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Torino
Torino is just some comic/history/paranormal nerd who likes cats a whole lot.
Hurray! No more of this damn bar on the next page! The world's longest Valentines Day is finally over!
The arc itself isn't, though. I'm gonna put a one week break here, so the next page will be up July 5th.
These pages have been taking a while lately, this one did mainly because I've been sick all week.
Hopefully next one will be quicker and also look better. See you next Thursday.

Mel has a poster of the Story of the Kelly Gang, the first ever feature film (which was also produced in Melbourne), half for pure hipster cred and half because he definitely has a giant crush on Ned Kelly.
Sorry that the page updates have been quite late in the day recently. This one took longer due to being a physically longer page.
We're finally back in the present day.
I had worried about the ending of the flashback seeming abrupt compared to the amount of buildup, but I also think Mel's emotional breakdown and its effect on Sydney needed enough context.
The Syd and Mel that appear in one panel toward the end there are most likely from the 1960s! Originally I wanted to have a much larger panel with a whole load of different designs throughout the decades as some kind of indication of the passage of time, but I didn't have enough time to, especially as it would have involved even more new designs. The other periods are something I hope I get an opportunity to revist, though.

I wonder what modern-Mel's up to right about now...
hey remember when this was a valentine's special

If this didn't get delayed so often, I could have gotten this up on the actual anniversary of Phar Lap's death last month.
I'm glad I was able to find pictures of those newspapers.

The true reason for Phar Lap's sudden death is debated even today. The major theory is that he was poisoned by American gangsters who wanted to take him out of the next race for messing up the odds, due to the large amount of arsenic found in his system. However arsenic was apparently also an ingredient in many performance-enhancing horse tonics at the time. We may never really know. The gangster murder plot is more exciting though.

Also, I recycled the 1920s character designs a bit for the others, but changed them just barely. (Mostly Brisbane, because her old timey swimsuit just didnt feel mood appropriate)
The hilarious reason this page is late (its still 10 minutes before midnight so its still the same day as usual in this timezone at least...) is because it was really hard for me to draw Mel pretty enough in that one frame, and I was about to upload the page as it was but it was bugging me and I ended up redrawing it. He still looks kinda off, but I don't want to draw it again. If he looks off to you, just pretend he actually looks really pretty.

The espresso trivia is entirely pointless but I couldn't really resist it anyway. Australia is a nation of coffee-snobs (which is also why Starbucks failed pretty badly and had to close most of its stores), but the snobbiest coffee snobs are in Melbourne. Melbourne was also the first city in Australia to get espresso machines - in 1928 - but it was a different kind to the lever-operated type that we know today (which allegedly first appeared in Sydney... but not until the 50s)

Lastly, the Phar Lap photos are from his winnings album, which were all collected. Since he didn't win the 1931 cup I had to hunt that down elsewhere. He raced in, and one, far more races than what is shown here obviously, it was merely a way of showing the passage of time, as we move toward 1932.

Next page should be up same day as always (Thursday).
@AFieSight: thanks... the thing is the old stuff is from 2011-2013 and I feel it should have improved a lot more than it has :(
Apologies for the delay on this one - I was supposed to have put a notice on the previous page that there was going to be a week break but forgot, and then this one still managed to get delayed. I did still manage to get it up on Thursday though. The temperature here spiked very suddenly and left me reeling a bit and made my art block worse than usual. The result is that I'm largely not happy with this page, but I think I've redrawn it enough times.
Next page should be up next Thursday with no delays.
We have two nice historical photos here. I still feel guilty and wish my art was good enough to reproduce them, but on the other hand they give a sense of reality. Plus that photo of Sydney in the early 30s is so amazing to me. From the angle its hard to tell, but the Harbour Bridge hasnt completed construction yet. Its likely that it might be a year or so off the 1930 exactly, but it was too good to not use. http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/news/2010/08/gallery-the-plague-in-historica l-sydney/how-the-plague-almost-demolished-the-rocks_image9
The other one is a photo of Phar Lap winning the Randwick Plate in Sydney, 1930. http://www.nma.gov.au/collections/highlights/phar-lap I also wondered how to best show this and opted for tracing the horses in the photo.
If I ever had time, it would be nice to try and draw both these photos from scratch. Unfortunately I don't have time, and if I want to get these pages finished at all I have to make compromises. But using the real photos does make an interesting contrast in the things that are real and the things that are dramatized.
@Shiisiln: Syd would actually come in third place here. The grand champion is Hobart, whose crush has been around even longer than Mel has existed.
Oh boy! Flashback time! Anyone know anything that happened in 1932?
I haven't really had the chance to draw anything around this era since the brief 1920s part at the end of the Federation arc, and have been looking for an excuse ever since, because those are some of my favourite character designs.
Managed to get this done in time!
As I've been using all my free time to try to get these pages done, I'm going to take a break next week.
The next page will be up April 26th.
I'm back!
The longest Valentines Day ever continues! Here's the first page via my new computer.
The art looks weird to me on this page because it took me a while to get used to drawing again after not being able to for more than 2 weeks, I had really bad art block plus I lost all my custom pens in Clip Studio and was using ones I wasn't used to...and then only realized after I finished it that there was an easy way to get them back.
Next page should be up next Thursday. Should be.
Some good news!
I can't thank you guys enough for your patience. The comic will resume next Thursday, assuming I get a new computer this Saturday like I am planning to. It's embarrassingly difficult for me to draw the old fashioned way without a computer. In also can't edit the size, so the image will have to be ugly and large like this until I get my new computer and can resize it from there.
Brisbane is wearing the bunny outfit her DollfieDream version is currently sporting, while Darwin is cranky about her not being a bilby, as his quest to stick it to Big Easter Bunny continues.
I hope to return on the 5th of April!
A moment of silence...
...for my computers motherboard. I was right to worry last week because the poor thing died in Sunday, and I'm glad it let me finish the last page and back the rest up on the external HD as an act of mercy. The last page was a better place for a cliffhanger than the one before it!

