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@wohdin: I'd like it to be something like Stardust where it's written in novel format but has 1-2 illustrations per page.
Hi all,

It's been a long while. The comic recently went down due to my inactivity but should be back up for your perusal now. Note that you will need to update any favourites to the link brightstars.smackjeeves.com. I didn't pay for a premium subscription this year so SJ doesn't use my custom domain name.

I've been inactive for two reasons:
1) It's become clear to me that I can't tell Bright Stars the way I want to if I continue it in comic form. It started as a way to push myself artistically, but the universe and characters have evolved to be so complicated that I just can't cram enough of it into a comic. This is 20% a limitation of comics as a medium, but 80% a limitation of how much free time I have to spend on art these days.

2) Continuing in that free time bit... I've been finding it hard to fit art into my life for now. For me it's a time-intensive hobby, and having to constantly pick it up and drop it has been too hard and I can't do a comic the justice it deserves. The good part is this is for a positive reason: my bf and I have been working our asses off to save up for a house, and are now in the process of buying one. It's a hectic process that needs my full attention.

I want you all to know that, though I haven't been drawing the comic, Bright Stars is very much on my mind. I've been hesitant to say anything for a long time because I wasn't sure of the direction I was going with it, but: I'm working on doing Bright Stars as a written story instead of a comic. I've been picking away at it when I can, but due to my writing process I haven't been able to post it anywhere yet. I don't write chronologically and it all goes together in a big mess at first, so nothing is really legible. Longterm, I'd like to make it available as an illustrated story so it still includes art. Shortterm it's not ready to share yet.
I'm going to officially put the comic on hiatus until the new year. If your curious as to the personal reasons you can read here.

For now, here's a sketch dump of concept work from the last year or two. I tend to do little silly style doodles as warm-ups and to throw around costume concepts for characters. It's a good way to get the general lines and feel of an outfit down without getting too caught up on drawing the character. Chal ends up being drawn a lot because he has the keenest fashion sense, so he's a good way for me to work out ideas that are a little more over the top, and then poach parts of them for other characters. At the top left you can see the concept for his outfit when he's fighting with Kaumo.

There some concepts for Rory as he gets more Veo-styled clothes. He's fun to draw in winter coats, which I tend to base somewhat off of snowboarding gear.

Kaumo gets designs pulled from suitwear and military uniforms.

N'tala is hard to design for, as it can be a thin line between practicality and too boring. She's not someone with a big hoard of clothes.

There's also a concept of N'tala at the bottom left where she's dressed in homeworld clothing and wearing a planetbound Veo hairstyle.
If you were a patron of the Bright Stars Patreon, here's a heads up that you'll want to make sure you officially delete your patronage to it. Patreon apparently has some twitchiness where even after a creator account is converted back to a patron account, the old campaign will still charge you monthly.

It's something that I should have done by deleting all the patrons before I reverted my account to a patron account, but didn't know to do it until it was too late.

Let me know if you have any issues and I'll get it sorted out.

Sorry for the mess from the whole thing - it should have been a learning experience just for me, not a headache for you guys.
maplebee
November 3rd, 2014
@Niggle: Patreon told me everyone was refunded and it was closed down... maybe they messed something up in refunding the last pledge. Christ. I'll look into it.

I would recommend deleting your patronage to the campaign to guarantee it doesn't happen again.
@YersiniaP: the unrefunded pledge won't currently refund because, while the Patreon technically made $40 a month, there was almost $5 in fees, so the account only had $35 in it for refunds.

I'm currently finding out from Patreon if I can cover the difference so that you won't be left out the money for my mistake with the service!
I've closed down the Patreon page. I refunded all the pledges previous to doing so, except for one that wouldn't refund (I'm getting Patreon to help me untangle that so it can also be refunded, so if you have one pledge not refunded, have no fear).

Patreon is a really cool service, and a great idea, but, as usual, it is best leveraged by American users. I'm not familiar with a lot of things when it comes to trying to monetize a comic, and Patreon ended up being on the wrong end of my ignorance. I didn't know until I went to transfer the successful pledges this month that in order to do so I have to have a tax number for doing business in the States. I -think- I can technically use my Canadian SIN, but frankly I'm not comfortable doing that (its basically the most important piece of Canadian ID you can have...). Applying for a tax number would take 6-8 weeks, then any money I transfer back to Canada would be subject to extra taxes, plus I'd basically have to be filing as a small business on my income tax from what I can see. It's essentially not a knot I'm interested in unraveling.

So I've refunded the pledges and pulled down my creator account. Thank you all very much for your interest in supporting the Patreon while it was there :)
maplebee
August 21st, 2014
Rory is getting some real practice at pulling himself together.

If you missed it last week, I started a Patreon for the comic. Currently it's at $25/mo, which means Bright Stars will stay ad free next month! If you want to see more of the comic, consider pledging - with enough support, I could double the update rate. You don't have to be able to pledge much - if every person who's faved the comic through SJ pledged $1, it would guarantee 4 updates a month!

