To Scale Galactus…!

In fairness to Galactus, there are people climbing up him.

I felt like another, directly Marvel themed science fiction image was in order, and it is super hard to do that without the Silver Surfer (Sentinel of the Spaceways!) and Galactus.  Galactus is the huge guy that the Punisher and Batman are scaling, and he is a cosmic being that straight up EATS planets.  For nutritional purposes.

It doesn’t get much more “big scale sci fi” than that, True Believers.

Also, lets take a minute here to acknowledge that as storytelling.  He first appeared in 1966, so that’s eleven years before Star Wars and its “Death Star.”  Galactus was in planet wrecking before it was super trendy, and everyone with a Clone Army was doing it.  Also…he isn’t just bullying you like the Empire, he feeds off your planet.  If he just wanted to wreck it, in his massive spaceship he has a device called the Ultimate Nullifier, which can just plain wreck ANYTHING, including your planet.

You know, he just leaves it in his basement, because he doesn’t need it too much.

Obviously, the Surfer is there because of his connection to Galactus, and heavy place in Marvel sci-fi.  He is generally depicted as a particularly agile and skilled flyer, so it would be logical that he gives Cap a lift.  Note his protective posture, even though Cap is Nigh Invulnerable.  That’s because Norrin Radd is a class act, people.

But what about the Punisher?  And Batman?

Let’s start with the Punisher.  As a really obscure reference, Galactus used to have these robot bad asses that he would unleash on attackers, when he just didn’t want to deal with you.  They were called “Punishers” and predated the more well known Punisher, who kills mafia men.  Also…I like the Punisher (the mafia killing vigilante) except…he’s kind of played out.  How many times can you basically read a Charles Bronson movie, right?

Lately, Marvel has been kind of absurdist with the Punisher, making him interact with weird Marvel events.  Asgard is invading New York?  What’s Frank Castle doing, with his machine gun and Ford Aerostar?  It’s usually entertaining satire, and that fed this here.

Batman, on the other hand, is now a central character in all of DC Comics’ cosmic crossovers, with absolutely NO sense of irony.  That’s pretty flat to me.  There was a time, in the fifties and sixties, when Batman was a much more science fiction comic, with Bruce going to other planets, traveling through time (or to the moon), and generally dealing with space nonsense.  It seems to me that he would fit better in those circumstances than the modern “grimdark” Bruce, so we have an Adam West style Batman ready to lend a hand.  Or Batarang.  Or Bat-Galactus Repellent.

I like this without the fight scene.  Yep, we aren’t going to see them fight.

In fact, Cap is probably just going to tell him that if he eats the Earth, he’s going to have to eat New Jersey too, and no one would do that.  If someone told you that, you would find another planet to eat.

You’d Think There Would Be A Memo About Pods….

You’d think you’d listen to the lady that doesn’t need a space suit.

I’m extending science fiction week, because technical difficulties prevented me from posting (even drawing!) for a couple of days last week. We have a pretty obvious reference to the “Alien” Franchise here, mostly because Marvel Comics just acquired the comic book rights to both Aliens and Predator. That’s pretty significant, because Dark Horse (a competitor of theirs) has been publishing Aliens Franchise comics since 1988.

That’s a long time to license a franchise, especially in comics.

The heads of Dark Horse Comics made a decision early on to not publish ongoing or unlimited titles from the license and compose the line as a series of limited series, one-shots and short stories with a main focus on limited series because they believed that it would allow more creative freedom and flexibility for the writers and artists.

I never really got into the comics very much, for the same reason that I didn’t really follow the film franchise. The plot structure is kind of repetitive, with an astronaut finding the pods (or someone exploiting the pods in some way), a person getting infected, the alien life form escaping and hunting people down. It’s a good horror movie the first time, a neat action movie in the sequel, but for me, the whole thing got too repetitive.

To each their own. Your mileage may vary.

Dark Horse did numerous crossovers with DC Comics in the past, pitting both Batman and Superman against the aliens of the franchise name. It’s hard to say of Marvel will do a similar thing or not.

It’s good to be back drawing!

Arrival On Planet Dean…!

You’ll note that they sent Gideon to do this…who doesn’t talk.

Seventies era sci fi is…surrealistic, to say the least.  The punchline above in Panel Two comes from two artists of the time period…Roger Dean who did psychedelic sci-fi landscapes for progressive rock album covers, and Jim Starlin, who did the sci-fi books of 1970s era Marvel comics.

Starlin actually created Thanos, in one of the earliest ongoing and multipart stories in comics. He’s best known for his work on Captain Marvel (which featured the first Thanos plotline) and then his work on the title Warlock. Warlock is a space opera like his Captain Marvel, starring a genetically engineered being created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the 1960s and re-imagined by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane in the 1970s as a Jesus Christ-like figure on an alternate Earth.

