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Supermassive Black Hole A*

Supermassive Black Hole A*

by smbhax
Stories of a human civilization at the center of the Milky Way galaxy: an area of space dominated by a gigantic black hole, where energy is abundant and life is cheap.

Updates M-F, usually multiple times per day.
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Pages
3,022
Updates
5 Updates/Week
Last Update
19 Hours Ago
Fans
281
Readers
25

Supermassive Black Hole A*

Stories of a human civilization at the center of the Milky Way galaxy: an area of space dominated by a gigantic black hole, where energy is abundant and life is cheap.

Updates M-F, usually multiple times per day.

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Recent Comments

Hey let's do another funky old comic excerpt!

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/181115_not_bad_stamp_whiz_67_1945.jpg">

Captain Marvel knows the value of a critical self-appraisal!

From "The Marvel Stamps," written by Otto Binder, with pencils by C. C. Beck and inks by Pete Costanza, in Whiz Comics #67, September-October 1945.
I have a Gmail folder containing almost 1200 emails that I mailed to myself, each with a screenshot of a different kooky old comic page attached—from funny stuff I come across as I'm reading my way through old comics, either ones that have fallen into the public domain and are now free, or ones I've been reading through chronologically on Marvel Unlimited—or those from the various digital DC compilations of their old stuff I've been picking up when they go on sale dirt cheap.

I'm currently on Justice League of America comics from the early '60s, but such is my backlog that what we have here is an elaborate and just plain crazy full page RC Cola ad from 1945, from a public domain Whiz Comics issue somewhere between #61 and #67 (my notes failed me : P). Normally I would just isolate a single panel from a page, but *every* panel in this ad is nuts:

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/181114_rc_shark_whiz_61_67_1945.jpg">

Advertising is a heck of a business. =o (The Wheaties ad I had screenshotted from right before this RC one was...not PC enough to show.)

As usual for ads—and even for comics from the period—the work is uncredited, but the art might be by the illustrator involved in the creation of the recurring "R.C. and Quickie" duo: Creig Flessel.
smbhax
November 13th, 2018
Trying to stay loose ^_^ \m/
smbhax
November 13th, 2018
Stan Lee passed away today at the age of 95. Among many other accomplishments in the comics field, Lee scripted and edited nearly every comic book that Marvel Comics put out in the early 60's—the period during which what would become known as the "Marvel Universe" of popular super heroes took flight.

With his love of hyperbole and alliterative nicknames, a Lee script can be kooky, but mostly they're just plain fun, even when dealing with the personal pathos that made Marvel's characters distinct from those in other superhero comics of the time.
smbhax
November 9th, 2018
A* is brought to you thanks in large part to the readers who contribute through the A* Patreon campaign. : ) You can help me work on this comic by pitching in as little as $1 a month—it may not sound like much but it means a lot to me!

Contributing at even higher levels gets you special A* rewards sent from me to you each and every month; for instance, here's a sketch I mailed to a reader at the $10 level for a recent month's contribution:

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/181109_patreon_sketch.jpg">

Thanks everyone! I'm really happy to be able to keep making A*! = D
smbhax
November 8th, 2018
I was scrubbing away in one of my twice-weekly cleanings of the bathroom today, wishing I was already done with it and at my drawing table working on today's page instead, but then it occurred to me: working at home for myself on A* as I am, among other roles—writer, artist, marketer, tax "expert," webmaster, etc—I'm also the cleaning crew!

Back at my old office job for The Man, working late, I was used to having the company's hired, efficient cleaning team doing their best to clean around me as I hunched at my darkened desk (there wasn't much chat: the woman who generally handled my cubicle section soon got herself a headset for her phone, and chatted away freely with her friends on that—in a language she probably assumed anyone still at work in the office would not understand—in my case, this was absolutely the case—while cleaning ; ). They were good. : o And now, it's my job, too! I wouldn't have to clean my place nearly as much if I spent my days in someone else's building.

But I like working for myself! : ) So now I won't feel so bad about having to take time out to do some cleaning during the week. ^_^
smbhax
November 8th, 2018
Busted out a new tiny brush today, to go along with my super-skinny, nearly bristle-less tiny brush—so now one can do medium to thin lines, and the other can do thinnish to super-thin lines. : D

Also wanted to try some big brush, line-less fills, with a little extra liquid in them so they could move and mix a bit. Pretty fun to play with the paint that way, has a bonus of being fairly fast compared to doing lots of lines around the edges, too!
smbhax
November 6th, 2018
Have been super-distracted by democracy the past few days. It was super-important, but it will be a relief to have a couple more brain cells back on target toward A*, and comfortably fictional world problems. : o

