Poor Tom can’t see the forest for the trees.  And let me tell you from experience, as someone who once dated a sassy redhead smartass, “She’s Poison” is about as close to the truth as you can get in this situation, no matter how you slice it!  Ah, this crazy little thing called love, or whatever you’d call what Tom’s doing all this for.  Is it love?  Or guilt, maybe?  Comradely affection?  Loyalty?  I guess like anything it’s a complicated amalgam of motivations and not any one of them.  But this week being Valentine’s Day, I thought an act of selfless devotion on the part of Major Rucker seemed appropriate, whatever it is behind it, and even if he is subjecting himself to severe ionizing radiation, which is probably just pouring out of poor Sarah at this point. One of the really awful things about nuclear weapons, especially atomic weapons, which have a lot of fissile material in them, is that they can emit a big flash of neutron radiation, which, if it doesn’t kill you outright, can actually make you radioactive: neutron activiation, or neutron flash, causes material in your body to become isotopic, a condition which will then propagate with time making you emit more radiation as time goes on – you literally become poisonous.  What a thing.  For all their horribleness in themselves, at least hydrogen bombs don’t produce this effect as broadly as atomics.  But at this point it’s not a distinction anyone is likely to make.

Anyhow, this page is basically the climax of the whole chapter, and is one I’ve been simply DYING to draw since page whatever-it-was that started this chapter off.  And the red room on this page led me to give it the unofficial title “All Right, Hal, I’ll Go In Through The Emergency Airlock.”  And actually, I was really pleased to discover that, when I laid out my perspective lines after doing a rough sketch of this page, I discovered to my surprise that I had sketched in almost perfect two-point perspective without even meaning to, and without any grid or guidelines at all!  All those years of draftsmanship have paid off!

So now, as to the rest of it.  Contest participation was up 400%!  That means, four people actually played.  I thought I was making it SO easy!  I’m giving away free stuff here, guys.  FREE STUFF.  Nobody wants it?  Did you miss part of it?  Well, whatever the case, in case some people just forgot to email the entry, I’ll keep it open this week.  For the four of you who DID play, I declare you winners all, and shall deploy to you FREE STUFF!  Pins, stickers and free sketch cards will shortly wing their way to wherever you desire them to be sent.  And for everyone else, if you’re afraid you missed the boat last week I’m giving you another chance to play by extending  the contest THIS week, as well, just to be sure.  So vote over on topwebcomics.com once a day every day this week and you’ll see the images a second time.  See if that gets anyone to come forward and claim FREE STUFF.  Did I mention it’s FREE?!

This is the only time you’ll see a capitalist like me trying so hard to give away things for nothing, so soak it up, folks!

On the other hand, last week was officially the BEST WEEK EVER for new readers, so you guys have obviously been spreading the word!  Almost a thousand unique viewers on Monday alone, with nearly 3,600 unique viewers for the week, and over 13,000 total views overall!  Now, that’s not like they get over at Google, but for me, it’s pretty damn good!  If each one of those readers (assuming they really were individual people, mind you) if each one of them donated $5, I could print this baby in nothing flat, and in a nice hardcover version!  So it gives me a little bit of confidence, I’ll admit.  I’m no Jason Brubaker or Dan Lieske or Steve Ogden, or all the other self-pub superstars I follow, but it’s really nice to know that I’ve got you guys on board reading and chatting about my work, because it really keeps me going.  They say you should do it just for yourself, but let me tell you, that’s total nonsense of the highest order: comics are entertainment, and comic artists want people looking at and talking about their work.  So you guys basically gave me a fantastic week last week, and for that I thank you!

And by the way, speaking of Steve Ogden, if you haven’t read his comic Moon Town, now is a great time to start, because in a different but kindred way, he and I are kind of doing the same thing.  That is, we both have comics when started out one way, but have reached a point where they need a major graphic overhaul.  Me, I’m doing it for print.  Steve, on the other hand, has taken the gutsy move of going back to square one and rebooting the whole story from scratch.  That takes serious artistic cojones, I can tell you.  Since he’s only just started the reboot I don’t want to say ANYTHING about what went before, lest it ruin his plans, but let me just point you to his work with an assurance on my part that it’s some of the best stuff going in online comics these days.  So check it out!

Also, 6-Commando has been making the rounds on some Alternate History websites lately, I’ve been seeing.  The links aren’t immediately at hand but let me say, I’m totally open to it, because Alternate History is where it’s at, and I’m glad for the attention and the readership from a fanbase that appreciates my favorite genre of fiction!

So there it is.  Play the game again, win free stuff, thanks for reading, alternate history rocks out loud, and I’m going to bed.  Whew!  What a great week.

All the best, folks!