Archive for ‘Comic’
I wanted to drop you a quick update during the interlude. We are in the final stages of preparing the book for print. Even if you weren’t a Kickstarter supporter, you’ll be able to find it eventually at your local comic shop – or through this site. The print version will include a 5-page prequel tale starring Vikki Grimm, Sam Jones, and Taryn Vexx. It’s full of mayhem and Mars First skinheads and is illustrated by Ech (like him on the FaceBook). There are some sneak shots of the prequel there.
Right now, we need you to spread the word. Free Mars has always done well and has grown the way it has in large part from word-of-mouth. Let your friends borrow a copy of the book or shoot a few people this website. Use the #FreeMars on the Twitters to do whatever that does. I’d love to hit 500 followers of FaceBook, so get your aunt to “like” us.
It’s a “delicate time” as Princess Irulan Corrino-Atreides would say. We want to continue to bring you Free Mars tales for as long as we can. We love making this comic.
A2A Epilogue Two
Two days off the coast of Mars…
Happy Friday, Marsers. It’s been a crazy week. Chelsea Manning (who I think has a weird sorta Bugs Bunny in drag thing going on) first and now Ben Affleck as Batman. I have to say, I actually don’t have a problem with this. I think he showed a steely confidence in Argo, which should translate well to Bruce Wayne. Personally, I was hoping for Joe Manganiello.
This is, as they say, a wrap. Final page of our second book, Free Mars: Ashes2Ashes. I really, really like how this second offering came out. In terms of art, pacing, and plot, I think it is far more refined than Riot Girls. Which I think mostly comes from experience. I mean, these are still the first two comic books I’ve written. NRG just keeps getting better and better. He knows these characters like his own beautiful kids, and he the world of Free Mars is as familiar to him as downtown Buenos Aires. We are both very proud of this book.
Especially the way it ends. As a writer, you invariably eventually find there are certain characters that you just really love. You’re invested emotionally in all your characters, but some just demand more attention. Shade Endgame is not only my favorite villain, but maybe my favorite character (after the band). Part of that is because I have a very detailed back-story for her, but part of that is just because she’s so goddamned bad-ass!
Our final supporter cameo also appears this week in the form of the Vice President Radovanovic. A brief appearance, but an important one. Expect to see the Veep back in the next chapter.
Which leads me to an important question. At this point, we are entirely focused on getting this book to the printer. The final hard copy, along with the 32mm miniatures, t-shirts, and other Free Mars Kickstarter gear is all coming together over the next couple months. Nothing else can happen until we finish what we’ve promised we’d deliver. That is the priority. But, once these books are in the post, we will look ahead. We have some ideas and we have some options, but I would very much like to get your input. Would you like to see a straight shot into the next chapter or would you like to see a collection of prequel tales, focusing on characters like Damien Kessler and Shade Endgame? Would you like to see a game? Either an RPG or a miniature-board game hybrid? No idea is too crazy, so please send them my way. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check back here and our FaceBook page for updates.
Until then, some credits-rolling music from Curve. Do me a favor and turn it up a little,
A2A EPILOGUE ONE
Aboard the Charybdis, en route to Mars…
Happy weekend, Marsers. The whole band is back together this week. It’s a nice, reassuring scene. But like the intrepid adventurer Short Round once said, “Bad news coming…”
I have been waiting to use this song for a while. Now that we’re near the end, I think it’s appropriate. ZZ Ward could absolutely be Vikki, I think. I absolutely love this song/video.
A2A PAGE THIRTY SIX. The End.
Fly by night, away from here
Change my life again
Fly by night, goodbye my dear
My ship isn’t coming and I just can’t pretend
Aboard the corvette, Charybdis…
Good morning, Marsers. We’ve never missed a weekly update, but we have sorta gone from a Friday Night Videos time slot to a Thundarr the Barbarian morning airing. I guess it’s nice to wake up to a new page.
Also, I should tell you, the ‘End’ here doesn’t mean we’re quite done yet. There are two Epilogue pages. Featuring our last reader cameo, by the way. So don’t leave the proverbial theatre early.
I love the Death Star-esque explosion here. Though many of you will agree that it was the “Praxis” explosion before George Lucas reworked his masterpiece into mediocrity. I’ll save the ‘Star Wars’ versus ‘Star Trek’ discussion for another sol.
Vikki is gonna go thaw out some Marers. Should be a happy reunion. Vexx gets to see her father again too.
To “end” the book this week, I want to return once more to our Canadian prog rocker friends. Rush was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. Finally (we’re still waiting for our Eisner). They were great, but the highlight had to be Alex Lifeson’s acceptance speech. It gave the Hall of Fame all of the honor and weight it deserves.
‘Fly by Night’. I think this would make a good end credits tune.
Until next week, when I’ll be coming live from Gen Con. If you’re heading to Gen Con, shoot me an email.
A2A PAGE THIRTYFIVE
Grav-ring, high orbit above Earth (a grey, nasty place)…
Happy Friday (I’m in Love *), Marsers! I do really have to take a step back and tell you that we do really have very few pages left. Then it is straight off to the printers, which means all of you very, very patient and understanding KickStarter supporters are much closer to your books and various accruement. Again, we can’t thank you loyal women and men enough.
I don’t think Veruca ever looks quite right without a weapon (shower scenes notwithstanding). Here she has access to some gravitic mines. Will it be enough to affect an escape for the band and the Charybdis? Tune in next week.
*You may have noticed The Cure song jammed in there. Let’s just say I’m very excited about Lollapalooza this year. We’ve got tickets for Sunday (one day is plenty for an old salt like me who would’ve had my Carousel long ago). I’m looking forward to some Jake Bugg, The Vaccines, and a little Two Door Cinema Club. But the headliner is The Cure, who I’ve never seen live. I’ve heard they put on a great live show.
So, let’s go with ‘Close To Me’ this week. Why? Because Veruca uses a proximity mine, that’s why. Get it?
Ashes2Ashes PAGE THIRTY FOUR
Magnetic ring, high orbit above Earth.
It is once again Friday, Marsers. We are almost through July already. As J.K. would say, “…as the seventh month dies…” Soon it will be August and, with that, the nerd holiday that is GenCon. Anyone going? I’ll be there teaching a few painting classes and even running a retro Star Frontiers game. The game is loosely based on an idea I’ve had for a sci-fi novel, so maybe this will finally get me writing it. But back to the matter at hand…
Hannah naffing Valerus. She’s so cool. Nic draws her cool – I think she is one of his most emotive characters, after the Sisters. And, clearly, she’s not really interested in the rantings of evil space pope.
I was trying to come up with a good Hannah theme song this week. Something classic. Something that you would listen to while driving up the 101/1 in a convertible. Or through the white-line nightmare of the wasteland in the last of the V8 Interceptors. Maybe I’m a little sentimental, but I’m going with this.
Four more pages. Wow. Almost there.
A2A PAGE THIRTY THREE
Happy Friday, Marsers! I hope you all can find time out of your busy San Diego Comic Con schedules of waiting in line for panels and waiting in line for show exclusives to check out this week’s page! I’m just kidding. I think I always have a certain amount of envy this time of year. I’ve never been to the great Mecca of fandom that is SDCC. I’ve always wanted to, but typically Games Day and Gen Con straddle the West Coast Show of Shows and you just can’t, as they say, do everything. If you are there, please find the APE Entertainment booth and tell them just how much you love the comic. And don’t worry about me, I might not be at the comic Mecca, but I did reach my own personal nirvana this week, but that was more Macca than Mecca (more on that later).
Okay, I think I lost my shizz here on this last panel. What a cinematic frame. The cruel intentioned design of the Remnant interceptors is perfect, while the beautiful shot the of Charybdis making for open space against the backdrop of the setting (rising?) sun is just naffing amazing to me. NRG!
You’ll have to give me a minute here. I saw Paul McCartney this week in Milwaukee at a record-breaking, sold-out show. I say this with no hesitation – it was the best concert I’ve ever seen. The set list, which included Beatles sleepers ‘Your Mother Should Know’ and ‘Lovely Rita’ and Wings masterworks ‘Hi Hi Hi’ and ‘Junior’s Farm’, felt like it was written by my friends and I after a few sour beers. It was a stunning line-up. And though the man is 71 years old, I’ve never heard him sound better. It was a perfect concert. Thanks, Joe.
So, to celebrate the event and the band’s escape (maybe?) from Holy Earth, we have to go with ‘Band on the Run’, in this case the 1976 concert version.
Until next week,
A2A PAGE THIRTY TWO
Martian comrades! Happy Friday (Sol Veneris). Thanks for once again tuning in to our weekly serial. We are very happy to bring it to you in all its electronic (and soon to be printed) glory!
This page is a little bitter-sweet. Vikki and her band have what they’ve come for and are ready to leave behind the wreckage of a world that is Earth. Who could blame them? But their departure means that we have to say goodbye to Siouxsie. At least, for now. So, let’s just say au revoir. I have a feeling that the Free Mars ‘verse hasn’t seen the last of our Remnant Underground leader.
It is reassuring to see the Charybdis again. I love this ship.
I also think Nic’s elevator shot here is pretty poignant.
I’ve got a new band for you this week. They’ve just released their first EP. They’re a self-described Baltimore band (shout out to my Maryland peeps), but the members are actually fairly geographically diverse, including one dude from Chicago. Diamond Youth. The EP is pretty good, but ‘Cannonball’ is an awesome track. Very Muse, in me humble opinion.
There’s a sneak preview of the 5-page prequel tale, Red Reign, on our FaceBook page right now if you’re interested. It was also ‘cast out to our KS backers. The art is by punk-rock artist-musician Ech. Known for his CD art and gig poster work, his style is pretty neo-retro. Chicagoans of a certain age group will recognize a certain club name, once again. I think you’re gonna like this short story. Lot’s of angry Samantha.
Until next week, Marsers,
PS. Have you seen ‘Pacific Rim?’ Even the bad reviews make it sound awesome.
A2A PAGE THIRTY ONE
Good morning, Marsers! We are very pleased to bring you this week’s installment of our little project. I also want to wish a belated ‘Happy Birthday’ to the United States. While I still contend that there would be many benefits to remaining part of the British Empire, I suppose everything did work out for the best.
This week’s page. Well, I’ll let you be the judge as to whether we were entirely successful or not, but I think we tried to combine some nice graphic violence with some 80’s sitcom humor. Now, I’m biased, but I think Samantha’s joke is pretty funny, in a ‘Three’s Company’ kinda way.
And NRG goes full-on action this week. While I believe Nic’s ultimate forte is wide, panoramic shots packed with more detail than a Forge World model, I do think he’s just as much at home with a dynamic fight sequence.
Sneak Preview Day! When you get a chance, take a look at our FaceBook page. I’m posting something right now that you might dig. We’re including a short prequel tale in the new book and we have some pencils up. I’ll have more on the mystery artist in the next few weeks, along with some of his color work. Stay tuned.
I’m still on sort of a glam kick this week. Sweet’s ‘Little Willy’ seems to be a good counter-point (no pun intended) to the frenetic action. I have this sort of crazy fantasy about the Free Mars Broadway show. The soundtrack would be bands like Slade, Sweet, Bowie, T-Rex. A man can dream….
A2A PAGE THIRTY
Marsers! Happy Friday. I’m on the road this week, so I’ll keep it short. I have some cool previews that I’ll post links to here this week (I’ll also post them on FaceBook), so stay tuned.
Vexx is back this week with her grandfather’s vibroblade. Next week should prove pretty interesting. I love Nic’s design on these two Choir members. And they are SO close to the orbital vator. Until then,
A2A PAGE TWENTY NINE
Happy Friday, Marsers and Marserettes. What happened to June? Pretty soon it’ll be football season (Premiere League and NFL).
SPLASH page this week. Nic and I both love these. They are like small moons in the asteroid field of panels. And we always try and make our SPLASHES as dynamic as possible and this week is no exception. The girls once again find themselves flung into the chaos of battle.
I’m a little sentimental again this week for some strong female vocals from the 90′s. I guess I always am, realistically. Those of you who have been with us through these strange eons are probably overly-familiar with my 90′s alternative love. Though Luscious Jackson aren’t from the UK. New York, actually. Started on the Beastie Boy’s label too, which is very cool. Their ‘Naked Eye’ is a good pairing this week, I think. I remember this video from 120 Minutes – anyone else old enough to remember 120 Minutes?
Also tonight, Nic wanted me to deliver a personal message about our KickStarter delay. I think he’s laid out a pretty honest assessment:
First off, I’d like to apologise to you all. It is plain to see that we’ve delayed quite a bit from our projected April delivery date, as set in our Kickstarter. And of course, the blame for that falls on my shoulders; rightly so, I might add.
What happened? Well, a lot happened, as usual. Being a freelancer is a tricky business, with bumps and detours abounding. But, to summarise, I made a big mistake when projecting the release date of the newest installment of our saga. I should’ve asked for more time, but didn’t, trusting my speed, but underestimating my workload, my health and my life as a husband and father. And, perhaps more importantly, I underestimated my capacity for growth.
Being a young artist, I find myself evolving with each new panel I draw and I’m constantly challenging my style and technique, which of course, can cause time lapses that aren’t necessarily in accord with deadlines. As both Dave and I grew telling this tale, so did the time involved in the creation of each page. My art has become much more precise and detailed; my colors richer and my storytelling more solid and grounded. I incorporated techniques and angles I never tried before and found solutions for action scenes and effects that had never occured to me. Thus, in the end, you’re going to be getting much more than what you pledged for. You’ll be getting better art and better storytelling, as well as a more precise rendering and technique.
But late is still late and I won’t make up any excuses for it. I hope you know that I’m doing my best to deliver you with the best possible book and within a reasonable timetable, despite my missing the April date.
I thank you all for your support and hope you continue to extend it to us. As I always say, and now more than ever: the best is yet to come.
Until next week – I have some interesting previews to show ya,
A2A PAGE TWENTY EIGHT
Happy Friday once again, Marsers. Or should I say, Derecho survivors. Here in New Chicago, we are slowly rebuilding…
Transports. Choral transports. I love that line, which is a little douchey, since I wrote it. I still enjoy the concept of the Choir being this group of elite shocktroops. Nic did a nice job on the ornithopter, I think. It definitely has a Lynchian DUNE quality.
Okay, I have to do this – this week’s music pairing is from the new Black Sabbath album, ’13′. Zeitgeist is a pretty trippy little space song. Let’s use that. But the whole album is surprisingly good. Ozzy, at least, still sounds great, I think.
Until next week,
A2A PAGE TWENTY SEVEN
Interior, Remnant Underground secret broadcast center, Crater Town.
Happy Friday, Marsers. Kinda big news this week from our Kickstarter. Chris Borer, master sculptor and painter delivered some WIP shots of the miniature version of Vikki Grimm. They look incredible. If you aren’t a backer (for shame), you can see pics on our FaceBook page. Sorta cries out for a Free Mars game at some point, yeah?
Nic also delivers this week with what can only be called a detail-packed page. We get to see a better shot of Brian, our intrepid producer. Brian is one of the supporters who felt so strongly about the comic that they pledged enough to actually appear in the comic. Brian has been with us from the very early days and I’m glad we could feature his character again this week. In fact, he didn’t know this until now, but I’m gonna let him pick this week’s song pairing.
I love that Siouxsie’s mask still kinda has an expression this week. And we should probably get you some weapons. Truer words, eh?
Finally, did you see the KIA commercial with the SexBots? Check it out. Now you see why we left Xander Thule screaming…
Until next week,
Ashes2Ashes PAGE TWENTYSIX
Interior, Choral Practice Room, Tabernacle Space Station. Geo-sync orbit.
Good morning, Marsers. Happy Saturday. Though wishing you a happy Saturday means we’re late with our update. Nic, our intrepid artist, has been sick all week, so we can cut him some slack. I’m not a doctor, but I’m told the African rabies isn’t as bad as all that…
In all seriousness, we take our Friday schedule very seriously, so we apologize for the delay. Nic feels really bad and wanted me to pass on his apology. I hope the page itself makes up for it.
I wanted this page to go out late, in the dark of night. Though I suppose it’s dark somewhere. The Holy Choir of Earth! The High Theocrat’s elite shock troops and hymn-singers. I think of mentioned it, but a lot of the inspiration for these guys and gals comes from Michael Moorcock’s Pan-Tangians. Remember those guys?
Nic packs a ton of terror into each member. I love gas masks, for the record. Dr. Who fans will appreciate a creepy gas mask, back to ‘The Deadly Assassin’ and, more recently, ‘Empty Child’.
This week’s pairing provides a nice juxtaposition with the creepiness of the Choir. Maybe even adds to the threat, Tarantino style. It comes from a (relatively) new artist – Jake Bugg. ‘Lightning Bolt’ is definitely some old school rock ‘n roll. I feel slightly aged when I’m talking about a kid born in 1994, but Bugg’s voice and style sorta exemplifies the “old soul” thing. The whole album is worth a listen and I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more of young Bugg. I’ll be checking him out at Lollapalooza.
I just listened to this song again – awesome.
Until next week. We wish NRG! (or Patient Zero) a speedy recovery.
Ashes2Ashes PAGE TWENTYFIVE
Interior, Tabernacle Space Station, Control Center. High orbit above Earth.
Happy Friday, Marsers. Happy Memorial Day weekend to all our U.S. readers and a very extra special thanks to all of our readers currently serving overseas in the military. I’ve heard from some of you guys in the past and this week’s page is dedicated to you. You don’t get nearly enough credit. That goes for all the veterans as well. Thanks.
Splash page! I love splash pages. I try and get one in every so often and Nic always nails ‘em. No exception this week. The band looks great (I am so naffing glad that Veruca has a keytar). But I’m really loving Siouxsie’s message to the High Theocrat.
The title comes from Sam Hollander, who used to help me spit-ball song and band names. But Chicago musician and Free Mars militia member Derek Gundersen really fleshed-out the song, adding lyrics and even recording a demo version. Derek is an incredibly talented musician and song-writer and when he talked about working on some Sisters Grimm demos, I was honored. Add Jason Donnelly’s production work to the mix and you have a solid foundation that just might require some female vocals here soon.
This pre-production demo track was worked up by Dub in advance of the Sisters Grimm recordings sessions.
Vocals/Guitar/Bass by Derek Gundersen
Production and Effects by Jason Donnelly
Check it out here on SoundCloud (you may have to copy/paste the link):
Derek and I think we’ll be doing more of this during the summer. We just need to find, as Derek says, our Vikki.
Let us know what you think,
Ashes2Ashes PAGE TWENTYFOUR
The Tabernacle Space Station…
Happy weekend, Marsers. Just got back from the new Star Trek. I won’t go into too much detail (My God, man, I’m a comic writer, not a movie critic!), but suffice it to say that I really enjoyed it. I will say that the first half of the film is superior to the second half. The first half felt fresh; the second half was not. Go see it and let me know what you think.
I was delivered multiple completed pages this week from our Argentine artist and I was tempted to post them all! But I won’t. Just this one. We get to see the nefarious High Theocrat in the flesh this week. I love the muted, washed-out command center. Very moody.
Until next week,
Ashes2Ashes Page 23.
Interior, the back room of the Green Mill, Offworlder Zone.
Friday once again, Marsers. Hope you’ve had a good, if busy, week and can now sit back, relax with a Pan-galactic Gargle Blaster and enjoy this week’s page, another work of art from our gene-enhanced Argentine, NRG!
Here’s the rub. As Short Round would say, “Bad news coming”. Everyone in Free Mars is willing to help each other, if the price is right. In this case, the cost of acquiring three Martian political prisoners doesn’t seem extravagant. But nothing is ever as easy as it seems…
I always love Nic’s “holo” work. Here is no exception. The three liberated prisoners look great. Nic had a good point, at this point in the story, Kessler deserves a good nap. “Stasis chamber? Yes, please!” And Siouxsie is starting to become one of my favorite characters, thanks to Nic’s design. I’d love to see her back story at some point.
Have I mentioned The Savages yet? Wow. They could very well be THE sound of the Sisters Grimm. An all-female UK band. With a very Sonic Youth-esque feel. The actual album came out this week – Silence Yourself. Which is a nicer way of saying the title of their opening song, ‘Shut Up.’
Ashes2Ashes Page 22.
Interior, The Green Mill. Offworlder Zone, Earth.
Friday again, Marsers. I’m back from a prolonged trip away from “normal” life. Nice to be back. I spent most of it in Mexico. Playa del Carmen to be specific. Now, it has been a dream of mine to see Mesoamerica for some time. And I finally got to visit some Mayan ruins at Tulum. The one thing that really struck me, however, about the Maya Riviera was all the Predators. They absolutely love the Predator (el Predatore) down there. Fishbone statues were everywhere; even saw some crazy metal ones. It was awesome. I’m an ALIENS man myself, but the original Predator comes a close second. The downside was a perpetual need to get to the chopa. I’ll post a picture of what I’m talking about on the Free Mars Facebook page.
So, back to the Green Mill. I didn’t get a chance to say this last week, but Nic’s GM sign was perfect! Anyone that’s been to the Chicago landmark would recognize it instantly. The Green Mill was a speakeasy back in the day – it still has a tunnel running to an adjacent storefront. Al Capone used to frequent the place, which makes it something close to hallowed ground here in the Windy City.
Now, I’m not sure if there was ever a hidden Remnant Underground music studio/trans ‘caster facility until now. I’m gonna say maybe 50/50 chance.
I think we go with a little Canadian pop this week. I really love this song and I think it’s a good fit for the Mill. Serena Ryder and STOMPA.
Happy Friday Marsers,
Chris Borer here, Free Mars sculptor and semi-official sounding board. Dave is traveling abroad and Nic is diligently working on the next pages of the saga, so I was offered the chance to “guest post” and intro today’s page.
As Dave mentioned last week, we just finished Adepticon (www.adepticon.org), an annual convention for what my wife calls “little fighting men” (AKA miniature wargames). I got to hang with Dave and meet a surprising number of people who follow the comic. As a bonus, our own Taryn Vexx won the “sculpted miniature” category in the Crystal Brush – a contest at the show. http://crystalbrush.coolminiornot.com/artwork/369
The best-of-show winners were stunning as always. I’d highly recommend checking them out too.
As for today’s page, I won’t say it’s my favorite page yet – because how could I pick – but think it gives a great change of mood from DeForrest’s bar a few pages back; it’s still a bar, it’s still Terra, and it’s still our heroines, but yikes… I told Nic when I saw the pencils how well I thought he’d conveyed the “what are WE doing HERE” feel in the last panel. Also that I really liked the Remnant dog in the first frame. I find it somehow reassuring that even the Remnants still have dogs. I just want to pet him and give him a nice bowl of Soylent Green.
Without Dave or Nic around to propose a musical pairing for this week – I’ll take crack at it and suggest Carnies, by Rush. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnEIL9KDDCM
I think the lyrics and undercurrent fit this page well, and the album is one of their best in years.
A2A PAGE TWENTY
NRSFW (not really safe for work, depending, quite honestly, on where you work)
Happy Friday, Marsers. I’m gonna keep this short, as we’re coming to you live from Adepticon, a fantastic convention with a lot of great people. I just wanted to give a quick A-con shout out to Mark and Ken who put together a great Free Mars promo vid (you can see it on Facebook). Also, a huge congrats to Marsers Brian and Lisa who just got engaged! And finally, to Nathan whose recipe for whiskey and bacon rice crispie treats are destined to be the first entry in the Free Mars cookbook.
This week’s page is some of Nic’s finest work, I think. We thought long and hard about how we could be sexy/erotic, but also tasteful and fun. Whataya think?
Nic’s song choice this week: Depeche Mode, ‘In Your Room’.
See ya next week,
A2A PAGE NINETEEN
Let me put you in the picture, let me show you what I mean
The messiah is my sister, ain’t no king man, she’s my queen
Happy Friday, Marsers. Nic and I are happy to bring you a nice, fresh page of Free Mars on this gloomy (at least here in the Chicago hab-pyramid) afternoon.
I really love this page. I think Vikki G. looks great in Panel 2. And I think DeForrest might just, maybe become a regular bartender in our (hopefully long-lived) series. I can see him sorta being the Free Mars equivalent to Issac on the ‘Love Boat’. Remember that show? The night that show featured Kirstie Alley in a two-piece (1983) corresponds almost exactly with my becoming a man. But I digress. Anyway, DeForrest could end up as some sort of galactic travelling bartender. He could always show up right when you need him. Sort of like Dr. Who without all the spaziness.
