Wednesday, September 28, 2016

TGND IS TURNING FIVE! (WHY IN THE HELL IS IT STILL ALIVE??)


. . . 


      "So . . . He forget?"                   "Meh. Me no care."

Whoops -- sorry! -- I'm here, I'm here. Scoot, Peanut- "
        "Hmf."                "Meh."                  
*ahem*

Hello.

Welcome for the fifth and in all likelihood final time to THATGALAXYNEXTDOOR's annual anniversary review!

Surprise! Yes, we're still alive! Bet you had thought ol' TGND was dead at last, eh? -- HELL, here I am, all dressed for the interment ceremonies, even! And why wouldn't you have thought we'd gone to our graves? With the exception of last week's equinox shout out we haven't posted a damn thing since Father's Day!

. . . Ahh, "Father's Day" . . .


"Where's my CAKE, Bedelia---??"
"---YOOOOOOOU BIIIIITCH!!!"
Ahh. "You bitch", indeed. I-

?

Oh, sorry. 'Tis the season, after all; I got horror movies on the mind.

And, no, the above isn't meant as a tantalizing teaser peepshow that "Creepshow" is in the running for this October's QUEST For HORRAH (love and absolutely recommend its crazy, coke-fueled comic-booky ass though I do). I've got a different sort of celebration planned as we count down the days toward Halloween 2016, so let's not get- 


HEAD of ourselves!


But, getting back to the subject of bitching, I've got a few things to unload this anniversary (although they're more confessions than complaints, really, but how could I pass up the chance for a hollering ol' Nathan Grantham reference, I ask you?) so settle in, what few Upstanding Outlaws and Lurkie-Loos remain to haunt TGND's intergalactic peanut gallery, for the time has come to bare . . .

my SOUL . . . 



So, standard procedure for these trips down TGND's memory lane has been to line up a little annotated slideshow of the past year's post content highlights, as well as any images and anecdotes of everyday life events around the TGND household lying around in the ol' laptop's image files that never managed to make their way into any State O' The Galaxy Addresses -- remember those, kids? -- or any other of those aforementioned high point posts. We would begin with an overview of October's extensive events, then scroll down through the scantier seasons and meager months of late winter, spring, and summer until we come back around to September again.

Well, things are going to be a little off model this time around.

First off, there isn't a hell of a lot to revisit concerning THATGALAXYNEXTDOOR's year five exploits, as I've only posted a grand total of 27 times since the end of last September:



. . . and twenty of those were all 2015's Halloween/Xmas glut, meaning -- as you can see above -- I've only managed to grudgingly grind out seven lousy posts throughout the first two thirds of 2016! And four of those paltry posts were Mom's Day, Dad's Day, and parental birthday related -- hell, I didn't even bother to recognize my own nafandous nativity this year!

Which brings us around to the second divergence from TGND's accepted anniversary practices, as we're just going to hop over October and jump on ahead to June for a moment to begin with perhaps the most significant event to occur around the TGND household since last we spoke:


I turned 40 -- !

--!

Oh! Hello horrendous specter of impending demise! Lurking over my shoulder from here on in, are we?

I know, I know -- I hardly look it; whatever the hell you'd think a full grown adult man on the outer cusp of middle age is supposed to look like, that's never what I seem to see looking back at me in the mirror (personally, I thank my low-stress sanguinary nature and lifelong abhorrence of sunlight). Yet, despite my blessed age-vagueness, there is a faint but growing silvery sheen to my hair on the sides, and wild white hairs here and there in my whiskers, and otherwise slim and trim as I yet remain, an insuppressible spare tire has begun to inflate over my belt.

And if further, irrefutable proof were required, here is the unmistakable sign of my oncoming end times. 

Behold! : 


'Tis the light of my life . . . bearing the light of my life's half over.

A taste of things to come, indeed.

