On the Verge: the Arrow of Time, one

Happy Tuesday! So last week we wrapped up THE ARROW OF TIME story, but as I mentioned I have new art to share because I’ve created covers for each of the chapters. Also, even though I’ve collected the whole story in the archive (since pretty much day one), I realized that not everyone may know this.

So my plan is to post the new cover artwork each week (one chapter a week) and post the accompanying story pages from the chapter as well, in case you’re interested in re-reading.

Anyway, let’s get to the art, here’s the cover to the first chapter and the full chapter.

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This is also a great opportunity for me to offer some overall thoughts and insights into each chapter along the way. I did post stuff for certain pages as I went, but I was really trying to not give away the story and spoil things. And because of that, it was hard to really keep track of exactly what I could or should say. In most cases, I went with the approach of just not saying anything. But now that everything’s been posted, it’s an ideal time to go back through and dig deeper and explain what I was thinking.

So one of the big things that got included in this chapter is the three types of people that I felt framed the idea of “edge” sciences:

  • Those that stayed in their labs and universities and books and researched, researched, researched, developed theories and tests and pushing things forward
  • Those out in the world who dealt with the consequences of edge science on a daily basis, and
  • Those who took all of the knowledge that they had and applied it, no matter what the consequences were.

The key thing about this idea is that each of the “personas” is reflected in the three scientists in the story:

  • Jeremy is the researcher, always striving for knowledge and pushing forward
  • Lucas is the man-on-the-ground, out in the real world dealing with edge sciences and how they affect people, and
  • The Professor is the character who’s going to apply all of this knowledge, consequences be damned.

I think what I wanted to do with these different types of scientists is to really frame edge science as a field of study that had lots of different people involved and lots of parties who have different interests that they want to protect. And to be honest, my guess is that this is probably true of the real world to some extent.

Now back when I was first writing the start of this story, I felt it was super important that I included that the public wasn’t entirely on-board with “edge” sciences. This kind of provided a key counterpoint to the three scientists in the story. I think the key thing to me was that I wanted to establish that edge science was really out there, crazy sci-fi stuff and could be very dangerous and that not everyone was ok with blindly letting scientists do whatever they wanted to do. So the protests served to really highlight that people had maybe had enough and were starting to push back. What’s interesting is that this has actually happened in the “real” world since I wrote this. The stuff that’s happened with the Hadron Collider, etc., kind of proves that in general, weird science freaks people out. I’ve probably spent way too much time over the years really thinking about technology and science and how it affects our lives. The minute I started using a computer in my artwork, it became apparent that technology was changing things and this actually started to be reflected in some of the art that I was creating at the time.

The other thing that I remember really wanting to include was how people that know nothing about edge science would actually try to debate with someone like Jeremy – ie. one of the top scientists in the world. Now back when I was first starting to work on this, the anti-vaccine debate was something that was going on and I found it really amazing to follow. What interested me the most was people who had no formal training in science trying to tell professional scientists that they were wrong.* The thing about this whole debate, is that it’s probably gotten worse as we’re not literally having a renewed debate about global warming (hard to believe) and “fake news” or “alternate facts” are part of our daily life. Anyway, if you’re interested in these types of things, I actually just read two really good articles that I’d recommend: “Why facts don’t change our minds” and “How America lost faith in expertise”.

So yeah, it’s crazy how some of this stuff seems more relevant than ever. Crazy times indeed.

*Maybe it’s because as a graphic designer and illustrator I deal with people who think that they’re designers and illustrators (it’s just pictures and colour, right?), but I could empathize with this debate.

On the Verge – The Arrow of Time – Page 326

How do you end a 326-page story that’s taken you six years to write and draw? That’s the problem I was faced with. What does it say about me that I found writing the start and the end of this story to be the hardest? I’m sure there’s something worth exploring in there…

Anyway, today we reach the conclusion of THE ARROW OF TIME. I’ve had an absolute blast working on the project and I hope you guys have had fun following along. As you all probably know by now, I’ve primarily done all of the artwork on my lunch breaks. So you’re looking at six years worth of lunches (which is crazy when you think about it!).

