The First Family Of Planet Amzot.

“Is that cool with you guys?”

So, I still don’t have a sort of “thing” that I’ll be centering the summer content on, perhaps because my summer is still kind of “up in the air.” Summer Break has just started, so that’s okay as far as I’m concerned. I can take a week or so to save up some money, and figure out what I might want to do in order to relax.

My iPad has been amusing me and depressing me at the same time, in alternation. I’m either looking at the news, which is depressing in these troubled times, or watching retro animation on YouTube and DailyMotion. I’ve watched a bunch of Space Ghost, and a whole bunch of the Herculoids.

If you aren’t familiar with the Herculoids, that’s most of them in Panel One. They have had one prior appearance in Adequacy, years ago, where it was implied that Cap knew them, or at least had some kind of adventure or mission with them at some point int the past. The Herculoids themselves deserve a bit of a definition.

The Herculoids was a Saturday morning cartoon, created and designed by Alex Toth, that was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions. The show aired in 1967, and Hanna-Barbera produced one season for the original airing of the show. The plotlines are HIGHLY rooted in science fiction.

The series is set on the distant planet Amzot (renamed Quasar in the later series “Space Stars,” with which it otherwise shared a continuity). There are eight regular characters who make up the Herculoids…three humans and five creatures, together being a kind of Swiss Family Robinson in space. The people are Zandor and Tarra, with Zandor being the leader and protector, and their son Dorno. The Herculoids are pretty @#$%ing progressive, because Dorno calls Zandor and Tarra by their names, which would not have flown for @#$% in my house.

The creatures are as follows:

  • Zok – A flying space dragon. He can emit laser beams from his eyes and tail. Zok can survive in space unaided, is capable of interstellar travel, and can breathe fire. Zok is LEGIT.
  • Igoo – A rock ape. By that, I mean an ape, but made out of rocks, and twice the size of a person. An extremely large and powerful simian, he has extremely dense rock-like skin and is nearly invulnerable to harm. In one episode, Igoo wades through a pond of molten lava. Igoo has a kind and gentle temperament (despite contant screaming) as well as a great fondness and devotion for Tarra.
  • Tundro – A ten-legged, four-horned rhinoceros/Triceratops hybrid. He can shoot explosive energy rocks from his cannon-horn (Zandor, Tara, and Dorno also occasionally shoot similar rocks with slingshots). Apparently every @#$%ing stone on Amzot is explosive, which is an important plot point. His natural armor-plating is exceptionally strong, similar to Igoo’s rock skin.
  • Gloop and Gleep – Two protoplasmic creatures. Just weird blob guys, really. They are able to absorb and deflect energy blasts and laser beams, often placing themselves between attackers and other Herculoids to act as shields. They can also form shapes including, but not limited to: cushions, trampolines or parachutes to break falls; stretching themselves between tree limbs or rocks to act as slingshots; encircling an attacker’s limbs to restrain them, or the entire body to squeeze and render them unconscious. Gloop is the larger of the two.

Each episode is about ten minutes of nonsense involving this cast. Zandor and the Herculoids live a pretty primitive, cave person like existence on Amzot. Again, the most technologically advanced things we seen them in possession of are slingshots (and exploding stones), and Zandor’s shield, which is just a metal disk. They seem to live this way by choice, because Zandor seems pretty conversant in the operation of advanced and even alien technology when the need arises.

In fact, most of the time strangers come to Amzot in the beginning of the episode, with scientific machinery and bad intent. The Herculoids investigate, invariably disapprove of their visitors, and then unleash their exploding stones and kaiju monsters to kick them the @#$% off the planet, or straight up kill them. When you say it like that, in fact, the Herculoids seem like some sort of dangerous, right wing survivalist luddites that scare me.

Despite my worries about the Herculoids’ personal political views, the show is a blast, and has been amusing me. Hence Cap showing up on Amzot for some vacation time. I’m not sure if there is going to be much of an Amzot plot, or this is a one off…hard to say.

That should be my biggest worry at the beginning of Summer.