And while Mizmstie did her age-defying best to rekindle the spirit of youthful joys and exuberant frivolity of days gone past with the impressive selection of prezzies for my over the hill haul:


-all of which was much appreciated and likewise much yearned for -- especially the Universal Classic Monsters - Complete 30 Film Collection DVD box set, and the long awaited Venture Bros soundtrack, Volume 2! -- the final grim gift that I sought out my own self served to balance out our faux-infantine enthusiasm with a chilling counterweight of gravid reality:


Yes. 'Tis true. 

We now have an exercise bike in the living room. 

We are officially old people now.


B
ut let's leave off with the grandpa gripes for a bit and get back to this past year's lack of blog post content.

So, if I was no longer down with putting forth the effort to perpetuate a semi-regular stream of TGND posts, what the hell else was I doing with my downtime between last Xmas and now? What could be more important and all consuming than futzing around endlessly -- and, arguably, pointlessly -- on my laptop?

Um . . .



Futzing around endlessly and/or pointlessly on my laptop?

Picking up where we left off with last year's anniversary, some might recall 2015 as the year I all but abandoned pen and paper and tried my mouse-hand at digital drawing. Alas, my brief and awkward love affair with Manga Studio 5.0 finally fizzled mid-to-late in the summer of 2015, culminating with my excited about it for all of two weeks foray into classic superhero redesign and rumination, "Heroic Re-Visions", which got as far as two posts featuring my alternative versions of Superman and Batman:


"Look, Up In The Sky", artwork (c) Hyla Tracy II, 2015.

"A Creature Of The Night, Black, Terrible", artwork (c) Hyla Tracy II, 2015.

. . . Before I lost interest in playing the project out through the rest of the Justice League, at least insofar as the post essay content was concerned.

I did have completed, computer rendered renditions of Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Aquaman all taking up space on the ol' hard drive, though, so here they are for posterity's sake.

All of these redesigns were done with the intent to more fully amplify and embody what I felt was each character's ultimate core concept and representative value or virtue. Much as the core character identity themes to be visually expressed for the first two of this series were "wonder/compassion" for Superman and "fear/ingenuity" for Bats, I angled for "truth" with Wonder Woman, that being her thing, "liberty" for Flash, what with his ultimate freedom of movement through space, solid matter, and even time itself, and "justice" for the regal Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas.


"Beautiful As Aphrodite, Wise As Athena, Swifter Than Hermes, And Stronger Than Hercules",
 artwork (c) Hyla Tracy II, 2015.

My Wonder Woman, obviously, is designed to more truthfully (get it? eh? ehhh...) reflect the anachronistic/frozen in time Grecian age of myth, gods, and heroes culture from which she hails, so she rocks a brazen hoplite-style breastplate and greaves and a star studded warskirt instead of some star spangled, eagle and/or "W" embossed bustier swimsuit ensemble, and also a more combat sensible and culture appropriate hairstyle. 

I was also all about remaining true to Diana's traditional essence and purpose, which is an ambassador of peace and a champion of truth and justice, not a "goddess of war" or whatever. All of her classic accoutrements are either defensive (bullet deflecting bracelets) or designed to subdue rather than kill (her lasso of truth, and her boomerang/chakram tiara, which is better designed for conking noggins or whacking weapons out of hands rather than slicing into enemies), so no swords or spears or big dumb battleaxes for my princess of Paradise Island -- she's a protector, not an executioner.

"The Fastest Man Alive", artwork (c) Hyla Tracy II, 2015.

With the Flash, I went for a stripped down, protective, zero-friction-surface metamaterial full body sheath modeled after the sort of gear worn by speed skaters and luge . . . lugers. Originally the protective (both of eyeballs and identity) tinted visor only covered his eyes and nose, but figuring for the likely wind tunnel effects smashing him in the teeth and jetting up under the rim of that visor, I later extended it down to cover Flash's whole face -- I figure he draws air through a baffle shielded vent system build into the back contours of the helmet or something. 

My version of the Flash also doesn't actually move super fast through physical action alone; considering the staggering nigh-instantaneous rate at which he covers ground (or water surface, or the 4th dimension itself for that matter), I figured the way my Flash's power would work is that he somehow generates what amounts to a low grade warp field around himself, distorting space to effectively shrink the distance between himself and his destination, propelling him at varying sub-to-superluminal speeds!

