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Artistic License-Joe Singleton

Apr. 30th, 2008 09:32 pm CAPE

CAPE, the Comics and Pop-culture Expo is in it's fourth year, this year and I'll be attending for the first time. 

As usual, my poor planning and lack of funds has left me with no product for the show. I just hope I can get in a few sketches.
I had a really nice color print I wanted to do for this show, but it will have to wait for another venue. 

I'd like to thank the oil speculators, the ethanol lobby and easily bribed politicians of both parties for my continuing shortage of funds. Thanks a lot guys, you're the stuff revolutions are made of. Wall, blingfolds, last cigarettes.....mmmm, good times.

Man, if there was ever a year we needed None of the Above on the ballots, this is it. Instead of a choice of the lesser of two evils, you're going to have the mediocre of the two lessers. I'm so glad I'm not part of the two-party shell game, anymore. Since I started voting Libertarian, in 1996, I've slept better, had a better outlook on life and had a clearer conscience than ever before. 

Ah well, enough of that real world crap... comics!

I  realized, when I did the strip that posted on Monday, page 12, that there was something missing. This strip was the perfect opportunity for me to step back into the Time Tunnel and show you a bit of the history of Nick and Celia. You knew they had history, right? I think I managed to convey it, in my ham-handed way.

I'm still having fun. I hope someone is enjoying the series. I wish I could make it move faster, but hey, I can only squeeze out 2-3 strips a week, currently. I haven't changed the frequency, because when I do get a strip or two ahead, it gives me breathing space to do other things.


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Apr. 2nd, 2008 02:34 am Lazy me...

Well, I was interviewed today by Comic Space. My webcomic will be featured on the main page sometime soon and I can't wait!
I've been working on Ad Astra for a few months now, and I'm learning a lot. I'm still having fun with it, which is one of my main motivators in life. I realized, today, that I don't post here, enough. I need to spend more time, here, but I'm basically a lazy sod.

I've also been lazy with HeroBlog and I'm sorry for that. I have some ideas that I can use, but I'm just not getting them to gel quite yet. Inspiration will strike and I'll hit the keyboard again, soon. Hasn't failed me, so far.

I like not having to satisfy an editor or a publisher, with HeroBlog and Ad Astra. It's very liberating. If for no other reason, I recommend you give it a shot. Whatever creative outlet suits you, try it, do your own thing for yourself and see if it doesn't make you feel a bit better.

Oh, and coming up in October I will hit my TEN year anniversary doing my Artistic License column for the Collector Times.

I'll try to keep up with this a bit more often.

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Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: None

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Nov. 20th, 2007 02:40 am Learning curve...

Man, I am having so much fun doing Ad Astra, but dammit, it's hard to get the site figured out. I can't seem to get the "latest" post to show when you go to the series main page. I'm tweaking it, working with different settings and tonight I even pulled all the images down and reposted them to try to get it right, but we'll have to see how it goes when I post the next page.
Still setting the stage for the "real" story/stories, but I think it's important to lay a bit of groundwork before launching into a series that's disconnected from the world we know. Also, I want to show that people, even super people, are fallible and that they often fall into bad habits of thought that lead them to become thoughtless and cruel, but that it's not a completely hopeless condition.

The people of Atlas are human, just like you and  me. All of them are, to greater or lesser degrees, super-strong and there's a reason for that, but that's part of the story. Some of them have other powers, laser-vision, hyper-senses, and energy powers. All these advantages don't help a whole lot when you want to build a computer, or even a small gasoline engine. It takes knowledge, it takes experience and it takes a kind of personality that takes pleasure in knowing how to do things and how things work.

In their struggle for survival on Atlas, these people have lost most of the trappings of civilization. They have, in many cases, reverted to a more primitive mode of thought, the idea that might makes right. That the strongest and most able are owed the obedience, that because they protect the weak, the weak belong to them. This has, unfortunately, been all too common in human civilization, the idea that the common folk are the property of the "great".  This is what's happening on Atlas, at this point in the story. 