Alternative Flash Facts.

Honestly, this is a legitimate concern for the Super Friends.

You look at the Super Friends line up, and you wonder why they turn to the Flash for tons of scientific advice. I mean, sure…he’s a “police scientist.” So…he has some kind of degree in Criminal Forensics, right? A two year associate degree, or maybe a Bachelor of Science. These are respectable degrees, no doubt.

Still…let’s look at the Super Friends line up, shall we?

We have the Atom, Ray Palmer. He has a PhD. in physics, and invented a device out of White Dwarf matter that lets him CHANGE THE RULES OF SCIENCE. That’s pretty much A-list science, and he’s the guy that kind of hangs out on Hawkman’s shoulder. Hawkman is an alien (Katar Hol) with a spaceship and advanced science background…as well as a machine called the Absorbascon, which holds all knowledge in it. Batman invents new airplanes and technology, all the time, in a CAVE.

I’m not even trying, here.

The point is…Barry rolls out a list of science trivia, the “flash Facts,” and somehow he’s a @#$%ing scientific genius. I don’t buy it.

Others want to point out to me some counterpoints, like the Flash ring, which holds his compressed uniform. Barry himself, in the first Flash story, tells us that he pretty much adapted off the shelf technology used for life rafts. The Cosmic Treadmill? It’s a TREADMILL. Seriously, in DC Comics Presents No. 1 and No. 2, it is well established that he can travel through time by running in place…meaning that the Cosmic Treadmill is pretty much just a treadmill. Not super science.

Hence, today’s pretty sarcastic art. I’ve been re reading the “Super Powers” material by DC Comics, from the eighties. In large part, that was written to support the toy line of the same name, in conjunction with revamping “Super Friends” as “Super Powers.” I didn’t realize that it was where the Worlogog was introduced into DC Comics. The Worlogog is a complex mechanism built by the most intelligent of the New Gods (space gods), which allows the suspension or acceleration of time, as well as transport through time and space.

It’s just dropped right in front of the Super Powers team, and the Flash just messes with it, after clearly not understanding what the @#$% it is. The next several pages are the team dealing with transport to different bizarre time zones, because a guy who does crime scene forensics decided to @#$% around with a cosmic device.

Why would you keep asking this guy for science advice?

That’s really Cap’s point here, and I’m pretty much in agreement.

Amazing Friends.

This feels more like summer.

Finally, I sat down, and had it in my mind to draw about nothing. Just the feeling of being able to spend time with friends, not worry about work, and generally goof off. What resulted from that is the piece above, which is more of a tone piece than anything else, about how it feels, right now in this moment, to be on Summer Break.

Iceman must be a pretty close friend of Cap’s, since she is awkwardly landing on him, and he doesn’t seem to mind. The whole thing was fun to draw, since it is basically just nonsense, just a few friends who happen to be superheroes hanging around. For the past week, I’ve been hanging around, but without the fun of doing that. Mostly it has been recovering from the end of the school year, dealing with the financial and emotional toll of the past couple of weeks.

I haven’t yet fallen into the idea of the summer’s theme in terms of Adequacy, or too much about the “plot”, as it were. A whole lot is still “up in the air” (unlike Cap), what with the Janus verdict pending, and a few other things. Once that verdict drops, I’ll feel a little more at ease, and a little less vigilant about staying “on top of things.”

Obviously, this references “Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends,” an awesomely cheesy eighties era Saturday morning cartoon. In many ways, the cartoon is unintentionally hilarious, and I feel really good about this post being on a Saturday, just like the show. Stan Lee narrated every episode that had narration, and that’s as awesome as you expect it to be.

Down some Captain Crunch cereal, grab a cup of coffee, and have a lazy morning like when you were a kid. That’s a good life choice. I fully intend to do that myself.


The Mailman Cometh!

Seriously, this is why I generally don’t read Spider-Man comics.

Spider-Man’s problems are always the same as mine.