Oh, and a heads up: there won't be a page next week. We're at half staff at work next week and I have to cram in 50 hours to cover shifts.
maplebee
August 12th, 2014
@YersiniaP: all of the pledges are there so you can pledge for them as you please, on a month-by-month basis - it doesn't have to be ongoing every month. So say you usually have like, a $5/mo pledge, but one month you can afford a $30 pledge, then you'd pledge $30 for that month, get the commission, and you can drop back down to your regular pledge the following month.

So basically you'd get that level of reward for any month you pledge for it, but you don't have to always pledge at that level :)
maplebee
August 9th, 2014
@Niggle: a kaon (kaont = plural) is a Veo hour, which is a bit longer than an Earth hour.

I think Patreon has the power to be leveraged much like Kickstarter, where even the $1 contributions add up. If each of the people who have my comic faved on SJ pledged $1, it would guarantee 4 pages a month; if each of the unique hits who read my page according to my analytics pledged $1, it would more than guarantee 8 pages a month. It's just a matter of whether people feel like contributing, even in a small way.

@Angel_Sin: thank you so much! It was really exciting to wake up to an e-mail that I already had a patron!
maplebee
August 2nd, 2014
@InsanieDestiny09: I considered doing some sparkly background with a nebula or a galaxy, but decided to go with a simple starlit sky to emphasize how vast, empty, and dark, much of space is.
maplebee
August 2nd, 2014
I decided to go for it and made a Patreon for the comic! I'm hoping it will at least fund the SJ premium account and the GoDaddy url for the year next year - I'm starting to give serious consideration to ads to cover that - but depending on how it goes it could get us back to 8 pages a month.

I plan to keep making Bright Stars even though there are times when I can't update for months (as recently), but it does end up having to take third place behind working for me, as I have to work two jobs most of the year (huzzah for supply teaching not being steady enough...). A successful enough Patreon could allow me to reduce some of my hours at my part-time job and focus more on comic making.

It could also eventually mean that I could look seriously at something like a print run of the comic (currently I don't have the upfront capital to order a batch of books).

Anyway, we'll see what happens.
I could never be an astronaut. The high g training would wash me out even if I had the scientific knowledge; I get nauseous on swing sets, let alone being spun around at high speed.

But if I somehow got an opportunity for a spacewalk I'd say yes in .0001 seconds. It's documented that astronauts become captivated by staring at space, dangerously so, sometimes. There's a hypnotic effect in being surrounded by so much vastness. If one can feel so small looking up at the stars at night from the ground, I can only imagine what it's like to look up at the stars from among the stars.

On a completely different note: I'm thinking about setting up a Patreon account for Bright Stars. Any thoughts?
@Infinity.: I have looked at it before, but haven't had time this summer to leverage it, as I don't have time to create any bonus content.

I'm trying to get back in the groove and ramp up for the next chunk of the chapter, while also doing some backend stuff (like finishing incomplete pages in chapter 3), so I might look more seriously at Patreon soon.
2/2 today!

While I was too busy to update, the comic's 3rd anniversary slipped by! I basically forgot about it, but Alicia didn't :D

As always, June is when I renew the SJ premium subscription, which is $60 for the year and allows us not to be bothered by ads, and a much more custom theme so the site looks good for reading. I always pay it out-of-pocket since I don't generate income from ads, and donations are always extra appreciated this time of year. Usually they would go straight to the subscription; this year they'll help me recoup the cost since I already paid it. If you'd like to donate, the PayPal button is just to the right there, and there is a wallpaper pack available to you for donating more than $5 if you don't have it already!
1/2 today! Scene break.
And so ends the scene.
@Toli B: thanks very much! I decided early on that, if I wanted to do a sci-fi comic, it would have to have something other than usual technology since I'm terrible at drawing mechanical things.

@ladybug: I'm so glad to hear that :D

@Niggle: I did finish the other pages! We're so close to the end of the scene that I figured it was a good time to do so, plus it took me so long to return to updating that I thought people might want to reread the chapter to remember what's happening, and this way it's all complete :D (More about Jetii will be revealed soon, ooooo.....)

@Shaleene: thanks very much :D

@YersiniaP: I'm glad Chal came off as seeming like he would drawl a bit anyway, haha. Jetii has the accent of a German who speaks very good English - that lovely crispness and preciseness Germans can have in English, not the "I vill taek ovehr ze voooorld, ahaha!" evil villain stereotype accent XD
One more page next week to end the scene, finally!

I had wanted to put both up this week to get it done, but Arthur passing by left me without power for 3 days, 2 of which were my days off for the week ~_~;
Wow sorry it's been so long, guys! I really didn't expect to have to keep the comic on hold like this. I had a really busy couple of months, between working a full time job at the same time as a part time job through May and early June, then buying a motorcycle and testing for my license. You'd think the latter wouldn't be much of a headache but the provincial bureaucracy does its best to ensure that it is.

So anyway, here's a new page to liven things up! I also went through the scene and shaded all the pages, so they're fully completed now.