Monday, February 20, 2012

Alphabeasts: S is for Sand Bug

This week's Alphabeasts drawing is from maybe the second most obscure source I'm going to tap for this project, but it's also one of my real favorites. I figure there are really only two possible relations a comics reader can have to Kazimir Strzepek's The Mourning Star: fandom or ignorance. In other words, if you've heard of it, you probably love it.

The reason it's so appealing, at least to me, is the pervasive sense of a completely imagined world, with its own cultures and problems, its own languages and sports, and of course its own fauna. From out of that fauna comes the sand bug, the eggs of which infest the water in the desert wastes then (if you make the mistake of drinking them) consume you from inside while the desert sun withers you.

Watch out, because S is for sand bug.

(Yeah, I drew it busting out of that particular spot on the skull in a tribute to my recent sinus surgery. My recovery is going fine.)

The vibe in The Mourning Star is somewhere between D&D, skate punk rock, Kung Fu, and Mad Max: a civilization in ruins, populated by characters with cute faces and hard attitudes; everyone struggling to survive, often in awesome action setpieces with brutal martial arts involving knives and scissors. And you definitely get the sense that there's more to the world than what you're seeing, which is the best test of worldbuilding.

If you've got the dough to spare, I suggest picking up the first volume of The Mourning Star somewhere other than Amazon, where (as of this writing) the cheapest copy is going for more than $260. I'm a big enough fan of Strzepek's work that I've even swiped it wholesale in the past, for the last page of our "Stepan Crick" story, but even I would balk at a figure like that. (Plus, there are copies for sale in other places. There's a tip for some "inve$ticomics" that might actually pay off.)

Anyway, there's only one scene (so far) that features a sand bug, and at the time we don't really get a clear look at it. We don't even learn the name of the creature until the second volume. Early in volume 1, though, the amnesiac snipper sniper fights one:

Right before this fight, he drinks from the canteen of the dead man the sand bug is growing from. (He doesn't know the creature's ecology until later, when he remarks that it sounds "familiarly terrible.") Should we be expecting the snipper sniper to explode with a sand bug in a few more volumes? It's only one of a bunch of loose threads and cliffhangers that have me on tenterhooks waiting for the next volume. One of the latest posts on Kaz Strzepek's blog hints that Volume 3 is close to finished. I am super psyched about that. There really aren't many comics I anticipate more eagerly.

Next week: creatures I swiped a drawing of back when I was doing the Animal Alphabet.


Rich Barrett said...

GREAT choice! Loved Mourning Star.

Loops O'Fury said...

That looks really great. I haven't read Mourning Star, but now my curiosity is piqued.

Curious Art said...

Excellent! Puts me in mind of the horrifying Cordyceps...

Isaac said...

That fungus video goes to show that life (especially in the jungles and at small scale) is capable of being a lot weirder than almost anything we imagine.

...Although David Attenborough has yet to show me a rust monster.