He’s constantly worried about how he’s going to afford to pay rent, college tuition, take MJ or Gwen out on a date, and still afford new web fluid. A huge amount of Spider-Man’s plotline always revolves around dealing with Peter Parker’s problems, which are a whole lot like mine.

This month has seen a Smog Check (still in progress), a new water heater and a new refrigerator. Those are some big time bills, True Believers, and they certainly make a person want to be pretty cautious with their initial Summer Break.

Even the animated series, “Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends,” frequently had the financial troubles of superheroes on display. Iceman and Firestar move in with Peter because none of them can afford rent, and often enough we see Aunt May (the landlord in that series) selling off things to pay the mortgage on their place. As much as I like “Amazing Friends” (and I LOVE it…perhaps the perfect 80’s cartoon), that is always something of a downer.

In this case though, I felt like I had to draw Cap looking with frustration at a big stack of bills. Like…Iceman couldn’t have handled the refrigeration for a while? Time to pull your weight, bro.

And Finally…Summer!

At this point, they just want to leave. Doesn’t really matter how.

Usually, the trip away from school on to Summer Break feels pretty excellent. In this case, it was more just a grim determination to be done. It isn’t that the school year was bad…to the contrary. The students were excellent, lessons went well, and things were good. Once the students are gone, though, all you have left are the adults, and many of them I can do without.

I considered adding speech balloons to this piece, but felt that the expressions of the characters made it work without them. Pony Torch has the right idea, and is happy to be leaving for vacation…which in truth, I am as well. I need to time off to rejuvenate. Cap looks pretty grimly determined to just LEAVE. This is pretty much how I felt at the end of the year, on the minimum days and the pupil free day. Just get my way through it, slog my way to the end, so I could get out of Dodge. Or the Edu-Mountain, as it were.

Flower looks uneasy, kind of looking back at the road behind. That’s very much about my unease that some other shoe is going to drop, that some other drama is going to emerge from school, and come into my Summer Life. Is that reasonable? No, it is not. Flower doesn’t seem like she’s all that reasonable either, to be honest. Let’s be frank about it…she remembered to put a flower in her hair (hence the name), but forgot to put on a top.

While I was drawing this, a person asked me what happened to the twi’lek in the evening gown that Cap was cozy with last week? That’s a good question, and has more of an eye toward continuity than I usually do. I felt like she was a guest for the swanky event at the Edu-Mountain, and didn’t really think that we’d be seeing her again, to be fair. That’s not to say that I expected to see Flower at all, she sort of emerged from compositional ideas that I was having.

I wanted something positive and kind to be leaving the changing world of the Edu-Mountain with Cap. Something kind of pure and innocent, that wasn’t easily affected by things that are phony. I had this Moana pin I was thinking of wearing during the summer, but Moana is too…worldly, and with it, to be what I needed for the metaphor. Also, she’s too young, to be honest…Cap needs to be hanging out with adults. So we wound up with Flower here.

The big ol’ Keyblade is a heavy handed reference to getting the key to my old room back. Cap is holding it in a way that is triumphant, but also suggests that she’d like to smack someone with it, for all the hassle. The mixed emotions in that posture sum up very well how I feel about that nonsense.

As for the weird vehicle…figure it’s a loaner. Even now, I’m having my own car’s engine futzed with so that she can pass Smog check, the nemesis of the Vintage Vehicle. That’s not a super big deal, but in many ways a bit of trial and error. As a result, the cast of Adequacy are leaving the Edu-Mountain in some kind of basic land vehicle, something typical to a Science Fantasy setting. Not that much to read into there.

Still…it is finally Summer Break. All of the politics and drama for school are safely in the Rear View Mirror, at least for eight to ten weeks.

The Secret Of The Edu-Mountain.

Except for the henchman, this happened.

Oddly, I like that crazy Apokoliptian henchman. We might be seeing more of him, because I feel like the Dark Lord needs an insane toady just hanging around. In an artistic sense, that is. I guess it applies to reality, my boss is pretty much surrounded by “Yes Men” all the time. In this incident, there were no “Yes Men”, which is fine, but less narratively interesting.

