generally my worst enemy when it comes to procrastination.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Andromeda Galaxy

I’ve completed the renders for page 8, and I’ll try to finish the post work tonight, or perhaps start on page 9. I have two vacation days next week that I hope to use for the comic unless my wife wants us to go somewhere (yes, it’s all her fault!).

Speaking of my wife, awhile back she asked me where the humans featured in the story actually come from (and how they relate to Earth). This is the sort of question people like me dread because I hadn’t really thought about it. I preferred to think of them as totally separate from us, sort of in their own parallel universe. Although I’m still leaning that way, I decide this morning that the Imperium is located in the Andromeda Galaxy (approximately 2.9 million light years from the Milky Way). I really don’t know if I’ll even mention that in the story (now or ever), but at least it opens the door to ideas that maybe the humans of the Imperium were taken from Earth at some point (or vise versa) and moved to that far away galaxy, for reasons unknown.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Did U Get that Grunka I Sent U?

I found some interesting things about my Grunka (so to speak). I got the name from a line of kitchen utensils at IKEA, but knowing that they always get their names from places and things in Sweden, I decided to dig a little deeper. As it turns out, the word grunka means “thing,” as in “Did you get that thing I sent you?” It’s basically the word in Swedish you use when you don’t know or don’t specify what that thing actually is. I guess you could say that my Grunka is some sort of a generic monster (just a something that comes out of the jungle and eats people, perhaps using some kitchen utensils from IKEA).

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Is Smitty a Red Neck?

I was out of town for the last five days, so I haven’t made any additional progress on the chapter. However, tonight I should start on page 6. Last night I was looking at some of the dialogue I’ve written so far, especially for Smitty. I’ve basically given him a hick or red neck accent to better portray his “earthy” nature. Since I’m currently reading Allan Moore’s From Hell, I may also have a little cockney mixed in (although not on purpose).

Starting on either page 6 or 7, the group will be attacked by a jungle monster called a Grunka. Back when I was still working to create an online game version of Imperium, the Grunka was featured on the website. It looks a little like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, but much larger and with several more limbs. It also doesn’t have any intelligence, other than the desire to eat people.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve written many notes for the RPG, specifically the starship section (i.e. ship systems, ship types, etc.). However, I haven’t actually entered them yet so for now they remain only notes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Lucid Moment

Just a quick update (mainly because I keep forgetting what I was going to say): pages 3 and 4 are done, and I should start on 5 tonight.

Today I had one of those lucid moments that come so rarely for me, concerning the RPG. Basically, the cost of a print version of the rules in color would be x3 as much as black and white. Since these rules are new, I wanted to keep the price low to encourage people to buy it, so color would make the cost too high. Although I could do it all in b&w, including the graphics, it really doesn’t look as good as color (not surprisingly). However, today it occurred to me that I could have two versions: a downloadable one in color (which avoids the expensive printing costs), and a second one in b&w specifically for printing. This way, both versions will be around $3-6, and a color one is available if so desired (although only for download). Of course, I’m probably the only person actually excited by this, but it’s good to know I still have some brain cells left. ;-)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Script Writing

I didn’t do any renders last night, but I have been writing dialogue, which really makes the rendering process go more smoothly (more planned that is). Before the chapter starts into its first action sequence, Smitty and Alexander talk for a little while and we get some more insight into the former and Gordians in general.

I have also been working more on the RPG, including artwork which are mostly renders done with Poser. These include new images of the different races. I’ve also taken the Five Family crests and made them more presentable. I’ve added a section of Reputation and Faction, which is almost verbatim from the design document for the original Imperium Online game. As I’ve mentioned before, my intent was to reuse stuff from the game so it didn’t go to waste. However, it most cases I’ve had to start from scratch.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Those foul mouthed Gordians

Pages 1 and 2 are done, and I think I should have enough material to put up a preview for chapter 8. So far at least, I’m pleased with how things are looking. The set is very lush, and I’ve tried to include a little more shading (per suggestions by Thip). My wife is proofreading my work again, so maybe I won’t have too many typos either.

The Smitty Gurkin character is a much more “earthy” than the other more aristocratic characters. Gordians are crude by nature, which allows me to include some harsher language and scatological humor, etc. Having said that, however, there isn’t really what you’d call “swearing” in the chapter. I decided early on that I wanted the story to be PG-13, so I’ve purposely avoided using the F word, among others. Future stories might be different, but I wanted to stick with keeping Alexander the Prince more children friendly.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Chapter 8 Begins!

I started on page 1 of chapter 8 last night. I had already done the prep work on Tue and Wed, mostly getting the set ready, including the title character Smitty Gurkin. By the way, Smitty got his name from a wrong number my wife received many months ago. Someone called and asked for a guy named Smitty and with a last name that sounded a bit like Gherkin. Anyway, after modifying the spelling, I though it would be a fun name for a “colorful” character which is how I would describe my Smitty Gurkin (ie: a foul-mouth Gordian).

Anyway, I got the renders done last night for the first page and started some of the post work. I’m layering in some additional foliage since Prill is a jungle planet and I want it to look as lush as possilbe. I’ve also included a companion robot named Squirt (instead of Quirk, which is what I mentioned in a previous post). The ironic thing is that Smitty himself is short, so he likes having a robot that’s even shorter.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Ch 7 Online

The new chapter is online now, although I’m again second-guessing myself on how I could’ve done things differently. However, I’m already thinking about the next chapter, which I hope will be better (with more action).

Chapter 8 is called Smitty Gurkin who happens to be a Gordian (as in “Gordian knot”). In the databank section, I talk a little about the race: they’re basically a cross between a fantasy dwarf and a warthog (with a personality to match). He will be meeting Alexander when the prince arrives on Prill. The planet, by the way, is tropical jungle with rain and vines, etc. I may also include another character as a foil or at least counterpoint for Smitty. If I decided to use him, he’ll be a robot named Quirk. I’m still not sure, however, if I’ll need him. Anyway, there will be at least two action sequences in this chapter so I’m hoping to make up for chapter 7. ;-)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Four Day Weekend!

I had a four day weekend, so I used that time to work on the comic. I finished four pages (7-10) and I think I only have one more before I’ll be done with the chapter. This leaves me several days ahead of schedule so I might be able to publish before the weekend. This hasn’t been the easiest chapter in the world due to the lack of action, so at times I’ve had trouble getting “into” what I was doing. I’m hopeful the next chapter will be different since I plan a decent amount of fighting. I’ve even added an additional fight that I hadn’t originally planned on, just to give it a little more “kick.”