So without further ado, here’s the final page…

As I said above, I really struggled with this page. Finishing up the the action at the start of this chapter was easy to figure out. Then, once I’d decided on how to tie up the storyline and visit all the characters again, I was pretty much done. But I really struggled with finding both the words and images to finish the story off. After a lot of re-writes I decided to end the story in the way that I found worked best with a lot of the shorter OTV stories that I’ve done over the years — a little open-ended.

But in the end, I think everything came together and guess what? We’re done.

Despite this being the end of the story, I do still have a bunch of stuff to post over the coming weeks. I have cover art for each chapter (or issue) that I want to post and I’ve got tons of thoughts and notes from the whole process that I want to blog about as well. So more is definitely coming.

The SUPER BIG question that’s still left open is just what to do with this story. I’ve done a very good job of working away and making a comic, but I’ve done a crap job promoting it and getting it in front of people to read. I’d always intended to do some kind of printing but I’m not too sure about that anymore. So I’m going to spend the next little bit trying to figure out what to do with it and hopefully get it out into the world somehow.

You know, after 326 pages (and over 500 if you count all the short stories too) and 6+ years, it’s a little strange to be done. I’m looking forwards to doing some new stuff, but I would definitely like to come back and tell another OTV story. I don’t think I’m done with these characters just yet. I’ve learned a lot through this process and one of the things that I’ve learned is that I really do love these characters. I think THE ARROW OF TIME has come to a pretty tidy conclusion but Hannah has obviously grown a lot and it would be interesting to come back to her and the rest of the Edge gang and see what challenges face them next. I feel like I left a lot of dangling threads — something that I did on purpose — and it would be great to be able to take those somewhere at some point.

Last point for today. I just want to say that I’m super proud of myself for seeing this thing through to the end. Six years is a long time and there were so many obstacles to overcome throughout the process. I had so many chances to give this thing up for a variety of reasons. But I stuck it out to the end and finished. I know that there are a lot of webcomics that don’t make it, so I’m really proud that I managed to finish this things off right and tell a complete story.

Anyway, next week we’ll take a look at some new art and I’ll try to get around to blogging about stuff too. Thanks for reading!

On the Verge – The Arrow of Time – Page 325

Let’s not waste any time, here’s today’s page!

I think one of the big things that I wanted to do with this half of the chapter was to really have Jeremy (who’s supposed to be the knowledgeable one when it comes to edge sciences) explain everything that’s occurred.

At the end of the day though, it’s all just speculation – which is something that I think was important to point out. I like the idea that we don’t know everything and that science can’t explain absolutely everything. The fact that there are still mysteries in the world is really cool! So it was important to me that as we wrap everything up, I kind of reinforce that message – that no one knows everything and that it’s important to keep an open mind.

Anyway, I’ve had fun working through all of these ideas and whatnot and I hope it’s made for a satisfying conclusion to everything.

Next week I will post the final page! Come back and see how it all end. Thanks for reading.

On the Verge – The Arrow of Time – Page 324

Better late than never, right? Here’s the new page for the week!

I promised to share some thoughts about the things in this story – where they came from and what my perspective on it actually is. So today, I wanted to start with these two (Hannah and Jeremy) and their relationship.

One of the major drivers of this whole storyline is the relationship between these two characters. You always hear writers telling people to write what they know – so that’s what I really did here. Way back when I was starting this project (so Fall 2010), my wife and I had only been married for a short period of time and before that we’d dated, lived together, been engaged… it was kind of where my head was at. So I wrote what I knew which was two characters in a relationship, how they interacted and what they’d do for each other. I don’t really mean that this is a personal story in any way and reflects me personally, but at the same time, I do understand what being in a relationship with someone is like, so I basically wrote that.

Now the interesting thing to me is that this is definitely NOT what I set out to write. I set out to write a cool little sci-fi story with some invisible thieves, disappearing people, time travel and weird technology. But once you actually sit down and have to put people into situations, you really need them to be relatable and have relationships.

