Cricket’s a fitness instructor and a witch. So it’s not harassment, it’s professional appraisal.

Here we’re touching on some of the reasons behind Max’s “Deadvision” and why he can’t summon Sophie anytime he feels like shutting down his own circulatory system. There’s rules, and they’re probably compounded by Sophie’s own pride. Spirits can be stubborn. I doubt Letoa would have much luck if she tried to boss Manaia around either.


And more below!



Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em


For a fitness instructor, Cricket sure smokes like a chimney. Not all that unusual, I gather. Everyone has their vices, and one gets the impression that Cricket’s as fond of the style and mood of smoking as she is of the actual nicotine. I confess that as a Writer-Type Person I’ve made numerous attempts to take up smoking (in the form of either a pipe or cigars) simply because it seemed like part of the persona. Didn’t work; I never could get the hang of a pipe, and my six-month experiment with Backwoods Smokes (in the pathetic belief that they’d make me look like Clint Eastwood and write like Twain) resulted in my developing a lip carcinoma that had to be surgically removed. Enough of that. Fortunately, for whatever reason, I never actually got hooked. So the cigars were discarded and the pipe (a hand-carved antique meerschaum originally belonging to my great-uncle) was returned to the shelf of family mementos. Just a natural non-smoker, I guess.

However, I did shoot some smoke for this particular page. As with most things, it wasn’t required, Max-The-Artist being more than capable of painting smoke without my help, but hey, I have to have some fun.

I’d done smoke footage once before (many years ago) at the request of a client. Found it quite unpleasant at the time because I was forced to smoke actual cigarettes. Menthol Kools, to be specific, since that was the only brand I could remember. (They’d been mentioned in Pitch Black.) But the footage worked out well. It had been shot during the DV era though, and was no longer of a usable resolution for our purposes.

Blessedly, this time was much easier because e-cigs have since been invented, and it turns out they even have flavored juice without nicotine (for people who are quitting.) The narrow wisp effect was just a stick of incense; and the match was… a match. Pie. Max-The-Artist always enhances hell out of them with highlights and shadows, of course (as in Panel One.) There’s a lot more to selling an effect than just the effect.

But I also thought you might like to see the rough I was working from. This is what Max-The-Artist bangs out during our sessions, and it always amazes me how much implied detail he gets into just a few strokes of a digital pencil. I was giving him a lot of leeway; my main concern was making sure that a page which was mostly dialogue nonetheless had sufficient acting and expression to retain audience interest. Max and Cricket are still sparring, bargaining for information, and that kind of subtle back-and-forth fishing and prodding can be tricky to sell. When he sent over this initial rough I was quite pleased. I had to fit in a number of balloons, and of course the smoke, but hell, that’s the easy part.

Even as a rough page, I considered it practically worthy of a life-drawing class. Of course, I’m somewhat biased.


Also, Cricket’s shredded abs got sacrificed by the page crop; but here’s a look at the uncropped version.


— Bob out