I haven’t done very much at all on the RPG over the last week. I’ve been procrastinating for no good reason. Once I decided to go ahead and include space combat in the game, I’ve been stuck with writer’s block, even for sections that have nothing to do with space combat. It’s weird how I get writers block sometimes. It’s like I feel paralyzed. However, it’s time to stop complaining and get to work! ;-)

Monday, September 19, 2005

RPG Breakthrough

I’ve completed most of the renders on page 7 and should complete the rest of it and post work by tonight. I also posted the preview for chapter 7 on the website. Considering what images I included in the preview, I could’ve posted it sooner (after the first few pages were done).

On a different front, I had a breakthrough Sunday concerning the role-playing game. I had been very unhappy with how it was going and felt it was far too complex, enough that it would be an undue burden for anyone actually playing. However, I was sitting on the couch and the various alternatives that had been floating in my mind finally fell into place. As a result, I’ve vastly simplified the mechanics of the rules, thus throwing out much of what I had done previously. This included things like a crafting system, which never made me very happy anyway. On the other hand, having more simplified mechanics is already helping me make progress so I’m quite pleased so far. :-)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Isabella & Richard

I didn’t work on the comic last night, and instead stepped back and thought about how I wanted to structure the dialogue for the rest of the chapter. Besides filling in some of the blanks for the conversation between Alex and Richard (and Isabella), I also decided that there will be a separate dialogue between Isabella and Richard after Alex has left. If I do this, it will allow me to flesh out both characters more and discuss some of the other side issues that are involved in the story. At the very least, figuring this out has made me less anxious about the rest of the chapter. However, I still need to write up the dialogue to pull it all together.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Nav Changes

Based on the comment from my previous post (thanks, Doug!), I’ve changed the navigation on the main page of the website. Basically, I added direct links to the different chapters and changed the heading on the main nav bar to read “Chapters” instead of “Stories.” I’m hopeful this will improve the experience for visitors, especially new ones.

I completed page 5 last night and will shortly head into the part where Prince Richard appears. I am concerned, however, that this will be a short chapter. That’s not the end of the world, of course, but I really would like to have at least 10-12 pages if possible. On the other hand, this is just a “bridge” chapter with just a bunch of dialogue, so getting on with the action might not be such a bad idea. In retrospect, however, I regret not having a scene showing Alexander in the hospital with Lucy. I had originally planned on that, but since the chapter is supposed to be focused on Isabella, I chose to go straight to her.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

2 Steps Forward: 1 Step Back

I completed page three last night, although it seemed to take a long time – not sure why. The renders themselves are actually going quickly, but for some reason the post work is taking awhile. Now that I have three pages done, I could probably put up the preview for the next chapter on the website. Looking at what I have so far, however, I’m wondering if the preview would be all that compelling (ie: no space ships or beautiful scenery).

I’ve also worked a little more on the role-playing game, but it’s kind of two steps forward and one step back: every time I make a breakthrough with something, I find myself thinking other parts are a mess. Right now it’s more a problem of how to organize the information, etc. Instead of having all the relevant stuff in one place, it seems to be spread out too much. At times it becomes a bit overwhelming.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Captain Harrison

I’ve finished pages 1 and 2, and half the renders on 3. After completing the renders on the first page, I realized that the set was rather drab (especially considering it’s the only set I plan to use). I decided to buy some vines to dress the set; however, I quickly discovered this would be a nightmare from a render time standpoint. Instead, I decided to render the vines separately and add them in Photoshop. So, all of the vines you see in this chapter will have been added post-render. My only concern about this is making sure there is continuity between panels.

By the way, although I didn’t name him in Chapter 6, I decided to name the Captain after my cat Harrison. I also updated the Character page to reflect that. Since both are gray tabbies, I figured it fit. ;-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Chapter 7 Started

I’ve begun work on chapter 7. Although I may change my mind, I believe the entire chapter will take place on a single set, namely a courtyard at Isabella’s palace on Revenna. It’s a stone courtyard with an almost medieval look, but to add contrast I’ve placed a skycar (as seen in chapter 2) in the middle of it. I’ve always liked the idea of old versus new, or low tech with high tech.

The chapter will be split into three basic parts: an introductory conversation between the Empress and one of our consorts, then the Empress and Alexander, and finally the Empress, Alexander, and Richard. Like chapter 5, this chapter is essentially a bridge setting up the action in the next few chapters.

Over the weekend, I managed to make some progress on the role-playing game, although I was feeling a bit overwhelmed for part of the time. Nevertheless, I finally got my act together and added some important content. I’m still months away from being done, but at least I’m relatively happy with the direction I’m currently going with it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Chapter 6 Now Online

It’s a day late, but chapter 6 is now online! I published it last night after finishing up the dialogue on pages 12 and 13, and doing the web stuff in Dreamweaver. This weekend I’m going to take a break from the comic and work on the Imperium Chronicles role-playing game. Since the graphic novel takes precedence, the RPG has been coming along slowly. I’ve also been a little gun shy on some of the content, since I want it to stand out among others of the genre. I’m basically taking some of the lessons I’ve learned from MMOPRGs and incorporating them into a pen-and-paper game. Ironically, many of the MMORPGs out there (such as the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons) are online games based on their PnP roots.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


I’ve completed most of the post work on page 12 and started the renders on 13, which I believe will be the last page of the chapter. This means I should hit my target date of Wednesday (8/24) for publishing chapter 6.

While I was doing the post work on 12, I noticed I had made a continuity mistake. In the Prologue, Durant Blixx’s ship the Provocateur fires a reddish beam from its plasma cannons, whereas I had used a blue beam and explosions in the current chapter. After cursing myself for being careless, I decided to simply go with the mistake since fixing the problem would be too time consuming. Still, this points out an important aspect of doing such a long story: it’s not always easy to keep straight all the little things that you do during the process. It helps to go back and review the other chapters to see how I did things perhaps several months previously.

By the way, per a suggestion from my wife, I’ve included an obscure Calvin & Hobbes reference in chapter 6, which I’m curious to see if anyone recognizes. The fact that the captain in the chapter is feline (Akiak) is appropriate I suppose.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

No Pirate Bridge After All

Last week I had a bad head cold so I seemed to be stuck on page 7 for a few days. Since then, however, I’ve finished up through page 9 and most of page 10. In an earlier posting, I had mentioned making a second set (the bridge of the pirate ship), but I don’t think I’m going to use it after all (at least not during this chapter). As it stands now, I think the chapter will end up at 13-14 pages, which may or may not require me to postpone publishing until Aug 27-28 (a delay of 3-4 days). If I had used the pirate bridge, however, the chapter would have gone at least 16-18 pages. It would’ve shown some interaction between Durant Blixx and Lady Sophia. Although I regret not having that, it’s not enough of a big deal to make me delay publication.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

My Own Thing

I’ve completed pages 5 and 6, and will start 7 tonight. I added the preview pages to the website showing some samples of chapter 6. I also gave the estimated publish date as Wednesday, August 24th, which is a few days later than I was originally thinking, but will give me a little more time.

