Will take a breather here in the Storm series, before heading off to Pandarve to consider to comics collections I scored in my holiday gift haul.
I've been (slowly) picking out Fantagraphic's E.C. Seegar's Popeye collections, and I got the last two volumes I needed. Volume 4: Plunder Island includes the titular storyline, often considered to be the best of the series, which features the Sea Hag and introduces her goon henchman, including Alice. Volume 6 is the last one and features a return of the Sea Hag, among other things. Both collections are original size and up to Fantagraphics usual production standards. Popeye's Depression era adventure fantasy was an sinspiration for Weird Adventures.
TheDeadly Hands of Kung Fu Omnibus was not technically a gift, but I picked it up during my holiday shopping, so it was kind of a gift to myself. This reprints material from Marvel's black and white The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine. It features Shang-Chi, Iron Fist, and the Sons of Tiger, and the usual Marvel magazine topical articles. The stories feature art by the likes of Paul Gulacy, Rudy Nebres, and Jim Starlin.
Circus registry 331/3 (called by its operators Thirty-Three and A Third) is a Universal Standard Transport LS1517 series space hauler. The LS1517 series is often used as a pilot engine for a train of container pods with the primary motive power coming from a secondary drive at the end.
The series is an older design with a higher crew (or more sophisticated nonspohont mind) than new models and only one axis of container attachment, but it has better armaments (ostensibly "space debris protection") and a more powerful engine.
The above diagram will appear in Strange Stars OSR.
Continuing my look at adapting 5e/Adventures in Middle Earth for a low magic game set around the time of the American Revolution. The fighter types are fairly usable as is; the spellcasters need some adaptation. Now it's time to look at various roguish sorts:
The base Rogue class in 5e works fine as does the thief & assassin archetypes. The Arcane Trickster has so nice features that could maybe form the basis of a "magical trickster" or charlatan (wherein the magic is feigned or pretended), but as currently constituted it's too magical. The Mastermind and the Swashbuckler archetypes from the Sword Coast Adventure's Guide work too, the the latter would be a bit of a relic. Rogues would also be the class of choice for "Thief-takers" working on the opposite side of the law.
Obviously musicians and performers have always existed, but the inspirational "powers" of this class seem better suited at a time of revolutions for rabble-rousers, speechifiers, and pamphleteers: your Samuel Adamses and Thomas Paines.. The Warden class of AiME seems to get closest to this range of types without the use of spells, so it's probably a good bardic substitute.
George Lucas's Willow is no Star Wars. Even though its made from the same sort of stock characters and the same sort borrowings from early sources, but it doesn't quite come together in the same way. At least it didn't seem to to my fifteen year-old self, and it doesn't seem to to me today.
Moebius's concept work, which I first glimpse in a magazine at the time, has only grown in my estimation since. Perhaps it doesn't suggest a weird fantasy Willow or anything that radical, but it does at least suggest to me a decent Studio Ghibli-esque film might have come from the material. Let's take a look and (re-)imagine:
Here's the titular hero and (I believe) one of his Nelwyn fellows. Nothing of the pastoral gentility of a Baggins, nor the too literal "small folk" of the film. These guys make me think of Howard's diminutive and declining Picts in "The Lost Race," but also aboriginal peoples like the Emishi (in Princess Mononoke) or Ainu. A sense of the Nelwyn threatned by humanity (or Daikini) would have been nice. I like the long earlobes, too.
Madmartigan is the rogue with the heart of gold Han Solo type, but with a bit more wastrelness, he could have been a wuxia sort of character, or Sanjuro from Yojimbo, or Mugen from Samurai Champloo--both of which are great swordsman, too. Moebius gives us a design that completely fits with those characters, suggests a world of ronin or wandering swordsmen of some sort.
So at this point, you might be thinking, "basically he's just going to say Willow should have been more Asian?" So now I'm going to throw you off:
King Kael here (General Kael in the film) is described as "bestial" in the third draft of the script, which he obviously is here. Perhaps he is a lover of Bavmorda transferred by her magic? A reverse Beauty and the Beast (there's maybe a bit of Cocteau's beast about him. Maybe)? Or is he the captain of the flying monkeys, so to speak? Anyway, he fulfills a bit of a Witch-King of Angmar role, so fleshing out his badass villainy would have been good.
Now, it's back to the Asian stylings. The mask suggests (to me) childhood mindwarping courtesy of Bavmorda for the warrior woman Sorsha. Maybe she's just go a slight blemish, but has been convinced its a horrible disfigurement a la (some accounts of) Doctor Doom? Maybe her inhuman beauty as a daughter of the Tuatha de Danaan-esque folk of Tir Asleen is her disfigurement to her witch queen mother? Note that the mask isn't just a human mask, it's go that single Oni horn. Probably means something.
Lastly, I believe this is one of two fairly divergent designs Moebius did for the brownies--but in an earlier script draft Willow and baby get captured by elves who are described as wearing "samurai-type outfits and angry little haircuts." These are guys who (in the script) collect baby tears as part of their gig. Now think of these sinister little guys, like a mashup of the Indian in the Cupboard and the evil faerie of del Toro's Don't be Afraid of the Dark remake. I think we could do without the French accent Lucas specifies for their leader, though.
My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues. Earlier installments can be found here.
Storm: The Creeping Death(1982) (part 5)
(Dutch: De Sluimerende Dood)
Art & script by Don Lawrence
While Storm and Huatl are going through their travails, Ember has been left hanging without food or water for two days to weaken her resolve. When he think she might be ready to give in, Kai has her brought to him. He offers her a drink to toast their future as man and wife:
Ember is suspended over hot coals. Kai gloats that by the time the gods appear tomorrow, she will be charred to bone.
The next day, everyone is assembled and the missiles they call gods rise as usual--but with them are Storm and Huatl!
Storm demands Kai honor his father's agreement. Kai refuses and orders Ember's ropes cut so that she will fall into the pit, but Storm has a trick up his sleeve. He pushes the button on a remote control he had kept hidden, launching one of the god missiles.
The townsfolk fall prostrate with superstitious awe. Kai snatches up the axe to do the job himself, but Storm braces the falling Ember. Still, both are left defenseless against another attack from Kai.
At that moment Huatl challenges Kai and quickly kills him before he can react. Storm declares that by their law, Huatl is now leader of both tribes, and a new age of peace can be ushered in.
After a week of festivities where Storm and Ember are the guests of honor, the two set out again to see what unknown lands lie beyond the horizon.