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smbhax
Just a guy makin' comics.
  • Real Name
    Ben Chamberlain
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Wednesday A* original art archive sale! I'm only putting up *three* more ink illustration for sale here; keep an eye out in these next few weeks if you want a chance to grab the original illustration behind one of A*'s classic ink pages for well below its usual $50 price tag.

So, this week is the first of the final three, and it is the 17" x 7.5" ink wash illustration I made for A* episode 17, page 65—a powerful rocket just beginning to lift off from the pad, huge clouds of exhaust billowing all around as it strains against gravity's grip! And for one week, it is up for auction at just an $18.99 starting bid price, right here on eBay.

The auction listing has high-resolution images, but let's at least squeeze in some tiny previews here:

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/170920_00170065.jpg" border="0" hspace="0">
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0017/o/0065.jpg" border="0" hspace="0">

This was in the brief period when I was free-handing the ink work—no preliminary pencil drawing underneath! : o—which was tricky and didn't always work out, but was capable of great energy, especially for dynamic, large scale scenes like this.

Thanks for checking out the auction! Along with that piece, on my eBay profile you'll also find sales for the original watercolor illustrations behind the latest week's worth of new A* pages.

Just two more ink piece sales after this one!
On Friday, the Cassini probe took its planned swan dive into the planet Saturn, ending its 20-year mission to the ringed planet. I've mentioned Cassini in 28 previous A* blog posts, so it's safe to say the probe's adventures, readings and discoveries have had a profound impact on this webcomic! I can't possibly list all of Cassini's scientific achievements in this one blog entry but, among other things, it discovered seven new moons of Saturn, dropped the Huygens lander on the moon Titan, getting us ground photos from Titan's surface, and it discovered water ice jets shooting out of the moon Enceladus, revealing a vast subsurface ocean.

You can see images Cassini took in its final, exploratory plunges over here, including an infrared view of what would become its own impact site in the colossal banks of clouds. My own favorite photos from Cassini have always been its views of Enceladus; here's a fittingly solitary, distant one it took of Enceladus and the famous ice jets in April of this year:

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/_enceladus_cassini_jets_04_17.png" border="0" hspace="0">
image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute (source)
Starting today there's a huuuuge price hike of $2 on the starting bid for the original A* artwork I put up for sale each day on eBay—the starting bid price was $16.99, and starting with today's page it's $18.99. I guess I won't make it to my declared goal of inching up to a starting price of $25 ($24.99, I guess) by the end of the year, at this rate, but oh well we'll get there sooner or later. I don't like charging more for my art—I'd just like more people to have some of it : D—but A* *is* my only source of income, so I gotta actually have some income to live on. : ) Well I hope those who like my artwork can still afford to get a page to call their very own every once in a while, and I'll keep trying to make them better! (Emphasis on *trying* : ooo : )

The original pages I put up for auction last week still have their old $16.99 starting prices, so you've still got a chance to get in on the old price by grabbing one of those before they run out by the end of this week!
If you enjoy A* you may like the A* Patreon campaign! It's an easy way to support the comic, plus you can get yourself super-A*-y rewards, like this sketch I mailed off to a reader for their support:

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/170916_patreon_sketch.jpg" border="0" hspace="0">

Thanks everyone for your support, it means a lot to this little comic! : )
I follow an artist named Cate Parr on Instagram and today she posted a really striking watercolor and pencil fashion portrait that is worth a look if you're into such things. : )

It made me wonder if I should be erasing my A* pencil lines—you can see what they look like before I erase them, on my own Instagram—and sent me flipping back to the A* pages where I *did* used to leave the pencil in—around episode 23, for instance. But that was largely because at that time I didn't yet have a grasp of how to replace the pencil lines with watercolor without losing the details of the image, and now that I look back on them, the pencil there seems more messy to me than anything. So I guess if I had really pretty pencil lines maybe I would keep more of them. : o Or maybe not? This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up nights. : P
Wednesday special original art auction! This week it's the original 16" x 6.75" ink illustration I made for episode 18, page 100, in which Selenis, now alone on a remote asteroid, has resigned herself to being zapped by a giant, insect-like robot laser cannon. : o It's one of those Zen moments! On sale for one week at a special low starting price right here on eBay!

