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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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2 Days Ago

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.


Recent Comments

September 17th, 2018
Just two pages left in episode 34, but they'll have to wait until mid-week next week; I'm leaving tomorrow to attend my dad's memorial service in Seattle. Back next Tuesday night, and should be back to work on A* by next Wed or Thursday—the 26th or 27th.

Any important status updates while I'm on the road will get posted on my Twitter.

While I'm in Seattle I'll be taking down the last A* art show—one my dad arranged (it's at the Fresh Flours bakery in South Lake Union, Seattle—basically across the street from Amazon's front door) and my mom put up, after I had already moved out of town! So you've got just a day or two left to catch that one.

My dad, in fact, arranged all but I think one (my sister-in-law tipped me off to that one) of the many shows of A* art in the Seattle area over the years—it was him going around to coffee shops and other places that put up local art, door to door, talking to owners and managers, showing them print-outs of my work, and getting them to agree to allow my art on their walls for their customers to see. And he bought the frames, framed and matted everything (!), brought the hammers and nails and fishing wire and printed up the little signs to stick up next to each piece—basically did nearly everything, I just chipped in with a bit of the grunt work. It was his way of helping me get my art out there. : ) He was super-duper supportive! Thanks, dad. : )

And thanks to my mom, who helped put up a lot of the shows, and even provided catering! Thanks also to my brother, and sister-in-law, and other friends who came out to so many of the opening shindigs to support me!
September 14th, 2018
Here's a sketch I got to send to a reader for supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign : ) :

<img alt="Image" src="">

Thank you very much! And thanks to everyone supporting the comic through Patreon, you're helping me keep the story going! : )
September 14th, 2018
I got a page done, just about. : o
September 13th, 2018
Looks like I may be heading out of the studio and back to the family homestead some time early next week, probably to stay about a week.

So I won't have any new pages to put up while I'm there, and away from the drawing board. I think we'll be really close, like within a day or so, of finishing this episode by then actually. I've been putting off looking at my notes for the next episode, hopefully they're still here somewhere, haha. ... They're probably still here somewhere. ]_]
September 12th, 2018
Thanks to everyone who wrote to me with kind words after yesterday's blog about my father's passing. I don't know if it will ever stop being amazing to me how people can reach out over this crazy internet, and the little things I write and draw on it, and share their lives and time and feelings. How does that happen? What's the math on that? Well, whatever it is, it's pretty great. Thanks, everyone. : ) And I'm really glad you all gave me a chance to share something about him.

It looks like the memorial service will be the weekend of the 21st, back in Seattle, so I expect I will be missing a day or three of comic updates around that time. And I'm setting the next three or so auctions of the daily comic page's original art as 10 day auctions, rather than the usual 7 day auctions, so I can get back in time to ship them to any winning bidder.

One more thing I feel oddly compelled to add about my dad: he was about 2/3rds of the way through a special medical trial of a new immunotherapy treatment; he was too weak to keep doing chemotherapy, so, basically he had exhausted the usual treatment options for this cancer, meaning the game was going to definitely be up, but finally his oncologist was able to call in a personal favor and get him into this trial on late notice. And while he didn't make it to the end of the trial, initial signs are it was nonetheless having some positive effect; in any case, with all the tests they were able to run on him, I have to think they at least got a few useful data points to help their research.

So, my dad was helping science. : ) And sure okay it's maybe silly optimism—or more likely, fearful hoping—but I still can't help thinking that in another...20?...30? years, at least some of these immunotherapies or gene therapies or whatever else is being developed now will have got us to a place where we—okay we will need advances in public health care administration in certain countries, too!—don't have to live in fear of cancer.

At any rate, I think that day *will* come some day. And what a day it will be!
September 11th, 2018
My dad passed away today. Just weeks ago he celebrated his 80th birthday, which he was not displeased about. I wish he could have been around another ten years+++, but at least the end came as a slight surprise—not a huge one, he had been battling an old lymphoma turned aggressive for months now—while he was in full possession of his considerable faculties, and able to cab it around to the various pokings and proddings lavished upon him by his attentive physicians. In our last phone conversation, he was chipper and upbeat.

A professor of theology, he *just* finished writing his latest book on the importance of water, and making sure we safeguard it and ensure that future generations will have it here on Earth—he titled it "Because Water is Life." He believed access to clean water should be codified into law as a human right, something many countries are now doing.

He cared about everyone. He taught high school. He marched with Dr. King. He taught college. He protested nuclear proliferation at military bases. He's been traveling around the world, researching and writing and speaking about the importance of water in societies, for well over a decade. He wrote books and essays on ethics and social justice. He created an internship program to take university students to Belize (which he first visited as a Jesuit scholastic in the early '60s—that was before he met my mom, mind you : ) to help at schools and soup kitchens, the YWCA, and more. He's the best person I've ever known.

He also just put the finishing touches on a little autobiography he'd been writing for the family. A couple photos he included from his early years: another birthday, and then as the proud owner of his first car, a '49 Chevy, which he finished saving up for and bought in '54, six months before he was old enough to drive—he let his mom use it in the mean time:

<img alt="Image" src=""> <img alt="Image" src="">

Love ya, dad.

