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Artifice Page 30

71 Comments on Artifice Page 30


Special thanks to Katelyn M., Alexandra N., Tanya A., Laura Beth W., Janet S., Lauren S., Michelle B. for their generous donations on Saturday and Sunday and a big hug to Matthew D. for putting us over the top! You all are superheroes! Let’s please thank them (and all the others who have donated to make this page happen!) in the comments!

Page 31 will be posted at the usual time this Saturday. 🙂

And as it turns out, this page is actually really special to me. For one thing, I especially love the art Winona created for this page: the mirror effects, Jeff in panel 2, Jeff’s pose in Panel 3, Jeff tossing the paper towel, really there’s something in every panel I like. And for another, it has one of my favorite lines of dialogue in the whole comic. Can you guess which one it is?

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  • Perplexing expression on Deacon on that last panel. 😀

    “Your stupid secrets died with everyone else.”?

    • Yes, what does that expression mean? 🙂

      (And good guess—I definitely like that line—but it’s another one that’s my favorite…)

  • I’ve been stalking this comic since it started (been a fan since Tough) and it keeps getting more and more fascinating. I’m usually ambivalent towards sci-fi, but this comic has converted me.  I’m especially looking forward to the evolution of Deacon’s character. You do such an amazing job gradually teasing out different aspects of his personality and emotions, especially through his interactions with Dr. Maven. Love it. Thanks so much for posting!

    • Yay! I’ve made a sci-fi convert! Welcome aboard! (Next step: convince you to watch at least five episodes of Whedon’s Firefly!)

      Thank you for your kind words about the characterization and pacing. I’m really glad to hear you’re enjoying the comic! 😀

  • Yay for a bonus page, and well done to the donators. And to you guys. The art is lovely, and the plot is getting thicker….
    But….fifteen weeks?!? Jeff will have died from depression until then.

    “You’re just following orders”?
    “But I believe you’re telling the truth”?

    • It is a long, long time. But I imagine Jeff would ask for even more if he could…

      (And those are good guesses, but not my ultimate favorites…)

  • I cracked up (and then twisted up, if that’s possible, because this thinking is not so sci-fi) at the justification, “It could significantly affect shareholder value.”  The fact that it’s stated by an android in the future gave me chills –  a perfect rendering of the worst of current thinking projected into the future for real terror (a whole colony wiped out!!). 
    I love how Jeff’s leaning on the sink in panel 3, the way he’s shyly talking into his shoulder as he looks at Deacon because of it.

    • Bingo! For just those reasons, that’s my favorite line. Well done! 🙂

      (And yes, I love what Winona did with Jeff there too!)

  • SholtoMaru

    The little details are just fantastic, all through the comic, but I’m especially digging this page. The little holes in Jeff’s shirt, and the way his sleeves are rolled up, are just awesome. Because you know what, real shirts wear out. And real people sometimes roll their sleeves up. Just little details that add just that much more to personality and realism. Fantastic!

    The look on Deacon’s face in the last panel is very sweet, but I’m wondering if it’s real, or just more of Deacon empathizing to build rapport. I find I have a bit of trouble trusting him, simply because he’s built to be…I don’t know, manipulative? I can tell separating Deacon’s actual feelings (is it weird to use the word ‘feelings’ on A.I?) from the things that he does deliberately to gain a certain type of response from Jeff is going to be a challenge. But I love the challenge, so bring it on!

    As for your favorite line of dialogue…I’m going to guess, “But you’re just following orders.” I can see that becoming a very significant thing down the line, as the relationship between Deacon and Jeff grows. Will Deacon follow orders, or choose for himself?

    You and Winona do amazing work, please keep it up!

    • You’re definitely asking the right questions about Deacon.

      Thank you for your kind words! 🙂

  • Didak

    Ahhh I’m loving this.
    Thank you very much for making this wonderful story, and thanks to Winona for the eye candy and also thanks to everyone who donated for this special treat!

    About the line, I’m guessing it’s “It could significantly affect shareholder value”. 
    Or at least, I love that line. I literally started laughing alone. My dog looked at me like I was crazy.
    But I also really loved it when Deacon said “But… I believe you are telling me the truth” while making such a puppy face!
    Humor or sexy adorableness? Tough choice.

    • Well, if it comes down to adorableness vs. AlexHumor, AlexHumor always wins out. 😉

      Glad it made you laugh too! And thanks for the props!