Last Saturday I went to Wizard World here in Chicago. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to see Frank Miller. I had hoped he could sign my graphic novel (the printed version of course), but that didn’t happen. Instead, my wife and I walked around for a couple of hours. The conference hall was packed with thousands of people (a few in costumes). There were also several artists with their own comics, some with samples. It was interesting to see so much talent, and I wondered how many would actually get to sell their work successfully. None were of the Poser/CGI variety like mine, but that’s okay. I’ve never really considered my stuff as traditional comics, and in fact, I’m really more drawn to so-called graphic novels. I’ve read of some controversy about what is a comic and what’s a graphic novel. Either way, however, I just keep doing my own thing.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


I’ve completed pages 1-4, and started the renders on page 5. If I can keep on this pace (and assuming the chapter isn’t more than 12 pages long), I should be able to publish chapter 6 on the weekend of August 20-21. I also think I have enough material that I can put a preview up on the website as early as tonight.

I want to thank Thip who left a long and thoughtful comment on my previous blog posting. He made a lot of good insights into my graphic novel, especially on ways he believes it could be improved. Feedback is helpful, and I appreciate him doing that! He also has an online comic of his own (using Poser as I do). Please take a look at Purgatory. It’s very good.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Wizard World

Sorry I haven’t updated the Blog lately. I’ve completed page one and most of page 2. I’ve also completed a second set (the bridge of a pirate ship) for the chapter (even though I originally thought I’d only need one set).

Although he’s only a minor character, I introduce the Captain of the ship that brought Alexander and company to Revenna (and which takes them to see the Glitter Fields). The captain is an Akiak, a feline race. Although I didn’t originally plan it, I’ve stumbled into some dialogue about the racial prejudices within the Imperium and especially the naval officer corp. Since most officers are from aristocratic families and most aristocrats are Human, most officers are therefore human. That makes it difficult for another race to reach higher ranks in the navy (or other parts of the military for that matter). Again, I didn’t plan on having that in the chapter, but it gives some added flavor to the Imperium “environment” so to speak.

My wife and I will be going to Wizard World here in Chicago in August. It’s a comics convention and will have people like Frank Miller (Sin City, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, etc.). It’s the first comics convention I’ve ever been to, so it should be “interesting.” I have ordered one of my Imperium Chronicles Tshirts that I will wear there, perhaps giving some very primitive advertising. I got the first sample of the tshirts this week. The quality is good, although of course it’s still just a tshirt. I ordered one of the mouse pads next, which I hope is even better.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Chronicles in Print!

Through, I got my first copy of Alexander the Prince: Part One in bound form. It really looks quite good, although I think the pages are a little dark. However, I’m happy with it and others seem to think it looks good too. Meanwhile, I’ve also uploaded different images to another site called, which allows me to sell merchandise like T-shirts, mugs, etc. I’m not sure anyone will buy this stuff, but it would help me earn some extra money and help pay for the comic’s operating expenses.

Although I took a couple of days off working on the comic, I got back to it last night. I started building the only set that I’ll be using for the whole chapter. Basically, chapter 6 takes place on the bridge of a spaceship as Alexander and Co. look at the glitter fields. The fields, by the way, are an area in space where asteroids had impacted, forming a cluster of brightly lit particles (like metal confetti or chaff). If everything goes as planned, there should be significant action in this chapter, including fighting on the bridge itself, and out in space between ships. It will also be somewhat violent in that at least one of the crew will be killed by blaster fire.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Chapter 5 Now Online!

Chapter 5 is now online for your entertainment. I’m gratified that I was able to publish it on time, unlike chapter 4 which was a week late. I also updated the Characters page with a description of Isabella Montros (the Empress) and Lady Sophia (Lady in Waiting for Princess Katherine). Last but not least, I’ve also drastically simplified the main logo for the site. As my wife mentioned, the old logo looked a bit “old fashioned” while the new one looks more modern. It actually grew from my work on the cover of the print version of the comic that I’ve been putting together. I’ve always been drawn toward a simplified look for websites, so it came naturally. On the other hand, my total lack of talent when it comes to regular graphic arts and web design kind of forced me to do things this way.

By the way, although it probably won’t interest too many of my readers, I have decided to take my work on the original Imperium online game and convert it into a pen-and-paper role-playing game. Previously, I had worked on the comic each night and then played an online game of some sort. However, I’ve grown tired of playing so I decided to use that time to convert my old design document into a PnP RPG. I only mention this so nobody thinks I’m taking away time I’d otherwise be working on the comic. Anyway, when I’m done with the new game, I’ll sell it through, just like the print version of the comic.

Monday, July 11, 2005 - Self-publishing Site

There’s a great website called for self-publishing, whether books, ebooks, CDs, etc. I’ve wanted to publish the comic in hard copy form, but haven’t known of a low-cost way of doing so until I heard about this site. I also didn’t think I could use the images from the website due to the resolution (which would’ve meant redoing all the post work for each page). I had done the resolution at 72 dpi/ppi, which is fine for viewing on the computer screen, but too low to be viable in print form (at least at the image size similar to the one on the site). However, after doing additional research, I found a way to resample the photoshop images, thus increasing the resolution and keeping the size. Anyway, using my new knowledge, I converted the images and put them into print form using the lulu website. After I finished, I ordered a copy for myself so I can confirm whether it’s presentable or not. If it is, I’ll put it out there for sale (either as a download or a bound copy).

Of course, I was also working on the current chapter of the comic this weekend. This was an exercise in frustration, however. Nevertheless, I completed the renders and most of the post work for page 8. I’ve also removed some of the models from the set (those characters left the room basically), so I think the remaining pages should take less time (or at least less frustration). Since I had scheduled the publishing of chapter 5 for this coming weekend, I have several more pages to complete in a short amount of time. However, if need be, I’ll simply postpone publication for a few days into next week. I don’t think that it will be more than that.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


It’s déjà vu all over again: I spent 3 hours last night on a single panel for page 7. As I mentioned, I was concerned that the volume of stuff in the ballroom scene would choke my system and I was right. Eventually, I just took out as many of the models as I could stand, and then re-rendered the same scene three separate times. This is basically what I did in chapter one, but for some reason I couldn’t fit as many models per render this time. Anyway, I will try the post work for the panel tonight. Also, I’ve been shopping around for new RAM for my computer today, which I will try to order within the next day or two. Currently, I only have 512 Megs, which obviously hasn’t been enough, so I will double that number to over a Gig. It should cost me in the neighborhood of $120 for the RAM, if I install it myself. Although I’ve spent plenty of money for models and sets, etc., this will be the first time that I buy actual hardware directly due to my work on the comic.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Isabella & Her Ballroom

I spent most of the weekend doing the setup for the remainder of chapter 5. This included the model for Empress Isabella Montros, the mother of Alexander, Richard, and Katherine. Basically, I took the model for Kate and then aged her face and body (making some other changes as well, including adding quite a few pounds to the body). I then created some additional models such as Isabella’s courtiers, and downloaded the Ballroom set where the rest of chapter 5 will take place.

