Painting that background was one time consuming task. I’ve never found a program that could accurately simulate oil paint. Of course I haven’t tried in years. Maybe advances have been made. All I know is that most of the tools, when used the way I would use a brush, lock my system up for minutes at a time. In spite of that I think this turned out okay. I just used the tricks I know in Photoshop to hobble along until I was satisfied. Of course that entailed going back in several times, and a desire even now to tweak things some more… But sometimes you just have to present what you have and live with your limitations.
Jessica’s first line begins with ‘t’s. This is something that Kansas say sometimes instead of a proper it’s. Basically it ads a TS sound to the front of the next word. It would sound a bit like “tspinna mild summer.” I suspect people in other regions also use this advanced contraction, but I know my friends and family use it.
The better part of Kansas is like this; very flat, very big sky. I think sometimes that you have to have grown up there, or a place like that, to appreciate it. It’s the kind of scenery that puts a human in their place. You are a very small thing in a very big world and, at night, you’re an infinitely smaller thing in and endless universe. Unfortunately you have to drive a fair way away from civilization to see the sky properly these days. Our fear of darkness keeps pushing the stars away a little more every year.
My old town is like a gleaming turd on the plains these days. It’s slowly turning into a large city. Filling with human scum around the edges. The price of progress, I guess… It wasn’t great before, but as new areas are developed old ones deteriorate. Places I used to frequent look as safe as Mos Eisley spaceport now. Fun places to go if you aren’t attached to your limbs. I got out at a good time. it’s a place you might enjoy visiting, but you wouldn’t want to live there. At least I wouldn’t. I like having some distance between myself and the next person over. Distance makes for better neighbors, in my experience. I’m not thrilled with a 30 minute drive to the nearest store, but it’s a give and take. I can’t remember the last time I heard a police siren.
Maybe someone still living there would have a different perspective, but from the outside things look shiny, but grim. The land surrounding the towns though… still beautiful. There’s more things stuck here and there, but it’s still pretty open. Not the kind of thing most people can appreciate.
Smooth, Jo, just smooth.
When did Jo get so smooth?
I think she’s been taking tips from Thomas.
She does pick up in a lot of details.
Now Thomas hasn’t been giving those tips, mind you. She’s just always nearby, listening…
For she is, the ninjo.
I know what you mean about the “advanced contractions” born in Kansas myself and my language sometimes makes me draw looks now that I live up in the northeast. Don’t care though, the language is simple enough for me
Just curious, where exactly is your old town in Kansas? I was born in Wichita, but was raised a few miles away in Newton. Haven’t been back in a few years, but Newton… Eh, it’s turned into a strip mall kind of town and “North Newton”, the township incorporated for god knows why, is even worse. It’s like Wichita without any of the good parts.
Eh, I grew up near NYC and I’ve been known to only include the “s” sound from the word “it’s” at the beginning of a sentence. e.g. ” ‘sbeen a mild summer” which ends up sounding like “spin” which I am suddenly thoroughly amused by.
Joe looks kinda like one of them Easy Riders from the late 60s.
This really makes me think of FLCL. “Nothing amazing happens here”
Maybe it’s just me, but Jess looks kind of like Marceline the vampire queen, and Jo looks like kind of like one of The Beatles, and I have to ask. Was that intentional?
50% intentional. I don’t know what beetles thing your thinking of, but it’s not something that lives on the surface of my mind at least.
Might you be thinking of John Lennon?
When I Google “John Lennon sunglasses” I find a few pictures that have some passing resemblance to Jo in that panel – although he was famous for his -round- sunglasses and Jo’s most certainly are not round.
Probably. The glasses aren’t completely round, but I still see a resemblance.
Jessica looks a lot like Marceline (from Adventure Time) to me in this strip. It’s probably just the hat though.
I saw it too. Marcy in “What was Missing”
I’m so glad I’m not the only one who saw it. References and similarities between thing I love make me happy
I’m leaning towards the “this is a dream” option. The scenery is a bit out of place, as is their style of dress and Jo’s body language. It’s all a little bit too idyllic and screams “old romance movie” to me, which is exactly the sort of thing Jo would come up with in a dream. The only question is, who does she wake up next to? ;)
She doesn’t wake up. This is real, and you are wrong. Fun theory though. It certainly should suggest old romance though, as this is a romantic moment.
Dang, thought I finally nailed one.
1.) That is a VERY accurate description of Kansas. I live in Oklahoma, but I went to four years of college in Kansas, and I lived there even before that. I love Kansas and the little towns and the vast prairie. Very accurate description.
2.) I liked the Mos Eisley reference.