But I didn't want to upload absolutely nothing today even if I have been unable to draw due to not having a computer. But I do have an iPad, which lets me unload pages to here, so as a bonus I decided to upload photos of some of the many, many different drafts of the previous two pages with the help of an app to combine them together (which is what that watermark is) There are three reasons for this: first of all, I wanted to upload something, second of all I thought the making of process might be vaguely interesting to somebody, and third of all my draft pictures are really silly looking and make me laugh sometimes.

When I said that these were the most difficult pages in the entire run of the comic so far to write, I was not exaggerating, because I drafted them more times than any other pages and kept changing things, including the number of pages (pages 3 and 4 were originally going to be one page) As you can see there's a version where Sydney is a good deal more casual, and there are multiple versions where Mel cries a lot. There's even a version you can see some of in the last bit there where he runs off dramatically like the heroine in a shojo manga, which was honestly too much even for him. The decision for his eventual facial expressions were almost last minute. The absolute hardest part of this moment was to keep them in character while presenting an unseen side of them and that is extremely challenging and not at all what I expected to be doing when I started a goofy gijinka comic in 2011.

Mel's final line also kept changing, and there's multiple versions (two are shown here) where he says 'don't you think this is too cruel?'

By the way my favourite goofy draft face is Mel's on the version with 'KNEE'.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my comic writing process and the unintentional humour in the simplified draft faces. It's impossible for me to draft on the computer itself for some reason so drafts have always been scribbled out by hand - ideas flow a little better that way for me. I'm not sure if this is how everyone does it or not.

As for the next page: I still don't know when my computer will be better, I will find out this Saturday how bad the damage is and what the repair cost will be, and decide what to do from there. You will find out next Thursday for better or worse but there will be some form of update then - although most likely bonus content I can upload as a photo from the iPad again. If anyone has any particular requests for that, do let me know in the comments.
hoo boy this page nearly didn't happen because my computer went kaput just when I'd nearly finished it (luckily I didnt lose much), and I thought it was done for but it turned out it was just the internal battery that was dead (apparently this can prevent startup for some reason). It started working again after I took it out, but it still makes funky noises now and then. I really hope it'll be okay, because if I lose it there won't be another new page for...half a year or so.

Anyway, there are conveniently some large trees around Observatory point. It was another reason I chose that location.
@shiisiln: I'm glad! It's always encouraging when people leave comments and give me some indication that they actually enjoy my dumb stuff because I tend to assume no one does by default 8')
Behold. The page that took longer to draft than any other page in the history of this comic. I think I drew at least 15 different versions of how this would go down, even though it was a page I'd been planning for two and a half years.

Syd always had a flair for the dramatic, huh. But this might not have gone to plan...

More points:
-Observatory Point is a popular spot to propose.
-If it isn't obvious, Matilda is the butler's wife, and yes he also has a name.
-I really wish I'd gotten time to draw the christmas comic I planned on, which was meant to foreshadow this.
-I'm admittedly a little nervous uploading this

***Next page: March 15th***
@Lora: unfortunately they've actually gotten worse, I also don't have time to draw backgrounds anymore so have to incorporate free-use photos.
Sorry for the wait on this.
Funnily enough this arc was only going to be three long pages originally, which is why I wanted to get them all done pretty quickly, but as soon as I actually drafted it properly it ended up much longer. I wanted to be able to get the pages uploaded pretty close to eachother so that people dont have to wait an entire week between each one, but that isnt possible when I work full time.

Some fun facts:
-please google 'sydney botanical gardens satyr' if you want to see that actual real statue. I thought it would be funnier to just not explain that whatsoever to leave the readers with the exact same sense of 'what the HELL is that' that I had when I first encountered it out of nowhere without expecting to, but it is an actual statue of the smuggest satyr I have seen in my life, and Syd wouldn't be too flattered to be compared to it, even if Mel is joking.
-Both the crane game and the photo booth stuff would have happened in the area around the Capitol Theatre where there is a whole load of the things. The original draft had Mel getting angry at the obscene markup Sydney charges for using the photo booth machines - the same machines that are 400 yen in Japan will cost you $12AU+ there.
-The sunset view is from Observatory Hill.

******Next page forecast: Thursday March 8*******
So the page should have gone up yesterday, and I did edit the forecast to say Thursday...but the truth is that I had been horrifically tired since getting back from my holiday, and I couldn't figure out why until yesterday when I ended up having to see a doctor, because I'm sick as hell. Right when I thought I'd managed to get through the winter without getting really sick like I usually do. I'm getting better but it's best I don't push myself because I have a career's fair this weekend that I want maximum alertness for, but also because...I really don't want to rush this arc. I'm already kind of disappointed at the lack of shading. I realy can't draw at all when I feel like this.
In exchange for making everyone wait again, you can at least get one of the draft panels. To tell the truth I was gonna draw a quick bit of bonus art for this but like I said, I can't draw at the moment.

*********The new forecast for the next page is February 28! It would be sooner if it wasn't for the career fair. Maybe it -will- be sooner, but it won't be earlier than the 25th!************