  • THANK YOU, DONATERS!  THANK YOU WINONA~!  This is yet another lovely page, and I’m another one who thinks your favorite line is the one about shareholder value.  I mean, how creepy is that?  Very nicely done, I say.  I look forward to where this’ll go.  :3

    • You all seem to have gotten to know me so well. Yep, that’s the line. 🙂

      Glad you’re looking forward to where we’re going!

  • melinda stumpf

    I love how he look in the first panel

  • Laymanterms303

    Yay for donators! Yay for the bonus page! And yay for something to tide me over til Saturday!

    I’m going to take another path here and guess that your favorite line here is “Our orders were to kill everyone on Da Vinci 4”. Because this could be Deacon sounding big and stuff while covertly showing he cares for Jeff by hinting to him that if he gets of Da Vinci 4, there will be no reason to harm him. But I could be reading too much into it.

    *sings in the tune of Charlie Brown’s Happiness* Happiness is an updated comic/You wake up one morning to suddenly fiiiind!

    • That’s an interesting take on that line. You’ll have to let me know if you find it confirmed or denied over the next pages.

      Thank you for the Artifice Happy Song! 😀

  • JFantasist

    Thank you very much, donators <3 I 'd love to donate but I really don't have any money, I'm sorry D':
    Alex, I love your comic! There's nothing I love more than science fiction, yaoi and good, intelligent plot.
    And Winona, I really like your style and poses, Deacon is so handsome! XD
    This comic is just awesome, thanks for the hard work. <3

    • Aw, thanks, JFantasist! I really appreciate all the kind words! 🙂

  • Reign

    Thank you to everyone for making this page possible. I think Deacon has a soft side for Jeff. They are so adorable. The last panel is my favorite the look on Deacons face and what he says is just so sweet. Now hopefully he means it 🙂

    • Hehe. Well, whether he means what he says (and how will we know) is the big question of the comic. Please keep letting me know what you think. 🙂

  • Ryn

    i’ve been wondering if the company has military connections, like, deeper than just building soldiers for them and possibly doing things civies wouldn’t like.
    though really i don’t care(so long as it didn’t affect me personally),
    i’d just enjoy the issuing chaos if whatever secret they have came out.hee, just sabotage their power supply and watch them freak when the power goes out, pandemonium!!! hmm, think i’d get along with Ethan Rayne from BtVS.

    notice Jeff didn’t deny setting the booby trap here when he does later in interrogation, but i guess that’s not his priority at the moment. And he’s still expecting to die at some point it seems.

    • Yes, Jeff is not expecting to get through this. Although that doesn’t mean he won’t try…

      NoNeCo definitely has military connections.

      And Ethan Rayne! Gosh, I haven’t thought about him for a long time…. 🙂

  • I think your favorite line in this page is the last one ! Because it’s mine 😀 Thanks to the donators, and ofc to Alex and Winona ! Deacon looks cute on the last panel :3 Fifteen weeks, well :0 Guess they’ll have time to do lots of things, like play hide and seek in the base… Or, talk…

  • Lorescien

    Yep. I almost screamed when I saw that another page was put up so quickly. 😛 But anyway… the expression on Jeff’s face in the second panel made me want to hug the poor guy. He’s just so cute when he’s worried. And the third panel… holy crap! It’s so beautiful! The mirror effect, their postures, their expressions. SO AMAZING. I’m jealous. Seethingly, majorly jealous. :3

    AND THANK YOU, DONOR PEOPLES!!! May God bless you with anything your heart desires! (Within certain limitations, since I don’t want you taking over the world or anything like that. :P)

    • As far as I’m concerned, the donors may take over the world. 🙂

      Thank you very much for the props!

  • I also love the mirror effects here, they’re fantastic. Kudos to all that donated, if I weren’t working two jobs at the moment to get by I might consider it.

    Also I don’t know if this is your ‘favorite line’ or not, but I was quite amused that it will take almost five months to send a retrieval team out to investigate, because of ‘protocol’. Typical emergency response, eh? Unless they wouldn’t find out that the other soldiers had been vaporized until they got there? I don’t know how in-depth the tracking system is. If they assume the soldiers are all functioning and coming back then I guess they wouldn’t realize something is amiss for longer. Still, seems like this government has just as much, if not more, red tape as ours.

