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Just a guy makin' comics.
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    Ben Chamberlain
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Sorted through a bunch of old electronic stuff (and why did I have four decks of playing cards, one mini deck, and one *marked* deck? : o I don't even play cards : P) and looked into a mat for stretching and exercises—these are the kinds of things I find myself getting distracted by each day as I'm thinking about the upcoming move!
I got this page done! : P
Each weekend I take the live-streamed A* art-making videos I make during the week on my Twitch channel and compress them into sped-up time-lapse videos on my YouTube channel so you can watch A* artwork bloom from blank pages right before your eyes (also so I can look back and see how the heck I did something : p). Except this past weekend, which was more hob-nobby than usual, and I only got halfway through that process (videos sped up but not tagged and published)—so I'm off to go finish that up now!
Here's a sketch I got to send to a reader for supporting the comic through the A* Patreon campaign : ) :

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You get a sketch each month for contributing at the $10 level, but even $1 a month makes a big difference to me! Thanks everyone for your support, I couldn't do this comic without you. : ))
Let's do our Wednesday special A* archive original art! This is where I pick an unsold page of A* original art and put it up for sale at a special price! I only have two pages left in the archive to try to sell to you at this steep a discount for the time being—before June at least, I guess! So anyway here's the second-to-last one, it's the 16" x 6.75" watercolor illustration I painted for A* episode 32, page 80, where Selenis is pulling herself out of a pool after escaping a sudden flood in an aquatically themed nightclub: on sale for one week on eBay.

That auction listing has high resolution images, way more detailed than these tiny teasers:

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I don't end up doing many pages with sort of selective, up-close cropping like that, and I think in this case it worked out pretty well! It was also fun to play with water effects all over the place. ^_^ Thanks for checking it out!
British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking passed away today. Hawking was pretty much the man when it came to describing the theoretical workings of black holes; for instance, his work provided the mathematical and theoretical underpinnings for asserting that black holes, rather than sucking everything in, emit their own very slight radiation, and could, if left without any new material to consume for nearly untold eons, actually evaporate; that radiation is known as Hawking radiation.

I read his book A Brief History of Time in my younger days; I was particularly interested in reading it because I'd heard that it talked about how black holes worked. And you know, now that I think about it, maybe that helped get me hooked; maybe without having had that book to give me more information, I wouldn't have subsequently become so fascinated when I learned about the supermassive black hole at the radiation source known as Sagittarius A* at the center of our galaxy, and have been inspired to make a webcomic set there.

So, thank you, Stephen Hawking. I have little doubt that black holes will be emitting your radiation until this universe is very, very old indeed.
Just so as not to startle anyone unduly: I think tomorrow's page is going to have some words in it. = o
Made it back from my dash to look for apartments across the state in eastern Washington. I found an apartment! : D My lease starts in June, so my plan is to take about the last three weeks of May and the first week of June off to get the move and everything taken care of. A month without A* in early summer! = o But after that we'll pick right up where we had left off, and also I'll be able to start taking art commissions. : )

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The apartment I got isn't the one I tore out there to see—they called me 2.5 hours before I was due to see it to tell me they'd rented both units the day before ;_;—but this one that nearly miraculously popped up in my last, despairing scroll through Craigslist is much homier: I'll have the bottom floor of a small house built down into a hillside all to myself, with pretty much my own grassy, tree-ringed back yard to look out into. : ))

I want to thank everyone who's supported A* over the years, right up to the flurry of new folks who've joined my Patreon campaign in the past few weeks—your support really *is* making it possible for me to keep A* going, and with your help we'll all be able to have fun at the galactic core for a good long while to come. This move across the state will reduce my living expenses quite a bit, but I'll be depending more than ever on the income I make from A* to pay those bills, so if you've been considering chipping in even just a buck or two a month through the Patreon campaign, well, now more than ever it will really go a long way toward keeping a roof over my head while I make A* pages. : ]

That little compendium of cell phone travel photos up there from the trip, in chronological order, are:

- a snow covered lake in the Cascades
- giant windmills in the hills east of the Cascades
- a "pixel art" mosaic in the walk up to an empty storefront in the town I'm moving to
- melting crests of snow on rolling hills in the "Palouse" region
Update Tuesday 3/6:

Well apparently things are moving very quickly in the rental world over there, so in order to have some shot at securing a decent place for summer I'm actually now leaving TOMORROW, Wednesday March 7th, and will be gone for the rest of the week. And packing and getting ready today, so no more pages *this* week—but I should be back cranking out pages as normal *next* week, rather than being out of town then.


