Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Weird Days (1 issue, cancelled)

Weird Days was conceived as the follow-up and tie-in to Tales From…, although (most of) its main characters were essentially normal people. The main protagonist was Calatin Shaw, a middling sort of chap who was the sole proprietor of the Buttery Toast, a 4-lane bowling alley and lounge. His only employee was his one-time girlfriend Levy (short for Leviticus) Euclid. Later continuity would stipulate that the Buttery Toast was down the street from the Shared SuperHero Housing house, that Levy was the sole female roommate at the SHSH house (and, consequentially, was never around), and that Nivek the Everbleeding slew a velociraptor in the back alley once.

Weird Days Issue 1

In the first issue Calatin and Levy are opening the Buttery Toast for another day's business, when a 7'5" Char'r alien named Scian walks through the front door and informs them he's been forced to make an emergency landing outside the Toast. Sure enough, his interstellar cruiser, the size of two semi trailers stacked on top of each other, is "parked" out front.

Calatin starts to tell him that if he wants to hang around the Toast he's gotta buy something, but is interrupted when a trio of robot assassins (from the planet Mesoid) burst through the front door and start shooting lightning guns at Scian. Scian leaps for cover, then bashes the head of one 'bot with a handy 15 pound bowling ball. He then draws his lightning gun and a firefight ensues.

Calatin, cussing to the combatants that "they'll have to pay for that" for each piece of furniture that's zapped, ends up picking up the downed 'bot's lightning gun, and zaps the 2nd assassin. Levy throws margarita mix in the face of the third and the battle, and issue, is concluded.

The second issue was almost fully scripted1 (there were arguments about how the issue should dovetail into the larger planned epic), partially drawn, and a cover even drafted (see below), but the series was canceled before the issue could be completed.

Weird Days Issue 2 (draft cover)

Despite an ambitious space opera plot, the Calatin character turned out to be kinda boring, of little interest outside of his natural habitat of the bowling alley. Scian was slightly more interesting, but mainly as a representative of the Char'r species and culture as a whole, on which Dauntless had planned to expound upon infinitely.

Levy Euclid turned into a bit of a fan favorite, for reasons unknown, since there was probably less development of her character than of Shaw's. But it probably had to do with some sketches and concept art, released to the public before the series was canceled, which adorned her in a snug top with a hammer and sickle emblazoned right below its plunging neckline.

And besides, Dauntless Comics was reaching a sordid state of creative bankruptcy. The concluding issues of Tales From... were some two years gone already, and all they had to show since was a failed tie-in in Weird Days, itself the product of a ridiculous 14 months of development hell. The "comix" phase of Dauntless Comics was to just around the corner...

-d.d.


1 In Issue 2 Calatin threatens to break a pool cue over Scian's head if he doesn't pay for the damages done to the Buttery Toast. Scian protests that he doesn't have any currency on hand, but that he could get some from his home world of Char'r. Calatin is skeptical of Scian's reliability, and asks him if he knows how to wash dishes. Scian suggests Calatin come with him to his home world to get the money. Calatin is even less enthusiastic about this idea but Levy prods him into accepting on the basic of "it'll be fun." And so, the three take to Scian's ship and take flight… to the stars!!!

On board Scian's ship he recounts that the robot assassins were from a machine world called Mesoid, a tributary planet of the Jusiame, a supernatural warrior race which rose to prominence several decades ago. The Char'r have been at war with the Jusiame for several years now, and although things are not going terribly, the outlook isn't exactly good, either.

The world of Char'r turns out to not be as wondrous as Levy, at least, had hoped. The entire planet has been conscripted into the war effort, and resembles little less than a massive factory and armory. Scian procures a "satisfactory" payment for Calatin (a fistful of gold) and the ship begins a considerably more subdued return trip to Earth.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mjolnir: Artefact of the Aesir (special issue)

Mjolnir: Artefact of the Aesir (1-shot)

MJOLNIR wasn't so much super-heroshenanigans as a straight-up piece of meditative sci-fi.1 Comprised of a single, "double" issue2, MJOLNIR was the story of David Pautske, a rather nebbish graveyard-shift janitor who acquires nothing less than Thor's mythic hammer by kifing it after witnessing a stolen antiquities deal gone bad.

However, although Mjolnir can discharge thunder and lightning, it cannot make Pautske fly, nor does it make him into an armored beefcake. Pautske does his research (he's a nebbish, after all)and discovers that the hammer not only makes him the master of goats everywhere, but if sits astride a goat, or ties a few goats to a red Radio Flyer wagon, he can make them fly! And thus, he zips about the globe for awhile, noticing that he's changing, slightly. His hair becomes more coarse, and red. His previously almost non-existent facial hair fills out and grows more evenly, and red whiskers join the multitude of mouse browns. The brisk air from all the flying around in the goat wagon, coupled with lugging Mjolnir around, which is heavier than it looks for its diminutive size, has gotten him into better physical shape.

