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Dark Horse and The Crystal Lotus Chronicles!

You guys, gals, and people of all walks of life,

I have a super exciting announcement to make! With the help of my partner, I’ve finally been able to create a home of its own for Dark Horse and The Crystal Lotus Chronicles! This is going to be a long post, so strap in!

TLDR Version: I want to keep Dark Horse free, but also want to make money so I can exist. The new site, here, will help with that through ad revenue. My Youtube Channel, will also help. Go check them out, and support me using no cash directly in this way. If you choose to support me cause you like what you see, which is in no way mandatory, check out my Patreon here! Single Donation options will be coming soon…when I have a chance to set that up.

 

The Long and Winding Road Version:

 

Dark Horse is the first of the longer, at least four installment Crystal Lotus Chronicles series. For years (no, seriously, YEARS) I’ve been trying to find a way to get this series its own, professional looking webpage. That journey started here on WordPress. I had a couple people reading Dark Horse here, as a terribly sized image set in the middle of a page, like so:

Yon-Koma! I just learned this term last week XD Always new what these were from Sailor Moon and Wish, but never knew fans did them, too!

First Previous Next Last

(Ya’ll remember that crap?)

But…I didn’t think that was really…fair to readers (gah, or myself. Uploading pages like that, adding the navigation buttons, and updating the “latest” on every page…every week…was TERRIBLE. Not even joking, people. It sucked. I was soooooo unprofessional, and so naive about everything needed to get this going right. Not like I’m all super professional now, but…you know–I’m better than I was ten years ago!

So that lead me to searching for an idiot proof site to upload my comic. I had tried ComicPress, but people, I can’t program. I can do a bit of copy paste of some HTML, maybe change the color of something here and there (barely,) but I was in no way equipped to figure out ComicPress, which soon was outdated anyway (I did get back to that…which I’ll back to in a few paragraphs.)

I had some choices to make, since there was Smack Jeeves, Duck, Taptastic (now Tapas,) and a bunch of others. Can I just say…I am so glad I ended up checking out Comic Fury. The dude who owns the site is just a peach: he’s funny, he gives a shit about his site (not that the others don’t,) he chimes in on the site and interacts with community, and it’s free! Seriously, once I get some more income coming in, I plan to support the site on Patreon: they’re a great community.

I have to say, I love hosting Dark Horse on Comic Fury. This site taught me so much about uploading comics, figuring out a schedule, and interacting with a community (I’m still not so good at that…I miss Manga Tutorials for that: I made some friends over there–one whom I am still friends with on Facebook.) So much growth from one site. I eventually was able to expand out to Tapas, then finally Smack Jeeves.

As much as I love these sites, though, I want to make sure The Crystal Lotus Chronicles have their own official website. I do no plan to stop updating on my mirror sites: to do so, at least I feel at this point in time, would be a slight to my readers on those websites, as well as the community I have been a part of since…oh I dunno…at least 2014 on Comic Fury (the others I just recently joined, but I am loving the interaction I have with my fans on Tapas, and I like that I have some silent readers on Smack Jeeves: you don’t have to be talkative, so long as you’re enjoying the story. :D) With that said, you can expect Comic Fury, Tapas, and Smack Jeeves to all update on their usual schedule.

But! I need to start monetizing my comic, if I want to make this my career. However, it’s against my personal belief system to charge people out right for this webcomic.

One, no one would probably buy it (although I’ve had some wonderful people in the past buy copies of the OLD Act 1 of Dark Horse. I feel like I let them down with the art, but they were so amazing, they saw what it looked like, and bought it anyway. Forever grateful to those awesome people who believed in me!)

Two, having suffered economically myself (not as bad as many others; I’m not so arrogant as to think that,) I know what it’s like to have no means of purchasing art and entertainment. For some time when I lived up in DeKalb, my friend and I couldn’t afford even Internet. I had to update Dark Horse from the local library, which was seriously one block away. I was so thankful for that library (gah, Andrew Carnegie, I know you had a lot of guilt from that one fire, but man, I gotta thank you for the free libraries!!) In the winter, we kept our apartment very cold, and in the summer-the Chicagoland, corn and bean field sweltering, stifling humid Illinois summer-we had no air conditioner. We spent so much time at the library (well, when I wasn’t at work XD.)

