The Super Secret Ancient History of A Distant Soil
A model sheet for Galahad, drawn when I was 17. Spot the Frank Kelly Freas art lesson doodled in the upper right corner.
I’d feel guilty about not blogging more often, but I can’t manage it. I am too busy working on the next TWO issues of A Distant Soil for print, and a couple of graphic novel projects besides.
For the last week or so, I’ve been posting lots and lots of never-before-seen art from the very earliest days of A Distant Soil at my Facebook page. As in the first sketch of Liana when I was ten years old, my oldest story pages, model sheets, and more.
Inspired to do so by some dude who forged some early work by moi and put it up for sale, and apparently, thought he could get away with it by putting a really, really early date on it, this guy obviously has no idea what an obsessive record keeper I am.
So, like, busted dude.
After I started posting the stuff, a couple of trollish types decided to spam the FB page with comments about who my real influences are, and who I must just owe EVERYTHING to from back in the early days of independent comics. Like, little girls would be really into Cerebus or some nonsense like that. Whatever.
When I got into comics, there was no independent comics scene, and the few indies there were had no foothold until I’d already gotten my first paying gigs. And since I’d never been to a comics shop until I was nearly out of high school, A Distant Soil was already in the can. I never saw a single solitary independent comic while developing A Distant Soil, with the exception of Samuel R Delany and Howard Chaykin’s Empire, which was in my local library. It was a big influence on me.
Nothing else you could name on the then pretty much non-existent indy scene had any influence on me at all.
I owe everything to superhero comics and cartoons. Really. I don’t know why that is so hard for some people to accept, but it’s all there in the pictures.
Though I’ve paid some nice lip service to people paving the way over the years, that is what you do when you are being polite even when you don’t know who someone is, and really don’t know their work. Or even like it. We all owe a debt to Jack Katz and his work The First Kingdom, originally published in 1974. But almost no one who mentions it has read it.
Sort of like all those people who vote in the Eisners for books they never read. I’ve done that.
Anyway, here’s a look at a few more of my very early A Distant Soil pieces. Drop by my Facebook page and have a look through the gallery. ‘Tis good fun.
This is one of many model sheets for Bast from “A Distant Soil”. I didn’t actually have any comic books when I first started making up characters. The “Super Friends” TV show sparked my interest in superheroes, and, later, “The Space Sentinels” made me aware of how it would be a good thing to develop a racially diverse cast in my comics. I developed some of the characters who would later morph into “A Distant Soil” as early as age ten, but I didn’t come up with a plot line until I was 12. A lot of it was heavily influenced by Jack Kirby’s work on “The Eternals”. I was really surprised when writer Chris Roberson tweeted me to ask about “The Eternals” and “A Distant Soil”. Only about 3 people have ever noticed. As you can see, Bast was really a bad African cliche when I first developed her, but even though I tweaked her a lot, I kept this outfit for a scene in the comic, which I drew more than 20 years later. I can’t believe how well these markers have held up over the years. These drawings have never been seen anywhere, so the color is very bright, even though they are the cheapest markers you could buy. I guess I was about 14 when I did this.
I believe this is the earliest piece of “A Distant Soil” art I ever did. The whole series started out because I had a big crush on Aquaman. Aquaman’s wife was not on the “Super Friends” TV show, so I must have assumed he was single. So, I made him a girlfriend. She could control animals. So they could rule the world! HAHA! Anyway, this character grew into Liana. I would have been about ten years old when I drew this.
A page of anatomy studies, obviously copied from a book. Drawn at age 17-18. I have a number of very large sketchbooks like this, which I stopped using by age 18, as I went pro and drawing like this for learning was almost impossible. All of my extra time was eaten up with my pro work. This is not half bad work for a kid, though.
Also selling some art on ebay. Go buy it.