Speaking of the Ballroom, although it wasn’t hard getting the set ready, it will clearly be difficult to get the renders done due to its size and the number of models populating it. As was the case for chapter 1, I will try to mitigate this problem by removing some of the models that are not in a particular shot. However, this only solves some of the issue. Yesterday, actually, the big frustration was getting the lighting the way I wanted it. I spend at least two hours trying to get one render done, but failed miserably. Finally, I got the lighting right, but by that time I had run out of time for the day. Tonight, I hope I can finally get page 7 started.

Btw, over the weekend, I also figured out how many more chapters there will be: a total of 13. Assuming each chapter takes 5-6 weeks, that means I won’t be done with Alexander the Prince until early 2006.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Money Shot

I’ve completed page 5 and finished the renders for page 6. As I’ve mentioned, the chapter is basically split into two parts, and page 6 is the last page for the first part. It ends, in fact, with a kiss between Alexander and Lady Sophia. Although their relationship has supposedly ended, apparently there’s still some “heat” between them. Speaking of which, I had some trouble getting the “money shot” of the two of them kissing. I had to do at least 3 renders before I felt I had a shot I could actually use. It’s still not perfect, but it’s adequate I think.

Earlier in the week I was working on getting a guest book onto the website, but I’ve had some technical problems. I first went through three different guest books until I decided to use one in particular. However, being only self taught, it’s taking me some time to set the guest book up properly. If I can’t, I’ll just forget about it, but I’d really like to learn more about the people who visit my site. I’m curious about my audience and why they come to read my work. It’s just another example of my narcissism I guess.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Sometimes Better to be Lucky

I had a productive weekend: I completed pages 3 and 4, and started on the renders (and some of the post work) for page 5. This was good since I was running a little bit behind on my pages. I need to do about 3 a week to get a new chapter out every 4 to 5 weeks.

Due to being a scatter-brain, page 4 presented a slight problem. Basically, I did the first three renders on day and the rest a day later. In between, I finalized (in my head at least) the dialogue for the page. However, once I arranged the panels the way I had originally planned, I realized that the first three had no actual dialogue associated with them. I had forgotten about them when I decided on the dialogue! So, I starred at the page for a while until I came up with a solution: namely to move two of the “speechless” panels to the end. This actually worked out pretty well, but it points out that I am either a) very talented, or b) lucky. Since “a” isn’t very likely, I am at least glad that “b” is sometimes the case, otherwise I might’ve had to redo some of the renders or redo the page.

Finally, I estimate that I’ll be done with the chapter the weekend of July 16-17th.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Slow Progress as Usual

Page 1 is done, but I’m still finishing the renders for page 2. It’s been slow largely due to my schedule lately, not because I’m having trouble with the chapter itself. In fact I think I have a good handle on the dialogue, at least for the first several pages. I’ve reviewed my original source material (the unfinished novel) and I think I can use a lot of the dialogue, even more so than in the previous chapter. As I’ve said before, having the script finalized before I do the renders makes the process go a lot faster since I can plan more efficiently.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Chapter 5 Begins

I did the first few renders of chapter 5 last night. I spent the day or two before that creating the first set (which takes place on a space craft) and creating the model for Lady Sophia. As you will see, Sophia has a rather gothic/vampire look which wasn’t entirely on purpose, but which I’m okay with. She’s a femme fatale, so looking like a vampire isn’t necessarily inappropriate. Although her character is not as macho as Lucy, Sophia is still a powerful individual. One of the things I try to convey is a level of ambition in all creatures in the story, even though they may go about it in different ways. Just as Lucy uses her physical strength to get what she wants, Sophia uses her “feminine charms” (among other things) to achieve her goals. Just about everyone, except maybe robots, have some agenda or another, normally involving power. This includes the women as well as the men.

As I mentioned above, I have created the spaceship interior, but what I don’t have yet is the exterior (for the first panel of the chapter). This has been a consistent problem for me since I never seem to find a model that’s suitable. I can, as I did for the Prologue, create one myself, but I really don’t think my efforts create the quality that I’m looking for.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Chapter 4 Now Online!

Although it was a week late, Chapter 4 is now online (actually since Sunday). Overall I think people have liked it, which makes me happy.

Chapter 5 is called Katherine Augustus and is divided into two parts: the first takes place on the ship carrying Kate, Alexander, and Lady Sophia (Kate’s handmaiden, so to speak) to Revenna, the planet where the Emperoress (Isabella Montros) lives. The second part takes place on Revenna itself where the before mentioned characters talk with Isabella, surrounded by her courtiers. I don’t expect this chapter to take as much time as Chapter 4 since it’s mostly dialogue.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Final Two Pages

Chapter 4 will be 14 pages long: I made that realization yesterday when I finished the renders for page 12. After I completed that page, I went ahead and planned out 13 and 14. I knew what I wanted to happen, but I hadn’t been close enough to the end that I could actually plan out (accurately) how many more pages it would take.

So, I have the weekend (Fri – Sun.) to complete the last two pages and prepare the site for publishing the chapter. I think it’s doable, depending on how frustrated I get doing the last two pages. I think it should be okay, though.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

On Track for Weekend

I completed pages 9 and 10 last night. I’m not very happy with how the lighting/color looks on 9, but it’s not so terrible that I’m going to fix it. On the other hand, my wife made me watch this horrible show on Fox last night with an angry chief who kept yelling at the other chiefs to try and motivate them to push themselves. While I was working on these two pages, I could hear the chief yelling at me too: “How can you accept such crappy work! Do you really want other people to see this sh*t?” It was a bit disconcerting.

Although I had estimated the chapter will take 12 pages, I have a feeling it might spill a little over into a page 13. Either way, however, I’m pretty confident that I’ll be done by the weekend.

Friday, June 03, 2005

No "I" in Story

I’ve completed the renders for page 9, but I haven’t done the post work. I had hesitated to finish page 8’s post work because I wasn’t 100% happy with the dialogue for it. However, since then I’ve done new dialogue that pleases me more. I also have the dialogue for page 9 so I should be able to completely finish both tonight.

