May 29th, 2007

The Zombie

Some 30th Anniversary Star Wars stuff

May 25 -  Happy STAR WARS Day!!  Yep, it's finally the 30th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars film, way back on this date in 1977.  I should mention, by the way, that this is also the 24th anniversary of the release of Star Wars; Return of The Jedi, which premiered on this date in 1983.  Together, these two movies perfectly bracket the most memorable days of my youth.  Those were the days, and the films, that helped shape the "me" that I am now, for better or worse.  Over the last few years of WOMP-Blog postings (not too mention this month's entries), I think I've explained how and why Star Wars changed my life, so I don't want to rehash it here for you.  Besides, who cares about what I did or felt (other than George Lucas, who made the Star Wars films just for me...or so I've often assumed)?  At the outset of this month, in the midst of the epic struggle with my web-hosting site, I wondered to myself "What can I talk about when I finally get to the 25th?  I've already covered almost everything."  Fortunately, my "creative eye" fell upon the Jedi anniversary for my inspiration.  Remember how that ended?  In a nutshell, about six principal characters and a handful of surly rug samples defeated the Galactic Empire, which had ruled for about twenty years.  When Jedi was re-released with new digital enhancements a few years ago, this situation was addressed, slightly, by showing that several worlds had simultaneously shrugged off the rule of Stormtroopers and Moffs, and, after so doing, danced and celebrated just like they did on the forested moon of Endor.  This got my little brain "ta thinkun."  What so motivated, and united, these worlds?  Surely, something bigger and more inspirational than a ragtag assemblage of unknown rebels had brought everyone to the same emotional point at the same time.  But what?  Maybe this little story that I imagined will help shed some light on all of that...

Far, Far Away...

I will never forget that golden Shelova Week, thirty years ago today.  I was very young, but I already felt like just another hopeless subject of The Empire.  That's when I heard about a new holodrama that was creating excitement from the Uscru District of Coruscant to the Resinem Complex on Borcorash.  Spending my last decicred and a sixteenth-weight fragment of crystalline vertex, I bribed my way into the back door of the local holoplex to see what all the buzz was about.  There, in a darkened theater, the following glowing words silently rose in front of the audience; "...a long time from now, in a galaxy far, far away..."  Within moments, the Conservatory Epic Orchestra's dramatic score swelled, and I was whisked away to the amazing fantasy realm of Far Wars, the greatest Adarlonian holovid of all time.  Along with everyone else that year, I instantly became a fan of the magical world of Erth and the Revolution for Amreica, and of such farfetched characters as General Wash 'Nton, tyrannical Emperor Giorjj, and lovable, wise, Ben-Fryn Kklin.  What I didn't recognize at the time was that this simple holo-entertainment, about a mythical people who threw off the shackles of Imperial oppression, would plant the seeds of rebellion within the hearts of everyone who saw it.  By the time the sequel, Far Wars; The Confederacy Strikes Back, premiered, the themes of independence and freedom were secretly blossoming across the galaxy.  Confederacy deepened that effect.  When Wash 'Nton's successor, simple farm boy Abbrahm Lyncon, rose from obscurity to lead the fractured United Stated Alliance during the Slave War, it convinced many Galactic Citizens that some struggles, even those which divided families and endangered society itself, were worth the sacrifice.  When Lyncon gave his life to end the war and free holographic slaves, real indentured peoples, like me, began to see the possibility of freedom...and then began to plan for it.  I was a young man when the third holodrama in the series, Far Wars; Return of The G-I, was released.  I was already thinking about joining the resistance when the story of the Amreicans' triumph over the dark Nzaii forces of Adarth Hider seemed to push me to finally take that brave, principled stand.  Apparently, I wasn't alone.  It may never have been the plan of Far Wars' creator, Luc Georgas, to inspire a rebellion, but one can hardly deny the impact that his fictional world of "liberty and justice for all sentients" had on everyone who experienced it.  As we finally fought our own oppressors, I saw military action on several worlds.  I faced legions of Stormtroopers, an ASN-121 droid, and even a Sith Warrior, in my life as a rebel (as I related in my autobiographical holonovel, To Mustafar and Back), but I never lost the inspiration, the purpose, that I first felt thirty years ago in the back of a dark holotheater.  When The Empire finally fell, and a freed galaxy rejoiced as one, I imagined that somewhere beyond the outermost void, far, far away, the people of Erth were cheering as well...        