When I was thinking about this week’s music pairing, I thought about how Brad Paisley has a new album out this week. Then I thought how those things could never be related because I hate Brad Paisley.
Anyway, this is for the Stone Roses who are playing at Coachella tonight. You better tour, you northern monkeys!
A2A PAGE EIGHTEEN
Interior. DeForrest’s Saloon (and Oyster Bar), Offworlder Zone. Earth.
Whew. That was seriously one long naffing week, Marsers. Yours truly was gifted by Nurgle with two different afflictions this week. But I am feeling much better now. Anyway, you don’t wanna hear about my Chaos problems! You wanna here about this week’s page, which we are very proud to present.
During our Kickstarter, we offered three very cool appearance rewards, i.e. you could appear in the comic itself, with a speaking role. We are very jazzed to introduce the first of these. We can wait and get Lord Dubu’s reaction to his character after next week. I’m curious to see what these exceptionally generous backers (and long-time supporters) think of their respective portrayals.
DeForrest’s Saloon is the quintessential sci-fi watering hole. The cliental is eclectic and shady and kinda looks like a couple 2 AM establishments I’ve been at during GenCon in Indianapolis. Chris knows what I mean. Can you spot some of the references?
I think we use Tame Impala’s ‘Elephant’ this week. I think DeForrest’s plays a lot of Neo Psychedelic stuff. Or maybe I’ve just been listening to a lot of it lately. Bands like Foxygen (that name, right?) and Unknown Mortal Orchestra are delivering some very evocative tunes these days. I can’t say it’s not derivative, but derivativeness (a word?) can be forgiven if it’s good music. Usually.
Until next week,
A2A Page Sixteen
Interior, Reclamation Mine 24601. Deep below the surface of the Earth.
Friday! Whew – that was a long week. I think it’s the weather.
Meanwhile, down in the proverbial Goblin Town of Holy Mother Earth, we find our heroes on the run, looking for a route to the surface.
Any B.R.M.C. fans out there? They have a new album out this week. I think I was introduced to this California band via Noel Gallagher, who was a big supporter. I think he even tried to sign them to his label. Anyway, the new album is great (2013 is turning out to be a pretty good year for music already). This tune – ‘Teenage Disease’ – is our musical pairing this week. It’s a nice heavy, track to accompany a good mine escape scene. Next week we’ll introduce a new character and they’ll require a bit of a retro soundtrack…
A2A PAGE FIFTEEN
Interior, Reclamation Mine 24601 (look down)…
Friday, Marsers! It’s the 15th page on the 15th day. And Damien Kessler is hell-bent on getting outta the waste mines. Who wouldn’t be?
If you haven’t seen it yet, head to our FaceBook page for a glimpse of the Chris Borer-sculpted Trayn Vexx. Fantastic. If you supported our KickStarter, chances are one of these will be coming your way in the next few months.
I’m going to self-indulge for a minute and give you a short album review this week.
The Next Day. So I’ve been listening a lot to the new David Bowie album. What does it mean when you say “classic Bowie”? It’s almost meaningless – like saying “classic Peter Gabriel”. They’re such diverse artists with incredibly long careers, patriarchs whose musical identities get blurred over decades of music. But I can’t think of a better way to describe The Next Day. There are so many songs, like ‘Valentine’s Day’ or ‘You Feel So Lonely You Could Die’, that harken back to the early 1970s. There’s the shiny slick production values, but there’s also some very stripped-down, low-fi here. Combined with a surprisingly earnest sense of rock ‘n roll. This is an honest album. And I think it’s awesome. Bowie is 66 and he’s released some of his best stuff in years this week.
A2A PAGE FOURTEEN
Happy Friday, Marsers. This week we head down planetside, to Crater City. Next, a quick drink at DeForrest’s Saloon. No oysters.
I have to go with another MUSE song this week. Saw them live this Monday and was, as usual, amazed. They might be my favorite band that’s currently together. They are sublime. Their stage show was mind-blowing. If you ever get a chance to see them, I really recommend it. ‘Madness‘. Cool noir video.
Ashes2Ashes Page 13
Interior, Tabernacle Space Station.
Happy Friday, Marsers! I’m on the road, so I have to keep this short. LOVE this page. The Choir turned out perfectly. Super-creepy. The surgical modification is inspired by one of my favorite dark fantasy writers, Michael Moorcock.
Song this week comes from the veteran Johnny Marr, who just released an amazing album. Classic Britpop. ‘The Messenger’. Kinda miss The Smiths, a little.
Ashes2Ashes Page 12
Exterior, air-dock, The Tabernacle.
Happy Friday, Marsers. Today we taxi to the arrival gate at the Tabernacle space-station. I think this is a great shot of the Charybdis, Hannah’s corvette.
I don’t always share Nic’s non-Free Mars work like I should be sharing it, but check out these concept designs he just posted on dA. And if you haven’t checked out Divinity, his non-Martian punk rock webcomic, please do so with all haste. It’s great.
This week’s pairing is kinda wacky. I found this a while back and I’ve been saving it for when we finally made it to the Third Planet. The band, The Wonder Stuff, was well known to me; HUP was one of my favorite albums for a good six-month stretch in college. You remember ‘Don’t Let Me Down (Gently)’, right? Any, THIS is ‘Planet Earth’.
Ashes2Ashes Page 11.
Exterior space, high orbit, Earth.
“We toured the world and elsewhere.”
Happy Friday, Marsers. We are happy to bring you this week’s installment of Free Mars. We had a little delay this week due to the obvious meteor attack by the Arachnids, but we are back online.
The Tabernacle! The space cathedral-city of the High Theocrat of Earth. It hangs above the 3rd World like some demented and gaudy chandelier and is home, not only to the polluted pontiff, but his closest minions. I gave Nic a few concept/inspirational illustrations when we were discussing the design of the Tabernacle. We wanted a nice hybrid between a retro 50’s space station and a gothic-style cathedral. I think NRG! found a nice combination of the two. It is not an inviting place, to be sure.
This week’s song is a little belated nod to yesterday, along with the obvious reference to this week’s page. I like U2’s Achtung Baby version.
Until next week…
Ashes2Ashes PAGE TEN
Exterior, space. Within the mag-ring range, Earth proximity.
Page 10 already! This book seems to be going faster than last time. It just seems like yesterday since we ended our Kickstarter. Which brings me to a couple housekeeping items:
On March 18th, we will be sending out an important update to all our backers. We’ll be getting addresses and t-shirt sizes. Very important info! I’ll remind you all again before we get closer, but keep the date in mind.
I think I’ve talked to everyone that was generous enough to back us to the point that they will be APPEARING in this book. You’ve been written in, but we should talk about your appearance and any suggestions you have. If you backed us at that extraordinary level, make sure you email us at email@example.com so we can get the details.
Chris Borer has shown me some pictures of the Taryn Vexx sculpt. She looks amazing. I hope to share some photos with everyone next week, so keep an eye out.
We are having a contest – with some original art. On Facebook. Details on Facebook.
Okay, back to the page. The massive circle structures are mag-rings. Every major world has a range of these in near-orbit. They use magnetic/gravitic energy to propel a starship to near-light speeds, and then again to slow the inertia. So, to travel from Mars to Earth, you would use the mag-rings near Phobos to speed up, then the Lunar range to slow down. They work with little issue these days, though you can imagine how a small miscalculation could cause you to miss your destination rings. This would typically be a huge problem….
Nic used the mag-rings to create a little Easter egg. Based on one of the many movies that we both love dearly.
And Mike TV is back! If only a holo-Mike TV. Are we shocked that Vikki and the band are going after Kessler? At least it sounds like they have a better plan than dressing up as Boushh and giving away some droids, ya know? There’s a little sexual tension here too, I think.
We’ve been hearing some new(ish) music the last few weeks. So this week we go back to the classic space traveler folk song. Good space road-trip music. This is a 2006 acoustic version by the mythic Brian May. ‘39’.
Ashes2Ashes Page Nine
Interior, Reclamation Mine 24601, mess hall.
Happy Friday, Marsers. We’re happy to bring you the next installment of ‘Free Mars’ – this week sees our guys taking a little break from mining hundreds of years of landfill. I really like the little hint at Damien Kessler’s past adventures. Might have to go back and see some of that stuff some sol….
Some big news this week. Women can now serve in front-line combat roles in the U.S. military. As far as I was concerned, they’ve been doing that since 1986.
This week’s musical pairing is a tribute to our three “bad boys”. Gin Wigmore is awesome. Though every time I listen to her I want to drink a Heineken. Anyway, the video for ‘Black Sheep’ is also pretty appropriate for our penal workers.
Until next week,
Ashes2Ashes Page 8
Exterior, Crater City. Earth, a dead world.
Happy Friday, Marsers. This week sees us off the Red Planet and all the way back to Earth. Which, as our intrepid privateer Hannah Valerus so succinctly put it, is a complete shizz hole.
Still, it is nice to see some old friends. Damien Kessler and John “Dub” Michaels. Yay, they’re alive! We haven’t seen Dub in quite some time, now that I think about it. Anyway, they look a little worse for wear, which a Waste Reclamation Mine will do to you.
Nic has always been adamant about giving a particular location (planet) its own personality, typically through the use of color. Earth has a very characterful palette; mold and rust. Nic conveys a world fallen into decay beautifully here, I think. The colors of entropy.
And I think I have a new favorite band for 2013. You’ve got to check out The Joy Formidable. They literally released an album this week, Wolf’s Lair. For this week’s song, I’m choosing the track ‘The Maw Maw Song’ – which considering the gaping maw of Crater City, only makes sense. Listen and let me know what you think. Oh, they’re Welsh.
Free Mars: Ashes2Ashes
Exterior, night. The mean streets of the Jovian Quarter.
I think this-sol we should start with the musical pairing, Marsers. Check it out here. Listen, I’ll wait…
…Pretty cool, yeah? DEVO covers NIN. I like the DEVO version better, but I’m probably in the minority (mutant minority). Anyway, the song says it all.
Gibson Eightsix isn’t a ‘bot. He’s a ‘tuber – a clone. He, like all corporate clones, was genetically farmed for very specific missions or roles. They are typically enhanced with cybernetic physio-ware, but they remain fundamentally organic. They are loyal agents, couriers, assassins, whatever the Combine needs. But even their engendered loyalty has its limits, as the threat of tank-violence here illustrates.
And we find out why the band has gone to extraordinary lengths to cyber-punk this particular clone. Data. Prisoner locations. Damien naffing Kessler.
More on him next week. Until then,
Free Mars: Ashes2Ashes
PAGE SIX (Title Page)
Exterior. Streets of the Jovian Quarter.
Happy Friday, Marsers. I, for one, am glad this week is over. After a case of the Iosan hyper-flu, I am slowly returning to normal parameters. Plus the weather here in Chicago-Dome has been unseasonably shizzy. But if you wanted to listen to me bitch you’d have already friendified me on F-book, so I’ll get on with introducing (proudly) this week’s offering of the hit (at least slightly known) comic, Free Mars…
Nic delivers the right hook this week to the combination punch that is the opening sequence of Ashes2Ashes. And what an amazing title page. After a frenetic start, it’s nice to know that Nic can stop (Hammertime) the pace dead in its tracks (literally, with a tank full of punk rockers) with a page like this. Welcome to the future! Vikki Grimm looks confident, her new role as rock spy seems to be agreeing with her. While the rest of our tank girls look equal parts posh and battle-ready, proving that looking good and being combat prepared are not mutually exclusive.
I’m gonna save my top albums/songs of 2012 for next week, as I was inspired this week by the bright lights of the Oscar nominations. I wanted to use a soundtrack. And, naff me, did I find one. While at my hab, couch-bound with the afore-mentioned hyper flu, I had some time to catch up on a few films. One of these was ‘Dredd’. Wow, that’s how you make a dystopian naffing sci-fi movie! Karl Urban’s lower jaw was just as good as Hugh Jackman’s whole face! And what can I say about the always entertaining Lena Heady? That she’s an awesome villainess? Yes, that’s right.
But beyond the acting and the blight and industrial remains of the mega-block, the thing that really sucked me into this film was Briton Paul Leonard-Morgan’s incredible soundtrack. A pulsing, driving beat that perfectly portrayed the sound of Mega-City One. So this week’s music pairing is the whole ‘Dredd’ soundtrack. See the movie, download (or cloud it or tweet it- however you joovs get your records these sols) the soundtrack and re-read Riot Girls to it. That’s what I did!
Ashes2Ashes Page Five
Exterior, Outside Ziggy’s Café
Welcome to 2013! 2012 was a great year for the comic, though I expect even more for 2013. It is, actually, just nice to be writing these weekly updates again after the break.
Now, you didn’t expect Gibson here to get very far, did you? The grav bike was a nice attempt, though. I’m glad A2A is starting out with a nice grav bike chase, however short-lived…
Gibson Eightsix’s escape attempt this week screamed for ‘Headlong Flight’ from Rush’s 2012 album, Clockwork Angels. This is one of my favorite albums of 2012 – a Rush steampunk album? What could go wrong? It is a little heavier than some of their recent offerings, which is nice. Also, how about their long-overdue induction into the Rock y Roll Hall of Fame? About naffing time. Chris will agree with me here.
I was thinking about favorite albums from 2012. Anything stand out for you? I have a few- I’ll post them next week.
Finally, I have a rare recommendation. d.Forrest, friend of the comic, has recently loaded up the first page of his new webcomic, The Legendary Sisters of the Laughing Doggebi. It is an intriguing mix of Korean history/fantasy/mythology. It has just started, so now is probably a good time to check it out. I’ve seen a lot of concept art for the comic and it looks great.
Ashes2Ashes Page Four
Ziggy’s, Jovian Sector, Amazonis Prime.
Wow, that escalated quickly! Jumped up a notch. Gibson Eightsix is a bit of a sore loser, apparently.
Ziggy’s security hasn’t gotten much better since our last visit here. I do like Gibson’s pulse pistol- very cool design there. And I am still thinking that Vikki looks extra fantastic in this sequence. Maybe it’s the formal wear….
-GLAM WARNING! Back to the comic’s glam roots this week, I think. (The) Sweet is an awesome band. ‘Fox on the Run’ is still a great tune, as we know, though this week we should go with ‘Ballroom Blitz’. I think I should pitch the idea of a ‘Free Mars’ Broadway show, using glam rock from the 70’s and 80’s. What do you think a Kickstarter like that would run?
Have a wonderful New Year, Marsers. I am very much looking forward to 2013 being another big year for the Sisters Grimm.
Ashes2Ashes Page Three
Ziggy’s Nightclub, Jovian Sector, Amazonis Prime.
Happy Holidays, Marsers. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Fiscal Cliff Solstice, Saturnalia, Chanukah, Mayan End-day, or Renewal/Carousel, we here at the Free Mars clubhouse would like to wish you a great one. Travel safely and appreciate your loved ones extra this year.
I, personally, appreciate a good poker game, or poker match as our friends in Amazonis Prime say. Mr. Eightsix is sweating it out here. Vikki seems like a pretty competent card player. Or maybe it was something she said. In any case, the Headsman doesn’t bode well for drawing an inside straight, I suspect.
Nic gets mad at me when I give him 6-panel pages. But then he calms down when he realizes that their mostly close-ups and tight shots. And then he nails ‘em. The fifth panel here is beautiful. This is one of the best close-ups of Vikki yet.
When we were discussing Mr. Eightsix, we had an actor in mind. We usually do, these days. It isn’t necessarily a direct representation of that actor, but more of a starting point to get us on the same page. Any guesses?
I like Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive for the card game (the video is fantastic too). It’s kinda mellow, but has a building tension, much like the scene playing out. I actually think the whole ID album would be nice background for a poker game.
Anyway, just in case the Mayan thing does pan out I have my towel with me. And I just want to say so long. And thanks for all the fish,
ASHES2ASHES PAGE TWO.
Grimm, Vikki Grimm.
Gonna keep it short this week, Marsers. This opening sequence is a bit of a homage; it was written during the run-up to a little film called Skyfall. Nic embraced my salute to Fleming’s work here and recreates a cool and iconic scene here on Page 2.
Which brings me to this week’s musical pairing. I want to know what you think. What is your favorite Bond song? I’m curious to hear what Nic says. Now, one might think McCartney or Garbage would top my list, but if I’m honest, I have to go with this tune. Still my favorite Bond theme.
Free Mars: Ashes2Ashes
Ziggy’s Club, Jovian Sector, Amazonis Prime
By the ice-tides of Europa, it is great to be back! Happy Friday, Marsers. It’s a very nice feeling to type “PAGE ONE” again! Thanks for sticking with us during this hiatus. I will say, we were able to accomplish quite a bit during the break. With the help of Ape Entertainment and a very successful Kickstarter, Free Mars is back, full-speed, with our second book.
Ashes2Ashes is going to be a little different that Riot Girls. First, it is considerably shorter. We’re looking at coming in around 40 pages total. Now, as a writer, it is a curse and a blessing. It is great to have a very definitive page-count. I have planned and planned, written and re-written, knowing exactly how much story-telling space I had. With the first book, we started without a solid pre-determined length and I think that lack of defined scope might’ve made for some dramatic changes in the pacing. Nothing fatal, but sometimes slightly jarring. Now, with a completely mapped-out plot and finished script, we hope to improve upon our last book.
For Nic, it means more work as I’m attempting to pack a little more into each page. But, as you know, Nic thrives on extra detail. This first page is no exception. He brings us back to Ziggy’s and the Jovian Sector of Amazonis Prime. The place is a little more posh than when we last saw it. Though I guess the last time we saw it there had been a fusion bomb blowed-up in it….
And Nic has done an amazing job here in the evening wear competition. I sent Nic a bunch of pics; I tried to identify an individual fashion-sense for each Sister. Nic translated all that to some beautifully characterful dresses. I think he won the Free Mars Challenge on Project Runway.
So here we are again. Think of this book as an episode. Riot Girls was the two-hour pilot, now we have the first installment of our show. Vikki, Sam, Vexx, and Veruca (I really did just realize that that is a lot of Vs) are back. Kessler too.
I’m gonna be a little self-indulgent with this first music-pairing. I’m really digging Green Day’s Uno! and Dos! right now. I think there’s some vintage Green Day here, but also some interesting new directions. Kill the DJ is one of the best songs from the first LP. I think it also goes nicely with the red carpet line action in this first page.
Nice to see ya again,
Free Mars: Ashes2Ashes Teaser 1-sheet movie poster. Mint condition.
Happy Friday! First, I want to sincerely thank everyone that helped make our Kickstarter campaign a success. A 135% success. Your support is appreciated and humbling. You won’t be sorry.
So, as the poster above declares- December 7th. One week from today.
We’re back in business. See you next Friday,
Somewhere on Earth…
Good morning, Marsers. Today we present a little “preview” of the forthcoming Ashes2Ashes. Here we find that our Martian Liberation front leader, Damien Kessler, is not exactly warming to his new career as wastefill miner. In fact, he’s giving management a bit of a hard time. Unfortunately for Damien, the Remnant HR department is a bit ruthless.
Backers of our Kickstarter Project can see the evolution of this piece from early pencils to the finished product on the KS site, in the Updates section.
The KS Project is going really well, and we want to thank everyone who has come onboard. We have some stretch goals that we’d love to see reached. Personally, I would be very happy to give you another Hannah Valerus installment. It’s written- just needs some art.
I’m well into the script now for Ashes2Ashes and I think you’ll all be very pleased. I know how much I’ve missed seeing their weekly adventures, so I’m really looking forward to getting back into it. This week’s illustration has a little Guy Ritchie feel to it, in my opinion. Like it’d be a cool slow-motion tussle. To that end, we’ll go with a standard- Oasis and ‘Go Let It Out’.
Thanks again. Stay tuned.
+++KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN DAY 5+++
Happy Friday. I can’t even begin to tell you how much Nic and I appreciate the support we’ve recieved this for our Kickstarter campaign. We are closing in on our goal, but we’re not quite there. If you’ve already joined the ranks of the MLF, we humbly thank you. If you’re contemplating support, I can give you a few additional reasons this sol to get onboard.
First, starting today, I’m going to be updating the project with exclusive illustrations and background material. This goes out to everyone who has already joined the project. We’ll still be updating this site, but we wanted to show our appreciation specifically to those who are backing us. Today’s update goes into a little more detail on the enigmatic Remnants and their toxic world, Earth. Nic even has a swass pic of one particularly rad-burned Remnant officer. I also provide a little more info on Ashes2Ashes.
Second, if we are lucky enough to hit our goal, we have a number of stretch goals planned. I won’t get into too many details, but I know that Hannah Valerus is first in line (Hannah Valerus and the Terror on Io is written-done).
So if you’re on the fence I hope that helps:
I think this is a good day for some classic Muse. Knights of Cydonia. Still one of my all-time favorite videos.
I wanted to drop you a quick update during the interlude. We are in the final stages of preparing the book for print. Even if you weren’t a Kickstarter supporter, you’ll be able to find it eventually at your local comic shop – or through this site. The print version will include a 5-page prequel tale starring Vikki Grimm, Sam Jones, and Taryn Vexx. It’s full of mayhem and Mars First skinheads and is illustrated by Ech (like him on the FaceBook). There are some sneak shots of the prequel there.
Right now, we need you to spread the word. Free Mars has always done well and has grown the way it has in large part from word-of-mouth. Let your friends borrow a copy of the book or shoot a few people this website. Use the #FreeMars on the Twitters to do whatever that does. I’d love to hit 500 followers of FaceBook, so get your aunt to “like” us.
It’s a “delicate time” as Princess Irulan Corrino-Atriedes would say. We want to continue to bring you Free Mars tales for as long as we can. We love making this comic.
This sol, Marsers, is the launch of our Kickstarter project! We are very, very excited. Books, t-shirts, prints, original art, miniature versions of the band- it’s all here!
But we do need your help. This is, literally, a crossroads for Free Mars. Nic and I can keep this going for years, but without your help, we can no longer afford to give this to you for free. Kickstarter, like General Kenobi, is our only hope. Not to be melodramatic, but a successful KS means that the website will keep getting weekly updates (maybe more than once a week if we do well), that at least one new graphic novel will be published from that material, and that we can finally see realized all the extra stuff we’ve wanted to do- like the Sisters Grimm concert t-shirt. Unfortunately, the b-side to that is without a successful funding we just don’t have the means to continue the weekly tale of punk rock and revolution that you’ve (hopefully) come to naffing love.
So, I humbly ask again for your help here. It’s not like you’re doing it for free- check out those incentives again. And thanks in advance for your support. Being able to keep Free Mars going for you means a great deal to Nic and I.
Earth, Chicago/Buenos Aires
Today we’re announcing the next step for Free Mars and once again, we need your help. Nic and I, along with our Ape Entertainment comrades, are partnering with Kickstarter to launch the second chapter in the Free Mars saga, Ashes2Ashes.
So, why use Kickstarter for Free Mars? The more we looked at this option, the easier the decision became. Simply, we want to give you- our loyal, beloved readers- as much as we possibly can, the best experience we possibly can. We could keep going as we have, which is great, but we now have a very real opportunity to do much, much more. Not only can we keep the weekly webcomic updating, but we can print a second book. Maybe even a third. But we can also do Sisters Grimm concert t-shirts (which look amazing). We can give Chris the go-ahead to sculpt more 30mm miniatures (Samantha is already done). We can do high quality art prints. We can do everything we’ve wanted to do to support Free Mars and expand the universe. A crowd-funding campaign gives us this opportunity, with your help.
Therefore, now is when we really need your support. If you’ve enjoyed what we’ve done so far, then now is the time to help us make sure we can keep going- maybe indefinitely. And we’re certainly not asking you to chip in for free. Like I said, we want to send you comics, t-shirts, miniatures, prints, etc. – all at or below what it would cost you to get at a comic shoppe or Con. We have always valued your support and we have put a lot of thought into the incentives we want to provide you – all of them things we ourselves would like to see.
So our project goes live on October 22nd . You all probably know the drill by now, the more support we get, the more we can give back. And every credit helps.
Besides, you can’t leave Kessler stranded in some hell-HOL waste mine on Earth.
Thanks for all your help, support, and encouragement over the years and thanks in advance for your assistance in the future. It means a lot to Nic and I that we get to keep creating Free Mars, but it means even more that you keep reading it.
Dave & Nic
The Sisters Grimm will return in ASHES 2 ASHES. October 2012.
