Counting on two people to simultaneously be motivated is a difficult thing. Brandon and I seem to have a cycle of lethargy and productivity. Furiously working on Comics & Cognac for a time, followed by a period of inactivity and general burned out laziness. After spending so much time together, at least we're cycling together. Unfortunately we seem to be in a lull. It's been a couple weeks since we worked on anything but the bare minimum. Unless we count playing video games and watching TV as "official Comics & Cognac business"... maybe we should, It'd make me feel better about things.
The 33rd Goody Good made its way to the site this week. Seeing it for the first time finished, I laughed. I love it when that happens. I wrote the joke and had a concept of what the finished product would be so there shouldn't have been any surprises. That's where the magic of working tandem comes in. Brandon waves his wand and... poof. The thing I'm very familiar with suddenly becomes something new.
My satisfaction with this week's comic might stem in part from its inspiration. I saw a little kid, couldn't have been more than five, padded and helmeted scooting around on a skateboard. Seeing this kid reminded me of a story I heard years ago. I might have the facts all wrong, like I said: I heard this many years ago. Back in our early 20's Brandon and I worked at a record store. One day he took a female co-worker of ours to the local skate park to teach her how to drop into a half-pipe. After some preliminary instruction she stood, precariously perched atop a short quarter-pipe. Nice and easy, lean forward, one fluid motion, let your legs swing, your feet will catch up. She leaned forward and must have had a moment of doubt (it's a scary thing), but it was too late. Her feet swung out from under her and she landed heavy on her ass at the bottom of the ramp. I remember laughing a lot when I heard the story and subsequent complaints about the injured backside. The story and the image of the kid with his protective gear became this week's comic. I wonder if she ever learned to drop-in.
The books were thrust into my hands with a simple command, "Read these." I held the three thin young-adult readers wondering if I was subtly being insulted. After being assured that that wasn't the case I thought: if these mean something to someone who means something to me... I guess I have to. With this thought I set off on this brisk coming of age tale.
The world has been conquered by an alien race and their massive tripods. Earth's human population is kept docile and obedient through their caps, bio-mechanical head pieces that are grafted to the scalp as they enter their teen years. It's the kids, the uncapped, that hold the keys of freedom for mankind.
Will is a normal boy who's capping day is quickly approaching. His peaceful little village life is shattered by the arrival of an uncapped stranger, Ozymandias. He tells of a place high in the rough and frigid terrain of the White Mountains where a group of free people live outside the reach of the tripods. Ozymandias is one who is tasked with searching out and recruiting the uncapped youth to join the free people. After learning some truth about the alien masters who have enslaved the world, Will is given a choice: join the ranks of mindless livestock oppressed by these alien conquerors, or chase the freedom and self-determination all men crave. "... I could not stay, any more than a sheep could walk through a slaughterhouse door, once it knew what lay beyond." With those words Wills adventure and the Tripod Trilogy is launched.
Will is joined on his journey by his cousin Henry and a French boy they meet along the way, Jean-Paul. Through pitfall and peril friendships are forged and the three finally arrive at the famed White Mountains. Once there, battle plans are made, a war is launched, and friends become brothers. "One enjoys friendship most when times are good, when sun shines and the world is kind. But it is the sharing of adversity that knits men together."
Alright, let's get this out from the jump: when I said brisk, I meant short. The whole trilogy comes in just past the six hundred page mark. You could hammer this out in a weekend if you wanted to. And you should, it's pretty good. Telling a three part "save the world" story in so few pages probably has you thinking about all the plot and pacing issues within the books. Those concerns would be absolutely justified... if the story was written for adults. Fact is, the quick pace and concise plot are perfectly targeted and expertly crafted to capture the imagination of a young man. It's that quality that made these books so enjoyable.
It was difficult to read this story without imposing a younger version of myself into my own mind. How would I have read this as a younger man? Would the struggle for independence have resonated with me? What would I have imagined the oppressive alien masters to represent? My parents? School? My impending entry into the workforce? These questions made these books for me, and they will for you too. Never-mind the truncated plot and lack of details, let the thoughts of a younger version of yourself fill out those spaces.
For more story details (read, spoilers) the Tripod Trilogy wiki is excellent.
For more work by John Christopher visit his section of publisher Simon & Schuster's website.
More What We're Reading: The Humans
Comics & Cognac is more than a year old and we're just now committing to a weekly blog... I guess our parents were right, we are slackers.
Goody Good #31 went up this week and it's pretty good. It's got this weird nostalgic vibe that doesn't really bring a laugh so much as a wistful smirk. The inspiration for the page and the nostalgia comes from our very own childhoods. Back when playgrounds were made of concrete, steel, and right angles. Back when playgrounds were a place for children to discover contusions, broken bones, and summertime molten steel burns with little or no parental supervision. Ahhh, to be young again.
Our meeting this week didn't turn out to be very productive. Unless you consider playing NES for a couple hours productive. We had a serious case of work/moving induced lethargy.
We did manage to make progress toward our next con trip. Jet City Comicon application and payment, done! Next comes the preparations; all the material gathering and book making. It's not a fun process but I suppose there are worse ways to spend your time than drinking beer and making comic books with your best friend. Hopefully it all pays off when we get super rich selling our little funny books in a couple months.