This isn’t a character birthday retrospective. June 1st is the birthday of Galaxion itself! To celebrate, we dug into the archives for all sorts of miscellaneous goodies – earlier designs of the ship, characters that are no longer part of the story, and much more! You can start reading it here.
Hi everyone! I have to say, you guys took me a little by surprise by expressing so much interest in the details of engine speed and distances traveled! Here’s little old me writing what is unabashedly a “soft sci-fi” story, but the moment the word “parsec” threatens to bring a little astronomical substance into the picture, the comments page springs to life! But honestly, I’m not complaining. Reader involvement is the best thing ever! **happy dance**
My writerly instincts have been to leave as much of the fine details of How Things Actually Work as I can get away with behind the curtain. I mean, I knew from the outset that I’m breaking all kinds of (currently) fundamental laws of physics with FTL drives and artificial gravity and probably lots of other things, too—I consider these to be part of the necessary suspension of disbelief which we all must engage in to enjoy our science fiction space operas. And given those assumptions, almost any explanations I try to give will sound like technobabble. Or else they’ll sound flawed and dated within ten years, as our real life scientific discoveries continue.
Of course, it’s exactly those world-building details that lend a story weight and solidity, and make it the kind of place you want to spend some time in. So enough of my wishy-washing and let’s get to the details! Well, I call them details, but right now what I’ve got is sort of a general sense of things. But since many of you have added your insightful thoughts on the matter in the comments on both the Girlamatic site and the Galaxion site, I’m hoping that together we can turn my rough ideas into something a) more detailed and b) sensible.
I think of the Terran Sphere of Influence (a term I just whipped up for the occasion) as being separated in two parts: the inner sphere and the outer sphere. The inner sphere contains the inner colony worlds, and obviously a bunch of them are right in our own solar system, terraformed planets and moons. I had imagined there would be one or two more systems (such as around Alpha Centauri), each with several colonized worlds, within a few weeks travel from Earth.
The outer sphere is less well traveled, but contains some vital colonies and outposts. To get to the nearest of these is a couple of months travel. The farthest colonies are about 3 months out.
At the outer limits of the outer sphere sits Myrad, living on which is my one race of intelligent aliens, who have been alluded to but have not yet appeared. Myrad is roughly 4 months out, but not lined directly up with the outer colonies—it is a bit more than a month’s travel to get from Myrad to the nearest colony.
The Pathfinder probably ended up 3 months away from home, but not terribly near any of the colonies. And then add on the 3 weeks of repairs, so you’re looking at close to 4 months to get home.
Within these spheres, there is a lot of unexplored space. Overall the total number of established colonies is not enormous—my current thinking is around 2 dozen, maybe a few more. Most of these will be in the inner sphere, and most will be grouped, so one star will account for several. This does not include outposts. I’m guessing TerSA maintains maybe another dozen of these.
So by extension… if 3 months travel gets you 5 parsecs, then Myrad, at 4 months away, is about 6.67 parsecs. Is this big enough to encompass all my colonies?
I grant you, even five months of travel doesn’t sound like much compared to the several years NASA is currently considering for a trip to Mars. My original travel analogy of regular engines vs. the Jump engine was traveling around the world on a sea-going ship vs. making the same journey by plane. Airplanes revolutionized the way we see the planet, and I expect Jump engines would do the same for space.
So… any thoughts or suggestions? From a story point of view it’s the time spent traveling that’s the important thing—the actual distance, bizarre as it might sound, is flexible. I could even go smaller in the size of my spheres, for example, if that would make the FTL speeds less outrageous… though I calculate their average FTL speed to be the Star Trek equivalent of Warp 3.5, by that Warp Speed Calculator which Baxter pointed out.
Bleah! I have now run to the end of my brain power. Your turn!
There’s been some really amazing stuff happening on the internets this past week that I want to share with you all because it knocked my socks off! Over on The Webcomic List Forum (TWCL), one of the social sites I tend to hang around in, the topic came up—again—of which webcomics are successful enough to support their creators. One person had said that anyone with a webcomic that has a Wikipedia page survive the Great Mass Deletion must be raking in the bucks, and at that point I chimed in to say, look here, I have a Wikipedia page, and I’m certainly not going to be on that list of self-sufficient webcomics anytime soon! Then a fellow who goes by the screen name of lonelyfetus said something to the tune of, “well, for crying out loud why aren’t you?” And thus, last Wednesday, began…
This came out of nowhere, from my point of view, and it seemed like it was up and away before I even had time to blink. I’m still not sure how many of the TWCL forum members who posted to say they’d Stumbled or Dugg or reviewed Galaxion were already fans, or how many were just doing it because they thought it was a neat idea, but… holy cow! I was, and still am, astounded and humbled that these people whom I’ve never met would come together for this kind of thing so selflessly. Now, don’t nobody groan at me for this, for I have to say I feel like I’m not, you know, worthy.
I suppose I’m a typical creative geek: I hole up in my basement and obsess about my creation, I’d do it even if I had no readers at all, and like many of us comic creators I’m inept at tooting my own horn.