Gary L. Chamberlain, 1938 - 2018
September 7th, 2018
In case you missed my mention of it earlier in the week, I added a new reward tier to the A* Patreon campaign; this new one gets you one page of original A* comic page art of your choice each month, at a discount from their normal price on the A* site. : )

One good ol' reward tier is for a monthly ink sketch! Here's one I got to send to a reader for their support of the comic through Patreon:

<img alt="Image" src="">

Thanks everyone very much for your support! You make this comic possible! : D
September 7th, 2018
Turns out I did *not* cause my neighbors' WiFi to go out by accidentally giving the wrong apartment number to a remote technician trying to fix a problem with my own WiFi. Whew! I'm such a good neighbor. ^_^
September 6th, 2018
I managed to give my ISP's tech support the wrong apartment number today, and as a result—of what the tech did from his end before we caught my mistake—knock out my neighbors' WiFi. : o

That's according to the tech, anyway; in a first, both the neighbors have been out all day, so I haven't been able to check with them and ideally just guide them through what should be the quick process of setting their modem back up to work correctly again.

Sooo I've just been stressing about about this all day. ; P

On the plus side, assuming we do get their WiFi back up and running, thanks to the change I did eventually manage to make possible to my own WiFi setting, out neighboring WiFi signals will no longer be interfering with each other.

(Side note: landlords, if you include internet access and a modem with the apartment, make it clear to your tenants that they are *not* allowed to change the modem's internal login and password, because that prevents any later user/resident from doing something simple like changing the WiFi channel without having to call tech support, do a hard reset on the modem, and then work with tech support to reconfigure the modem. : PP)
September 5th, 2018
I had a brainwave over the long weekend and added a new tier to my Patreon campaign; this one is designed for folks interested in building a collection of classic original A* page art: basically you get one page of your choice of original A* art each month, at $10 off the regular web site price, AND free shipping (or, if you are outside the US, $8 off shipping). Oh and you also get all the A* e-books. : )

Here's the description I put on Patreon:

<blockquote>**$40 tier price available to US Patrons only** — Due to international shipping fees, the price for Patrons outside the US is $55.

A* art collector tier!

Heyo! All the A* e-books emailed to you as a downloadable link, and each month I will snail-mail you a genuine, actual page of the original ink or watercolor art used to make a page of the comic (about 16" x 6.75", usually, although some are a bit bigger)! Any page that is currently up for sale on (ie, not the ones on eBay) is fair game; you can request a particular page by emailing the episode and page number to me——before the end of the month; if I do not receive a request from you by then, I will pick a page myself. : )

(Alternatively, you can pick *two* of the pencil-only pages from episode 19 and the beginning of episode 20. Those pages will only be sent by request.)

You are saving $10 off the price of the pages on, AND getting free shipping in the US, which would usually be close to $8 (or, in effect, getting $8 off shipping for those outside the US, who would normally pay about $23 for shipping)—AND getting all the A* e-books.</blockquote>
So, just a way to build up a steady, classic A* art collection at a bit of a discount, while supporting my ongoing work on the comic.

If this Patreon thing is new to you: it's a service that makes it easy to support your favorite creators on a regular basis, and they often offer rewards in return. You can support A* through Patreon for as little as $1 a month; at $3 a month, you get a monthly A* e-book as a reward; at $10 a month, you get a freshly drawn pencil sketch each month as a reward, and so on up through various tiers of rewards. It's a huge boon to independent creators; even $1 a month means a great deal to me, and once again I thank everyone who is pitching in to help me bring you A* comics each weekday! : D
September 1st, 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="">

Thank you very much to everyone helping out through Patreon, it makes a huuuuge difference! And I'm actually all caught up on monthly reward sketches for once, so if any new folks want to join in at the $10 sketch level, now's a good time! ^_^


I hope everyone has a swell weekend! I'm off for Monday's Labor Day holiday; back to work on a new A* page on Tuesday.
August 31st, 2018
I accidentally saved today's scanned artwork over yesterday's. : o ... And I even got a good night's sleep last night! Oh well so I just had to re-scan yesterday's so I have the high-res version available. Of course I can't get it crooked in quite the same way it was yesterday. : P
August 30th, 2018
I think I'd better try getting to sleep on time! : P
August 29th, 2018
It took me forever to figure out an angle for this page! Darn angles.
August 28th, 2018
An examination by my new dentist in my new town smack dab in the middle of the afternoon made getting a page done a bit dicey (oh yeah and also I had to catch up on laundry thanks to UNSPEAKABLE HORROR putting the laundry room out of commission over the weekend :o), but I made it! Wooo~~

Also I found out I have tiny vestigial teeth inside some of my teeth. : Oo (I think the dentist was kind of showing off when he was examining my x-rays. ; )
August 25th, 2018
Here's a striped-stocking sketch I got to send to a reader for supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign : ) :

<img alt="Image" src="">

Thanks everyone who's helping me out through Patreon! You make this comic possible! : D
August 24th, 2018
Pages setting a new location pretty much always seem to be the trickiest. I think my more monochromatic approach would help, gotta be able to get into that frame of mind of abstracting shapes in the view field and merging them together though, I haven't really been trying that a whole lot since eh since a while, come to think of it. So, maybe there's a reason. : P Oh well who knows what I'll try tomorrow!
August 23rd, 2018
I was gonna have more dialogue captions by the guards on this page but then I decided they weren't really needed and it was probably just as well to let the readers imagine what they might be saying in this situation. : D
August 22nd, 2018
I have nothing exciting to report today, although two mornings ago I had a covey of California quail (say that 5 times fast!) camped out in my yard. They have the funniest feather sticking right up out of the top of their head! And they have designated look-outs and herders that keep the group together and moving. Very organized sorts, they are!
August 20th, 2018
If you like video games, particularly old 2D fighting games, you might enjoy my gaming YouTube channel, where I play them more enthusiastically than skillfully. ^_^

So maybe I get the time to do that by not sleeping as much as I should on the weekend sometimes, but I think a little colorful animated adventuring now and then does help keep me sane. : D And there's something about the old, hand-drawn games that I find appealing. They're filled with cool art!