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Reflections on Shine November 19, 2011

Posted by Erin Ptah in And Shine Heaven Now.

Today (or yesterday, depending on how you count it) marks the end of And Shine Heaven Now.

Although the strips started going up in June 2003, there was a substantial buffer that took a while to build up, and of course the whole idea must be traced back to the first time I saw Hellsing, sparked when my Integra-fangirling began in earnest around episode 3. It was the first thing we watched in anime club my freshman year of high school, fall of 2002. Nine years ago.

Shine has been with me almost half my life, comprising my entire teenage years and adulthood (or “adult”-hood, to go with how it feels so far). It’s the longest single thing I’ve ever worked on. From high school to college to moving into my own apartment, interspersed with visits to seven other countries and who knows how many U.S. states, it was always present: a constant obligation, a constant work in progress.

During its last few years, the emphasis on the “obligation” aspect grew. Especially with the final showdown, all the different facets and plot threads and sub-battles that got addressed, when the storylines traded “what wacky adventure are our heroes getting up to now?” for “how can I work through this next showdown and plot advancement in a way that feels new and fresh and funny?” There was a lot that was cool, if I do say so myself, and a lot of scenes that I had literally been looking forward to drawing for years beforehand. It just took a while to get there, is all.

The final, post-war storyline was a final chance to really cut loose, with fifteen intervening years of wacky adventures making a handy excuse to change any continuity that felt too constraining. I threw in everything: alternate-universe Nazis, steampunk zeppelins, magical fempreg, My Little Ponies, the future city of Crystal London, the works. And when I started drawing it, I felt a bit of the old spark: the one that had me overflowing with storyline ideas, and carried me through completing ten or twenty strips at a time.

But only a bit.

It still hasn’t quite sunk in that this is over. Months from now, I’m going to be waking up in the middle of the night thinking “Uh-oh, do I have a Shine strip for tomorrow?”

And then I’ll think, “Oh, yeah. I finished it. The biggest single project I’ve ever done, the heir to a legacy of dozens of more or less ambitious creative works that ended not with a bang but a whimper…but this time I wrapped up everything I wanted to, and ended at a point I chose, with a finale I think I can be proud of.”

And then maybe I’ll go back to sleep. Or maybe I’ll suddenly remember some last-minute art I meant to do for But I’m A Cat Person, or some project for grad school (which I’m starting in spring of 2012) that’s in need of urgent attention. Because that’s life. And life, as it tends to do, goes on.



1. X - November 19, 2011

A job well done! Definitely one of the gold standards in “webcomic as doujin.”

At some point I’ll have a lesbian space pirate story for you (no, really). But since I like BICP, I don’t mind that getting all the love.

2. KLCtheBookWorm - November 21, 2011

I started reading late in 2006, but even from that time, it has been a wild ride watching your take on the story unfold and your art skills strengthen. If I hadn’t found Shine, I probably would have skipped over Hellsing and that would have been a real shame.

And now I’m not going any where. :D

3. k8bullenr4punz3l - November 23, 2011

Thank you! It’s been an amazing journey to follow, and without you, there are a lot of fun things I would have missed. So, thank you.

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