I’ve had a lot of confidence problems with this chapter. Perhaps it was the week long vacation I took during it, but basically I’ve felt very detached. I haven’t felt comfortable at all. I’ve also wondered whether any of this is even worth it and whether anyone would care if I quit (which I don’t intend to do, by the way). Lately it’s occurred to me that I care too much about what others think of the story and where it’s going instead of just doing it for me. This might sound selfish, but as a writer it’s important that you tell the story that’s within you and not someone else. The fact is it’s entirely possible nobody will like your story or even hate it. I think most of us, including myself, want to be liked and want to be successful. However, if you think too much about that, it can make you crazy or, in my case, depressed. So, I’m trying to focus on telling the story and not worry about what others think or even if anybody comes to my website to see it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ch 4 Delayed Until 6/12!

Sorry for not updating the blog recently. I’ve been busy cranking out pages, but I must still officially postpone the new chapter for one week (now set for June 12th).

Since we had a three-day weekend, I was able to get a little more work done. I’ve completed pages 6 and 7, and completed the renders on page 8. I’ve also added more sound effects, so to speak, to the frames. I had not used that much in the previous chapters, but I felt it was required now. I decided against the manga-style of action whereas speed lines are used in the background. In other words, if a character was attacking, the background would show many lines to convey “speed” or action. However, instead I used another technique which shows “ghost” images, in this case of a sword blade, as it slices through the air. This is a more “Western” style of comic representation, which is ironic since most of the comics/graphic novels I’ve read have been manga (the Japanese style).

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


I’ve completed the post work on pages 4 and 5. However, I didn’t work on the comic at all last night. Considering I’m already behind, this brings up an interest point for me: Guilt!

Contrary to what my wife thinks, people do indeed check my site for updates and actually seem to show an interest in the story. This is why I take seriously trying to get each new chapter done in a timely manner. This is also why I sometimes feel pressure to work on the comic even when I don’t particularly “feel” like it. And when I don’t work on it, I feel a twinge of guilt for those who are waiting on me. From the stats on the website, I can see when people (although I don’t know who exactly) check the final page of the previous chapter or the preview pages, apparently to see if a new chapter has been added. Every time I see that I think “D’oh – it’s coming, it’s coming!” This is not a bad thing, mind you, and in fact it motivates me a lot. Still, I try not to stress myself out about it either, even though I do anyway. ;-)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Dueling Poses

Although I got the renders done for pages 4 and 5, I found myself having difficulty with the dueling poses. I had hoped to use some pre-made ones either from or, but neither had any that were suitable. So, I had to do them by scratch, which is time consuming. Since the rest of the chapter IS just a big sword fight, this is going to delay me even more. Nevertheless, I hope to get the chapter out only a week behind schedule (June 12th instead of 6th).

On the bright side, I’ve added trees to the background so at least that’s looking better. For the renders I already did, I had to go back and add the trees in Photoshop. This was a little tricky, but not too bad. It made me feel good to be able to do it in the first place, since it made me feel like I was actually able to use the software “well.” It’s even possible I’ve actually learned a few things since I started using the software. :-)

I was also plagued by doubts about the dialogue. I went back to my original unfinished novel to see what I had written for this scene. Although I don’t intend to use all of it, or even most, I can at least pick and choose a bit. Basically, as Rupert and Alexander are fighting, they are also sparing verbally. As their debate goes back and forth, so too does the duel itself. I’m hoping to duplicate this in the comic if possible.

Friday, May 20, 2005


The setup work took a hit when I tried to do my first render: basically I realized that there were too many trees in the garden, which slowed each render time to a snail’s pace. Since I will need to do a lot of extra renders due to the action that will be taking place (the sword duel), I realized that I must removed some of the trees or I would never get this chapter done in time. As it is, I still may need to delay the release a week or so (currently scheduled for June 6th).

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Setup Continuing

The setup I talked about last time is taking a little longer than expected, but I am happy with how it’s turning out. The rest of the chapter takes place in a walled garden, but the original models I bought were a little sparse, so I’ve been filling it out a bit. Using a program called Bryce, I’ve also created an image for the backdrop. The garden came with one already, but I didn’t like it. I had hoped to use the same backdrop I used for the first part of the chapter, but that didn’t look good either.

Anyway, the setup is now almost complete: I just need to finish up a few things. I’m hopeful that I can get at least one or two renders done tonight then, if I’m not too tired.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Back from Vacation

I’ve returned safely from my vacation, so I can now get back to working on chapter 4. Pages 1-3 are done, and the rest of the chapter is a prolonged sword duel between Alexander and Rupert. I will need to do some setup tonight and download some sword models. Hopefully I can get started on some actual renders by tomorrow night. ;-)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Benefits of Stepping Back

I finished pages 1 and 2, and I hope to get page 3 done before the weekend when I leave for a week-long vacation. I had been taking a long time completing the post-work for the last two renders on page 2 due to the complexity of the composition. Basically, Master Shakkar is talking about when the Imperium invaded his home planet and these two renders show scenes from that invasion. After finishing the second render, I decided to trash the first one. It just looked bad compared to the second one once I was done with it. However, I was able to redo the first render in only an hour by completely reworking it (ie: showing something completely different). In short, I backed away from my original vision of that render and went about it a new way, which I think looked better. Perhaps it’s ironic that I can work very hard on something over a long time and then, after stepping back from it so to speak, I can redo it completing very quickly.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Chapter 4 Started

The renders for page 1 of chapter 4 are done, as well as several renders for page 2. There are a lot of items in this first scene so each render is taking a long time to complete. On the other hand, the renders themselves look very nice, if I do say so myself. :-)

Due to a lack of interest, I have removed the Forums from the site. Since there is no forum, there is no need for the contest I had planned either. In short, both the forum and the contest were more of a distraction than anything. However, I am keeping the Store since that requires no interaction by me. It basically runs itself.

When I published chapter 3, I put an ad under Drama on the site. Normally I put the ad under Science Fiction, but I wanted to see what kind of response I would get with something else. Although I had expected the results to be somewhat less, I must say the traffic to the site has been much less than I envisioned. Moving forward, I will probably just stick with Sci-Fi instead.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Chapter 3 Now Online!

Chapter 3 is now online, a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. I’ve already started some preliminary setup for the next chapter, called Master Shakkar. Since I’m going on vacation the second week of May, I’d like to get started with Chapter 4 as soon as possible since I’ll be losing a week to work on it.

I’ve decided to run a contest starting on May 1st. It’ll go for two months and will ask people to write reviews/recommendations of comics on the forums. I’m looking to see how much response I get. If I don’t get much, I may discontinue the forums altogether.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Space Opera

I’ve been getting some feedback stating that there isn’t enough action in the story. I was concerned about this as well until it dawned on me that Alexander the Prince really isn’t an action story at all; it’s more of a drama/space opera with palace intrigues, etc. Although I’ve had the same story in mind the whole time, I think it’s still evolved somewhat while I’ve been actually making it. In other words, although the plot is the same, the emphasis has moved away from my original idea of action/adventure, and shifted toward drama/intrigue instead.