While I’ve always had an affinity to free entertainment and supporting the artists directly (like going to small bars and catching local bands, donating at art shows, buying from small, local vendors, supporting local independent radio stations,) a few years ago, after seeing how many artists charge to unlock their comics–which is fine, it’s their right and I don’t blame them for it–I recall being frustrated that I’d start a story…only to have a newly uploaded chapter suddenly be locked. I just don’t have the money for it. When you can only spend about $25-$35 per week on groceries, unfortunately entertainment is one of the first things to get cut from the budget.

And I got to thinking how much I appreciated my library. How many people there were only able to access Internet, read books, check out films, music–only because of the library (yeah, Youtube is a thing, but some people believe it or not don’t have Internet.) And my partner, who’s very anti-censorship, and a big fan of fair-use, public domain use, etc…he got me thinking before I even joined Comic Fury, back when we were just good friends: why not just keep it free? He stared this video with me not too long ago:

 

 

As a huge Neil Gaiman fan, I was dead jealous to find she’s married to him. But…then I thought “yeah, that’s fitting. I’m okay with this.” As though, my opinion on other people’s happiness mattered XD. But you get it. More than that…I started listening to her music. And I really found I liked it, and grew an admiration for her art and some of the stories she shared in this video.

Why do I bring this up? Why babble about it? Well, it all comes back to wanting do comics for a living, but not wanting to deprive working classes and even middle classes of free entertainment.  I remember what it was like to have…well, I won’t talk about some of the issues I used to have, but I will say in a small way I experienced what many go through everyday, and may never be able to dig their way out of. But…art…it connects us all. It’s our culture, be it pop culture or High Art. It makes us think. It makes us feel. It make us understand. And if there’s one thing that shouldn’t be deprived from people, it’s the enjoyment of the arts.

I know, Dark Horse will never be some great cultural work that brings joy to millions and makes statements that inspire great deeds by man. But…if it can bring a bit of joy to someone without any out of pocket cost, I want to provide that service (I’ve always…worked in the service industry: I think I just like to please people. My first full time job was a waitress. My second job was with the National Park Service, and I was a “cleaning technician”/janitor, as well as secretary. I find fulfillment when I can do something that falls inline with what I find valuable. We all do.)

So it’s with all this in mind that I’ve been striving very hard to find other means of both doing the thing I love, and trying to keep it free. I have opened mirror sites to spread my comic around. I have also started a YouTube Channel, which I plan to monetize once I get enough money to buy some licenses and donate some money to the sites I got some music from (one site doesn’t require purchase, but I want to pay it forward, so to speak.)

That’s where this new, more professional website for Dark Horse and The Crystal Lotus Chronicles comes into play. I know ads are annoying. I…do not wish to express my feeling about advertisements…but those of you interested can slide on over to this link to get a satirical idea of my opinions: Infinite Jest. However, that said, I have never personally been bothered by ads on the side or bottom of websites. They are there, they can be a touch distracting, but in the end, they don’t take away from my time. My Youtube channel I’m sure will be a bit annoying with them…but as for the comic, which is my main focus, I figure, a little advertising won’t hurt.

I know this is a long blog, more like a “dear diary” entry. But…I just felt like sharing this information with anyone interested in why I would bother creating a whole other site-which believe me, has not been easy to edit and make the way I want it to look.

And probably the most important part of this blog: I want to thank anyone who invests time in reading any of my comic, reading my blog, or visiting any other social media site I update.

Time is the one thing that can never be paid back.

It’s why I feel creating this comic, I don’t want to charge money unless there’s some kind of material or electronic exchange (the e-books take time to make and change pages to fit, number, all all that, so charging for something of this nature, which is just a .pdf someone is buying to help support me when the comic is free, I think is a fair trade.) A piece of art I create will require materials. A hard copy of the manga will incur production costs. The webcomic…I pour my heart and soul and time into it, and in return, I want to share it with people who are taking their valuable time to read what I’ve created. If I didn’t have to eat, that’d be payment enough for me. But since I do have to eat, I think that…having a free manga with some ads on it is a good compromise.

I want to close on a begging note. Well, not so much begging, but a posty note to let you know it’s an option, and I appreciate any support I garner.

As I mentioned in the TLDR part, just as I have felt the urge to support artists I love, such as the with the some of the artists and institutions I love (Flipside and KDHX, not on a regular basis, but as I get spare cash) I know there are people who are willing to part with their hard earned pay to support the things they appreciate. So, I’m not about to miss out on that:

Okay, this is obviously supposed to be light-hearted. But for real, if anyone does want to become a patron, I have a lot of different options, starting as low as $1, because I can get 1 onion from that, or two lemons, or 4 limes, one bunch of green onions–oh, you get the picture? $1 buck, even after the Patreon deduction, adds up. Dudes, I get excited when I find a penny on the ground XD Can you imagine a dollar!?

