Winter Break 2016

I figure if TV shows are allowed to do this, so am I.

What we've just finished (starting with comic #53 and ending with #77) is the first of several coherent storylines that have already been written concerning the crew of the Eclipse and their doings. I'm well into the artwork for the next storyline (which I'm planning on starting January 10th of 2017), but if you have comments or thoughts on what you've just read or what you'd like to see, I'd love to hear it! Comment below (or on Facebook if you prefer), and let me know what's up. Then tune back in next year for more!

Happy Holidays!

Comic #77

Note: The interested reader may be wondering why the engines on the Eclipse look so similar to the jet engines you might see on a commercial airliner when the Eclipse is a spaceship and jet engines require an atmosphere to function. Well, dear interested reader, have you ever seen a bussard collector? Didn't think so. It just so happens that the Jasper 2 bussard collectors used on the CoreCorp Type R fusion engines look a bit like the intake of a jet engine. Deal with it.

Eddie next to engine: Okay, we're here. Well there's the problem, we've got a misaligned rotor.

Boss over radio: There's no red light on that, Eddie.

Eddie and Kid exchange a flat look.

Comic #76

Two figures on the outside of the ship: Okay, we're outside.

Eddie: Suits have acquired the hull and we're sticking just fine. We'll...

Eddie stops, squinting forward.

Inside the ship, Eddie over radio: Pex, did you shut off the engines?
Pex: Accident! I forgot!

Comic #75

Jackman helping Kid and Eddie with spacesuits: You've got the latest in body armor, which will stop a bullet or laser, let alone a chunk of debris. The HUD in the visor will give you feedback on suit telemetry. We'll be dialed in the whole time, so if anything goes wrong we can pull you back in.

Jackman leaving: MEN.

Eddie and Kid watching her leave, looking worried.

Eddie: What did you say?
Kid: I was thinking about a mother hen. You don't suppose she's transcended to reading minds, do you?
Eddie: If she sabotaged the suits, it's on you.

Comic #74

Eddie: Boss, I've got a red light on engine 2
Boss over radio: How can you even see that from in here?

Eddie giving an incredulous look at the intercom.

Eddie: Uh...
Boss: Are you doing a spacewalk without permission?

Comic #73

Note: The interested reader may be wondering whether the battlehulk inadvertently shooting themselves qualifies as irony or not. Well, to assuage your grammatical worries, you might be interested to know that after offering assistance to the disabled warship, the Eclipse towed them to a Galactic Council shipyard instead of their corporate holding. Once there, the Eclipse turned the battlehulk over to the authorities for the use of banned munitions in publicly held space and collected a reward. The reversal of roles in the collection of that bounty is the very definition of irony. Now relax, take a deep breath, and get on with life.

The entire crew of the Eclipse together, the Boss looking smug, the Bender knitting, and the rest looking surprised.

"Today I incapacitated a ship approximately 1,400 times stronger than mine. I then offered them assistance at the cost of lifting the bounty on our heads. Irony is the sweetest form of victory." Boss, personal recording #103

Comic #72

The glob of metal punctures the hull of the battlehulk with a Thunk!

A wide shot shows an immense cloud of missiles about to follow it in.

Earth-shattering kaboom.

Comic #71

Panel that shows the Eclipse launching a glob of molten metal from the front of the ship.

The glob of metal closes with a new field of missiles.

As the glob flies through the missiles, they all turn to home in on it, weaving to avoid hitting each other.

Officer 1 looking through camera: Oh man, this'll go viral!
Officer 2: Yeah... can we get to an escape pod now?

Comic #70

Note: The interested reader may want to know that no, the Boss has never heard anything recorded by Boston.

Eddie: Boss, they're heat seeking, tracking the engines!
Boss: Pex! Go cold! Cool the engines!

Pex: Yeah, 'cause going into this without power sounds like a great idea...

Eddie and the Boss looking at the front screen, Eddie is angry.

Boss: Do we have that firing solution yet?
Eddie: I'd be more concerned about the 'not dying' solution, myself.

Comic #69

Note: The interested reader may want to know that the city of Houston, Texas was bombed completely out of existence by an anti-planetary missile during the Alien War. The phrase "Houston, we have a problem" has survived, however, in the form of an oft incomplete expletive.

Pex: Well, here come the missiles.
Boss: Don't worry, they can't see us.

Shot of many, many missiles homing in on the Eclipse.

Jackman: Yup, those are homing.
Kid: Houston...

