She did say.

So. That’s what gives it extra traction and acceleration. Electromagnetic induction. Grabs onto the rebar and piping embedded in the parking structure and roadways. I believe at least one reader predicted it, so big ups to them. Hey, it works for Misaka Mikoto in A Certain Scientific Railgun.

And of course, along with the expected Scarlet Dynamo lightning, lots of golden plasma. Love it when Max gets colorful. The Electric Kool-Aid Battery Acid Test!

Also, new Vote Incentive! Click it! Click it for SCIENCE!


More below!




Burning Asphalt


Car’s gotta have flames, man. I don’t care if it’s electric. Badassery needs its trappings, especially in a comic. When I saw Max’s excellent inks for this page, and saw that he’d deliberately left room for some sort of flaming effect, I knew I had to step up. Call it vaporized rubber and asphalt ignited by the lightning, or just generalized plasma from sheer acceleration via powerful electromagnetic fields. We had to have flame, and it had to be gold because we tried the other colors and they didn’t work as well with the red lightning.

You know. Science!

I would have loved to do real lightning for this page. I even went off to the Griffith Observatory to see if I could sweet-talk them into letting me shoot some interior footage of their Tesla coil. We could always change the color later. Since I once worked at the Observatory for a year or two, and my old boss was still there, I figured it was a fair shot. As long as he didn’t remember me too clearly.

But — bummer and a half — the mighty Tesla coil, which used to have a vast room of its own and a huge glass window, is now chained sadly into a small cubby and surrounded by a Faraday cage so dense that there’s no way to get a decent photo. Not a real surprise in this age of WiFi — Tesla coils are notorious for their disruptive influence in the radio band. And while I did have one of those cheap plasma balls, the “lightning” it generates is kind of lame. I ended up resorting to After Effects, feeling cheap and dirty the whole time. You may note that Max did the dashboard lightning in Panel 2 by hand, and it looks just as good if not better than the AE stuff. It’s not like fake lightning effects are hard; I just have this obsession with “real” that is borderline psychotic pure and wholesome.

Ah, but the flame effects! Was able to be a bit inventive there. My trusty pneumatic cannon and a bucket of fine sawdust along with some debris. Like many other webcomics folk I scrounge in dumpsters a lot, but unlike the others it’s not solely for sustenance. There’s a custom cabinet shop nearby, and their dumpster is often replete with extra-fine hardwood sawdust along with a mixture of hardwood scrap. I know from experience you want some heavier stuff in the mix to shoot out trailing dust in “streaks,” otherwise all you get is a featureless billow.

The reason the cabinet shop has to be so scrupulous about collecting their dust is that fine sawdust floating around in the air is not only bad for the lungs but can actually ignite. So it is a serious safety concern. But, as you may have noticed, once of the peculiarities of an effects person is that they look for things that everyone else tries to prevent, and they go and do that thing deliberately.

(Example: You know how cans of spray paint say “surface must be clean and dry?” Well, if you want to make convincing rust stains on an object, spray it with water first, and then hit it with streaks of red and brown and yellow spray enamel. The enamel paint will streak and drip and flake from the wet surface, and the colors will mix in almost frost-like patterns, and the result, once dry, will look for all the world like it’s been sitting in the ocean for years. But I digress.)

Anyway, to shoot a quick-and-dirty whoosh-by flame effect meant using the pneumatic cannon to blast the sawdust past an ignition source and filming the result. Naturally, the boys and I rigorously observed all necessary safety precautions in order to avoid potential trouble.

Specifically, we did it when my wife was not home. Safety first!

— Bob out