Captain Harlock Christmas Special, 1991

You might think I earned myself a break from Captain Harlock after the 6-issue tour de force that was Deathshadow Rising. Unfortunately, my checkbook did not agree. So with no break at all, I rolled right into this one-shot and then the next Harlock miniseries, which I interspersed with the first four issues of Robotech Invid War.

Captain Harlock and Christmas might seem like odd bedfellows, but they were actually combined in Japan before we did our thing. There was a Christmas episode in the 1982 Endless Road SSX TV series that remains a fan favorite for its blend of sweetness and tragedy. When writer Robert Gibson decided to retread this ground, he used it to weave some signature tropes together.

First, there was a little girl akin to Mayu and Levi. She only appeared in this issue, but her influence endured in the form of a cat that became the Arcadia‘s perennial mascot. Second, since Robert would spend the next miniseries driving the Illumidas army from Earth, he sprinkled the seeds for the next big antagonist, the Machine Empire of Galaxy Express 999. I think he would eventually have moved on to the Mazone, but we didn’t get nearly that far.

Artwise, this was the first issue set in a city on Earth, which gave me some noir environments to play with. I hadn’t drawn many children – like, at all – so it was kind of hit and miss with the little girl, but there are some individual panels in here I’m still quite proud of. Every assignment had something to teach me. They still do today.

Penciled & inked June 1991
Published December 1991

What a disappointment this coloring was. Everything about it is wrong. It should have been a moody night scene, but nobody asked me (the artist) for input. The Christmas lights should be the brightest objects, and instead they’re the darkest.

See what a difference it makes, just in this 15-minute rough color version? But I guess it was really hard to make a phone call back then.

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