This is UTC’s first two-page spread! I have to find some way to display 228 and 229 on the site in a way that doesn’t break the site format.
Normally when an artist draws a two-page spread, they lay out the entire thing at once. I didn’t. I actually stumbled onto this format while drawing page 228, which was supposed to be a regular page like all the others. I realized the arcing panels at the top could be continued onto the next page to follow the trajectory of the animals, keeping that part of the action distinctly separate from what was happening elsewhere in the cafeteria but still easy to read. Demetrius was falling, so I knew his panel had to be the lowest one spatially. That left me with the question of what to throw in the top-right, and I came up with the blast to the face for poor panda guy. An unfortunate side-effect is that the extension of the final panel on page 228 leaves the bottom-left of this page pretty bare when broken off from its counterpart. But, like I said, this was a haphazard spread. I’m surprised it turned out this decent.
It took a few sketches before I found a falling posture that looked good and dangerous. I tried for a more realistic “slipped down” look with his feet leading, but it just looked like he was jumping. So I flipped his body all the way around, with the insinuation that Keris’ tail hung on for a bit while Demetrius’ upper body fell forward. I wanted it to look obvious he is not going to have a safe landing.
That’s an uninteresting tidbit, but that’s all I got for this page and I had to write something!
I didn’t intend to have a background in Panel 1 while I drew it. During the coloring stage, I saw how blank the backdrop looked compared to having the foreground pieces (the hints of the machine Ken’s group is building). I also realized that it isn’t super obvious that Ash is breaking through the upper level windows. So I threw some color in the BG and added Ash’s silhouette.
All series I’ve been looking for a way to showcase Demetrius’ “genetic warfare” devices. We’ve seen his biological weapons before, but not any of their delivery systems until now. Aaaaand…it’s basically a tee-shirt cannon.
This is the first actual use of Morty’s (and Noah’s) transformation ray since the final chapter of Phase One. I kept it away from the students in Phase Two because it’s kind of a miraculous device. It healed Jen’s mortal wounds after transforming her into a were-poodle and back again, and with the kind of dangers the kids face every chapter, it would have become the dreaded deus ex machina of this series. At that point I started coming up with the germ of the story that’s unfolding here, where the ray is at the crux of villain Ken’s ambitions, and created the subplot that ran through Phase Two where Jen had confiscated the ray to prevent this kind of misuse.
All of Katsuko’s bears are designed to protect children, so I figured it would make sense if some of them were capable of acting as baby monitors.
This page takes its title from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Changing Face of Evil.”
I felt this scene was crucial for this story to stand on its own two legs. One hard lesson I learned in past comics is that if you don’t pay enough attention to your main villain, the narrative loses a lot of weight. Here, Ken’s flaws and attitude are explored a little and we find that he’s not actually a despotic mastermind, he just thinks he needs to act like one to get what he wants. As for what THAT is, I tried to find ways to drop hints through their dialogue, but couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t outright spoil, so it’s still very vague at this point.
In the first draft, Kestrel became more accepting of Ken’s plan at the end and didn’t display a conscience. While working the script over, I couldn’t help but compare Ken and Kestrel to Magneto and Mystique–in particular the versions of the characters from the original X-Men film trilogy. I tweaked Kestrel’s dialogue from what I originally wrote to keep her from being an outright Mystique clone. I mean, she’s even got the “I have to be nude ‘cuz I’m made of camouflage” thing. Give Ken a helmet and they are basically X-Men LARPers. Sometimes coincidences are just coincidences, but when a creator realizes one exists, they need to make sure it stops being such a close comparison.