    • 121 days, so perhaps closer to four months, but still you’re right, that is a vey long time. Most of it has to do with the fact that Da Vinci Four is way outside the core systems. (One more reason Jeff has been so isolated all his life.) But it also expresses a certain… lack of concern for their synthetic operatives.

  • Maybe I’m gullible but I believe Deacon. He doesn’t seem like the type to lie. I mean I know he it telling the doctor that he wanted to gain Jeff’s trust but…there is really no way to explain it. I just find Deacon innocent and open, even though he is a killing machine. And Jeff, I just love his sass! I just love these guys so much. 

    • Well, whether you’re right or wrong about Deacon, what you said makes me happy to hear. 🙂

  • Strude Moana

    I love everything about this page, but what really holds my interest are the holes in Jeff’s shirt. Somehow I just think it’s a nice detail that I think everyone would otherwise miss while reading. Sort makes little to no sense to comment on them but I just think it’s a good detail.

  • Dex X.

    fifteen weeks, three days, five hours…….. DAMN WE’VE GOT TIME. So let’s get to IT already!! 😀

    • “It”? What is this “it” that you speak of?


      • Probably finding a way to deal with all the decaying corpses of the other colonists, a problem that I’ve been wondering about for some time…

        • Dex X.

          I definitely just meant the sex. 

  • Wow, mirror art is hard to do well, that’s double the figures to draw, and you have to account for perspective. Nicely done
    And now we have our first clue as to why the androids attacked Da Vinci Four.  That secret must be big. Wonder if Jeff knows it now.
    After the observations that Deacon keeps his hands in fists, is it over thinking it that his hand is opening in the bottom panel?

  • I’d say your favorite line is Deacon’s first line in panel two. So precise with time, D. Right down to the hour. (but what about minutes and seconds? =O)

    Deacon, Deacon…you do realize when we get to the hot part of this story…the excuse ‘I wanted to establish trust’ isn’t going to cut it? xD

    So…what is this oh so secret info? Let me throw out a wild guess. Jeff…is actually Maven’s son!!! O8

    (if you think about it, that would explain their shared godlike ability to form red rings around their own word bubbles. o.o)

    • OMG! You’ve cracked the code! Jeff is Maven’s son!

      But why did she give him up? How much would this information dilute the share price of NoNeCo? And why is his hair so much prettier than hers? Those questions have yet to be answered!

      • xD I just read what you wrote with the same narrator voice of the pokemon animes.  *smacks forhead on the table and giggles insanely*

        She gave him up, because of his gay gene. She’s secretly a yaoi fangirl and was thrilled to have a child with the gene, but knew she could not raise him in this society and keep her respectable position.

        NoNeCo, who devotes themselves to the advancement of the human race (my guess from what little I’ve gathered. xD), as shown through the deft creation of such high quality androids like Deacon, might find Jeff unsavory to their more conservative shareholders (who are always in large huddled groups…like girls at a dance club) who would view one of their own highly trained psychiatrists raising such a ‘child’ as a possible threat to the rest of the employees. (it might be contagious, after all. whether its been proven genetic or not, they will always insist its also possibly contagious…like the flu.)

        Jeff got the more submissive half of the gay gene that promotes naturally soft and luscious hair growth in men.

        Oh crap, now that we’ve got our answers, the comic is of no more use. T_T Quick! Brainwash the readers! >8O

        • Ha! Yep, I better pack it in. All my secrets are out. No more need for comic pages…

          (Of course, that could just be the “submissive half” of my gay gene talking… :p)

  • Trent Wilson

    First thought: I hope those paper towels will be recycled/are made from recycled materials.

    Second thought: Huh…. I wonder what next character development is coming…

    Third thought: OMG I just want them to have sex now so badly!

    • First answer: The paper towels are definitely already from recycled materials.

      Second answer: That makes me happy to hear.

      Third answer: I wonder if that will happen? 🙂

  • Fifteen weeks, three days, five hours…

    Well gee, that seems like plenty of time to me!

