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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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3,101
Updates
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Last Update
2 Days Ago
Fans
286
Readers
23

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

smbhax
March 23rd, 2019
It's the weekend, whew!
smbhax
March 22nd, 2019
Late post, new page later!
smbhax
March 21st, 2019
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/190320_leaf_snow.jpg">

That old leaf mostly sunk into the snow in my yard on a melty day last week reminded me of a late February BBC article about a UK meteorite-hunting expedition to Antarctica.

About 2/3rds of the world's collected meteorites have been picked up in Antarctica, where the dark, scorched rocks stand out in sharp relief against the snow, and are naturally brought to the surface in areas where the glaciers in which they land move over ridges.

But iron meteorites, about 5% of the meteorites found elsewhere in the world, make up only 0.5% of the meteorites found in Antarctica—and the expedition's science team theorizes that this is simply because, being metal and thus more readily conductive of heat from any sunlight that strikes them, any iron meteorites that come to the surface are much more likely than rocky meteorites to melt their way back beneath the surface, where they may remain hidden within a mere 30cm of the surface (the team is devising a metal-detecting sweep to find them).

So anyway, while that dead old leaf probably isn't metal and thus not as efficient a conductor as an iron meteorite, it does seem to have heated up a bit in the sunlight—darker stuff being dark because it absorbs incoming photons rather than reflecting them, heating up in the process—and begun the process of melting downward through the snow...probably somewhat slower than an iron meteorite would. : P

...So I can only assume that all the iron meteorites in my yard were already hidden.
smbhax
March 20th, 2019
A couple new BBC articles on findings from space probes visiting giant rocky things in space!

New Horizons: Ultima Thule 'a time machine' to early Solar System - Scientists now think that this "giant snowman" probably formed from a gentle collapse of a particle cloud, with the final two lobes bumping together at no more than 2-3 m/s, "about the speed you might run into a wall." They're still working on figuring out why one of the lobes, Ultima, is really flat, but they've got some theories.

Hayabusa2: Asteroid mission exploring a 'rubble pile' - The Japanese probe has found asteroid Ryugu is about 50% empty space, and likely "formed when rocks were blasted off a bigger asteroid and came back together again." And as a bonus, there are also some findings mentioned about asteroid Bennu, being explored by NASA's OSIRIS-REx ("Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer" : P) probe.
smbhax
March 19th, 2019
<img src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/190318_10star.png">

It's A*'s 10th anniversary. : ) On March 18th, 2009, the first episode of A* appeared online as a silent video. A*'s first seven episodes debuted as movies, in fact (episodes 1 & 2 were quickly redone with sound : ); if it's been a while since you watched them, or if you never saw 'em, heck, check 'em out (I don't usually put embedded videos in the blog since it can slow down some browsers ever so slightly, but it's 10*, let's go crazy : D):

<iframe width="956" height="538" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PLEDB4781ED0BF5380" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

(If you're short on time, you could just watch the episode trailers. ; )

In July 2009, I started converting my daily animation work to static webcomic pages, so viewers would have something to follow in the gaps between the animated episodes appearing. It turned out to be so much easier to get people to follow the static, page-by-page version that in February 2010, with episode 8, I switched A* to 100% static pages, graduating up to a larger page size and making the art--which was done digitally and in black and white at that point--more detailed.

I tried A* in a lot of different media since then: pencil, ink, digital color, even a tiny bit of gouache; we've been in the current magenta and ultramarine watercolor mode since episode 21, page 23 (January 2014), and I feel like I still have a long way to go with that. = o

So, that was 10 years! Well, we've also had 3,400+ pages and 35+ episodes of space adventures--not to mention the high times in the blog, social media, and I've even met a reader or two in person. : ) I thought maybe I could summarize the A* action with a not-so-little retrospective gallery of some favorite pages from the past 10 years; thanks to the readers who helped flesh the gallery out by sending me their picks! I tried to include at least a few from everyone--and my own, of course. : D Okay (you can click these to jump to that point in the story):

<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0002/d/0066.png">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0004/d/0049.png">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0008/d/0057.png">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0010/d/0059.png">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0011/d/0039.png">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0013/d/0103.png">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0015/d/0024.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0018/d/0008.png">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0018/d/0094.png">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0020/d/0027.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0022/d/0057.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0025/d/0014.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0025/d/0055.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0027/d/0049.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0028/d/0008.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0028/d/0041.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0029/d/0069.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0029/d/0076.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0029/d/0103.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0030/d/0065.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0030/d/0082.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0032/d/0016.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0032/d/0074.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0033/d/0012.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0033/d/0048.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0034/d/0033.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0035/d/0005.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0035/d/0052.jpg">
<img src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0036/d/0024.jpg">

Aaand we're back to just about today already. : ) But we wouldn't be here without the many, many people who've contributed to A* over the years! So thank you all for writing, commenting, emailing, sharing, tweeting, joking, buying, framing, exhibiting, Patreon-ing, and just plain reading. If you can keep that stuff up, I think just maybe we can be back here in another 10 years for another little party, and another 10 years worth of comics, space adventures, and good times. *\o/* Let's go for that. : DD
smbhax
March 16th, 2019
This is everyone's world.