Whataya think, Marsers? I, personally, think Nic killed it here. It draws thematically from the cover of Riot Girls, with the vid screen image of our heroines. But this time we’re faced with the vile visage of the High Theocrat of Earth (or as some have dubbed him, Evil Space Pope Elvis).
I promise to have more news shortly. More actual details as to what we have planned and how you can help. I’ll have news on a Sisters Grimm concert t-shirt, 32mm miniatures of the band, and new art prints. So stay tuned.
Of course- this week’s song.
BIG HOUSE DUB Crater City, Penal Mining Sub-Level 52. Earth.
This week we are excited to bring you another sneak preview of our upcoming follow-up to ‘Riot Girls’. This week proves unequivocally that we haven’t forgotten about our music producing smuggler/black-marketeer, John “Dub” Michaels. Last we saw Dub, he was being arrested by CSC Security agents for running bootleg sexbots. Now we find that he’s also found his way to the Combine’s contracted prison on Earth, joining a couple other politically sensitive prisoners…
This is but a preview, so I won’t get into the details just yet about the Crater City facility or its orbital counter-part, the Tabernacle. Suffice it to say for now that Earth is a really strange place. It’s no wonder the CSC contracts with the Remnants to send their worst prisoners there. Apparently, the Remnants welcome a perpetual supply of fresh miners to burrow deeper into the miles of landfill. Could have something to do with the average life-span of a non-mutant Martian miner, I bet.
MARSBEAT Meet Your New Sister
Happy Saturday, Marsers. While we finalize our plans for Book 2 (Ashes 2 Ashes), we thought we’d take this opportunity to give you a little more background on our enigmatic fourth Sister. Veruca’s addition was both strategic and tactical. She’s a talented pianist, to be sure, but she also knows her way around a pulser and a fusion bomb. Here’s an excerpt from the latest MarsBeat ‘cast-
The recent addition of the mononymous Veruca into the tight-knit Sisters Grimm came as a massive surprise to the fans of the controversial trio. Did the Olympus City band need a ‘boarder? Would their raw sound suddenly sound more produced? And who was this violet-haired mystery woman anyway? MarsBeat immediately got on the trail, but couldn’t uncover much. We know that she played in the Tharsis University symphony and had a short-lived stint with the band Escape Goats. We discovered that she originally hails from Curiosity, a small frontier town near Gale Crater Mining Fac. She moved to Amazonis Prime about five years ago, but the trail goes cold after that. Fan’s concerns and MarsBeat research were proven unfounded and unnecessary, however, once Veruca hit the stage for the first time. Her cool demeanor and technical proficiency give the Sisters Grimm not so much a new sound, but a more disciplined one.
Until next week- stay tuned for more news here and on FaceBook,
The High Theocrat of Holy Mother Earth
A preview of Free Mars: Ashes To Ashes
As promised, we present a preview this week of our upcoming second installment in the Free Mars saga. I can’t say much yet, but keep watching here and on Facebook/Twitter for more details as they develop. In this character study, Nic re-introduces us to the High Theocrat of Earth. The ultimate authority of Earth’s remaining population, the self-proclaimed Remnants. The toxic population of a dead world.
Love to hear your thoughts (comments have been re-established).
Happy Friday, Marsers. Just a quick update this week. You may remember Nic’s ‘Support the Cause’ piece from a long while back, but we thought it appropriate again now that Free Mars: Riot Girls is on sale. I have it on good authority that sales are doing pretty well, which is very good news for anyone who wants to see the comic continue. I am more optimistic than ever that we’re going to see a second book start soon- sooner than I expected. So stay tuned for more info. To everyone who has bought the book- we thank you. Your support is appreciated,
Aboard the penal ship, Tartarus. En route: Earth.
Happy Friday, Marsers. This week we wanted to give you a little “stinger”, as they say. The movie is over and the credits have rolled. But instead of the lights coming up, the screen brightens for one last image.
Here we find our Martian revolutionary leader, Damien Kessler, in a pretty unpleasant situation. We hate to leave you like this, but sometimes a little cliff-hanging is necessary.
So when will Free Mars be back? When does Book 2 start? We hope to have the answers to these and other questions to you soon. We’ll be on a (hopefully) short hiatus for a couple weeks, but we may sneak in some updates here and there until Book 2 starts. I would recommend checking out our Facebook page and/or Twitter account for updated info.
Any suggestions for a musical pairing this week?
So, for now, au revoir. But keep an eye out for more Free Mars soon,
Nic and Dave
EPILOGUE FOUR. Rooftop of the Cydonian Towers, Amazonis Prime.
Happy Friday once again, Marsers. There’s no way getting around this- we have come to the last page of our little epilogue and, in doing so, dot the proverbial exclamation point. The last page. It’s a little tough for Nic and I to wrap our heads around it, to be honest. There’s a solid two years of work here on this site now. And I have it on good authority that all this will be available in print format next Wednesday, July 11th. I did get a notice from Amazon that the book was shipping early.
I’ve given this post a lot of thought, but I think I should follow our cinematic theme and roll some credits.
First, without Matthias Weeks, there would be no Adepticon and there would, likewise, be no Free Mars website. The guy knows WordPress and servers and all that sort of pseudo-magical stuff. This will probably prompt him to tell me that we need to update the site.
Similarly, without Chris Borer we’d have had no one admonishing us for not doing our best possible work, whether that meant one of Nic’s designs or one of my bits of dialogue. Chris is a perfectionist in the best possible sense. He makes other people actually want to be better (mostly through the aforementioned use of admonishment). Chris almost single-handedly formatted the pages for our self-published compilation and he did it again for Ape’s OGN. He also just showed me the 32mm sculpt he just did of one of our band mates and she looks amazing. Hope to show you that soon.
David Hedgecock and Brent Erwin at Ape Entertainment have given Free Mars the opportunity to become more than just a webcomic- not that there’s anything wrong with just being a webcomic. This is just my opinion, but any webcomic creator that tells you they don’t want to be published in the traditional sense is either lying or they’re so hip that they don’t actually want you to have heard of their comic (because it sounds better on vinyl anyway). Well, David and Brent made that a reality for us.
Brigid Alverson, with one brief “Start Reading Now” on Robot 6 did more for our self-esteem than anything else that happened early on. I gotta send her a copy of the OGN. Xaviar Xerexes, of ComixTALK, was also a very early supporter who helped us get rolling.
Finally, what can I say about my partner, Nicolas R Giacondino? The guy is amazing. I don’t really have a lot of experience writing comics, but I suspect that some writers and artists were just made to work together (just ask Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons- no, wait, I take that back). Nic, from the beginning, knew exactly what Free Mars should look like; it’s almost like he had seen Vikki, Sam, and Taryn already. He never missed an update. Never. No one loves the band and Free Mars as much as me, except for Nic, who sometimes loves them even more.
I know I said something about an End Credits cover-song contest. I think I’m gonna send Bryan Bullock a book for coming up with The Alarm. Great song. End Credits songs are SO important. I asked Nic what his choice would be. I think he’s waxing a little sentimental:
“This is a milestone and no mistake. We’ve come a long way since our first page back in the day and I still stand by my assertion that FREE MARS is the best comic I’ve ever illustrated. However, and even though we’ve come to an end of sorts, my musical pairing glimpses at what is both a hope and a certainty, should we keep track of the girls’ adventures on the newly liberated Mars. ‘The Best is Yet to Come’ by Frank Sinatra sounds to me as if Taryn had plugged an old record player on a nostalgic night; it’d be curious to know what the girls would each be thinking as they listen to the old ragged recording; though I’m fairly certain whom Vikki would be missing. So, relax, take it all in, and see you when we return.”
And since Nic is going full-on nostalgia, I’m picking a brand new song. From the new Metric album. ‘Youth Without Youth’. This, to me, sounds like everything a Free Mars song should sound like. I’m ending Riot Girls with that.
So, what’s next? We’ll talk again next week. Same Coordinated Mars Time….
EPILOGUE THREE. Vikki’s apartment. Cydonian Towers, Amazonis Prime.
One more unto the breach, dear friends! Happy Friday. Welcome to the latest installment of our space opera. One more page left after this- Epilogue Four. After that? Well, first things first.
The rumor around Am Prime is that the V has taken over for the MIA Kessler. Is it true? Vikki sort of half-arsedly denies her new role. But what would that mean? That Vikki and the band are now some sort of intergalactic spy-band? That seems like a logistical nightmare, but an interesting cover. I wonder…
The second half of this week’s page finds the Sisters Grimm on the rooftop of the 50-story Cydonian Towers, where it looks like they’re recording a live performance. Hopefully 50 stories is high enough that no Peelers notice the group.
This week’s musical pairing comes from a long-time friend of the comic (and part-owner, actually), Sam Hollander of CA, Earth. Joy Division’s Warsaw is a perfect punk song for the Sisters to cover. It’s frenetic and forceful. Though I read that it was also a jingle on UK tele for England’s Euro 2012 run. That just makes me kinda sad. Wait, what if Ashley Cole played Xander Thule on the Starz! show (you see how I switched from HBO to Starz!- I’m trying to be realistic and I do love some Spartacus).
Finally, as we near the end of Riot Girls, our first chapter, we’re thinking we may have some space in between books. So, Nic and I have been discussing possible Free Mars short stories with which we could fill the gaps. We’re wondering what you ladies and gentlemen might want to see. The graphic novel has a five-page prequel on the band meeting. Would you be up for some additional prequel tales? Maybe featuring Shade or Kessler? Let us know what you think as we’re currently open to suggestions and we’d love to hear from you guys, as always.
UPDATE: Just got back from seeing Brendan Benson at the amazing Lincoln Hall venue. You may know him from The Raconteurs, but he has had a prolific solo career. This is why you need to see live music. This is why I write a comic about a band- because live music is really important. Here’s a great example of this Michiganer’s stuff.
EPILOGUE TWO. Vikki’s suite. Cydonian Towers, Amazonis Prime.
I remember this much
There is nothing
You shouldn’t speak of
If you got something to say
And there is no one
To be scared of
Just get them out of the way
Happy Friday, Marsers. This was a pretty good week for the comic. Zach Smith at Newsarama pens a very cool series on webcomics, with interviews by some very talented creators. Nic and I were lucky enough to be included last Friday. The interview is here if you’re interested. I’m a huge Newsarama fan from the way-way back (I gots the remember’in of a lot of things, Cap’n Walker) so this was like a big naffing deal for me. We were right there on the front page for most of the week- right next to Silk Spectre (we’re such star-fuqers). Anyway, we talk a little about where the comic might go in future books, some of the major inspirations we draw from, and a little about our deal with the mighty Ape Entertainment.
E2. This page is a little dialogue heavy, which is always fine by me. It’s been my experience that every good science fiction tale leaves a little something unanswered. Some even leave A LOT unanswered. The point is not minding that things are unanswered, Mr. Potter. But I digress. We find out this week that our beloved (and I do mean beloved) Martian Liberation Front leader, Damien Kessler is still missing. One would assume little Shade Endgame stole away with the revolutionary. We also find out that Taryn’s dad is yet to be found. And if the rumors are true, they’re someplace pretty shizzy. But that, fingers-crossed, is a tale for another day. How can you help make sure their story gets told, you ask? By clicking this link or getting your arse to the local comic shop in a couple weeks.
Week two of our Sisters Grimm cover song suggestions. To recap, I’d like to do these last few weeks of music pairings with suggestions from you ladies and gentlemen. The question is: what song would make a good SG cover? I really loved the suggestion by Bryan Bullock on our Facebook page. Bryan busted out the Welsh mod band, The Alarm. I always thought ‘Blaze of Glory’ (his choice) and ’68 Guns’ were great guerilla anthems. So, thanks Bryan. Let’s hear some more suggestions.
EPILOGUE 1 Victoria Grimm’s penthouse, Cydonian Towers. Amazonis Prime.
Welcome back and happy naffing Friday, Marsers. It has been a very busy week and I’m still sort of recovering from the bitter-sweet effects of reaching the Anthem page last week. But going back through this Epilogue reminded me how much I love these last few pages. I really hope you do too.
It’s raining again in the Amazonis Prime Hab-pyramid. Nic and I call this the Scott Effect. No matter where you are in the future, the weather is bound to be bad. Even in a Hab-pyramid. So another interview with our four band mates. Yes, that’s right Marsers, four. Please welcome the newest member of the Sisters Grimm, Veruca. Just one name- like Madonna, but without the affected British accent. Or Prince, but much, much taller. I know this may cause some controversy, but I can assure you that this will not be a regular phenomenon, should Free Mars continue. Four is it. Anyway, Veruca certainly earned her membership, saving the band at Ziggy’s and (presumably) killing (or maiming) our arch-plutocrat-villain, Xander Thule, with a rogue Sexbot. I, for one, welcome our new purple-haired keyboard player. I think you’ll dig her holo-keytar….
There’s also a nice shout-out to Tharsis University this week. Go Tripods!
I’m gonna do something a little different these last four weeks with the music. I’m gonna let you guys decide what, in your opinion, would be the top cover songs the band would play. Post it or email it to me or, even better, post the video version on our Facebook page. There’s three weeks left. So I’ll pick a “winner” and post it here. The “best” (certainly very subjective) one will get posted on the last page of this story (Nic and I can decide), will get a copy of the book (signed and possibly rendered less valuable by me). I’ll start it off this week. I think a really heavy, faster version of ‘Common People’ by Pulp. I love this song. It also speaks, I think, to Vikki’s political sense. Taryn would be offended and think that Vikki and Sam were having a laugh at her. Anyway, that’s my choice.
Get your copy pre-ordered? David Hedgecock, at Ape Entertainment, just got the first advance copy and said it looked great. It should be in your comic shop the week of July 4th- Independence naffing Day! If you haven’t yet pre-ordered it, you can get it here.
Remember, Free Mars continuing may well depend on how this first book does. It would be a shame if only Nic and I know what happens in the other three.
Oh, and if you’re even remotely interested, I’ve started my own blog to post stuff about my comic writing projects and my miniatures (read: toy soldier) painting. It’ll be a good place to see more of Nic’s art, too.
PAGE NINETY TWO. Hippolyta Stadium. Amazonis Prime.
For Ray Bradbury, August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012
Happy Friday, once again, Marsers. Page 92 this week. Back at the main stage at the Independence Concert with the featured act, the Sisters Grimm.
We feature the lyrics to the song, Anthem this week. Some of you may remember we posted these lyrics a while back, on our ‘Free Mars’ B-Sides and Demos page. But we realized that the song wasn’t going to appear in the comic proper, so we knew we had to incorporate it into this splash. The song, written by Vikki Grimm, has now become the full-fledged hymn of the new Free Mars Confederacy. The comic has followed the evolution of this song, as much as any character. So to many readers it will be bit of a re-visitation, but I’m also sure many of you are seeing Vikki’s hit for the first time. Either way, it’s part of the book now.
So, no additional song pairing this week- Anthem is our tune.
I always love a good splash of the band and this week is no different. Compare this with Page Four and you can tell we’ve all come a long way. This page is really ‘The End’, so to speak. The next four pages form the Epilogue sequence and answer some important questions, but this is really the end of our first tale. Is it the end of ‘Free Mars’? Time will tell.
This page is for Ray Bradbury. Shizz, the whole comic is for Ray Bradbury. Thanks, Ray. See you on Mars.
PAGE NINETY ONE. The Combine Siege Line, near Amazonis Prime.
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. – Winston Churchill
By the moons of Fear and Dread (Phobos and Deimos), it is Friday again- and June! There are just five pages left in Free Mars: Riot Girls. That’s mind-bottling. It’s been just about two years now, and it has apparently gone by really fast. I look back on our first pages fondly, but with the very distinct feeling that I’ve come a long way as a writer. I know Nic feels the same way about the art.
This week the battle continues. As the Jovian Guild-Fleet covers their attack from orbit, the real work is being done miles below by these guys: the grunts. Infantry. Some things about war never change.
Again, Nic conveys the chaos of battle with a deft hand. I also think we tried to catch something of an iconic moment for the Free Mars forces. Like Alexander’s left at Guagamela, or Chamberlain’s 20th Maine on Little Round Top, certain battles seem to have that one moment where victory and defeat are equally balanced. Things could go to shizz very quickly or the day could be won. A whole campaign can hinge on a moment like that, a whole war. I think, in a humble tribute to the Marines at Iwo Jima, this standard-bearer climbing to the top of a Combine siege tower might tip that scale. Seeing their new flag go forward has to mean something.
Nic: This week’s music pairing is my suggestion. Bad Religion has always been one of my favourite old school punk bands and ‘The Process of Belief’ is a perfect example of their mastery of the punk sound. Distinctly angry and rebellious, it is a testament to the anti-establishment punk ideals and a challenge to the status-quo; nothing better for our Martian revolutionaries to hear whilst they go up against the bunkers of the CSC. Kyoto Now!
A quick thanks to Joe Rodriguez, a fellow artist, comic fan and friend, for helping us with the flag design.
The band is back next week. The book is at the printer. We get closer to the end of the beginning….
PS- I also can’t believe that by this time next week Prometheus will be out. O. M. G.
PAGE NINETY. High above Mars…
Happy Friday, once again Marsers.
The Jovian Guilds to the rescue this week. The Guild-Prince leads the attack himself, aboard his flagship, giving some orbital support to the Free Mars forces below. Seems like the work of a loyal ally, though I have to wonder what’s in it for the Jupiter crew down the road….
Now, it’s not like it’s a particularly well-disguised tribute and we’ve discussed this before when we met the Guild-Prince, but when Nic asked me about the design for the Jovian Guild fleet ships (his more organic flow for these ships sets them apart from the more utilitarian Martian designs), I said that he had free run except where their color was concerned. They had to be yellow.
By sheer coincidence, the re-mastered version of the Beatles’ film, Yellow Submarine arrives in a few days. I think the gods of Pepperland are smiling down on us. So, to honor them for their very positive omen, we’ll use, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, the title song from said film for this week’s pairing. Did I mention the Guild-Prince’s flagship is the Eleanor Rigby? I won’t.
Book is at the printer. Have you pre-ordered your copy?
To everyone in the U.S., have a safe Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day was first known as Decoration Day and started just after the Civil War, with flowers and flags laid at the graves of the Union dead. It soon expanded to include not just Union soldiers lost, but also Confederate. Eventually it became a day of remembrance for all fallen U.S. soldiers from all conflicts. So enough history lessons from me! I’ll just say that I hope you spend some time thinking about how we’ve asked so many of our soldiers to make the greatest sacrifice and how we can avoid asking more to do the same.
PAGE EIGHTY NINE. Low orbit over Amazonis Prime.
Ground control to Major Tom.
Happy Friday, Marsers, or as we call it here in Chicago: NATO Day One. So far things have been quiet but I expect NATO will do their best to jam us up like a column of T-72s advancing into West Germany.
This week finds us in low orbit over the Red Planet (again). You remember what happened last time we got a look at the CSC battlites? Big badda boom, as they say. But it looks like someone has different plans this time. Anyone hazard a guess? In any case, we say hello goodbye to these orbital weapons platforms.
I sort of went on a bit last week, so I’ll keep things brief. It is both gratifying and slightly frightening to realize that we only have seven pages left. And that Free Mars: Riot Girls is heading to the printers as we speak. For everyone that’s already pre-ordered the book, we thank you immensely- you’re literally increasing the chances that there is a second (and third, fourth) Free Mars book.
This week’s musical pairing is from one of Nic and my favorite bands. We both thought ‘Starlight‘ by MUSE made a lot of sense. Such a driving, powerful tune. Perfect for a space battle.
Until next week,
PAGE EIGHTY EIGHT. Combine siege lines, four kilometers of Amazonis Prime.
The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death ye may find him;
His father’s sword he hath girded on,
With his wild harp slung along behind him;
Land of Song, the lays of the warrior bard,
May some day sound for thee,
But his harp belongs to the brave and free
And shall never sound in slavery!”
Happy Friday again, Marsers. Thanks for stopping by to check out this week’s offering: P88. With the offensive launched and the rebels gaining ground, we find our old CSC friend Colonel Lynch in a rather bad way. Poor old bean! The soothing green strobe lights don’t even seem to help.
I love how the Free Mars forces are utilizing bulldozers in their desperate advance. Not that they don’t also have some very swass looking aerospace tech. Lynch seems intent on fusion bombing more Marsers this week, but again, he’s looking down the business end of a re-purposed mobile processing plant crawler…
I think this is an appropriate week for Joe Strummer’s cover of ‘The Minstrel Boy.’ Best remembered for ‘Black Hawk Down’, there is like a 20 minute version on the album (Global A Go-Go). It is naffing long, really naffing long. I like the soundtrack version. Anyway, I love this song. Written around 1798 by Thomas Moore to commemorate the Irish Rebellion. It has sort of travelled down the ages but became very popular with Irishmen serving on both sides of the American Civil War. In a strange way, I think of Vikki, Sam, and Vexx as 2339 Martian versions of warrior-bards. And Joe Strummer is missed.
How cool is this? From the Library Journal:
As civil war clouds gather on the Red Planet in the year 2339, a rebel girl band decides to rock the revolution. Described by the publisher as a “gritty sci-fi rock opera,” this webcomic looks the way the music is supposed to sound, no doubt: wild, punk, unconventional, and simply smashing. Just the thing for libraries where the rocker CDs circulate like crazy. Looks adultish, so heads up.
I want to take a quick opportunity, if I may, to recommend another webcomic this week. I read as many webcomics as I can, but I sometimes fall behind on a lot of ‘em and have to catch up, which is actually a fine way to read webcomics. However, this is one that I think I’ll be visiting each week. Surreality by Caleb King with exceptional art by Carla Wyzgala. It’s literally just started, so time to get in on the ground floor. By the way, I would love to see Carla do a version of the Sisters Grimm.
Finally, have you pre-ordered your copy of ‘Free Mars: Riot Girls’? Did I mention that it includes a prequel story?
P.S. I can’t say much about this/them, but you should check it out.
PAGE EIGHTY SEVEN. Hippolyta Stadium. Amazonis Prime.
Sol Veneris is once again upon us and our little webcomic races towards its conclusion (of this chapter). It’s been just about two system standard years since we started this “space rock opera” and it’s been a very cool journey for us. We’ve been formatting (Chris and Nic, really) some of the older pages for the printer and looking at how far we’ve come since those early pages is incredible to me. And I’m sure a lot of writers feel this way, but while 96 pages sounds like a lot, it doesn’t even begin to scratch to surface of what you think you can do in said 96 pages. I can promise you this (SPOILER ALERT), should we be lucky enough to continue ‘Free Mars’, Dub will be back.
This week’s page launches (literally) a very cool sequence. If you like sci-fi action and battle scenes, then you’ll like the next few weeks. If you don’t, then there’s probably some gag-a-day webcomic that needs a-readin’ out there in the Interwebspace. The first thing I thought when I saw this week’s page was, “That is a naffing giant tank.” The second was, “Vikki looks like a real naffing rock star.” But, ultimately, I like the command center panel- I think TV and Veruca look very cool at their control stations.
So this final Track is titled ‘Live Forever.’ Obviously, the Oasis song. But my friend Brian (Ohio in the house!) also pointed out that it could be a reference to Queen’s ‘Who Wants To Live Forever.’ And you know what? Brian was right. And this is a perfect page for that epic song. Personally, I’ve always loved this song. There’s the Highlander connection, to be sure, but I always dug the fact that it starts out with Brian May singing. Anyway, I feel like this is a great theme song for the Free Mars forces at this point in the story. There’s nothing to lose now, so better to win or go out fighting.
And, once again, I will beseech thee: if you’ve ever enjoyed this free comic, now is the time to show your gratitude. Pre-order the comic. If there isn’t a local comic shop around you, here are a few options (including some European possibilities):
But, again, your local comic shop stays in business (probably barely) because of your support, so we recommend that as your go-to place for FM.
And thanks to everyone who has already pre-ordered. This is a tough industry and getting these orders means a great deal. So thanks again,
PAGE EIGHTY SIX. Hippolyta Stadium, Amazonis Prime.
Ziggy played guitar, jammin’ good with Weird and Gilly
And the Spiders from Mars, he played it left hand
But made it too far
Became the special man, then we were Ziggy’s band
Last Friday in April already. That month went by really naffing fast. This week we’re back at Amazonis after a quick trip to Olympus City. It’s the Independence Concert and our band is about to take the stage, which will, in turn, launch the rebel offensive- their last chance for breaking the tightening siege.
