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The Artistic Equivalent Of Cabin Fever?

It’s been more than five months since Rich Burlew sliced his thumb up good and his return to comics has been slow — he managed to get one update in just before the end of 2012, and has averaged about one a week since then. Having so few chances to get story into play over such a log time must surely be frustrating, as he [SPOILERS] dropped a (long-awaited, it’s true) bombshell on us today.

Certainly, Burlew has been willing to kill off major and minor recurring characters in the past, but the one previous case of killing off a major cast member resulted in him getting better¹. This feels somehow more permanent, and the loving rendering on the last panel speaks to an artist being forced to wait nearly half a year longer than he’d planned to get to that particular development. Rest In Peace (perhaps temporarily), Death’s Lil’ Helper. You’ll be sort of missed, kinda.

I don’t think I mentioned the Johnny Wander book launch party on Saturday night — it was a blast watching Yuko Ota draw a strip with panels determined by suggestions written on little slips of paper and chosen randomly (the first of them should be today’s update, which should be available here at some point in the next few hours but which presently doesn’t exist). Let’s just say that small cats, unicorn power, and droopy socks work together surprisingly well. Oh, and also that Aaron Diaz‘s dog, Special Agent Dale Cooper, is both adorable and remarkably well-behaved in a large crowd.

Speaking of Aaron Diaz², we had a terrific talk about recent progress in dromaeosaurine research³ — to the point that Evan Dahm came over and guessed You’re talking about Deinonychus, aren’t you? — and his immediate publishing plans. You’ve no doubt seen the teaser image for the forthcoming Dresden Codak book, which has proved to be a production challenge.

Consider: Diaz regularly does individual updates that are actually a page or so in size and then intersperses them with single images that are the equivalent of four or five pages. How the heck do you put those in a single book? Answer: with a lot of creative layout, and two different trim sizes, the smaller of which will be at least 30 cm tall by 25 cm wide and the larger of which will approximately match the dimensions of the Little Nemo collections (a mind-bending 53 x 42 cm).

With any luck, he’ll be Kickstarting the books in the very near term, and sometime after that — presumably after his all-but-certain Machine of Death game card set — he’ll have time to do a book of dinosaur art. Dude’s got opinions on the thunder lizards and I want to see them illustrated.

¹ Albeit more than 220 updates and two years later.

² The Tolkien Dinosaur Scholar Par Excellence.

³ This doesn’t have anything to do with past questions like whether or not theropods are represented by modern avians, or if they had feathers — Diaz will brook no dissent on these topics. Rather, it was about hunting styles, with the smaller, shorter-legged, stiffer-tailed dromaeosaurs now being thought of as not active, chase ’em down type predators like their larger, longer-legged, flexi-tailed cousins. Rather, they make have been arboreal, hanging out in tree branches (perhaps their feathers forming camouflage) and dropping onto their prey as they wandered by.

Perhaps temporarily? That’s the death and resurrection in one simple bite.

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