That's it.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Here's your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Luke Skywalker!

May 24 -  OK, you caught me.  It was "20 cent listing day" on eBay, so I spent virtually every possible moment putting stuff up for auction.  Of course, "every possible moment" came down to about two spare hours about six hours apart.  We will be "babysitting" a friend's dog this long Memorial Day weekend, so I really spent most of the day "mutt-proofing" WOMP Central.  Whether it be displays of collectibles, stacks of vintage quilts, or half-completed art projects, WOMP H.Q. is barely prepared for brief entertainment of clumsy adult humans, nonetheless mindless slobber machines.  I am, as I have said before, a cat person.  Dogs are "OK," I suppose, but they are somewhere on my "OK List" between pine cones and kegs of railroad spikes (nothing specifically wrong with them, I just don't have any need for them in my house, or life, for that matter).  While someone out there could certainly argue with me about the virtues of dogs over those of cats, what can not be argued is that the cats themselves are, by and large, cat people...or cat cats...or, well, whatever.  Basically, they prefer cats to dogs.  This is never more obvious than when they are suddenly required to express an opinion in the matter, like, say, when they turn a corner into the living room to find themselves face to face with a white fanged behemoth with a wagging tail.  Yikes!  Hopefully, things won't be too "exciting," as I plan to really blather on about the 30th anniversary of a certain space drama tomorrow!  Which one?  Well, let's just say that Klingons, Cylons, Jaffa, and Sleestak won't be discussed.  Need another clue?  Boy, you're as dumb as a dog!  OK, Fido...here's your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Asajj Ventress!

The Zombie

More Star Wars stuff...and typical self-pity

May 28 -  MEMORIAL DAY!  I hope that everyone had a great holiday (it's now a day later as I write this).  Me?  Oh, I suppose I had a good day, but I also had to go in to the dreadful "real" job, so it wasn't all fun.  Before work, though, The WOMP Staff had the day off from work, so, for a little while, we bummed around, just to enjoy the beautiful day.  Now, it's nearly time once again for me to go back to my dull "real" job, but I just wanted to touch base with you, and post your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Princess Leia Organa!

May 27 -  First off, I have to say "Thank you so much" to O.F.O.WOMP Brent Frankenhoff.  He sent a very encouraging and supportive e-note to me today, and it really meant a lot.  I guess I just needed to hear that someone out there still considers me to be an artist.  Brent was so convincing that even I almost believe it to be true!  Speaking of artists, I wanted to provide a little aside to my sour soliloquy from last night (as well as a teensy follow-up).  While I haven't ever been talented or lucky enough to have been involved in the world of Star Wars comic books, a young man, whom I once took under my wing, has.  Long before he was one of the hottest properties in comics, Blankets creator and super-talent Craig Thompson was literally a starving artist.  Through Tim Seeley, I came to know, then attempted to help, Craig along his path toward super-stardom.  My minor contributions to his career included giving him a section of the WOMP table at a few comics conventions, introducing him to comics people (like Maggie Thompson), feeding him, encouraging him, and just being in his corner.  From my conversations with him when I saw him last, I've gathered that he has forgotten most of that...which is fine.  I'm still in his corner, and I always will be.  That's why I was so excited to find out that Craig had provided a comic book story to Star Wars Tales #5 in 2000.  Entitled What They Called Me, it's a cute story about a pompous rich vacationer who enjoys "exploring" uncivilized worlds...and, in so doing, disrespectfully and absentmindedly destroying those worlds with his littering, meddling, and general disregard for anything but himself.  In spite of this, he is absolutely convinced that he is nearly a savior to these places, bringing the wonders of technology and consumerism to the backward aliens.  He visits Endor's forest moon, and, after nearly singlehandedly bringing down Ewok society, the Ewoks find a way to get rid of him, sending him off with a sack of Gundar droppings (which he mistakes for a snack treat) and a terminally damaged space craft.  It's a great fun story, especially the part where he tries to force the Ewoks to clothe their "shame" with traditional white jockey shorts.  Hee hee!  Anyhoo, even though I didn't have anything to do with it, I can't help feeling proud anyway.  Oh, and, before I go, I have that teensy follow-up for you: when I wrote about "Dave" last night, I may actually have been talking about someone else.  While "Dave" clearly wrote the posted review, and I did converse with him several times, it may have been someone else entirely who, via the auctions mentioned in Dave's post, contacted me about the Mengus web-comic thing.  I should really make an attempt to remember, or research, the exact "who" of the story, but, after I worked so hard on that artwork and then heard nothing in reply after I sent it, I actually sort of tried to forget the whole thing.  Well, I guess that's the beauty of the Internet.  Somehow, someday, I will get a message from someone who will clear the whole thing up for me.  Thanks in advance, web-friend from the future!  Here's your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Qymaen jai Sheelal (General Grievous)!