Just when the book seems to be heading for a predictable conclusion3, it jumps to a year later, where we find Pautske exactly the same as when we left him. His hair and beard have grown out, but remain brown with red streaks here and there. And although lean and mean, he is clearly still a 5-foot 7-inch 145 pound former janitor, who just happens to own the deceased thunder god's hammer.

And Pautske's bored.

En route over the Rockies one afternoon, Pautske espies a rainbow, and is reminded of Heimdall and the Bridge to Asgard. On a lark he drives his flying goats toward the apex of the rainbow. This proves fruitless, but then he recalls the Aesir could summon Thor from wherever he might be by just saying his name. Grasping Mjolnir, the goats climbing to the clouds, Pautske thinks of Asgard… And finds himself at the gates, the Rainbow Bridge descending behind him into the clouds!

Pautske is estatic! Everything he'd read about is there: the hall of Valhalla, the stone wall, Odin's tower, Baldur's cauldron.

But, then, he realizes, the place is empty. Asgard, home of the Aesir, is a ghost-town. More slowly now, Pautske notes the abandoned and dusty plates and cups left at the table mid-meal. The tools dropped when Heimdall's horn called. The armories bereft of equipment. All left the way it was the day of the Battle of Ragnarock.

Melancholy, Pautske wanders the halls and homes of Asgard til dusk, when an uneasiness begins to overtake his malaise. He crawls into his Radio Flyer and bids his goats out of the gates and down the Rainbow Bridge. The cart sinks into the clouds.

The bridge is out.

Attempts to fly beyond the gap, or in any other direction away from Asgard are rebuffed by torrential winds. The realm of Asgard is not only a ghost town, it's a tomb. In the final panels, Pautske throws Mjolnir off the bridge and into the void, and collapses in despair.

The End.

-d.d.

1 Although Dauntless' initial effort in the field of super-hero comics was dead on arrival, Z-Man and its ilk occasional surface in later Dauntless publications, like fossils pushed up tectonic activity. The ghost of Z-Man, himself, for instance, haunts Aecca-Decca of Shared Super Hero Housing. MJOLNIR Artefact of the Aesir constitutes a revisiting of the Z-Man era reimagining of Thor (concept art only, never published).
2 64 pages, 4.5"x8.5" stapled chapbook, folded spine.
3 That Pautske will become the god Thor.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tales From... (Issues 4-23)

In Issue 4 Leo flips a bit that other people can see what he sees, then decides to throw his longstanding Do Not Acknowledge policy in the dustbin and asks Love why she is crying. Several conversations (Issue 5) and a journey to the astral plane (Issue 6) and back (Issue 7) later, turns out that "angels" are really prison guards employed by the Powers who guard a spaceship which crashed into a volcano 10 million years ago. In Issue 8 it is revealed that this spaceship was piloted by a super-intelligent immortal vampire Tyrannosaurus Rex who is also pure evil (to the bone). Ironically, the craft's crash caused the volcano to erupt, killing the dinosaurs on earth, who were his species' ancestors who had colonized the stars but had since lost their culture and technology to excessive drug use and sexual degeneracy. Recent tectonic plate movement had pushed the spaceship from its lava-encased tomb, and the Powers suspected the Vampire T-Rex was up to his old schemes, which basically comprised of wanting to eat. Everyone.

Tales From Issue 17

Issues 9-19 comprised almost entirely of a running gun battle, fought mostly by Niveck the Ever Bleeding, between our trio of unlikely saviors of the universe and the vampire T-Rex's legions of zombie velociraptor stormtroopers. The body count is high and the bloodletting frequent, and the series was actually banned in England for Niveck's cacophony of blasphemy and vulgarity. One review remarked that the language was so foul "the ink blushes as you read it."

Sensing the title might end uncompleted, Dauntless Comics decided to bring Tales Of... to its conclusion over the next 4 issues. In Issue 20, it is revealed the Powers of the Universe intend to cause the volcano in which the vampire t-rex's spaceship is buried to erupt again in order to reseal it. This would also wipe out life on earth as we know it.

Tales From Issue 21

In Issue 21 Leo, Niveck and the Rose voice thier displeasure with this plan. Meanwhile, the vampire t-rex (dubbed "Count Rexula" by Niveck) resurrects more fossils as zombie dinosaurs, and clouds of undead pteradacyls consume most of the eastern U.S. seaboard. The Rose actually proves himself useful and is able to reverse engineer Char'r "geometry folding" techniques, and summons his Poet Ninja army from the future to the present to mount a last ditch defense in conjunction with the remnants of the U.S. Military against the zombie dinosaur host.

Tales From Issue 22

In Issue 22, Leo returns to the Astral Plane to plead for earth, but the Powers opt instead to proceed with the plan to re-erupt Crater Lake. Leo counters this plan by using Rose's geometry folding to slay all the Powers of the Universe, and is thus able to assume the powers of all those same Powers himself, and becomes The Living God.