"The King Of The Seven Seas", artwork (c) Hyla Tracy II, 2015.

Finally (or is that fin-ally? . . . No. No it isn't) we come to the eternal last kid picked for super-dodgeball, Aquaman. Like the others, I tried to keep his redesign streamlined (rather than overburdened with New-62 style extraneous and needless detail clutter) and evocative of the character's classic look, while also incorporating some fresh elements to make him more closely attuned to his core essence/nature and origins. After all, if there's anything nobody wants around, it's some non-fresh Aquaman.

So, I went to his roots and made his old green footie-pants and orange wide neck top into a merger of wetsuit and Arthurian legend style regal battle armor. Figuring Atlantean swimwear technology would be pretty sophisticated, I turned the cuff-flaps on his gauntlets into straight up fins, and also moved his essentially useless back of the calf-fins around to the sides where they can do some good as he swims. I figure they're rigged to grow and fan out in the water, then shrink down in the open air (you know, so they don't flap in the wind or make dragging and slapping noises when he walks). That also goes for his boot toes, which stretch and thin out underwater to become flippers.

You may also notice that ol' Arthur, in addition to looking more, well, Arthurian and kingly with his crown and medieval-ish 'stache and beard combo, also comes off as not entirely . . . human in his features? Well, I did model him after Peter O'Toole. But also, I figured that, him being half merperson and all, he should look like it. In fact, he was almost a little too much so -- here's an example of what he almost looked like from the original MS Paint sketch version, before I layered the hair and beard on him:


King of the Seven Sea-AAAA! Getitawayfromme!!

Also before adding in eye-whites and pupils, apparently. 

(shudder)

Like those cheek-gills, though. Reckon those are still there, under the whiskers.



Anyway, these drawings were essentially the last gasp (HA! Post-Aquaman fish joke . . .) for me and the Manga Studio. But, that isn't to say I haven't engaged in any acts of computer assisted creative output. 

For it came to pass, at the end of late 2015's brief H-ween-through-Xmas blogging burst, that Microsoft's late December Windows 10 update did unexpectedly place into my hands, like a pre-Santa present that I hadn't asked for, yet had secretly always wanted:



3D Builder!

Which, if you've never played around with it before, is pretty much the 3D modelling software equivalent of MS Paint. 

At last!

This was something I've dreamt of since the ass-end of the '90's, when I first began work on version 1.0 of SHOTGUNSOUL

For me, the hardest, most frustrating part of trying to draw a wacky, sci-fi action adventure comic full of robots, spaceships, space stations, futuristic vehicles and so forth was . . . that I was terrible at drawing things. People and creatures and stuff I was fine with, and well within my comfort zone, but things -- especially complicated, symmetrical, mechanical things, like robots and vehicles -- I've always found extremely difficult and super no fun to draw.

Oh, I might do okay once I finally stumbled upon the right design -- okay at drawing it at the one angle depicted in that one and only design sketch where I got the damn thing right, that is -- but rotating that image, either in my head or on paper, in order to show that ship or what have you from any perspective or angle a given panel of the comic might require, and thus having to figure out how all the various parts and planes and protrusions of that ship/vehicle/robot which all seem to work out fine from that single viewpoint actually fit together and function from the side or the back or underneath or some unusual quarter rotation with a twist?

Forget it.

But now -- finally! -- I didn't have to guess/fudge out how the SGS gang's tubby little tugship The Lusty Journeyman fit together or looked from below, or the back, or from above and a little to the left but rotated a tick or two around kind of while laboriously hand rendering it.

Because now I could just do this:



. . . And open up the 3D Builder file in which I'd cobbled together a free floating full 3D model of the LJ Gang's kickass clunker-craft myself!



Ahh, there she looms in all her chubby, stumpy glory! 