    On the other hand, I think it says a lot about this future where shareholders and corporate finances are worth more than 400 people.  I mean, people kill plenty for money today, but it’s done more discreetly and usually people try to keep the body-count low unless the casualties are all from another country or something.  Usually, the higher the death-toll, the more investigation and the more danger.  The publicity requirements to keep something like this under wraps is absurd in and of itself if money is all they’re worried about.  It makes me think the explosion that killed Deacon’s other 4 was supposed to take the whole base with it.  Then the company could just write it off as a freak explosion.  Technical accident.  Either that or some other lie, because I can’t think of any way otherwise that killing this many people would be practical, ethics aside.  Is it really just about shareholder value?  I think there must be something more.

    • I like the way you’re thinking about this. But could it really be just about shareholder value? Well, Jeff at least seems to find that a plausible answer… 🙂

  • Shinashi

    If I was Jeff, I would be terrified. As the only survivor, and with the colony keeping secrets, just his words alone wouldn’t be enough. He would probably be tortured for a length of time before they finally believe him… This brings me back to the early pages where Maven was saying that Jeff wasn’t being interrogated exactly like Deacon. :c

    Even if Deacon is just trying to play his emotions (which I don’t buy at all), it’s still nice that he knows the right words to say.

    ~_~ I’m worried about Jeff!

    • You aren’t wrong to be…

    • The torture comment reminds me of another scifi story, “The Lost Fleet” series by Jack Campbell. Without spoiling anything, the fleet commander is worried that the intelligence division is using torture to gain information. They don’t, because while torture doesn’t give you reliable information. Instead they have interrogation rooms fitted out with crazy brain scanners and sensors. They ask the person questions and track their physical and neurological reactions. Even if you don’t say a word, you can still give up a ton of information. It’s part of why the bad guys in the series encouraged suicide pills.

  • Rissicat

    “But… I believe that you are telling the truth.” (Not that my opinion will make a bit of difference to the Corporation. You poor kid.)

    More to the point, I suspect that Deacon’s been inculcated with blind loyalty. Otherwise, it might have occurred to him that they best way to keep the secret that was discovered on DaVinci 4 buried forever, is to send in a team to kill all the colonists… and then to kill that squad, so even the fact that they were sent to destroy the colony disappears forever.

    In a happier vein, add me to the listing of people who love that little hole in the collar of Jeff’s shirt. It’s the perfect size to hook a finger in, and rip it straight down to the bottom. Rawr! ^_^

    • Hehe. You’re giving me an idea for another wallpaper… 😉

      (And you’re definitely thinking the right way about the Corporation…)

      • Rissicat

        You’re welcome. <3
        I might know a little about working for evil corporations. ^_^;;

  • Wait. Wait. How could a bunch of space colonists in the middle of nowhere have discovered damaging corporate secrets about a giant corporation? Or was there another reason to kill them?

    Wait, I know what it was–all the artificial people they make are gay! SCANDALOUS!

    • a ship full of sexy gay androids…oh dear god, there went what little was left of my mental innocence. >_<

  • JLJones

    I’m taking a wild guess here and saying “Your stupid secrets died with everyone else.”

    Just because that’s the comment that got ME. XD

    And here I go, speculating again (man, I’m good at that) and thinking that perhaps the tables are turning here… Jeff had a difficult life, but I’m assuming he at least understands what it is to be loved, even if it was only by his Mother.  Poor Deacon has had no one in his life, if the reaction of the guards from the beginning are any indication.  And it is the want of all sentient creatures to feel secure and loved D:

    Now I just desperately want to see them holding each other.  Gah.  Alex, stop making me crave sappy romance 😛 

    On a lighter, more torturous note… Deacon, in that first panel… You’re killing me.  Truly, you are. I have now gone from worshiping those godly cheekbones, to being obsessed with those beautiful, kissable lips.  It’s just not fair 😛

    • I like your speculation about the difference between Deacon and Jeff’s upbringing. You are right—in that regard, Jeff definitely has had advantages Deacon never had. 

      I’m very happy to help spawn a new obsession. 😉

      (And, I don’t think I’m giving too much away to say that you’ll get at least part of what you desperately want in the next couple pages. 😉 )

      • JLJones

        Tease 😛

  • Oh my, fifteen weeks is a looooong time! Wonder what they could do in that time…

    And thanks for updating this earlier than usual!

    • The thanks should go to your fellow awesome readers and their generous donations—but glad if the early update made you happy!

  • Faves on this page: Deacon in the first and final panels. SOooo Kissable! >w<
    Jeff in panel three. His posture is just so human and casual. I like the worried expression too.
    I get the feeling that although Jeff back-sasses Deacon, he's not as scared of him as he is of the corporation. He doesn't think Deacon will hurt him, at least not until the rescue team arrives.

