December 11, 2009


When I was done with It Takes A Wizard, I wanted to go – at least when it came to comic books – completely without a publisher and create a line of comic books that were specifically intended for Amazon's Kindle.

One concept I designed was a long series that would either have been entitled Legend or Balthimuur. In Hollywood Retard Speak (HRS) that would have been Dune meets V For Vendetta, and the main point of it was "What if we are the terrorists?"

In Hollywood particularly, alien invasions are staple food. Big, mighty ships appear (V, Independence Day, War of the Worlds) in the first act, there's a bit of KaBoom going on, we form a resistance (don't we always?) under American leadership (of course) in the second act... and in the third act we beat them back, preferably by wirelessly transferring a virus from our Apple laptop (Hello, Jeff Goldblum) to the alien's mainship... or have a real virus do the job for us.

And life goes on.... Mom, Country and Apple Pie are safe. Hooray!

The traditional model of the "alien invasion story" is pretty much shaped around the mythological French resistance during World War 2. In a two-part episode of Star Trek: Voyager, they even did that literally!

Me, I wasn't interested in that. I looked at other instances in the past. What if you had been part of the Raj? Or how would you feel if you were a Palastinian in the West Jordan territories? What would you be fighting for? And the thing is not only that one person's terrorist is always (always, remember that, boys and girls) another person's freedom fighter. But what if, no matter how hard you might fight, what if you cannot go back, what if everything that you are fighting for... is no longer there?

In the case of this book, the alien invasion happened. Period. We lost. Period. Hundreds of years ago. And the aliens did what we would do (and are already planning to do): the went ahead and "terraformed" Earth, made us part of their Commonwealth. And changed Earth's atmosphere, its climate, its entire biosphere. And changed us as well... into new humans, or what I called The Nouveaus.  Only a few handful of humans chose not go that way... and have become strangers on their own world: The Retros.

Unable to breath the new air, they have to dress in raggedy cloaks to protect their bodies, have to wear masks to protect their lungs, making them effectively a lot more alien to our eyes than the invaders.

The other visual idea was to have numerous terrorist cells consisting of Retros, and they would base their fight on a "holy scripture" that is one of the few things left from the old days. Pretty much the way our current terrorists can only ever quote thos parts of the Quran that tells them, yeah, you can kill everybody.... 72 bitches for you, my boy!

But in my head, I had this scene that at the end of either chapter 1 or the beginning of chapter 2, we would see a gathering of my "Osama Bin Laden," and he would start to quote from the holy scripture, and we know those words, we have all heard those words....

"We, the people..."

.. and I would show that it's the Declaration of Independence.

I wrote the entire first chapter, a few pages were actually done... and then I was left alone by the artist there. And I'm not going to bitch about that too much. Shit happens. We all mostly care about ourselves. You live, you learn, as Alanis Morisette used to sing.

Maybe one of those days I'll turn the concept into a book, but very likely not. It's a big visual concept, too expensive to be a movie or TV show and too much dependant on a visual medium to be a prose book. I come from the European tradition of comic books, where SF and Fantasy are opportunities to let big things shine, whereas in the US... nobody would give a damn, at least not in the current publishing structures. If it ain't a cape or a cutesy anime thing, nobody is interrested. And that's fine.

Each image here would have been one Kindle screen, and considering that one wouldn't need to worry about page count (in terms of printing costs, distribution etc.), the entire run of the book series would have probably been roughly 2,500 pages/screens.

For those who are interested, you can look at the full script for the first chapter here. And I need to remind everyone that there is no right or wrong way to write a script like that. In this case, it was written specifically for this artist, which meant I gave him just the shots and the action, since he never liked to have a panel-by-panel breakdown.

The artwork is (c) Sean Lam