Vikki Grimm isn’t taking shizz from President Isidis. She’s become a little more confident, I think. I think it comes across in the dialogue, but also in Nic’s art. The body language is great in this sequence, forceful and natural. And the costumes are awesome…
Which brings me to the weekly pairing. This page is a very obvious homage to one of our main inspirations: David Bowie. I know I’ve talked about this before, but Nic and I planned, very early on, for our Mars to have a very strong glam vibe. Amazonis Prime was always going to be very ’70′s London.’ That glam influence would come across in our fashion, as well as in our political environment. Here the girls sport very Bowie-esque make-up. They almost look like they’re opening for T-Rex!
So, I went back and checked and I don’t think I’ve ever used ‘Ziggy Stardust.’ In the imagined ‘Free Mars’ movie (currently the top-grossing film in my mind, just beating out Joss Whedon’s Star Wars prequel trilogy), the end credits run while the Sisters Grimm cover this song. You can picture it too, right?
Finally- the May PREVIEWS is out and we’re on page four and 244 (full solicitation), I’m told. That means we are now OFFICIALLY available to pre-order at your local comic shop. You can give the comic book guy (worst character ever) this: Diamond Code: MAY120825. Now, I’m not gonna get all sentimental, but if you’ve enjoyed the work Nic and I have been doing for almost two years now, this is the way to show your appreciation (I sound like a WTTW pledge drive person). Seriously, the future of ‘Free Mars’ is by no means certain and this is your chance to help us keep the comic going. Pre-ordering the book will ensure that we can continue the adventures of Vikki, Sam, and Vexx, but also potentially give us the opportunity to tell more ‘Free Mars’ tales, including stories focusing on Hannah Valerus and Damien Kessler.
So again, if you’ve been a fan, now is the time to show it. Help us Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope….
PAGE EIGHTY FOUR. Olympus City, Corporate Zone. Executive Recreation Level 8.
Salutations fellow revolutionaries! Nic here, taking over this week’s post.
Dave is away on one of the most important wargaming conventions in the US (if not the most important), the mighty ADEPTICON. Thus, occupied with many lectures and other miniature-related business, he couldn’t make one of his fine comments for the page you’re now contemplating. You get me instead…
Xander Thule is one of those characters I’ve loved and despised at the same time. Being a true villain, he is a ruthless, cold, calculating bastard, willing to go to any lengths to crush his enemies and preserve his status-quo.
However, in 2339, revenge catches up with you when you least expect it. And it could be disguised as a very pleasurable sexbot. One that a certain dangerous smuggler by the name of Dub imported; with the help of a mercenary called Hannah; at the bidding of a shady revolutionary called Veruca. Whom we see here disguised, finally delivering the object that will make Thule pay for the thousands of lives he wiped out on the Hesperus bombing.
As usual, Dave impresses us all with his eliptical narrative, that makes even the most tiny of details relevant in the long run. You can’t miss a single bit with this guy, my friends!
As far as musical pairings go, I’d have to choose Marilyn Manson’s New Model No.15 . And since Dave isn’t here to argue, that will be this week’s suggestion.
I hope you enjoyed this page and get ready for the grand finale of Book I!
PAGE EIGHTY FOUR. Olympus City, Corporate Zone. Executive Recreation Level 8.
Happy Friday the 13th, Marsers. We’re back in Olympus City this week, with a view of something few Marsers ever get to see: the champagne room at the Combine Executive Recreation sub-complex. The ExRec is an almost mythological place, an Elysium of decadence. Only the most privileged of the Combined Systems Corporation’s elite ever get to explore the labyrinthine pleasure-chambers and sense-vaults. Of course, Xander Thule is one of those elite.
Nic , as always, gives the environment such character that it becomes one of the “actors.” The rich colors and detailed stonework give the pleasure-chamber a decadent atmosphere, especially compared to the generally drab/industrial tones of life on Mars.
The hot tub also looks really nice.
The delivery girl looks familiar….
I sorta lied last week- this week’s pairing isn’t from Bikini Kill- however, BK’s front woman Kathleen Hanna did form another band, le Tigre. They are awesome. I would recommend checking out some additional YouTubes. But for this week’s page, let’s go with ‘TKO.’
Starting to get some promotional material ready for the big release this summer. We won’t, unfortunately, be at C2E2 this year (back next year I hope), but I’ll be at Adepticon in Lombard, IL next weekend with some posters and the few remaining print compilations I have left (should be collector’s items come July).
If anyone in the Chicago area knows their local comic book store owner/proprietor and thinks they might want to put up a ‘Free Mars’ poster or display some postcards, let me know and I’ll stop by. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internets.
PAGE EIGHTY THREE. Exterior. Balcony, Damien Kessler’s apartment. Cydonian Towers.
Previously, on the next ‘Free Mars’…
As the Poet said, “Friday, Friday. Gotta get down on Friday.” This week we proudly present a SPLASH! page for your infotainment pleasure. Damien Kessler has become a veritable hood ornament for Shade Endgame and her crew of cyclopean ‘bots. I don’t mind saying that those three ‘bots are creepy.
I do think this turned out to be a pretty poignant scene for Vikki, considering we don’t even see her face. And, as always, the Giacondino Effect is in full-force: the details of Amazonis Prime’s industrial cityscape draw you in. The settings become characters in their own right.
Today was a little bitter sweet. I had been putting off composing the last four pages of the script- the epilogue- for a while. But as we near our deadline, I could stall no longer. So this sol I typed the words “The End.” Page 96 is in the proverbial can. Now, hopefully, this isn’t naffing literally true. By that I mean that if we can continue the tale of our Martian punkers and their Free Mars compatriots, we will. As long as possible. You can ensure that happens by pre-ordering the book when it’s available. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you.
Because the official subtitle of Book 1 is ‘Riot Girls’, it wasn’t surprising that an actual Riot Grrrl band immediately came to mind this week when I saw Shade’s aircar. Bratmobile. ‘Do You Like Me Like That?’ We haven’t done a lot of actual Riot Grrrl bands here in the pairings. I guess we had some Hole. Maybe we’ll focus on some low-fi ladies for a couple weeks. Bikini Kill up next.
Until next week,
PAGE EIGHTY TWO. Interior, Damien Kessler’s apartment. Cydonian Towers, Amazonis.
First off this week, a big happy birthday to everyone’s favorite Argentine artist- Nicolas R Giacondino! I told him that, in Mars years, he’s really not very old.
Second, Ape showed us their ad for next month’s PREVIEWS (Comic Shop Catalog) and it features our forthcoming FM OGN. It looks fantastic. We are really lucky to be working with a company that believes in our book. Thanks, guys.
I said, last week I’d have a quick webcomic recommendation. This week I’ve been reading ‘My Life At War’. By Luther Patenge with art by Matthew Materniak, MLaW is a gritty sci-fi military tale. It has a real David Drake/John Ringo feel, with a good sense of humor. It also deals with some ethical questions. This week’s page is a good example- addressing the topic of battlefield looting. Check it out if you get a chance (and like sci-fi military hardware).
This week’s music pairing has to be Garbage and their new single, ‘Blood for Poppies’. I am so naffing jazzed for this album. If this track is any indication, the album will sound like classic Garbage. 2012. Garbage, Blur, and The Stone Roses. It’s like a 90s time-portal opened up in my iPhone.
Finally, I just want to say that this page is (honestly) my favorite page to date. I think our heroines look amazing. I think Nic has perfected their “acting.” Nice one, birthday boy!
Until next week,
++++A message from Nic+01991.876++++
Greetings, fellow insurgents!
Today is a strange day indeed, what with yours truly writing the blog post instead of Davey P. But we felt it was necessary due to the nature of this in-between, exclusive post this week.
What you’re seeing here is a Martian guitar ad (more specifically from Hudson Guitar Technologies), promoting their new Hudson MK 7 Sonic Lance, which is the weapon of choice for our heroine, Vikki Grimm. Many of you wondered about the workings of this most interesting bit of Marser technology, so we felt it would be appropriate to shed some light on the matter (and with some cool artwork to boot!). The model Hudson used in this advert is the famous stripper Athena Nocturna, whom you briefly see at Ziggy’s! (P 41-dave)
As I said in the comments section, a couple of pages ago, when I first designed the holo-guitar, I thought of it as an extremely versatile instrument. My idea was that, without having strings, it would be able to interpret and synthesize the musician’s finger positions, creating unique tones and notes mixing the classic notes and the user’s inventions. Thus, the guitar would only be limited by imagination, achieving total creative control and originality (provided you were original and creative, of course!). The holo-neck of the guitar is a projected force-field, being solid enough to play and manipulate, but also sensitive to allow for the musician’s full exploration of music. If you turn it off (for carrying), you just have to transport the body of the guitar, which is what Vikki carries around in some of the very first pages of the comic.
As a side note (and I’ll leave you alone already!), the holo-technology of the guitar, relying on a high output battery as a power source, can be jammed and tweaked (given some minutes) for use as an explosive device. Used by such bands as Orbital Burn to achieve a more mischievous and violent effect when on stage, the holo-instruments are overheated by the player until they eventually explode in a short (but very powerful) fusion blast.
PS.. This piece has a lot of hidden easter eggs for all sci-fi fans; the most evident being Athena herself. I totally recall seeing those kind of curves on another Martian lady…
PAGE EIGHTY ONE. Interior. Damien Kessler’s suite, the Cydonian Towers. Amazonis Prime.
Something right with the world today
And everybody knows it’s wrong
But we can tell ‘em no or we could let it go
But I would rather be a hanging on
Happy Sol Veneris again, Marsers. We are proud to once again deliver you straight to the 50th floor of the Cydonian Towers. Things look even bleaker for our guitar-heroine this week. Vikki Grimm can only watch, in abject pissed-off-ness, as Shade Endgame steps off with her man.
The red strobe lighting effect continues on this page, giving a nice emphasis to Vikki’s plea in the last panel. I think Nic’s red panels are some of his most dramatic. Makes me think that would could potentially do some more ‘Free Mars’ tales in black and white, too. More like the Hannah Valerus piece. Something to think about.
Nic and I discussed all the potentially appropriate songs. I considered ‘Jump’ by VH. But we both agreed on Aerosmith ‘Livin’ on the Edge.’ However, if you’re looking for something slightly more indie, you have to check out The Decemberists’ ‘One Engine’ from The Hunger Games soundtrack. In fact, the whole soundtrack is very good. Yes, even Taylor Swift.
I know I’ll probably keep saying this every week, but 15 pages left. Naffing crazy!
I’ll have a new round of webcomic suggestions next week- I’m in the process of reading a couple that have come my way.
Oh, and check out Nic’s latest version of Vikki here. This is for some promotional material we’re getting ready pre-release.
PAGE EIGHTY. Interior. Damien Kessler’s suite at the Cydonian Towers, Amazonis Prime.
The battle continues this week, with our heroine gaining the upper hand, if only briefly, after Shade Endgame was distracted by the security klaxon. Unfortunately for VG, being on the offense was short-lived. More unfortunate for Vikki, however, is the fact that Shade is not human (explains how she dealt with some hard-ass bastards so completely, eh?). Now, I won’t get into the details here as we, quite frankly, hope to tell Shade’s story at some point in great detail. Suffice it to say, while she’s not human, she’s not exactly inhuman either. I’ll leave it at that.
That’s partly why I’m choosing The Animals’ version of ‘Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.’ Though I also love the Santa Esmerelda version, which you might remember from a certain movie involving a pissed-off bride (warning- this version is long- like 10 minutes long).
Finally, Nic and I went back and forth on how to convey the strobe effect. I think it ended up looking great, with Nic finally deciding on the blue wash-out to counterpoint the red I love.
Until next week. Hard to believe there are less than 20 pages left (at least, in book one).
PAGE SEVENTY NINE. Interior. Damien Kessler’s apartment, Cydonian Towers. Amazonis Prime.
Knife-fight! P79 is a nice action page, complete with some good swearing. Vikki Grimm seems pissed. Kessler did warn Shade about waking her up, I guess. But, wow, is Shade fast.
Nic nails the frenetic pace of this week’s page. And I naffing LOVE the look on Vikki’s face in panel three. A mix of pain and determination.
I’m gonna keep it brief this week. I need some song suggestions. I had a few ideas, but I need a good knife-fighting tune. Recommendations?
Oh, when you get a chance, check out the Fan Art gallery for a new addition. The very talented d.Forrest (Lord Dubu) has done an amazing version of Kessler. You can check out more of his work on his deviantArt page here. Great stuff.
Finally, does that sec override sound familiar to anyone? Without Googling it.
PAGE SEVENTY EIGHT. Interior. Kessler’s Cydonian Towers suite.
Sol Veneris once again, Marsers. Hope you had a good Leap Day. February does actually seem a lot longer with that extra day. Anyway, we are once again proud to bring you another page from our space-rock-opera.
Maybe I’m nuts, but for some reason this page reminds me of the Dr. Seuss classic, ‘The Grinch What Stole Christmas.’ Here, Vikki Grimm is like little Cindy Loo Who. She wakes, not to find a disturbing lack of Christmas paraphernalia, but her new love bound and bleeding on the floor. And the role of the Grinch is deftly handled by our diminutive killer and glamgoth starlet, Shade Endgame. I think the parallels end there, as I don’t see Shade’s heart growing any sizes at all.
How hurt/dead/unconscious is Kessler? Only time will tell. But if I had a dime for every electronic message about NOT killing him off, I’d have like 30 dimes. On a serious note, as a writer, this is very humbling. The fact that so many readers took the time to give me their opinion (some very strongly worded) is humbling and very, very cool. So thanks.
Nic and I both have musical suggestions this week. Nic’s is the classic Talking Heads track, Psycho Killer. I think that makes sense.
My pairing comes from ‘Reign of Terror’, the new album from Sleigh Bells. It is a great sophomore effort. The whole album is great, from start to finish. So give the whole thing a listen if you get a chance. Here’s a sample, Comeback Kid. I think there would definitely be a Sleigh Bells song on the FM soundtrack.
PAGE SEVENTY SEVEN. Interior. Cydonian Towers, 50th floor.
Happy Friday, Marsers. P77 is a little gruesome, which is to be expected. You can’t have Shade Endgame go to long without some bloodletting. And is it me or is Damien Kessler ripped? The Cydonian Towers must have a gym.
Nic and I agree that, for some reason, this page looks particularly animated. I think it’s the posing, which isn’t particularly dynamic, per se, but very natural. I think it provides a little glimpse at what a ‘Free Mars’ cartoon might look like. Personally, I think a ‘Free Mars’ animated film/series would be a modern ‘Heavy Metal.’ But I’m possibly a little biased. I would definitely cast Harold Ramis and Eugene Levy for some voice-work. Any HM fans out there besides Nic and I?
I actually had this week’s song in mind when I wrote this page. I admit it’s a little cheesy. But I’ve had it stuck in my head since I watched an episode of Metal Evolution on L.A.’s glam band scene. If you haven’t seen Metal Evolution (on VH1 Classic), it’s a great serialized documentary. My wife knew way more about the history of Metal than I did, admittedly. Anyway, for some reason, I think ‘Every Rose Has It’s Thorn‘ by Poison works nicely this week. I was not a huge Poison fan back in the day, but this is a great song.
You might notice that we’ve added a link over there on the right to ‘Full Borer Miniatures.’ This is the website for friend of the comic, Chris Borer. Chris has sculpted a 28mm version of smuggler Hannah Valerus and it is amazing (there’s a version painted by the beautiful and talented Jennifer Haley in our Fan Art section). Chris is currently working on some additional ‘Free Mars’ characters. I won’t say who specifically yet, but the plan is to do a whole range of little Marsers. So stay tuned.
PAGE SEVENTY SIX. INT. Kessler’s penthouse, Cydonian Towers. Amazonis Prime. 02:28.
Back to Amazonis this week. A week has passed since the fusion bombing of the Hesperus kelp farm-complex. And it’s the eve of the Independence Concert ‘cast (IndieCon to all the hip Marsters). Damien Kessler is up late, working no doubt on troop deployments. Nextsol’s concert also marks the signal for the final MLF/’Free Mars’ offensive; a last gambit. With the kelp farms gone, the siege lines and aero-space blockade reinforced, and rebel morale starting to crack, time is running out for the Revolution. So here we are, in the proverbial eye of the dust storm…
Nic conveys the quiet tension of the script really well this week, if I do say so myself. The lighting is perfectly rendered. And the expression on Shade Endgame’s face is priceless! How could you not trust that face?
A little about Shade’s character design. I described her as almost “doll like” to Nic. She has that creepy porcelain finish to her skin. But her expressiveness is almost melodramatic; childish and innocent. She’s part Shirley Temple, part Jack the Ripper.
This week’s musical pairing reflects the quiet start, but rising crescendo of this week’s page. I admit that it’s also a little timely. It is also back to being slightly more contemporary. Deadmau5 performed this at the Grammy’s (which were surprisingly watchable this year). I thought the lyrics and tone fit nicely. Raise Your Weapon. If you don’t know anything about Deadmau5, you should google him. I think his big mouse head is pretty cool, but it kinda reminds me a little of Cha Cha and Hazel from ‘Umbrella Academy.’
Be seeing you,
PAGE SEVENTY FIVE. Exterior, Hesperus Kelp Farm-Complex 1 crater H114
Maybe I will never be
All the things that I want to be
Now is not the time to cry
Now’s the time to find out why
I think you’re the same as me
We see things they’ll never see
You and I are gonna live forever
This week sees the title page for Track 5: Live Forever. We’ve taken to calling this page Big Bada Boom, but that seems almost irreverent now that I see it in all its destructive anti-glory. I will tell you that it is a bitter sweet milestone. On one hand, we are happy to hit 75 this week, but it also marks the beginning of the final chapter (of Book 1, at least). We’re certainly optimistic that this is more the “end of the beginning” rather than the “beginning of the end” for ‘Free Mars.’ But still, reaching the last Track has made me sentimental. And nothing says sentimental like a massive fusion explosion.
A little perspective this week from the Europan politicast, System Pundit:
+++The Hesperus Kelp Farms will no longer be providing sustenance to Amazonis and the other rebel Hab-Pyramids. The Combine assumes this attack will dramatically speed-up their eventual victory over the insurgent Marsers. But it’s been almost a century since atomic weapons were banned on Mars, so there’s an element of desperation here as well. Are there more uprisings starting in loyal Habs? There’s very little information getting out. Have the CSC Security forces underestimated the resolve and capability (and off-world support) of the rebels? In any case, the deployment of a fusion weapon by the corporate government against its own people marks an inarguable sea change in the revolutionary conflict…+++
And, of course, this week’s Title track is ‘Live Forever’ by those Mancunian siblings, Oasis. I gave a lot of thought to the final Track title, but it all kept coming back to this rock anthem. From my own lifetime, Oasis is my favorite band. I won’t bore you with all the “whys” here. Suffice to say that I think they’re one of the last of a dying breed of rock ‘n roll stars. I remember first seeing them at the Vic Theater, here in Chicago. It was 1995. I actually found the Tribune’s review of that show- in case you’re interested.
If you get a chance, and love the film A L I E N S like I do, I totally recommend visiting Nic’s deviantArt page for his latest offering.
Finally, Nic and I might have some news soon about a potential new/original project. When we have details, we will let you know. A lot is up in the air, so no promises. But I can give you this small hint: steampunk.
PAGE SEVENTY FOUR. The Boardroom, Building One, Olympus City.
Hard to believe it’s naffing February already. January blew through here faster than a smuggler’s corvette packed full of knock-off sexbots.
I have to hand it, once again, to our Argentine artist. Nic comes up with another quintessential ‘Free Mars’ page. Provocative character design, epic and sprawling industrial-scapes, and a nice solid piece of kill tech- the CSC battlelite (Type IV Thatcher Class). The Type IV carries a payload of four fusion “bombs” (more like smart-missiles). Fusion weapons were, ironically, outlawed on Mars by the CSC Charter.
Vice President Tangaroa, a New Maori, is an example of the diverse nature of the contemporary Martian population. Clearly there’s no love loss between Tangaroa and Thule. I guess the CSC leadership isn’t as lock-step as one would’ve imagined.
The sinister absence would make a certain bass player pretty upset, I wager.
We have two musical pairings this week. Nic’s is A Perfect Circle and ‘Counting Bodies Like Sheep’ (is this foreshadowing?). It’s a pleasantly disconcerting song. Well played, NRG.
My choice is more literal. But I had to do it, what with the new album out next week. I would describe my personal musical taste, generally, as pretty 90’s Britpop-centric, but for shear rock ‘n roll, there’s no one that stands the test of time quite like Van Halen. Tattoo. ‘Free Mars’ Trivia: Hannah Valerus’ ship’s System Ident Code is OU812.
PAGE SEVENTY THREE. Building One, Combine Corporate Headquarters, Olympus City.
Good morning, Marsers. We’re still celebrating over here; the deal with Ape Entertainment is really exciting. It means that our little space rock opera gets the exposure we always hoped for. Ape puts out some very high quality books and are also known for their swass digital offerings. So, again, we are really happy to be onboard with such a great publisher.
But, back to our story. We return this week to Olympus City. We find Xander Thule in the middle of a presentation to the (nearly) complete Board of Directors. His plan certainly doesn’t bode well for the residents of the Hesperus Kelp Farms, the vast hydroponics complex that has gone over to the Free Mars side. It also doesn’t seem to sit well with Executive-Countess Ako.
I’m gonna keep it short this week. Later today I’ll update with the winner of the reader art competition. That talented person will be getting an exclusive t-shirt (in the works) AND a copy of the OGN (this July). So I hope they’re patient. Though everyone that participated is going to get a limited edition poster. If you haven’t checked out the entries, I recommend you take a look. Also, just because the competition is over, it doesn’t mean that it’s too late to submit “fan art.” If you send us something, we will post it.
I’ll leave you for now with a Bowie classic. If you haven’t noticed, the Thin White Duke is a major inspiration for the comic- for both Nic and I. This song goes along with Thule’s suggested course of action. ’Ashes to Ashes.’
GRAPHIC NOVEL COVER. Interior, San Diego, Terra.
From the Ape Entertainment website…
HOT DEATH, COLD SPACE, AND A WHOLE LOT OF ROCK AND ROLL
Free Mars Web Comic in print July 2012 from Ape Entertainment
(San Diego, CA-January 19, 2012) Ape Entertainment announced today that they have become ownership partners in the Free Mars property, currently a web comic with a print OGN releasing in July 2012. Free Mars is a gritty sci-fi rock opera set against the backdrop of a dystopian Mars colony in the year 2339. As civil war looms on the Red Planet, the Revolution finds an unlikely symbol in the form of a punk band. The group quickly discovers, however, that their new fame comes at a price. Created and written by David Pauwels with art from Nicolas Giacondino, the graphic novel will contain the first year of web comics that started in July 2010. Ape Entertainment has helped publish many creator owned projects but felt strongly enough about this project to help finance it.
Brent Erwin COO of Ape Entertainment explained “We are so lucky to work with so many great creators but this concept had the right mix of timeliness and unique concept. Music as such an escape that it’s viewed almost like drugs. How many of us would DIE without our ipod or cell phone? Themes of oppression and repression; it might be set in 2339 but there are many similarities to today’s society.” A digital version of the book will be available through the Comics+ app from Iverse Media.
I think the new partnership deserves an appropriate track this week. Connection.
I hope you’ll join me in congratulating my friend and partner, Nicolas Giacondino. And a big thanks to David and Brent at Ape for believing in ‘Free Mars.’ And thanks to all of you, ladies and gentlemen, for supporting us every week.
The hour grows late, but I’ll post more about what this means for ‘Free Mars’ tomorrow. And feel free to post any questions.
We’re very excited.
INTERLUDE FOUR. The Burden of Command.
All the soldiers say
“It’ll be alright,
We may make it through the war
If we make it through the night.”
All the people, they say:
“What a lovely day, yeah, we won the war.
May have lost a million men, but we’ve got a million more.”
All the people, they say.
Welcome once again to Friday, Marsers. Hope your week is ending well. Here in Chicago, we find that Eddard Stark was right.
We are proud to bring you a new Interlude piece this week. We’ve previously gotten candid views of our three bandmates in repose, so we thought it would be appropriate to do something similar with their “benefactor.” Here we get a glimpse of our revolutionary commander post-battle. The skirmish is over, wounds are tended to, and Kessler lights one up.
The text also gives a hint as to the storied history of our commander. We learn something of his military experience, earned during his stint as a mercenary. I will say, I’d personally love to hear more about the Rim Wars and Sigma Draconis….
We’ll stick with the mellow track theme of our previous Interludes. Portugal the Man- ‘People Say’.
