How is it going? We kinda have a treat you. You know that strip from the Thought Bubble Anthology by Image Comics we've been harping on about? Well, here is the story that inspired it. It basically grew out of our ongoing debate about Superman, specifically the latest Supes film. I won't say who thinks what, who is incorrect about the nature of Superman or why Jordan is a fat do-do head, but what I will say is that we both agree that there are two Supermans (Supermen?). One is the Man of Steel - he's grey, punches things, has angsty foibles and he's boring. The other is the man of Tomorrow - he's primary colours and always does what is right and inspiring. He represents the best of humanity's aspirations, an icon of hope. This story is about the latter.
It was difficult making this story into a comic. I had written it as a kind of exercise. I wanted to look at constructing a some superhero prose. I didn't mind the result and let Jordan have a peek. He liked it, thankfully, but it still didn't lend itself to one page of comics. So we had to cut out a few of the nods and winks to the reader, a lot of the references disappeared but he managed to hold onto the essence of the story. What's great about comics is the "show don't tell" aspect. This meant that we could cut out a whole bunch of my clumsy, cack-handed words and put in a whole bunch of Jordan's clumsy, cack-handed art (I'm just kidding, it's beautiful, wait till you see it.) We did also lose a character in the translation, he isn't a vital one but he was missed. I kinda want to do the missing scene as a strip and footnote the comic but it's off to the printers now. Never mind. Anyway, hope this whets your whistle. Stick around after the story because I have something to ask you...
Man Will Fly
by Rik Worth
by Rik Worth
I first saw him when I was 13. Pa didn’t like me playing with the two boys from the Jewish family who ran the convenience store, but I’d heard stories from the other kids about their spaceman. I didn’t pay it no heed until I saw him. I’d been flying for a year and was destined to follow in Pa’s footsteps. Pa had been ill so I took over dusting the Doherty’s fields. As I was banking to return home I caught a glimpse of him in the distance. He was springing through the air, across whole fields. I scrambled to get myself turned around, to find out whatever it was that could throw itself through the air like that, but that fixed wing had no chance of keeping up with him. I didn’t really believe what I saw, who would?
Next time I saw him I was in something with a bit more speed. I’d managed to get myself signed up. Those two Jewish boys had run off to Europe to fight a war and I found myself with the RAF. I was barely seventeen, but my flying was good enough to get that overlooked. He showed up again. Said this fighting had gone on too long, it was time to make himself known. My corps had been given the job of flying with him into battle. He looked at me before we set off, don’t think he remembered me at the time, he thanked us for looking after. Imagine that. Mortar shell bounced off this guy’s chest, like they came from a peashooter and we were looking after him. When we set out he flew ahead of us. Some of the older guys in the corps thought he dressed something stupid; bright primary colours like something from a circus. I was still a kid so I thought it was amazing. Still do. He stood out in that grey and brown sky. With one word he stopped the shooting. Us, them, the world watched him. Not in fear, but in awe. Strikes me now that this was what made him an alien, he could of got in there and tore tanks apart with his hands but he didn’t, he didn’t want to fight. He didn’t want us to fight and that was it. We didn’t fight anymore.
Didn’t see him for a few years after that. He went public; the most famous face on the planet. I went secret. Flying experimental jets. That was until the day I almost died. I feel foolish now. One of the technicians was explaining how to fly this craft, and I couldn’t get past his dorky glasses. Who was this awkward lump of a man to lecture me? Like a hot shot I was up there flying around like a jackass. I was unofficially the first man to travel faster than sound. Probably the first man to explode a million dollar jet. The engines had lit up; no doubt she was going to bite in. I pulled the ejector chord and nothing. There’s me, flying through the air, fast as anyone has ever gone, wreathed in flames, and I whisper mayday. I wanted to shout, trust me, but that amount of G force on your chest, you’re lucky you can inhale but somehow, he heard that whisper. Canopy was torn away like it was paper and he plucks me out of my seat like a doll. We watched as what remained of the ship span off into the distance and boom! I never ignored a technician after that day. Managed to thank him for looking out for me. I’m sure I caught a smirk before I passed out. When I was ready to be debriefed, that same guy in the glasses was in the room asking what went wrong. I tell him the logistics of it all, how the engine ruptures, the ejector chord, the whole thing. Only thing I really should be saying is I didn’t listen to you. Guy’s real swell about it though. Asks a bunch of questions about the alien, tells me he really must be something and don’t worry, we’ll get it next time.
Next time has been and gone as many times as I have greys on my temple. It’s been a few more years, but we’ve moving in leaps and bounds, just like when I first saw him. I’m seeing the Alien again now. He’d been a part of the program. He flew ahead to help us arrange the landing and survival facility. Said he knew we could do it on our own and that we’d already achieved so much. He wanted to help us with this, not because he had to, not anymore, but because he was proud and he wanted to.
I’ve climbed out of the capsule and bounced over to him. He offers his hand. Through my suit I can feel the strength in it; it’s like shaking hands with steel. It’s anchoring me to the world. He smiles. I’m certain he remembers me now. That red and blue doesn’t stand out so much against the dusty orange that surrounds us, heck, in all this white I dare say I’m standing out a little. I can see a blue twinkle in his eye. Reminds me of home from up here.
“Good work commander. Today you’ve become the first man to walk on Mars. Imagine what you’ll be tomorrow.”
Right, now that that excruciating embarrassment is over, we are looking for submissions!
You may or may not know this but we have been working on a side project called Annotations. It's an online arts magazine that will feature prose, poetry, articles and art. It'll be themed each month and then every quarter we intend to pile all the themes together and release a printed magazine.
Hopefully my little story inspired you and you'll want to join in. Our first theme is "Capture". Get all the details on submitting here.
Hope you enjoy the update and we'll see you soon.
Rik and JC