Wednesday, February 10, 2016

TAGS September 09, 1994

Sunday, 09/09: Storm the Castle.
a.k.a. TAGS Full page #9
Black and white: black India ink on paper as originally published.

The beach. Such a summer-time destination. 

With the objectivity of time, I’d say that this strip succeeds if only by having a beginning, a middle and an end, carried by dynamic changes in panel compositions of close-ups and wide shots. 

As this is the first time that TAGS goes to the beach, it doesn’t call back to any previous strip, nor, in fact, does it foreshadow anything to come. But then I usually used the Sunday editions to tell mini stories out side of what the daily strips were doing.

Panel 1: In the opening title gag, Checkov (dragon) is prominent as the featured player of the strip. Monster (monster) is the foil for Checkov’s shenanigans, buried in the sand mound below Checkov. 

The surf board has two stickers. One is inspired by the logo for Body Glove, maker of wet suits and swim wear. The other is a stylized hurricane symbol in a triangle.

The life guard tower/ station is made up and not well researched. At the time, there were no internet images searches and I had perhaps one memory of a beach trip taken when I was about 4 on the east coast.

Panels 2-5: Monster builds a sand castle from tight close-up shots to wider shots.

Panel 6: Pull back to show Monster’s elaborate castle with outlier village, if there was any doubt of what he was building.

Hold on. What’s that forbidding shadow? Okay, if this is a west coast beach and that’s the Pacific Ocean in the distance, then according to the shadows the sun is in the North-East sky? I really just wanted the shadow to be cast from the right side as a matter of left-right narrative flow.

Panels 7-10: Checkov smashes the castle Kaiju (Godzilla) style. Panel 9 as a wide slanted rectangle (parallelogram) that cuts left across previous panel 8, the direction of Monster’s flight. While on the right end, the top corner literally points to the owner of the foreground hand, Checkov, triumphant in panel 10.

Panel 11: Checkov then goes on to bother sun bathing Brenda (mongoose) and Shirley (seal). Cue dramatic musical strike. Brenda and Shirley were chosen based upon the researched criteria of “who haven’t I drawn in a while?” I don’t know if mongooses like the ocean.

Panels 12-14: Next bit o’ fun… “Mossmen from 50,000 Leagues II. Brides of the Moss Men.” Of course, Moss Men are of the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” archetype, and explains the seaweed draped over Checkov. Oh, how sloppy with two different spellings of “Moss Men” in the same title. “50,000 Leagues” refers to the Jules Verne novel, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” “Brides of” refers to most famously “The Bride of Frankenstein” the now cliché sequel title structure.

Chekov (11th appearance), Brenda (7), Shirley (4)

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