Friday, December 30, 2011

Going Live!

Well, it's been a long time coming, but we're finally ready to announce that Beyond the Western Deep will be going live in webcomic form this Sunday (1-1-12)!

On Sunday, we will be posting the first five pages of the story, with one new page uploaded every Saturday thereafter. Rachel and I have been working on this story for a very long time, and we're both very happy to finally be able to share it with everyone.

Now that we have an official website, this blog will fall by the wayside in lieu of weekly posts that will go along with the page updates. We'll be keeping this blog up, but new material will be posted on the website proper from now on.

Thanks to our followers who have stuck with us for so long - we both hope you enjoy the comic as much as we've enjoyed creating it!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Website Progress

When making a webcomic, you need two things that are spelled out rather plainly in the name itself: a comic, and a website. As followers of this blog will know, we've been working pretty hard on the comic part for quite some time, but rarely has any mention of the "web" part been made.

Well, I'm here to tell you that yes, the "web" of our webcomic is coming along quite nicely! A lot of progress has been made in the last couple weeks on the layout and content sides of things, and we're excited to get the site off the ground - something that should be happening in the coming weeks.

In addition to the banners and navigational doodads, we're also planning a few extras right off the bat, like a characters page for the main cast. Regular followers will know these guys already, but here's some new art for that section of the website:

Next time we update, I'll have more to show from the website itself. Perhaps even the website itself! Stay tuned!

Monday, October 31, 2011

And We're Back!

Sorry for the massive wait-time, folks - in addition to getting a sizable chunk of Beyond the Western Deep pages ready for our backlog, we've also been hit pretty hard with work via our day jobs. That said, I'm hoping now that we're starting to get a proper backlog of pages together and are finally piecing together what the webcomic's website will entail, we'll be able to eventually migrate this blog with the new site to keep everything in one place and make updating folks on the progress of the comic an easier endeavor.

That said, how about some in-progress page work to make up for the long silence?

As you might remember from a few posts ago, Rachel put together a fine-looking Felis script. The first use of this in the comic itself was a simple banner in a market square in the first page of chapter one. Almost immediately afterward though, a new idea emerged: what if instead of just adding a few lines of Felis script into the opening "history" sequence, we added the actual Felis art as well?

Rachel quickly pieced together a style loosely based on the Bayeux tapestry that fast-became one of my favorite elements of the newly-redone introductory sequence. These simplified representations of the races, juxtaposed with their "real" forms in Rachel's normal style, really help make the historical events on display look and feel more authentic.

Now that we're buckling down to get the website and page backlog squared away, the blog updates will be a bit sporadic - but it's my hope we can keep a somewhere consistent presence here while we get BWD's new home finalized.

Thanks for hanging in there!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Eisner Win!

Last night, Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard won the Eisner Award for Best Anthology - turning what was already an incredible thing into something far beyond anything I'd ever hoped for. David Petersen pulled together a veritable dream team of creators for Legends, and I am humbled beyond description to be able to share in this accomplishment.

Three years ago, I met David Petersen in person for the first time, two years ago I introduced him to my friend Sean Rubin, and less than one year ago Sean and I were at the Archaia booth in New York Comic Con signing copies of Legends of the Guard along with several of the other creators. I am truly honored to have been a part of the Legends experience, and I'm confident that Legends: Volume 2 will be just as incredible, if not better, than the original Legends.

In addition to this Eisner news, I figured I would share a little bit of "BWD" stuff with you! A couple posts ago, I brought up our intention to create languages for the different races. Well, Rachel went and actually created a script for the Felis race that we can use in the introduction of the story and beyond. 

It's a pretty simple letter-swap, but it looks very cool! There will be a couple minor tweaks to the appearances of certain characters, but for the most part this is pretty accurate to what we'll be using in the comic's pages.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sunsgrove Sports

Happy Fourth of July, folks! We've got a handful of pages in the bucket now, and things are starting to fall into a nice groove. Instead of tossing up an in-progress page, I figured I'd show a fun series of sketches that Rachel put together that show some experimentation with Dakkan's design, as well as some notes about a possible Lutren/Tamian sport that resembles baseball.

This is the sort of stuff I love to brainstorm - Rachel will just crank out one of these sketches of her own accord and we'll start imagining the rules for a game like this, how it would've been played, who invented it, or whether it's a sport for kids or adults or both!