Comic #68

Eddie: So to be clear on what you're telling us to do, Boss, we're attacking a Mark V battlehulk.

Eddie: They're not the newest, but still a few thousand cuts above the Eclipse. Even if we detonated a small nuke against their hull, it wouldn't do more than dent it.

Boss: Let's test that, shall we? Keith, get me a firing solution.
Eddie: Aaaaand we don't have any nukes on board.

Comic #67

Officer 1: So, do we get a cut of this bounty?
Officer 2: Maybe a nice little bonus in time for the holidays.

Officer 1: That little ship is pretty quick.
Officer 2: Yeah, with our mass we probably won't even be close enough to see our missiles hit.

Both officers looking forward in stunned silence.

Officer 1: Are they turning to attack?
Officer 2: Captain, you have got to see this.

Comic #66

Boss: Pex, how quickly can we close with that battlehulk?
Pex: We'll have to decelerate and turn first, but with their speed we'll close the gap pretty fast. I'd say about...

Pex looking surprised.

Pex: (thinking) Wait, did he just tell me to close on a battlehulk? Is this a quiz or something? Shoot, I am so fired.

Comic #65

Kid: Boss, isn't it about time we made a run for it?
Boss: If we run now, they'll chase us forever. We've got to show they can't mess around with us.

Kid: Yeah, but that battlehulk...
Boss: Look, I don't tell you how to do your job.

Kid: But doing what you tell me to do is my...
Boss: Zip it.

Comic #64

Note: The interested reader may want to know that smart missiles track their targets based on the target vessel A.I.'s attempts at intervention (anti-missile laser arrays, holographic cloaking or decoys, etc.). They are called smart missiles because they are almost impossible to dupe or mislead. The Eclipse, however, has no A.I. and no automated missile defenses. Smart missiles, therefore, have nothing to track, and the ship becomes a simple hole in space.

Pex: Boss, they're trying to match our speed and the A.I. just told us to stop or be fired on.

Kid: Guys, I think they just shot a bunch of missiles at us...

Many missiles fly past the Eclipse without hitting them.

Boss: Yeah, who doesn't have the brains now!?
Jackman: If our ship is too stupid for smart missiles to track, should we be bragging?

Comic #63

Boss: I'd like to be heading away from that ship very quickly if you don't mind, Pex.
Pex: Yeah, I'll see what I can do.

The Eclipse executing a sharp left turn.

Pex: Boss, what exactly is the price on our heads?
Boss: You wouldn't live to collect it.

Comic #62

Eddie to Boss: Didn't we smuggle some Clint gene synthesis hardware to Degas?
Keith: Yeah, colony gover-ment paid us to!
Boss: But is that really worth a bounty?

Keith, Eddie, and the Boss all looking at a screen with stunned expressions.

Eddie: And at that figure?
Boss: I think we can raise our rates again if that's the going price for our heads!

Comic #61


Pex: It's a battlehulk, Boss.
Boss: Looks like I'm getting a transmission. Hold on.

Boss looking surprised.

Boss to Keith: What did we do to Clint Corp that would warrant a bounty?

Comic #60

Note: The interested reader may want to know that a click is a slang term for distance roughly equivalent to the distance light travels between two of the distinct clicks made in the engine compartment of a Hawking Drive. These clicks are made by expanding and contracting metal, however, which relies on the temperature of the coolant in the engine. Since coolant changes temperature, these clicks were never at a regular interval. As such you end up with a unit of distance that is changes based on an enormous number of variables. In the hundred years following the Alien War, however, the term became standardized, and now refers to the distance light travels in a tenth of a second, about 30,000 kilometers (18,600 miles). Three of these, therefore, is 90,000 kilometers (56,000 miles), or about a quarter of the distance between Earth and its original moon. Anything that can be sighted by the naked eye at those distances classifies as properly huge.

Pex: Hey Boss, we've got a Clint Corporation ship dropping from a wormhole about three clicks aft.
Boss: What kind of ship?

Pex: They're just sending an ID trace, let me switch to visual...

Shot of a ship behind the Eclipse viewed from one of the Eclipse's engines.

Pex: ...oh...

Comic #59

The Kid is shooting the huge gun Eddie showed him a while ago.

Jackman is trying on the dress from the bender and admiring herself in a mirror.

Pex is cleaning a gun with a heavily bandaged fist.

"How you handle the unexpected things in life is at least as important as how clean you keep your sidearm." Pex's Personal Recording #47

Comic #58

Eddie: Then you enter your code in here, and hit fire.