It's been a long winter, but we're finally starting to defrost a little here: patches of grass are beginning to peep out from beneath their crusty blankets of snow.

And the day after the grass reappeared, so did...its hunters.

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/190315_deer1.jpg">

This morning, in fact, the widening patches of grass in my yard had not one, not two,

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/190315_deer2.jpg"><img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/190315_deer3.jpg">

but three hungry admirers of the ruminant variety.

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/190315_deer4.jpg">

I think it was a mother and two fawns. (Can you see the smallest? Only its head is showing from behind a tree there. Hint: follow mama's gaze.) The larger fawn sat down on a grassy patch right beneath my kitchen window for about ten minutes while mama grazed and listened.

My yard is the high ground at one end of a long, lightly forested hillside that runs down to the left, eventually ending in a large park. Earlier in the week, the first day the grass emerged, two deer (the second appeared and followed just after the first left) had already found it.

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/190315_deer5.jpg">

Coming back from my walk today, I took a path along the small river running along the park, and saw separate groups of deer on both sides, midway up the hillsides—as well as their well-trod paths through the snow, thoroughly criss-crossing both areas. They aren't wasting any time!

Before the deer, though—before the real thaw had quite started, but was in the air—I had a smaller, lunch time visitor:

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/190315_cat1.jpg">

Lord of the snowy domain—at least for a day or so.

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/190315_cat2.jpg">
smbhax
March 15th, 2019
A*'s 10th anniversary is Monday and I figured it was a long shot, but it couldn't hurt to see if my local newspaper thought this was worth a mention of some sort.

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/190314_daily_news_front_page.jpg">

They put me on the front page. = o

Yep that is me there, holding A* art up while my face tries to figure out what to do when a large camera lens is pointed at it in the morning. 8}

The interview (and I've got it backed up in crude photo form - 1, 2 - just in case) covers what A* is, where the idea for it came from, what I was doing before that that led up to it, and, well, a lot more stuff than I figured they'd ask me about! So, a big thanks to writer Josh Babcock, photographer Geoff Crimmins, and the Daily News for taking an interest, and for the generous coverage. Front page! JEepers!

The article mentions Paul Chadwick (@PaulHChadwick, paulchadwick.net), who I worked with on the MMORPG "The Matrix Online," my gig before A*. He's probably best known for his long-running (started in '86, so he's got me beat on anniversaries by a good long way : ), Eisner-winning independent comic book series Concrete (you can read some stories for free there on his site)—and he's also done loads of other comics. Working on his story for the Matrix was my first professional creative writing experience. : )
smbhax
March 14th, 2019
Get me your picks for any pages you want to see included in the little retrospective gallery I'm assembling for A*'s 10th Anniversary! Oh and get 'em to me by Friday. : ) (Email smbhax@gmail.com, tweet @smbhax.)
smbhax
March 12th, 2019
Gotta go put some A* art in a box to ship off. : )
smbhax
March 11th, 2019
As I'm into assembling retrospective galleries at the moment—practicing, I suppose, for the A* 10TH gallery I'll be assembling the the big anniversary just one week from now, with your help (send me—email smbhax@gmail.com, tweet @smbhax—by this Friday the 15th your picks for favorite A* pages, max 1 per episode!), and a reader recently asked me about this "Oswalt" character who seems to be looming in this episode—and as the last time I did anything like this was way back in 2013 during episode 20, and without pictures, I figured I'd put together a little gallery of all of the mentions of Oswalt prior to this episode. They started in episode 10, then there was one in episode 11, 17, 20, and a big gap until last episode, 35 (you can click on 'em to jump to their points in the story):

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0010/d/0108.png">
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0011/d/0077.png">
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0018/d/0015.png">
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0020/d/0052.png">
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0035/d/0044.jpg">

