Hey! You! This is the 700th one!
So, uh, yeah. How 'bout that timing? Idea number 700 right in the middle of the XII Days of Christmas. Great, huh?
No, it isn't, really. It's intrusive and flow-disrupting, and makes me a proverbial sad panda (as opposed to a literal one, which would be quite the transformation). However, I haven't missed a centennial yet, and I'll be damned if I start now.
Now, as is my normal tradition, I am going to link back to my previous centennials, and talk about how centennials are usually a time when I try not to do anything new and exciting. Well, this time, I actually and honestly don't have anything new and exciting. After all, I was focused on the XII Days of Christmas, so this caught me off guard. What's a guy to do?
Well, I figured that for this septicentennial, we should talk about things outside of this comic. After all, Elderly Apple isn't going to be updating forever. In fact, it won't even be updating by this time next year (Merry Christmas, suckers!). But what will happen to me when that time comes. Will I simply die and wither away? Possibly! But that's not really something I can prep for, so I need a backup plan.
That backup plan is called Vagabond Lions. It's another webcomic, and it's going to be very, very different than Elderly Apple.
You see, Elderly Apple is a strictly non-narrative affair. The ideas exist in a vacuum, with little to qualify them in a larger schema. However, if you've paid even remote attention to any of my ramblings (particularly these centennials), you know that I am no terse individual. I can, in fact, write a lot, and sometimes, those words form lengthy, lengthy narratives. And this is what Vagabond Lions would be. More than just a simple webcomic, it would actually be an online graphic novel, known in the webcomic business/biz as a "long form comic".
One issue I face, though, is that there is, as of now, no artist to put the "graphic" in the graphic novel. After all, I'm sure not drawing it, as my style...let's just say it doesn't fit.
If you are an artist - or know one - who would be interested, contact me and let me know! The planned style, for you discerning eyes out there, will hopefully be somewhere betwixt gritty Disney (i.e. Gargoyles) and what I call "sub-anime" (like, some anime elements, but not the total saucer-eyed man-children you may think of).
But enough of that! What will it actually be about?! Truth be told, I could speak for hours on this (I know because I have), which translates into more text than I like to think about.
So let's instead look at some concept art!
Now I should emphasize, this is concept art. It is not to be indicative of the final product; it is to help my artist (whoever it ends up being) grasp the basic principals of my ideas. Basically, when this artist asks "what should this character look like", I can point to one of these and say, "Start from here." I should also note that most of this is not my own artwork. Anything that looks like it was drawn with a computer was created by my friend and prolific Elderly Apple fan artist Alexander Martinez (although, to my credit, most were Photosopped by me in some way). The things that look like they were drawn on a piece of notebook paper are mine. I have many more drawings, but in many cases, Alex's help convey the ideas better than mine, so that's why I opted for his. Besides, if I put in everything, this would be even more obscenely long.
So let's begin!
So this is the Shelter, where the story begins. And this sums up the setting of the story pretty succictly. It takes place 440 years in the future, and about 200 years along the way, there was a huge magnitude 11.5 earthquake that completely devastated the world, sinking the southern hemisphere, altering geography everywhere else, and pretty much messing up society. (As a side note, scientists say a magnitude 11.5 earthquake cannot happen. My official response: scientists have been wrong before.) However, society rebuilt, although it was never the same. Such as the shelter, which is a fallen skyscraper that was transformed into a town. (And also, there should be a beautiful wheat field in the background, instead of a gradient.)
This new society is medieval in nature, but depending where you are, you may have some surviving technology. This is a narrative device that allows me to include whatever technology I like. So, a guy with a sword could be fighting a guy with a futuristic gun, while an Edison phonograph is playing in the background. It's all according to my whim.
Now, politics in this world are complex, so I won't go into them, but the most prevalent faction in the Church, which was begun by a sedevacantist antipope after the great earthquake. It is evolved from the Catholic Church, but is most definitely not the same. In fact, they don't even consider Jesus a peaceful carpenter. Instead, the "Mangod" was a fierce warrior prince who slaughtered the wicked armies of the old world. As such, this Church is exceptionally militant. I mean, this is what their leader, the "Holy Father", looks like:
And all the clergymen look like that. To become a priest, you basically have to have the same build as a rugby player. And you have to dedicate your life to the service of God and others (see, they're not evil).
Well, serving people is all fine and good, but some people don't want to dedicate themselves solely to God, and so they instead become knights, who go on "The Journey" (which I'll probably rename), which is a multiple year quest to travel around the lands, helping the people along the way with their problems (and wouldn't you know it, everyone has problems). When they successfully complete their journey, they become a champion, which is the highest honor a civilian in the Church can achieve. They then often serve in political or advisory roles in their homes, but always strive to serve the people.