Boss: Good, so no one else can even activate it.


Eddie: Pex, you don't get to shoot it. That's not gonna change.

Comic #57

Bender is knitting next to Jackman. She's bald.

Bender holds up a dress and smiles.

Bender hands the dress to Jackman, who is surprised.

Bender continues knitting while Jackman examines dress in confusion.

Comic #56

Boss to Keith: You'll have to coordinate with me if you want to use the weapon. I'll ave the only trigger at my chair.


Boss looking at Pex, who's shaking his fist.

Boss to Keith: And have the Kid look into where all these flies are coming from.

Comic #55

Note: the interested reader may want to know that heli-segula is a system used to put a ship in space that covers the first leg of the journey on three detachable rotors. The interested reader may also want to know that adding the 'ate' suffix to the end isn't actually a word, though one could infer a definition similar to "being or appearing to be a heli-segula", or literally "a thing with three detachable rotors."

Transcript I told him to make a steam-pie of that haberdashery!

Jackman: Boss, can I have a word?

Boss: Heli-segulate.

Jackman looking at Boss in confusion, Boss ignoring her.

Comic #54

Eddie: Then the magnetic couplings chuck the melted glob of metal forward.

Boss: Get started. And make sure I'm the only one with a trigger.


Pex: Um... fly on the bulkhead?

Comic #53

Book 1: Irony is the Sweetest Form of Victory

Eddie: Here Kid, let me introduce you to 'The Doctor.'

Kid: Hey, I'm not stupid, Jackman is the doctor. You trying to pull a fast one on me?

Eddie hefts giant gun.

Kid: I think I've just taken ill.

What You've Missed

It's been a year since we last saw the crew of the Eclipse. In that time, the Bender has knitted a ton of random crap (cutting and regrowing her hair four times in the process), the Kid has gotten used to not having a name, and Pex has learned how to use a SCAN readout. LJ Silver of Silver Bells and Whistles INC was found guilty of selling arms to enemies of the Galactic Council, and the entire firm was dismantled. Silver Bells' navy was split into chunks, and at least one Battlehulk was unaccounted for in the process. More on that later.

There have been a number of low profile jobs, from running contraband to returning kidnapped children. The Eclipse continues to be the premier small mercenary outfit among corporations, governments, and individuals wealthy enough to afford their prices. Eddie has updated the power systems, and Jackman managed to score some cloning gear.

The Kid has found his little niche on the ship. He's still a little annoyed at being treated, well, like a kid, but he's earned at least some respect from his crewmates. He's started a little herb garden in his quarters as well, and he hasn't given up on trying to successfully hit on Jackman.

Keith is still very good at breaking things, Pex is still obsessed with guns, and the Boss still manages to land every high paying job they can reasonably fulfill while failing to grasp the finer points of linguistic communication. The ship has never been in better condition, and takes better care of her passengers than a vessel a hundred times her size.

Everyone's pretty much happy, and everything's pretty much normal.

As normal as anything ever gets around here, anyways...

CarpWheel Development Note 3: Core Corp Internal Memo Series

Engineering: We've finished the power conduits, fixed the deck gravity issues, and settled on the final connection for the power supply. The new standard should allow the connection of several types of singularity batt as well as the new QVCs, assuming Vac-Tech ever manages to finish them. Everything on the prototype has been passing every quality test, and I think we'll finish on schedule. As for the rest, it's outside of my jurisdiction. All I know is that I would buy one, and I frankly don't really care what you call it.

Design: I've got something of a vested interest, considering this is going to end up on my resume whether I like it or not. It's not a remarkably striking ship, but it's got good lines* and a classic design. Can't we give it a solid name to match?
*This observation was somewhat prophetic, since the year after its introduction the CarpWheel class won a design award specifically titled "Good Lines" from the Galactic Advent Commerce Design Awards Commission (GAC DAC).

Business Development: For the record, I'm leaving the corporation. I tried my best, and you idiots have given me a completely unsellable ship to sell. So stop copying me on your memos. And I didn't pick the name, but what the heck, since you lot have been stonewalling me everywhere for more than two years, I'm going to defend it. I can't think of a better way to describe this whole debacle than a wheel of fish.

Engineering: I'd like to point out that our "stonewalling" was largely ineffectual in regards to the deck layout, since you got your fixed decks with a small door at the nose.

