Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Galacton 2230, Part 6

(Contuinued from Part 5)

Episode XVIII
As the overly-complicated storyline shambles its way toward something exciting happening at all, we see the introduction of (or at least, cameos by) Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Sean Connery, Mie Hama, Jane Seymour (all the way in the background, with the original "Muffy"), H.R. Giger's proudest creation, Wally Wood's "John Cannon", James B. Siiking (with the HILL STREET BLUES influence, it was inevitable), and, at last, our long-anticipated "cover girl", Caroline Munro!  (I was in her fan club for years.)

Please also note that in this universe, Jack Kirby designed a series of pinball machines...!

Episode XIX
The final installment to date includes tributes to Michael Golden's work on MICRONAUTS, the TV show STRIKE FORCE, the movie DARK STAR, Blue Oyster Cult, more F TROOP, BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY, DOC SAVAGE, THE ADVENTURES OF STELLA STAR, Frank Thorne (another pinball machine design), and, Jackie Gleason.

Maybe it's good that I stopped here?

As mentioned before, the last 2 episodes also extensively feature characters based on myself and my 2 best friends at the time I did them-- Jim O'Donnell (who also contributed ideas to the plots), and John Huber.  I see this very much as a tribute to them, especially as both have now passed away, too early.  I could never have just "made up" 2 characters like those guys!

Story & Art (C) HENRY KUJAWA
All prominent characters are Trademarks of HENRY KUJAWA

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Galacton 2230, Part 5

(Continued from Part 4)

Episode XVI
Amazingly, after the 2 previous episodes, there are NO new characters introduced in this one.   Good thing, it was crowded enough already. So much so, that the promised focus on Flight Deck Alpha was limited this time out to a single panel (wherein I pay tribute to some design work from the film THE SPY WHO LOVED ME).

One thing that stands out for me is that despite 2230 being a comedy, it was actually the first time I dealt with romantic relationships in any of my stories.  You've got the various entanglements Laurette Spang and Dirk Benedict were involved in, the mutual overpowering attraction between Michael Ansara and Maren Jensen, and of course, the ongoing love story between Richard Hatch and Anne Lockhart's characters.  As you can probably tell from this episode, especially the art, I had a thing for her at the time I did this story.

Meanwhile, Robert Stack, who the main character of my series THE GUN! was based on, and who had a small part in 2230 #1, returns this episode, to become a major player in this sequel. His TV series STRIKE FORCE was on at the time I was doing this story.  Looking back on the film AIRPLANE! (another influence on this entire mess, no doubt), it hits me Stack was a LOT funnier than Leslie Nielsen ever was.  Maybe they should have cast Stack as the star of POLICE SQUAD! instead?
Episode XVII
After 3 episodes focusing on minor interludes with the large cast of characters, this one finally begins to focus on the "main story", the mystery going on down in Flight Deck Alpha.  In addition to a number of minor characters making return appeareances from earlier chapters, this one introduces Ridley Scott, Dan O'Bannon, H.R. Giger (I kid you not!!) and Jenny Agutter.  I also pay tribute in the art to the design work of Ralph McQuarrie, who I just found out passed away at age 82 last March (2012).  

This art this time probably involved more use of zip-a-tone than I had ever utilized before, and I recall actually having to do up a color "guide" just so I could figure out which graytone level to use where. (See the last panel in the 2nd page.)  It really makes one appreciate how much easier computer programs-- either Corel Draw (a problem-and-a-half itself at times) or Photoshop (incredibly much easier to use for many things) are to have these days.

(Continued in Part 6)

Story & Art (C) HENRY KUJAWA
All prominent characters are Trademarks of HENRY KUJAWA

Friday, January 18, 2013

Galacton 2230, Part 4

(Continued from Part 3)

What started out as a one-panel joke cartoon, and then became a 2-page joke, eventually became a full 30-page comic-book story.  And somehow, I actually managed to find a printer, have 1,000 copies run off, and published the thing. Although intended as a fanzine, I wound up looking into the actual "Direct Market" distribution system, and, incredibly, sold 700 copies to Capital Comics.  They told me I probably could have sold a lot more, if I'd solicited it before I'd printed it.  Oh well!  It was a small miracle, with all I was fighting against at home, that the thing got out there at all.

Anyway, that wasn't the end of it.  Before I ever had the book printed, I'd already started working on a follow-up story.  Inspired by the soap-opera format of both the Paul Levitz-Keith Giffen LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES and the recent cop show, HILL STREET BLUES, I began fashioning a story whose complexity put the first one to shame.  Which may have been a mistake.  The 1st story wound up being 30 VERY-densely-plotted pages.  The follow-up, I felt sure, would take 3 times as long to tell.  The legalities of continuing a "parody" book beyond a single issue aside, the project took SO long to do (working in my spare time in between a full-time drafting job amd my various fannish collecting obsessions-- comics, books, magazines, music, and more TV shows than I'd watched since the late 60's), that I felt completely burned out on it by the end of the 2nd issue.  Yes, tragically, the 2nd story was NEVER finished.  But that's not stopping me from cleaning up the pages, and posting the previously-unpublished book here, in its entirety!

I'll begin by posting the cover, which was actually the very LAST page of art done for this book.  I pencilled it sometime in 1984.  If memory serves, I didn't get around to inking it until sometime in the 1990's, when I wound up inking a LOT of pencilled pages that had been sitting around for some time.  I'm not sure what my original intention was for the background (if any), but I eventually wound up doing the background in 3D.

