Minna Sundberg, writer/artist of the esteemed Stand Still, Stay Silent , who converted from atheism to Christianity last year, was baptized a little under two weeks ago. I left her a comment congratulating her, and offered a couple other thoughts. My comments seemed to resonate with some of my fellow commenters, so I thought I'd reproduce them here:
First, be aware that there's a honeymoon phase. There will be times in your life (especially right after a conversion) when you're on fire, and then there will be times that you're…not. Don't let your impassioned feelings now or lack of them later separate you from the gift of reason that God gave you. Your religion isn't true just because it feels good, and it won't be false later just because it doesn't.
Second, during those on-fire times, don't get so swept up in zeal for the faith that you lose sight of what it's all about. You're not primarily called to be an apologist or a soul-winner, and God isn't impressed with how right you are about theology or how many arguments you win. It's about love, and to do that right you need humility. I've probably driven as many people away from Christ as I led toward him because I lost sight of this.
That post had a little problem: It was based on memories of reading the series many years ago. Truth be told, I honestly don't remember how long ago it's been since I read the books. I know my last attempt, which had to be at least fifteen years ago, only made it as far as #6. So maybe my memories of the series itself are tied up in my memories of how I felt about it at the time. Maybe my current feelings are tied up with things I'm remembering incorrectly. Maybe I'll reach a different conclusion if I reread the series as an adult.
That's what we're here to find out.
Quick content warning: Violence, obviously. It's surprisingly tame in the first two books compared to, say #4 and #10, but it's there. More pressingly, when I cover the second book, there's going to be a mention of sexual violence. I'll point it out beforehand.
Also, here's your spoiler warning: From here on out, spoilers for the first two books. I'll try to keep spoilers for later books to a minimum in case any new readers want to read along with me.
Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, I was a big fan of the Animorphs books written by K.A. Applegate and her uncredited co-author and husband Michael Grant (and several ghostwriters). The premise of the series is that five human teenagers, and their alien friend, have the ability to transform (“morph”) for two hours at a time into any animal whose DNA they can acquire by touching it. They use this ability to wage a secret guerrilla war against an invading army of alien brain-control slugs bent on enslaving humanity as they've already enslaved other alien species.
These days, the series is fondly remembered in Internet circles because of its brutally honest (and, honestly, brutal) depiction of violence. It's hailed as a critique of war and a cautionary tale about the horrors thereof.
For me, though, it fails at that purpose.
The issues are most apparent in the series finale and the several books leading up to it, so obviously I can't discuss this without spoilers. If you want to read the series yourself first, stop here. I wish you luck, since the books can be hard to find.
Before I continue, let me say up front that I haven't read the books in over fifteen years. My plan is to get my opinions out, and then see if they change after a re-read.
I've been making pretty slow progress on the next page of the comic, and I've been fairly quiet about it because I don't want to spam everyone with incremental updates. But I just encountered a not-insignificant setback, so I think now's a good time for a progress report.
Once I stitched all my "final" thumbnails together and read through them as a single comic, it dawned on me that the reader doesn't get a good look at the sorceress—the ostensible main character—until halfway through the comic.
In a very early draft, I had intentionally not shown her face until even later, but I feel like that signals to readers that she's not the main character, except in the same sense as the title "characters" of movies like Twister, Volcano, and Jaws. I don't want anyone to feel cheated when it shifts to her POV. So I redrew the beginning of page 2 to give her a nice medium shot establishing what she looks like.
So here's the problem: When I started working on the layout for page 2, I used the old thumbnail instead of the re-drawn one, and didn't notice until long after I'd started work on the pencils. In fact, the only reason I caught the error at all is that I was going back through my blog working on layout updates.
I saw the part quoted above and realized that the page I was drawing did not begin with a medium shot of Viola. In the first row of panels, all you can see is her hand:
So I now have to replace those two panels with these three from the revised thumbnail:
Losing panel 2 is no big deal, since I never really was quite happy with the magic effect and I'm pretty sure the blade is way out of proportion to her hand.
I'm a little sadder about panel 1, since it was the most complete panel so far.
I was pretty proud of that hand, too. I'm hoping I can salvage part of the angry sword man, though obviously he needs some work too. I guess I'll find out, but the change has to be made either way. No point crying over spilled milk.
As a bonus, here's my first attempt at drawing his face in a later panel. It's not too bad, but the expression is completely wrong. Drawing expressions is hard.
So how's the rest of the page going? Well, I'm spinning my wheels trying to get a grass-dirt transition looking passable and I'm about halfway done with a figure in panel four (soon to be five) but there's not a single background that's done yet. Overall, I'd say I had penciled about 32% of what the page would have looked like based on the earlier thumbnail. With re-drawing the top row, I'm maybe 11 or 12% done with the final page, not counting the extra work of combining the two sheets of paper into a single page somehow.
So the impeachment trial is over. That the result is completely expected doesn't make it any less disappointing. A 57-43 majority voted Guilty, but that wasn't enough to meet the two-thirds threshold needed to convict.