Business Development: Oh. My apologies, a#%-hat. I got my fixed decks. Decks made with exorbitantly expensive gravity plating matched to twenty individual controllers in a density that is frankly ridiculous in a ship with power conduits and connections that are engineered to support military-grade hardware (a ship with no weapons or military use case, I might add) and which is carrying three of the most sophisticated fusion engines ever developed to fly from one hemisphere of a planet to another and that's been outfitted for Benders at no small expense despite the fact that everybody stopped using Benders three years before we started development on the product. But yes, I got my fixed decks.

Engineering: All of those features are highly desirable and should make the ship appealing to a wide range of customers. The design is unmatched in its class for versatility*, and we didn't cut any corners aside from the fixed decks. If you can't sell unmatched versatility, maybe you're just not the right marketer for the ship.
* This is a verifiable truth, no other ship in the light frigate mass class has ever approached the CarpWheel ships in the number of different professions it's been used for. On the used spaceship market, the CarpWheel has held its value remarkably well.

Business Development: Do you have any idea what goes into selling a spaceship? The market research, the surveys, the profiling? Give me a ship that does one thing better than everything else and I'll sell hundreds of them. Give me a ship that does one thing really well and costs less than its competitors, and I'll sell thousands of them. Give me a ship that does a bunch of things pretty well and is easy to configure, and I'll sell millions. And I can prove that, since I've literally sold millions of variations on the Hypercat class. But give me a ship that does a bunch of stuff pretty well, but costs twice what anything else in its class costs and requires three doctorates to configure, and divine intervention won't make it sell*. That's the "wheel of fish" you've given me, that last one right there.
*This is also a verifiable truth, considering the abysmal sales and rapid discontinuation of the CarpWheel class are matters of public record. They were too expensive to be bought for single use purposes, and the multi-use audience for a light frigate just isn't that large.

Engineering: I don't see what the big problem is. Just describe it honestly. I've done that and a few of my friends off-world agree it's a great design and well worth the money.

Business Development: J@#$% the k%&-*#@, all of you.

Design: Um, you know what? It's cool. CarpWheel is a perfectly serviceable name.

CarpWheel Development Note 2: Core Corp Internal Memo Series

Business Development: Having multiple decks is important. We're trying to create a vehicle that will be suitable for many uses. Ferrying passengers, carrying cargo, whatever. You're the engineers, you figure out how to make it work, but the decks are a must in both cases. And I don't really care where you put the engine room, stick it in the top with all the control systems. I don't think anybody would have a problem with flying the ship from the engine room. I mean, wouldn't that be like super convenient?*
*This arrangement is far less convenient than conventional thinking might dictate, and not just for aesthetic reasons.

Design: For the record, the aesthetic appeal of an engine room is very different than a control center. We can put them on the same level, but I'm going to keep poking the agenda that they at least be separate rooms.

Engineering: Making the decking removable and configurable makes more sense than just insisting that there be decks. For carrying passengers having decks would obviously be preferable. But hauling cargo would be much better if we had a giant open space with gravity trackers. If we make the entire nose of the ship a set of doors, it should be simple to allow for the installation of decks on a separate production line after the main hull has been assembled.

Business Development: Nobody wants their ship-to-ship transfers through a pair of giant doors! You wouldn't be able to dock at any ports unless they were outfitted for a battlehulk! Beyond that,  unloading passengers at a terminal would require a terminal port size that doesn't currently exist outside of your own ridiculous insecurities. We're also not going to eat the cost* of having to tool up three separate production lines to make two different configurations of one light frigate cargo ship, the margins aren't there for that kind of work, eh? Just make the decks permanent fixtures and put a normal sized door on the nose of the ship! Is that really so hard?
*Historically, Core Corp did have to eat a lot of the cost on the CarpWheel class. It wasn't profitable and was quickly disbanded.

Engineering: Fixed decks and a small hatch will make unloading cargo a lengthy and manual process. But we can pretty easily add a door off the back of the top deck that would be perfect for unloading passengers at stations and terminals on the ground, leaving the big doors in the nose for cargo configurations. Simple.

Design: Ah, sending passengers out through a hatch at the back of the engine room isn't a great user experience. I'd advocate for pretty much any other solution.

Business Development: See? That's a great reason. Another brain-blast! Manual labor is cheap in a galaxy with a population of hundreds of trillions. Fixed decks, door in the nose. Problem bloody solved.

Engineering: We can put the hatch above the engine room if we turn the engine room on its side.

Business Development: Are you #@$%&ing me right now?