[Older post]

You may notice that the auction for the original art behind today's new comic page is a 10-day auction, rather than the usual 7 days, and that's because I'm going to be gone next week—or most of it, anyway! Yes and it's even an A*-related trip: you see, the hip town I live in, Seattle, has gotten a little too hip for me to afford on my extravagant webcomic creator salary, even with an incredible amount of support from my wonderful family ^_^, so I'm taking a trip to the far side of the state to look for an apartment in a more affordable place, so I can keep doing A*! : )

So I won't have new A* comics for you next week, starting Monday the 12th. : o I will try to post an update or two of the trip on my @smbhax Twitter account just to show that I'm still kicking!

Not sure quite how long it will take (but I've got a recital, birthday party, and dental appointment to attend (separately : P) the following Sunday and Monday, so I'll have to come back before then at any rate!), but if I make it back early I guess I'll try getting the jump on my A* taxes or something, that'll be a hoot. = P Oh and if I still have time I can work ahead on another project, namely switching A* production from my old Windows XP desktop—which is running in to some trouble due to decreased antivirus and web browser support : P—to my Windows 10 laptop and art streaming machine. Easier to move just that across the state, anyway!

So if I do find a place, the idea will be to move in the summer, or autumn at the latest. I'll probably need to take like a whole month off of A* then : o as I dispose of most of my earthly goods, say my goodbyes to friends and family, move the rest of my goods across the state, settle in to a strange place, and get ready to crank up A* from a new HQ. That month of no comics will be a bit of a drag : | but on the plus side, if things go according to plan, the move will pay off in the end in terms of A* output. Not having any acquaintances to visit, I'll have a bit more time to work on art and stuff—so no more sometimes slightly rushed Friday pages ]_], and I'm even planning on opening up artwork commissions! I've done a couple in the past, but haven't really made it public that I'm accepting them. And currently I'm not—no darn time! But once I'm moved, I'll have more time. : ) So you'll be able to pay me, basically, to draw whatever you want me to draw. (So far I think someone wants me to paint them a moose, which could be fun. ^_^) I've had a whole art commissions wing of the web site typed up and ready to go for months now, but I can't roll that out until I actually move and am ready to do 'em, I guess. (The short version is I charge $25/hour. : P) And if it happens that I don't have commissions waiting, I'll be able to do more like special A* larger/vertical format paintings too. Heck maybe I'll do some wildlife paintings or landscapes. Anyway, lots of options! Should be fun.

First things first, though, and that's the apartment hunt next week. Wish me luck! : D
I'm able to make this comic thanks in large part to the support I get from readers through the A* Patreon campaign. : ) Even $1 a month is a big help! : D And I get to send out rewards, too; for instance, here's a sketch I mailed to a reader for a month of their support at the $10 level:

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Thank you very much! ^_^ You help me keep A* going! :
Don't worry, this silent scene won't go on for nearly as long as last episode's marathon. : o We're actually approaching the end of it already, I think.
Let's do a Wednesday special weekly A* archive art sale! This is where I pick a piece of A* original art I still have here that I think is particularly nifty, and put it up for sale for a week at a special low starting price! Now, counting this week's, I've only got three select pages left for the time being, so bear that in mind, bargain hunters. : ) Anyway this week's is the 16" x 6.75" watercolor illustration I made for A* episode 32, page 72, showing some goons in the fire-lit auditorium of the Falquarium (yes I do just like saying that : P) nightclub, where they were anticipating finishing Selenis off while she was trapped in their crossfire! The figures and the faces and the colors all kinda worked out relatively well in this one, I think. : D It's for sale for one week on eBay!

