East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

A failed comic

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I’m currently taking an online sketching course. It’s quite good, and while I’m going mighty slow, I can see a certain improvement. Nothing to write home about, but small steps away from stick figures.
My lack of graphical skills was always a problem to me – in part, because as a geologist and paleontologist, you are required to be able to sketch, in part because it crippled some of my very earliest projects.

For instance, when I was in high-school, I wrote a short comic – three large, full-page plates. At the time I was reading a lot of Heavy Metal/Metal Hurlant and L’Eternauta, and I liked the hyper-realistic approach of people like Corben, and the stories by the likes of Trillo, Mandrafina and Meglia. Also, the old Barbareella comics also had an influence.

So, the script went more or less like this…

Plate one: a crowded, Star Wars Cantina-like alien bar, full of weird aliens and droids and stuff. Most of the crowd is in the shadows.
There is a small stage, illuminated by a spotlight.
On the stage, a Hajime Sorayama-style robot woman is dressed like a Vegas dancer, and clearly engaged in some kind of burlesque show.

Punters: “Lola! Lola!”

Plate two: messy dressing room. The female droid is sitting in front of a Hollywood-style mirror with light bulbs around the frame. Lots of scattered costumes and lingerie, posters of old shows on the walls. The place is cheap.
A grinning android with pencil thin moustache is leaning against the door frame. He holds a bunch of flowers.

Robot dude: your talent is wasted in this place. Come with me. I will make you a star. More, honey, I will make you a goddess.

Plate three: a cave, with primitive paintings on the walls. The female robot is doing the exact same show as in plate one, only she is standing on a stone dais. There’s a pile of jewels and stuff in front of the stage. On the cavern floor, a bunch of primitive ape-men are cow-towing.

Ape men: “Lo-la! Lo-la!”

Which is lame, I know.
Later, when I was in university, I tried to get the same script turned into a three-frames comic by a friend that could do a passable Daniel Torres style.
But it again it came to nothing.

I often wondered what would have happened had I been able to draw the thing myself.

But nothing goes to waste, and loosely based on that lame, half-developed concept by myself at 16, I have just completed a 4000-words story, called Beyond the Fringe, that in 12 hours time will sail towards a publisher.
I wonder if this time it will have more luck.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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