A comic strip by Alasdair Wilkins and Joseph Shivers, as seen in The Harvard Crimson!

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Astounding Annotations - Week 5

So here we go with what I'm calling "Astounding Annotations." Basically, this is an opportunity to explain some of the more obscure references I threw in (and there were a bunch of them), and to give some idea as to why I did this in the first place. Yeah, I'm aware this is pretty damn self-indulgent, so I'll try not to go on and on. And away we go...

Day 13


Panel 1: This is the week I got really serious about tying together various fictional universes, if only because it amuses me. You see all those banners behind that say "Dartwell Stadium"? Well, those are named in honor of Dash Dartwell, a highly obscure comic book character from the highly obscure Centaur Publications. Centaur was one of the many comic book publishers who never made it out of the early forties, leaving behind a bunch of weird and wonderful characters that now no one has ever heard of. Thankfully, they've since moved into the public domain, so I've decided to start using them. Basically, the world of Mr. Astounding is the same universe as the one in which all the Centaur characters lived back in the forties, and a few of the particularly powerful ones are still around. Most of them, however, have either grown old or passed on, such as Mr. Dash Dartwell, who is being honored for his athletic prowess by his alma mater, Dravrah University. (Honestly, that's what they called it in the original comic. Even I would never do something that lame. If you want to know more about Dash, I wrote a couple posts about him at my old sports blog. Though I'll warn you right now, the language gets a little salty.)

Panel 2: I really wanted to make it clear that our hero wasn't trying to make alt-Nora his sidekick. That just seemed so...old-fashioned. I'm glad that I got a pretty good line out of it, if I do say so myself.

Panel 3: This panel right here is the single most important panel for understanding the full extent of our hero's powers. I'm just saying. More on this later.

Panel 4: When I first came up with Terror-Saurus's line, I honestly thought the "Mesozoic" was not the correct name for the era of the dinosaurs, and that I'd have Mr. Astounding humorously correct him after beating the fossil fuel out of him. Turns out, it is the right name, which worked out well as I soon discovered I didn't have room for any Astounding quips.

Day 14


Panel 1: I wanted to make sure we used the terminologically correct "T. Rex" instead of the more famous "T-Rex." Goodness, I'm pedantic. Oh, and he's wearing a crown because "Rex" means "King." Am I an artistic genius or what?

Panel 2: The nature of the strip's story and the short time I had in which to tell it meant there couldn't be very many fight scenes, and they couldn't last very long. So I tried to maximize the badassery as much as I could. I think this panel pretty much accomplishes that.

Panel 3: By the way, Terror-Saurus is totally wearing a jumpsuit. Let no one ever tell you Astounding is a filthy purveyor of dinosaur nudity, because it just isn't true.

Panel 4: I suppose it's a bit dubious that a character who could give Mr. Astounding a fair fight could actually be knocked out by a baseball bat. Keep in mind, that's a metal bat that snapped like a piece of wood, so Terror-Saurus does have a legitimately hard skull. There are a couple possible explanations that are a bit convoluted, so for now I'll just say that alt-Nora managed to hit him in his skull's soft spot. Yes, that'll do.

Day 15


Panel 1: You see those two characters leading Terror-Saurus away? Those are Psyclone and Josiah Phelps, characters I created for my radio play Mental Man. Since they started out in a radio play, there was no visual basis for them, so I told Joe to model Psyclone on a female version of Will Eisner's Spirit (you know, the one who spawned that terrible Frank Miller film) and Josiah Phelps on John Constantine. Terror-Saurus was also initially mentioned in that radio play, although he didn't appear. So that's the other universe I tied together this week. Incidentally, you know how I said yesterday that this whole strip takes place in April 2009? Yeah, turns out I was wrong. For some rather boring reasons related to Mental Man, Astounding takes place in the spring of 2010. There, now you can all rest easy, knowing that's sorted out.

Panel 2: I think Superman said that in the awesome Kingdom Come series. Well, he didn't say "Mr. Astounding", obviously. But you get the gist.

Panel 3: I really tried to build up some atmosphere here. A little bit of tension too.

Panel 4: Did I succeed?

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