That auction listing has high-res pics; here are tiny previews:

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Thanks for checking it out! : D
Today I just used torn-off sticky parts of Post It Notes to mask off bits of the painting I didn't want to get spattered with white ink "snow":

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(I used full sheets of paper to mask off major sections as I worked my way across.)
Okay! I have to go goof off now. "-"
Here's a sketch I got to send to a reader for supporting the comic through the A* Patreon campaign : ))) :

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Thank you very much! People can support the comic through Patreon for as little as $1 a month, and it does make a huge difference! Your support makes A* possible! : D
Why no, I definitely did *not* forget to draw her backpack and then have to paint it in on top at the end. )_)

... Maybe I'd better just thrown in a few more explosions...
Well, I'm running late. : P But here's a photo I took of today's page as I got it ready for being spattered with watercolor and white ink "snowflakes":

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The spattering is achieved by flicking an ink-loaded metal pen nib (at the left end of that white-ink-coated pen-shaped thingy above the painting) across a plastic card. Always wear your safety goggles! (Not just for the ink spatter, but also those pen nibs can break and fling a pointy shard of metal across the room.)

The slightly yellow, black-edged look you see over Selenis in the photo is a couple re-used sheets of overhead transparency film, traced over with a smear-proof marker ("Slick Writer" it seems to be called), and cut with an X-Acto knife to fit her profile—oh and the dime in the middle was there to push them flat on the page. : P So they form a mask that will prevent her, in the foreground of the image, from getting any "background" snowflakes spattered on her; and after I did the background snowflakes, I removed the mask overlays and did a few more white ink spatters over the whole page. So Selenis got a few snowflakes over her (including a too-huge one almost completely covering her right—our left—hand, that I had to blot (mostly) off), but not as many as the background areas got, which hopefully lends a tiny bit of depth to the snowfall effect.

Hm it could be improved if I was able to spatter consistently bigger snowflakes in the "foreground," but that would take a separate jar of white ink, less diluted—and that can risk it spattering in a "stringy" way that wouldn't look snow-flakey at all. Ideally I guess I would just get better at painting large snowflakes by hand, as I tried in some of this episode's earlier pages, but that turned out to be a little tricky to pull off in a seamless way—which is to say, I can't paint nearly as coolly and effortlessly as ink spatter looks! Also spatter is just way more fun to do. : P

(The spatter-coated white paper pages around the painting are left over blank or doodled-on pages of various paper types I used for A* before switching to the heavy watercolor paper I use now. I can move them around to form crude, quick masks, but this Selenis was too detailed for that, so I just used them to protect my drawing board and dining table from getting any more starry than they already are. ; )
I gotta go put some A* art in a box to mail to someone later this week, yay! : )
Monday is Presidents' Day here in Washington State (the position of the apostrophe and even the whole name itself varies by state!), and I won't be slaving away and making a new A* page on that day : D but here is a sketch I did for a reader supporting the comic through the A* Patreon campaign : ) :

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If you want to use Patreon to send me even just $1 a month well gosh I'd really appreciate it, it helps me buy art supplies and food and pay the rent so I can keep working on A*—when it isn't a federal and state holiday, anyway! ^_^ Thanks everyone who's helping me out!!
Let's do a Wednesday special A* archive original art! I look through the original art I have left from making A* pages, pick one I think came out pretty well, and put it on sale at a steep discount for one week!

*** By the way, after this I only have 3 such select pieces left for the time being! So there will be three more of these special sales, then a break while I build up more cool unsold ;_; page art...which will hopefully take a long time! : P ***

So this week it's the 16" x 6.75" watercolor illustration I made for episode 32, page 70, in which Selenis is dashing down the steps of the Auditorium in Falco's "Falquarium" : P, returning fire at one of his henchwomen! I went for a kind of wild color gradient running the length of Selenis's bodysuit, which I thought might be tricky to pull off, but it actually came out more or less like I'd imagined it in my head! : o So that's on sale starting at a special low price for one week right now on eBay.

The auction listing ^ has big pictures so you can see all the grains and hairs of the heavy watercolor paper I use—but here are some tiny, blog-sized pictures to get you started:

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Thanks for checking it out! You'll find all my A* art sale items over there under my eBay profile—the watercolor illustrations made for the latest week's worth of new A* pages are always on sale there, f'r instance!