    • I think you’re right. After 13 days, he’s gotten a bit used to him. (Or at least no longer expects imminent death…)

  • I’m really enjoying this comic. My favorite line was definitely the shareholder one. I actually laughed out loud when I read it. It’s also creepy because it’s true, and not just in this comic. 

    I love how detailed the world you’ve created is. It feels very solid. The characters don’t act at all like stereotypes. They seem like real people (or well, an android) which is much more interesting and easier to become attached to than cookie-cutter types. This is slightly outside of my smut/romance preferences, but I’m still as into it as if it was exactly what I typically go for. You do tension marvelously. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this goes.Thank  you for putting this out there!

    • Hey, thank you for such a sweet and thoughtful comment! It makes me happy to hear you’re enjoying Artifice even if it doesn’t line up 100% with what turns you on. Glad to hear the characters are feeling real to you and I hope you continue to enjoy the work.

      (And I’m also tickled to hear I got a laugh from the shareholder line. Still gets a chuckle out of me even now…)

      • Heh, that makes me feel better to know that you laugh at some of the more humorous lines you’ve written. I do the same thing with my stuff, and I always feel so lame sitting there laughing at my own jokes. It seems less lame if somebody else does it as well.

        You’ve got a great thing going! I’ll definitely keep coming back. 

  • My favourite pose of this page has to be the one in panel 5 – the shape of the arms and the tension in Jeff’s body… Sigh. It makes me wish I could draw!

    I cannot describe how lovely it is to not have the internet for a few weeks and then return and find not only the normal number of pages, but a BONUS! Oh man, I got excited. I’m going to continue donating as frequently as I can (…not very.) and we’ll hopefully get another one soon! Thank you for having such an awesome incentive to get the fans to show their appreciation.

    My only critique of this page is when I click on it, it doesn’t go to the next page! I just want moooore, is that so bad?

    • No, that’s not bad, it’s awesome—as are your kind words. They’ve put a big smile on my face. 😉 

      And… more in just a few hours!

  • I have to say I’m mightily impressed by this comic; not only for its beautiful art, but its captivating storyline and characters. I am a sucker for depth, and this seems to be chock full of it. 

    Also, there are some webcomic artists out there who could learn a thing or two from this comic. I’ve read some threads on other webcomics where some visitors impugn the artwork for being amateurish, or just plain terrible. But the important thing isn’t how amazing the artwork is (although Artifice is stunning in that regard, much love to Winona <3) but how static it is. 

    There's so much motion on this page, with just the simple sweep of Jeff's body tossing out that paper towel. It really is excellent to see a comic where the people aren't just standing around with a ton of headshots thrown in left and right. 

    Keep up the excellent work, Alex and Winona. <3 You have a new fan.

    • Thank you, Elizabeth! Glad to have you onboard!

      And I especially appreciate the props about the motion on this page. I worked hard in the script to try to keep things visually interesting even though there is quite a bit of standing/sitting and talking in this comic. But as you rightly note, the credit truly belongs to Winona who creates so much dynamic feeling with such a “simple sweep”. I’m glad to hear that our efforts are paying off for you. 🙂

  • classic_bear

    Oh my god I was like “hey lets go ever to Artifice and camp for the new update”
     and I get here and bonus update!!! Dreams do come true.

  • WandNCritic

    Missed a lot have I?

    I really like this page as well. Like you say, the art is fantastic, all throughout the page and the dialogue too is great, especially the last panel.

    In my opinion the first two pannels are a further move from Winona to capitalize the two characters polar characteristics, showing Deacon’s nonchalant approach (on the outside) hiding and controlling his feelings, while Jeff is distraugt and emotional and expresses himself as such. Other tools I have not mentioned that Winona uses to capitalyze their differences are their hair, short and disciplined to long and wild; their wieght, big and strong compared to small and frail; and even their clothes, organized jumpsuit to loose clothing, Jeff’s pants even sagging.

    I think that in this page, the mirror comes to great effect in portraying the tension, yet calm of the scene, Deacon even feelin hurt, because as we see from the last panel, he’s got the butterflies. Jeff too, feels personally hurt, because he has created a net of trust with Deacon and feels as though it had been torn.