The Mercenary: Aiming With The Airplane

Enjoy some behind the scenes process development of The Mercenary V.2.
For previous posts, click HERE.

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That the inhabitants of the Crater had a weapon that could aim on a flying animal should give the readers a hint that these monks were more than mere monks. Of course, fixing a high caliber weapon to the saddle is a refinement that, in a more recent age, gave birth to the conventional combat airplane, which, in turn, evolved into the real fighter plane.

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When the pilot Roland Garros shot down his first airplane in 1915, his opponents – both upset and incredulous – said they couldn’t figure out how he did it. He shot down two more this way, worrying victories for his opponents. When his Morane-Saulnier L had to land on enemy ground due to a malfunction, the mystery was solved: Garros had a machine gun mounted on the hood that shot through the barrel of the airscrew and didn’t blow it apart because a piece of steel deflected the bullets that coincided with the propellers. The Germans immediately called Anthony Fokker, who in a matter of days designed his own system to synchronize machine gun and airscrew.

This is Roland Garros’ deflector mounted in a Morane-Saulnier N, an exceptional monoplane that helped rule the air during the French monopoly of the Garros system. It proved superior to anything.

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And this is the Fokker E III, dubbed “The Whip” due to the absolute supremacy it achieved during 1915 because its machine gun was synchronized with the airscrew. This lasted until its opponents devised their own synchronization system.

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The Mercenary: Building a Better Crossbow

Enjoy some behind the scenes process development of The Mercenary V.2.
For previous posts, click HERE.

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The medieval crossbow was a weapon that successfully competed against the large bow and was used along with portable firearms for a long time. A good crossbow could throw 6 oz. arrows at a 1300 ft. distance with great precision and huge penetration power, especially if the impact was perpendicular to the target.

Its biggest problem was its slowness and difficulty to load, which most of the time required special mechanisms.

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To the Mercenary’s surprise, at the Crater, he finds weapons he had never seen and that were unknown in his homeland. He distrusts anything new, which is to be expected considering the weird weapon carried by the guardian of the monastery.

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I added some protrusions to the blades of the arrowhead that unfold when the arrow is shot, due to the aerodynamic resistance caused by the high speed of the projectile.

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With a simple look, the Mercenary understands the mechanism of the artifact but his attention is caught by the weird way the weapon is mounted in the dragon’s saddle. Nan-Tay’s crossbow is very powerful without a doubt. The bow is formed by a steel sheet with several smaller support sheets like the suspension springs of a truck. It incorporates a large crank handle on the right for the difficult task of loading. Plus, the weapon moves vertically a little to adjust aim according to the distance of the target. The projectile shown here is not my invention: this system was already in use in the 17th century by the naval artillery to cut the riggings and anything else that stood in its way during maritime battles.

The Story of Our Love

This week, Yiri and I celebrate nine years of marriage and ten years of being together! The funny thing is, I remember saying on our second day or so: “I’m sure that in ten years we’ll still be together, and basically still feeling for each other what we’re feeling now.” And I was right.

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These pages are from our graphic novel about Love, which came out in The Netherlands last year, and may be appearing in the US later this year…

Armored Up: Inside ‘The Mercenary V.2’

Enjoy some behind the scenes process development of The Mercenary V.2.
For previous posts, click HERE.

HIS ARMOR, BARGAINING CHIP
LOOKING FOR TROUBLE

merc1The Mercenary’s adventures take place around 1,000 A.C. but the armor he acquires is not typical of that era, besides being of European design. Let’s just say the tools contributed by the monks of the Crater had placed the people of the Land of Eternal Clouds several centuries ahead.

Actually, full armors did not exist at the time in western civilization; at most, coats of mail and iron helmets were used. Armors like the one used by the warrior shown to the left would not appear until the end of the 13th century. This is an Italian armor from 1400, an age when apparently the trunk pieces were covered with fabric or leather to identify oneself on the field or protect iron from rusting.

Armors were always very expensive, an elaborate handcraft work. Nowadays, tons of steel sheets can be manufactured by huge machines at low cost, but back in those days armors were made with hammer and anvil. They were custom-made suits for people with large financial resources. No wonder the Mercenary accepts Claust’s conditions without much hesitation…

The Mercenary will use this armor, which almost cost his life, through all the series with some slight modifications suggested by the master armorer of the Monastery of the Crater.