While the sport doesn't have a name (yet!) we've got some variations on the rules depending on who plays - either Tamian or Lutren. Being a bit more acrobatic, the Tamian variation involves a batter, a home base, and a series of five "bases" located throughout a series of trees. Think of it as a kind of 3-D baseball or cricket - where the Tamian batter hits a ball with a bat and has to make their way to home base by leaping across the trees as quickly as possible avoiding the 11 strategically-situated defenders. However, unlike baseball, the Tamian batter is able to run to any base they want in any order, so long as they don't get tagged out by a defender carrying the ball.

No batter can occupy the same base at once, but they can run to any base they want as soon as the ball is in the air. This means you could feasibly have five Tamian on base at once. So, why not just immediately go for the home base? The strategy here is how scores are made and counted - the at-bat team gets additional points when they get multiple runs to home base on a single hit.

Stacking the bases, then, proves a risky but potentially useful strategy in grabbing extra points per run. A single run on a single hit nets 1 point, two runs at once nets 3 points, three runs in a single hit gets 5 points, four runs gets 7 points, and getting a full five runs in a single hit offers 10 points.

If a batter is unable to hit the ball after three pitches, the batter is out. When an at-bat player is deemed to be out, either by striking out or by getting tagged, they are permanently out until the teams switch. To switch the in-field and at-bat positions, the in-field team must tag out the entire 11 person at-bat team. Games have 3 innings that can stretch into overtime if necessary.

Similar to cricket, there are no foul balls in the game, however. There are numerous optional field positions that the team captain can deploy their defenders to use to catch balls flying far left, right, even up and behind the batter. If the ball is hit with the bat, it's in play 100% of the time.

This sport probably won't show up in the comic, at least not the story we're going to be starting with, but it could always show up in other stories!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


This isn't really in keeping with the schedule I'd tried to set for the blog updates, but I figure that with my zany schedule, any time I can stick something cool up, I'd better take advantage of the situation!

In the first page of the comic, we see a busy market near the Spire District of Gair. Originally, a vendor on this page was selling pottery, and there was text on the table letting us know that's what was being sold. However, looking at this, it was decided that the Felis of Gair (and all races of the land) would probably have their own language and written script they would use in their own cities.

And so this began a discussion as to how the different races' languages would look and sound. For the most part, the written languages were meant to mirror the races they were based on. The Tamian, for example, write with a very thin, vertical, tree-like script, with tense, formality, and even variations on the same word being communicated via "branches" on a core letter.

The Felis, on the other hand, have a script that's more rounded and "scratchy", inspired by more Oriental-style writing, with some added arcs that fit right into the Felis architectural motifs of Gair.

As the comic progresses and more of the races' languages are fleshed out, we might put up another one of these kinds of posts, but until then, stay tuned for various comic updates as they occur!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Quin and Crim

Work continues on the comic as always, though we weren't able to quite throw together a post thanks to professional obligations on both our parts. Still, I don't like leaving you folks hanging for too long without some stuff, so here are some new sketches detailing protagonist Quinlan and the combat trainer, Crim. We'll start with Quinlan (and a bit of Janik):

Quin and Crim have a bit of history that isn't detailed in the comic, which makes it fairly good fodder for the blog!

When he was young Quinlan showed great promise in the Tamian martial art known as Tesque. He wasn't spectacular by any means, but the trainers saw potential in him and helped to mold him into one of the best Tesque practitioners in Sunsgrove.

Crim, however, with his heftier frame and altogether nasty disposition, was passed over for advancement many times. He grew to hate Quinlan, resorting to bullying tactics and altogether striving to make his life miserable.

When Quinlan tried to personally see to it that Crim was given a fair shake by their instructors, Crim was so enraged at the gesture that he nearly knocked Quinlan unconscious during a sparring match, refusing to let up his offense until their instructors physically separated the two.

Many years later, and finally matured, the two Tamian came to tolerate each other's presence as best they could. Crim is now fighting at the Tesque Master level, and considers himself to be the finest warrior in the Tamian Kingdom, and also thought he was a shoo-in for Captain of the Royal Guard when the position opened up.

However, history has a bizarre tendency to repeat itself, and Quinlan was hastily promoted to the position when his grandfather, the former captain, passed away suddenly. In response to the news, Crim vowed that he would publicly embarrass the new captain, proving to all the Tamian people that he was the best fit for the position.

Whether or not he succeeds in doing so is a story left to the pages of the comic!