UPDATE! (11.30.09)

Well, here we are, back from another trip, and another page, colored, and still another now in the earliest phases of pencilling, on my desk as we speak.  Work has me a little bit turned around these days, as do all my various committments that take me hither and yon across the Eastern seaboard of the United States.  I have it quite easy compared to some.  After all, I draw pictures for a living!  But still, this is just a little tiring sometimes.

Also drawing close is the commemoration of three decades of my membership in the human race.  Yes, I will be turning thirty in just a few scant days.  My youth will have passed, and I will officially enter the first year of my middle age, with my boots on, my shoulders back, and my pen in hand.  I’m not too worried about getting older, quite frankly.  My friend Razeeb, a few weeks back, said that I was “ageless,” and that I had not changed in appearance over the previous decade.  I take it as the highest compliment – consistency is the highest aspiration of the cartoonist!  But how will I mark the occasion, you ask?  I have no idea.  But if the last thirty birthdays have been anything to go by, it’ll be highly unremarkable.  But anyone out there who knows me, well-wishers, and even those of you who don’t wish me any specific harm, I appreciate the vibes.

For this page, the coloring was quite a challenge, but I think it worked out quite well.  Honestly, I’m beginning to rethink the eyes, though – I might just go back to the hand-drawn peepers.  Good thing I save my inks!  In any case, this was a challenging page, but it turned out well.  I appreciate everyone’s patience while I tweaked this one to death!  And the next one is on the way, so stay tuned!

Original Post (11.23.09): Another delay, you say?  More excuses, you say?  Yes.  But this time, THIS time, I have a legitimate excuse; perhaps my FIRST legitimate excuse so far:

This is my best page so far and I want it to be just right.

To be completely honest, I didn’t think I was up to it this weekend.  Without going into details that are not fit to be publicized, a lot of things had to go just right this weekend, and it was a little bit of a strain.  I pontificated about the physical and mental consequences of this unnamed situation on the master page, so I won’t repeat them here.  But in the end, despite all this, I did ink this page in its entirety, and am currently coloring it, and I really feel like it’s my best work so far.  It subtly connects, visually, to almost every preceding page, in ways I hope people will see as they look at it.  The action and emotion of the scene feels very real and very human to me for the first time in this story.  I felt strongly that this page was exactly what I wanted it to be, and given that the last page was such a struggle for a result I felt was so unsatisfactory, I wanted to take a different approach this week.  So, against so much unfairness of things, I’m allowing myself the luxury of taking my time with the colors to make sure they come out the way I want them to.

The title, by the way, is from Tacitus’ Histories: “Once the killing starts, it’s difficult to draw the line.”  This being the first totally, overtly, inhumanely violent page in the book, and a moment crucial to the story as a whole, I thought it appropriate – I’m considering it as the epigram for the entire story, actually.  For military men (I know there are a few who read this), I sacrificed tactical verismilitude for a more effective story.  Infantry advancing on each other in the open, even while wearing suits of powered armor and armed with heavy weapons, is not a wise tactic.  But it makes for a dramatic page.

I know I’m falling down on the weekly updates I’d originally been shooting for.  This is just how it has to be for a little while.  Events have simply overtaken me too often recently, so once-a-week updates, while still the goal, are not really going to be my maximum priority right now.  But fear not!  I’m just now building up a critical mass on this project, and I’m not stopping now!  I just have to prioritize, as we all do, and my priority for now is quality over quantity, and less stress over more.  I have to keep myself functional, after all.