Speaking of that, I read some local dystopian science fiction today! A friend of my father's, whom I met at his memorial service, lives in town here; we got together for lunch and he gave me a hard copy of a sci-fi anthology published by a writing club he's in at a local college--he has a story of his own in there. Pretty cool! (It also reminded me how nice it is to do comics, where I don't have to use words to describe everything, and somehow try to do it in a natural-seeming way. Uh there was a word for that but see now I've forgotten it. Man! That's the tough stuff.)
smbhax
November 5th, 2018
Have some time to experiment with painting approaches on this space flight. This one was tricky! I'll try something different tomorrow. ; )
smbhax
November 2nd, 2018
Here's a sketch I got to send to a reader for supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign : D :

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/181102_patreon_sketch.jpg">

If you enjoy your daily A* and want to help me keep it going, Patreon is a really good way to do that. You can pitch in as little as $1 a month! Yep that makes a big difference to me. : D At higher levels you can even get me sending you A* rewards each month, like e-books and sketches—a pencil sketch like the one above shows up in your real world mailbox each month if you kick in $10 a month to help me keep this thing going. : )
smbhax
November 2nd, 2018
My size zero brush with just a tiny bunch of bristles left lost another bristle as I used it for the skinny lines on this page. How many pages does it have left?? = o
smbhax
November 1st, 2018
The Christmas music I've been listening to while working on A* all year (it's an obsessively customized Pandora channel of mine : P) is almost back in style!
smbhax
October 31st, 2018
It's been silent for so long, I almost forgot to add the dialogue for today's page. : P
smbhax
October 30th, 2018
The BBC had an article a few weeks back about a Chinese company's announcement of a scheme to illuminate a city by reflecting sunlight from a geosynchronous satellite down to the ground, saying it should be possible to cover "an area of of between 10km and 80km" with reflected sunlight "eight times" as bright as moonlight.

It's being proposed as a cost-saving device, cheaper than the cost of lighting a city with street lights.

While a space mirror could do that, the article points out technical hurdles: it would have to have a very stable orbit over its target, and very steady, precise targeting to prevent the light beam from wandering across the Earth's surface.

And even an on-target beam might cause problems, say for wildlife (or even just for light-sensitive human sleepers without heavy curtains on their bedroom windows : P), because it would be shining that brighter-than-moonlight illumination everywhere in the target zone, not just on streets.

Russia actually ran a test of such a space mirror in 1993: their Znamya 2 satellite's 65-foot reflective solar sail trailed a 2.5-mile-wide beam across Europe for a few hours one evening (the spotlight moved over the ground at 8 km/s).

The test was considered a positive result for the concept, but a 1999 follow-up satellite with a 20% larger mirror accidentally caught its fragile foil on an antenna of its Progress spacecraft as it deployed, and the mission had to be scrapped. Russia had an even larger mirror satellite in production, but cancelled it after that second test failed—and that has been it for the space mirror concept up to this point.
smbhax
October 27th, 2018
I should post a Patreon supporter sketch or something to leave here over the weekend but I'm tired. : P Spent too much time this week re-wiring my living room and other silly stuff, hopefully that's pretty much done now! And the whole getting my front door winterized—that's done too, yay! It was such an odd job that the handyman said he'd recommend to my landlady that they have the whole doorway replaced, which would be nice; hopefully the patchwork of multiple weather strippings he stuck around it for now to plug all the gaps will at least hold up over winter. : P

So hopefully next week will be less exciting and I'll just have to concentrate on drawing. : D
smbhax
October 25th, 2018
*Might* miss an update tomorrow: the handyman was baffled by my weird front door—which is right next to my comic work area—when trying to do his winterizing on Wednesday, was supposed to take a second crack at it early this afternoon, didn't make it (might have had to go get more supplies instead—my landlady's text about it was a tad vague), and is supposed to be back somewhat later tomorrow afternoon to tackle it. So we'll see how that goes. = o

Here's a rotated version of today's page to save your neck some twisting:

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/181025_0035_0018_vert.jpg">

When I was initially imagining this scene in my head, the ship was berthed horizontally, but then I realized that was silly. : P
smbhax
October 24th, 2018
Tomorrow afternoon, my landlady's handyman is supposedly finally coming by—for the first time since I moved in at the beginning of summer—to take a look at just a couple of the things in the apartment most in need of repair, such as the ancient, porous weather stripping around the front door.

If repairs actually do get underway, there may be so much excitement here—the front door is right next to my A* work area, for instance—as to prevent me from getting a whole lot of comic work done. So it's quite possible that I won't be able to generate a new A* page tomorrow. But if my apartment actually gets some proper winterization going on (it could be tricky, considering that the front door is for some reason—resistance to abuse, I suppose—metal, and a half-inch too narrow for the door frame : P), that will help me shiver less and draw better through the winter! ^_^
smbhax
October 23rd, 2018
I guess one plus of painting multiple layers is that I get to catch up on sketches for Patreon supporters while waiting for paint to dry!
smbhax
October 20th, 2018
It's late and I'm going to bed for the weekend. : D Back for more on Mooooonday!
smbhax
October 19th, 2018
Was too chicken to disturb my initial painted gradients here by going over them darker. : P Gotta do a bit better on daily time schedule, I've been running slightly behind and then I feel rushed and don't want to take chances with the art so much.