Countdown to Liberty
by Steven-Vincent

In exactly thirty days, I plan to launch my webcomic, Liberty Lass.  Ordinarily, I wlll be releasing one page of the comic every week on Friday.  I chose Friday because, back when I was growing up in the 1970s and early 80s, "new comic-book day" was Friday.  The news stand near my house used to receive comics on Thursday afternoons, and Leo, the stand owner, would put them out on the rack on Friday morning.  Thus, each Friday after school, on the way home, my good friend Stuart and I would stop off at Leo's news-stand to peruse the new comics.  We would save our nickels and dimes from our lunch money, and most Fridays, we would walk out with a crisp new 50-cent comic-book tucked safely into our book-bags.  And so, during the Bronze Age, I came to associate Fridays with both the end of the school week (one positive) and a brand new issue of Rom, X-Men, or Legion of Super-Heroes (another positive).  Since Liberty Lass will be harkening back to that era, and will be done in the style of late 70s comics, I thought it was appropriate to post my comics on what used to be "new comic-book day" back then.

However, the very first page will be posted on Saturday, July 4, not on Friday.  There's a reason for this.  You see, as her name implies, Liberty Lass is a very patriotic character.  She will eventually become (over many months of updates) my fictional world's equivalent of Captain America.  She loves the U.S. of A. and stands for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," among other things.  There will be much discussion, in the pages of this webcomic, about rights and liberties, and the great ideals that founded America. Therefore, when I realized that I would be ready to begin publishing the webcomic this July (originally I had planned to start in January of 2016, but my artwork came along faster than I predicted), I thought nothing could be more appropriate than beginning our super-patriotic journey on the most patriotic and meaningful day of the year in the United States -- our birthday.  It is only fitting that Liberty Lass's birthday (in the sense of the start of publication) occurs on that same day -- Independence Day.

And so, even though it will be a day "late" for the very first posting, I will be putting up the very first comic of Liberty Lass on the 4th of July.

Up until that time, I will make occasional posts here. Not that I expect many folks to read this. Since I'm not even putting out a webcomic yet, I can't imagine anyone would be likely to stop by here other than by accident. However, in the future, once a few people have started reading the comic, this blog may prove to be an interesting record of the comic's production. And if nothing else, it serves as a journal of sorts for me, so I can record the steps leading up to the production of Liberty Lass.

I also want to mention the format: Although Liberty Lass will come out one page per week, it is conceived and written like a Bronze Age comic, meaning it has a front and back cover, and even "inside" covers. The inside front cover will have the credits and publication data (this is a slight departure, since doing this on the cover is a more modern occurrence, but in the 80s the inside cover had ads and there is no need for those here).  The inside back cover is more significant, as it will contain all of the DAZ Studio resource credits and the names of their authors, that were used in the production of the foregoing issue.  In between these 2 front and 2 back cover pages, will be 22 pages of story (which was roughly the standard length of a print comic in 1980).  The story will proceed either in story arcs of 3-6 issues (arc #1, for example, which is called "Birthright", will take 3 issues), or in "one-shot" stories.  Most of the time, I plan to alternate between longer arcs and one-shots to give both the characters and the reader a bit of a breather.

Because doing comics in DAZ Studio is rather slow (I can only do about a page of artwork per week), and because I can't always guarantee I will have the time each week to do all the rendering I need for a given page, I decided to start with a back-log of 1 full issue.  Thus, issue #1 (i.e. the first 26 weeks, or 6 months, of updates) is already completed and waiting to be posted.  I am working on the layouts for issue #2 right now, and also working on the resources (new characters, props, materials and shaders, setting up environments, and so on) to prepare for the rendering process.  My plan is to be working on 1 page of issue #2 each week during the time when issue #1 is being posted. And so on.

Sometimes people ask authors just how far ahead they work.  I try to work several issues ahead in terms of planning and story. I also have a vague overall plan going out to issue #25. No, that's not a typo.  If we assume I get 2 issues done a year, that means I have about 13 years of material in mind already.  Most of this has not been plotted or anything -- past issue 4, they are just ideas of who the villains will be and what the aims of the villains might be.  The exact story will have to be written as I go.  However, I do have full scripts already done for the first 3-issue story arc (that's how I can say for certain that it is 3 issues long!) and I have started on the early dialog-writing phases for the main scenes in issue 4 just this week.  So that gives you a sense of where I am right now.  On July 4th when readers are perusing the very first page of issue #1, I will be rendering page 2 of issue #2, which will be published in January 2016, and polishing the script of issue #4, which won't even start being published until January 2017.  That's mostly because it is far quicker for me to write the stories than to do the artwork. 

In future posts, I will discuss production steps such as using Scrivener for writing, Manga Studio for lettering and layouts, DAZ Studio for rendering, and Photoshop for "postwork," Hopefully these blog articles will serve as a reference guide for others who are interested in doing this style of CGI artwork... if you can learn from my mistakes, then maybe you will make less of them. :)

That's all for now. As Archie Goodwin used to say at the end of every letter column back in the Bronze Age... so long, and be good.