The reason I bring this up is because it's a perfect segue into the main characters! And here's the protagonist:
That's my sketch of him, which I still like, despite him bending like Gumby and looking like he has several hangovers (he looks much cleaner at the beginning of the story). Here's one of Alex's drawing, which adds a bit of color.Daikana Mizuyama
(Or Mizuyama Daikana, if you follow Eastern naming patterns.) This guy is a simple kid...er, 20-year-old, who has to find his path during his knighthood journey. Even though he's been a good ol' boy in his town (Bestor's Point, which is where the Shelter is), and though he's been training his swordsman skills all his life, he's not really becoming a knight on his own merits. Rather, he was chosen to become a knight because of his father, who is not only the mayor of Bestor's Point, but a highly-regarded champion. As it turns out, people all across the land know of Daikana's father as one of the great heroes of the so-called "Homeland Wars", but Daikana doesn't even know why (his father is pretty secretive).
As such, Daikana is one of those heroes always living in his father's shadow, and so when he starts off, he's somewhat of a moody, almost-emo teenager. But as he goes on his journey, he learns that being a knight not only helps others, but also helps him. (Cue Peter Gabriel.)
Bishop Joseph Sartori
(Note: The reason this looks similar to the Holy Father above is because Alex used the same model.)
Now, a knight is never on their own on their journey. While they may be more skilled than your average peasant, they are still young (20, specifically) and have most likely led an insular life in their home town. Hence, every knight has a mentor from amongst the clergy. And Daikana's mentor is Bishop Joseph Sartori, who's in pretty good shape for a 65-year-old man. In fact, this guy was also Daikana's father's mentor, so he's seen his share of action. Oh, and his axe is called "The Confessor".
Now this, this is my favorite primary character. While I wouldn't say I have any true Mary Sues in this story, this guy comes closer than any other. This guy is a historian, which, in this world, is the catch-all term for "scholar" (the idea being that basically, the people of the past knew everything, so we just have to dig it up again). He's also the world's smartest man. Not in a theoretical, Stephen Hawking kind of way, but because he absorbs information rapidly, and has almost infinite memory banks. Originally, this was because I needed a "Doctor Explanatory" character: one that could explain anything. Wondering why such-and-such a town has been deserted for 50 years? He knows why!
Since then, I've been building his character by piling on eccentricity after eccentricity. I've made him a fast runner, a coward when it comes to fighting, a hypersensitive, and a snarky, sarcastic observer. And don't get me started on his relationships.
Lerenia ir Boshun
This gal probably changed the most from my original design, both conceptually and appearance-wise. When I began, her character was: love interest.....*cough* And she happened to be a barbarian (which is a catch-all term to describe an "unincorporated civilization" that isn't under the Church or the other major faction, the New Iberian Empire (which will be explained shortly), but that was about it. She also had bright red hair, and greener clothing, but as the character developed, I realized I was pretty blatantly ripping off Poison Ivy. So that had to change.
Her new character is that she is a barbarian who ran away from her home (for reasons I won't spoil here) who runs into Daikana et al, and travels with them, not the least of all because she's smitten with Daikana. She's also a magic user. (Okay, big explanation is required here, but I'll consdense it into a few years: magic exists, but the majority of humans don't use it in modern times because it's evolutionarily disadvantageous. After the earthquake, some of the few that did flourished, and it became a bit more common.) Anyway, she's a powerful magic user. Very powerful. And she specializes in life magic, part of which means she has power over plants (see what I mean about the poison ivy thing). Anyhoo, I retooled her entire tribe from being similar to traditional noble forest elves into what are essentially a bunch of dirty hippies, complete with hippie dreadlocks (which I've always called "Barbarian Hair", so it works out).
Trinity is one of three main characters that came from an traveling entertainment troupe known as the "Wandering Loons" (and yes, there is a reason that has a similar ring to Vagabond Lions). She's an acrobat, dancer, and juggler primarily, but in her past, she also took part in some more...shady activities, such as pickpocketing and assassination. All to keep food on the table, doncha know. But those days are behind her, and now she's trying to go on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her troupe was attacked and thoroughly trounced by a band of raiders (bandits, not football players), leaving only a few alive. And they eventually met up with Daikana and the others, and joined in. The more the merrier! And to aid them, Trinity often contributes her stealthy skills and her sassy tongue.
The second member of the Wandering Loons, Liliana is Trinity's sister, younger by about 10 years. She too is a dancer and an acrobat (and a singer), and she's a bit more lithe than her sister. She can flip around like mad and slip into and out of sticky situations with little issue. But although she was born into the traveling performer group, and lived within it all her life, she dreams of more. She doesn't necessarily know what she wants to do, but she knows it's not what she's doing. She's also my "innocent" character. Every story needs a bastion of innocence to help things not just be black and gray. She has a rather childlike view of the world. Unfortunately, this innocence came about because when she was 10, she saw her parents brutally killed by an (earlier) band of raiders, thus stunting her, making her emotionally 10 years younger than she actually is. Does psychology actually work like that. It does in my world, con sarnit!
The third remaining member of the Wandering Loons, Francisco is my spoony bard; that is, he's not really terribly helpful in a fighting situation. He much prefers playing music, and only uses his sword when given no other option. He's essentially the last person you'd want in a fight, even behind Prescott. But that's for a good reason! Everyone has a place in the world, not just those who can bash skulls. So take your discriminatory attitude elsewhere! Besides, he plays gooood music.
And just for the heck of it, here is the very first sketches I made of the characters back during some boring accounting lecture. Literally, folks, this sheet is how everything started. And it's hideous.
And now, some additional random concept art!
Every military has their own special forces. In the Church, the special forces are the knights and the bishops. And then there is the Holy Order of Saint Jude Thaddeus. Called in only during a time of lost cause, these monks are the special special forces. The Thaddeans are a nearly unbeatable force, being highly skilled in combat. They are also known as Reapers due to their black armor, skull-design helmets, and weapon of choice: a full-bladed scythe, which is probably the equivalent to the lightsaber in my universe, in terms of potency and skill needed to wield:Then, like I said, there is another major faction in the world, which is the New Iberian Empire. The name itself is ironic, as it isn't actually Iberian (it was started by an Englishman in Turkey), it isn't actually an empire (instead, it's a federation of independent kingdoms), and it technically isn't actually new (as there was never an old Iberian Empire). The name comes from a lack of historical knowledge, and a fondness for horses (long story). Anyway, the New Iberian Empire is a fraction of the Church's size, but is actually superior in terms of wealth and technology. They are much more progressive than the church, putting high emphasis on academic research and reconstruction of the pre-earthquake world. And they are led by a council of the lords of the individual kingdoms, which is in turn led by a chancellor. During the timespan of the story, that chancellor is this man, Franklin Podero, who is in a three-way tie for my favorite character with Prescott and a random crazy old Scotsman who lives in a balloon.
I won't go into detail, but I have enough story on this guy to give him his own book. However, in the actual story the comic follows, he has a relatively minor direct role, despite being (arguably) the most important character in the Vagabond Lions universe.
And this guy is his Advisor-Guard, Silas Castel.Again, I won't go into details, but I will note that I love the Knight chess piece emblem on their armor. Which you can also see on this random New Iberian soldier:Like I said earlier, there are also many, many barbarian tribes. The three most important are the Sveitstal, the Clannebeatha, and the Vuurestamm. The Sveitstal are basically latter-day vikings, the "proud warrior race" archetype. The Clannebeatha is the tribe that Lerenia belongs to. Like I said, I changed their concept from "Noble Forest Elves" to "Noble Dirty Hippies". They still have the whole "in tune with nature" thing going on, but they're less fluid and graceful about it. And while they're mostly good, they do have some practices that are a bit...less than good. (Moral ambiguity and all that.) For example, they use their plant magic to enslave the bodies of recently-departed folks, and then have these "Sapling Slaves" do their bidding until the bodies wither away. Kind of like zombies. Kind of.
And then there are the Vuurestamm. Now, there is a lot of combat in this story, and while moral ambiguity is all fine and good, sometimes you just need your proverbial Nazis. The people that it's okay to fight, because their very presence is a source of evil and/or conflict. That's the role of the Vuurestamm. Of all the barbarian tribes, theirs is the most barbaric. They are primal and savage, following their alpha male with little thought as to their own well-being. And this is that alpha male, Asura:
This guy calls himself "The Demon King", primarily because he thinks he is a demon. But don't let his appearance - or the rabid state of his followers - fool you. He's exceptionally intelligent, and enjoys discussing philosophy. (However, being a violent nihilist, it's not so fun to discuss philosophy with him.) While there could be some contention to the honor, I'd say this happy fellow is the primary villain of the entire series.
And this final image is a sketch that I think help showcases one of my favorite kooky post-apocalyptic weapons. It's a air gun that works by using bellows that are pumped through moving your (i.e. walking), storing that pressure until you release it into a fiercely-shot metal rod (and no, science has no part in this. You should have learned long ago that scientific fact has no bearing on my creations.)
And that's that. I hope you enjoyed this sneak preview. Long in the future, when Elderly Apple is retired and Vagabond Lions begins, I'll post a link from this website.
For now, though, let's get back to enjoying the comic you're actually here for. And let's get back to the Christmas countdown, for goodness sake! >:I
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Hey! You! This is the 700th one!