In other news, we got another amazing couple entries into the reader art competition today. I think we’re ready to get the illustrations (and photo) up on Monday. So, you have until Sunday night to get your piece in.
PAGE SEVENTY TWO. Andromache Skyport, Amazonis Prime.
So endeth Track 4. It is strange to think that there’s just one more chapter left in this first “book.” Track 4 has set the stage for an action-packed climax with, hopefully, a few twists you haven’t seen coming. So, after a brief intermission (with another Interlude piece), we will get straight on into Track 5.
Nice to see Shade back on Mars. Kitty Porn is pretty popular on the Red Planet; Vikki, Taryn, and Samantha are all big KP fans from way back*. So there’s no reason not to include Endgame and her back-up ‘bots in the IndieCon line-up. Vexx does often make the point, though, that she thinks Shade was crazy for replacing her human band with androids. I wonder what she’d say about her brutal serial killings?
FreeMarsFact: Shade is actually pretty young: only 9 years old (at 1.88 Earth years, she’d be about 17 on Terra). She’s also very prolific for her age, with some 10 Kitty Porn albums and two solo offerings. She has a similarly impressive, yet slightly more horrifying, body count, with nearly a dozen victims scattered throughout the System.
A few other things. We’ve gotten some really great pieces of reader art. And I can’t wait to load them up, but we’re going to give you artists out there one more week- until the Interlude piece next Friday- to submit any ‘Free Mars’ inspired art. I think doing it over the holidays was probably a bad idea. I know I didn’t get much done. So, if you’re at all interested in a limited edition ‘FM’/Sisters Grimm/Kitty Porn concert shirt, send us some art.
You might’ve also noticed the new logo on the bottom of this week’s page. Nic has done an amazing job of creating this icon. It ties in a few important elements (like the amp and the Free Mars fist) and pops with a very cool color scheme. I’m going to load a bigger version in the ‘B-Sides’ section and get it in our FaceBook gallery. Let us know what you think.
Until next week,
PAGE SEVENTY ONE. Andromache Skyport, Amazonis Prime.
Happy Friday, once again, Martian insurgents. Hope your holidays were successfully executed and that much merriness was deployed. I, personally, find it hard to believe that 2011 is setting sail on that event horizon. It seems like just lastsol that Nic mentioned he’d like to do something “long term”, like a weekly webcomic. Whereupon learning of this desire, I presented NRG with the synopsis of a screenplay I had written in 2000 AD. Now, a year and a half later, we’ve got 71 plus pages. 71 plus pages that, if I may be so bold, I’m extremely proud of.
This week’s page is no exception. After a brief meeting with President Isidis and Taryn “not a morning person” Vexx, we are introduced to Guild Prince Phalen Moor and blockade-running Captain Hannah Valerus. If you haven’t heard of Captain Valerus, I suggest you take a look at the VALERUS CHRONICLES page on our site. She’s sort of a “spin-off” character that Nic and I both really liked from the beginning. This is her first official appearance in the comic proper. So a special shout-out to Bobby C in Detroit- Hannah’s most ardent supporter.
If the Guild-Prince looks familiar, you’re correct- there’s nobody there. Seriously though, I have added a few “cameos” in the script, of famous musicians/rock stars. When we needed a smart-looking chap in a uniform, there was no real choice. So say hello (goodbye) to our Jovian emissary. Maybe Free Mars will be able to get by…with a little help from their friends (from the Guild Stations of Jupiter).
Which brings me to the musical pairing this week. Since Hannah has been away from her homeworld for some time, I thought this might be appropriate. I also think it goes well with Mikhail Gorbachev’s interesting piece in this week’s The Nation magazine.
Finally, Nic and I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy New Year. I can unequivocally promise that 2012 will be a great year for ‘Free Mars’ and, as always, it is due to your support, ladies and gentlemen. So thanks.
PAGE SEVENTY. Exterior, desert. South-west of Amazonis Prime.
It’s that time again, Marsers. Happy Friday and a slightly preemptive Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, enjoyable Solstice, and (my favorite) a great Saturnalia. Saturnalia is, by the way, one of the go-to Martian holidays (experienced a bit of a resurgence), right after the big one: Colonization Sol. Then there are a whole plethora of sols marking Noctis holidays and rites- the Noctis cult being a native Martian religion. It is shrouded, even now, in mystery and its followers (known as “Nights” or “Nighters”) are headquartered somewhere deep within the Noctis Labyrinthus. More on them at some point. But, for now…
The tour of the front ends with a stop at the Andromache Skyport. Like the spaceport at Olympus, Nic has given the place a real personality. And, for those keeping score, it is THAT Hannah and her ship, the Charybdis.
This transitional scene didn’t scream any particular musical pairing, so I’m including two of my favorite bands working some holiday cheer. Oasis is first, with a cover of a Slade song. The second is kinda Green Day…kinda. Trust me, it’s funny (kinda).
Remember- get your art in. I can guarantee some cool prizes. Any ‘Free Mars’ related subject is fair game.
Until next Friday,
PAGE SIXTY NINE. Exterior. Over the desert, three kilometers south of Amazonis Prime.
Happy Sol Veneris, Terrans. Can’t believe it is already mid-December. I also can’t believe we’re already about two thirds through “Book One” of Free Mars.
I’ll keep it short this week. We’ve got one of those rare pages that I love: lots of dialogue. Those big bubbles are awesome. In this case, we get some serious exposition. Kessler brings Vikki into his “circle of trust”, while Ms. Grimm remains skeptical of her lover’s motivations. We also learn, as does Vikki, that things aren’t going terribly well for the rebels. Finally, we discover that Martians love kelp. Who doesn’t?
Oh, I really dig Nic’s flight helmet design.
This week’s music pairing is actually kind of a request. We don’t usually do requests, but how could I deny the simple plea to “…include some Iron Maiden.” To that end, this week is ‘Aces High.’ Makes sense, don’t you think?
Finally, we are running a little “fan art” competition and exhibit over the next few weeks. The details are up now on the (appropriately enough) ‘Fan Art Exhibit’ page. We’re still working out the details as far as prizes go, but I will say that I’ve been working on doing a very small run of Sisters Grimm and/or Kitty Porn concert shirts. These probably won’t be for sale for a while (if ever), but I’ll be using them for promotional purposes. The winner will definitely get one as soon as they’re printed up. By the way, the “art” doesn’t have to be traditional illustration, it can be anything. Even sculpts.
Until next week,
PAGE SIXTY EIGHT. Exterior. Rooftop of the Cydonian Towers, Amazonis Prime.
It’s a crack, I’m back yeah standing
On the rooftops shouting out,
Baby I’m ready to go
Suddenly Friday! Hope everyone had a good system standard week. I know some people will be sad to see last week’s page move into our Previous Transmissions archive, but we have a lot of ground left to cover. Can’t stand there gawking all sol!
Like any swass luxury hotel, the Cydonian Towers has a VTOL pad on the roof. It usually provides a nice VIP entrance/exit/escape route. Here it serves as Damien Kessler’s staging point. Is it me or do Kessler’s rides keep getting cooler? Here we have an Ares-class gunship (this one is affectionately known as The Gorgon).
There’s a nice, if dramatic, transition here from the quiet, pre-dawn cool tones of the first two panels into the harsh “heat” of the VTOL pad. I have a feeling, and this is just my personal take, that Nic has really come a long way over the course of ‘Free Mars’ when it comes to using colors to reflect a scene’s tone. I mean, Nic was always great with color choices, but I think he’s become an expert on using strong, monochromatic schemes to really emphasize the mood of a given panel or scene (see the red monochrome in the cargo transport attack sequence).
Finally, this week’s music pairing has been a long-time coming. I have a play-list on my iTunes called ‘Free Mars’ (hard to believe, I know) and this song was one of the first in. In my head, this would be the End Credits to the FM movie (or HBO series pilot). I’m not saying Vikki Grimm sounds like Saffron, but I’m not saying she doesn’t either. Republica: ‘Ready to Go (2010 version).’ Plus a great live version from Conan here.
Anyway, I love this song. I love 90’s music. I can admit it.
Until next week, gremmies,
PAGE SIXTY SEVEN. Interior, Kessler’s apartment at the Cydonian Towers.
That’s right, look down here. Thanks. Happy Friday (late Thursday night), Earthers. We are once again very proud to bring you a new installment of our rock opera. We’ve had some drugs and we’ve a lot of rock ‘n roll. So, without further ado, here’s the sex. I asked Nic to actually write this week’s blog post because I think he is, understandably, eager to talk about our comic this week:
“So. Sex. It’s a very important thing. It’s so important that we spent most of our lives trying to find someone to have it with and share it passionately. And since comics are a reflection of life, it’s only natural that sex should come up at some point.
As a kid, I grew up on European comics, which almost invariably contained sex (explicit or not) and/or eroticism. And our Argentine culture is very accustomed to erotic imagery, so it came out very naturally to me. But working in American comics, I had to learn to tone that down to a tease. It was another culture and had some strict rules about it! Plus, it seemed almost irrational for me to see, say, Superman shagging Lois Lane (with all due respect). All this time, then, the sex was just in the back of my head.
Until FREE MARS came along.
Dave and I shared a common interest in stories and were both very clear on what we thought was fun to write/draw/read. And sex was never an issue. It was a part of it. Thus, this page shouldn’t be something unexpected to our readers. It should be something reassuring of the direction we’re taking with the project and the rules we want to break. Because even if our Mars is reminiscent of great classics and has a lot of influences, it still breaks the mold in many ways.
I firmly believe this is one of my best pages to date. The flow of the scene, the composition, the atmosphere, the anatomy. Everything conspires to bring Damien and Vikki’s passion to life. This is very intimate, but for some reason it doesn’t feel weird or stiff. It feels natural and tasteful. It is, thankfully, another testament to the richness and open-mindedness of FREE MARS. Enjoy it.” – NRG
For my own part, I have had this love scene written for weeks, but I was on the fence about the specifics. Most pages are fully constructed by the time I send them south and, though Nic fills in so many details, the main action is described in depth. This page was a little different. I had a clear image of the first two panels, but I wanted Nic to “take it away” in the third. He did.
To me, the question always had to be: does this scene further the story? If the answer was “no”, then it was just going to be a gratuitous display; unnecessary. But if I sincerely believed that the scene did move forward the relationship of these two characters, then it was appropriate. I think that criteria was met. The page is a triumph of Nic’s skill. Nic isn’t exactly subtle here, but our Mars is not a subtle place. Our Martians don’t have time for subtle.
Anyway, look at all our rambling! What do you think? Oh, and, of course: Lovesong.
Dave & Nic
PAGE SIXTY SIX. Interior, Kessler’s hab. Cydonian Towers, Amazonis Prime.
Happy Friday, once again, Earthers. For all our Pan-American Confederacy readers, we hope you had a good holiday yesterday.
Gotta keep it short for now; in interest of getting the page loaded, I’ll hold some comments for later this weekend. Suffice it to say, the rumors of a Vikki Grimm/Damien Kessler romance may not be exaggerated…
Also, Kessler has a really nice place.
Any suggestions of a musical pairing? Please don’t say “some Barry White.”
PAGE SIXTY FIVE. Interior, Free Mars Netcast Studio 7B. Amazonis Prime. Mars.
Meanwhile, back on Mars…
Happy Friday again, Earthers. Here we are back home on the Red Planet. It’s two weeks later and in that time it appears our trio has finally gotten some notice from someone other than corporate assassins and shock troops. The Hippolyta show has resulted in some actual good publicity. It comes in the form of ‘MarsTalk with Finn Syrtis.’ Syrtis, a veteran ‘caster, has thrown his lot in with the fledgling Free Mars Netcast and produces their flagship ‘cast. The Sisters Grimm are appearing as one of his first guests.
Nic and I wanted a new-ish look for Vikki, Sam, and Vexx. We wanted something slightly more militant, reflecting their connection with Kessler and the MLF. Nic nailed it; integral armor is VERY fashion forward. Equally impressive to both Tim Gunn and Tony Stark.
This week’s song pairing works on a few levels. First, Hole’s ‘Celebrity Skin‘ makes sense with the girl’s new found recognition. It’ll also make even more sense over the next couple pages. Plus, Hole naffing rocks.
Finally, Hannah Valerus update. The notes are finished and the actual writing has started. It’s looking like maybe 100 pages, with maybe 12-15 illustrations. One thing I can tell you (spoiler alert!) is that it takes place predominantly on Io. But here’s a question: would you rather see it serialized or have it all at once?
Talk to you in one System Standard week,
PAGE SIXTY FOUR. Interior, green room. The Leviathan Club, Prometheus City. Io.
Sol Veneris (Martian Friday) is here again, Earthers! Alas, this is our last page on the scenic moon of Io. I hope you’ve enjoyed our Jovian holiday. I’ve got more planned for Io down the road, so let us just say au revoir to our sulphuric frontier world for now.
Now, I am (was?) a big fan of Orbital Burn, but I suspect that Shade Endgame is going to make them look like three Neptunian Girl Scouts (not to be confused with Venusian Girl Scouts who are trained in a variety of heavy weapons). I think the Burn saw their targets as easy prey and underestimated the help they’d have. Shade, on the other hand, is one of those rare purebred psychopaths who no one sees coming. Should be interesting to watch…
We also get to see our old friend Xander Thule this week, which is nice. That the Combine employs (or at least works with) serial murderers shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Last week I asked if anyone had ideas about the names of Shade’s Kitty Porn ‘bot backups. After all the great suggestions, I think I like Ian’s choice of the Germanic versions of the three Fates. As he suggested, it does seem to fit Shade’s melodramatic personality. So: Skuld, Verthandi, and Urth. It gives the comic some much needed class! Ian, email me at email@example.com when you get a chance so I can send you a print compilation (which, I might add, are almost gone).
This week’s musical pairing seemed obvious to me. Maybe it’s too predictable, but I have to go with Jace Everett and ‘Bad Things.’
It just makes seven kinds of sense. And actually, I totally recommend listening to more of his stuff beyond the fang-banger hit. I’m not a huge country fan, but I’m not sure I’d even classify this as country. Check out the album: Red Revelations (awesome title).
And finally, I know I say this all the time, but we really do have a few big things to share soon. I can’t say too much, but have you ever wondered about how Vikki Grimm, Samantha Darkness, and Taryn Vexx met? Me too.
PAGE SIXTY THREE. Interior, green room of the Leviathan Club. Prometheus City, Io.
Well, that was a long week. Nice to see Friday again. Not so much if you’re club owner and manager Emeric Belasco. This is definitely not his sol.
Behold Shade Endgame in action (implied)! Our little glamgoth psychopath displays her skill with the dagger. She’s very fond of her knife, which she’s actually named Scorn.
The backing members of Kitty Porn became a source of some discussion between Nic and I. I had described them as almost marionette-like; puppety. I think Nic took that basic concept and fused it with a cool skeletal design. The cyclopean visage became the finishing touch. They ‘bots have a slightly manic look- almost shocked. And based on what they’re clearly privy to, I’m not surprised. But as I’ve said before, Nic’s talent lies in his ability to fill the page with amazing details and the design of these robots illustrates this perfectly.
I was wondering though, do these three back-up-bots have names? IDs? OU812? Thoughts?
Finally, Nic has the honor of presenting this week’s music pairing. For a few reasons, it’s the ideal choice. First, Nic describes the song as a tune he could draw violent murder scenes to all day. So there’s that. Then there’s the group’s name. Get the irony? And we both agree that Florence Welch’s voice could be Shade Endgame-esque. So, without further ado, ‘Seven Devils‘.
Until next week. We’ve got some big news coming up soon, so stay tuned.
PAGE SIXTY TWO. Interior, green room at the Leviathan Club. Prometheus City, Io.
As a great Kurgan once said, “Happy Halloween, ladies!” Well, it’s a little early, but close enough- you get my drift. This Friday sees us behind the scenes at the Leviathan. And we finally get to meet Kitty Porn and their darkling front-woman, Shade Endgame.
Now, a little backstory: some of you may remember Shade and KP from one of our MarsBeat ‘casts. Back then KP still had some human musicians. But over time, Shade has “disposed” of her backing members and replaced them with more compliant ‘bot musicians. This move has elicited mixed reviews from the Martian music scene, though Kitty Porn fans remain vehemently loyal to their glamgoth princess.
We are also introduced this week to the Leviathan Club’s owner and manager, Emeric Belasco*. Our good proprietor has lost patience with young Shade and her tardiness. He seems pretty naff’d off. Though you’d think someone would’ve warned him that Endgame doesn’t react well to yelling….
Nic and I both have a musical pairing to offer you this week. First, Nic has chosen Muse’s ‘New Born.’ I totally back the Southlander’s choice. Very atmospheric and dark. For my own part, I’ve been inspired by some news this last week. Rolling Stone had a short piece on Garbage and their forthcoming album. So, to celebrate, I’m going with a similarly dark tune, #1 Crush. One of my favorite love songs.
Any cool costumes planned? I think, by next year, I might have an MLF uniform ready. Until next week,
*a homage to one of the greatest haunted house novels ever written.
PAGE SIXTY ONE. Io. Prometheus City. Leviathan Club.
Once again we meet on this Friday morn! This week’s page features the Leviathan Club, exterior and interior. I kinda like that ‘Free Mars’ is sort of a tour of the Sol-system’s hotspots; we do get to see a lot of the colonized world’s bars, nightclubs, and music venues. But such is the nature of our tale, no?
As a writer, I find that I have two modes when dealing with design. Sometimes I find that I am very specific, while other times I just inherently trust that Nic knows what I’m talking about. The Leviathan Club probably falls into the former category. I had some very specific descriptions of biomechanical design and theme. Though Nic has filled in any gaps with his usual flair. The result, which I am really stunned by, is an industrial club straight out of a nightmare. A perfect part of a pretty dark sequence, leading up to Halloween!
Owned and managed by Emeric Belasco, the Leviathan Club is Io’s largest music venue. The club has an interesting, if somewhat ghoulish history, but we can save all the grizzly details for another time….
This week’s music pairing demands some atmosphere, but since I’m also feeling slightly sentimental, I’m going with this remix of Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy the Silence.’
Next week we finally get to meet the band behind the chanting. Kitty Porn, whose front-woman, Shade Endgame, will no doubt prove to be an important addition to our cast. Until then,
PAGE SIXTY. Io.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet.
Another Friday, Marsers. We proudly present P60 (I’m actually pretty impressed with how close we are to my original page schedule). Anyway, this week sees us off our Martian homeworld. Instead, we find ourselves on Io, Jupiter’s innermost moon. I’ve always thought Io was a cool place for a colony, ever since I first saw Outland (anyone remember that movie?- “My men? My men are shit”.)
Io is also the world, after Mars of course, that I’ve written the most notes about. It will definitely be featured prominently in future ‘Free Mars’ tales. For now, though, we get to see its capital, Prometheus City. Io is honeycombed with mining settlements, frontier towns, and thousands of miles of abandoned shafts. Unlike the centralized government on Mars, Io is partitioned into spheres of influence. Various guilds, mining clans, and cartels all vie for power, making Io a bit lawless. Think Mars, but slightly more dangerous and significantly more chaotic.
Nic, as usual, matched exactly what I had in my head when I wrote this page. I’m particularly fond of the sulphuric tinge to the city, as well as the stalactite and stalagmite hab-spires.
This week, I’m gonna go with Foster the People and ‘Pumped Up Kicks.’ It has a creepy/dark mellow-ness to it that I think fits nicely with the shot of our orbiting moon.
Until next week,
PAGE 59. Amazonis Prime. Hippolyta Stadium, Independence Sol.
I get very excited every time we get to do a Track title page and this week is no exception. Not since Track 1 have we gotten a cool splash of the band playing. In fact, I think there’s a nice parallel with PAGE 4. On that page, the girls were playing for a less-than-enthusiastic collection of Medusa’s patrons. This week we see just how far three musicians can go in 59 pages. It does seem like a long time ago….
The other difference between that title page and this is the presence here of Damien Kessler. He’s really the reason they’re here, right? For better or worse has yet to be seen.
This week’s musical pairing should be fairly obvious. The Bowie classic sounds at home in a stadium, I think. The only more obvious song would be Anthem itself, but we haven’t quite put that together…yet. But I say too much! For those interested, the lyrics to Anthem are here.
On the next Free Mars, we take our first step off-world. We get a quick look at another colonized world (one of my personal favorites): Io.
Finally, I want to just make a quick dedication this week. PAGE 59 is dedicated, with respect, to Steve Jobs. As I load tonight’s page on my Mac, I can’t help but wax sentimental about my mom’s IIE. Thanks, Mr. Jobs. You will be missed.
See you gremmies next week,
PAGE FIFTY EIGHT. Hippolyta Stadium. Independence Sol.
With about 8 minutes to spare, I am proudly presenting the latest installment of ‘Free Mars.’ We have, since we started, never missed a Friday update and this sol is no different (though we cut it close)! A combination of unforeseen events conspired against us, but we still managed to keep our record intact. In any case, I apologize for the delay.
I believe the page was worth the extra few hours. I think the second panel has to be one of the coolest shots in this book. It is an extraordinary combination of scope and scale and intimacy. You don’t need to see the faces of the band to guess their expressions at this point.
Vikki does her best John Lennon here, providing some dry wit. I think the whole scene has a Shea Stadium feel.
Okay, gotta stop rambling…almost midnight.
PAGE FIFTY SEVEN. Backstage…
Happy Friday, Earthers. We are proud to present another page from our tale of rock and revolution. This week finds our heroines backstage at the Independence Sol celebration. As newly elected President Jareth Isidis addresses his fellow Amazonians, Kessler presents the band with a pretty interesting proposition/opportunity.
This week is pretty dialogue-heavy, which after a pretty crazy action sequence, is actually kinda soothing. But, as always, Nic has filled these panels with some amazing details. I especially like the frenetic action as the backstage crew scrambles to keep the show going.
This weekend marks the anniversary of one of the greatest rock albums of all time: Nirvana’s Nevermind. I don’t know about you guys, but I personally can’t believe it’s been naffing 20 years! Produced by one of the best- Butch Vig. To commemorate the anniversary, I’m going with ‘Come As You Are.’ It kinda makes sense with what’s going on in the comic this week.
Until next week,
PAGE FIFTY SIX. Hippolyta Stadium, Amazonis Prime. Independence Sol.
Happy Friday again, Marsers. First, if you look all the way at the bottom of the site, we’ve hit 500,000 visits. We’re very excited about this- so thanks again to all of you. Even if you subtract the times Nic and I have visited the site, we still have nearly two dozen unique hits! Seriously, this week was a huge milestone.
This week’s page features Samantha’s somewhat subjective sense of humor. We also get to meet Damien Kessler’s bodyguard, TeeVee. I think Nic gave him the right combination of menace and personality. He hasn’t said anything yet and he’s already awesome; he’s got character. And a great fashion sense.
The playful nature of this week’s offering warrants an easy-going tune. So what do you think of Noel Gallagher’s new song, The Death of You and Me? I personally like this sort of rollicking tune. Could be a good album. He’s got to match his brother’s solo project, Beady Eye.
Until next week,
PAGE FIFTY FIVE. Exterior Hippolyta Stadium, Amazonis Prime.
Okay, enough Interludes and “deleted scenes!” Back to our story. For anyone just tuning in, this is the first page of Track 4. Our heroines, directed by Veruca, arrive at Hippolyta Stadium, home of the Amazonis Hoplites bladeball team. The Independence Sol celebration is in full swing. Amazonis, along with a handful of other hab-pyramids, have officially declared their secession from the CSC. No one expects the CSC to take this sitting down, so to speak, but tonight is about raising the morale of a city faced with the prospect of a prolonged blockade and possible direct attack.
Nic captures the celebratory nature of the event in typical spectacular fashion. It actually reminds me of a huge event we had here in Chicago back in 2008. Without the ‘bots.
Now, I admit my musical pairings can occasionally be a little cheesy, but I want everyone to know that I am not choosing any Black Eyed Peas songs. Instead, I’m going back to one of my favorite Canadian bands, Metric. ’Stadium Love‘ seemed appropriate.
Until next week,
DELETED SCENE: Resurrection.
+++++Commentary Track enabled+++++
DAVE: We unfortunately had to cut this scene. The original sequence had Vrill wake-up in a dingy, Giger-esque bio-mech laboratory with a creepy surgeon-mechanic putting the finishing touches on the mercenary commander’s new chassis. The whole “can you hear me?” thing created a nice parallel to the scene where Vikki wakes up in the med-bay aboard the MLF crawler, though this is obviously much darker.