I think one of the reasons why I ended up rejigging the start of the story as much as I did was because I kept going back in and adding in more stuff with Hannah and Jeremy. By the time I’d gotten into Chapters 4 and 5, I knew where the story was going and how important their relationship was, so I needed to establish that relationship right away. This meant really setting up Jeremy being away and travelling, which carried over to Chapter 3’s conversation between Hannah and Jane when they’re getting coffee. It’s obviously not been easy on Hannah with Jeremy being away on a book tour and becoming a celebrity scientist… But when he disappears, things kind of crystalize for her and, Hannah being Hannah, she does everything she can to get him back.

To bring this full circle, this last chapter has really been about wrapping everything up. So once we’d touched base with all of the characters, it was really a matter of coming back to Hannah and Jeremy – which is where we’re at with two pages to go and them deciding that they need to make time for them (something I think is actually an important message for any relationship to work!).

Anyway, I think this aspect of the story has been the one to surprise me most because I didn’t really intend to have it. But I think the story is a million times better because of it.

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I haven’t given an update lately because I’ve just been too damn busy. But today I wanted to hint that I’m currently working on a big new exciting project and I’m hopefully going to be able to start sharing stuff soon!

Other than that, I’m looking forward to getting back to work on Last Chance later today and we’ll see how it goes from there.

As always, thanks for reading and come on back next week and we head to the finish line!

On the Verge – The Arrow of Time – Page 323

Hey! Thanks for coming back and checking out the latest page. Here’s the art:

I’m going to elaborate on things a little bit more starting next week, but today’s page really starts to get at the crux of this story – Jeremy and Hannah’s relationship. I think that one of the keys for me was really figuring that out. Also, one of the keys with this final scene was coming full circle with the start of this story where Jeremy was off to promote his book. That idea that these two really do love each other kind of drove things.

Anyway, I’ve got tons more to say, but that’s it for today. I hope you guys enjoyed and be sure to come back next week as we head towards the conclusion. Thanks for reading!

On the Verge – The Arrow of Time – Page 322

So how do you wrap up a story that’s 300+ pages long? Find out as we start the final scene here…

I have lots of thoughts that I want to share as we get towards the end of this whole story but I’m going to wait a few more weeks when we’re closer to the end. Needless to say, Jeremy kind of echoes a lot of my thoughts about their relationship. I’ll get more into this because it really is important.

Anyway, as always, thanks for checking in and be sure to come back next week!

On the Verge – The Arrow of Time – Page 321

The countdown to the end continues. Here’s today’s page:

On the Verge – The Arrow of Time – Page 320

Ok, here’s a new scene starting today and look who it is…

I’ve tried to keep pretty mum over the past bunch of posts about just what happened with Hannah. The last we saw here, she had just been shot and was talking with Jeremy. But while I didn’t feel like I could kill off the main character in this whole story, I did feel like I could keep you guessing about just what happened. So in short, she did get shot and she’s getting better – and back to work of course (but that’s just like Hannah).

Anyway, for this scene I really wanted to find a way to bring in the last character who we hadn’t seen yet – Jane. Jane’s been in the OTV stories since day one (way back in Chapter Zero!), so I figured it would make sense to really throw back to that scene in some ways.

And now we’re headed towards the end of this story. We’ve got five pages left and I’ve got lots of little bits to wrap up. Just how do you wrap up 320+ pages of story? That was exactly what I needed to figure out.

So see you next week to find out what happens next and thanks for reading!

On the Verge – The Arrow of Time – Page 319

So today we wrap up this scene. Here’s the new page:

On the Verge – The Arrow of Time – Page 318

I had fun with today’s page. I was trying to figure out how to cut down the number of panels and finally settled on (what I think) is a pretty cool angle for the first panel. At this point in the process, I was trying to come up with new stuff and this just seemed to work. But hey! After 317 pages, I guess it’s a good thing to still come up with new stuff 🙂

Anyway, here’s today’s page…

Also, I’m really glad I got to work Eddy in again. For a “throw away” character that started out as a bit of a joke, he’s quickly become one of my favourite OTV characters.