I was so nervous as I waited for the new edition of Galaxion Book 1: The Jump to arrive, but now that I’ve got them in my hands, I love them. I love the new cover art. I love how much nicer the black and white art inside looks. I love the embossed gold foil (I’m a sucker for the shiny). I love that we were able to fix the few small errors from the first edition that probably nobody else noticed but bugged the heck out of me. And I love that we can offer all this wonderful stuff for cheaper than the old edition! The cover price is $11.99 US, which is about three dollars cheaper than before. So awesome.
I hope to have our store updated very soon, but until then if you’d like to order a scribbled-in-by-the-author copy, shoot me an email.
Penguicon Dealers Room
I’ve never been to Penguicon before, and given that it is advertised as Science Fiction and Open Source Software convention (comics not mentioned at all), I wasn’t sure what to expect. I chose to go to this show for two reasons: first, because the hosts of The Webcomic Beacon podcast (which I listen to regularly) praised it so highly last year, and second, because Dave Adams (of the webcomic Slightly Off Topic), in charge of Artists Alley, was keen on building a webcomics presence and encouraged us all on the Webcomics List Forums to go. And the third reason, I suppose, is that the show was only a four hour drive away. Since our road trips to the States typically involve 8-12 hrs of driving each way, that’s pretty reasonable.
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Here’s what really amazes me about TCAF: the sheer number of really, really good independent comics on display. At any of the other shows I’ve been to in recent years (and I admit, I haven’t had opportunity to get to the likes of MoCCA or SPX), there’s been a mixed bag of indie and self-published comics on offer, and I tended to feel that even if I may not have been the most popular comic present, on a professional scale I could at least stand out as one of the better self-published comics on offer. But not at TCAF– at this show, everything is outstanding. The show is busy enough that I can hardly step away from my table to go to the washroom, much less wander around and shop, but if I were a fan who had come here with a plan to spend some money on comics, I don’t even know how I’d choose. I had only the briefest opportunity to see what was on display, before the show opened on the Sunday. Even factoring out the genres that don’t immediately appeal to my tastes, there were still so many things that looked interesting. TCAF has reaffirmed the thing I’ve been saying to non-comic readers for years– there is a comic out there for everyone, if you just take the time to look.
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So, what do you think of the new site? Pretty awesome, yes? Fancy background, dropdown menus, gravitars in the comments section, and more stuff to come. I’m still getting used to it all myself!
Since we had to update our extremely-out-of-date WordPress before we could get our lovely fresh coat of paint, we hired Phil Hofer, also known as Frumph, to help us with this daunting task. Phil, a ComicPress developer, is well known in the webcomic community for his friendly willingness to lend a hand to webcomickers struggling to fix their sites, and for helping dolts like me slowly begin to understand the mysteries of CSS. Shoving all our square-peg files into the round-hole of the new system was a much more complicated task than I even imagined, and I doff my hat respectfully to Phil for making it happen. I know the footer down at the bottom says this site was designed by me and “implemented” by Phil, but seriously, he had all the ideas and I just drew some stuff in Photoshop to fit his suggestions. If you need your website redesigned or are having problems with your WordPress/ComicPress, I heartily recommend hiring Phil.
And we will be continuing to tweak and fine-tune the site over the next few weeks, getting it all into shape. If you see any glitches or broken links as you peruse things, please let us know!
This week you may notice an advertisement running in the Skyscraper spot alongside the comic– one featuring a few characters from Galaxion! This ad is for a free browser-based game called Star Pirates. The game is set in a future where the Earth has been destroyed and all that are left are space pirates, roaming the asteroids and struggling to survive. And dominate.
Star Pirates do the sorts of things you’d expect pirates to do– raiding, fighting, gambling, etc– but you also improve your ship with researching technology, you meet and hire crew, and you take on mining jobs. All the while you are gaining experience and credits as you try to save up enough credit to buy those fancy bigger ships.
When the folks at Snakehead games first contacted me to design an ad for them, I thought it would just be a job. But you know what? I played the game and quickly got addicted! I like that this game can be played in little quick bursts whenever I have a few moments. I can hop over and do a quick Salvage Foray, a bit of research to improve my ship, and maybe attack another pirate or two to gain experience and increase my stats. You deplete your fuel and energy (not to mention Hull Points, if you’re battling) with each action, and then you have to wait for these to replenish before you can do it again. For me, this is a good thing because it ensures I parcel out my playing in little coffee-break-style spurts instead of frittering away hours at a go (and we won’t talk about games that’ve caused me to do that!). Supposedly this makes it ideal for bored cubicle workers, but I work from home so I don’t get that bored.
But what makes the game really neat– and what’s got me really excited about promoting it– is the social aspect. Pirates can join up into fleets, and fleets can combine into armadas. Wouldn’t it be awesome to join a Galaxion-themed fleet, with our own little community there, where we can go a-plundering and conspire to take over the universe (or at least just have a nice chat over some virtual tea and cookies)? A number of other sci-fi webcomics have already done just this, and I gotta say, it sounds like a lot of fun. Pirate-y role-playing is encouraged, but totally optional.