Hence, why that guy is in panel three. Let’s call him Hesh.

Anyway, this happened at the same time that I was being told about the failure to fill out the forms to Green Light the Civil Rocket War with the city and the district. I was pretty unhappy about that, but really couldn’t manage to penetrate the haze of buzzwords. Making little headway on that, I decided to change topics, and ask if he had decided whether I would actually be moving back to my old, much larger classroom. Arguably, the deal to do so has been in place for ages, but over time, I have learned to take exactly nothing for granted.

His initial response was, “Maybe…it’s like eighty percent sure.”

“When is it going to be one hundred percent, sir? I need to know, because I need to move all of my stuff over from the on classroom to the other, and I only have a day and a half.” Legitimate question, right?

“Let’s talk in my office.” Those words? Never a good sign. Not at all.

I followed him to his office, and inside of a few sentences, the exchange above happened. Well, his dialogue. Cap’s dialogue refers to a day later, as does the Dark Lord’s chatter in panel four. It was fascinating to see, though. This principal, he presents himself all the time as friendly, as trying to work out problems by talking them out. I even bought into the idea of him as an overly friendly, possibly not that organized individual. Someone with the best of intentions, if you will.

The “secret” though…it’s who he really is.

I left that meeting quoting that to anyone who asked. The meeting became one of brinksmanship, actually. He once again offered me a transfer, in addition to generally being ambivalent to my pretty reasonable engagement. When I made it clear that I’d be only too happy to solve my problems in a more confrontational, paperwork and grievance driven manner, things turned on a dime. Suddenly, it was much easier to “work with me” and we were “all friends here.”

Principals that want to be promoted can’t have a whole lot of complaints, grievances or problems in their file after all.

The next day, at the Mandatory End of Year Meeting and Potluck, things were back to normal. I was mostly moved into my old classroom, and got to sit through speeches and slideshows. Talk about how everyone at the Edu-Mountain was a team with shared values, not just a workplace and a staff, but a “family.” As that business went on, as the weird White Feather of Appreciation nonsense happened, I pretty much could hear only one thing:

“Nobody here owes anything to anyone. At all.”

It wasn’t hard to finish packing, True Believers.

Civil Rocket War…No More!

Kinda last minute, droid girl…

This kind of “last minute” was a big part of the last day of school. Another teacher and I had submitted paperwork about a month ago to launch model rockets on the football field, right after dismissal. The goal was to get some students interested in rocketry, and perhaps into a better grade of science inquiry than the school has been producing in the years that I have been there. For the past week, I have been building rockets, and my partner in Civil Rocket War built both a rocket (an impressive one) and the launch pad (a delicate piece of electronics).

On the way to school, I got a text from that teacher. It said, in short, that our launch clearance had been revoked by administration.

I asked why, and the answer was pretty simple.

In order to launch rockets, you need to file paperwork with the local authorities. That’s logical, and it’s also easy. The paperwork is on various web sites, including those of various educational rocketry organizations and our own school district. When we submitted the paperwork, we were assured that administration would handle those forms, so we didn’t think about it.

In retrospect, we should have thought about it.

Needless to say, I was pretty unhappy about that turn of events. My reaction was pretty much “fine then, we won’t do it at all.” The teacher that I was going to be doing it with took the more reasonable view (he always does), having already downloaded the paperwork. His plan was to do the launch next academic year.

It was a pretty big disappointment, really. It led to a conversation with the principal…but that is yet another post.

In terms of art…I had to totally rework my plan for this. Initially, it was going to be an old school rocket launch, with the cast inside the cockpit, and some sort of snarky joke in the dialogue related to how the launch went. Obviously, I couldn’t do that. Since one of my rockets was a scale X-Wing, having a BB-8 of some kind seemed on point. Except…BB-8 can’t easily be expressive outside of a movie…so we wound up with that BB-8 style droid girl in panel one. I like the way that she came out, actually.

Not quite what I had planned though. Pretty typical for the year.