That was a whole lot for a single sentence. I’ll let you digest that before going on.

Envisioning the character as philosophical and existentially tortured, Starlin wrote and drew a complex space opera with theological and psychological themes. Warlock confronted the militaristic Universal Church of Truth, eventually revealed to be created and led by an evil evolution of his future–past self, known as The Magus. Starlin ultimately incorporated Thanos into this story.

Comics historian Les Daniels noted that “In a brief stint with Marvel, which included work on two characters [Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock] that had previously never quite made their mark, Starlin managed to build a considerable cult following.”

A lot of that is from his distinctive art style for these “cosmic” storylines, which features surrealistic compositions and bold uses of color. In fact, Starlin defined and shaped the concept of ‘cosmic comics’ through his experimental and bold visuals. You grab his Captain Marvel, or his Warlock, and open the books to any page, and you’ll see something amazing.

I loved those books in a way that is hard to express. They were mind blowing, much like progressive rock was. Exploding with new ideas, and insane visuals. He completely re-imagined superhero comics as psychedelic space opera, filled with heavy topics.

Particularly in the context of his early ’70s heyday, it’s hard to miss the psychedelic influence on Jim Starlin’s work. From the complex, transformative page layouts to ideas like cosmic awareness (a super power that’s all about expanding your consciousness to be one with the universe), there’s an undeniable link between Starlin’s comics and seventies pop culture.

However, Starlin’s style is more than just a one-note stoner gimmick. His art really pushed boundaries at Marvel, and many of the characters and concepts he created have had real staying power, and recently informed major elements of Marvel’s cinematic offerings.

I was straining to figure out what I was going to draw for today, because I was completely fixated on spaceships for pretty much an entire day of thought. It was leafing through some of my old Captain Marvel books that I realized that for Marvel Sci-Fi, the Marvel Cosmic stuff…the setting and the surreal visuals were the key. That pushed me to do the sweeping landscape, and the Kirby composite technique….since Kirby was also key in Marvel sci-fi.

That’s all for today, in sci-fi week, True Believers!

“Some Believe That Life Here Began Out There…”

Cassiopeia is going to have to let go of Cap before she can do that, Adama….

As science fiction weeks continues, I have to take a moment to express my appreciation for Battlestar Galactica.  The seventies era show, not the remake.  Sure…the remake was fantastic.  It was.  But there’s a weird kind of excellence to the original program that’s quite frankly, brilliant.

At the time, America was really interested in the ideas in Erick Van Daaniken’s “Chariots of the Gods?”  That book suggested, with poorly executed science, that the ancient tales and myths of gods on Earth were actually primitive, awkward recountings of alien visitations to the planet.  Galactica runs with that idea, completely, suggesting that the Bible, as such, is the tale of humanity across the cosmos, and that Earth is a lost human colony of those space tribes.

The show is named for the largest human spacecraft in the “ragtag fugitive fleet” that is making the cosmic exodus to Earth, the promised land.  They are led by Commander Adama, who is basically a Space Moses, and is played by Lorne Greene.  There is surprising diversity in the casting, and both the naming conventions and visual design lock into the “Chariots of the gods/Bible” theme pretty well.

They aren’t pursued by space Egyptians (although the human helmets have a distinctly Ancient Egypt theme to their design).  They are followed by Cylons, which are highly chromed robots, and a Space Judas human named Baltar.  There’s an advisor named Lucifer, and at one point they meet the cosmic being Count Iblis, who is basically Satan.

I was young, and straight up loved that show.  It was amazing.

For those of you that really impose a plot and continuity on this strip, it’s safe to say that the TARDIS could be parked anywhere on Galactica, the ship is @#$%ing huge.  It’s also reasonable to assume that the Doctor would be doing something far more responsible than Cap is, explaining why he’s not in the art.  So there.

And yes…I did use space that the Doctor could have been in to keep Boxey, the child viewpoint character, and his “daggit.”  Daggits were space dogs, but none of them survived the Cylon attack prompting Space Exodus.  As a result, they put together a robot Daggit, which Boxey named Muffit.  He was basically in competition with R2-D2 for seventies era robot cuteness.  They were in pretty much every episode.  I even had the action figure of the Daggit, so he makes the cut.


A Kryptocentric View.

I mean, surely someone has told the Science Council that the planet is doomed, right?

I thought since I was doing the Sci-Fi week, and that I had finally used time travel to bring Cap to Krypton, I’d draw it at least one more time.  In most cases, I find too much reference to Krypton in the Superman mythos to be a bad thing.  The less we know about it, the more interesting it is, after all.