Moving forward, I will try to be more succinct. To that end, I’ve changed the category that the comic is listed on from Action to Drama, although of course it’s also listed under Sci-Fi.

Anyway, I only have one page left for Chapter 3, so I believe I should be able to publish it by end of this weekend, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Monday, April 18, 2005


It looks like chapter 3 will be done a lot quicker than I anticipated. After finishing pages 8 and 9 over the weekend, I’m pretty sure I can wrap things up in only one or two more pages. This would mean I could possibly have chapter 3 published by the end of this next weekend (4/23-24th).

To help advertise the site and increase activity on the Forums, I have been thinking about having a contest. It would involve giving away a free item (one or more books perhaps) based on who writes the best review/recommendation on the forums. Basically, after a month or so, I would pick the winner based on who I felt did the best job. However, I have some legal concerns about running such a contest. I’ve done some research and it’s important that I have clear-cut rules as to criteria of what is being judged, etc. Since I don’t have any money, I really can’t afford to be sued in case someone gets mad that they didn’t get picked. Of course, we’re only talking about a free book (or whatever) so losing wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Of course, even if I run a contest, there’s no guarantee that anyone will take part either. :-)

Friday, April 15, 2005

Ch 3 Script, and Site Maintenance

I’ve written the script for Richard’s conversation with Alexander. Since I knew there would be a lot of dialogue, it was important that I had a finalized script to help me guide the renders I’m doing. Due to either time constraints or laziness, I often do the renders without a script and add the dialogue as I go. However, this is really not the best way of doing things and definitely not in these circumstances.

Yesterday I fixed a couple of problems with the site: namely, the new graphic shifted to the left depending on the viewer’s monitor resolution. Over the lunch hour of my day job, I was able to fix the HTML so the graphic was in a regular table instead of a layer. Since I’m largely self-taught, I didn’t know how to fix the layer itself and basically just “hacked” together the solution. I also noticed that the Prologue panels did the same thing. I fixed that last night when I was home and had Dreamweaver to work with. I had to basically redo the entire Prologue, using a page from chapter 1 as a template.

Lastly, I added “Shop!” and “Talk!” graphics to the main page of the site, along with text talking about the Imperium Store and the Forums, respectively. I’m still hopeful I can get some traffic on both of those pages.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Reviews added to the Forum

I completed the renders for page 7 and I’ll do the post-work tonight. If I can keep the chapter under 12 pages or so, I should be able to complete it before the May 9th deadline I have set for myself. After page 8, I only have Richard’s conversation with Alexander, so I think 12 pages is a reasonable estimate on the chapter length.

I’ve added two reviews to the Forums: one for the Sin City movie, and the other for Ghost in the Shell 2. I would like to add additional reviews as I go along. Of course, it’s my hope that others will take part in the forums too, but that hasn’t happened yet.

I plan to redo the graphic on the main page of the site. I’ve noticed quite a few people come to the site, but then leave right away without even looking at the story. That could be for a lot of reasons, but if I can create a better first impression for visitors, they might stay longer.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Imperium Store and Forums

I’m done with page 5, and the renders for page 6 are complete too. I think I’m about half-way through the chapter now: currently Richard is talking to his sister Katherine. After that, he’ll be talking to Alexander and that’ll be it. My wife and I are going on vacation the second week of May, so I need to get done with the chapter before then if possible.

Over the weekend, I made two large additions to the site: an online store and forums. As for the store, it might be useful to help defer some of the costs of the comic. Since I only get 5% per purchase (as an affiliate), I’m not expecting much money from it, however. We’ll see.

Lastly, I had the idea last night to put a so-called Teaser page after chapter 2 that would say the story will be continued and say the estimated date the next chapter will be published. It will also allow me to suggest people use the Store to help support the comic, and also check out the forums. I’d really like the forum to be a place where people can talk about comics in general, not just my comic.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Glutton for Punishment

The post work (in Photoshop) for page 4 took me over 2 hours to complete (Monday and Tuesday night). First, I had to superimpose the renders of a TV reporter onto Richard’s computer screen. That, actually, was the easy part. The hard part was last night when I had to make the jagged word balloons over the reporter’s dialog. This sounds easy, but I managed to make it a lot harder. So, it ended up taking forever.

No comments yet about the forum, so it’s not looking too good. Of course, I might just do it anyway, but only because I’m a glutton for rejection. ;-)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Forums anyone?

I haven’t had a chance to update the blog lately, but basically I’ve completed the first three pages, and the renders for page 4. In my previous post, I talked about not being happy with the first renders. They involved a hallway, which I ended up redoing completely. Once that was complete, I was able to finish those pages (1-2) quickly. The majority of the chapter, however, takes place in the office of Richard Augustus. I bought the office set and I’m very satisfied with it.

When the website used to be focused on game design, I had a forum set up for building a “community” around the game. Well, the forum (like the game) didn’t really do very well and went hardly noticed most of the time. Now that the website is all about my writing, I have once again thought about putting the forum back up, redone of course. However, I’d rather not do that unless people would actually use it. My wife doesn’t seem to think anyone would, so I’d just like to get feedback from people whether it would be useful. So, leave me a comment. If I don’t get any, I’ll assume there’s no burning need to put the forums back up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

False Start (Chapter 3)

I began working on Chapter 3 last night, but I will probably have to discard the renders I did so far (just a couple actually). The chapter involves Richard Augustus, Alexander’s older brother, and it was supposed to begin with several renders of Richard walking down a long corridor. After doing the renders last night, however, I was not at all happy with how it looked. Since I already bought the asset for the hallway itself, I would like to use it in some way, but perhaps I will need to rethink my original plan for the shots. While I was lying in bed last night, I thought of a slightly different way of doing it, so I will try that tonight hopefully.

As for the chapter itself, it will mostly be information about the political environment of the Imperium, specifically the Five Families and the balance of power between them. It will also show the relationship between Richard (the “responsible” one) and Alexander (the playboy).

Friday, March 25, 2005

Post Publication Depression

I’ve noticed a curious psychological effect from publishing my newest chapter (and it happened after the previous one as well): I fall into a sort of creative depression for several days to a week. Apparently, with all the effort I put into a work, there is a “let down” once it goes live. So, since last Sunday I’ve been feeling rather blue, or at least not very creative. I’ve needed to update the Character page to reflect some of the new characters that appeared in Ch 2. There are five of them, but writing their brief bios (not more than a few sentences) has been like pulling teeth. Perhaps, creatively anyway, I need a week or so to recharge my batteries before diving into the next thing (in this case, Chapter 3). On the other hand, perhaps I’m just getting lazy. :-)

Monday, March 21, 2005

Chapter 2 Now Online!