And for you high rolling ZZ Top Sharp dressed peoples (you can be whatever gender you are–it doesn’t matter! As Kei demonstrates above,) I got as high as I think $50–which I would never really ask or expect, but I thought “the worst I could is put it there. If someone is capable and willing to that–holy shit that’d be amazing!

I’m also working on getting a donate button, for single donations–which is what I usually do when I  have any spare cash at all. So keep a look out for that if you want to help out, but can’t/don’t want to donate monthly.

This was really long. I’m so sorry for bending ears and eyes like this, but I truly wanted to…express my feelings on the matter and go into detail about the choices I’ve been making with the comic.

Thanks to anyone and everyone who’s gone the distance to read this, to support me, to read, to be a nice well rounded human being, to be mindful, to be understanding (in general,) and to share existence with us 😀

Take care, rest assured, my next post won’t be this long!

 

 

Blue Dragon
aka
Ashleen

P.S.
Did I put enough plugs for the new site in this post? If not I can put more.
Did I mention also that my main site will update with the revamp EARLIER than my mirror sites? Cause…yeah, it’s true! I already have this week’s page up a day early…but I will probably just update it as I get pages done so I don’t forget. There’s an incentive for ya. 😉

 

Posted in Newest Additions, Updates.

Comic Fury Comic Collabs!

Well, it’s about that time to drop in an update post!

If I fall quiet for a while, it’s usually because I’m busying “arting” around XD

Anyway, since fall of 2018, I decided to start participating in some of Comic Fury’s collaboration comics. The community of artists over there is really diverse and a lot of fun! And the collabs I’ve participated in (and ones from the past prior to my contributions,) really show the heart and soul that people put into these projects.

So I wanted to take a moment to advertise these, especially since the Valentine’s Day Blind Date is coming up! And I’ve been working hard to improve on my panelling, drawing the other illustrator’s character, and just make a fun comic to read. I can’t show any of my progress for this collab yet, but I am happy to show some of the work done in the past! And I’ll be updating here and DeviantArt once the comic’s revealed on Comic Fury!

Halloween Collab: The whole comic

This is the opening page for the fan comic. I also contributed to the main comic, which you can read by clicking the above link. To read the little comic I made, click the link below. I suggest checking out the whole thing, though, and checking out the Comic Fury community!

For my fan page contribution, click here.

 

Christmas Collaboration: The Whole comic

 

Since I was really busy for all of December, I was only able to do one page for the fan part :*( I wish I could have done a little comic, but I was just stretched too thin.

 

I also did a “speed ink” video of one of the positions I had to draw Rhina in for the comic. I only had time to draw 4 comic contributions and the one fan art image.

And more is soon to come! I have the Blind Date comic completely thumb-nailed, and sketched except for the last page (which is scheduled for Monday-tomorrow. I have to put myself on a timeline to get things done XD) I hope you enjoyed this little update, and hope you check out Comic Fury!

 

Cheers everyone!

 

~Blue Dragon

 

Posted in Dark Horse Art, Updates. Tagged with , , , , , , , .

Youtube Channel…Kind of Up!

Well, back from all the Holidays and it was time to get settled back in and back to work!

I recorded this video a while back, but editing, adding music, text, and all the like for videos is not as easy at Youtubers make it seem! But, I’ve got a video finally that I’m proud of, so I uploaded it to Youtube. I do not get ad revenue from the videos I plan to post.  At least at this time: once I start making income, I plan to purchase the music licenses for the songs in this video and start monetizing. That’s a long way off folks, so for now, this is just posted to show my progress and hopefully gain an audience of fine people who enjoy watching me flounder through the art world 😀

 

You can find this image for sale in The Shop, both digital copies and the hard copy painted here.

 

In other news! After having to skip a post for Act 5, and the Act 2 revamp, last week, our Dark Horse schedule is back on track! You can read Dark Horse FOR FREE (because, free stuff rocks, um…even when it doesn’t!!)

Comic Fury
Tapas
Smack Jeeves

You can find me hanging around the forums on these sites, though admittedly not nearly as much as I probably should be. I’m most active on Comic Fury, of course.