But the scene never really fit anywhere. The pacing would’ve been thrown off as the story continues at a pretty frenetic beat for a while. We also have new and insidious villains to introduce shortly and we didn’t want to steal their malevolent thunder.
NIC: I think this scene, though deleted, is important and significant because it shows the true nature and tone of the comic in three panels.
DAVE: How so?
NIC: That Cpt. Vrill survived the explosion and the fall implies that this is a tale of entertainment, where the villains can come back at any minute, cyber-ized or not, and be ready for more. As I once said, FREE MARS has a very 80’s flavour, one that we fuel with things such as Bowie-esque make-up and other musical/cinematic references. But, most of all, I like this scene because this gentleman here embodies the classic hardcore mercenary that just won’t die. He and his never-ending ammo are landmarks of this type of story. And for that, I’m satisfied.
DAVE: In the end, we had to scrap it (no pun intended). Originally, I had planned that the surgeon would be unsure as to Vrill’s feelings about his new body. Until, that is, Vrill lets out an enthusiastic “Yesssssss!” Maybe that’ll show up in the blu-ray…
INTERLUDE III. Homesick
Friday again, Marsers. This week we follow our tradition of between-chapter Interludes, showing our main characters in moments of repose. These are little solitary vignettes set away from the frenetic world of the comic. The idea being that comics (webcomics especially) can be very face-paced with every week propelling the story forward. These pieces let us step outside this high-burn trajectory and change up the perspective. We’ve seen Vikki Grimm writing, Sam reading a political treatise, and now we get to glimpse our sardonic glamgoth bassist in a moment of vulnerability.
Homesick is a true collaboration between Nic and I. He had the concept for a scene of Taryn Vexx going through some old holos. I loved the visual potential and wanted to join it with some material from Vexx’s character bio, namely that, for all her sarcasm and coolness under pressure, she is really just a “daddy’s girl.” She’s tough, but she’s also been sheltered in a way money and privilege can shelter someone. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this character’s past and I hope we get to show it you at some point.
Plus, she’s stuck in a war zone now. Amazonis is blockaded and with its declaration of autonomy, a Combine attack is imminent. It is a city under siege and that’s not something even the cynical and pugnacious Vexx is prepared to cope with.
So we present a very melancholy scene (hence the music pairing-Melancholy Hill by the Gorillaz). We hope you dig it. Track 4 starts in two weeks. Next week we have an unusual offering that we think you’ll like. Sort of a “deleted scene” kinda thing.
PAGE FIFTY FOUR. Exterior, high above the streets of Amazonis Prime.
Happy Friday, gremmies. This week sees the end of TRACK 3, Volcano Girls. In two weeks, Vikki, Sam, Vexx, and Kessler will be back in TRACK 4, Rebel Rebel. Next week we’ll be bringing you the third of our Interlude pieces. We’ve seen Vikki and Samantha in repose, so Vexx is up next. We really enjoy putting these little vignettes together. This next one will be swass.
Nic and I agreed on this week’s song pairing. We wanted some classic rock. Something up tempo. Something you’d listen to on the way to a party. So we went with Aerosmith.
Nic’s colored version of Shade Endgame is up on FaceBook. It’s a beautiful piece he did for a lucky client. Check it out on FB or deviantArt.
Finally, some cool Chicago comic news. We finally have an alternative/indie comic convention, which is naffing cool. Next June. More info here: http://www.CAKEchicago.com
Until our Interlude next week…tentatively titled Casual Vexx.
PAGE FIFTY THREE. Exterior. High above the Jovian Quarter, Amazonis Prime.
“You said this was a convertible, yeah?”
Raff Vrill, soldier of fortune and hit-squad commando, has finally run out of luck, I suspect. Barely surviving Veruca’s micro-fusion cocktail, our assassin still didn’t give up the chase. We have to give him that much- he was no a naffing quitter!
This week’s page gives us a good view of the traffic above Amazonis. It’s busy. Maybe not 101 or ‘Fifth Element’ busy, but definitely congested. I think Nic did a particularly nice job with the weathering on the older vehicles.
This week’s music pairing is a slight departure. I’m picking the song this week mostly because it’s been stuck in my head since last weekend. I kinda want to pass on the experience to you. Now, it also has a cool irony factor; it actually goes well with this scene. I won’t give it away, but I would suggest you grab a Heineken…SONG.
In other FM news, we posted a concept/character sketch of Shade Endgame on FaceBook and Twitter a while ago. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. We should have the color version up shortly. Shade is already very popular amongst the small group of people that’ve read the script. I can not wait to introduce you properly.
Finally, Nic and I had an interesting discussion tonight and there was one topic I figured I’d share, to get your opinion. We were trying to define ‘Free Mars’ in terms of genre. It’s sci-fi, obviously, but it’s not really “hard” sci-fi. Not quite epic enough yet to qualify as space opera either. It has some grittiness and some dark themes, but isn’t particularly grim. We finally decided that, to us, this comic is very much a product of our love of the 1980s. Basically, we decided that ‘Free Mars’ is a comic version of an 80′s movie. Dystopian fun.
PAGE FIFTY TWO. Exterior, night. Jovian Quarter, Amazonis Prime.
Happy Friday. That seemed like a quick week! I’m off to Indianapolis (GenCon) in a few, so I’ll keep this short.
I think most of you know by now that I, in varying degrees, love every finished page Nic produces. I think, by now, I have something like 15-20 favorite pages. I won’t go to that extreme this week though I will say the second panel is one of my favorite shots of Vikki Grimm. Determined would be the word I would use to describe our heroine’s countenance. I also really appreciate that Nic has added a relatively uncommon splash of color here via the holo-displays. Our Mars has a very industrial/noir feel, but seeing this kind of vibrant color once in a while is nice.
Alas poor Raff Vrill. It does appear that this soldier of fortune has met his match. He certainly didn’t see this coming. To honor Vrill (and keep the tempo up), I’m going with the classic from Naked Raygun’s Jettison, ‘Soldier’s Requiem.’ Captain Vrill, we salute you!
Until next week,
UPDATE: I just realized- 52 Pages means 52 weeks of ‘Free Mars.’ That’s one Earth year (a Mars year is 669 sols). That actually sneaked up on us. I’d love to hear from you guys this week. What do you think so far? Have you stuck with us from the beginning? New reader? Favorite character? Anything like that. Wow- one year already. Naff me.
PAGE FIFTY ONE. Exterior Ziggy’s Café. Jovian Quarter, Amazonis Prime.
Happy Sol Veneris*, Earthers! Looks like it was a great SDCC. I’ve been going through some photo blogs and it looks like that place was lousy with Slave Leias! No Vikki Grimms or Vexxii this year, though. Maybe 2012?
I’m naffing bananas about this week’s page. Nic has taken almost every cool sci-fi car and created this great amalgamation. There’s a little Spinner from Blade Runner with a pinch of Minority Report’s Lexus Concept. And maybe this is just me, but the color scheme of the LV-426 reminds me of House Harkonnen. The holo-displays are always sweet.
So, at least one member of Orbital Burn has survived. Were the others as lucky? Vrill is definitely a motivated guy.
We gotta go with a Garbage song this week: ‘Run Baby Run.’ I definitely think this song would be on the FM soundtrack. I am including an alternate choice, though. Because he’s coming to Wrigley this Sunday, I think we’ll also include Paul McCartney and Wings and ‘Helen Wheels.’ Two great driving songs.
Until next week. Probably live update from GenCon in Indianapolis. Anyone go to GenCon?
PAGE FIFTY. Interior Ziggy’s Café. Post-micro-fusion explosion.
Happy 50th page, Marsers! The big 5-0. It is almost a year ago exactly that we began this project and we couldn’t be more proud of the results, humbled by the response, and optimistic about the future of ‘Free Mars.’ It has been an amazing year. It has been so cool to see these characters come alive every week and the lion’s share of credit has to go to Nic. The quality of his work has literally allowed me to take more chances with the script.
Again (I’ve said this before), we couldn’t do it without you. I mean that sincerely. You ladies and gentlemen make this fun every week and we appreciate that. Please keep commenting and emailing.
We reached another milestone this week. I finished the detailed outline for the first 96 pages of the comic. What we’re calling Free Mars: The First Album. I think you’ll be entertained…and surprised.
But enough naffing sentimentality! What do you think of Kessler’s ride? You’d think being a guerilla leader might not pay huge dividends financially, but he seems to be doing well.
Music pairing-wise, I’ve run through the gamut of “car songs.” So, my inclination is to go with Elastica and ‘Car Song.’ Any automotive tune suggestions?
Until next week,
We’re a little late this week, though it’s technically still Friday in Chicago. The reason for the tardiness makes comics seem much less important. I am really sorry to report that Nic’s father passed away after a long illness. Nic wanted to explain the delay in the update, but I thought it was more important to let his fans know that our good friend is going through a tough time. I’m sure you will all agree with me when I say our thoughts are with him and his family. We love you, man!
PAGE FORTY NINE. Interior Ziggy’s Cafe.
Good sol, gremmies. We’re very happy to bring you this week’s installment of ‘Free Mars.’ For your consideration: a micro-fusion explosion! Typically used in mining excavations and other industrial projects, this powerful explosive can carve out an ice shaft in seconds. Used in a popular Jovian Quarter club, however, the results become somewhat more dramatic. The micro-fusion reaction is very controllable though, so one assumes Veruca kept collateral damage down to a minimum.
I’m gonna keep it short this week as I’m transmitting this from the fell woods of western Michigan. I can hear coyotes now and I know I saw a pack cougars in the wine shop earlier today….
After much discussion, I’ve decided to go with my first choice of musical pairing. ’Cherry Bomb‘ by the Runaways.
Until next week,
PAGE FORTY EIGHT. Interior Ziggy’s Café.
Friday again already, Marsers. That seemed like a quick week. In any case, welcome back to Ziggy’s. Someone has some good hearing- probably from working all those years in demolitions himself, Ventiss Klegg knows the sound of an activated micro-fusion plastique bomb.
And the girls do apparently have a guardian angel named Veruca. Lucky for them. And while I’ll be the first to admit that I was a fan of “showgirl Veruca”, I also like “guerilla agent Veruca.” I would get both versions of the action figure. When the spin-offs start, I’d like to go more in depth with this character. But for now, she remains an enigma wrapped in a purple Mohawk.
I can’t wait for next week’s first panel. Any guesses what it’ll be?
I thought a lot about music pairings this week, but I’m going with a suggestion from Derek G, one of the original Blue Blaze Irregulars. He like Rage Against the Machine and ‘Calm Like a Bomb.’
I’m gonna keep it short this week- I’m on vacation now. It’ll be a working vacation, though, and I’ve got the outline done for the next Hannah Valerus tale.
Oh, if you get a chance. The gentlemen at Digital Strips reviewed ‘Free Mars’ this last week. Check it out. I would urge you to make their podcast a regular stop along your digital wanderings. And I’m not just recommending it because they give us a good review- I’ve been listening to their reviews for a while and I’ve found some interesting new comics as a result.
Until next week, may the odds be ever in your favor.
PAGE FORTY SEVEN. Interior Ziggy’s Café.
It’s naffing Friday again and we are very proud to bring you this week’s edition of ‘Free Mars.’ I know I say this a lot, but this might be one of my favorite pages to date. I <3 this version of Samantha. She is incredibly pissed off, and with good reason. Orbital Burn has turned a good show into a chaotic bloodbath where not even ‘bot bartenders are safe!
This is part of an extended action sequence and I am convinced that these episodes really let our man Nicolas shine. He does action really well. Writing action is fun, but the burden of story-telling really falls on the artist’s shoulders. A “chaotic scene of destruction” isn’t really very descriptive, so Nic is left with the responsibility to fill that in with actual screaming audience members, gun-toting waitresses, and plasma trails. That said, these high-intensity moments are good times for little insights into the characters and I think Vikki might be a little sensitive to Vexx’s suggestion for a reason.
Nic and I did not agree on this week’s musical pairing, so I’ll give you both. The Argentinean is going with Sepultura and ‘Refuse/Resist.’ It goes well with Sam’s defiance and is certainly the right tempo for the scene. Personally, I think this is what I would call a Tarantino moment. In my opinion, Quentin Tarantino stands alone when it comes to using popular music to enhance what you see on the screen. So, as homage, I’m going with the 5,6,7,8s and ‘Woo Hoo.’ I love that the top comment on YouTube is:
Here are the lyrics: Woo Hoo Who Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Woo Hoo Who Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Woo Hoo Who Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Woo Hoo…
I think, as in KB, this song provides a nice juxtaposition to the chaos and violence.
Finally, to all the U.S. fans, have a safe and swass holiday weekend. We’ll see you next Friday.
EDIT- how crazy is it to use this song as the pairing? Freaks me out:
PAGE FORTY SIX. Interior. Ziggy’s Café.
Only way to feel the noise is when it’s good and loud.
Happy Friday, Barberallas. In what can only be described as a very public display of anarchy, Orbital Burn has been unleashed against our heroines. They’re not what you’d consider a particularly stealthy kill team, but I think this is exactly what Xander Thule had in mind. I don’t expect a killing rampage will do much to negatively effect OB ticket sales….
Nic obviously enjoys drawing these thrashcore assassins; each member of the band has a unique character and style. And I like that each is slightly reminiscent of a real-life musical counter-part. For that reason- to honor Raff Vrill- we have to go with Motorhead’s ‘Devil I Know’ for this week’s musical pairing. Nic picked it and thinks it’s appropriate because it speaks to falling back into old bad habits, much like OB’s return to their CSC/mercenary hit squad salad days. I think Nic clearly has an appreciation and insight into the work of Motorhead.
As always, I’m amazed at how Nic executes the little details in the script, like the “Reserved” hologram at the table and the autograph session. These come from the briefest of descriptions, but get turned into integral parts of the overall narrative once they appear on the page. I think Nic agrees with me when I say that it’s these little details that give the ‘Free Mars’ universe its depth.
Finally, Nic has decided that he will be offering this original page for sale. Up until now, only Nic, myself, and our mysterious investor SH have had the opportunity to own an original ‘Free Mars’ page. I can tell you- these are amazing in person. Works of serious art, as any of Nic’s clients will tell you. Page 4 is being framed as I write. The details are available on Nic’s deviantArt page, but you can also inquire through the firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned, the shizz is gonna get crazy….
PAGE FORTY FIVE. Interior, Ziggy’s Café. Entertainer’s green room.
Happy Friday (or possibly late Thursday), Terran-mutants. This week finds our heroines watching some pre-show vid in Ziggy’s green room. Jareth Isidis, nominal head of the Free Amazonis council, announces the Hab-pyramid’s independence. We also find out from Samantha that there’s a celebration to mark the big occasion. The band is also informed of some famous chaps in the audience and, lastly, we get to listen in on our drummer asking someone out. Lot’s going on this week.
With all this stuff happening, you’d think the page might get cluttered. But Nic works a really full script into a smooth flowing page. As always, he packs in the detail. In this case, it’s hard not to notice the other dancers. And while sci-fi strippers generally deserve plenty of attention, I think the beauty of this page lie in the smaller details- the lights around the mirror or the trash on the floor or Samatha’s holo-drum gear.
To honor the costuming this week, I’m actually gonna go with a Lady Gaga song (it had to happen). I’m still not personally sure what I think about LG. I do think she’s incredibly talented, but is she just a postmodern Madonna? In any case, I think this tune works well with the page. It’s got a nice sci-fi dance club feel- ‘Bad Romance.’
A few quick pieces of news. The print compilations are almost gone. We did a pretty limited run on purpose and I’ve sent them across the surface third planet, from Australia to Poland, from London to Royal Oak, Michigan. If you’re waiting to grab one, now would be a good time. Shortly the remaining books will only be available on the Gorgon Studios web page. I’ll let you know when they’re over there. We’ll have all our future merchandise there as well including the Hannah Valerus miniature sculpted by Chris Borer AND the Vikki Grimm figure sculpted by Rich Sweet. Both of these should be available soon. Again, I’ll keep you updated here, on FB and the Twitters.
Until next week (when some very angry thrashcore assassins show up at the café and the shizz hits the air-processor unit),
PAGE FORTY FOUR. City Center, Amazonis Prime Hab-Pyramid.
Previously, on the next ‘Free Mars’…
Happy Friday, gremmies. Today we join the band in downtown Amazonis Prime. Samantha and Vexx post some gig flyers while Vikki G. gets a little writing done. These mundane activities become pretty ominous, however, with the addition of the Orbital Burn lurkers. They creep me out.
I love the palette Nic uses this week. The washed-out tones of the Amazonis urbanscape are excellent and are nicely highlighted by the greens- especially the green from Ventiss Klegg’s specs. As a tribute to this effect and to Klegg himself, the musical pairing is ‘Limelight‘ by Rush*.
I also want one of those gig posters. And a concert t-shirt.
*I’m sure Chris B. will agree, Neil Ellwood Peart is maybe the best drummer. Ever.
PAGE FORTY THREE. Interior Ziggy’s Café. After the show…
These drinking sessions seem to follow every performance. Now, I haven’t been in a band for a long, long time (see Garden Gnomes), but I do hang out with bands after their shows. I’ve never known a band to not drink post-gig. Never. Either to celebrate a good show or to bitch about something. Seems like our Sisters Grimm usually do the latter.
Nic has really given Ziggy’s Café its own unique character. I think places need as much personality as some characters, in a comic, if they’re to be memorable. But, speaking of characters, we get to hang out a little with Samantha’s cousin and proprietor of this nefarious establishment, Ziggy Jones. We also get introduced his newest employee, Veruca, who strikes me as familiar…
This week’s music pairing is actually my “writer’s choice” for last week’s song contest. We decided to do a writer’s choice, an artist’s choice, two runners-up, and an overall winner. Like a naffing Golden Demon that. Anyway, the writer’s choice was sent in an email from Kim: Lash and ‘Take Me Away.’ Kim had a few appropriate suggestions (Heart was another good one), but this short-lived band from Perth should’ve been a lot bigger, I think. They had one album in 2001. I think this single works well with this week’s after-show scene:
Nic’s choice was Muse and ‘Resistance.’ That came from Saguinius on deviantArt. Muse would definitely be on the ‘Free Mars’ soundtrack. Which is actually the only thing ‘Free Mars’ has in common with ‘Twlight.’ Though I guess that one vampire (Ashley Greene) would make a good Shade Endgame, but I digress.
The first runner-up came in the form of an electronic mail from Major Tom. He chose ‘In the Flesh’ by Pink Floyd. Nic and I thought that this worked really well. Classic song that seemed to fit in with the theatrical environs. The second runner-up is basically an award for paying attention- Gillsing with his suggestion of Veruca Salt and ‘Volcano Girls.’
So, Kim, Saguinius and MajorTom and Gillsing all get copies of the print compilation. Email us with your address (or we’ll get a hold of you).
But the winner, as decided by Nic and I together, was Coxy (theRedBeard) on deviantArt with ‘I Fought the Law.’ The Clash, the Dead Kennedys, Green Day, etc. One of the most covered songs in history, I believe. So it makes sense that punk bands are still playing it in 2339. Thanks, Coxy. We’ll be in touch about your original piece as done by one NRG!
PAGE FORTY TWO. Interior, main stage. Ziggy’s Café.
Direct from Volcano City, ladies and gentlemen, the Sisters Grimm…
As a writer, I love splash pages with no dialogue. I make joke, of course, but I do seriously love when we get to do a performance splash page. The heart and soul of ‘Free Mars’ are these shots of the band’s gigs. PAGE 4 is still one of the most iconic pages of this series, in my opinion, and I think Nic has captured here that same feeling of frenetic energy. These pages give a real sense of what a SG show would be like. Each girl exudes her own personality, but the ensemble becomes greater than the parts, so to speak. Though I suspect I’d be slightly more excited about it than these naffing miners.
Nic and I have discussed, at length, what we thought the musical pairing should be this week. Because the scene is such a visual summation of the band, we wanted the song to be as important. So we got kinda philosophical about it. The beauty of the Sisters Grimm is that they sound exactly like what you think they sound like. By that, I mean, this is a comic, right? We offer musical pairings and some hints and possibilities, but there’s no real band. There are lyrics, but no melodies.
To that end, we wanted your input this week. We even decided to make a little “contest” out of it. You tell us what Old Earth cover song the band is playing tonight at Ziggy’s. It doesn’t have to be an Elastica or Hole song- it can be anything. Even, dare I say it, a Country song. Post your choice here, on FaceBook, Twitter, Nic’s deviantArt page or email us at email@example.com.
Nic and I will collect all the suggestions. Between us and some honorary judges, we’ll decide the best cover song. “Best” being subjective; we’ll chose the most original and iconic Old Earth song that we think the SG would be most likely to perform on Mars in 2339. The winner will get two prizes. From Nic, an original and exclusive Mini-Masterpiece (check out his dA gallery for some examples)! From me, you’ll get a ‘Free Mars’ print (the MLF chick spray-painting the CSC Security Trooper).
We’ll announce the winner next week and then I’ll edit this post with the winner for posterity. So, let’s hear some requests….
PAGE 41. Interior. Ziggy’s Cafe.
Happy Friday, gremmies. Last week we got to see the exterior of this Jovian Quarter landmark, so now we get to go inside. It’s an eclectic club and attracts an interesting cliental. Whatever your pleasure, from live music to live dancers, Ziggy’s is open for business, even during the rebellion. Since the uprising in Amazonis, the mortality rate inside Ziggy’s has actually dropped. Though there are still items on the drink menu that require a signed waiver (as do certain private dances).
The design for Ziggy’s interior has been a subject of much discussion. We wanted a retro, cabaret feel. But with a strong glam influence. And a dash of Nagel for good measure. I think Nic nailed it.
I’m gonna keep this week’s post short and sweet, since I’m on the road (Delta City). Nic and I agree 100% on this week’s music pairing. It might be slightly obvious, but it is sort of the club’s theme song.
Anyone spot Nic’s Mars-related “Easter Egg?”
Finally, it’s nice to see our girls again. Fancy some rock ‘n roll?
Until next week,
PAGE FORTY. Amazonis Prime Hab-Pyramid, the Jovian Quarter.
Welcome to the jungle, we got fun ‘n’ games
We got everything you want, honey we know the names
We are the people that you find, whatever you may need
If you got the money, honey we got your disease
Welcome to Amazonis Prime. We’ve heard a lot about this particular Hab-Pyramid, but now we get a chance to finally check it out first hand. It is definitely an industrial city and home to thousands of miners, factory workers, and techs. Amazonians are a no-nonsense people and their city reflects this. The one exception being, of course, the Jovian Quarter.
Founded as a recreational district by Europan immigrants in the early 2200’s, the Quarter has become one of the Red Planet’s more colourful (and dangerous) locales. Renowned for its restaurants, theatres, and brothels, the Jovian Quarter is a place where the hard-working Amazonian can let off some steam, but has also become something of a tourist attraction for the rest of Mars.
One of the Quarters’ most interesting destinations is Ziggy’s Café. Owned by one Ziggy Jones, the Café is the club of choice for industrial spies, mercenaries, Iosan crime bosses, smugglers, and revolutionaries. Think part Rick’s Café and part Mos Eisley cantina (with a little Red Garter, Indianapolis thrown in for good measure). It was also originally a bank, so it’s basically a fortress.
This week’s musical pairing is, as you might’ve guessed, Guns N’ Roses ‘Welcome to the Jungle.’ Funny thing- I originally was going with ‘Paradise City’, before Nic even suggested WttJ. Same place, different perspectives. I took one look at Nic’s finished page and thought (to quote Liz Lemon), “I want to go to there.”
By the way, I’m not linking the songs this week because I expect you damn better well have some GN’R on your Zunes already.
Okay, I promise we’ll see our girls again next week. Ziggy’s is also an excellent venue for music….
PAGE THIRTY NINE. MarsNet News ‘cast.
Happy Friday, Earthers. This week we’ve got a nice split page. You might recognize our intrepid anchor, Sophie Pettit, from some of the MarsNet background material. This evening she’s presenting some fair and balanced reporting on the uprising in Amazonis Prime. And then we get a nice wide shot of the hab-pyramid in question.
I love the design of Amazonis. I described it to Nic as a far more industrial place than Olympus City. The tech, combined with the fog (an unfortunate side-effect of sub-standard and aging enviro systems), gives the city an almost Victorian or steampunk quality.