…but I’m more than happy to toot the horn of other people!
First, you must go visit the thread just to see some of the banners that were created for this campaign. Oh. My. Gawd. There are also some suggested t-shirt designs in there… would you all like t-shirts? Do you like these? Something else, perhaps? Then, you must go to the webcomic Maskerman and see the cool Galaxion cameo!
Thank you to the creators of
- Rampage Network,
- Outrageous Fortune,
- Stud Kickass,
- Marsona’s Story,
- Goth Bunnies,
- A Mad Tea Party,
- The War of Winds,
- Luke Surl.
And big thank yous to the ringleader, lonelyfetus, who doesn’t have a page that I can link to, but I know you’d go click it if he had one because he’s been that great.
I’m sure I forgot to thank someone here—Varethane, you’re up next!—so please let me know who I overlooked in the comments. I love you all!! <3
A few months back a bunch of you all pitched in to help me figure out some FTL issues, and this time I’m asking for your scientific expertise on a subject a little closer to home. Er, sort of. I don’t think this is going to be too spoilerific, but if you’re concerned you can stop reading here!
In a nutshell, I’m trying to figure out exactly what the Galaxion can know about the planet below from up in orbit. From a plot point of view, there are things they can know and things they can’t. Or at least, temporarily can’t know. I’m not even thinking about fantastic new technologies here, I suspect even with our present level of tech they could learn quite a lot. Telescopic lenses are the most straightforward way of seeing what’s happening on the surface—that’s how Google Maps works, seeing stuff from satellites in orbit, and I believe the level of detail could be a lot higher. I can probably guess at the sort of limitations of a regular lens—the line of sight will be blocked by physical obstructions and will also be poor on a cloudy day.
Infrared sensors are another method of gathering surface data, but one I don’t grok quite as well. I understand with infrared imaging you can see stuff outside the range of human vision, such as the radiation from heat sources. I know astronomers use infrared telescopes to learn things about faraway stars, so using it to learn stuff about a planet you’re orbiting should be easy stuff. Movies and TV frequently show characters using some sort of thermal camera to clearly see people hidden in a building or behind a wall. How accurate is that? Can it be done from orbit, through the interference of the atmosphere? Could Fusella, on the Galaxion, be able to accurately track the positions of the Survey Contact Team? How about if they went inside a building? Or the Hiawatha? How much could clouds and other weather events mess up their ability to gather data? How about metal? Or rock?
I’m sure there are other methods of gathering data that haven’t even occurred to me. Some will likely not be important at all to the plot, but would be nice to at least think about. If you have any suggestions for me, I would be most grateful!
My book is out at last! Actually, it was probably out months ago, but I only just got my copies. Here it is, my very first not-self-published book (yaaaay! *waves arms like Kermit the frog*)
Roberta’s Space Adventure is part of the Grade 6 space book club unit Mission: Space in the Moving Up with Literacy Place program by Scholastic Education Canada. Comics in the classroom—isn’t that awesome? There are, I think, eight comic stories in total in the unit, all done by different artists. In the ongoing struggle to get kids reading, this is going to be a pretty good tool!
Roberta’s Space Adventure is a fictional story set sometime in the nebulous future (where I like to set all my stories!), but the purpose of it is to teach the reader about the Canadian astronauts. The two main characters, who live on a large Canadian spaceship (because of course we have one, in the future), learn about their early space-pioneering ancestors. The more they learn, the more they appreciate how amazing those first Canadians to go into space—people like Marc Garneau, Roberta Bondar, and Chris Hadfield– really were.
The story is 40 pages long, and there is additional biographical information on the astronauts in the back. I did the pitch, script, script rewrites, art, and colouring (but not the word balloons or the title design) all within the space of about 5 months, which for me is insanely fast—especially considering the weeks of downtime where I was waiting for editorial approval before I could go on to the next step. It was both hideous and wonderful, and I hated and relished every minute of it.
Unfortunately, the book is only available to schools and similar educational groups (meaning I can’t sell you one). So if you’re an elementary teacher or if you know one, you may be in luck! Oh, and I guess you probably have to be in Canada, too… though if you represent a school in another country and have a burning desire to teach your kids about the Canadian Astronauts, I suppose Scholastic won’t say no to you! If you are in Canada… please spread the word!
The Galaxion Graphic Novel is here!
The more eagle-eyed among you will have realized that this print collection has actually been available for a few weeks now, but here is the official announcement for the website.
Galaxion Book One: The Jump is now available to be ordered from our new store! This book collects the first three chapters of the webcomic,, the 15 page “Pathfinder” interlude, the “Fusella vs. Interplanetary Patrol” short story, and some between-chapter pin-ups and a bonus page that are exclusive to the print edition. Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading recently gave the book a lovely review!
