Okay, so what’s my excuse this week?  It’s this: the first draft of this page got to the final stages before I realized it was all wrong.  Proportion, detail, scene and setting – none of it worked.  So I did the only thing I could think of: I scrapped it and started over.  And this happened yesterday afternoon, and normally by then I’m coloring.  So knowing that that was just not an option, my best idea was to make the inks look as good as I was able to do, and so, well, there we are.

Anyhow, I ended up with a page I am really happy with in a day and a half, despite the lack of color, so I call it a good compromise.  And to be honest, it almost stands alone in black and white – better than many of the previous ones at any rate.  So I will just set to my task and add this to the “to-be-colored” queue, and ask for another week’s forebearance.  Also, I have yet to letter it, because I’m in the process of making a new font for 6-Commando at the moment, as Komika, which I had been using, does not appear to exist in a Mac format, and I’m now on a Mac (see below).  And in addition to that Komika has begun to bore me.  So I’m making my own.

This page ended up being WAY more manga-esque than I had originally anticipated, and more than I’d generally be comfortable with, but, well, I think it’s established enough that I can embrace it just as it is.  It’s not reaching for a Japanese style, I don’t think, nor am I using any Manga tropes, but there are some aspects of the Manga “look” that are undoubtedly visually appealing, and I think it’d be silly not to take advantage of them if they are useful and effective.  But no dragons, magic, empires, or swordplay.  That much I can state categorically.

Anyway, this page was an opportunity to add in a few details I really like.  For starters, the soldier at right is carrying an AK-74M, which I thought was a fun thing to have alongside suits of powered armor.  Again this goes to the semi-retro equipment I’ve given the Federates.  You my also notice that the FSR power armor gun has gotten a lot more detailed – the original design was not threatening enough, so I added the grenade launcher, the flash suppressor, and a secondary weapon coaxial to the first – the idea being that that the larger gun fires heavy penetrator rounds for defeating power armor and light vehicles, while the smaller one is purely antipersonnel.  The gun has also been designed to allow it to fire Californium rounds, which are a form of Tactical Atomic device which both the FSR and the UNA are attempting to create, but have not been able to make into a practical weapon so far (for an interesting and slightly terrifying discussion of this and other such nuclear potentialites in the real world, read Hermann Kahn’s On Thermonuclear War, Chapter 10: Present and Future).

On a less violent note, the FSR trooper in the back is wearing a medical suit, which is mainly notable for its lack of weapons and the multifunction mediglove on the right hand, which contains a lot of cool gadgetry.  He’s basically a field surgeon and can perform a large variety of medical procedures with high dexterity and speed.  He’s supported in the foreground by two medical officers without suits, also unarmed (the FSR obeys the Geneva Conventions), and with geiger counter.  Note the symbol on their helmets (and the armored medic’s pauldron) – in the 6-Commando universe, the international symbol for medical relief is the Red Helix, which is actually a stylized caduceus.  It’s also the symbol of the International Committee of the Red Helix, or I.C.R.H. (C.I.H.R. in Swiss French – the Comité International de l’Hélix Rouge), which except for symbology is functionally identical to the Red Cross, except that it is far more independent, since it acts independently of any national organization, and all the major power blocs recognize the Red Helix as neutral and inviolate.

Anyhow, this is where we are now.  On the technical side, I have made the switch from PC to Mac, and I couldn’t be happier with it.  Much faster, smoother, and Photoshop et al run beautifully.  Also, with the addition of a Wacom Cintiq tablet, new opportunities are opening up, and I’m very quickly getting used to the idea of being able to draw directly on the screen, so hopefully, this week’s hiccup aside, I’ll be able to pick up the pace a little as things go forward.  And also, I will soon add a little featurette to incentivize voting, called “Five Days to 6-Commando,” where each week I’ll post progress sketches, refinements, inks and colors as voting incentives on topwebcomics.com, to give you a little daily sneak peek at what goes into a week’s work on this comic.

So yes, things are coming back to the usual circumstances here, so I look forward to 6-Commando getting back to normal shortly.  Until then, I thank you all for the good wishes and the words of support – it’s been a bit of a rough patch for the comic, but I’m getting over it.  And so until next week, be well, all!