So if you too think this sounds like fun, joining up is easy. Click on the ad, or else click this link here which will take you to our very own welcome page, where you can register to receive your invitation to join the Galaxion fleet! Or take a quick tour of the game first, and see what you think. Warning: surprisingly addictive! Did I mention it’s free? Oh, and one thing to know is, you will have to achieve a few levels (easy to do) before you are permitted to post in the general forums, but until then you can read what’s been posted by others, and there’s lots of good game play tips and advice to be found there.
One more thing I should mention– Star Pirates is a totally separate entity from the comic, and I have no control over the game or the fleet (though I will happily play along). The in-game “story”, such as it is, is very much a creation of the players (who are nearly 50,000 strong).
As you can see from the picture, what made the Baltimore Comic Con an especially awesome event for me was a) my Galaxion co-creator and best-friend-since-forever Wendy Linkous came out to join me (Wendy is on the left, I’m on the right), and b) she debuted the Galaxion uniform! This was a great treat for me as well, since previous to this day I’d only seen parts of the tunic in photos, never the whole thing. I wish I’d taken a full-length photo so you could appreciate the whole head-to-toe ensemble. It was pretty amazing.
Also debuting at this show were the new Galaxion banner (the sort of retractable thing that seems to be standard issue for comic cons these days) and (not in the picture, alas) the embroidered Galaxion tablecloth. I am all set for next con season!
BCC was larger than I expected, but also a large percentage of the floor space seemed to be devoted to creators. The dealers were there, but not nearly as overpoweringly so as other comic shows I’ve been to. I noticed the anime-quotient was way down in comparison to the other shows I’ve done in recent years– I expected to be able to pick up some cute stuffed something-or-others as gifts for Wendy’s kids, but very few dealers even had Mario items. Saturday was busy! I hardly got away from my table all day. Wendy and I, by the way, made a terrific team. She’s only been able to get to one other show with me as an exhibitor way back in the ’90s, but she picked up the whole patter and routine really quick, and made a bunch of sales I probably never would have gotten without her around. I wish I could fly her out to all my conventions!
I was happy to see Darc and Matt from Code Name: Hunter again, and a couple of good friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time were Steve Lieber (happily picked up his new book Underground) and Jimmy Gownley (my kids both love his Amelia Rules! books). Johanna Draper Carlson– another friend I haven’t seen in at least a decade– also stopped by, as well as a couple of long-time fans. It’s always a delight to see the smile on people’s faces when they see that Galaxion sign and realize that a comic they used to enjoy many years ago hasn’t disappeared forever after all!
One feature I want to mention about this show is, the convention hall staff were about the nicest I’ve ever met. The Comic Con staff were also very friendly and helpful (and also handed out snacks on Sunday when we needed them most! Can’t beat that!), but I don’t think I’ve ever been to a con at a major convention centre before where the hall’s own security were any higher on the customer service scale than just blandly doing their job. This was a most welcome change!
The BCC is located just a couple of blocks away from the Baltimore Inner Harbor, which was a nice touristy area with plenty for the kids to do after they’d had enough of the convention hall. Among the sights to see were several ships docked at the harbor for tours, including the WWII-era submarine USS Torsk, and the civil war-era sloop-of-war USS Constellation. I didn’t get to see tour these, but after the convention was over, I got the opportunity to see a much larger ship that had just pulled in to port– the USS Whidbey Island, a Dock Landing ship that is over 600 feet in length. I’ve toured Naval ships before, but this was the first one in active service I’ve ever been on. In fact, as the Lieutenant who was our tour guide led us around the ship– on to the bridge and various decks and so forth– I really worried we were getting in the way of people trying to do their job! It was all fascinating to me, though, to try to grasp what a different world life at sea is all about.
Next on our vacation was Washington DC. I’ve been there a couple times before, but there’s still so much to see– and of course it was all new to our kids. The most memorable part for me was the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s jaw-dropping collection of rocks, minerals, and gems. I’ve never seen anything like it! I thought I knew some stuff about rocks, but still, I had no idea there was such diversity of shape and colour and texture. I could’ve spent a whole day just in that section. And of course I enjoyed imagining what Aria– the Galaxion’s resident geologist– would think of it all.
And finally, no trip to the Mall would be complete for a science fiction writer without a walk through the Air and Space museum. There’s a lot to marvel at here as well. I remembered seeing the original model of the USS Enterprise from the ’60s Star Trek on display here, and wondered where it went– I eventually found it in the basement section of the gift shop.
One thing I know for certain, I will have to go back– both to Washington DC and to the Baltimore Comic Con.
I wanted to share some wonderful new tools I got recently from a site called JetPens (and as a bonus you get a sneak preview of an upcoming page!).