Seventies-era Krypton…late Silver Age, if you will, is just such an idealized vision of the future, with weird retro chic, it just captures my imagination.  We don’t ever see much of it, making it way more “fun,” and the art design is wonderful.  I didn’t wan to draw another fight scene, for no other reason than not particularly feeling like it, so this happened.

As I drew it, I really got to thinking about how science fiction has changed over the past few decades, and has moved away from utopian ideas, like “Star Trek” and “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” and toward dystopian futures where everything is garbage.  Even “Logan’s Run” depicts a perfect, utopian future…at least until you turn thirty, and things go very badly.  I miss the idea of a bright future.  If science fiction is supposed to be escapist to some degree, maybe we could use a little bit more of that utopian structure.

Utopian structures don’t have to be boring.  “Star Trek: The Next Generation” depicts a future where humanity has finally…well, gotten its act together, and can now explore, produce art, and generally live well.  There are still sources of conflict from outside that society, and even inside it, because even in a utopia, people @#$%ing disagree.

Disagreement within those kinds of utopian systems is where you get your story, as it were.  It certainly stands with the example of Krypton, which gains a plotline through disagreement.

I feel like Jor-El was the Dr. Fauci of Krypton, except Krypton had a lot less wrong with it than say, America.  He is the leading @#$%ing scientist, and goes to the political “Science Council” with his findings that the planet is just going to explode.  He has a plan that they can just do, which would build space arks to get everyone off the planet, and he even works out the time line so that it’s reasonable, but they have to start now and take it seriously.  Instead, the Council says to Jor-El “Go @#$%” yourself, and he figures out a way to save his kid while working in his small, independent home basement.

If you don’t see the parallel here, I don’t know what to tell you.

I mean…Cap and the Doctor are from the future.  You think that they would be able to convince the population to leave, with…you know, knowledge of the future.  They can show the council the TARDIS, an have the simple street cred of having whooped the @#$% out of a bunch of alien robots in the streets just yesterday.  It strikes me that Kryptonians would take their advice the same way Americans practice social distancing and use masks…that is to say, almost not at all.

I had a lot of possible dialogue to attach to Cap and Joi-Em there, but decided to go with just the simple caption.  She wound up with more “backstory” than I usually generate for a character that is probably a one off, although I guess Cap can see her whenever the Doctor wants to get Kryptacos.  I’m presuming that they didn’t choose the day right before Krypton explodes, after all.

I went with the simpler dialogue because I felt like it worked better.  For some reason, it was super important for me to have Cap make the Mary Tyler Moore comment.


Time Lords And Tacos.

It is, after all, a Tuesday.

I took a day off from drawing, which is obvious, what with there being no post yesterday.  There were a lot of reasons for that, but most importantly, it allowed me to have the excitement to do something big and fun like this.

It looks like we are going to have a kind of “science fiction” week.  I wind up drawing a lot of fantasy themed super hero art lately, but in honesty, sci-fi has always been my preference.  I’ve always liked Doctor Who, and was a big fan of the fourth through sixth Doctors, back in  the 1970s when it was a pretty niche, rarified fan base.

Obviously from today’s art, I also really like David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor.  He was charming and fun, and made the show just…very likeable.  I wasn’t so much of a fan of Matt Smith, so there’s that…in case you were curious.

I wanted to draw some eighties era bad guys, so we got the redesigned Brainiac from the eighties that I love.  The Quintessons were Bad Guys introduced in the Transformers Movie, back in 1987, as a new “space setting” faction that expanded the show massively.  They are both just fun robots with evil agendas, so why wouldn’t they team up?

I love Silver Age Space Cities, so of course we wound up with Krypton.  Especially with a time machine like the TARDIS at their disposal.

The “plot” here…?  It’s almost the plot of the television show called “Krypton.”  With a time traveling Brainiac seeking to mess up the planet, and a whimsical time traveling good guy.  In this case, I guess Brainiac and the Quintessons want to use the resources of Krypton to make something?  That’s kind of in line with both of their schticks.  I didn’t think it out too much, really.  It was hard enough drawing that massive Quintesson being punched in the face.  Well, one of his faces.

On to the tacos…

Star Trek had this rule in the original series called “Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planet Development.” It was a useful plot device, and really come into play here. It was an “in universe” concept that was a biological theory first postulated by A.E. Hodgkin. The theory was that similar planets with similar environments and similar populations tended to gravitate toward similar biological developments over time. Although initially applicable only to biology, it was later expanded to include a tendency to move toward similar sociological developments as well with sentient beings.

So it explained why everyone looked kind of like people, and also why you could have an “Ancient Rome Planet,” or a “Nazi Planet,” when you were just using the prop house of Paramount to help cut sci-fi costs.