Granted, ol LJ-3D here is far from perfect, glossing over lots of minor surface details and simplifying/fudging major ones due to the limits of what I could accomplish with the software, but at least now I know how the little fin-nacelle-tractor/repulsor waveguide thingies on her back end look and how much of them are visible when drawing her from a low-front angle, by Jeezum Crow!

And speaking of her fin-nacelle-thingied back end:



BOOM! At last: dat aft! That region of her tugship superstructure which has puzzled and defeated me all these long years in how it all fit together. She even has herself a rear observation deck there under the back bumper I'd never even planned on before!

My taste for virtual-tangible full figured SGS space transports inflamed, I swiftly spiralled downward into an eye straining, self made shape puzzle solving, craft crafting black hole that ate up half of my mornings straight through the New Year and, on and off, for the rest of the winter.

Why stop at the Lusty Journeyman when I could move on to more challenging and confounding contraptions, like Rumba's second hand spacefold fighter, Valor? :



Or an array of vessels from the Terran Protectorate Authority's oppressive armada:


But why stop with ships, when I could take the next step to make mock ups of SGS's many robotic mechoid characters, like Warden Dytzi's good old screw loose assistant, Suzi-Q?:



And while I was at it, why not really step up my polygon game and take a shot at a mechanical apparatus several orders more convoluted and complicated than a nabber-bot's comparatively simple assemblage of shapes?

How about . . . the big boned and badass bionic chassis of the LJ Gang's own Captain Beorn Tezuan his own zaftig self!:



Sans his noggin and his no-nos, of course.

But including in this depiction, for the first time ever, irrefutable proof of his horror inducing "honey badger" tramp stamp.

Also he's missing his arms, I guess. But as anyone who's actually read SHOTGUNSOUL may recall, ol' Cappy's manipulator appendages are modular. I had plans to do a full set of his various swappable arms -- the crappy Corrections Authority issued substitute T-rex pipecleaners; his oft mentioned and mourned big ol' mecha-gorilla ass, rocket powered battle arms; his more body matched and proportionate civilian model arms -- but have not, as yet gotten around to it.

I did try making a head for him though, which is kind of where my self educated amateur mastery of 3D Builder kind of hit a snag. Perfectly capturing the designs of my SGS spaceships -- and even the attitude and sense of character in a mechanical character like Suzi -- was one thing. Getting those various 3D shapes, no matter how extensively I cropped, resized, squashed, stretched, repositioned or rotated them, to capture the essence of any of my people characters, though . . .



. . . not quite as successful.

Gah. It's like something out of "The Lawnmower Man". The features are all there, sure, but that ol' uncanny valley gap . . . she is too vast to traverse.

It was my first attempt at a people, though. Live and learn. 


And "3" wasn't the only kind of "D" I was poking around with on my computer this past year!

. . .

Um.

2D. The . . . the other "D" I meant was "2D".


For it was at the urging of Upstanding Outlaw Kith and under the giddy guise of SHOTGUNSOUL's beloved blue-green babbler Canny that I did take my first forays out into Steam's online gaming platform, bearing the exuberant thumbnail icon and gamer tag of:


cannybananny!

Indeed, behold these gameplay screenshots, in which you can see cannybananny her/my own self amidst the f-



AAA!  Oh. Sorry. Wait, let me take off the ol' spider summoner gear, there . . .


A-ha! There's my girl -- standing proudly amidst the fruits of my pixelated block placing labors upon the side scrolling soil of my introductory computer gaming realm: Re-Logic's Terraria!

Lemme pull back a little bit here . . .


There!


Here she/I stands at the spawnpoint center of my first bustling backwoods metropolis, wherein all you see that isn't dirt was excavated, premeditated, and constructivated by yours truly (also Kith helped).

For those who haven't played, Terraria is an adorable 2D side scrolling fantasy themed exploration/survival/adventure type game where you make a little guy and then abandon him in the wilderness of a procedurally generated world of forests, deserts, jungles, and arctic wastes, and then set about chopping down trees and digging up stone and ore so you can construct housing for yourself and various helpful NPC villagers, and also to craft weapons and armor to do battle with a perilous plethora of wandering beasties and badass bosses.