Another happy little addition to the family is, after much debating, good advice, cajoling, and ado about nothing, I finally opened an Instagram page. Now people can look at how terribly I photograph my art XD

But seriously, it’s actually been pretty cool. And there’s a lot of neat art out there.

I will not be opening a Pintrest, though.

Nope. I’m not going to be opening mouth, inserting foot later on this one. I hope. XD

Have a fantastic 2019 everyone! And keep on truckin’!

 

~Blue Dragon
aka
Ashleen

 

Posted in Newest Additions, Regular Art, Updates. Tagged with , , , , , , .

Act 1 Revamp FINISHED!!!!!

I am soooo excited to announce that I just completed the Act 1 Revamp!!!! Here’s the last page (don’t read, if you don’t want spoilers…though it is just the first act XD)

 

I am so happy with how this turned out! I hope others enjoy it, too. You can of course read Dark Horse for free over at Comic Fury and Tapas, but if you wanted to own a .pdf copy of your own, I have those for sale in The Shop. Feel free to skip on over there and check it out 😀

 

 

Posted in Blog: Cerulean Sessions, Dark Horse Art, Updates.

Dark Horse Volume 1 New Cover!

WWWWWHHHHAAAAAAA!

I’m so excited to unveil the new cover for Dark Horse!!! This took about two weeks to complete, as I’ve been retained working on a Halloween Collaboration on Comic Fury and also half-*ss participating in Inktober. I’m going to complete it, I’m just running behind.

But, after redrawing Kanna three times, and redoing Keisuma twice, I finally settled on a cover I think embodies the story better than the original cover. I can’t wait to complete the revamps cause I want to get volume one printed sooooo bad!!!! *-*

 

Once Halloween hits, I’ll be sharing the Collaboration I’ve been working on for Comic Fury, but we aren’t supposed to post it anywhere until Halloween :3
I’ve also started working on The Whimper in the Dark once more, so this comic will be updating again 🙂

That’s all for now!

 

Blue Dragon
aka
Ashleen

 

 

 

Posted in Dark Horse Art, The Whimper in the Dark, Updates.

Act 2 Dark Horse MAJOR Revamp!!!

Holy cow!

So…I just finished inking the last page for the Dark Horse act 1 Revamp….including a new cover image I’m in the process of mapping out and inking. I want it to be more epic looking, so I took a little inspiration from one of my favorite animated films, Heavy Metal, and set things up the way I wanted it.

Inspiration:

 

Creation:

This is the same outfit Kanna wears in the current opening of Act 2. The weird hair style is an homage to Usagi, from Sailor Moon. I’ve always been a big fan, so this was how I paid tribute 🙂

You can somewhat see the inked image behind Kanna, which is Keisuma. I still need to draw the Dark Horse, and Kanna’s lotus. It’s coming along though!

 

With the near completion of Act 1’s Revamp…I needed to start thinking about how to fix/improve Act 2. And…Act 2…is a mess. So….I’ve am engaging in a major undertaking: Combining and splitting Act 2 and Act 3.

The plus is that these two acts will make more sense, have some filler cut out, have more characterization (I’ve already gotten my “thumbnails” sketched out,) look better. And you won’t have to re-read the comic to still get what’s going on. It might be a good idea, but it’s totally not necessary if someone’s already caught up and doesn’t want/need a refresher.

The negative is…I’ve added more than 26 pages, will have to get the whole thing complete before I post it (at least, on Comic Fury, on Tapas, I’m just uploading as I get things done, which is nice,) and it is going to take quite a bit of time.

But! The end result is going to be, I feel, a much better telling of what happened to Odysseus, background on the plague and the new government (better world building,) and it’s going to make more sense. Rather than BOOM! Flashback, I’m taking the first part of Act 3 and making it the beginning of Act 2, then cutting into the flashback (where it currently just says “an act later”) and ending Act 2 in the middle of the flashback.

The flashback is also going to be indicated by black borders, which is something I meant to do to begin with but *stupid me* forgot :/

 

TL:DR: Act 2 and Act 3 of Dark Horse are getting mixed and split and will look and read better! Ideally 🙂 In lieu of these changes, Acts 2 & 3 may also get new covers! Which is exciting for me, because I love to draw fancy covers 🙂

 

Here’s a colored version of the above picture, to close this with an image 😀

Can you tell I don’t watercolor! Ach! My shading is terrible on this! Maybe I’ll go back and blend things better later. That’s one thing that’s nice about water colors!

 

 

 

Oh! And I forgot to post this little video I made for my Patreon page.