Before I get into that, I need to issue a correction. In my previous post, written before the trial ended, I wrote:
In fact, the then-current revision of Wikipedia's timeline didn't mention the phone call or Senator Tuberville (or senator Mike Lee, whose phone Trump actually called) at all. I got the eleven minutes figure from the time of Pence's evacuation, which I had assumed Tuberville told Trump about as it happened.
When I checked the timeline again, it had been updated to include the call, which in fact took place two minutes after the tweet: Pence was evacuated at 2:13, the tweet was eleven minutes later at 2:24, and the phone call was at 2:26.
This doesn't affect my conclusion about Trump, though:
Ex-president Donald Trump is the first president in United States history to be impeached twice, and the first to have his impeachment tried in the Senate after he's already left office. So why bother, if he's already out? There are several reasons people object to the second impeachment being tried at all, but I don't think any of them holds water.
Objection: He's already out of office, so it doesn't matter anymore.
Presidents are allowed two terms, and Trump has only served one. The terms aren't required to be consecutive, and running for a second term doesn't count as serving one. That means he still has one term left. There is precedent for this: Grover Cleveland lost re-election to Benjamin Harrison in 1888, but served a second term after defeating Harrison's own re-election campaign in 1892. Trump could do the same thing unless the Senate votes to bar him from running again.
More importantly, whether Trump tries to run again or not, it's only a matter of time before someone else picks up where he left off. We need to send a clear, decisive message that attempts to undermine our democracy in order to stay in power will not be tolerated. Not from Trump, not from anyone.
I'm sorry this post has taken so long. I finished
the first page of the comic months ago
and I've been wrestling with a longer postmortem, but I guess I don't have it
in me so I'll keep this quick and maybe not bore you.
First, the comic has a name now: Necessity. I'm not thrilled with it but I'm
glad I don't have to keep saying “Sorceress Comic” anymore.
Coloring started out fun but got tedious. I used just two layers: One for flat
colors and one for shadows. I did all the flats first, then for each color,
picked one or two shadow colors.
I selected each shape with the magic wand tool, then moved to the shadow layer
and used the pencil tool to shade it.
This wasn't a terrible setup. Since I can select two colors and swap between
them, and use my tablet's stylus's eraser end, the shading work wasn't bad.
The problem was all the switching back and forth between the flats and shadow
layers, and between the magic wand and pencil tools. It ate up a lot of time
and energy, and more than once I forgot to switch layers after selecting a new
area so I had to do it over.
Page one of the comic is now, finally, complete! I got excited and
it to DeviantArt Friday night before I had everything ready to post it here.
So now it's here, too. You can find it on the Other Writing
page, under the new Comics section. (As a bit of
housekeeping, I also added links there to the two one-off comics that I posted
to the art gallery a few years back.)
Now that the first page is out there, I really, really want to get the
rest of it done and get the whole story told! I think by this point I've learned
not to make promises I can't keep, though, so let's just say I'm working on it.
I'll try to get a blog post out before too much longer with my updated game plan.
September is upon us. October is now only half a month away. I'll set aside the
whole pandemic-time question of how it can possibly be September already when
it was just March only eighteen years ago. What matters is that the time is
fast approaching when artists around the world will be picking up their pens
and brushes and taking up the now-traditional InkTober challenge of thirty-one
ink drawings, one for every day of October.
Naturally, this inspired me to get out my trusty microns and a sheet of paper,
and practice. I played a few more of Dunn's videos while I practiced creating
even, consistent strokes and tried out some crosshatching techniques.
Here's what I came up with:
There are a lot of things that happen that make you wonder, just how many more
times does this have to happen before something is finally done about it?
To name just a few: Mass shootings, sexual abuse cases, privacy violations,
workplace safety violations, maltreatment of laborers in general,
formation of monopolies, and companies and governments kowtowing to tyrants.
And then there's the example that's been in the news here in the US (and
worldwide) for the last few weeks: Police brutality against black people,
which has sparked worldwide protests.
I wish I could come to you with a strong thesis statement and a solid plan for
what we need to do about this problem. But I don't have that. As a white guy
with a sheltered upbringing surrounded by only people who look like me, and
with little to no contact with the black community, I have to admit that if I
did have that, the odds that it would be worth your attention are
But I can't just say nothing, either. Even if you don't believe that silence is
complicity, you have to admit that it sure is helpful to those who try to pass
off their hatred as representative of the “silent majority.”
So I'm not going to be silent.
You want a thesis statement? Here it is: Black lives matter.
Whatever you think of the BLM movement, or of a
particular member or spokesperson thereof, you have to admit that the cause is
just and the statement is true: Black lives matter, no less than anyone else's.
All lives matter, and that means that instead of saying
“All Lives Matter™” to people who have been told that a
million times but consistently shown something else, we need to say
“your lives matter”—and then act like it.
There's more to say about the ongoing protests, police behavior, proposed
solutions, and everything else that's been going on these past weeks, but I
don't want this main point to get lost in the shuffle, so for now I'm going to
leave it at the one thing that most needs to be said, and believed, and lived: