Trying to make static LEGO pieces look like they’re in motion is sometimes difficult, but I like the way that “falling off the lighthouse” shot turned out. Hopefully this story answers the question of why Ronald didn’t venture further with his XT-5 space chair.
Archive for ‘Ronald’
If money were no object, which LEGO set would you purchase?
I almost want to choose the Death Star (#75179), as I love the amount of Star Wars “scenes” crammed into that set, and I’ve heard it might be going out of print this year (surely leading to even higher prices). Aside from the price tag, I never bought the Death Star because I just don’t have anywhere to display it. BUT the LEGO set I would actually choose if money were no object in the original Galaxy Explorer (#497). It’s the seminal Classic Space set, a true beauty, and I kind of feel like a fraud for not owning it. lol In fact, the only sets I have from the early, blue and gray era of Classic Space are the One Man Space Ship (Dash’s #918 in this comic) and the Beta I Command Base (#6970). That’s why I established the beginning of the Classic Space era as being set a few decades before the comic began.
As I’m typing this post (about a week before it went live), it’s on the eve of the closing of what I’ve always considered my little slice of Heaven on Earth, Toys ‘R’ Us. I have a comic I plan to post about this sad topic, assembled from photos I took on my final visit to my childhood store. So I want to save most of my thoughts for that page, which I’ll post once “All Hail the Thunderbird” concludes. But for now I want to state that the end of Toys ‘R’ Us (at least in the U.S.) truly feels like the end of childhood for me. I’m certainly no kid but, like Ronald, I kind of exist like one in certain ways. I hold a job, I pay taxes, I manage rent and car payments, and I actually found a woman to marry me, sure. But I also absolutely still love toys, cartoons and too often live in the nostalgic memories of a time long faded. (I don’t have any children, which might help explain this.) I don’t feel like I ever put down the things of childhood; I just carried them all along with me as I grew older and gathered up additional adult interests and trappings along the way.
For me, Toys ‘R’ Us wasn’t just a store that I stepped into once every several years, hesitantly curious, donning a protective suit of ironic detachment, or trying to grab onto a glimmer of the past like as it buzzed by me like a firefly. Outside of a short break in my later childhood and early teens, I visited Toys ‘R’ Us on a pretty regular basis, seeking out the latest Transformers, Star Wars figures and LEGO sets. It’s true that Toys ‘R’ Us lost a lot of its magic as time went on, and I don’t just mean because we became adults. The shelves really were stacked high with toys at one time, and to a kid it was a mad, magical warehouse of playtime joy. As the years passed, the shelves were frequently more vacant as toy manufacturers and retailers slashed supply and orders. But Toys ‘R’ Us was still a GIANT, dedicated toy store, and I always felt that rush of excitement as I stepped through its big, bright entryway, never knowing what I would find, sometimes by myself, sometimes on a toy hunt with friends, sometimes with my bemused girlfriend/wife. The Toys ‘R’ Us experience is intertwined throughout my whole life, touching what are pretty much always good memories. The fact that its doors are about to shut for good, its soul already faded, has a profound effect on me that goes beyond talk of Amazon or bad financial management or whatever other inevitable realities caused this to happen. Deep down, I’ll probably never grow up. I’ll always be a Toys ‘R’ Us kid, long after it has disappeared into legend like Avalon. Toys ‘R’ Us, for me, will always represent limitless imagination and possibility. You don’t need concrete walls to contain that.
(Also, oops, I might have just written some of that planned comic here. lol)
I can sometimes empathize with writers who are accused of plagiarism. There are only so many ideas that get reinvented in new ways. It’s not hard to believe that two creators with no connection whatsoever in the whole of recorded history could come up with the same story. There are also unconscious influences, where something you read or viewed a long time ago can accidentally seep into your work as a new idea. Case in point – I thought Schwartz’s pub game about identifying butts through a sheet was my own twisted notion, but after I completed the comic I remembered that I had heard the characters on the sci-fi sitcom “Red Dwarf” make a similar – if not exact – joke. So in this situation, let’s just call it an homage! The characters, humor, and style of “Red Dwarf” should be pretty evident influences on this comic, anyway.