Thanks for reading! And Keep on Truckin’!

 

Blue Dragon
Aka
Ashleen

 

Posted in Dark Horse Art, Updates.

Patreon is Here!

Hey there!

I’ve been working so hard the last few months to make sure Dark Horse improves. I have been pouring hours into the revamp of Act 1, and working of course on the regular weekly updates.  I am happy with my progress, but plant to continue improving!

I’ve also got some more art to be sharing with people soon, fan art, and prints for the shop. Things are going well, and I hate going to sleep because there’s so much I could be doing! But, I finally completed a big project I’ve been creating a lot of graphics for: my Patreon launch! On Patreon, I’ve got sooo much planned, so if you like keeping up with what’s going on, please head over there 😀 There’s several tiers to choose from, even a $1 a month one (cause, I never have much money, but I often want to help out, so offering something like that make it seem doable 🙂 )

Also, I have opened a new DeviantArt page. There’s not a lot there right now, but if you like art, you can “watch” me there (that’s creepy sounding,” and see some cool fan arts and pages and other stuff I’m working on.

 

Here’s a little WIP image to make sure this post doesn’t look boring!

Thanks for reading, and keep on truckin’!

~Blue Dragon~

Posted in The Miscellany, Updates.

Updated Shop!

Good Day!

Just stopping in to say the Shop area has been cleaned up (again,) and updated! I have some added art, and band new stickers in the Dark Horse shop!!!! Check them out here!

 

 

 

 

 

Patreon is coming along and will be opened soon! I am working on the Tier images right now 🙂 That’s where the stickers sheet came from 😀 I had been meaning to create this sheet for a looooong time. More will come. I will also have smaller sized sheets available sometime soon, as well.

You can read Dark Horse on Comic Fury, or Tapas 😀

Have a great rest of the week!

Blue Dragon/Ashleen

Posted in Dark Horse Art, Updates.

Tapas, Anyone?

Mmmm…..tapas. With veggies.

Oh, I mean, hey everyone! I have been working super hard these past months to get a few things going! For one, I’ve just finished creating a Tapas Comic page for Dark Horse! I am currently uploading the Revamp of Act 1, so if you’re further along than that, by all means stick with the Comic Fury link 🙂 If you are new to Dark Horse, or prefer to read your comics on Tapas, then you can visit the new site by clicking here:

 

 

 

In other news, I’m also working on a Patreon, and a donate button for my sites.

 

I want to make one thing clear: Dark Horse will always be free online, and the addition of these to the site is to help me along with income. If you feel so inclined to donate, that would be amazing! If not, that’s perfectly fine: I am creating comics and art for myself, and to share with others. While I’d like to be able to make a living of this, just sharing the story with people is my real passion. At the same time, I wanted to make sure it was known I was working on these things, and I will more than likely make a post about it later on once they are ready to go!

One good thing that I personally like about the whole Patreon angle, is the addition of “rewards” for donation. What I like about it, is that it’s a great way for me to set goals, share more art, and certainly get more prolific with my art. It’s also a great way to share some extras with some great people who are kind enough, and financially able, to support the things they enjoy.

I’ve also been creating a lot of extra graphics and some T-shirts (not Dark Horse related shirts.) Once I get a couple of them ready to go, I may be adding them to the shop page. I know…I don’t have much there now. I’ve been using my time off from employment to create as much as I possibly can and provide some quality art and things that people may actually find fun. I still have a sticker page in the works (Dark Horse related,) and some digital prints I’m working on to add to the shop. I’m very excited to have the time to get some work done, and I hope it brings some enjoyment!

 

As always, thanks for reading, and take care!

 

~Blue Dragon~
aka
Ashleen

Posted in Dark Horse Art, Newest Additions, Updates.

Work is Never Over

Hello, Good Day! Salutations!

Over the last week, I’ve gotten so very much done with Dark Horse. I’ve also been working a little bit on revamping the other acts. Here’s a sample:

 

 

 

 

I will be inking this drawing in the future, and replacing the Act 2 cover with the new artwork. Lots is going to happen in Dark Horse, so please check it out 😀 It’s free, and you can catch it here. You can also learn more about Dark Horse by clicking the comics tab in the Navigation Buttons.

 

Hope you’re all well, and having a nice summer (if it’s summer where you live.)

Cheers!

 

Ashleen
aka
Blue Dragon

 

 

 

 

Posted in Dark Horse Art, Updates.