Hope is coming.

The stars are ours.

Current Location: Home
Current Mood: determined
Current Music: None

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Nov. 10th, 2007 03:39 am It's started...

Well, it's been almost a week since I posted my first strip for Ad Astra and I am almost afraid, because I'm having so much fun with it. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, or to lose my interest in the project, but I just keep getting little bits and pieces of story ideas for the future. I'm building quite a collection of Notepad snippets for Ad Astra.

....a note on world building...

You know, almost as much fun as writing your characters is building a world for them to walk around in. In writing my first story arc, which is a brief (and biased) history of human life on Atlas, I find I have to restrain myself from getting too involved in the story. I could spend months dragging out the history story, but then it WOULD be like your high school history class.  No, I've decided to hit to high points, and some low points, and leave out the excruciating details about Emperor Johann Abraxas II and his thousand concubines. I'm learning an old writer's trick, let one event stand in for others. You don't have to document the worst, or best, case scenario, if you can think of a clear and dramatic example of the type of event you want to depict.

And so, to bed....

Current Mood: sleepy

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Oct. 23rd, 2007 11:10 pm Here's the deal...

Like a lot of kids, I wanted to draw comics when I grew up. Well, it didn't work out that way.

Sure, I worked on a couple of unknown comics back in the 80s, Stages and Constellation Graphics, but that fizzled and faded away. On and off, I would create new characters and come up with story ideas, but it never went anywhere. Printing was just too expensive and I have a lazy streak 198.45 miles wide.  Laziness kept me out of college and art school. And it kept me from knuckling under and learning what I really needed to learn. I screwed up. I admit it and pay for it, every day. No, not really. But I do regret it. I'm tired of regretting it.

There are tools, today, that I didn't have when I was younger and computers and the internet have made it possible to meet and interact with people around the world who share your interests.

I've sold artwork to Germans, Brits and Canadians, as well as Americans and one guy in Australia has a piece of my artwork on the bottom of the world. That's amazing to me. And cool.

A couple of years back, I got together with an old friend and a new one, and launched HeroBlog.com. On HeroBlog, I tell the story of Amp, a young superhero who's learning the ropes and finding his way in the wider world. I've introduced dozens of characters, some original to the series, like Serpentine and Cyberia, some, like Apex, Victoria and Abraxas, I had created at other times and for other projects which never saw the light of day. I enjoy HeroBlog and have enjoyed building that world, but still, I want to do a COMIC, not just a comic-style story.

I've used my Artistic License column to show my ideas for existing comic characters, as well as to show some of my own characters and what I intended as comic proposals, but the only one I ever followed up with was HeroBlog.

Recently, I decided I wanted to do a comic, again and started thinking about what kind of story and characters I wanted to do. So, I dusted off another idea I'd had years ago and started working on it. It's bigger than HeroBlog, but it fits with it so well, I've decided to link them together, to give my new project some context. This idea came to me when I was thinking about what kind of changes I'd like to make if I had control of the Legion of Super-Heroes and I later adapted them into a future super-team called Ad Astra.

Current Mood: artistic

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Oct. 19th, 2007 11:08 pm Ad Astra and other stuff...

For most of my life, I have wanted to do a comic of my own. I have the talent, I think, and the skills, but I always lacked the drive, the burning desire to not only create, but to put it out there where people can see it and love it, or piss on it, or ignore it. I always blamed a lack of $$$ for it, back when printing was the only way to go with a comic, but the web has been around for a long time, now and I still haven't put out anything like what I wanted. 

True, I do HeroBlog, and it satisfies some of my creative impulses. And there's my Artistic License column, which helps, too. But, I have always wanted to tell a story in the comics format and I haven't made the effort or stuck with any project I've created long enough to have anything to show for it.

