"One of the main goals of the Liberty Lass comic is to bring back the traditional genre conventions of the superhero, and not deconstruct them or change them or over-analyze them, but to revel in them and enjoy them, like we used to back in the Bronze Age of comics." -- Steven Vincent, LL creator

Liberty Lass is a digital comic-book produced in the webcomic format, in which one page is released per week.  Liberty Lass is deliberately written in a style reminiscent of late 1970s "Bronze Age" comics.  All characters in the comic have either been entirely made up by me (the author), or else were created by friends and fellow Champions gamers over the years. This page explains a little about the Liberty Lass comic.

Bronze Age Style

For those who may not be old enough to have experienced the Bronze Age style of the 1970s (or who are old enough but don’t remember it), the comics produced during that era had a particular flavor that was not present in the comic-book world before or after.  Prior to 1972 or so, comic-books were in what is now called the “Silver Age.” Silver Age comics are characterized by very short, highly compressed stories (a single issue might contain 2-3 stories in 20 pages), and very light continuity (events in this month’s issue happened after those in last month’s, but the stories usually stood alone and did not often connect in any explicit way). The Silver Age had heroes who were shiny and incorruptible, along with villains who were evil in a mustache-twirling, cackling sort of way.  By the Bronze Age, this rather corny style had given way to more involved stories that lasted at least a full issue, and sometimes two or three issues (but rarely longer than that), and a continuity that was more explicit (with frequent references back to earlier issues, recurring villains, and so forth). In the Bronze Age heroes, who were still overwhelmingly good, began showing some flaws such as overconfidence or mild selfishness, and villains were less goofy and more dangerous/evil.  The comics of this age relied on heavy narration (in the form of square or rectangular captions, usually colored yellow or orange) written in the voice of an omniscient third-person narrator, with the heroes’ thoughts occurring in thought balloons and heavy dialog even during action scenes.  A comic from this Bronze Age period had somewhat less words than a Silver Age comic of the same length (perhaps 25-50% less), but had substantially more words than modern comics of today have (on the order of 2-4x as many words as comics of today).  This is the style of comics with which I grew up, and this is the style I came to love. 
As a result, you will notice heavy narration in the Liberty Lass comic, along with thought balloons and lots of dialog.  I know that this is not the style of comics today, so there is no need to point this out to me. In fact, that’s rather the point: I prefer the Bronze Age style, and so I am purposely using it, in contravention to the current style of the day.  By the same token, you will notice that most pages have 5-7 panels, and there are only a few, if any, “splash” pages (i.e., full-page panels) — again, because that was the style of the time. Splash pages occurred on the opening page along with the credits, and perhaps once or twice for big, important scenes during the book. The convention of today, in which you will find multiple double-page spreads in a single issue, is not something you should expect to see in a Liberty Lass comic.
In addition to elements like narration, thought balloons, dialog, and panel layouts, another hallmark of Bronze Age comics is the adherence to the rules of the Comics Code Authority.  Those rules are summarized below, and during the Bronze Age, the comic-book creators mostly followed them, although by this period they were starting to push the envelope here and there on occasion. Because Liberty Lass is being done as a Bronze Age comic, I will be following the rules of the Comics Code Authority in general, although you may occasionally see a scene that pushes the envelope slightly, just as you would have seen from comics published during the 1970s and early 80s.  In general, however, in a Liberty Lass story, the heroes are good, the villains are bad, and you should expect, eventually (though not on every page or even in every issue) for the good guys to win and the bad guys to lose.  You won’t see blood, gore, or murder in these pages (although you may see murder referenced, as in a villain claiming to have, off-screen, killed someone). And you absolutely will not, ever, see Liberty Lass kill anyone. You also won’t see explicit sex, nudity, or any racy images — so don’t come here expecting to see tons of skin from Liberty Lass and her friends, because you won’t.
That said, although the style of this comic is Bronze Age, it is set in the present day. That means that clothing styles will be contemporary, and because people do show more skin today than they did in 1976, you will see a little more skin than you might have back then.  In no case, however, will there ever be any deliberate sexual imagery of Liberty Lass. In fact, I purposely chose a teenage character model (Teen Josie 6) and not an adult model, because the teen models on the DAZ shop are less “well endowed,” and more realistic for a sixteen year old girl.
The rules of the Comics Code Authority
The rules of the CCA are laid out in some detail elsewhere, but I will summarize the relevant ones here. The Liberty Lass webcomic will adhere to these rules.
  • Crimes will never be presented in a way that glorifies crime or the criminal, but rather both crime and criminals will be depicted in a negative light.
  • Crimes in the story will not be presented in a way that could be copied in real life.
  • Officers of the law, courts, and governments will be presented respectfully.
  • Good will always triumph over evil, and criminals will ultimately pay for their crimes.
  • The hero shall never, under any circumstances, kill his enemies - instead, the bad guys will be apprehended and turned over to the proper authorities.
  • Excessive violence, torture, gore, blood, and murder will not be depicted on the page.
  • Like crime, evil will never be presented in a positive or alluring way.
  • There will be no profanity, smut, or vulgarity in the narration, dialog, or thought balloons.
  • Slang will be used sparingly, in favor of proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • No religious, ethnic, or racial group will be ridiculed.
  • Nudity and undue exposure will not be presented.
  • Characters will be depicted in dress that is reasonably acceptable to present-day society.
  • Physical qualities of female characters will not be exaggerated.
  • Rape scenes and illicit sex scenes will not be portrayed, although the crime of rape might be referenced by characters.
This is not the entire comics code, but rather the core of it with some minor alterations (I also combined and heavily summarized several points, as they were redundant).  Some elements, such as strictures about how big the lettering of the word “crime” is allowed to be in the titles of comic-books, or references to horror, werewolves, and vampires are irrelevant because Liberty Lass is a superhero comic, not a horror comic, so I did not include them.   Additionally, the “no killing” rule is mine, not a rule of the CCA — but I am quite firm in it. In the Bronze Age, heroes generally did not kill, and Liberty Lass absolutely never will.
Patriotic themes
Liberty Lass is an extremely patriotic young woman who idolizes the Founding Fathers of America and who is devoted to the national ideals of the United States.  Consequently, this comic will be replete with patriotic themes and will portray the U.S. in a positive, perhaps somewhat idealistic light. Although it is certainly not my intention to pretend that the U.S. is a perfect country or has no ongoing political and social issues, our problems are not the focus of this comic.  Therefore, readers who dislike nationalism or patriotism, should consider themselves forewarned.

