I kept telling myself I could print the original BICP pages, readers liked the art well enough at the time, or at least the ones who didn’t like it didn’t stick around as readers, it would be fine….

Then, at last, I caved and started doing updates.

Full shading! Touched-up lineart! Slightly nicer textures and effects!

The new versions of chapter 1 and chapter 2 are now live. (The original versions are still available at the Smackjeeves mirror, and I’ll put some side-by-side comparisons on the BICP Tumblr.)

The cover images are completely new — that’s happening for every chapter, at least in the early volumes. (The first five chapters had simple splash images that involved less effort than a typical page, not more, which didn’t seem right.)

All the new ones are homages to cover art from other series, mostly anime and manga. Points to readers who can track down the references.

For the interior art, the total shading alone makes it a lot fresher. And I’m more willing to mess with lighting and adjust local color to make the focal points of panels stand out. Sometimes it’s as simple as fading the background so it’s easier to see where a character is actually standing.

And then there’s the lineart. The most persistent issue is this reoccuring face-skew — if a character is in 3/4 view, almost invariably the forehead is sticking out while the chin is kinda sunken in. Which makes it kinda fun to flip back and forth between original and updated art, and watch everyone’s heads change shape.

At this point most of the working files only have two layers. Speech bubbles get their own layer, but gradients, textures, lighting effects, they’re all flattened together. Aaaaawkward. If you look closely, you can see that I got more aggressive about redoing textures between chapter 1 and chapter 2, extra time investment and all.

So, yeah, it’s taking a while. I got through most of the audio version of Carpe Jugulum (Discworld) while updating chapter 1, and did a whole start-to-finish marathon of Sherlock working on chapter 2. (Rounded off by an episode of the Thinking Sideways podcast…by complete coincidence, #233, which references a Sherlock episode.)

For chapter 3, let’s find out what the library has in stock.

In between all this, I’ve been transcribing And Shine Heaven Now strips from 2005. That’s 6 years older than the BICP pages from 2011, which in turn are 6 years older than the present. Symmetry!

Trippiest moment: transcribing a Shine sketchbook page from 2005 that collects what I called “old, bad sketches” from 2004. To my 2017 eye, the 2005 art — which was shiny and new and hot-off-the-pages at the time — does not actually look any different.

It’s comforting to see that things are appreciably better by 2011. Back in 2005 you have to squint to pick out the wonky-face issue, because everything is so skewed and funny-looking that it doesn’t even stick out.


New Year’s Resolution: to get more than half of BICP updated and available in print over the course of 2018. At the current pace, that’s more than doable.

…it would be nice to get the Josh/Marian/Saxon interlude published in time for Easter, but that’s probably a little optimistic.