This game is a big favorite of Kith's, so he was quick to recommend it after talking me into starting up a Steam account -- also since I'm still working off a three year old, standard issue non-gaming laptop, and ol' Dell-Toro II can process only so sophisticated a game without seriously overheating.

And, with its option (indeed, requirement) to contrive and construct various structures to protect your character against critters, store all your loot, and attract and house NPC assistants, Terraria became yet another outlet for my computer rendered creativity. 

My initial designs were modest in scope -- here we see my first Canny-style concept sketch: 



And behold below Castle Helldoom's awesome -- albeit never quite completed, internal decor-wise -- actuality!:


Never did find a use for that old lower jaw room. Maybe a guest bath? No. No, they can just shit into the false entrance lava pits like everyone else.

Also here's a map snapshot of the rest of the timid town that cowers in Helldoom's sinister shadow:



See? The pirate captain's house is a pirate ship! Yaaay! 

Also the streets are lava. Bannanyland does not welcome outsiders.

Anyway, Kith and I multiplayed the hell out of that world, but it wasn't long before I started off on some solo adventures, creating new characters and new worlds to conquer. And, after lots of trying trial and error on the housing construction end of things, I started getting a lot more involved and deliberate in their increasingly ostentatious designs.

For instance:






Feel free to click and expand the MS Paint insanity if you'd like to read the far too detailed liner notes. I eventually constructed all three of those all in one "town" housing structures depicted above in separate Terraria games, with the Gothic Chateau being the most recently completed (in time for Halloween, of course). 

But it was the middle design -- the Unholy Temple -- that ended up spawning my next questionable digitally codified creative endeavor:



See, there's the lava filled Sauron's All Seeing Eye Of Cosmic Conquest, now with kickass wing thingies, high atop its central spire! 

Anyway, bounding about amidst its crackling living flame blocks is the the Temple's terrible tyrannical mistress, a dominion seeking she-devil whose concept kicked off an unexpected return to my old comic book world-building ways as I began to muse upon and accumulate ideas and inhabitants for her brutal and bellicose realm of misadventure:

CATACLYSMOS!


("CATACLYSMOS!" and all related characters, story, and artwork copyright (c) Hyla Tracy II, 2016. :P)


Just when I thought I'd spent up every possible fantastical genre spoof setting for my knucklehead cartoon character notions -- outlaw sci-fi space adventure (SHOTGUNSOUL); near future cyberpunk neo-retro detective noir (A.I.-P.I.); Tick/Venture Bros-esque pun-name character populated '70's cartoon superhero satire (Sp'Artagnan & Friends); sardonic slapsticky dark fantasy sword and sorcery saga (Glyph Asunder) -- I stumble upon one I hadn't done before: Age of Myth and Fable oriented barbarian fantasy conquest epic!

Basically a childhood favorites mix of 1981's Ray Harryhausen critter crammed "Clash Of The Titans" Greek mythos style monsters and gods stuff with 1982's "Conan The Barbarian" wasteland wandering slaying and reaving action, and with a dash of "Masters Of The Universe", "Thundercats", and some crazy "Naruto"-style giant monster animals and elemental battle magic stuff tossed in for good measure (and with the whole bellicose arrogant idiot hellbent on world domination premise I'd be lying if I didn't say there was more than a measure of "Invader Zim" DNA in there as well). 

"CATACLYSMOS!" -- both the title of the concept setting and the actual name of the fictional world itself -- would chronicle the travels, triumphs, and not infrequent personal catastrophes of Simur, a conquest obsessed cinder devil cast out of the Underworld for being too much of a hot headed pain in the ass even for them to tolerate. Stranded on the mortal surface world with only her power to mold and control molten matter and her hench-imp Flikkit, Simur vows to conquer and rule all that she sees until the boundaries of her empire extend not only across the land but deep within it, encompassing hell itself! That'll show 'em.

The problem I started having was, although I was quickly developing tons of ideas and fairly clear mental images of these characters, I just couldn't get them to come out right on paper.