Where Liberty Lass came from

The Liberty Lass character is based on a player character I created and ran for 6 years in the online RPG City of Heroes. Liberty Lass was created a week or two after the game's initial launch, in April of 2004.  She was an Invulnerability/Superstrength Tanker, with Flight pool powers for movement.  She wore a red-white-and-blue costume with stars and stripes. Originally, she did not have a cape, because capes were not available when COH first launched.  Her origin was substantially the same as I will depict in the pages of this comic, with some minor tweaks.  Liberty Lass got to level 19 as an Inv/SS tanker, before I became frustrated with the Superstrength powerset, and deleted her, re-creating her as an Invuln/Fire tanker (in those days, most enemies had smashing resistance but few had fire resistance).  The invuln/Fire version of the character eventually reached level 47. By then many of my friends on our original server had stopped playing, and I switched servers. Since the Liberty Lass name was not available, I created a different tanker and retired Liberty Lass. But she has always been my favorite character to ropleplay, even if the game mechanics may have sometimes made her powers frustrating during missions. I liked her so much that I created a version of her in Champions Online in 2009, and I played her to around level 20. She was a member of the Silver Guard for a while.

Where the villains and heroes came from

The heroes and villains in this comic have multiple sources. Some are repurposed City of Heroes player characters that I created.  Others are based on characters my friends made up over the years. Most of them, however, have their genesis in my old Champions campaigns, which I ran as a GM throughout college. By the end I had created nearly 1,000 NPCs (mostly villains, but some heroes) as well as dozens of agencies and organizations, not to mention alien races and alternative worlds.  Few of these will be portrayed in the webcomic exactly as they were in the original adventures, but most of them originated back in those days.

What is "Cosmic Comics"?

When I was a kid (about 8-12 years old), I dreamed of making my own superhero comic-book. This comic was titled "The Champions of Good" (yes, I know, it's corny) and I intended to write, pencil, ink, letter, and color it. Believe it or not, I intended to produce a comic a month, and I planned out over 75 issues. As you can imagine, I did not get anywhere near that done. I completed one issue and did part of another, mostly working like a dog each summer on the comic (it was far more time consuming than I had expected). In the end, my frustration with my inability to draw like George Perez got the better of me, and I gave up.

But as I was working on my own comics, I wanted to make them look as professional as possible -- like a real comic-book.  That meant they needed to be produced by a publisher, much like print comics are published by Image, Marvel, and DC. I had just learned what alliteration was, so I came up with the name "Cosmic Comics Company." I stamped the logo on every comic-book cover I created.

Of course, there is no such company in the real world... but since Liberty Lass is being produced in the style of a print comic, I thought it ought to have a (fictional, of course) "publisher." The name Cosmic Comics has a lot of nostalgia for me, so I decided to include that logo. Finally, all these decades later, thanks to DAZ Studio and CGI art that can "draw" better than I ever could, my childhood dream of having my own "company", Cosmic Comics, produce a comic-book about superheroes, is becoming a reality. And so that is why I have chosen that name for the comic's "pubilsher."

Frequenty Asked Questions

On this page I will maintain a list of answers to frequently-asked questions.  I'm going to anticipate a few and pre-emptively answer them, but I will add more if people start asking certain questions repeatedly.