CarpWheel Development Note 1: Core Corp Internal Memo Series

Engineering - It's a matter of some pride here at Core Corp that we've never under-engineered anything.* That isn't to say that all products must be over-engineered, of course. Merely that it's better to be safe than sorry. In regards to the inclusion of a third engine, there are a number of reasons for this: propulsive symmetry, Bussard coverage, and acceleration. You can't prove that these ships won't be used in evasion.
*Almost certainly untrue, but Core Corp has been around for a very long time. Even corporation historians can't agree on Core Corp's product lineup of the past hundred years, to say nothing of the thousand years before that.

Business Development - Talk of symmetry doesn't answer for the cost of an additional engine. And I actually pulled up the latest drawings this morning (I'm in the repository, in case you've forgotten), and I couldn't help but notice that your people have spec'd Type R engines for this thing instead of the standard Type N? Who are you trying to outrun?? The engineering team in charge of the Pursuant corvettes are only using ONE Type R and advertising it as the fastest tank-classed prototype in history! Why would a low-level planetary transport that masses barely twice as much need THREE Type R's?

Engineering - Planetary piracy is a thing that happens. Making the ship viable in private sector space as well as public sector space requires the ability to avoid looting at all costs.

Design - I'll pipe in and point out that the tri-engine design is fairly heavily patented by The Chef Boy Ardee Conglomerate, esp. in regards to placing landing strut enclosures in the bottom two engines. FYI - The lateral twin-engine design patent is held by yours truly*, and it's a beautiful match of form and function if I do say so myself.
*The patent for "A Lateral Twin-Engine Post Atmospheric Layout" patent was co-filed by Daymy Sherrin and Kilmoot Drastisist on behalf of Core Corp. It differs from most lateral twin-engine designs based on the inclusion of vestigial wings.

Business Development - "Avoid looting at all costs?" I can promise that nobody wants the cost of this thing just to avoid the remote possibility of looting. Get rid of the third engine and go with whatever that lateral-twin thing is. And make the engines Type N, there is NO market for a planetary transport packing the stats and PRICE those engines bring with them, and we are NOT eating the margins on them for the sake of whatever misplace pride your engineering team thinks they have. If nothing else will convince you, the patent thing from CBAC is sorta non-negotiable. Mainly because A) we will NOT be eating a licensing fee on this ship, and B) I won't negotiate it.

Engineering - We're not violating CBAC's patent. Daymy, you're either looking at old drawings or you've got your screen upside down. The twin engines are on the top.

Design - Oh lordy... I'm not styling this thing. You folks are on your own.

It's been a while, folks

Producing this comic was a tall order for a married college student who was working full time. The process itself was convoluted, and each strip took far more time than it ever should have. That being said, it's a point of personal pride that I managed to update the comic three times a week for three months without missing a beat. Was that enough to gather a following?

Pfft. Have you seen the internet? I'd have to cut off my own arm whilst diving into a volcano on a live YouTube stream to gather a following in this place.

But there are so many stories to be told about this crew, and I love telling them. I've got something like 1500 years of history into this universe, and the comic itself was designed to last at least seven. And since my wife is sick of hearing about it, I'm going to start updating the comic again.

I mean, I've graduated. But now I've got two kids. So... maybe I'm still crazy.

But at least I've streamlined the process. Like, a ton. And I'm changing the way updates will happen, and the layout as well. All of this means that you (dear reader, assuming anyone is reading this. This just got really meta, actually. If there are no readers, then do these words actually exist? Whoa...) will be getting Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday updates of the comic until the end of the current storyline. Then there will be an enormous break while I finish producing the next storyline. Some day those gaps might disappear.

The downside is that the new process means you won't be getting full color comics online. Once I've finished a whole storyline, I might colorize the whole deal and make it available for purchase as a PDF or actual book, assuming anyone is interested in such a thing. But new strips will be much less formulaic, much better written, and the quality of the art will improve quite a bit. It also takes me a lot less time to make. I believe the benefits outweigh the losses.

Obviously, otherwise I wouldn't have made that call.

Anyways, I just thought I'd let you know. The next storyline will be starting sometime in the next few weeks, but it won't be picking up where we left off. You'll see a post in the near future telling what you missed.

If you're reading these words, thanks. You are the reason I'm doing this at all. I don't tell these stories to make money, I tell them because I enjoy them and I think other people might as well. If you do enjoy them, tell your friends. If you don't, drop me a line and tell me why. I know there's plenty I can do better.