Curses!

If only there were some way I could carefully piece together these elusive new imaginary entities in a fashion that would allow me to almost sculpt them into being, and then figure out their proper appearance from multiple angles and-

-- !!!

And so, back to 3D Builder I went, to initiate my second, more challenging era of model building. Jumping off from what I'd learned assembling shapes into Cappy's cybernetic carcass, I began building the robust and batshit crazy cast of CATACLYSMOS!, starting with-


SIMUR

Here she is kids, the cast out, cantankerous conqueress herself! I saw Simur as being a stumpy, pugnacious little thing, but possessing a monstrous amount of physical strength -- a sort of short, supernatural she-Conan, so to speak. As such, I wanted her to be more properly muscular than your average barbaric fantasy, Red Sonja style big-boobed model in a metal bra and tattered chainmail miniskirt; Simur is a real woman warrior and looks it, by all that's unholy!

As to how she keeps that scrap of a dress up when she's bounding around and whaling on things with her half-molten hybrid axe-hammer-mace, I figure it's some enchantment infused fabric crafted in hell from soot and smoke, which sticks to her where pulled tight even as its looser pleats drift and billow in the breeze. And I don't want to hear any guff about her outfit being sexist either -- this is barbarian fantasy, where a minimum of clothing is par for the course for the mens and the ladies. If anything, she's more demurely draped than your average bare chested, fur or leather loinclouted male barbarian anyways (and certainly moreso than the aforementioned standard Red Sonja clones).

Besides, it's hot down in hell.

Now on to some of her various minions, etc:

FLIKKIT

Simur's grouchy old personal hench-imp! Though stripped of what status and possessions she had in hell upon her ousting, a cinder devil's personal imp is sworn and bound to their service forever, a bond not even the court order of Occlusos, lord of the underworld can sever!

Poor little bastard. 

Flikkit and his ilk are essentially sculpted from elemental fire, and he can transport between, materialize from, and spy through any source of natural flame be it candle or campfire at will, and can expel all consuming gouts of the incendiary stuff as well. He serves as Simur's glum and backsassing oft ignored Jiminy Cricket advisor and (eventually) fortress keep chamberlain.


NAIF (Battleclad)

And what of mortal world minions? Indeed, a conqueror must have conquered converts to their cause, if only to serve at the front lines of their advancing legions! And so to does Simur, in the one member of the first group of enemies that stand athwart her imperial path that did not fall in battle (or run for their lives): Naif!

Tagalong niece of the barbarian horde warlord that Simur was to battle early on, Naif was super impressed at Simur's grandiose majesty and prowess, and immediately elected to become the first of the conquered, serving in a probationary capacity as the captain (and sole member) of Queen Simur's personal guard. Also more primarily as camp cook and custodial staff. 

NAIF (at home outfit)

Rabidly loyal, enthusiastic, and imaginative, Naif is also Simur's Chief Imperial Artificer, having a creative knack for devising clever solutions to problems and for crafting weapons, tools, and devices out of odds and ends -- useful for tricky situations that Simur's go to brute force methods might occasionally fail to overcome.

As her name indicates though, Naif is rather naive and innocent for all of her barbaric upbringing, and though she serves as Simur's sole starting guide to the surface world, her actual factual knowledge of its contents and inhabitants largely consists of rumor, fantasy, and uneducated guesswork, often leading her aggressively ignorant master astray. 

Also insofar as her name is concerned -- in this case how "naif" is pronounced, which is like "knife" if you didn't already know -- Naif is quite fond of pulling her knife on people and predicaments with very little provocation as her primary response to difficult situations.  

BUBBOOS

Just as an up and coming conqueror must have conquered subjects to subjugate and impress into their service, they must also gather into their grasp some high born hostages of any neighboring kingdoms and city states they intend to bend to their will! And so, this purpose in mind, Simur captures and commences indoctrination of a self-professed "pincess of alla unna da water lans n stuff" 

Bubboos the baby mermaid!