May 26 -  Hello, my young Padawans.  As we are nearing the end of this month of discussing Star Wars, and Star Wars comic books, it has reminded me of an unfortunate "mini Star Wars chapter" from my own pathetic attempts to be...or pretend to be...an artist.  Let me try to set the stage.  Being a seventeenth-rate wannabe hack (which I am) is a bit like being the ugliest kid in class (which I was).  Most of the time, I can contentedly wander through life, oblivious to my inadequacies.  On other occasions, it's all I can do to muster the strength to get out of bed when I am reminded of just how inadequate I am when compared to others.  Heck, I'm not even the best cartoonist at my dread "real" job...and I have only five co-workers!  Still, for whatever reason (low I.Q.?), I continue to think that I may improve and, given an opportunity, contribute in some "artistic" way to the world at large.  I never will, of course, as I am doomed to a "career" of increasing mediocrity and sad failure, but there have been a few moments when I have come oh, so close.  My recent association with the works and worlds of L. Frank Baum, for example, is probably the best for which I could ever hope...and yet...and yet it is just the most successful of my many attempts to become part of something bigger.  Way back in January of 2002, I innocently placed a little drawing of a Jawa, a larger drawing of Tessek and Zutton, and another of a faceless robot cop from THX-1138, on eBay.  I was pleasantly surprised to not only sell them, but have them reviewed quite favorably by "Dave," someone who had something to do with the popular Star Wars collectors' fansite, rebelscum.com!  He posted this entry under...

eBay Today: Fan Art
Posted by Dave on January 26, 2002 at 01:05 AM CST:
Today we introduce our readers to the talent behind the independent comic ‘The Adventures of Monkey’. His name is John Mundt, and man is his art great! His lines are more than just clean and confident, they ably do what few other illustrations can: capture the life of the characters in the Star Wars universe. With talent like this, it may not take long for this artist to turn the right heads.

Wow!  Flattered beyond words (and amazed at the 300-plus hits that the auctions received), I struck up a bit of a quick "friendship" with Dave.  He even let me in on a project on which he had been working.  It was his own web-comic, set in the Star Wars Galaxy, that featured a nasty, cyclopean bounty hunter named Mengus.  As we exchanged messages, he hinted that he'd love to have a "Mundt original" of this character, even hinting that such a thing might lead to...well, who knows what?  I was only too happy to oblige, producing a mini-masterpiece of character and design.  I shipped it off, envisioning a growing connection to the outermost fringes of the world of Star Wars.  But nothing happened.  Nothing.  I never even heard whether the piece made it to Dave or not.  Now, over five years later, the whole thing reads like a broken record of the rest of my cartooning "career."  Time and time and time again, I've gone through this same sort of cycle with everything from Disneyland and Hallmark, to Archie Comics and my own syndicated John Woe comic strip.  Often close, but never a cigar.  It's as if I imagine marrying every pretty girl who happens to smile at me...which makes sense, because that's pretty close to what I did for most of my teen years.  Career-wise, I can't help envisioning incredible luck or success, even when given only the most miniscule of encouragements...and miniscule encouragements are all I get.  To be fair, some of these sorts of things actually did come true.  Besides the Oz stuff, I actually was a student of the Joe Kubert School, I really did provide background inks for Marvel Comics Presents #131, I have self-published my own comic book series (which I created from top to bottom), and I truly have been an unofficial mentor to several of today's comics pros.  I am proud of these, and other, accomplishments, but my mind still drifts back to daydreams of daily drawing bounty hunters and Droids and crazy new alien races.  That dream, like so many others, may never come true, but it was fun just dreaming it.  Tomorrow, I hope to tell you about a little addendum to this story.  Until then, here is your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - IG-88!