And now, the FINISHED version.  Ain't this cool?
I think this qualifies as a "Good Girl Art" cover.

Episode XIV
Things start out way too complicated here, and get more so as it goes! In the first 4 pages alone, I introduce Dan Ayckroyd, Eric Bloom, Donald Roeser, Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Treat Williams, Susannah York, Marlon Brando (filling in for the conspicuously-missing Edward Mulhare-- yes, my mind WAS being too devious even for my own good here), and Jim Henson (no kidding!).  Oh yeah, and a cat named "Heathcliff".  But the main character this time out is based on an old friend of mine named John Huber, who, as you'll see, was one very "outrageous" person in real life, and so required very little exageration here.

Sadly, John (known as "Kohn" in this story) passed away a couple years ago, from multiple strokes, even as my other best friend from back then, Jim O'Donnell (seen in the jail cell in this episode) also passed away at age 40 from his 3rd heart attack.  Among other things, I see this entire comic as a tribute to John's memory, as well as to so many TV shows and movies I loved back in the early 80's and earlier.
Episode XV
It made perfect sense (at least to me) to add Wayne Rogers and Lynn Redgrave to the "medical" side of the cast here. In addition, there's Steve Martin, Larry Fine, Moe & Curly Howard, George Murdock (whose likeness proved amazingly easy to capture on paper), Loretta Swit, and John Candy.  The "little kid and the dog" return this episode.  I mention them because you cannot imagine how much FUN it was writing them in this story, considering how many fans of the show tended to hate both of them on it.

(Continued in Part 5)

Story & Art (C) HENRY KUJAWA
All prominent characters are Trademarks of HENRY KUJAWA

Thursday, January 10, 2013


(Continued from Part 5)

"Our story continues..."

Story & Art Copyright (C) Henry R. Kujawa
All prominent characters are Trademarks of Henry R. Kujawa


(Continued from Part 4)

I always meant to do more WIERDLINGS stories after the 4 I did in high school.  But somehow, years flew by and I never got around to it.  I wrote 50 GUN! stories before taking a break in the late 70's, spent several years obsessively working on GALACTON 2230, 6 months on GENERAL JUSTICE (a patriotic hero), several  more years on a number of GUN! projects, and then did a revival of STORMBOY, the super-hero I'd created back in 1966.

In the midst of that, an incident happened where a worm virus got onto my computer hard drive, and I had to have the entire thing re-formatted, causing me to lose any files not backed up at the time.  There was such a rash of these things happening (it was August 2001) that it took a week for me to get my computer back.  I'd gotten so used to using the thing every single day, it was a shock to suddenly have to be without it for that much time.

I took the opportunity to dig out some art boards and re-draw the 1st WIERDLINGS story from scratch.  Initially, the idea was, I'd pencil it, and a friend of mine I'd inked a book for would return the favor and ink it for me.  But he got so focused on the idea that it was supposed to be a "Steve Ditko tribute" that he felt it needed to be re-worked extensively. While there was some Ditko in there, as I explained a few pages ago on this blog, that was only one of many elements in the mix.  Anyway, I wound up inking it myself-- and doing the coloring-- and "special effects"-- in Corel Draw.  I also used Photoshop for the very 1st time here, in an attempt to do some things I simply could not do in Corel Draw.

While I was at it, I also did a small amount of tinkering with the writing.  Not much, but just enough to smooth out some rough edges.  Among other things, this was the point where I went out of my way to base Willard on actor Anthony Ainley.

And so, here's the redo of "HERE COME... THE WIERDLINGS!"  Enjoy.

(Continued in Part 6)

Story & Art Copyright (C) Henry R. Kujawa
All prominent characters are Trademarks of Henry R. Kujawa


(Continued from Part 3)

I spent quite a few months in the early part of 1976 working on an IRON MAN story, for which I finally decided to use a vertical format, instead of the horizontal one I'd been using since 1966.  I used better paper, and a black ballpoint pen, instead of pencil, or a blue ballpoint, as nearly every GUN! story had been done in.  After I got 12 very-detailed pages done, I kinda lost steam and never finished the thing.  Instead, I got inspired to do a 4th WIERDLINGS story, on the same paper, in the same format.

After 2 episodes of Willard siccing his team of monsters on poor, helpless criminals, I figured it was time to finally up the odds and introduce another mystical menace.  But once again my inspiration came from an unexpected source, as the main villain in this story was based on my favorite member of a certain English comedy troupe, and in particular, on several characters he'd played in both their TV series (airing at the time on PBS), and a spin-off feature film.  If I mention MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL, I'm sure it'll all make perfect sense to most people.

Incidentally, the underground passageway that the attempted mugging takes place in this story is based on a real location, 5th & Market Streets in Camden, which was notorious for such things happening, and has been closed for many years.  People have to cross the intersection at street level nowadays.  After all, you never know who might have been hiding behind a turn in the hallway.

A certain Steve Ditko character has a cameo in this one... but as he is not mentioned by name, I hope nobody minds. Meanwhile, don't miss the tributes to Jim Steranko-- and Paul Gulacy!  (think "kung fu")

After writing and writing and writing virtually non-stop for a number of years by this point, THIS was the first story I ever felt really satisfied with.  Whatta ya know?  Practice and hard work does get you somewhere.


Redone version of the cover (1981).

(Continued in Part 5)

Story & Art Copyright (C) Henry R. Kujawa
All prominent characters are Trademarks of Henry R. Kujawa