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been using the same old white Staedler eraser for most of my erasing needs ever since I learned that the pink erasers I used in grade school were ruining my paper. (I also use kneaded erasers, but for big areas the Staedler is the workhorse.) And beyond that, I never really gave my eraser much thought. It did the job pretty well, what more did I need? Well, some time ago I read a review of different erasers on Comic Tools (one of my favourite blogs). I looked around in my local art supply stores for the recommended erasers, but never found them. In the meantime, I’d spoken with other comic artists who waxed eloquent about their favourite pens that they’d bought from JetPens.com. So I went on that site and looked around, and found the Tombo eraser recommended by the Comic Tools site. I placed an order.
Let me tell you, the Tombo Mono Eraser is the best eraser I’ve ever used. It erases my pencil lines so cleanly, so effortlessly! I hardly need to use any pressure to get rid of the graphite. Who knew erasing could be so much better? I am totally in love with it, and will be placing an order for more soon (I can’t wait to try out some of the other sizes, like the one that comes in a pencil shape, for precision).
On a friend’s advice I also picked up a selection of Zebra brush pens. And again, I am amazed at how much better this tool is than the similar ones I get in my local supply stores. It’s no replacement for my Winsor Newton Series 7 brush, but it’s great for cons and I use it regularly now to ink my word balloons (including the ones on the most recent page). I know some comic artists use the Zebras almost exclusively for their inking. Bottom line, it’s an excellent pen for the price.
The strange font on this week’s page was done using the Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen, which I bought for my husband but decided to test out for myself. I found it to be really nice, especially for a cartridge pen. I’ve tried similar no-dip calligraphy pens in the past, but this one was lovely to use. We also bought it in a larger size. I’ll have to find more excuses to pull it out in future pages!
And finally, I bought one of these Kuru Toga mechanical pencils which I’d first read about more than a year ago– as you write the thing keeps turning the lead, so that, theoretically, the point is always sharp. I’ve been using it for several weeks now as my main pencil. While I’m not completely sold on the rotating lead idea (I can’t much tell the difference), I am addicted to the incredibly soft “Alpha Gel” grip. So nice to use! The same grip is available on non-rotating pencils, so I may get one of those in my next order, when I stock up on the Tombo erasers and Zebra pens.
Given my success with JetPens.com so far, I definitely plan to try out more of their line of products. I mean, if I could get such great results from something as mundane as a new eraser, who knows what else might be out there.
It’s some kind of weird tradition for the inhabitants of the Galaxion’s science lab. They all have these peculiar nicknames! We learned a while ago that “Mal” is actually short for “Malodorous”, although we have yet to learn why. It stands to reason that “Meg” and “Con” must be short for something, too.
What kind of crazy nicknames can “Meg” and “Con” possibly be short for? I want you to tell me! There are so many… interesting possibilities. Heh. Post your ideas here or email them to me at tara ~at sign~ galaxioncomics ~dot~com. I’ll pick the one I like best, and the winner (or winners) will receive a fancy-pants 2-inch pin-back button!
So far I’ve only been selling these at conventions, so they’re somewhat hard to come by. (But if you happen to be one of the few who have this design already, I can substitute another.) I know, not a great big prize, but eh, this is just for fun anyway.
Keep in mind, it’s just the names I’m looking for. You can supply a whole backstory about how these characters landed themselves with the nicknames if you like, and if I laugh hard enough it may even swing my vote your way, but I don’t promise to cannonize it! I will, however, use the winning names in the comic whenever it becomes appropriate (not that I have any idea when that might be…).
Get your entries in by midnight December 7th. I’ll announce the winner(s) December 14th. Good luck!
A couple weeks ago I mentioned Patrick Rothfuss’ Worldbuilders, a charity drive for Heifer International. I highly recommend you all check it out not only because it’s an excellent cause, but also there are some seriously excellent prizes that are going to be awarded by lottery to lucky donors. And there are a couple of unique Galaxion items in the lottery this year that you could win, just by making a donation!
Patrick blogged about these two Galaxion sets here, along with a few other very cool webcomic donations. Each book comes with a pin-back button and a pad of sticky-notes. Now, the unique thing about these sets are the illustrations inside:
I can flat guarantee that these are the only drawings in existence of Galaxion characters with livestock. How about that, eh? The deadline for donations has been extended to Dec 17th at 12:00pm PST. Get yourself over to Worldbuilders and give a gift that will really make someone smile.
Yes, it’s Galaxion-themed Valentine’s Day cards, just like the ones you used to hand out to your classmates when you were in grade school. I only wish I could figure out a way to perforate them so you can pull them apart just like the ones that come in a little box. I’m so excited to have finished these! My kids are still young enough to be handing out these sorts of cards to their friends, although I’m not sure I’ll be able to convince them that these ones are cooler than, say, the Littlest Pet Shop brand of cards.
We have the printable pdf file available as a thank-you gift for making a small donation. The full size image will fit nicely on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, with margins in case your printer cuts off the edges like mine does. Any amount at all you care to donate is perfectly acceptable, and will put a smile on my face! Hopefully these cards will put a smile on yours.
Happy Valentine’s Day!