A Couple of Comics

It may come as no surprise, given the recent release of Ugly, that I have been known to read comic books. Not all of them come with characters dressed in skin-tight suits and capes, and a couple of the non-superheroic ones have crossed my reader recently which I thought it would be interesting to throw in here because they’re fantasy, urban fantasy at that. They are also just starting, issue number one is out now! So you don’t need to catch up on a huge history like you do with, say, DC or Marvel.

Chastity is a book by Andreyko Acosta, published by Dynamite comics. I’d seen the cover before I read a recommendation from a fairly respected comic blogger. Now, I should have read the fine print: the blogger was saying that the people producing the comic were good, but they hadn’t actually seen it… Oh well, it’s not actually that bad, but the cover… The cover is a con. The alternate cover, which comes as the second page in the electronic edition, is an even bigger con. What we get in the first book is some adequate, but not exactly exciting art, and a vast amount of backstory… and then it ends and we have to wait for the next part to find out pretty much anything. It’s a vampire plotline, Chastity is going to end up as a vampire. This we know. The vampire who attacks her is, to be honest, badly stereotyped, but I do know how hard it is to create a throwaway bad guy without resorting to tacky stereotypes.

In short, I can’t recommend Chastity at this stage, but it shows a bit of promise. I may try another book before I say it’s hopeless.

And then there is Death Vigil. This is the work of Stjepan Sejic, and it’s now being released by Top Cow. We’ll set aside the fact that it cost me the same for 48 pages as Chastity did for 24, and just look at the actual product. Stjepan has his own style of art (and if you haven’t clicked on the link under his name yet, make sure you do because his DA site is an absolute treat) and a great sense of humour. Now, his artistic style may not be for some, and I tend to find his characters have a certain look about them which can be seen as a little samey. But you open up Death Vigil and you’re faced with vivid colours and action. Something happens in this book. Actually from an “extreme summary” viewpoint, the plots of both books are not dissimilar: a girl dies and she’s going to be something else. The difference is that we get beautifully drawn action, funny dialogue, and a resolution in one book, with a teaser ending designed to pull you back for the second issue. Death Vigil is a beautifully executed bit of writing in a form I’d give my eye-teeth to be able to replicate, and it’s a nice piece of hidden-magic, modern fantasy. Also, the Grim Reaper is called Bernadette. How can you go wrong with that? I can’t wait for the next part.

I’ve given links above the the publishers’ pages for these books, but I got my copies through ComiXology, and I’m sure they are both available through other online retailers, maybe even in real shops too. Go, read, enjoy.

Some Thaumatology Concept Art

When I’m working on a book I render concept art to give me an image to fix on. My visual imagination is okay, but not great, so having something solid I can base descriptions on helps. In this case, I was working on The Other Side of Hell and wanted an image of Ceri and Lily on their trek through the Demon Realm.

(Image after the cut.)

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Beauty in the Eyes

So, there’s a story behind this render and it got me thinking about beauty. That means you have to sit through the rambling monologue before you get to the good stuff. The good stuff is the render of Lily in a harem outfit, and the story goes like this:

There I was, checking DAZ’s web site, as I usually do, and they had a new clothing model, Katya, which is a nicely designed harem-girl outfit with a veil and head jewellery. Obviously I thought of Lily. Lily would love that outfit. I simply had to render Lily in that outfit (otherwise she would hear about it and hurt me). So, I duely purchased it for her and got her on the photo set and there she is.

However, since she gets rendered slowly, over the course of several hours, from the top and working down a block at a time. (The hair and faces take the longest; more edges to bounce light off, more calculations required.) I went into the little office at the back of the house to check on how she was doing and there they were; her eyes. They were looking out from the screen, deep and dark, from behind her hair and the veil. Awesome. Really, go to my Deviant Art page, click-through to the full size image and look her in the eyes. She’s smiling; you can’t see it because of the veil, but you can see it in her eyes. They’re beautiful.

So, back to the point. Beauty, what is it? Lily’s an attractive woman. I’ve rendered her in next to nothing and there’s a lot of flesh on show there, but really it’s the eyes that make the picture. I guess you’d call them “sultry” or “playful.” There are obviously a lot of other things about Lil that are attractive; I sculpted her that way. Lily was designed to be a little artificial, a collection of features designed to hit man’s built-in sexual triggers. Her hips are wider than average, her breasts larger (using a morph on the Genesis model called “Breasts Implant,” so while she’s all natural, she looks like there’s silicon in there). She’s a half-succubus, evolved to attract sexual partners. Of course, everyone has their preferences and Lily is not to everyone’s tastes.

And beauty is not always physical. Another thing I love about Lily is her personality. She’s a free spirit. She does what she wants and doesn’t care what others think of her. (Partially, I wish I could be the same, but I’m as insecure as the next guy.) An old character of mine in an MMO used to fall in love with people because of their personalities. It was a superhero MMO (City of Heroes) and everyone was attractive, if not stunning. If you just went by looks you’d be falling in love, or at least lust, with just about everyone you saw, so how can you really differentiate? A winning personality, or even just some little difference which seems attractive, can make all the difference. Even in real life that’s true. Relationships can start with looks, but they probably can’t keep on going without something else. Or can they?

Any thoughts, folks? What do you find attractive?

Oh yeah… I said you could have the good bit at the end. Enjoy.

A Ceri and Lily Pinup

I’ve been messing with this for days. I really mean days too; it’s an 11 hour render, and it’s taken me three runs at it before I was happy with the result. I was going for something erotic and romantic, and I guess both of those are in the eyes of the beholder. However, since it’s also got more flesh than usual, you can see the picture after the cut.

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Lily – Easter Bunny of the Year

Another seasonal holiday and, well, I just felt Lily should get dressed up as a rabbit. It’s traditional, right? Unfortunately, she had to hold that pose for hours and she was, a little miffed with me by the end of the session. I promissed her an Easter egg and I think I might have got away with it.

The larger version of this render is available here: http://tharcion.deviantart.com/art/Easter-Bunny-294405990


Over on my DeviantArt pages you’ll find a picture of Naira, a character from Demon’s Moon, the upcoming second novel in the Thaumatology series.

Naira is a were-panther, a species native to South America. She was born in Brazil where her kind are demonised, along with pretty much all things supernatural, and she ended up in London after stowing away on a ship. With the spine of a cat in were-form, she’s… bendy.