I bet you never thought I’d post this one on time!  Well, I had my doubts, to be honest.  And even now as I look at it (at 12:30 at night) I realize that I left a few things out.  But heck, I’m so jazzed that I got this one in on a regular schedule, I’m posting it anyway!  Hurrah!  I’ll add the extras tomorrow and update it.  But this is what we call “substantial completion” in the Architectural world so I’ll just run with it.

This is a very simple progression of actions, and the panels are composed very loosely compared to the others, which are highly dependent on backgrounds that, in retrospect, will probably be the first thing I go in to edit when the first part goes to press.  But here, I felt that a cleaner composition with emphasis on the characters themselves added more weight to the scene, so I went with it.  In particular, the composition of the last panel, with the five UNA infantrymen worked out much better than its opposite number on the previous page – one of my big compositional problems is that my natural tendency is not to overlap my characters, which has been making my scenes feem very flat and bland in the past couple of pages, so here I was very pleased with how it worked out.  I felt the bright lights flooding them was particularly effective as well.  And finally, as the next page is a serious action sequence, a less complex page here seemed to make for a good counterpoint, as they’re facing pages.

I should mention also, since a friend of mine pointed this out to me earlier today, that what the SMERSH agent is putting on the barrel of his gun is NOT a silencer.  It’s actually what’s called a “squeeze adaptor.”  It’s my miniaturized version of a device designed by the Czechs and the British in the Second World War that fits on the end of a tank gun barrel and acts on a very simple but interesting principle to make the gun more effective at penetrating enemy armor.  Special bullets made of a very dense material (such as Tungsten) surrounded by a softer, more malleable jacket (of Iron, untempered Steel or Copper), are forced through the adaptor.  The soft jacket is squeezed down to a smaller size as the bullet travels through the adaptor, creating an effect like a cork in a bottle.  This is a principle that really fascinates me: since the round is squeezed down, its back end becomes smaller.  That means that the gases that are propelling it (the bruning gunpowder, basically) are acting on the same mass but over a smaller area – the pneumatic principle shows that this increases the pressure on the shell and therfore  increases the round’s velocity.  And since (if you remember your physics classes) Force is equal to the product of Mass and Velocity, this means that a shell of the same mass can be made to strike with greatly multiplied force.  I’ll leave it to your powers of deduction why our SMERSH agent here is fitting one of these onto his pistol.

This is all a learning experience for me, of course.  And I’m keeping a running list of things I plan to change/edit/revise later on.  For now, though, 12 pages is a milestone for me and the story – chapter one is now half complete, and this book is now officially the longest piece I’ve ever drawn before (not counting the sets of architectural documents I’ve done, which number in the dozens of sheets and hundreds of drawings).  Overall, I’m happy with this so far.  It’s no Picasso, but it’s certainly been good mental and artistic exercise.  So, onwards!

On a personal note, This is to wish my comrade-in-arms Joost Haakman in the Netherlands a very Happy Sinterklaas (I hope that’s an appropriate construction!)  Again, I urge whoever reads this to shoot on over to his site and check his work out!

This happens also to be Pearl Harbor Day, our Forgotten Holiday here in the United States, the day the U.S. was dragged kicking and screaming into World War II.  Fortunately, I like to think I’m facing my next turning point with a little less of a crisis: I’m entering the last week of my 20′s.  Seven days from now, I’ll awaken to the first day of middle age.  And frankly, considering that out of five or six different careers, two academic degrees, a developing graphic novel and a good amount of architectural work in North America and the Caribbean, I’ve had a good first three decades of existence.  So, here’s to the next 30!  If I make it that far, I’ll be perfectly pleased!  But whatever the future holds for me, I feel that my life, though it has been one with both happiness and disappointment, has more importantly been without regrets.  And that’s the most I think I can ask.

Beam me up, Scotty.  This planet sucks!