This week’s musical pairing was a tough choice. The violent demonstration turned battle scene from Sophie’s ‘cast seemed to be the perfect inspiration. But do you go with a Riot Grrrl band, something from Bikini Kill? ‘Can You Tell’ is an amazing song (by Ra Ra Riot), but didn’t quite fit the situation. So, in the end, I had to go with Leeds’ own Kaiser Chiefs and ‘I Predict A Riot.’ It only makes sense.
If you didn’t see the extra page we posted yesterday, just go back one page (Transmission Archives). It is an excellent (and well received) MLF recruitment poster featuring everyone’s favorite guerilla leader, Damien Kessler.
Until next week, when we’ll catch up with our girls and see what their new gig is like,
KESSLER FIGHTS FOR MARS! Martian Liberation Front Propaganda Holo.
Free Mars/Comic Day
I know, it’s Thursday. But we decided to celebrate Free Comic Book Day a little early. Instead of interrupting our scheduled transmission on Saturday (actual Free Comic Book Day), we’re offering an extra page now. But don’t pop your think-dome as tomorrow’s update is already in the can and will be up at the regular time.
Nic has done a fantastic character study here for an MLF recruitment poster. Kessler looks pretty naffing badass. I would join up.
Okay, see you all tomorrow. First we’ll get a little fair and balanced MarsNet news, then off to Amazonis Prime….
PAGE THIRTY EIGHT. Interior, board room. CSC Headquarters, Olympus City.
+++Feel the Burn+++
If Xander Thule is the nefarious mastermind, then Orbital Burn is the muscle. Some of you may remember ‘the Burn’ from MarsBeat (see MarsNet page). Well, I am happy to welcome them into the comic proper this week. These ex-mercenaries turned thrashcore power-trio provide a nice foil for our punk rock girls.
Nic has made these guys about as scary as mercenary/heavy metal dudes get. I know he enjoyed working on these guys and I think he’s hidden a lot of Easter Eggs in their design. Being something of a RUSH fan myself, I particularly like the Burn’s drummer, Ventiss Klegg.
I turned to Nic this week for the musical pairing as I wanted him to come up with a song that he felt embodied Orbital Burn’s personalities. I can admit that my knowledge of real heavy metal is limited, whereas my Argentinean friend is pretty well-versed on the subject:
“In that vein, and since Dave asked me to come up with this week’s musical pairing (my being a bit more versed in the metal/thrash/heavy department), I suggest Type O Negative’s ‘Kill All the White People’, from their album ‘Bloody Kisses’. The lyrics, which simply amount to two phrases and the hard, violent, frantic music of the song makes it a perfect example of what Orbital Burn could deliver on stage.”
One more thing. We released a few concept sketches of some upcoming characters on FaceBook and Twitter earlier this week. One is now colored and in our ‘B-sides and Demos’ area (where we keep some concept and promo stuff). She may look familiar. And here’s another clue for you all: she may occasionally hire smugglers.
PAGE THIRTY SEVEN. Interior, boardroom. CSC headquarters.
Happy Friday, Marsers. This week delivers a freightlifter full of dialogue. So if you’re a fan of exposition, like me, this is your week. We find out Samantha Darkness’ real name and get a little info on the Vexx family.
But infodumping alone isn’t very interesting, so we also have a nice spread of action to accompany our discourse. Nic sort of revisits a few techniques he’s used, like the orange scanner vid and the washed-out monitor ‘cast. I think seeing them together is very cool. Personally, I love seeing the band playing (more of that coming up soon), so the vid shot here is cool.
For some reason, this page reminded me of a Metric video. Maybe the TV watching. The song also seems to fit and I can’t believe I haven’t suggested a Metric pairing yet. Emily Haines has an amazing voice (and puts on a great live show). I sometimes think Vikki G might sound like Haines. Though I also recently had someone suggest Vikki might sound like Neko Case. In any case, I guess Vikki sounds like a Canadian. So this week’s pairing is ‘Combat Baby’:
In other news, we’re working on the next Hannah Valerus tale, which may end up being substantially longer than ‘Boarding Party.’ Maybe novella longer. Would you pay $2 for an illustrated Valerus novella on Amazon? It’s something we’re definitely thinking about. We should also have some 30mm miniatures news soon for all you painters.
Finally, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but we are starting to run low on printed compilations. These were a pretty limited run so if you’re interested in having a physical manifestation of ‘Free Mars’ to hold in your twisted Earther claws, now would be the time to support the Revolution! Until next week,
PAGE THIRTY SIX. Interior. CSC Headquarters. Building One.
This week we have the pleasure of introducing you to a few villains. Xander Thule, head of CSC Security, and his trusty assistant, Calin Tyrell, aren’t your typical, suave corporate bad guys. And then there’s the High Theocrat of Earth. Nic has given him this excellent evil Pope/evil Elvis vibe that I love.
What I also dig is how the corporate environs are so clean compared with ‘Volcano Town.’ There is even naffing foliage! It clearly pays to be on the receiving end of a kleptocracy.
We finally have the print compilation available for sale on the website (look up at the menu). We’re including the mini-prints with any order, until they eventually run out. Besides being a quality piece of comic, it’s also a good way to show your support for ‘Free Mars.’ All proceeds go right back into future FM projects.
Thanks for checking out The Valerus Chronicles. I appreciate the feedback and we’re definitely going to continue the adventures of our smuggler slash binge drinker soon. Until next week,
Oh, I almost forgot. I couldn’t come up with a good “villain song.” Any ideas?
PAGE THIRTY FIVE. Exterior. Olympus City Habitat Pyramid. Corporate Sector.
Happy naffing Friday, grems. This week’s page is an establishing shot as we’re changing locations for a little while. We’ll get back to the girls at Amazonis shortly, but we find ourselves returned to Olympus City for the time being. CSC headquarters.
Nic occasionally mentions to me how much he doesn’t like designing buildings, but you would never know that from this page. I think he’s got a very cool aesthetic sensibility here. There’s an obvious sci-fi element, but it still looks based in reality. I mean, this could be an actual building (sans the ‘lifters).
Nic suggested Vangelis, which I can see as the building and air traffic is reminiscent of Scott’s classic film. Though Olympus City seems generally cleaner than L.A. I’m actually going with my favorite song off My Chemical Romance’s latest album, ‘The Kids From Yesterday’. I think this track provides a nice atmospheric, yet up-tempo pairing. Gerard Way, the band’s front man, is actually a fantastic comic book writer and his Umbrella Academy books are pretty amazing. If you’ve never read them I recommend the trades.
Speaking of comic book writers, I finally had the pleasure of meeting a personal hero: Dan Abnett. He is a really approachable guy and he spent hours talking with fans at Adepticon. It was a proud moment for yours truly when Dan asked me to sign his copy of our print compilation. Dan has added a summary of the weekend on his blog:
Speaking of printed compilation, I promise to have them available now through this site by this weekend, so if you need a print version (with Dan’s foreword and extra concept art), you will have that opportunity.
Finally, let me know what you think of the first installment of the Valerus Chronicles. Nic and I are pretty happy with our alternate collaboration and we’re considering some longer illustrated tales from the ‘Free Mars’ universe.
Sorry for going on- just had a coffee,
PAGE THIRTY FOUR. Exterior. Landing balcony 7. Mobile atmospheric processor.
Coming to you LIVE from Harry Caray’s bar at ADEPTICON. Just met Dan Abnett a few hours ago- couldn’t be a nicer guy.
I’ll keep it short this week, for a change. Nic has suggested CCR’s ‘Fortunate Son’ for his musical pairing this week. I’m gonna go with the obvious John Denver classic, ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane.’
See you gremmies next week. A few things in the works, including a FM game. Stay tuned.
PAGE THIRTY THREE. Interior MAP crawler. Medical bay.
I know not everyone is gonna agree with me (and why should they), but I love pages like this. Now, that may sound slightly self-serving because there’s a lot of dialogue on this page, which I wrote, but I like reading dialogue in other comics too. It is a huge challenge to make these characters interesting and even endearing when you only have one page a week in which to do it. A page like this, where Vikki and Kessler aren’t “on” (rocking or shooting), is not as common as I’d like.
I think the awkwardness is great. Nic draws a great embarrassed Vikki in the first panel, though I think the final panel is actually full of subtle expression. And we get a little sense of Kessler’s motivation; he’s a warrior who doesn’t like being the front man.
Thanks again to everyone who supported the comic at C2E2. It was a great show and I am certain we will be back next year. If only for the delicious churros!
The next stop on the ‘Free Mars’ Naff’d Up Tour is Adepticon next weekend. Nic has done a lot of the promotional art for the convention, including a very cool version of Hannah Valerus (more on her later). The print compilation of the comic will be available there as well. And, of course, Dan Abnett himself will be in attendance. Personally, I’m gonna ask him to sign a copy of Annihilators #1. If you haven’t picked it up, it is my favorite new series:
The Hannah Valerus Chronicles. Starting next week, we’ll be posting the first installment of our sure-to-be-irregularly-updated spin-off series. The format will be a little different: 3-5 page short stories with a few illustrations per episode. I won’t say too much about Captain Valerus, though she already has a 28mm miniature version of herself. I think of her as the Boba Fett action figure* of the ‘Free Mars’ universe. You don’t know who she is yet, but she looks pretty naffing cool.
Finally, I want to acknowledge those suggestions and emails about having actual original music. Believe me, I am all over it. And I hope to have more news for you in the coming weeks.
Wow, sorry for the long post. See you next week.
PAGE THIRTY TWO. Interior Mobile Atmospheric Processor. Medical Bay.
Live from C2E2! I’ll post more later, but this is a great show already. Great venue.
Musical pairing- has to be Elastica, ‘Waking Up.’
Real quick, we were talking the other night about who would play our band members in the movie. The strangest, yet kinda intriguing suggestion was Miley Cyrus as Vikki Grimm. What do you ladies and gentlemen think?
PAGE THIRTY ONE. Interior, Mobile AP crawler.
It is Friday again, Marsers. Today I am relieved to bring you a very much alive Vikki Grimm, though she’s a little worse for the wear. I love Nic’s medical bay here and I am happy to tell you there will be more shots of the MAP crawler in the next few weeks: it is a cool piece of hardware.
Nic has chosen this week’s music pairing, ‘First Breath After Coma’ by Explosions in the Sky. For those who are unfamiliar with the track:
My choice also involved comas, but mine was the more obvious Smiths song. I think Nic’s is better.
We are one week out from C2E2. The comic are en route and we are crazy excited about seeing them. If you’re going to C2E2 and want to reserve a copy, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m hoping we have plenty, but you never know. I have to save some for Adepticon a couple weeks later. I’d like to do a deal for our regular readers at both conventions. Something like a signed print with every comic. I will think about that and get back to you. Hope to see some of you in Chicago,
PAGE THIRTY. Exterior, Martian desert (?)
Welcome to the first page of Track 3 of ‘Free Mars.’ This week is a little surreal for a few reasons. First, the page itself is kinda trippy. I think you’ll agree. Nic has done some amazing stylized versions of our girls; they almost look like children’s book versions of Vikki, Taryn, and Sam.
Second, I just realized that we’ve hit 30 pages and over 230,000 hits on the website. Pretty big milestones for a humble webcomic. I know I say this a lot, but I don’t think we’d have gotten this far without you ladies and gentlemen.
Lastly, C2E2 is just over the horizon and that means our print edition will arrive in a few weeks. I still don’t know how we managed a Dan Abnett foreword.
There is a musical pairing this week, but we’ve hid it within the page itself. It might be a little esoteric, but this scene should seem familiar to at least some of you. Let’s do this, the first person that gives me the correct song, based on this week’s page, gets a free set of mini-prints sent to them. You can post your guess here or email us at email@example.com. I’ll check the time-stamps if there’s multiple correct answers. Good luck,
‘FREE MARS’ Cover (print compilation)
In a modern culture
My friend you must be careful
They’ve got million ways to kill you
Well, Marsers, here she is. The cover for our forthcoming print edition. For two people who love webcomics and what webcomics represent, I find that Nic and I are super jazzed about this book. It represents 6-7 months of work and collects every page from the main comic, some of the more important background material, and even some extra “backstage” work including sketches and concepts.
But what I think really makes this such a huge milestone for us is the fact that we have a naffing foreword by Dan Abnett. Nic and I are both huge fans of Mr. Abnett, from his novels set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe to his work for Marvel, DC, and especially 2000AD. If you had asked me, before we started ‘Free Mars’, who would be my first choice of authors to write a foreword for a project I worked on, I would’ve said Frank Herbert. Then, after being informed that Frank Herbet is unfortunately quite dead, I would’ve quickly declared that Douglas Adams would be my next choice. Then, after a similar exchange, I would, without hesitation, choose Dan Abnett.
Because, to me, Dan Abnett is the only author I know that can combine the epic scale of Herbert with the humor and humanity of Doug Adams. His characters are always very real and we can relate to them, even when they’re slogging it out in the trenches on some alien world. Abnett is a master, plain and simple, and we are beyond honored to not only have kept his attention long enough to read our humble comic, but to also have warranted a foreword.
So, if all goes according to plan, we will debut the book at C2E2 in Chicago, then two weeks later at Adepticon, where Mr. Dan Abnett will also be in attendance. After that, we will have it available on the site. Let me know what you think of the cover. I think Nic did an amazing job of packing in the themes of the first two Tracks into one illustration.
With a couple weeks off between Tracks 2 and 3, we decided to post a few extra pages of work. First, we have a companion piece to our Vikki Grimm Interlude. In this piece, we get to see Samantha enjoying some downtime; relaxing in her micro-hab with a good “book”. I think the specs give her a new look, very academic, if a little hipsteresque. She’s probably smarter than Vexx gives her credit for, in any case.
The text this week is not written by me, but by none other than Nicolas R. Giacondino, the noted Argentinean artist. Nic asked me if he could write a short excerpt from a book by a famed Martian revolutionary and I thought it was an excellent idea. We agreed that Sam, of the three, was most likely to be reading something like this. It wasn’t lost on me that the subject matter becomes a little more poignant coming from an Argentinean. We had to edit the text quite a bit to fit on this page, so we’re including Nic’s full excerpt in the FM-verse section. It’ll be up this weekend and I encourage you to check it out.
I think Sam is listening to something suitably chill. So I’m going with Cut Copy and ‘Take Me Over’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6-jejUJpGQ
Speaking of music, I put together an iTunes Playlist where I’m collecting some of the songs mentioned in these posts, as well as songs/artists that inspired The Sisters Grimm.
So, after Track 2, expect to see a study of Vexx in repose. We’re already calling the piece ‘Casual Vexx.’
Next week we’ll post the cover to our print compilation, which will be released at C2E2 in Chicago, then available via the website. I might post the cover sooner on FB and Twitter if you can’t wait. The book is coming to 44 pages, which is pretty substantial. I think the average monthly comic is like 24 pages with ads. It’s all of the weekly pages along with some extra material. The big news is that we’ve somehow managed to get an actual living legend to write a foreword for the book, but we’ll talk more about that next week….
PAGE TWENTY NINE. Exterior. Martian Desert.
Here endeth Track 2. In a homage to the potboiler, we’ve got a bit of a cliffhanger. Our heroine has had a bad week or so and it certainly hasn’t ended any better. I love how Nic’s got little bits of burning debris falling around her.
Nic and I discussed the music pairing at some length this week. We didn’t completely agree, so I’m posting both choices. Nic is going with Pink Floyd’s ‘Goodbye, Cruel World.’ Obviously a classic and I admit that it does work well with this grim (no pun intended) panel. Though I personally find that entire album to be a bit of a naffing downer. Full disclosure: I’m not a huge Pink Floyd fan. Maybe I just never got over Syd Barrett’s departure from the band.
For my own part, I’m taking a different approach. I see my pick this week as the end credits song for our second chapter. So I wanted a little irony; something poppy and upbeat. Plus this song has been stuck in my head for like a week (I blame the XM). The Primitives’ Crash.
So Marsers, Track 2 is in the can, the print version of these first two chapters is en route to the printer, and C2E2 is right around the corner. Stay tuned for more news (big news) coming soon. In the mean time, between today and the start of Track 3 ‘Volcano Girls’, we’ll be posting our print cover and another ‘Interlude’ piece.
PAGE TWENTY EIGHT. Exterior. Martian desert.
Happy Friday, Marsers. I write to you now from the ruins of Chicago; me and the other snowmeggedon survivors have banded together to find food and update our webcomics. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but is that our Vikki Grimm flying through the air? I can gauge the success of Nic’s action sequence here by the fact that, even though I wrote the script, I’m still cringing. Poor girl even lost her boot. Naff.
We’re gonna go a little industrial this week, I think. Front 242′s Headhunter:
We are gearing up for c2E2. Hope you can make it to the Expo. We’ll be debuting our printed edition there, if everything goes according to schedule. Might have a couple additional surprises, so stay tuned. Then two weeks after the C to the E, is Adepticon. Adepticon is primarily a miniature gaming convention, but this year’s Guest of Honour is none other than Dan Abnett himself. He kinda spans the comic/miniature gaming worlds and has even written some Dr. Who radio dramas. Triple threat. He’s almost like the nerd J-Lo.
See you gremmies next week. Stay warm.
PAGE TWENTY SEVEN. Exterior. Night. Martian desert.
I know the whole “best page yet” mantra is probably getting a little old. But I think I’m safe in declaring this our best page yet. To think I was worried that the script for this page tried to pack too much into one week. In fact, this is why I don’t generally feel that bad that we’re a weekly comic; you definitely get a lot each week.
Vikki Grimm takes the lead here in an attempt to find some cover from the battle that rages around them. We find that Sam, like Vexx, has an interesting past (or at least she says she does). Finally, we’re left with a nice cliff-hanger. The page is so dynamic, almost frenetic, that I think Nic has outdone himself.
The music pairing this week is by a similarly amazing artist. Rachid Taha is an Algerian singer/DJ whose song ‘Barra Barra’ (Out! Out!) was used in the film Blackhawk Down. And though I’m copping out a little and choosing that song (it is naffing awesome), I totally recommend checking out more of his stuff, particularly the album Made in Medina. He also does a cool cover of The Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah’ (used in the Joe Strummer movie). So fire up the Rhapsody or iTunes and check this guy out if you are currently unfamiliar. Here’s ‘Barra Barra’:
Housekeeping-wise, I’m doing a links page this week, so look for the ‘Off-World Comms.’ I’m trying to collect links to FM reviews and mentions, but also list some of the other science-fiction webcomics we look at on a regular basis. As well as some generally cool sci-fi and comic websites (and maybe some miniatures sites for painters/gamers).
The end of Track 2 grows near, which means we’ll be taking the first two chapters and some new bonus material, and putting together a print compilation for C2E2. We’ve also been thinking about the cover. We sort of decided we’d like to see our printed comic covers become tributes to some of our favorite album covers. We think we’ve narrowed down this first cover, but we’re considering future options. Which leads me to this week’s two-part question for you Earthers: First, would you be interested in a printed version of the webcomic that included exclusive material? Second, what iconic album cover would look cool ‘Free Mars’-ified?
PAGE TWENTY SIX. Exterior. Martian desert. Night.
In retrospect, Vikki’s reaction last week seems relatively subdued. The scene outside the crashed ‘lifter seems, at least, somewhat problematic for our heroines.
To think that Nic was worried about designing all the vehicles: tanks, VTOLs, and MLF converted mining haulers all make an appearance. I think he gave everything a unique look, design-wise, but you can see a common “evolutionary” thread. The vehicles all have their own character, but they all look Martian.
Again, as usual, the page warrants a few close looks. The detail here reaches a new level. It’s tantamount to a Free Mars ‘Where’s Waldo?’
Nic’s music pairing this week is Prodigy. ”Anything from Fat of the Land,” said the Argentinian artist. I concur that the technophonic pulse works for the frenetic chaos of the battle. For my own part, I have to go with one of my favorite bands. ’Know Your Enemy’ by Green Day.
Our Volcano City Merch Table is open, by the way. It wouldn’t be a rock show without a merch table. So if you feel like acquiring some new art (and soon a printed version of the comic with bonus pages), check it out.
PAGE TWENTY FIVE. Interior commercial freightlifter. Jovis. 15:37 MST. Jovis happens to be the fifth day of the Martian week, corresponding with Earth’s Thursday, going with the Darian nomenclature.
We’ve come to the end of Nic’s ‘Red Period.’ I still think this last sequence and its lack of color showed just how detailed Nic’s art really is.
On the writing side, I hope we were successful in demonstrating that there’s more to our girls than might meet the eye….
Music-wise this week, I’m choosing one more “eerie” song to go with the final red page. Lush, ‘Light From A Dead Star.’ Lush is a band that I almost forgot about, but have been revisiting lately. I love Meriel Barham’s voice and could almost hear Vexx’s backing vocals sounding similar.
A couple house-keeping notes. First, we have finally got all the prints together. We have one larger poster and two smaller mini-prints and one postcard. I’m compiling all the info and setting up a ‘Volcano City Mercantile’ page this weekend. So look for it next week. We’re also doing some website/server maintenance, so if you find us “down” you’ll know why.
PAGE TWENTY FOUR. Interior commercial freightlifter (disabled).
I like to think of the last few weeks as Nic’s ‘Red Period.’ This lighting effect still blows my mind. Nic continues to give the scene a tremendous level of detail, even though the color is washed out. I think this shows just how good Nic is- but I’m also a little biased.
I think we can all agree that Vexx is a serious badass. The final panel is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of the comic so far. This panel stands in a stark (and cool) contrast to the splash on PAGE FOUR.
To honor our bladed bass player, I think we should go with No Doubt’s ‘Just A Girl.’ Honestly, it’s also for my sister in the Bay who will think the choice is hella good.
I sort of went on a bit last week, so I’ll cut things short this week. First, I presented a challenge to name the Combine trooper’s flesh-melting weapon last week. I think I like Brian’s suggestion, especially the Ares company name. I’m gonna modify it a little though: the Ares Industries Mark III Pulsed Plasma Rifle. Or, ready for this, the APP Rifle. Because when the shite hits the fan, at least there’s an APP for that. Brian- shoot me your address (no pun intended) and I will mail you out a freshly made print.
Finally, we are proud (and lucky) to have gotten a great review from a fantastic blogger and true sci-fi connoisseur, Total Fan Girl. I love her blog and I recommend you follow her on FaceBook. I say this, not because she gave our little comic a nice review, but because she loves the Clone Wars as much as I do.
PAGE TWENTY-THREE. Interior, commercial freightlifter TK-421.
The last page of 2010. And a bit of a sudden end for a number of unfortunate passengers. We get to see exactly what a MK. 6 Combine Pulse Rifle does and it isn’t pretty. I’m still really digging the red lighting effect; it is perfect for the chaotic tension of the trooper’s attack.
Now, again, Nic and I have a difference of opinion on this week’s music pairing. Nic likes Metallica’s cover of the Misfits song ‘Die, Die My Darling.’ It makes sense, and I do like the Metallica version. However, my choice this week is maybe a little obvious: Broken Bells, ‘Vaporize.’ The laid-back tone of the song provides a nice counterpoint to the violence and chaos of the page. I also think the Broken Bells had one of my favorite albums of 2010.
A few things. First, if you are a fan of the comic and don’t mind a little tame nudity, you need to hit the deviantArt link up there on the right and check out Nic’s last piece of 2010. It is a slightly risque version of our drummer, Samantha Darkness. Sam has an “exotic” day job in Volcano City and Nic wanted to do an illustration of her at work. So, again, if you’re interested you should check out Nic’s dA page. The piece will eventually end up in our B-Sides section. Twitterers already got it.
Second, we wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Nic and I agree that we received three amazing gifts this year. The first two are named Benicio and Charlotte- Nic’s amazing son and my daughter. The second gift was the opportunity to put this project together. We were really lucky to have found each other and I couldn’t ask for a more talented and, frankly, telepathic creative partner. ‘Free Mars’ and the Martian punk band Sisters Grimm were based on a ten year old screenplay, but it wasn’t until I saw Nic’s work that I realized the potential to tell the story in this medium.
Nic and I also want to thank our “fifth Beatle”, Chris Borer. Besides being a multiple Slayer Sword winner (I’m sure some of you know what that is), Chris is also a fantastic editor. He gets to read everything first and his often vehement criticism has been invaluable to the process.
And finally, at the risk of sounding overly naffing sentimental, today’s my birthday. And the best gift I’ve gotten (besides baby Charlie) are all the emails and posts from you guys. You, ladies and gentlemen, are awesome! So thanks for reading. See you in 2011, gremmies.