If you order the book directly from us you will get a signed copy. My good friend and Galaxion co-creator Wendy Linkous has graciously taken on the job of shipping these books for me, which means we can offer reasonable shipping rates instead of the arm-and-a-leg it would cost to mail these out from Canada. The downside is that, normally, I won’t be able to do the sort of dedication and quick sketch that I put on copies that I sell at conventions. But! I get down to the States a couple times a year, and during those times I’ll be able to offer those extra trimmings on the books. I’m planning a trip at the end of June, so if you want to place an order before then I can personalize your copy!
The store link can be found in the menu bar just underneath the banner at the top of the page.
I am also keen on getting the book into comic shops for those readers who don’t follow a lot of webcomics! I don’t have access to the old Diamond Comics system of distribution anymore, so I’m doing it the hard way—store by store. So far Galaxion Book One: The Jump is available at The Beguiling in Toronto, ON, and also Dewey’s Comic City in Madison, NJ. Want to see Galaxion in your favourite comic shop? If you know of a great comic store (or bookstore!) that you think ought to be carrying Galaxion, please send me an email with the contact information and I will send them some copies! The store name, email address or phone number, and the name of the store manager would be perfect, but if all you know is the store name and address I’ll be happy to work with that.
And finally, I am interviewed! I had a chat with Johanna, and you can also see a brief video interview (I’m one of four people interviewed) from Free Comic Book Day done by some folks from the Toronto Animated Image Society.
I went to Fan Expo here in Toronto and had a great time! Thank you so much to everyone who bought a book (or a comic, or a button, or a post-it pad), or who just picked up a flyer and checked out the comic online. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time chatting with some wonderful people. I can’t begin to tell you what was a lovely change it was from my day-to-day life here in the burbs to be able to have conversations about super geeky things like Doctor Who and Star Blazers and the comic creative process, and not be looked at like I’m some sort of weirdo! Well, yes, I am a weirdo, but when you’re in good company with other weirdoes it’s suddenly a marvelous thing to be.
It’s been awhile since I’ve attended any of the major mainstream comic conventions. I did come to Fan Expo in 2007, but my webcomic was barely a year old and I didn’t have the new book to sell. Also, I had been set up in Artist’s Alley, which in Fan Expo terms means a half-table space somewhere along the back wall. I grant you, this is also where some of the famous names in comicdom also sit, but I didn’t feel as though it was a very nice location, if your goal is to sell stuff and meet new fans. So this year I forked over the money for a full table in the Small Press area, which had seemed to me to get better through-traffic.
Now, the strange thing about the Small Press area is, the actual comics there are far outnumbered by the fan-art prints, cosplay accessories, and other handmade items. This is a stark change from what I used to see ten years ago, when the Small Press area was full of self-publishers like myself. Perhaps this is because Fan Expo is trying to be an All-Things-To-All-People kind of show, with areas for horror, gaming, and anime in addition to the comics, and the Small Press area is the catch-all section for all the artists of all the different mediums. But as I said, I haven’t been to any of the other big comic shows lately, so I don’t know if this trend is just a Toronto thing or if it’s an industry-wide thing. I know the number of independent comic creators out there hasn’t gone down—the amount of amazing independent artists who came to TCAF was a pretty good indication of that. Not to mention all the great webcomics being made (I’ve listed a of a few of my favourites on my links page)! Of course there are plenty of webcomics that have frustratingly erratic schedules or come to a sudden stop within a few months, but that was how it was with minicomics and self-published comics in the ‘90s, so no change there. Maybe there is a larger proportion of webcomickers who either aren’t interested in print at all, or else believe they can better serve their fans by selling their merchandise entirely through online stores, and skipping the expense of buying tables at conventions. And I suppose another barrier is the move towards making graphic novels (or book-sized collections, for strip comics) rather than the old “floppy” comic. A 100-200 page book represents a year-or-two’s worth of effort, rather than the month-or-two’s worth needed for a 24-page issue. So I guess in print terms we’re losing a lot of those start-ups that never make it to their first year.
For myself, I wondered if I belonged in a big media show like Fan Expo, where so much of the focus is on the movie stars like Leonard Nimoy and Bruce Campbell, and when comics are mentioned at all it’s only in terms of the Hollywood-supported superheroes. But you know what? Despite the fact that probably less than 1 percent of the attendees were willing to give my table a second glance, that was enough to make the weekend worthwhile. Same was true for my pal Jay Marcy —he does an autobiographical comic, very different from mine and not at all genre-ish, but he told me he had record sales this weekend (Go Jay!). So do we self-publishers still belong at these big shows? Yeah, I think so. I wonder if, as the desire to “monetize” webcomics grows, we’ll start seeing more of us in the Small Press areas of Fan Expo again?
I’m pleased to report that I sold a lot of books this weekend, and between this show and the upcoming Word on the Street, I expect to need to make a second print run before next year. The next edition will likely feature different cover art, and while we’re about it we’ll fix some of the small interior things that are bugging us, so if you have a burning desire to own the original edition of Galaxion Book 1: The Jump, you should probably order it soon!
Finally, though I didn’t manage to take any photos this weekend, plenty of other people did. Here is a video interview in which we talk about my Star Blazers influences, and in this photo gallery on the CBC website (it’s the 24th one in the set), you can see me hard at work on the next page!