Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Doodle Penance: "comics about sauron"

Here's another week-late "Doodle Penance." A couple of weeks ago, someone found the blog while searching for "comics about sauron."

Now, I suspect I know which of our pages drew this searcher to the site, but it's true that Sauron is a subject Mike and I really haven't broached. So, in order to satisfy that long-gone Doodle Searcher, here's some of our faux comprehensiveness:

Mike got his "doodle" done first. He adds, he says, "some relevant text" to the template from Ryan North's Dinosaur Comics, by which he has been much charmed of late.

Please click to enlarge, because this blog template's not good at displaying Dinosaur Comics legibly:

Mike adds, "I am pleased to note that a search for the terms 'hobbit' and 'hobbits' in the archives of Dinosaur Comics turned up no hits."

As for myself, by dint of the peculiar reading practices of my childhood, "Sauron" to me never primarily signifies the End Boss of the Rings. Rather, Sauron is this guy: a psychic-vampire were-pterodactyl predator on mutants whom the Claremont-Byrne X-Men encountered during their post-Magneto's-Antarctic-Base sojourn in the Savage Land. Again, click, if you want to see my scribbles bigger.

Here are some "process" thumbnailing doodles that I include simply for the sake of completeness. You needn't click on those. I have to say: Sauron's not as easy to draw as I thought he'd be. Those wing-arms of his are pretty hard to work out, and his head is a weird shape.

Uncanny X-Men #115 was one of the first comics I ever owned, and I read it to pieces, engraving it into my brain so thoroughly that I still had a clear visual memory of Sauron hypnotizing Wolverine into thinking his teammates were monsters, a couple of decades after the last time I looked at the comic. Still, before I could draw this doodle, I felt I had to do some image research.

Here's the cover, yanked from the Grand Comics Database:

The previous issue ends with the revelation of Sauron as a villain, resurrected (or retconned into survival) from a pair of issues in the Neal Adams X-Men era, in a splash panel that also contains some stunningly pulchritudinous Storm cheesecake. (I am stunned also because the seven-year-old Isaac that grabbed that issue from the newsstand didn't even register it.)

Wolverine, in his early one-dimensional "hothead" mode, charges in to attack Sauron in another dynamic splash page. (There's a nice bit of foreshadowing in the previous issue, in which, via "fastball special," Wolverine kills a gigantic pterodactyl that has grabbed Storm out of the air.) Cyclops warns him not to get too close, but for the time being, no one else on the team knows that Cyclops has faced Sauron before.

I love that last pair of panels: the heroes transformed into monsters. That's the way the general population is supposed to see the X-Men anyway, right? Looking at them now, I wonder whether there's an inking or coloring mistake in the monster version of Nightcrawler. Maybe it's just supposed to be a creature of creeping shadow? (The highlights between his ears could be eyes, I think.) But hey, I'm not going to say Terry Austin mis-inked Byrne, nor will I blame any influential art directors of The New Yorker for misreading Terry Austin's inks.

Anyway, there's the sequence I remembered so vividly.

The next thing Cyclops does, in case you're worried, is knock Wolverine unconscious so that the three unhypnotized heroes don't get cut to ribbons.

And young Isaac grows up to be a bit of a nerd.

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