Looking over this one after some time away, I’m a little worried I didn’t quite carry the sense of activity between panels well. Any graphic novel is going to have things happen in the space between panels, that’s just how the medium works, but I don’t quite feel like one panel properly flows from the next, here. That’s something I’m having to work on, through this whole graphic-novel-based-drawing-practice-thing. Luckily, the next several action scenes have given me plenty of practice.
Life’s getting the better of me again. Have some art while I sort things out. Eventually, we’re going to get to the point where I start realizing I need to make text larger to show up on screen. I look forward to that day.
AGLA: That’s what this is about? You abducted me over a video game?
Goon: Don’t play dumb. We’re not the Japanese police, we won’t fall for that. Our citizens have been disappearing directly after playing your game, and nobody knows how your machine works.
AGLA: That’d be more a failing of American engineering than anything else, right?
Goon: Do you even realize the trouble you’re in? If we’re not happy with the info you give us, you’ll be spending the rest of your life in a prison on the ass-end of the Earth! Now, what is your game doing to our citizens?
AGLA: Are you a man of faith, Agent Smythe?
Smythe: Answer the question. What has your game done to our people?
AGLA: Do you believe in Heaven? Hell? Valhalla? Hades? Different worlds the soul travels to after death?
Smythe: Are you refusing to answer the question?
AGLA: What about the Garden of Eden?
Smythe: Refusal will have consequences.
AGLA: The paradise God cast Adam and Eve from when they gained the knowledge of Good and Evil, and lost their purity.
AGLA: God left a guardian there.
Goon: The tablet! Give it to me now!
AGLA: That’s what you were yelling about?
AGLA: Sure. Here. Take it.
Goon: Where did you even get that? I thought they took everything off you when you got on.
AGLA: Sorry, I’m not quite fluent in English.
Goon: Do you even understand the situation you’re in? You need to take things more seriously.
AGLA: You’re questioning me, right? Aren’t I supposed to have a lawyer for this part?
Goon: If you were an American dealing with normal police, then yes. You’re Japanese, flying over international waters, and we’re the CIA.
Goon: We can do whatever we want with you. Now, tell us about your video game.
So, the game in New Eden, this virtual reality everyone’s a part of, is pretty much a virtual reality MMORPG with a bit of Minecraft mixed in. I’ve probably spent less than 10 hours playing traditional MMORPGs in my life, total. And I kind of like the creative process that why. I’m probably not going to create something that’s immediately recognizable, given my inexperience with the medium, but as a result, the setting, or at least this game, will be a lot more unique than if I tried to make a generic MMORPG with complete knowledge of the form, and hopefully, more interesting because of it.
I’ve got a lot of experience with MUDs, text-based MMO-style adventures, and that’s what I’ve largely been basing the game off of. I have no idea if most MMORPGs will let you pull up a list of currently online players, like LadyHate mentioned last post, but that was a pretty common feature to MUDs, so in it goes.
LadyHate: What happened to Annie?
LadyHate: What the…?
LadyHate: It’s never rained in-game before.
LadyHate: Clouds, too?
LadyHate: Annie, are you…
AGLA:So, I’ve got a plan for this game.
AGLA: That’s why I’ve sent each of the Midknights a set with one of these premade characters.
AGLA: I don’t have time to explain now, but find Olympus.
AGLA: He’s in the game, and he knows the plan. He can fill you in.
LadyHate: Olympus is playing? Yay!
LadyHate: Between the four of us, I’m sure we can convince everyone to play.
LadyHate: But… I’ve never seen him on the player list.
AGLA: Yeah, he doesn’t show up there. You’ll have to find him the hard way.
AGLA: I’m pretty sure he’s the only giant in the game, so keep an eye out for him.
AGLA: Anyways, the favor. A
GLA: I’ll need you to do this when you get your set too, Hate. Anke…
Lorelei: Can this wait for tomorrow? I really have to get to bed.
AGLA: The sooner the better. This’ll just take a minute.
AGLA: Ok! To start, can you open your menu?
Lorelei: Menu? Lorelei: How do I…
Lorelei: Oh. I guess that’s it.
AGLA: Now, do you see your Creation Aspect at the bottom?
AGLA: Could you select it?
LadyHate: What happens next?
LadyHate: Are you ok, Annie?
AGLA: Hattie, I suggest you run.
So, we’ve covered a lot of things here at Lost to the Aether. As it turns out, I’m a pretty multi-faceted individual. We’ve got the video games going on pretty much all day every day, sure, but we’ve also talked about drawing, writing, visual novels, cake, films, books, my good looks, and pretty much anything else that struck me as being wordworthy on that given day. Sometimes, I feel like doing something new. And right now’s one of those times. Specifically, I’m going to talk about a manga. But not just any manga. Well, to anyone else, it’d be just any manga, but it’s one that actually means something for me. Today, I’m going to be putting my thoughts down about a work that actually has some importance in my life, however much that may be. I want to talk about The Drops of God.
I’ve been saying for a while now that you can find a manga about anything. Just on my shelf, I’ve got manga about running a bakery, a used bookstore, a whole series about American football, maiding, and that’s just the pedestrian ones. The manga audience back in the form’s homeland is large enough that they can support material on pretty much every subject matter, from the most fantastic to the absolutely pedestrian, and you get a lot of good stories that way. So it is with Drops of God; it’s a manga series about an everyday subject you’d think would be really hard to get a good story out of. In this case, it’s all about wine.