1. What computer program do you use to generate your images?

The primary program I use is DAZ Studio Pro.  Issue 1 was entirely done with DAZ Studio Pro 4.7. Later issues will be done with newer versions, as the software is updated.  Secondarily, when I have to create my own 3D models of something I can't find on the various model shops, I will use either Blender or Hexagon.  Hexagon integrates directly into DAZ and makes importing much easier, but I am better at Blender.  I usually try something first in Hexagon, get frustrated by the non-intuitive UI, and switch to Blender anyway.   

2. What type of render engine to you use for your renders?

For those who create images from 3D computer modeling programs like DAZ, render engine is an important question. There are two main types -- biased and unbiased.  A biased engine does not calculate all of the atmospheric and surface bouncing and scattering of light. Thus if you put a light behind a character, you will get no light at all on the character's front surface. Such an effect would not occur in the real world, except in a vacuum, because the light would bounce off of nearby walls and the like, and some would still show on the front of the image.  Consequently, in a biased engine, one must use additional lights to "fake" the bounce/scatter effects.  With an unbiased engine, the scattering is calculated automatically, so you can place that one light into the room and it will scatter the way it would in the real world. The cost, of course, is increased power needed and increased time-to-render. For example, a 1 minute biased render might take 5 or 10 minutes unbiased (depending on the engine used).  Pre-4.8, DAZ only comes pre-packaged with 3delight, a biased render engine. That is how I learned to use it and what I am used to, so all of issue 1 was done with 3delight.  Once 4.8 is released, the Iray unbiased engine will become standard. At that point, I will need to do some tests to determine if it will be better or worse for my purposes than 3delight.  The advantage of iray is everything looks more photo-realistic. That's nice, but I am not sure I want that for my comic-book. To some degree the reduced realism of 3delight may "fit" the story better. Until 4.8 is released (as of this writing it is in beta, 5-20-15), I will use 3delight. I also will probably not switch during an issue, so if 4.8 goes live when I am halfway through issue 2, I will probably wait until issue 3 to switch (if I switch at all).

3. Which character models do you use in your CGI work?

In DAZ studio, there have been 6 generations of models.  The early ones just had names (for females, Victoria 1, 2, 3, 4... for males, Michael 1, 2, 3, 4).  Generation 5 was then called "Genesis," and was a new type of figure -- far more versatile and flexible.  The character models (Victoria and Michael and others) have retained their generational labels, so the Victoria for Genesis is called Vicky 5, and so on.  Most recently, DAZ released "Genesis 2," and these are 6th generation models.  G2 models are the most advanced and detailed models DAZ has released so far.  Consequently, most of the major characters are based off of Generation 6 models. For example, Abby and her friends Deena and Jackson are based on the Teen Josie 6 and Teen Jayden 6 models.  Some of the more tangential characters, such as Abby's mom, who will not appear in these pages as frequently, are based on the older Generation 5 (Genesis) models.  None of the characters are based on pre-Genesis figures.

4. Sometimes you use photographic backgrounds for your images -- where do you get them?

All (and I mean 100%) of the photographic images used in my work (such as the flying american flag on the banner at the top of this page, or the close-up fo the stars on the flag that I use as a backdrop for the page) are taken from free, open-source places. Most of them come from CGTextures, but a few, such as the skyline of Norfolk, which I use in certain exterior shots of Colonial City, come from the Wikimedia Commons.  For example, the background image came from here, and the flag at the image in the top of the page came from here.  Since both authors asked for attribution, there you go. :) Most other images will be attributed on the inside back cover of each issue of Liberty Lass (usually, the 25th "page" out of 26).  No images copyrighted by other artists/photographers will ever be (knowingly, at least) used in any part of this website or on any pages of a Liberty Lass comic. Of course, it is always possible that someone might steal an image, post it under his own name, and label it as open-source, and I might make a mistake. However, so far as I know this has not happened to any of the images I have used (obviously, or else I would not use them!).

5. Where do you get your models for characters, props, sets, and the like?

Nearly all of my models were purchased (preferably during sale events!) from the DAZ Studio shop.  They were either created by the DAZ company's employees, or else by one of the artists who sell products on the site.  All these items come with a license to use them for creating commercial or non-commercial art, per the DAZ Shop EULA. A smaller number of items comes from Renderosity, which is an independent site that also sells 3D models, textures, and so forth.  A few items come from ShareCG, which distributes models for free, and some textures come from CGTextures.  All items used in the pages of a given issue will be noted and credited on the inside back cover, when it is released.  I simply find this to be more efficient than trying to attribute sources on a per-page basis, especially since some sources (such as the FW Cassie character for Teen Josie 6, who appears in nearly every panel of this comic) would need to be attributed over and over again for the same thing.

6. Why is there so little information on your "Cast" and "World" information pages?

To avoid spoilers, no data will be included on characters until they appear in the comic. If information may be in doubt, such as what a character's powers are, I will be deliberately vague until such time as that information is more clearly apparent in the story.  This doesn't mean I don't know the information or that it is vague in my own notes; just that I do not wish to reveal spoilers yet.