I need to tell you that when the Mercenary went to the armory to buy his new armor, Claust’s presence at the store was no coincidence.

The Mercenary had been followed by order of the alchemist, who had him already in his sight for his next trip to the Crater.

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Claust’s relationship with the Monastery of the Crater went back a long way. Ten years before, when the alchemist made a living swindling people with snake-oil formulas, he watched some merchants exchanging manufactured products for food. The quality of their merchandise caught his attention and he decided to discreetly follow them to find out where they came from and whether he could somehow benefit himself. To his amazement, he watched a string of flying dragons enter the pass into a bleak zone of freezing cold. He had to give up because he was not prepared to get inside that labyrinth, but soon he found them again and this time, better prepared, followed them, steadily reaching the Great Frozen Plains. Stunned, he saw from a distance how they disappeared into a steaming crater. That was so mysterious and promising that it deserved to be explored in depth. Always alone, so he wouldn’t share anything he found with anyone, he managed to leave the merchants behind and, well camouflaged at the edge of the crater, he spied the string passing through the waterfall at the precise moment he was detected.

What he never knew was that the monks considered two options: one, make him disappear and the other one, obtain his silence rewarding him with gifts he could not refuse. It was a mistake to choose the second one. The alchemist became rich, powerful and more and more demanding.

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I bought this armor replica to check what it was like to be inside one, and it was an interesting experience. It is made from a 1/32” iron sheet and it’s very heavy, slightly less than the real ones which weighted about 65 pounds though later some reached 220 lbs. This armor’s design is not correct: the shoulder pieces are not properly jointed which does not allow raising the arms adequately. Besides I found the chest and back pieces too rigid, so I did the right thing putting two pieces for the chest and back in the Mercenary’s armor.

 

NBM March 2018 Releases

Here are upcoming titles, now being solicited for a March 2018 release.

NEW!
THE INITIATES 
By Etienne Davodeau

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The sold out hardcover now in paperback.

Etienne Davodeau is a comic artist. He doesn’t know much about the world of wine-making.

Richard Leroy is a wine-maker. He’s rarely even read comics.

But these two are full of good will and curiosity. Why do we choose to spend one’s life writing and creating comics or producing wine? How and for whom do we do them?
To answer these questions, for more than a year, Etienne went to work in Richard’s vineyards and cellar. Richard, in return, leapt into the world of comics. They opened a lot of bottles and read many comics. They traveled around, meeting authors and wine-makers sharing their passion for their jobs.

The first time a book explores the nature of a man’s vocation with a true life representation of it from two very different perspectives. They get to realize they both have that precious and necessary power to bring people together.

With guest appearances by Trondheim (Dungeon, Little Nothings), Emmanuel Guibert (The Photographer) and Marc-Antoine Matthieu (Museum Vaults).

8×11, 272pp., B&W trade pb: $19.99  ISBN: 978168112133851999

 

RESOLICIT
The Louvre Collection: THE CROSS-EYED MUTT
By Etienne Davodeau

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Fabian is supervisor at the Louvre. He loves his job. He also loves Mathilde. When it comes time, she presents him to her family in their vast country house and not without some apprehension, as the Benion clan is a bit special. There’s her father, Louis, who heads since 1975 the family furniture company founded in 1947, and two brothers, Maxime and Joseph. They’re not bad guys, just rather clumsy and with a decidedly unsubtle sense of humor. The fact that Fabian works in the Louvre is a welcome coincidence, since they just found in the attic a painting by an ancestor in the nineteenth century. It’s a sorry representation of a cross-eyed mutt.

What is the value? ask the Benion. Is this an eyesore or a masterpiece?

Fabian, pretty embarrassed, punts on the question. So for the Benion, case closed, if it ain’t an eyesore then no doubt it has its place on the walls of the Louvre! Fabian is left hoping the whole delusion will just go away, until one day the two brothers show up at the Louvre and ask. Getting the Cross-Eyed Mutt into the Louvre would demonstrate his commitment to becoming a member of the Benion family! Fabian is now in a pickle when he meets Mr. André Balouchi, an oddball frequent visitor of the museum who turns out to have quite a bit of clout…

A raucous satirical comedy that asks: Who decides what makes a work of art worthy of being in a major museum?