Granted, her name is probably actually "Bubbles", but "Bubboos" is how she pronounced it, and Simur, being somewhat of an unimaginative, imperceptive idiot, took the tadpole princess's name and stated status at unformed soft palate face value, planning to raise Bubboos as a loyal ally to her empire and a lever to force the surrender and obedience of her subaquatic kingdom of origin.

Which might work if any of the other merfolk ever bothered to notice one of their preschool schools was a tad short after their last recess trip to the tidal flat wading pools . . .

And, yes, I'm painfully aware of Bubboos's overly strong Canny resemblance. I tried other color schemes, but this was the only one that ever seemed to work (it also made a good mix with the palette provided by the rest of the characters). Whatever. You can just consider her the Canny of this particular alternate universe, I suppose. Hell, Simur's essentially a stupid, devil-barbarian Rumba as it is anyways, so why not?

Anyway, that's the main cast of initial allies/loyal subjects. How about an adversary?:

DULTHUD

OOH-HOO! Lookit that big fella! He-!  He . . . 

He kinda looks like he has to pee. The way his legs look right there? I think it's the angle. I wanted a more impressive low angle for that screen capture, but the floor kept getting in the way of the camera. Whatever.

Naif's aforementioned uncle, Dulthud is a wild and woolly barbarian horde warlord whose tribe has wandered far from their boreal homelands to reave and to rule, but mostly to get away from all the snow ogres who were just, you know, kinda lowering the tone of the whole neighborhood. And killing everyone.

With his stout, tusked shield-gauntlet and mighty maul Cracknoggin, Dulthud was destined by the gods of the great northern skies to crush, to conquer, and . . . to get his huge hairy ass handed to him by a tiny, foul tempered winged woman, apparently.


Anyway, the whole point of these 3D models was to work out the character design kinks and give me something I could then ultimately translate into a hand rendered 2D form. So step two was to take a still shot of one them then import it to MS Paint for a little custom polygon tool trace over to see what the finished product might look like.

Here's how that came out for Simur, first in black and white:


Eh? Not bad, not bad. Now let's see that with some color fill and a little fire spark effect on that hammer-axe-whatsit:



At last!

All that remained was to try out the third stage experiment: using various camera angle screen captures of various limb and facial feature component repositioned versions of the models to paste together some rough draft test pages of a potential CATACLYSMOS! comic!

And so, because why the hell not, here for full disclosure's sake are the rough drafts I'd plotted out in the fashion outlined above for the potential first pair of 3 page installments of Simur's big dumb barbarian sorceress conquest saga:







Yes sir. Good ol' over the top high brutality slapstick. I do love it so.

And then Simur's explosive expulsion from the underworld would've attracted the omen wary attention of Dulthud and his horde, and then some high octane barbarian ass whupping would ensue, and then . . . and then . . .

(author pauses, checks logged date of creation and last edit of above image)

Ah.

. . . And then I turned 40 .


(well, also and then I started obsessively playing Chucklefish's Starbound, which is essentially Terraria in space, but most importantly I turned 40.)


So, we come back around to it at last.

My half-life has expired. My standard issue projected lifespan has reached its inevitable numerical midpoint. All Hyla Tracy II warranties are now officially null and void.

And how did I spend my fortieth year of conscious, breathing, self aware life on this earth?

Yes, that's right, horrendous specter of impending demise-


Futzing around endlessly and/or pointlessly on my laptop.

Pretty much how I've spent most of the last five years, now that I think about it, a span that started on that fateful day of September 28th, 2011, when I took my first step out onto my own personal interwebs stage and launched THATGALAXYNEXTDOOR. 

Five years. 

That's an entire eighth of my entire life thus far. 

An entire half of one of the four decades I've got under that straining belt I'm now working at loosening back a notch every other morning on the living room exercise bike that lurks behind the couch, back where I used to lurk near every morning for uncounted hours at the old drawing board, a spot I've occupied less hours in the past year than I'd need fingers to count from.