But, HeroBlog has shown me that I can write (a bit, anyway) and that I can entertain some people other than myself.

Well, it's been a long time coming, but things are finally in place for me to do the comic I've always wanted to do, any way I want. I have spent a few months working with Google SketchUp, the 3D modeling tool and I am happy with my results. I can model things that would be tedious to draw over and over, freeing myself up for the other stuff. What this all boils down to is called Ad Astra, which is the title of my online comic strip. It's also the name of a school, a team of superheroes and a major interstellar corporation in the late 26th century. Ad Astra will combine many things I love, science-fiction, super-heroes, space ships, aliens and adventure. Ad Astra is about a team of super-heroes, made up of students from Ad Astra University, a mobile interstellar university.

Ad Astra grew out of an idea for how I would revamp the Legion of Super-Heroes, which I have always thought was too "Terra-centric". At first, I thought of having dozens of outposts around the galaxy, but then I read a book, "There is no darkness" by Jack C. Haldeman II w/ Joe Haldeman, about an interstellar university that visits various star systems in the course of teaching, bringing people of various worlds and species together where they could learn and build friendships, etc. I liked that idea, so I included it in the idea stew that was bubbling on my back burner.

I came to the realization, a few years back, that DC Comics will never hire me to draw the Legion, so I started working my ideas into something of my own. Freed from the limitations of DC continuity, I was able to devise my own future for the Earth and it's children. I needed several things to make my story work:

  1. I needed a way (and a plausible reason why) for supers to be dispersed across the stars. A "diaspora" would do, but it wouldn't explain why people with magnetic/electrical powers all decided to settle on Nelvanna, or why all the superbricks settled on Atlas. No, they needed to be put there by force, with no way back to Earth.
  2. I needed a source of inspiration to form a team of superheroes, in a galaxy where technology can make virtually anyone "super".
  3. And I needed interesting characters, who weren't just pastiches of Legionnaires or Imperial Guardsmen.

I think I have solved all these issues, but I won't reveal all the stuff here, because there needs to be a bit of mystery in the story. I will say this, however: In the early days, we don't know what's happened to Earth. Earth is "lost" for all intents and purposes. 

In HeroBlog, I have documented several advanced alien races whose paths have converged on Earth. By the time of Ad Astra, these races have fallen into decline, their empires shattered, their politics becoming more and more insular. Only the Noerians, whose Pax Noerica has kept the peace for centuries are still active in the Orion Arm and they're stretched so thin, they can't manage to assist in the search for Earth, they can only help keep the spaceways cleared of piracy and maintain peaceful relations between the various star nations. As time goes by, the Noerians are becoming less able to maintain order, and coalitions of like-minded star nations begin to form. 

One of the largest is the Atlas Confederation, with it's capitol on Antaeus, the moon of Atlas. The Atlas Confederation is comprised of the Helios (Atlas) system, the Amar (Nelvanna) system and several others.  There will be others, as well as fiercely independent star systems like the Luz system, whose inhabited planet, Wilder, is peopled by what could loosely be called "manimals". Wilder's first inhabitants were from the subset of supers whose powers derived from, or were in some way related to, animals. On Wilder, you'll find the Foxes and the Tigers, and the Wulf clan, Bearcats and Eagles, etc. This is where Marvel's Wolverine and the Beast would have ended up.

I'm beginning with a history lesson, to help set the period for the main series. I was going to launch right into it, but I felt the need for back-story would force too many asides, or the lack of history would weaken the story. Don't worry, this isn't your high school history class, with a lot of names and dates, it's told, as we will learn as it progresses, from the point of view of the oppressed class on Atlas. I chose Atlas for my history piece, because the main story will start there, as well, and the historical pattern on Atlas is fairly typical for what I'm calling the "Exile Worlds."

My first story arc will be "Back To School..." and tells the story of a couple of returning students and a couple of new students, and the trouble they have getting there.

Current Mood: geeky

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