There you are, all caught up on your Oswalts! Well, also we've caught actual glimpses of Oswalt twice up to this point—once in flashback—but I'll leave those unspoiled for enterprising readers to hunt up. ^_^
smbhax
March 9th, 2019
A*'s 10 year anniversary (!!) is March 18th! Help me pick A* pages to include in a retrospective anniversary gallery! Send your picks (no more than one page per episode!) to me one way or another (email smbhax@gmail.com, tweet @smbhax, etc) by *next* Friday, the 15th, so I have time to put together a final selection. Thank you! : D

~~~~~~~~

I sort of got to do a mini gallery selection process last night, because I was meeting someone here in town who was interested in seeing my artwork, so I figured I'd take along a selection of the A* pages I have sitting around here. I wanted them to be a) somewhat recent, b) reasonably proficient, and c) showing a variety of scenes—and they also had to be pages that aren't currently on sale on eBay (ie the latest week's worth), or haven't already been sold; so here's the little selection I came up with for that purpose (these are in order of appearance, you can click 'em to go to that point in the story):

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0034/d/0048.jpg">
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0035/d/0011.jpg">
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0035/d/0052.jpg">
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0036/d/0023.jpg">
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0036/d/0024.jpg">
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0036/d/0025.jpg">

They pointed out that the second one, Selenis up in her tower, looks kind of like one of the observation decks on the local college campus. Darned if they aren't right!

Gee, the images are big all together here in the blog. Hm. I wonder if I should do thumbnails for the anniversary gallery. I guess I'll have to see how it shapes up. : o
smbhax
March 7th, 2019
Here's an ink sketch I got to send to a reader for supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign : ) :

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/190307_patreon_sketch.jpg">

Thank you! : D And thanks to everyone who's supporting the comic—which includes those of you reading it, which is of course the most important thing. ^)^
smbhax
March 7th, 2019
Page done, time for bed!
smbhax
March 6th, 2019
Just a reminder! : D :: A*'s 10th anniversary is in just under 2 weeks! Help me assemble a 10th anniversary gallery by letting me know your favorite A* pages. : ) No more than one page per episode! Get me your choices by Friday, March 15th—so I have time to pick which nominated pages to cram into the anniversary gallery the following Monday. : D Email your choices to smbhax@gmail.com, or tweet @smbhax, etc. Thank youuu! : )
smbhax
March 5th, 2019
It was -5 F when I got up this morning, but look who showed up for breakfast!

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/190304_minus5f_breakfast.jpg">

^_^

Apparently, this town I just moved to just had the most snow it's had in a February in 78 years. :P High temperatures have been about 20 degrees below normal for over a month. =ppp But my neighborhood bunny seems okay with it so that's something, anyway.

One of the younger sheep at the farm next to the big city park had a jacket taped around him today. As I was leaving, I looked back across the park and saw that one of the llamas had got through a gate to a neighboring yard, and the sheep were following (along with some of the more curious ducks, who I think are hanging out around the sheep while their pond is frozen over because the sheep can clear snow off patches of grass)—maybe hoping to find some area with less snow. I hope they didn't end up wandering too far off and getting into difficulties!
smbhax
March 2nd, 2019
I kind of snuck this up on you but A*'s 10th anniversary (Ten years of A*! Can ya believe it?? = ooo) is in just over two weeks: March 18th! : D So I thought we'd have a little contest to pick out our favorite A* pages, which I'll assemble into a 10th anniversary gallery as a sort of retrospective. ^_^

The contest starts now! Just let me know (you can email me at smbhax@gmail.com, tweet me @smbhax, etc!) what your favorite A* pages are—but *no more than one per episode!*

There are only 36 episodes and 3,400+ A* pages to choose from so uh how's two weeks sound? Get your fave page picks to me by Friday, March 15th; I'll need them by then so I can total them all up and figure out which ones have thus been selected to be in the 10th anniversary gallery I'll be posting on the following Monday, the 18th—which, again, is the anniversary. : )

I guess I'll probably have to whittle things down a bit from all the pages people may nominate, so just because a page is nominated may not mean I can fit it in, but the nominations *will* be my guide, so let me know which pages you think should be representing A*'s first 10 years!
smbhax
March 1st, 2019
Time was when I would have resorted to a ruler and some sort of circular thing to trace around (a roll of masking tape might have been about the right size for the foreground ship, for instance ; ) in order to lay this page out, but these days it usually seems to work better just to freehand the whole thing—it keeps the organic feel throughout, and anyway, the point isn't to make straight lines, it's to get the story across; so, hopefully my irregularities aren't too distracting. : )
smbhax
February 28th, 2019
The New York Times Magazine just put up an interesting article about the recent discovery of two previously unknown probably-Rembrandt paintings, the Dutch art world drama around them, and the art dealer scion of an ancient house of Rembrandt collectors, and it offers interesting insights about Rembrandt's world—both then and now.
smbhax
February 27th, 2019
Jeez for some reason at the end of the days so far this week I've spent what blogging time I might have had, like, goofing off on Twitter or similar places. I'm not even good at that stuff! Oh well. One piece of information I did get to impart there was my only-14-years-late-probably discovery from the other day that the [F] key toggles full screen on YouTube videos. =P
smbhax
February 26th, 2019
Hey-ho another day another page : )