After over a month of work, Chapter 2 is now online! I was able to meet my goal to publish by the end of the weekend, although I still need to update the Character, Race, and Credits pages. Nevertheless, I hope everyone will like the new chapter. And I hope that the next one won’t take so long to finish!

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Longest Page

I was beginning to think page 17 was going to be the death of me. Not only did I spend 3 hours doing the renders Wednesday, last night I spent another 2 hours doing the post work. I think that means I’ve spent more time on 17 than any other page so far. I hope I can still publish on time (Sunday), which would mean I’ve spent a little over a month on chapter 2. Ironically, I had originally thought it would take a month, although that was when I estimated the length of the chapter would be only 12-15 pages. As it turns out, it’ll be 19.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Longest Day

I worked on page 17 for three and half hours last night, and that’s after working eight hours at my day job (which also involves being in front of the computer). On the bright side, I got all 9 renders done for the page, although I still have the Photoshop work left. There will be two more pages in the chapter, but I think I should be done by the end of this weekend.

I seem to be averaging four renders an hour, including setting up each shot. With Poser, at least on my machine, everything is time consuming. Even going from the rendered view to the edit view takes time as the computer whirls. I have a decent machine (500 megs of RAM), but if possible I’d like my next computer to have a full Gig of RAM. Also, they’ve come out with Poser 6. I’m currently not in a hurry to buy that, but I will eventually get it, I’m sure.

So, for anyone waiting for chapter 2, it should be ready “soon.” Sorry for the delays!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Lefty Lucy (and other sillyness)

Yesterday I managed to complete two pages (14 and 15), after a couple of days of mostly setup work. Much of the setup was trying to create a good model for Alexander. The hard part for me was the hair, for which I’m still not completely satisfied. I also created a woman who would be seen with the Prince. She turned out very well, I think. I’ve decided to include her as his bodyguard and, as a joke, I call her Lefty Lucy. Her character looks Asian which reminded me of Lucy Lu. Then I remembered an old saying “Lefty Lucy, Righty Tighty.” So, that’s how she got her name. I know that’s a bit silly, but I’m entirely too silly to begin with.

With the completion of page 15, the end of the chapter is at least in sight. At this point, I’m still not sure how many more pages there will be, although I have much of the script done and I know what’s going to happen (and how the chapter will end). Right now, it’s just a matter of how many pages it will take to complete. I’m thinking it will be 18 pages total, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it stretched to 20. I feel bad because it’s been so long since my last update to the story. I’m hoping I can get everything done by the end of this coming weekend. I guess I can only ask people to be patient, or at least not lose all interest!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fight Club

Page 12 is done, which leaves me one more page of the Funkmeister sequence. As I’ve mentioned, the last part of the chapter involves Tagus and Alexander meeting for the first time. Let’s just say this will not be a good experience for either of them. Shortly after they begin talking, tempers will flare and they will begin to fight. The real question for me right now is how long will the fight go on? I’ve already decided that the police will break up the confrontation, but that will leave me at least a few pages to fill with the fight itself. I have some ideas what I will be doing, from a composition standpoint, so it will just be a matter of how I can execute those ideas (and if they will actually work!).

A month ago, I put an ad on Since then, the number of visitors to the site has been pretty good. I’ve also added some additional tracking tags to the site, including the blog, to see how long people are visiting and which pages are being visited. One thing that concerns me is the number of people who go to the site, but then leave immediately, without even looking at the story or any of the background pages. I’m not sure if this is completely normal for a website (although I expect it is), or whether my first page just isn’t very good. This is something I might need to re-evaluate.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Funky Town

I mostly finished page 10 (the last page of the Boogs/Tubby Wubbies sequence), but I need to rework the dialogue a little. I wasn’t overly satisfied with it. Yesterday, I made good progress on page 11, including the setup for it. That page begins the Funkmeister Rik sequence, which isn’t very long, but should be interesting. I had to first build the set, which is a disco called the FunkyTown. As part of that, I needed to make a render of the outside of the building and create a sign for it. I used a building I had done previously and added the sign in Photoshop. My wife was helpful in deciding on the right font. Apparently, my original font wasn’t “funky” enough. She seemed satisfied with the final result. Wife happy = Husband happy. ;-)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Tubby Wubbies!

I finished the renders for page 9, and should finish the page tonight. At this point, the chapter will be longer than the previous one by at least a couple pages, maybe more (around 15 total).

The sequence with Zarro Boogs and the Tubby Wubbies is turning out well, I think. It has a level of diabolical humor that I find enjoyable. In case I haven’t mentioned it, the Tubby Wubbies are genetically engineered “toys” that are actually alive. They’re kind of like teddy bears that live and breathe. The idea is not entirely original. In this case, I got the idea from a Futurama episode (from the maker of the Simpsons) called Love & Rocket. In the episode, a company raised cute and adorable teddy bears, and then euthanized them before having them stuffed. I combined that idea with something else I once read, namely, about how our brains are hardwired to be attracted to cute and adorable things, even when they are dangerous. It’s as if we cannot comprehend that something can be cute and evil at the same time. In the past, such as in the Chucky movies or Gremlins, even though the bad guys are toy-like, they are still evil-looking. I wanted something that looked completely harmless and wonderful, but which was capable of saying and potentially doing the most awful things. It’s precisely this contrast that I find so fascinating.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Half-way Point

I managed to get 3 pages done in three days over the weekend (I took Friday off from my day job). On Sunday, I finished page 8, which means I’m over the half-way mark for this chapter. These last few pages have concerned another comic element in the chapter, namely, Zarro Boogs and the Tubby Wubbies. I think the sequence is pretty funny, but we’ll see if others agree. I still have another page or so left of that section, and then there will be the Funkmiester Rik interaction and finally Tagus will meet Alexander for the first time. All in all, I’m estimating the whole chapter will be 12-15 pages.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Bye-Bye, Robot!

One aspect of rendering a shot, that is easy to overlook, is making space for the dialogue. An example of that occurred last night while I was working on page 5. Featured in the panel were Tagus and Lt. Burke (in the foreground) and a woman and a robot (in the background). At the time of the render, I did think about where the dialogue balloon would go, but I felt that there was enough space. However, after the render had been done and I was adding dialogue in Photoshop, it became apparent that there was simply too much text and I had to make more space. To do that, I needed to cover up most of the robot with the dialogue balloon. Since it’s considered bad form to cover a character like that, even if it’s in the background, I decided to do some Photoshop magic and “erase” the robot entirely. This is fairly easy to do: basically, I use the Clone brush to copy the areas around where the robot is standing. It was a little tricky in this case because the surrounding scene (a wall) had some designs on it which would look disjointed if I didn’t take care. After about 10-15 minutes, however, it was as if the robot had never been there. Sorry, robot!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Another Example

I spent three hours working on the comic last night, but I only got one render out of it. First, I downloaded some resources from Daz (different hair for the Poser models – one of my coworkers who saw the comic said everyone’s hair was the same so I felt compelled to buy more hair for the models). Then, I started work on a character (a prostitute) for the scene. After working on her for awhile, I realized the dress I was planning to use was too “elegant” for a streetwalker. So, I revisited the Daz site and download a dress and a texture for it. Then, I completed the character model. Next, I got into the actual scene, but due to the camera angles I needed, I had to add additional walls to the set. Finally, I had to arrange the models and take the render. Three hours = One render.