7 ½ x 10 ½, 144pp., B&W hardcover, ISBN: 978168112097352499, $24.99

 

RESOLICIT
LULU ANEW 
By Etienne Davodeau

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At the end of yet another unproductive job interview, Lulu, on a whim, takes off for the shore just to get away from it all. She’s got a husband and kids left bewildered but it’s nothing against them. This is just her time, getting away from the grind and being taken for granted with no other plan than savoring it. Surprised at her own temerity, she meets other people on the edge of the world. It wasn’t meant to be for long. It wasn’t meant to be anything but in the end, thrilling, fun, and possibly dangerous, this improvised experience will make of Lulu a different woman. By the author of the acclaimed The Initiates.

8 ½ x 11, 160pp. full color hc, $27.99, 978156163972452799

 

NEW!
THE TRUE DEATH OF BILLY THE KID
By Rick Geary

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‘Being an authentic narrative of the final days in Billy the Kid’s brief and turbulent life.’

One of our folk legends of the great Wild West, William H. Bonney went from cowboy and gunslinger for a rancher to pure outlawry forever dodging justice in New Mexico when it wasn’t even a state. On the one hand, he was charming, fun-loving –often at social events like dances-, quite appealing to the ladies. Also conversant in Spanish, “Billito” was popular with the Spanish speaking crowd.

On the other hand, he had no compunction to coldly kill a man, a sheriff, a deputy, anyone who got in his way rustling cattle or horses for an illicit living. He also proved hard to keep in jail even when caught. It is probably his feats of derring-do escaping from jails that made him most famous and this is the main subject of this biography following him until he is shot in pitch darkness by lawmen obsessed with getting rid of him.

6×9, 56pp., B&W hardcover, $15.99  ISBN: 978168112134551599

 

RESOLICIT
A TREASURY OF MURDER SET:
Lovers Lane, Famous Players, The Murder of Lincoln

By Rick Geary

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This specially priced banded set of hardcovers provides an engrossing, illustrated journey into true crime classics of the late Victorian era and early XXth Century, including three works in Rick Geary’s increasingly storied treasury of murder—Famous Players, about the murder of a prominent silent movie director and resulting scandal in early Hollywood;  Lovers Lane, the shady date spot where the corpses of a Reverend and a respected townswoman were found holding hands; and one of the most famous assassinations in American history: The Murder of Abraham Lincoln. These carefully researched presentations of true crime stories, including bibliographies of research sources, present true facts about famous murders in an entertaining fashion.

6×9, 240pp., set of 3 hardcovers, $39.99, ISBN 978168112062153999

 

RESOLICIT
TREASURY OF XXth CENTURY MURDER: BLACK DAHLIA
By Rick Geary

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On January 15, 1947, a woman was walking with her daughter in a Los Angeles neighborhood. She passed what looked to be a discarded manikin. It turned out to be the body of Elizabeth Short: posed, drained of blood, meticulously scrubbed, and cut in two.

From this point, Geary reconstitutes and reveals for us the life of this 22 year old woman who had become known as “Black Dahlia” because of her striking appearance. She had moved to LA to make it in show business. How could her life have ended in such a ghastly fashion? Was it a jealous boyfriend, a rejected suitor, or one of LA’s notorious mafia connections whom she had apparently been dabbling with? The case gets more complex when, days later, a local newspaper receives a cut-out letter from an anonymous “Black Dahlia Avenger” admitting to the crime. More letters follow toying with the LAPD.

Eisner Award winner Geary takes us through all the twists and turns in one of the most captivating unsolved mysteries of the 20th century in this latest installment of his Treasury of XXth Century Murder.