You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Applies soooo much better to DC. The denizens of Mos Eisley would be terribly over-matched. An Okie here-closest neighbor is 3/4 mile away. And yes, directions to the house include,”Turn off the paved road.” Been meaning to ask Mr. Foxworthy what it means if you’ve shot something IN your bathroom.
Oh, Gahd, I love these two together.
Boom! Zap Brannigan words there.
This comment is a complete mystery to me.
I have, all the way to the end.
I grew up in Oklahoma, but moved to Atlanta in my mid 20’s, took a while to get used to mountains and roads with constant curves, never seeing the arrow straight lanes that go on to the horizon. I love it now, but on occasion the sight of the expansive sky of my childhood makes me catch my breath with a wave of homesickness.
SD for me. I’m also just south of Atlanta. Looks like the Black Hills gone bad down here. Can’t see the forest for the undergrowth and the temp and humidity are the same number all su,mer long. I got really homesick the first time I saw “The Tao of Steve”. I miss being able to see the next county, or the next state.
The sky color and cloud shapes remind me of the wallpaper from Toy Story
I believe that wallpaper is meant to depict a western sky, so it makes sense.
I see what you mean about the Kansan Big Sky Country. I grew up in the Cascade Mountains here on the Left Coast, U.S. For me, if the horizon is more than 8 miles away, and covered with trees, I get really uncomfortable. Even when visiting friends in the low, gently rolling plains of Eastern Washington, all I can see is the dead, bare, brown landscape, while they expound about it being God’s Country (what with all that sky). We’ve agreed to disagree.
And besides, anyone can drive in a straight line; it takes skill to keep the car in your own lane when there’re curves.
I hear this. I grew up in the PNW and I never realized how much it influences my sense of scale. When I went to school in E. WA I was totally uncomfortable and lost without the pull of the ocean. Those dark pines also make you feel small and so very young/insignificant – just one more mouse to get picked off on a dark night. It’s primal somehow.
However, I completely understand about the big open sky making you feel truly small and awed. I haven’t seen it often, but I remember wanting to just dive into that sky. It makes you small and free at the same time.
Beautiful page, lovely blog post as always!
I grew up in north Texas, which was fairly open as well, but it is nothing like western Kansas. I married someone from Scott City, KS. We lived up there in KS for a while. I can say that I love it. My folks moved to western WA and while I love to see the mountains and trees, I get uncomfortable in a few days because I can’t see the horizon except in spots. Driving makes me feel so boxed in, because just off the road is either a wall of trees or a wall of earth from the hills and ridges.
My wife tells me that there is nothing like seeing the world from on top of a grain elevator in western KS.
II guess different parts of the US say or write ‘t’s. Out here in the West, it gets shortened to ‘s.
” ‘s been a mild summer.”
“Sorry ’bout that.” ” ‘s cool.”
Or maybe it’s just me. :)
Nah, I lived most of my childhood out west and I do the same thing.
I jus said the same exac thing.
That scenery looks amazing. I now live in Kentucky and having trees everywhere has left me feeling closed in the last decade or so.
I’m going to say “light pollution” and mention that there’s fairly simple ways to reduce it. Something to look into and subtly put to the attention of your local potentates, perhaps. It’s a small thing, but it’s also relatively easily fixed, come lamp replacement time.
With respect to getting digital to look like oil paint, have you tried Painter, currently on version 13, or X3 as they call it. It is a paint program and does it quite well, pick a paint style, you can do it digitally. Unfortunately it is also expensive.
I’m from the Canadian prairies, that is exactly what I have outside of town. It’s “flat” like some people can’t comprehend. In the winter it’s worse as everything is a uniform white. I call it “beautiful desolation”.
The first thing I thought when I saw this comic was “hey, Kansas looks like southern Alberta”.
Och that background nailed how central and western Kansas look (SEK resident here). It feels like the put interruptions in the roads just to keep drivers awake.
Curse the lack of comment editing functions!
I love the hats. :)
They are a very cute couple.
I just hope Jessica doesn’t break Brooksie’s heart.
I live in the mountains near the ocean in the good old pacific northwest. and for collage i am heading to the plains so i am going to miss the wet and salty air i have now.
“I’ve never found a program that could accurately simulate oil paint.”
Would it be viable to paint the seen in oils, scan it, and then manipulate it digitally (as needed)?
Pastels might be viable if the slow dry rate of oil is an issue.
I would personally love to see you mix media like this, but I’m ignorant on how taxing that could be on your time and budget.
Materials and space would both be a problem, which is why I went all digital when I started.