And when you get to this midway point in your life, the point where the popular perception is that one's youthful upward momentum has passed its apogee and it's all downhill from here, you find yourself starting to chew over those old bones in the back of your graying head:

"What am I doing with my life?"

"What am I doing it for?"

And of course your classic, "Am I getting too old for this shit?".


As to what am I doing with my life and what am I doing it for, at least insofar as this blog is concerned, that's a damn good question. Back when it (re)started in September of 2011, the whole point was to establish some sort of presentation platform for showing off SHOTGUNSOUL and my other comics efforts past and present, in hopes of attracting interest and a potential fanbase, perhaps preparatory to establishing an ongoing online comic series and even eventual hardcopy publication, somehow.


But, while a small handful of people liked SGS a bunch, those interstellar installments depicting Rumba's mysteriously motivated space prison infiltration were far from my most popular posts past their initial debut dates. Plus, popular or not, by late 2012 I'd expended all the pages I'd spent much of the previous five years stacking up, and with little incentive to keep going -- and with hardly any time to work on new pages anyways, with all those self imposed blog content upkeep responsibilities to stay on top of -- that labored run of SGS took a cramp and came to a dead stop. But the blog kept going.

I spent most of 2013 still pretending TGND was still about SHOTGUNSOUL first and foremost, of course, playing out the stalled lack of progress as a gag, doing a series of birthday drawings for the characters, etc, until I finally faced facts and called time of death on it during TGND's third anniversary post in 2014. So if that wasn't what the blog was about anymore, what was it about? -- what was it for?

Not anything, really, outside of limping along in semi-hibernation for two thirds of the year only to shake itself awake and get active and full of enthusiasm again for the only other posting topic that seemed to get a response out of both me and the random lurkie-loos who stumbled across this site: 

HALLOWEEN!

Yep, Halloween and its accompanying trios of impaled-on-a-shtick horror movie reviews became pretty much the last dark dribbles of low ebbing lifeblood keeping TGND in a state of shambling un-death these past few years of its increasing inertial decline. 

And that stuff's still fun, sure.

But is it reason enough to keep the whole thing going?

Let's face some unhappy facts, kids: THATGALAXYNEXTDOOR never really "took off", never caught on and accumulated any kind of a regular fanbase of readers. And maybe that's for the best, anyway -- anyone who knows me well (and anyone who's actually read enough of this blog to have borne witness to five years of false starts, imploded promises, and abandoned plans) knows that no matter how super excited for and focused on a creative effort I might be, inevitably my enthusiasm runs flat after awhile and I end up setting it aside for a time if not flat out ditching it. 

I've kept this blog limping along for three years past its Halloween 2013 peak:


-out of some nonsensical sense of entrapped obligation while, essentially, no one's actually been reading it anyway. And I'm not trying to whine. Successful blogs are few and far between. These are simply the facts, that -- not counting that one wonderful October and high flying Halloween three years ago -- whatever it was supposed to be for or about in the first place and whatever it became, this blog just didn't "make it". 


So maybe, like SHOTGUNSOUL's "BUSTED" story arc before it, the time has come to make the call and finally pull TGND's plug.


There. I said it. 

In this, our fifth celebrated season of doom and death, I do so decree that the time has come at last for this blog -- finally as far once again from the halfway point of its own lifespan as it was on the day it was born -- to meet its fate.

But let's not forget that final turning forty question:

"Am I getting too old for this shit?"


Do I look like somebody capable of entirely growing the fuck up and acting like a responsible adult, my Outlaws?

Not on your un-life.


And since -- despite THATGALAXYNEXTDOOR's official September 28th inception date -- this blog's true sense of self was born and its boldest steps took place instead on October 31st of 2011 with the exhaustive insanity of our very first Halloween Blogathon . . .  


. . . so too shall the shuffling off of its mortal coil be eulogized and memorialized by a final fiendish foray into the putrid pumpkin patch with a last hurrah of horror and Halloween treats! 

And so, until then, once again, and for the last time my Upstanding Outlaws and Lurkie-Loos . . .


. . . See you in HELL, kids . . .

}:D


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