“When Earthers ask why we don’t celebrate Christmas on Mars, I usually tell them it’s because Mars doesn’t have three wise men. We probably don’t have any saviors and we definitely don’t have any virgins.” -Vikki Grimm
PAGE TWENTYTWO. Interior commercial freightlifter. Things continue to go a little south for the passengers of TK-421, including our heroines. Trapped between a MLF ambush and a slightly maniacal CSC colonel. Lynch, a veteran of the Ice Wars, is definitely a total bastard. Moving troops covertly, under the cover of a civilian transport, seems questionable. Though I suspect the CSC kleptocracy wouldn’t give a document-dump if this tactic were Wikileaked.
Vexx strikes me as someone who doesn’t like to wait in a queue and would probably send back food in a restaurant.
Nic proposed the red “lighting” effect and I agreed that it was appropriate for this scene. The script called for “warning/emergency lights”, in the vein of ‘A L I E N S’ or ‘Event Horizon’. It’s tough to do a strobe effect (every other panel is black?), but the red-wash definitely gets across the change in lighting and reflects a real move to a more ominous atmosphere.
The music pairing this week is the result of a minor coincidence*. When I got the pencils, I was listening to this particular song and it sort of made sense thematically. So, at the risk of sounding like a car commercial, I’ve gotta go with Kasabian and ‘L.S.F’. You’ll find that I tend to return to my Britpop roots every few weeks…
Ahhh, oh come on!
We got our backs to the wall!
And watch out!
Sayin’, “You’re gonna kill us all!”
Look for some cool stuff on the Twitters and Faced Book this weekend- we’ve got some concept sketches piling up.
Finally, Nic and I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays and/or Yule celebration. Personally, I will be spending this Saturnalia with my family here in Chicago, celebrating with the traditional gladiatorial games and reversal of social roles.
* Nic had an alternate music pairing. ”I think this week’s music pairing should be ‘Blood, Milk and Sky’ from the great Rob Zombie album Astro-Creep 2000. It’s got a nice eerie tone that I think goes well with the theme of this page.”
PAGE TWENTYONE. Interior. Commercial freightlifter. Cargo hold.
The attack begins and we see the damage done by the MLF missile. We also get to see that Kessler’s information was right and there is indeed a squad of CSC Shock Troopers. Finally, we’re introduced to one of the ever-growing collection of antagonists. Colonel Lynch.
Nic has been hoping for some action sequences and now I see why. He’s nailed it. The CSC vehicle flipping in the background, thrown by the impact explosion, is awesome. The next few weeks will see the action continue as the battle unfolds…
Nic also recommended this week’s musical pairing, and I wholeheartedly concur: Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Wake Up.’
Xaviar Xerexes, the mind behind ComixTALK, ran a story on our name change: http://www.comixtalk.com/sisters_grimm_now_free_mars
Lastly, the prints are at the shop. We are maybe a week away from offering 3-4 different pieces of art. We’ll have a limited amount of signed stuff and maybe even some original work for sale. If this first offering goes well, we’ll continue to make more prints and t-shirts available, culminating in a whole range of stuff for C2E2.
I’d also like to take a quick opportunity to wish everyone a happy holidays from Nic and I and, as always, thanks for the support.
PAGE TWENTY. Exterior. Martian desert. Night. A revolution begins with a shot in the dark.
Maybe it’s a little predictable, but Muse and Uprising seem appropriate.
Things sort of align this week. First, we have our 20th page, of which we are extremely proud. Next we add the fact that the page’s contents represent a major event in our story that will have long-term consequences. Finally, we’re making a major change to our comic this week: we’re giving it a new name.
So welcome to ‘Free Mars.’ I’ll let our “official” press release tell the whole story. Rest assured, besides the title, nothing is changing. Thoughts on the new name?
Press Release 12/09/2010
FREE MARS, the Sisters get a name change.
After much deliberation, the Sisters Grimm webcomic team has decided that we need to do a little rebranding. We have decided to update the name of the weekly comic Sisters Grimm with a new title: FREE MARS. We feel that not only will the new name cut down on any future confusion with other similarly named entities, but it also better reflects the direction of the story.
Rest assured that this title change has no effect whatsoever on the content of our comic. The band you’ve become familiar with is still called Sisters Grimm; named for the band’s founder and lead guitarist, Victoria “Vikki” Grimm.
The current website url (www.sistersgrimmcomic.com) will continue to work for the foreseeable future, as will the new url: www.freemarscomic.com. The Twitter account will remain unchanged, though the FaceBook page will be replaced with a new one (Free Mars Comic).
We appreciate your patience and we firmly believe that this change now will benefit the webcomic in the long-run.
Dave Pauwels, writer
Nicolas R Giacondino, artist
PAGE NINETEEN. Interior com ‘lifter TK-421. Sam makes a joke while Vexx takes her skills very seriously. As the writer, I have a very specific relationship in mind between Sam and Vexx. Sort of like an older/younger sister dynamic; part antagonistic and part genuine friendship. And while I can get some of that across with dialogue, Nic really makes it come alive through his art. Sam can keep an expression something akin to amusement while Vexx holds a mind-bogglingly dangerous weapon to her throat. There’s obviously a trust there.
Panel 3. First, the color really works here, methinks. It is a very cool contrast to the ubiquitous red. And again we see Nic’s obsession with detail. There’s so much going on here. To give you an idea of how Nic brings the comic to life, here’s the original script (notice the panel number got edited slightly):
An ominous panel. It is a wide shot of the ‘lifter through a binocular view-screen. The ‘lifter has a target on it and there are all sorts of readings, distances and other numbers. Very sci-fi.
The music pairing this week in a bit of a SPOILER ALERT. It is also so obvious when ya think about it, for a couple reasons. Def Leppard. Pyromania. Comin’ Under Fire.
Finally this week, some very cool news. I figured we should try and attend a convention next year, so I applied to get the Sisters a table at C2E2. I figured it was a long shot, since their Artist’s Alley is only so big and it is THE comic event of the Midwest. Plus, it’s not like we’re Axe Cop or Dr. McNinja. However, I just got the news that we’ve been invited to attend. This is huge for us and I take it as a sign that we’ve got some real potential here.
However, it does also mean that I need to get working on getting some material printed. I’m hoping to have a few different prints available and I might even have some original art for sale and display. Might even have a 28mm model.
The only bad news is that Nic can’t make it this time, so you’re stuck talking to a lowly writer (boring). But, if all goes according to plan and the gods of Mars continue to favor our endeavor, he’ll come up for 2012. Just as the Mayans predicted….
PAGE EIGHTEEN. Interior commercial freightlifter TK-421. First, since it’s still technically Thursday in parts of the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving! When the first colonists settled Mars in 2128, they celebrated their first year’s algae harvest with a feast. And though their hab unit violently depressurized later that evening, most Martians continue to honor their ill-fated celebration to this day….
I know I say this every week, but I absolutely love this page. First, and this is admittedly my fault as the writer, we’ve seen quite a bit of brooding and anger from the girls. This week, however, Nic gets to show our heroines having some fun; relaxing. I think the panel with Sam laughing is great. Second, Vexx’s vibro-blade came out perfectly. It is the right amount of baroque combined with the right amount of techno.
This week’s music pairing comes from Nic:
“Jardin de Cecile from ‘Juno Reactor’. It’s got a very nice electronic-alien vibe, and I actually inked and coloured this listening to it.”
Finally, I said last week I would list a few of the webcomics I’ve been reading regularly. I’m probably like many of you and I tend to go back and read online comics once a month, but these comics have definitely kept me coming back. In no particular order:
Spy 6 Teen
If you liked Buffy (or any other Joss Whedon show for that matter), you’ll dig this comic. Tim Simmons does a great job keeping this genre fresh. This is a great example of art and story working together.
Girls in Space
It is hard to describe James Spence’s sci-fi comedy. I like to think that Samantha from SG would read this comic and love it.
The Horror of Colony 6
The guys at Webcomic Factory do some great work. They are naffing prolific as well. And while I read most of the site’s offerings, I am a total sucker for sci-fi horror. It has some great atmosphere and B movie quality to it. Is that Vincent Price?
PAGE SEVENTEEN. Interior TK421 Commercial Freightlifter.
I sort of envisioned this as the stowage class on the Titanic (foreshadowing?). Refugees, miners, and punk bands on the lam would use commercial transport as a cheap alternative to the more expensive mag-lev lines. Or the ultra-extravagant passenger liners, like the Cyclopean Wind mentioned here by Sam. Probably also a good mode of transport for the more nefarious types; I don’t think you need to go through a body scan to take this trip. Nic captures the gloomy, industrial feel of the cargo hold of this hauler perfectly. Not a environ Vexx is used to.
In webcomic news, the 2010 Webcomic List nominations are open. I’m not going to tell you who you should vote for ‘Best New Comic’, but if you’re involved in the comics/webcomics industry (there’s a webcomic industry?), I recommend voting for whichever comics you’ve enjoyed this year. I think the more nominations they get, the better it is for webcomics in general. I’m certainly no expert, but next week I’m going to compile my favorite webcomics of 2010, if you’re interested.
See ya next week,
PAGE SIXTEEN. Track 2 title page.
If I ever get out of here
Thought of giving it all away
To a registered charity
All I need is a pint a day
If I ever get out of here
If we ever get out of here
‘Band on the Run’ by Paul McCartney (maybe my favorite song of all time).
The girls are “on the lam.” Though, at this point, I think they see it more as an excuse for just getting out of town. I really love Sam’s outfit here. Nic enjoys changing up the “costumes”, while retaining a specific thematic look for each character.
The commercial freightlifter foot note is a little tribute to HHGttG. I’d like to include more of these as the series progresses. Whataya think? I hope they give Mars some additional depth/character. Sort of like our background pages. Speaking of which, we sould have a new one of those soon on the Martian Mining Guilds.
For Benicio and Charlotte- our youngest fans and inspirations!
PAGE FIFTEEN. Track 2 begins with a cool shot of Olympus City’s harbor. This is really the Red Planet’s hub for travel and commerce. I think Nic has nailed the bustling chaos of the main spaceport here. The scale really works, too, with the Martians dwarfed by the various liners and cargo loaders.
Nic was a little worried about his vehicle designs, but I think he was unnecessarily concerned. They’ve got a cool “boxy” look. And their engine configurations have a little of the Betty (Alien Resurrection) going on.
I also love the girls’ “stealth” fashion. This is their idea of keeping a low profile.
Fashion, in general, is a big part of the comic. Nic and I have talked a lot about what the characters wear and Nic has an almost Euro sensibility. In fact, I like to think that Luc Besson would dig this comic. I realize I just sort of referenced Luc Besson twice.
In other webcomic news, Warren Ellis has invited webcomic creators to post a few pages and a synopsis on his Whitechapel Forums. I’ve looked through a few of the pages and there is some very cool stuff. If you get a chance, check it out:
Music pairing-wise, and I think this might sound contrived, but for some reason spaceships taking off make me think of Blur’s ‘Song 2.’
Until next week,
CINEMATIC POSTER. One more week until ‘Track 2′, but we’re not leaving you without your weekly Grimmtainment. What can I say about Nic’s latest offering? The goal was to do a “cinematic poster” for the comic, mainly because we thought it would be cool, but we also wanted to offer our loyal readers a limited edition print. This would give you guys a piece of cool art and potentially help us keep the comic going and, theoretically, help pay for a printed version of Sisters Grimm. And t-shirts.
So stay tuned for details about getting one of these for your self. Next month for sure.
So, happy Halloween, gremmies. I know it’s probably a little premature this year, with only a few months of comics, but I expect to see some Sisters Grimm costume pics next year. I’m already working on my Kessler overalls….
Finally, got word today via Perez Hilton (via Jessica) that Shirley Manson is working on a new album with the band. So Garbage returns. Huzzah! In honor of this great news, I think this week’s music pairing needs to be ‘Cherry Lips.’ One of the coolest videos eva:
PS . Already Tweeted some Hannah Valerus concept art.
INTERLUDE. As promised, gremmies, Nic and I wanted an “intermission” piece while we’re working on Track 2. Nic titled this illustration ‘Interlude.’ I call it, ‘Vikki in Repose.’ In either case, you get a very cool and somewhat personal view of our heroine. Is there downtime on Mars? Hope you dig it.
The song is my contribution. Is it autobiographical for Vikki? I wonder.
I’ll be posting a few more concept sketches from our “spin-off” Adepticon comic this week on the Twitters. It takes place in the same Sisters Grimm-verse, but centers on a smuggler and a rogue ‘bot. I’m excited about it- finished writing it today. Stay tuned for more info.
PAGE FOURTEEN. And, fade to black. I wanted to say “star wipe”, but I think “fade to black” works better here. In any case, that’s the end of Track 1.
I think, looking back through these 14 pages, I’m pretty happy with the pacing. It’s tough to do all this set-up and character introduction and still keep the plot moving. I think the real trick is having Nic’s art tell part of the story; every page has something interesting going on and he refuses to waste any space. I feel like, even after just 14 pages, Mars has a definite look and its denizens have a certain style.
So what’s next? Track 2 ‘Band on the Run’ starts in two weeks. We’re taking an extra week so I can do one more script edit and Nic can catch up on some of his non-Sisters Grimm work (he does manage to find time for other projects). But we do have a nice “Intermission” piece already done, so expect a Friday update next week as usual.
We’re also working on a limited edition print, a cinematic-style poster. It’s coming along nicely and I’m sure our Twitter followers will get a preview soon.
Finally, we’re also working on a little spin-off comic for our good friends at the Adepticon game convention (www.adepticon.org). We’ll have more news as things develop.
So thanks to everyone who’s been checking out the comic. It’s sort of a relief to finish the first chapter. Someone told me that a webcomic doesn’t get taken seriously until after a couple years of regular updates. I hope that’s not true for us. I hope we never get taken seriously.
I think this week’s music pairing should be a good ‘end credits’ song. I’m going with Glitter Mini 9 ‘Are you bad’. You can check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhlXJENroHA
PAGE THIRTEEN. Interior Studio SD4. Busted. Maybe not what you were expecting? Certainly not what the band thinks is happening. Dub clearly has a lot going on….
There was a lot of discussion about the SexBot design. We wanted her to be an obvious android; a lower-end model. But still sultry enough that some lonely Martian would shell out some real credits.
We also get to meet some of Olympus City’s finest. Nic has a knack for hard-boiled detectives, methinks.
UPDATE: I think the music pairing has to be ‘Paranoid Android’ by Radiohead. Unless anyone has a better idea?
PAGE TWELVE. Wide exterior shot. Dub’s Studio SD4. Night.
I keep going back and looking at this page. And I keep finding new details. The holographic police lines are a particularly nice touch and I think the APCs are very cool. Continuing the tour, we see the two different types of CSC Security forces; the more lightly equipped police and the armored Shock Troops. There’s even a feral dog. Who doesn’t love feral dogs? Kinda gives Sub-Dome 4 a nice Detroit feel.
In any case, someone is in trouble.
For this week’s music, it’s hard to argue with the artist, who explains his choice:
I strongly suggest the song ‘Thela Hun Ginjeet’ from King Crimson’s album Discipline as the coupling for this. It’s got a very rocker atmosphere, very frantic and with a background narration by Adrian Belew speaking of how he was assaulted by some smuggling Rastafarians in a neighborhood whilst he recorded a tape for the band. It actually repeats “It’s a dangerous place” many times, which I think fits our page here.
Personally, all I can think of when I look at this is ‘Clampdown’ by The Clash. “What are we gonna do now?”
Well, happy October. Best month, in my opinion. We hope to have some news to share shortly on a few Sisters Grimm developments, so stay tuned.
PAGE 11. Girls in transit. Living in Sub-Dome 4 seems like it has some positive and negative aspects. Obviously, there’s a public transportation system, which is nice. But it looks a little like the Red Line here in Chicago, which isn’t particularly nice. I suppose that kind of thing is relative, I mean, in the SD4 transit tubes, you have to put up with some nefarious characters, but at least there aren’t any drunken Cubs fans.
The Sub-Dome itself seems to be perpetually leaking like the engineering section of the Nostromo. We’ve had a few discussions about condensation and we’re sticking with our Ridley Scott atmospheric system. On the bright side, there seem to be a lot of “recreation centers.” Nic also demonstrates the PG-13 nature of this comic, though he’s gonna be pushing for that R soon, I suspect.
Two Moons. Besides being a notable Martian micro brew, it is also a common Martian expression. It means worthless. The original script had an asterisk on this phrase Vexx uses. It had to get cut for space (we’d rather show you more art) and we decided to include it here:
Mars’ two moons, Phobos and Deimos, are generally considered worthless rocks. Neither boasts any mineral resources to speak of and only Phobos is currently populated, serving as a maximum security CSC penal colony.
Finally, this week’s soundtrack is Broken Bell’s ‘The Ghost Inside.’ It has a nice eerie, electronic vibe. And if you haven’t seen the video, it is amazing.
Beside defying media too fast
Instead of pushing palaces to fall
Put that, put that, put that before all
That this isn’t fortune at all
Radio Free Europe- R.E.M.
PAGE TEN. Again, some characterful facial expressions by Nic. The girls seem to be getting more familiar. And a nice page full of dialogue. I’m happy with the way the conversation flows here and Sam does a nice job of summing up the predicament. Poor Vikki Grimm gets another page of being pissed-off. Will she ever catch a break?
The MLF ‘cast is a homage to Radio Free Europe, which was funded by the U.S. Congress as a political tool during the Cold War. It’s also a shout out to my favorite anime series.
Number 9…number 9…number 9. If Vikki G looked annoyed or pissed last week, she’s positively livid this week. I love what Nic did with the practice space. Again, it’s the little details, like the lipstick stain on the glass. And the ashtrays.
Someone asked me if the MARSnet material was directly connected to the main story. It is, but it may take some time before the full extent of that connection is revealed. I think that this format (webcomic) allows for these Verhoeven-esque vignettes. You can drop them and establish an atmosphere or further the narrative without taking up a weekly update, interrupting the story. I love this week’s. The anchor came out great and we snuck in some nice foreshadowing.
Finally, tonight we have a special music pairing request all the way from Argentina. Nic was telling me that while he was working on this particular page (no pun intended) he was listening to the Led Zeppelin classic, ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You.’ I think it goes well with the lounging girls in panel one. Thanks, NRG.
PS. A special thanks goes out to our guest Photoshop artist, Chris Borer who gave us a hand with the MARSnet piece. He took some time out from sculpting and house repairs, so it was much appreciated.
PAGE EIGHT. Nic’s character designs never cease to amaze me. Beyond the excellent “costumes”, he nails their personalities through expressions and posing. Kessler and Dub are great, but I love the annoyed/pissed off Vikki Grimm in panel Four.
Ever since I started writing comics (about six months ago now), I’ve wanted to include the caption, “Two days later, at the practice space…” Finally the dream comes true!
I think with all the smoking going on (apparently there are vast hydroponic domes with the sole purpose of supplying our character’s needs), I think this week’s music pairing has to be ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ by Oasis.
Finally, someone asked me what webcomics I’ve been reading. Honestly, I’m not an expert and there is a lot of great stuff out there. But one comic that I’ve been catching up on is 6-Commando by Mathieu Moyen. If you’re a fan of military sci-fi, I recommend checking it out: http://www.viciousprint.com/6commando/
PAGE SEVEN. A couple more interesting characters added this week. I see this as sort of a Guy Ritchie moment. The frame freezes (easy enough to do in a webcomic) and you get the little bio on each character, possibly to the accompaniment of gunshots.
So you have a rebel leader, a smuggler/music producer, and a pirate* playing poker while listening to the Sisters‘ demo. Can’t be good. And keen eyes might’ve spotted the shipment Shanti is talking about on the last page…
In other news, if you haven’t checked out the two pages in the MarsNet section, I encourage you to just do it. I think it is some of the best character design Nic has done (or anyone for that matter, but I’m biased). Remember these bands; they’ll be back. Hell, these could be our first two spin-offs!
Lastly, just a couple words about Chicago Comic Con. I’m not going to use this site as any sort of opinion platform, but it strikes me as sad that Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse don’t actually go to Chicago Comic Con. That said, I talked to some very cool people and the Artist’s Alley was the unequivocal highlight of the con. I’m thinking, by next year, the Sisters Grimm will need a table there. There or C2E2.
Finally, if you’re the Tweeting kind, we’ve been doing some exclusive Twitter pics/previews. I wouldn’t want anyone missing out.
* There’s a fourth in this poker game but, at least for now, they must remain anonymous.
PAGE SIX. This page really demonstrates Nic’s attention to detail. The wine glasses, carafe, and smouldering ash tray on the upper level gives the studio a real personality. I love all of Nic’s “set designs”, but this one is particularly cool. It’s a nice combination of traditional recording studio and futuristic bachelor pad.
We also get introduced to Damien Kessler, head of the Martian Liberation Front. Can’t wait until you get to meet the rest of the poker players…
Stay tuned this Wednesday for what I think is possibly our coolest background piece- MarsBeat, the Martian music Netcast.
Page Five. My favorite page yet. For everyone asking me if there would be actual dialogue in the SG comic, here ya go.
I love this page because it really does start to give the girls some character beyond appearance. We start to get a feel for their individual personalities.
Appearance is still important, and I love that Nic worked in a very Bowie-esque make-up job for Sam. In fact, I think this week’s music pairing would be some ‘Ziggy Stardust’ playing in the background. I imagine clubs on Mars would have a certain affinity for Bowie…
Traverse City, MI
PAGE FOUR. The title page for Track 1, ‘Radio Free Mars.’ Each Track (chapter) will probably be roughly 10 weeks…roughly.
Trying to suggest a music pairing with this page would mean that I’d be telling you what I think the band sounds like, which I don’t think is 100% appropriate. You should sort of fill that in yourself. That said, I can name you three bands I listen to regularly while writing the script/notes/emails to Nic. Elastica, Garbage, and Hole. But the Sisters Grimm is also a power trio, so you have to consider the great tripods of alternative rock: Green Day, The Police, Muse, Dinosaur Jr, and of course Nirvana.
My Brave Bass.
Some of you might be wondering about Vexx’s antique bass guitar. It has been in her family for generations and legend has it that it originally belonged to a great-great uncle who had quite a successful music career himself, though records have long been destroyed…
Page Three. You finally get some dialogue! Don’t worry, there are whole pages of yammering coming up. We’re just taking some time setting the stage, literally.
Nic really gets sci-fi noir. In fact, I would say this week’s music pairing would have to be some moody Vangelis. You can almost hear the flickering buzz of the neon signs as the rain falls in the background.
I wrote in a little ‘shout out’ here to a great Chicago institution, Medusa’s on Sheffield. I have fond memories of that club and it was the place to go (until you turned 21).
In other news, Vikki Grimm is on Twitter now. She’ll be posting updates and SG news, along with some exclusive info and concept art. Maybe even some lyrics.
Page Two. I think Nic’s design work gives the Martian architecture a real blend of science fiction industrialism and Victorian sensibility, especially the glass (plasti-steel) shell. This theme continues, I think, in our “costumes”; part dystopian corporate uniform and part steam-punk convention. Nic took my paragraph-long descriptions of the girl’s appearance and translated them into sketches in one shot.
Recommending a music pairing with this page wasn’t easy and it came down to two choices. I considered Love and Rockets with Kundalini Express. But, in the end, it really had to be Siouxsie and the Banshees’ The Passenger (sorry Iggy). It captures our own passenger’s tone pretty well and the lyrics are eerily appropriate.
Lastly, thanks for all the great feedback. It is very motivational to hear from you ladies and gentlemen. So keep the comments, criticisms and input of all sorts coming. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to ‘The Sisters Grimm.’ We’re happy to present Page One. Nic has really set a nice tone and palette for the comic and I think this establishing shot shows that Mars itself is going to be a major character.
So, what to expect? We’ve stockpiled a decent amount of pages and I wish I could just post them all immediately. But one thing you really need when working with webcomics is patience. I must learn patience. We’ll be updating the comic on Fridays, with more background material showing up on Wednesdays (when we have new material). We have a small backlog of SG-verse stuff now too, so expect some insights into 2339 Mars soon. We’re also planning a podcast down the road, so stay tuned.
Nic and I would love to hear any comments, especially from any webcomic artists or writers. This is our first real project together and any advice is appreciated.
So thanks for looking. We’re pretty proud of what we’ve got so far and we’re looking forward to keeping you (hopefully) entertained for a good 30-40 seconds every Friday.