The listing has the high-res images showing all the gritty, hand-made detail, but here are some tiny views to tempt you over there:

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/170913_00180100.jpg" border="0" hspace="0">
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0018/o/0100.jpg" border="0" hspace="0">

So black and white! Less than a handful of special ink auctions left now, I think. Also, the last week's worth of new A* watercolor page paintings are on eBay at similarly affordable prices, check 'em out through my eBay profile. : )
Page done! Page done! It's done! Ohhh yeahhh
Big and brushy is kinda fun ya know : )
Readers are supporting this comic for as little as $1 a month through the A* Patreon campaign! : ) And at the $3 or higher level you can even get yourself some cool A* rewards, for instance here's a sketch I mailed off to a reader as the monthly reward for their support:

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/170908_patreon_sketch.jpg" border="0" hspace="0">

Thank you very much! Your support makes a huge difference to this comic! : D
G'night! : D
Let's do a Wednesday special A* original art archive auction! Just gonna do about five or so more of these ink ones, so keep an eye out. : ) This week's is a dramatic, 17" x 7.5" (that's bigger'n the 16" x 6.75" watercolor pages I do these days) space scene with a small, boxy transport ship, a huge, shiny and undulating Coke-bottle-style rocket ship, a sweeping nebula, and a whole lotta stars, and for the next week it is up for auction at a special low price right here on eBay.

Oh by the way it's the original art for A* episode 16, page 71. The auction listing has high-res images, but here are some tiny ones to entice you over there:

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/170906_00160071.jpg" border="0" hspace="0">
<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/ep/0016/o/0071.jpg" border="0" hspace="0">

I always did like how I managed to get the ink wash shading on the transport ship to come out, it's more specific and directional than I usually do. Hm, I should remember that!
Think I'd better to try to work ahead a little tonight on getting ready for an actual weekly Wednesday art auction tomorrow, since I've been missing getting those done lately : o
[Forgot to Mention Dept. 7/3] I'll be taking advantage of the holiday on Monday! Back to work on a new page on Tuesday! : )

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Readers help me keep this comic going through the A* Patreon campaign! ^_^ And I even get to mail out rewards for it, for instance here's an ink sketch I shipped off to a reader for their support:

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/170902_patreon_sketch.jpg" border="0" hspace="0">

I really appreciate everyone who's helping me keep making this comic! Thank you!!
Finished painting! : ) Bed time~~!
Well I am getting awful at managing to set aside the time on Wednesdays to rescan and rephotograph one of the remaining original A* ink pages for a special weekly sale on eBay. In a belated recognition of that, I did however manage to take a minute or two to whittle down the remaining trove of select ink pieces to oh I think five or six, from double that number or whatever it was. So this handful(+) left is the creme de la creme, and um some day I may manage to start putting them back up in what used to be weekly sales. : P (After those though we can go back to more contemporary, watercolor pieces, which don't need rescanning or reshooting. : D)
It's sorta like how the Duke boys got into cars, I guess.
This one got a little wild. One of Selenis' hairs is actually a hair from one of my brushes. : P
Sketch for a reader supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign :LDD ! :

<img alt="Image" src="http://smbhax.com/stuff/170825_patreon_sketch.jpg" border="0" hspace="0">

You can support A* for as little as $1 a month through Patreon—every bit is a huge help to me! At higher support levels you can even get yourself A*-riffic rewards sent right from me to you, like e-books ($3 a month), and actual A* sketches on paper like the one above ^)_^, arriving in your real-life mailbox every month (just $10 a month! : o).

A* *is* my only source of income, it's a full-time job, so I really appreciate everyone who's helping me keep it going! I know stuff like Patreon, or buying my original A* page art, costs money, but there's stuff you can do for free, too, like retweeting the comic, or just telling your friends who might like it. That's a big deal! And let's not forget reading the comic, that helps too! So—thank you! : D
The Washington Post has an article about the space suits being developed by SpaceX and Boeing for use on their commercial space vehicles, which may start ferrying passengers to the International Space Station as early as 2019—if they can get a bit better at making their deadlines, maybe. Anyway, both companies have come up with a fairly slender, form-fitting design, with a narrower helmet than the classic NASA dome; they're basically just to protect passengers from depressurization: "this gear is specifically not intended for spacewalks, so it doesn’t need to provide the same bulky protection from dust and debris, or temperature fluctuation."