6×9, 80pp., B&W jacketed hardcover, $15.99; ISBN 978168112052251599

 

Eurotica


RESOLICIT
SIZZLE #71
Specially priced at 3.99! Girl concludes, more zombie pin-ups, and the rest of our good stuff!
8 ½ x 11, 48 pp. full color magazine, 0912875303-71, $6.99

RESOLICIT
SIZZLE #72
Specially priced at 3.99! Lust of Us sex zombies on the prowl, Precinct 69 police mayhem, Barbarian Chicks wreaking havoc: one dangerous issue! Buy it if you dare.
8 ½x11, 48pp. full color magazine, 0912875303-72, $6.99

RESOLICIT
SIZZLE #73
Specially priced at 3.99! A all-new eurotic fairytale adaptation begins!  Also new comics by Kevin Taylor, the awesome fantasy world of ‘Deanna’, ‘Precinct 69’ and more!
8 ½x11, 48pp. full color magazine, 0912875303-73, $6.99

The Process: Inside ‘The Mercenary V.2’

Enjoy some behind the scenes process development of The Mercenary V.2.
For previous posts, click HERE.

GUNPOWDER, THE IDEAL “FORMULA” TO START A SERIES

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For this second volume of The Mercenary, the way I worked was more reasonable. With this I mean I wrote the full story, a script up in the air but a script anyway, and from the very beginning I already knew how it was going to end. Considering how I made the first volume, this was a great leap forward.

The central theme was gunpowder. It turned out to be a good choice, because this explosive would make regular appearances in the following volumes of the series and play a relevant role. To be clear to our readers, the monks of the Crater secretly wandered all over the world on their mission to gather all human knowledge to later share with other countries as they saw fit.

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These trips included China, where gunpowder was already known by that time. Actually the Chinese knew gunpowder way before 1,000 A.C., but used it for pyrotechnics and fireworks. Apparently there were some fireworks used for military purposes. Somehow, the formula reached the West and circulated through the small guild of alchemists and a select group of people, many of them monks who knew how to read and write.

Gunpowder is much more dangerous than it looks. It has lots of power. Just to give you an idea, the small amount inside a Mauser cartridge (smokeless gunpowder) creates a pressure of 3500 kg/cm2 inside the chamber. Pressure is relieved through the weakest part of the chamber where the bullet is located, but we need to understand the bullet is wider than the cannon’s bore and pressure needs to deform it to adapt it to the grooves, and the bullet is still capable to travel 1 ¼ miles with enough power to pierce armor. The old Mauser I used in the army shot bullets more than twice the speed of sound, which meant the bullet always reached the target before the sound of the shot.

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So having the exclusivity of the formula and knowing how to use it, was holding absolute power.

 

The Formula: Inside ‘The Mercenary V.2’

In this gallery, I will tell you first hand how I was about to quit The Mercenary after the first volume due to the large amount of effort it required, but gunpowder lit the fuse of the series. I will also include some interesting information on gunpowder power, the world of aviation and crossbows and how I created the main characters.

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BEGINNING THE HARD WORK

I had finished volume one of The Mercenary, and it was time to measure things up. Regarding work, with my slow oil painting technique, I need more than a year and a half to finish it and, to be honest, what I was being paid was not worth it. Each page took me on average ten days of work while, in the same amount of time, any other illustrator made at least four pages, and the price per page was the same for everyone. But there was something that, despite everything, made me go on: the good response from fans and critics. There were some specific moments that cheered me up, like the enthusiastic comments from movie maker Federico Fellini, big fan of comics who even called me at home to congratulate me.

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With that said, if I wanted to continue the comic, the only logical option seemed to be move on with the character and make a series, which I was told was the sound thing to do economically speaking. So that’s what I chose. I went back to my ideas reservoir making sure they were original and unreleased. I wrote the script for a second story, which continued from the previous book without necessarily being a sequel, and drew it in a very simple way to fit the 48 pages for the episode. That was the real beginning of The Mercenary. That was the moment to create and shape the characters.

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From the very first page, I had to face an important decision: to dress up the warrior, who had lost his armor, with what would be his distinctive attire for the rest of the series. When it came to armor, I was very knowledgeable thanks to some previous works, like the helmet from the previous page which is an illustration I did in Indian ink for THE UNIVERSAL HISTORY OF WEAPONS, plus the endless magazine covers on medieval subjects.

To be continued…