I like a lot of things in life. I like video games, as should be obvious to anyone who’s been on this blog before. I like stories. I love my hair. Seriously, I’d marry my hair if the stupid establishment would just let me. And I also enjoy wine. That wasn’t always the case, though. Way back when I was a little cub Aether but still totally of drinking age (obey the law, kids) wine was just another drink to me. Something to get drunk off of, something that may have tasted good, but nothing much more than that. Eventually, because of the efforts of the rest of the family to give me some sort of traits they weren’t completely embarrassed about at parties, I started to appreciate it more. Wine is a really complex drink, and it’s that complexity that’s given rise to whole industries, and after having enough, I started seeing that complexity, and began respecting the depth in wine. I wanted to learn more about it. And there’s where my problems started.
The problem with learning more about wine is that you have to deal with the kind of people who like wine. And a lot of those people are great, don’t get me wrong. But there’s also a lot of people who are so strung up on wine being so super classy or the drink of the gods or treat it as if it’s somehow sacred, and when you’re just trying to get started on it those people can be really overwhelming. The world is full of people who insist that the one true way to enjoy wine is at a party trying to tell as many people as possible about mouthfeel, or closing your nostrils in sequence and smelling it one side at a time, or by loading it up into a syringe and injecting it straight into your eyebrow. Even the people who aren’t infected with all the bull honky that surrounds wine still tend to treat it as if it’s that one hot girl with all the money from high school, unapproachable without the right pedigree. Wine is an excellent drink with a lot to offer and a lot of layers, but man is its world inaccessible to someone trying to make the next step up from layman.
That’s where I was in life when the Drops of God started coming out in America. I was starting to view wine as something more than just a drunkmaker but was having difficulty getting any further than that, and was close to giving up on the drink altogether. Then here comes this silly little manga about this silly little substance. And you know what? It just worked for me. Something that, even though it treats wine as a super-serious matter as so many other people do, is still pretty humble and down-to-earth in it’s approach to the subject? Something that has enough substance to teach a bit about wine, but is actually entertaining? Drops of God was exactly what I needed to get me over the hump I had at the time. I really enjoy wine today, and I don’t think I’d be able to on the level I do if it wasn’t for this manga.
I’ve mentioned plenty of times before that drawing a story takes sooo much longer than just writing it, and that’s changed my approach to storytelling. Oftentimes, I ended up mentally developing the characters as I’m writing them, rather than having them all planned out in advance. That happened with AGLA here, who, later on, turns out to have some minor importance to the plot. He’s not completely out of character in this page, but the way I’ve written him since, he’d probably say the same things in a different way.
Also, no dialog breakout this time. All the words are on the page.
LadyHate: Does that mean you’re sending me a present too?
LadyHate: You asked if I hadn’t gotten the package “yet”!
AGLA: Well… yeah.
AGLA: I sent packages to all the Midknights.
LadyHate: That’s good. I was thinking you were maybe getting a crush on Annie.
AGLA: No, that’s not it.
AGLA: No offense Anke, I just wouldn’t want to make Silver jealous 😉
Lorelei: Silver and I aren’t together.
LadyHate: I thought I was the only one who could speak smileys!
LadyHate: How did you do that?!
AGLA: I’m cheating a bit.
AGLA: I’ll have to tell you later.
AGLA: I’m kind of under the gun right now.
AGLA: I’ve got a couple favors to ask.
This next page is going to change the face of this graphic novel forever. It kicks off a whole new era for this comic. This has a feature that has not been seen since Lorelei first entered New Life. For the first time, we have something in the background. Can you believe the innovation? I know I can’t and I’m the one who came up with it. Can I seriously be doing this? Is it even possible to draw a comic with backgrounds that are more than just two shades separated by a straight line? Well, time will tell.
So, I’m not good at backgrounds. Well, I’m not good at drawing much of anything, but I’m especially not good at creating scenery. This graphic novel’s supposed to be a big practice project, so of course I had to add them in sometime. We’ll have to see if I’m able to get any better at them over time.
LadyHate: Well, there it is.
LadyHate: The Kingdom Spire
LadyHate: Pretty cool, right?!
Lorelei: So this is the more there is to do?
Lorelei: Hang around a ruined castle tower… thing?
LadyHate: It’s not ruined!
LadyHate: It’s just not finished.
LadyHate: Bunches of players, they’re building that.
Lorelei: So you can build?
Lorelei: I guess that would give you something decent to do.
LadyHate: Yeah, but it takes a lot of players to pull it off.
LadyHate: You can get blood from the Asheaters, and mix it with the ash to make a kind of cement.
LadyHate: Thing is, even the Asheaters don’t pop up often enough.
LadyHate: To build anything of decent size, you need a bunch of players working on a project, just to get enough blood to keep it going.
Lorelei: Makes sense.
Lorelei: I haven’t even seen an Asheater in the… however long I’ve been playing.
Lorelei: How long have I been playing?
Lorelei: I really need to get to bed. I’ve got work in the morning.
Lorelei: Hate, it’s been lovely talking with you, but I really have to get some sleep.
Lorelei: Maybe we can do this again, sometime. Explore more of the game together.
LadyHate: Yeah! Let’s do this tomorrow! And the next day! And then we’ll get Red and the rest of the Midknights to join in!
Lorelei: Well, we’ll see, in any case…
LadyHate: What what?
Lorelei: Did you not hear that?
Lorelei: It’s AGLA.
AGLA: Welcome to Eden!
LadyHate: I don’t hear anything.
LadyHate: Just you.
Lorelei: Weird. Hey, AGLA. Hate’s here too.
AGLA: Really?! That’s odd. Just a second, let me see if I can find her.
AGLA: Hate? Welcome to Eden too!
LadyHate: Oh hey! Now I can hear him!
AGLA: Wait, that’s you, Hate?
AGLA: The young woman in green next to Anke?
AGLA: Guess you haven’t gotten my package yet.
LadyHate: In the flesh!
LadyHate: Err…. digital flesh. Nevermind! That’s a stupid saying anyway!