Oils also have the unfortunate property of remaining malleable for an extremely long period of time, making sensitive scanning equipment vulnerable to damage. Place an oil painting not treated and left to dry for weeks on a flatbed and you’re coming away with a ruined scanner.
> I’ve never found a program that could accurately simulate oil paint.
I’ve never done much more than dabble with it a bit, but Artweaver seems to do a good job of simulating real art techniques: http://www.artweaver.de/en
There’s a free version, so you can try it out, but you couldn’t use it for any money-making efforts. However, the full version only costs 29€, (about $38.95 according to the currency market of the moment), so certainly not bank-breaking if you decide you want to use it for realsies.
well there goes any comprehension i had of the timing and pacing of the story.
Is there some way I could help?
well last i thought they were still pre or just starting the holiday season, with the idea they would a plot point in the comic – seeing the store actully busy, john and josie quiting smoking and possible a make it or break it point with mike… so at what point did we go past the holidays?
We’ve never been past them. I don’t recall ever setting down the actual time, or anyone specifically stating it. Please correct me if that’s not correct, it’s been a long time since I started. In any event it’s late I the winter when the story starts. Anywhere from January to April you can still get big snowstorms in Kansas. March tends to be the cutoff time though. On of the worst snowstorms I ever lived through happened on my birthday many, many, years ago. Which is March 20.
Anyway, it’s around April or may I suppose. They would be sitting in a stubble field of winter wheat, which is generally planted from October to December. Although I guess you might count that as spring… I’m not actually sure when summer officially starts. Maybe it would be more correct for Jess to have said it’s been a mild spring.
I hope that clears things up in some way for you. If you spot any problem in there at all maybe I can go back and make it more clear for future readers.
I have to admit that when I got to come home, back to KS, while I lived in Virginia, it was nice. 95 and 64 can make you feel claustrophobic. There is something to being out in the open that people in VA just did not get. However, western KS does not corner the beauty in KS. The Flint Hills are lovely as are other places in the state. And I didn’t realize that I say “TS” until I read this comic and thought about what I say sometimes . .. :)
I know I do the same thing but even lazier. Like, I would say “zbina.” I also don’t finish words a lot like I say “iunno” for I don’t know. Iunno if thasjus me buh I know Californians are suppos’ to slur our words. I guess lazy is our regional accent?
It’s bad, but if I saw so much open space the first thing I would wonder is, “I wonder why it’s not developed yet.” I guess that’s what happens when you live in a high property value coastal town. Anything that’s not developed is either going to be, or being protected. And no land around here is so big and flat as that is either
That’s why we grow food on it.
They are sittin in a field of wheat stubble. Texas Panhandle we leave the center out of words. To me the Kansas accent shifts from south to a difference in the north usage. Good sky.
Yeah, and if we want to get technical, a wheat field is actually developed land. Otherwise it would just be grass and dirt. Without irrigation and whatnot a field returns to its natural state pretty quick like.
They don’t develop on it because they’re friggin’ nobody in Kansas to develop for.
It sounds like you might enjoy Saskatchewan. Although, the people I know who have moved here from there have little desire to go back.
I’ve always kind of wanted to go to Canada, but I don’t have any particular reason to. Seems like a nice place to go to though.
Lovely scenery. And I love these two together.
In regards to your comment about not finding a program to simulate oil paint makes me wonder if you have tried ArtRage 4. While not as perfect as reality, it does have a variety of materials it simulates. From oil paint and water paint to markers and chalk. Touch pricey, but cheaper then Photoshop. Just a suggestion.
I appreciate the suggestion.
flat space is not something i saw a lot of growing up (i’m a townie myself but both my parents are farmers) due to the fact that our family farm is in the middle of a valley. but i guess that’s most of the south west of Australia. got some amazing skies out there though. particularly at night
Lived in the northeast (Western Masschusetts, basically a country version of an upstate New York accent) for most of my life up until recently. I also use ‘t’s, and occasionally ‘m, and th’t. And tend to blend words at times.
I live in North Dakota, and I so so SO love this strip, Crave. <3 Thank you for taking the time to put the girls in a different setting. The fields and wheat are gorgeous and remind me of here and home. Warm happy fuzzy feelings.
I'm with you on the "distance between neighbors" thing. I currently live in a city, but it'd take me about five minutes by car to start seeing fields. It's just the right mix of urban and farmland for me. I've lived in this state all my life. If I could stay here, I would, it just doesn't offer what I need to make the most of my dreams.
I made myself a little homesick with this one. XD I mean I live in rural Colorado, but it’s not the same.
Nice picture of that comic! Because it looks awesome.
I’ll be SO MAD IF JO GETS THE SADS FROM HER.