Game plan for the rest of the week: I want to go back to the earliest penciled pages and digitally ink as many of them as I can. In addition, I want to create at least one more new page for Abúi's Travels and maybe one for yet another comic.
Digitally inking those old pencil pages is turning out to be a smooth, easy and fun process now. I am, however, aware that as I gain consistency throughout the series, I'm losing some of the things that only pencil can do. Right now, I'm looking at a silhouette of two characters, but when I look closer, what looks like a flat dark grey shadow is in fact full of nuances indicating shadows, highlights, the hems of costumes, and so on. You can't reproduce that in ink. Well, I can't.
I'm also taking a leaf out of my wife's book and revising as I go. So far, there isn't an awful lot that desperately needs it. While pages 62-70 aren't the very best in the storyline, they are what they are and I'm happy to leave them mostly as they are. But I leave the option to make art changes open on a panel-by-panel basis.
And while we're on the subject of Abúi's Travels, there's a new page up. This is one of the biggest-looking pages I've ever come up with, due to the detailed backgrounds and the shading and highlights provided by Rona. It's also got a ton of cameos from other webcomics. Backgrounds and crowds make for a lot of extra work, but in this case, it was worth it.
Rona's been updating her own science-fiction comic Hekatomb on a weekly basis for almost a year now. Lately, after a catastrophic CMS update, she's also been re-uploading her vampire horror comic American Gothic Daily in a revised version. What she does is she takes each old page and draws/paints digitally over them, expands the canvas size and adds new materials. While reconstructing the site, she posts the old versions of each page as an addendum to the new ones, so you can see how much progress she has made since she started the comic in 2006. It's a very fast, efficient process with staggering results. Go see it.
I have a week off right now, so I've been working on Feral some. I've been inking penciled pages from 2008-2010 and adding color flats to them, which I give to Rona to add shades and highlights to. Yesterday, I gave her the revised version of the page for April 11, 2010 and she sent me back this:
The other day I did independent comics veteran Donna Barr a small favor, and as a thank-you gift, she made this drawing of Abúi from the webcomics Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan and Abúi's Travels for me (both comics not safe for workplaces or other small-minded environments).
Abúi's Travels is a bit of an oddity in my range of webcomics. At present, there are two stories in the website's archives. One of them is Incognito, which I originally created as a short guest series for the naturist webcomic The Bare-Pit in 2006. I featured one character from Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan who had been doing some webcomics universe tourism and let her crash into the world of The Bare-Pit. The author of that webcomic continued her adventures, so suddenly there was a solid bit of continuity featuring Abúi. When I wanted to join the Halloween Cameo Caper 2012, I did not want to include another big crossover event into the main Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan continuity, so I decided to create a separate site from which one of my characters could go on crashing into other webcomic universes, and picked the one that had already done a bit of that. So there we have it: Abúi's Travels is the adventures of a faerie from one fantasy webcomics universe, who travels through time and space and has light-hearted adventures. Just the sort of thing I needed to do while my schedule is too full to work on RoCR on any regular basis.
Well, maybe. I managed to draw 16 new pages as of April 26, 2015. The Halloween 2012 event is well into the past and I'm still writing and drawing material for it. Arguably, if I'd spent the time on RoCR, that comic would be ....16 pages further into the present storyline than it is now? But it would still have updated haltingly and with variable art quality. Probably for the best that I don't work on my main comic right now, and besides, I'm having a lot of fun with this project, precisely because it is so unimportant and there's a lot of freedom for me to work with, that I wouldn't have while working on RoCR.
The present story, which interacts with the Halloween Cameo Caper 2012, is called Death Comes to Tyrion, in which Tyrion is a place not a person - nothing to do with Game of Thrones. I'm having a lot of fun with it and I hope people reading it are too. I would like to do more stories, including ones where instead of crashing into existing webcomics, Abúi collides with larger genres or subgenres embodied in newly created fictional settings.
At this point, I'm deliberately searching for cover versions to complete the full set of songs from Hounds of Love/The Ninth Wave. I'll be honest: I don't like the distorted and rather strained lead vocal in this one, and I don't think this adds a lot to the original version.
But what can you do with "The Morning Fog", really? It is the last song on the original album, the lollypop after the emotional rollercoaster ride of The Ninth Wave. Its function is to bring the listener back to earth and the means it uses to achieve that end are fairly basic: "The Morning Fog" goes is one of Kate Bush's most minimal compositions prior to 50 Words for Snow: just a drum beat, fretless bass and acoustic guitar over which Kate declares her love for everyone in her life. It's beautiful, but it's not intended to stand alone.
And boy does this ever stand alone! There's hardly any context to this at all. The YouTube upload is by a third party, who has posted a small number of unrelated videos over the past five years. It has only a static image. Sometree is almost certainly the German band described in this rather rambling Last.fm bio. I probably should have heard of them before, because they've been around for a while and have several albums out. As it is, like I said, I only found this track by specifically for it. Last.fm members have played "The Morning Fog" twice in the past six months. It seems the group has a following and probably deserved better than to fade away like they apparently did.
Anyway. A cover of "The Morning Fog" exists. I hope I can find one that I like better though.
Some ideas are obvious in hindsight. Translating "Mother Stands for Comfort" into Chinese is one of them - it has always sounded vaguely East Asian to me, anyway. This is apparently an all-YouTube collaboration that took two years to complete.
"Mother Stands for Comfort" was the only track on Side A of Hounds of Love that wasn't a single, yet multiple cover versions exist. Previous versions of "Mother Stands for Comfort": Jane Birkin; Michael Aaron.
Covers of "Under Ice" are just like busses: you think they don't exist, then suddenly two show up all at once. This version by Swedish singer Alice Genberg updates the original with a 2013-era sound palette but doesn't otherwise do an awful lot with it. That's not necessarily a bad thing though. Genberg's voice adds a more dreamlike tone to it.
I do think I could complete an Hounds of Love/The Ninth Wave in cover versions, including some bonus tracks. I still need "The Big Sky", "Hello Earth" and "The Morning Fog", and I'm pretty sure Theo Bleckmann did "Hello Earth", as it was the title of his Kate Bush inspired album/show.
Oh my God, this one made my jaw drop. "Waking the Witch" in its original form on Hounds of Love is a completely artificial construction, all Fairlight and multi-tracking and slowed down tape. Then in 2014, I stumble upon this, uploaded to YouTube while I was not working on this series: one man with an acoustic guitar and live loops, performing it live in a single take. It's stripped down, but it's still as eerie, even if it takes a smidgeon longer to get to the point. I'm in awe.
The Little Unsaid has also performed Running Up That Hill. Like everyone else, but I might come back to it later anyway.
I've featured Theo Bleckmann before in this series, very early on, but it's been three years, and as he did a whole project and album around the songs of Kate Bush, it was inevitable that he'd get featured again. This live recording combines "And Dream of Sheep" and "Under Ice" in a similar atmospheric form as his version of Running Up That Hill featured as the thirteenth entry in this series.
Previous versions of "And Dream of Sheep": Happy Rhodes.
Via The Homeground and Katebush News and Info Forum.
Of the 11 songs on the Hounds of Love album proper,
7 8 9 have been performed live by artists who aren't Kate Bush (only one has been performed live by Kate herself, but that may change). I am still looking for "The Big Sky", "Under Ice" (see tomorrow's entry), "Waking the Witch" (see awesome entry for Monday), "Watching You Without Me", and "The Morning Fog" (see update for next Thursday).