Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Age Old Enemies: Book One

After completing the six issues of the Zooniverse comic I had planned to follow the three members of the Kren Patrol in a series of twelve albums. Upon leaving the planet Crastalla Spak, Lokki, and Entox, are besieged by Void Pirates who capture and sell them into slavery. The twelve albums follow their individual struggle back to freedom.

The first book I had planned was "Age Old Enemies", where Althra, a Shadanese agent from the Halls Of Record is sent to find out what happened to Zeroy and Larote's secret expedition. She goes to their last known whereabouts, the planet Crastalla, where she finds Larote Quoke, who has gone native and is leader/god of a village of Insectoids. Althra learns that Zeroy and the Kren Patrol went missing eight paraspan ago. Her journey leads her to Spak who she frees from sex enslavement and madness.

Althra is nabbed by Arachnoids.  This art was originally done in 1991 and colored recently.
(Click to enlarge)

So here's what happened to the book....
The timing seemed perfect, it was 1987 I had completed the first season as character designer on the animated ALF series and had met French publisher Guy Delcourt while in LA. He invited me to stay a few days with him in Paris during my return trip to Australia. In Paris, Guy discussed interest in my next Zooniverse book should he approve the story. So upon my return home I commenced work but was interrupted by the second season of Alf, and another trip around the world (this time with Helen), and back to Paris and Guy, I showed him some of the pages I had finished and left the first page in his care (doh! I guess I'll never see that art again). Back in Australia I completed inking up to the 16th page, and decided to send the finished pages off for review. Upon seeing the pages, Guy suggested that I show him roughs of the remaining 30 pages rather than allowing me to commit to finished art that he may not publish.

So I roughed the remaining pages at the same size as a French album. I sent them off to Guy. His response was that it was too hard to read, so he requested that I write a script.

I began scripting the entire 46 page book from beginning to end with my brother Thomas, who could type and use a computer, skills that I had yet to learn in 1991. Together we finished the tome, a process that took so many months that I probably could have completed drawing and inking the book within the same time. So in the end I held the script in my hand, but I had no passion for the project, all of my energy had been invested into what I considered to be a novel, the story was complete and I was creatively dry. I decided not to send it to Guy because I had no interest in illustrating the script.

I realized an important fact about my technique, I like to improvise and work by blending images and words, too much planning kills the spontaneity that I thrive on.

At this point it was early 1992, I was broke and disillusioned, there was a recession happening and I got a call to travel up North to Queensland to work in their film industry. To date, my work for "Age Old Enemies" remains unpublished and unseen, except for the panels on this blog.


  1. Seeing computer color on Zooniverse pages is a sight for sore eyes! It's been a long time coming.

    I like what you wrote about understanding yourself, and understanding your process. There is something spontaneous about writing and drawing at the same time, that writing alone doesn't carry. We're visual people, it makes sense to approach it with the visuals being part of the process.

  2. @Marcelo Vignali Yeah imagine if I had a chance to recolor the old series digitally. One day perhaps.

    I agree, I'm a visual writer too, I prefer to work by shuffling designs around and writing to them, until I discover common threads to link them into a story. Fortunately scripts aren't as daunting for me now, I wrote a script for a movie version of Zooniverse (a new story) a few years back without using many images. Then as an experiment I improvised a comic page of the same story that summed the concepts so eloquently that it made the script seem bland. Which is what helped me decide to solely work in the comic format from now on.

  3. FIL, this was both interesting and heartbreaking to read... I very much hope that you can finish the story someday, in the way that you would like to work.

  4. @Jamie Baker To work so hard and have nothing to show for it is always tough. I'd would love this comic to see the light of day.

  5. Fil,
    i'm glad i have this chance to say just how influential your work on Zooniverse was and is. When i discovered it in a comic shop in the 80's that was it.....i wanted to be a comic book artist........i now work for Marvel.....thanks mate, you'r e a true talent! www.pauldavidsonart.com

  6. Ps forgot to mention, i've just completed an interview for a comic that's coming out soon through Marvel and one of the questions was "who were your influences?" i named Kirby, Moebius and YOU! I wanted you to now that :)

    1. Okay this is a very late reply but I just figured out that not allowing 3rd party cookies was preventing me leaving comments. I am so sorry Paul, I really appreciate that you have pursued a creative career, and to have been the catalyst that planted that seed is always wonderful news. Thank you for mentioning me and putting me in such esteemed company.