If you spend any time watching reviews of LEGO sets on YouTube, you’ve likely come across the wonderful JANGBRiCKS. His soothing voice, professional presentation style, and dedication to reviewing seemingly every released set make him stand out among a crowded field of LEGO YouTubers. A few years ago, JANG embarked on a mission to review every Classic Space set. I of course was excited to watch his review of the Gamma-V Laser Craft (#6891). Imagine when I scrolled down to the comments on this highly regarded YouTuber’s review and saw statements such as, “Commander Schwartz and his ship! (Lego Space: The Comic anyone?)” and “Tempted to track this one down (only in the $20s on Bricklink!) thanks to the old LEGO Space comic featuring this set and it’s minifig as the star character. Long live Commander Schwartz!” I was delighted to see that, in some small way, to some people, the Gamma-V is seen as “Commander Schwartz’s ship.” Who knows if poor JANG knew what they were going on about? You can see JANG’s review here: https://youtu.be/gcK77LfgytQ
I posted a bonus Wednesday comic last week, so skip back if you missed it. In fact, I think I might try switching from one usually long comic per week (on Sunday) to two shorter comics a week (on Sunday and Wednesday), at least for a while. I received some feedback recently that my comics are too long and the dialogue too dense, factors which make reading them a chore, especially for new readers who are unfamiliar with the ongoing story. That feedback supports the mild to negative reception the comic gets on Reddit. My shorter strips tends to perform better. I think many causal readers are used to brief, gag-based comics. SPACE: The Comic is never going to be that, but I do think I bury some good jokes and moments in longer comics. I also view each comic more like a scene in a movie, or a long comic book page, than a singular punchline-based strip. I also don’t think more updates per week is a bad thing!
I almost went back and deleted or re-edited the last comic. I wasn’t thrilled that I gave the Thunderbird a moment of weakness when it tried to change direction to follow Ronald and Ms. Galanos and crashed into the lighthouse, momentarily stunning itself. (A similar thing happened recently to a hawk that swooped down to snatch one of the smaller birds eating at the feeder on my porch, missed, and smacked itself into my glass door. After a few loopy moments sitting on my lawn, the hawk flew off to a tree to recover its pride.) Sometimes you write yourself into a little corner. I needed to give Ronald and his mother a chance to escape certain death; I had to incense the remaining cultists; and I wanted the Thunderbird to hold a grudge against Ms. Galanos and Ronald, which will be important later. I just regret making the Thunderbird look like a big turkey in the process!
If you haven’t watched the recently released LEGO episode of “The Toys That Made Us” on Netflix, I highly recommend it. My favorite part was the absolute glowing reverence in which the Classic Space theme is described.
When I first introduced Ronald to the comic, I was sure of one thing – you would always see him sitting in his “chair,” which in reality was the XT-5 space mobility unit formerly assigned to his brother. Mikey gave Ronald the the XT-5, his old uniform and his former robot partner (later renamed Mr. Wobbly Droid) after they were decommissioned and Mikey graduated to his new Futuron uniform, service droid and Aero-Module craft. Mikey never expected that Ronald would take to wearing the uniform full-time, instead of just keeping it as a memento, like he was an actual, card-carrying member of the Space Agency. Mikey also didn’t expect that Ronald would come to rely on Mr. Wobbly Droid as a robot butler/hamburger stand co-worker.
One thing I wasn’t sure about when I introduced Ronald was the REASON he was always in the chair. But I had two possible scenarios in mind. I’ve never confirmed it either way. On one hand, I thought it would be funny if he was so lazy that you just never saw him get up and walk around. On the other hand, it kind of felt right to actually have him be a disabled character.
I’m not a fan of writing that sugarcoats and panders to the audience. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to accept that, yes, Ronald got dealt a bad hand in life that has thrown some roadblocks in his way and perhaps resulted in him getting babied a bit. But his immaturity, selfishness and bad habits are all him! Ronald is determined to stretch his comfort level and lack of responsibility as far as it can go. He’s a human being with comically rich flaws, and whether he can walk or not is generally not important to the story.
I’m reminded of a girl I knew in high school and college. She had a health condition that resulted in atrophied growth and an inability to walk. She got around in a motorized wheelchair and had a customized van that was automated to lift in her chair and was set up so she could drive. I originally made the mistake, as I think is common to do, to view her through her disability first. I initially felt uncomfortable talking to her because, I think, I was focused on her problems and figured she must be, too. But thankfully, as time went on, I actually got to know her a bit. And I realized that her disability was just a reality she dealt with and went on living. I also learned that the image I had of her as kind of a child – even in college, because she was very small – was completely misjudged. In fact, she would regale me with stories about her sexual conquests! She was more experienced than I was! She had a totally dirty mind and an irreverent sense of humor, and I remember thinking, “Wow, this is like the coolest girl I’ve ever met.”
So I guess you can take this as confirmation that I went with Option #2 for Ronald. I just don’t want you to view him any differently.
The missing Thunderbird photo could depict either an abnormally large bird of prey or a long-extinct pteranodon, depending on the eyewitness account. When I started shooting this storyline, it actually featured a different Thunderbird – the bald eagle from the LEGO Creator Fierce Flyer (#3100) set. You can see a glimpse of this below. But I initiated a quick casting change after I discovered the LEGO pteranodon featured in this comic. Not only did it look cooler, in my eyes, but it had an opening beak, permitting the option for the graphic mayhem you see today!