Tales From Issue 23

In the final issue Leo/The Living God returns to earth to find that the Vampire T-Rex has risen from his volcanic grave and is leading his zombie dinosaur forces against a reeling defense led by Niveck and Rose. Leo/The Living God grows to the same mammoth size as the Vampire T-Rex and then follows a fairly one-sided but epic slugfest between the two in which Leo/Living God emerges victorious. Leo/The Living God uses his divine powers to send Rose back to the future, and then walks into the sea, never to be seen again. The series concludes with Niveck, a pair of young buxom Catholic nuns on each arm, watching as the massive Leo/The Living God sinks into the ocean.

The End.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tales From... (Issues 1-3)

Tales Of... Issue 1

The first issue of Tales From... opens with Leo at his favorite cafe. He is somewhat concerned but no longer really worried about the fact that he can see an anthromorphic manifestation of the archetype of Love, and is curious why she's crying into a bloody mary on the rocks. Leo is deeply "in tuned" to the forces of the universe and the human spirit, which is normally considered a noble and even saintly virtue. Leo finds it hellishly annoying, however, as being in tune with these Powers of Existence means being able to SEE them as human-like figures, who follow you around ALL THE TIME. Usually Leo ignores them.

He's never seen Love cry before, though. But he'd seen lots of things he'd never seen before. He'd seen Chaos organize a utensil drawer. He'd seen Justice cheat orphans at cards. Still, asking Love why she was crying was a sharp violation of his Not Acknowledging the Powers of the Universe (hereafter referred to as "Powers of the Universe" or simply "the Powers") policy. So instead he kept working on his coffee and studying his self-hypnotization book (so maybe he could make himself just not see Love sitting there).

Tales Of... Issue 2

Niveck the Ever-Bleeding commences Issue 2 by striding through the cafe door. Slopping onto the stool next to Leo's, Niveck describes to Leo in ponderous detail and thick sarcasm the morning's stroll and all the "bullshit aside glances" he received in progress: the "bitch" old lady on Union, the "cock-sucking" dog walkers on Hemlock, the "no doubt a pedophile" trolley operator near Ankeny, and, lest we forget, the "Nazi-fucking" priest near Foster. Such a torrent of profanity and vitriol was always almost enough to make one forget that Niveck had the poor luck to slowly secrete his own blood from every pore of his body.

As a child, this didn't bother him too much on account of the spoiled attention he received on account of going to Catholic school. But the onset of puberty and the stern refusal of his female schoolmates to, as he puts it, "slip it up their skirts" led to his eventual expulsion. A few weeks was all it took for him to end up on the streets, where he did learned to defend himself (he's a dead eye with a semi-automatic pistol). Niveck enjoys Leo's company because Leo didn't even look up the first time he saw Niveck. Leo (mistakenly) assumed he was another archetype of some sort, and automatically Not Acknowledged him. Niveck immediately wanted to befriend this "chump with a wank haircut" because everyone patently Acknowledged him all the time. Leo was just glad Niveck was human.

Leo told Niveck about Love sitting invisibly nearby crying soundlessly, and Niveck made a rather predictable but extremely vulgar suggestion about how Leo could make Love stop crying. Leo rolled his eyes and started to submit to Niveck his latest plan to Stop Seeing Things using self-hypnosis, but was interrupted when Niveck spotted the Rose spotting them through the window.

Tales Of... Issue 3

Introduced in Issue 3, the Rose, or just "Rose" is a time traveler. 150 years from now he and his band of poet ninja resistance fighters had just slaughtered the very flower of the civil and military administration of the Char'r Empire which was occupying Earth. This moment was the endgame of a 6 year conflict of cat and mouse between the resistance and the Empire, the product of some good fortune for the Rose (he was banging an Imperial high priestess who let slip the big congregation) and untold hardship by the poet ninja army (they had lost 88% of their number since their uprising began). At the moment of his supreme triumph, a Char'r "geometry fold" had back-fired and Rose found himself in the present-day of Leo and Niveck.

Initially Rose figured it was just a bad-luck accident but then found a note from his alien lover that something very important happened 150 years ago and that he needed to be there and make it happen. Rose personally thought Char'r Geometrical Mysticism was bunk, but curious signs and portents led him to think there might actually be something to it. Problem was, he didn't know what IT was, and thus was forced to meander about the city like a madman hoping for destiny or fate or history to carry him along.

In the meantime he bored the holy hell out of Leo and Niveck recounting to them painstaking detail the Poet Ninja Army's struggle against the Char'r Empire. Worse yet, he pined extensively for his leather-skinned Char'r priestess - her isocelean eyes, her angled cheeks, her rhomboid breasts - which sounded to Leo and Niveck about as romantic as fucking a desiccated dead horse. The issue concludes when Rose remarks "what's that lady crying about?" at which point Niveck comments that he, too, can now see Love crying.