On the bright side, tonight I shouldn’t have as much setup before being able to do the rest of the renders for page 5. For page 6, however, I have another character I need to make. I wonder how long that will take!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Ch 2 Progress (or Lack Thereof)

I’ve been frustrated at the slow pace of chapter 2. As usual, the setup is taking the longest to complete. Since there were no ready-made street scenes I could use, I’ve been forced to create my own, which is obviously time-consuming. In this case, the sets I’m building are street scenes of Ashetown. There will be at least three: a car park (done), pedestrian walk (in progress), and inside the “Funky Town” (not started). The second one is taking the longest since it has the most walls and things. I also have to populate the street with members of the Underclass and Middle Class. Anyway, it’s taking forever, which means getting the chapter done may take longer than I expected. At this point, I don’t know how long

At any rate, I have pages 1-4 done, and I’m working on 5 now.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Chapter 2 Started

I worked much of Sunday on Chapter 2, trying to make up for the time I wasted last week. I finished page 1, and I have much of the renders for page 2 done. As I may have mentioned earlier, I intend to have several elements of comedy in this chapter. Page 2 is the first example: while Rupert and Lt. Burke are flying to Ashtown, another grav car moves along side and its driver moons them! Only the lieutenant sees this, however. Later in the chapter, Burke will see something else peculiar, which again only he sees. Rupert will scold him for not paying attention.

I got some more stats on the website from a new stat site I subscribed to. Basically, it shows a lot more detail than my usual one, including which exact pages are being viewed and for how long. It’s interesting to see, because some visitors come and go immediately, I guess just taking a quick look. Other visitors, however, actually stay and read through the whole comic. Of course, these stats don’t tell me who the visitors are, but at least I know somebody is actually reading the comic. Now if I could only tell if someone (other than my wife) is reading this blog!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Funkmeister Rik

I’ve been slow to get started on chapter 2. After publishing the prologue, I felt like I needed to recharge my creative juices. Also, work this week as been very stressful so by the time I got home each night, I was too drained to work much on the comic.

Last night, however, I managed to finalize Funkmeister Rik, a minor comedic character that Rupert will interact with as he looks for Alexander. I came up with Rik’s name quite a while ago, but decided to include him in the story line. Originally, he was going to be the stereotypical black exploitation version of characters you see in movies of the 1970s, including kung fu skills. Recently, however, I decided to give him a twist by making him a blue alien instead, but with a large afro. He’s basically an alien who wants to be funky, so he takes on that persona, so to speak. Again, he’s meant to be comical, so I don’t have to be too serious with how I use him in the story.

I will begin doing renders for the new chapter this weekend. The first page at least will show Rupert and Lt. Burke flying in his hover car over Regalis, the capital city.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Prologue Published

Sorry that I didn’t update the blog sooner. I was able to publish the Prologue over the weekend. I also bought a 30-day ad on to increase visibility for the site. The number of visitors had dropped off, so I wanted to see those numbers go back up. I would like to build a base of viewers for the comic if possible.

I’ve been very busy over the last several days so I haven’t worked much on Chapter 2. I downloaded some models for Rupert’s hover car, and I worked a little on one of the characters that will be included in the chapter. I hope to work more on the chapter this weekend. This will be a full length chapter (even larger than chapter 1), so it will be at least twice the size of the Prologue. That means it will take twice as long to finish. I estimate Chapter 2 will take about 4 weeks. :-o

Friday, February 04, 2005

Prologue Almost Done

I’m on target for publishing the Prologue this weekend. Everything is done except for the navigation bar and page bar. I also need to update the Characters page to include Durant Blixx. I’ve written the text for his description, so it’s just a matter of creating a render and updating the page.

I was also experimenting with a mailing list feature that would email people when I update the comic. This would of course alert them that there’s something new to see, without them having to check periodically.

Next I am setting my sights on Chapter 2. Although I don’t have a script yet, I do have a good idea of the scenes and what will be needed to make them. I’ve previously done some “scouting” for models etc. that I will use in the chapter. Of course, I may have to find additional ones as I get farther along in the process.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Our First Month

Just wanted to give a quick summary of how the site has been going during our first month (January). For the month, we had a total of almost 30,000 hits with 1,229 visitors. That’s an average of 76 visitors per day. The vast majority of visits took place between Jan. 19-24th, after which traffic on the site dropped dramatically.

We got a lot of visits from a site called, an Austrian site which mentioned us in a short blurb. That explains why the country with the largest percentage of visitors came from Austria (33%), while Germany came in fourth with (10%). I’m very thankful to for mentioning us. Their comments about our site were very kind.

As I mention before, I plan to have the site updated with the Prologue by this weekend. I hope we can attract some of our previous visitors back to see the update.

Monday, January 31, 2005

End in Sight (for the Prologue anyway)

With only two more pages to go on the Prologue (for a total of 7), I should be done by the end of this week and be able to publish it to the website no later than the end of the weekend. I completed page 5 last night after spending Friday evening and Saturday afternoon working on the pirate command ship. I also finalized what Durant Blixx will look like, who will be featured in the last two pages.

An update on visitors to my site: apparently all those who wanted to see my site have already come there because the number of hits has dropped off dramatically over the last few days. Of course, until I update the comic with new material, there’s really no reason to visit I suppose. Frankly, I wonder if people read my Blog and keep up to date on how the comic is coming along. Blogs, I suppose, are pretty boring in general. :-0 I would not be surprised if few people even read this stuff. Still, it does give me something to read to track my own progress – slow though it is.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Grinding out the pages . . .

I completed page 3 and 4 last night. Using Photoshop, I figured out how to simulate the beam impacts on Steppenwolf. I was very pleased with myself. My wife was largely unimpressed. ;-)

I’m now estimating that the Prologue will be around 7 pages long. I decided that I need to have a larger ship for Durant Blixx (his command ship, so to speak). Since he will be transmatting over to the Steppenwolf, he needs to be on a ship large enough to house a transmat. The other ships are figher-sized, which is too small. At any rate, this means buying another model and configuring it. Not a big deal, except it means spending more money. Frankly, I could spend money all day on the Daz site. I love that place!