The sequential art of R. M. Rhodes
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Quarterly Report, Q1 2011

It’s now a few days after the end of the first quarter of 2011 and it’s time for a quarterly report.

I started the year weak as a kitten after a surgical procedure to correct a heart arrhythmia over Christmas. Ninety plus days later and I’m off the follow-up meds and feeling strong and productive.

Four of the five books in the Oceanus Procellarum series are at the printer (I sold out of the first printing of Book 1). If you are interested in reading the series but don’t feel like paying $20 apiece for physical books, the first two books (Weapons of Devotion and Class of 63) are available online – the third (Taste of Flesh) is being serialized right now at the rate of four pages a day. Books four (Kampyle of Eudoxus) and five (Morose) will go live in January of 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Copies of all books will be available at SPX. Look for the man in the purple suit.

The comics that I’ve made this year are being published in a webcomic series called Irregular Variables. After producing 200+ of the 500+ pages in my aforementioned graphic novel series last year, I decided to give myself a break. This year, I will only make self-contained comics of less than 16 pages in length. To date, the Irregular Variables I have published are:

Tressage – An out-and-out art comic that started with a conversation I had with a bartender about standardized symbol sets. I’ve learned a lot more about the topic since I made the comic, but that’s okay because the comic itself really veered into conceptual territory pretty much from the second page.

Why I Remixed Star Wars – A number of years ago, I completely remixed Star Wars for what I felt were perfectly valid, artistic reasons. Read the comic if you’re curious – that’s why I made it.

Art Cars of H Street – I took a scrapbooking class in February. I’ve been fascinated by scrapbooking for a long time. Because I cannot draw, I’ve spent a long time trying to find new and different ways to illustrate the stories I write. I stumbled upon scrapbooking almost by accident and figured out that it has all of the elements of traditional comics. In fact Karon Flage once called scrapbooking, “Comic book making for midwestern housewives,” which is about as accurate as it gets. This particular comic was made using pictures I took with my iPhone during the H Street festival in 2010.

Shape and Color – Another piece from my class. I ran out of material and started improvising with what I had at hand. The great thing about working on 12 x 12 pages is the amount of room there is to play with.

The Great Escape – Last year, I picked up some batik elephants at World Market for about $12. On a warm Sunday afternoon in February, I took them into my backyard and made a comic with them using my iPhone. I remixed the pictures on my iPad using the TiltShiftGen app and made them into a 16 page comic with the Strip Design app (also on the iPad). I’ve made plenty of photocomics before, but I’ve never made a completely silent comic.

I have made other comics, which are scheduled to be published as follows:

Theft of Excellence – This comic shows off my meager cartooning skills and my not-so-meager painting and collage skills. The lament that I heard from my peers was that the scans don’t show off the texture of the pages. Go live date: April 11th.

Leaving Nebraska – This comic was illustrated by Sarah Anderson, who did a piece in Kampyle of Eudoxus. Her work was good enough to make me want to do something else with her. I dusted off this character study I’d written and sent it to her to see what she would do with it. Go live date: April 18th.

Rue the Day – I found the first scrapbooking class interesting and informative enough to sign up for the follow-up, where I made this piece. It’s a visual poem as much as it is anything else. Go live date: May 2nd.

Books of Novelty – I don’t really have much of a destination in mind when I start designing a pair of pages. Mostly, I’m paying attention to color, shape, composition and the materials that I have at hand. Meaning (and thus, storytelling) is usually a distant thought until the very end of the process, when I’m ready to decipher and distill something from what I have created. Go live date: May 9th.

Y-3 – Another experimental scrapbooking piece. Instead of actual journaling, it features asemic writing. Go live date: May 16th.

I’ve got a few other projects in the works, including a few anthology submissions. I’m taking the third, follow-up scrapbooking class as well, so I should have some more pieces to put up in the months to come.

Posted 10 years, 8 months ago at 3:09 pm.

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Oceanus Procellarum News

I just got the art for the cover of Book 5 of the Oceanus Procellarum series and I wanted to post it here to show it off. I also wanted to use it to point out that I am releasing Books 4 & 5 of the series concurrently, to pre-emptively answer the inevitable question “but you just put out Book 3 earlier this year, didn’t you?”

One of the things about comics as a format is that it designed to display a series of moments to the net effect of telling a story. These moments can be easily grouped at the frame level, the page level and the book level; there is as much significance and narrative power in the gutter break between books as there is between installments of a regular daily strip.

There is a scene at the very end of Book 4 that references the title of Book 5 in such a way that works better if the reader knows that Book 5 has, in fact, been published. One of the themes of the series is the idea of a character deliberately setting down a historical canonical record that does not mention everything. It’s a situation chock full of apocrypha – which happens to be a bit of a pet obsession. I’ve always wanted to write an apocryphal novel, so why not write a situation that generates the ability to include one in the story?

The best part about apocrypha is the very strict binary nature of the classification. If a work exists, it’s not properly apocryphal. This works fine for stuff that’s been physically destroyed, but it gets interesting around organizations that only recognize certain works – ie the Bible, when Church officials chose to pretend that certain books didn’t exist. It was information warfare at the most basic level and it required a serious amount of steely reserve and deep self-delusion (or a real knack for politics). But it also produced tangible examples of an apocryphal work that you can hold in your hand – a true paradox.

And that’s even before you get to Borges.

I accept that it’s probably self-indulgent to structure a series of graphic novels in such a way to enable myself to write an apocryphal novel that I can hand to you. But if you are reading Book 5 in a series about characters that remember that they’re characters when they encounter the truth in a story, this shouldn’t surprise you. After all, I’m writing a metafiction series. I figure that I might as well pack as many different kinds inside as I can.

Which reminds me – another bit of apocrypha I built into the series is the promise of Books 6, 7 & 8. Right now, they exist in an early draft and will need a lot of work before they’ll be ready for publication. I have no plans to address the first of them for at least a year – after all, Book 5 is out a year early. But I offer you the promise as a kind of apocrypha type two: the anticipated.

Posted 11 years ago at 6:28 pm.

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Oceanus Procellarum News

Did you know that there are only eight more installments left in Book 1 of Oceanus Procellarum? The last installment will run on May 29, 2009.

What then?

Book 2 of Oceanus Procellarum will start weekly installments in January of 2010. But if you don’t want to wait that long, you can buy the whole graphic novel right now, right here – only $20 (plus shipping and handling.)

But if you don’t feel like paying for shipping and handling, I will be at the following conventions in the upcoming months:
- The DC Conspiracy Counter Cultural Festival (Vienna, VA) on May 24
- Heroes Con (Charlotte, NC) on June 19-21
- Small Press Expo (Bethesda, MD) on September 26-27

Just look for the man in the purple suit!

Posted 12 years, 8 months ago at 8:09 am.

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Video of my SPX sales pitch

If you talked to me at SPX, this was my standard sales pitch.

Posted 13 years ago at 1:07 am.

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