It bears to reason that the planet Krypton, having generated very human looking people, would be subject to facets of the same rule. By that reasoning, “Parallel Taco Development” seems like it would be possible. If you can wind up with a whole duplicate Earth by simple chance, over and over again, replicating a delicious food item should be effortless.

It strikes me that Kryptonian Tacos, or Kryptacos, would be excellent.

That Kryptonian couple hidden in the background seem a bit troubled by the Silver Age Scale Conflict happening in their city, which is understandable. I mean, they haven’t been off planet, so they really don’t get the scope of Silver Age Conflict. Or that they have some of the rarest tacos in the Universe, requiring a time machine, or time travel powers, to acquire them.

Ah…science fiction. Wonderful.

Independence Snacks.

It’s like a huge cookie, really.

My dear friend Steve used to have a small statue of Superman.  Superman had an eagle on his arm, and behind him was a red white and blue shield, in a traditional shield shape, not round like Captain America’s.  The shield kind of slipped out (to transport the piece), and when it did, it felt just like a sugar cookie, instead of a slab of cold cast resin.

I kind of always wanted to eat that thing, knowing that it wasn’t a big sugar cookie.

I wanted to start this post with that fond memory, of an excellent friend.

It is July 4th, and I’m not feeling too good about the state of affairs here in the United States.  It would be pretty hard to, in general, given the way things have been going.  But in the past twenty four hours the President has had a very dangerous election rally where he fueled the division in this country, and the White House official statement about the pandemic has become, “just live with it.”  That’s a real quote.  There are continuous protests in the streets about our systemically racist system, and it is a matter of no effort whatsoever to see police on video beating people in the streets.

That’s a whole lot.

It’s hard to feel good about the whole “Independence Day” thing.  There’s just too much wrong, too much that seems like a real sickness around us.  It’s unclear if schools will open in the Fall, and schools are so…fundamental to our society.  People are picking and choosing the health rules that they are following, and gatherings for the holiday are happening, even though they shouldn’t.

Today’s sketch is an attempt to be funny about that.  It’s hard to do.

I say it a whole lot these days True Believers, but definitely…be safe, and be smart today.

The Take Out Dilemma.

I miss restaurants. Like…as a concept.

It doesn’t seem like I’ll be at a restaurant any time soon.  I used to enjoy Chinese Take Out as a kind of treat, now in the time of “lock downs,” it is a staple of my diet.  I’ve done a sort of weekly comparison study of different preparations of Kung Pao Chicken.

I think that’s one of the oddest things about this time.  The inability to do things that we seriously took for granted, especially in a place like Los Angeles.  In Los Angeles, you can access virtually any kind of cultural experience on a whim, food being the most frequent of those.  For months now, that accessibility to well…everything…has been shut off, rendering Los Angeles a small town environment in terms of access, but with a population in the millions.

Despite the shocking numbers, people seem to be taking the crisis…in a sort of cavalier fashion.  I went out to run a few errands, and saw a large number of people walking around without masks, despite the terrifying statistic of 1 in 140 people being infected, with many not knowing it.  It think the problem is that the mask protects other people, and generally, modern Americans seem to only care about protecting themselves.

I still like Chinese Take Out.  Let’s not get crazy.

It would just be nice to sit down for a meal outside of my living room.

Pancakes: The Consequences.

How is he even transporting the pancakes?

Seriously, they look pretty fresh.  Is there just a portal from Aunt May’s kitchen to the Fortress of Togetherness?  I clearly had not thought this out at all.

With any luck, I’ll get a hold of some kind of drive thru pancakes today.  We will see how that goes.  My fingers are crossed, for even such a small luxury.

This was mostly an exercise in postures, figure drawing, and also another crack at practicing drawing Spider-Man without making myself insane.  We never really see Cap facing away from us, mostly because a huge amount of the time she is speaking, and thus kind of has to “face the camera” to a degree.  I also felt like her R.K. post uniform really obscures her figure, so I wanted a but of practice without that big, complicated, and long jacket.

Aunt May does give Peter the “wheatcakes” with the intention of making him less scrawny, hence the whole gag here.  Such as it is.

A Suspicious Absence Of Pancakes.

I haven’t had breakfast food in months.

Sort of an unintended “food themed” week here, True Believers.  I was thinking about how I haven’t had breakfast foods in about a three month run of time now.  I like breakfast foods.  I often stop off, super early in the morning, to pick up some breakfast on the way to work.

I used to have breakfast every Sunday morning at the same place, before going to the local comic shop.  Same group of friends, same place…it was just nice.

That’s literally all that this is about.  No heavy handed metaphor, no subtext, no real in-joke.  Not much of a big comics reference, except that Aunt May makes pancakes for Peter in the early issues, and calls them “wheat cakes.”

I just miss breakfast.

Weirdly, me not having pancakes makes the world safer, and saves lives…so I guess that’s a good thing.