Cybersuit Arkadyne Part 3, 1992
In the asteroid belt, the mysterious voices haunting Glenn Taback get louder and stronger. Driven past the breaking point, he tears through one marauder after another as attacks increase in ferocity. At the end of this bloody path lies an enemy no one expected and a revelation that challenges the perception of reality itself!
Some of the most interesting storybuilding experiences I’ve ever had resulted from working backward.
It’s happened to me more than once; I get an alert through the intergalactic radio connected to my brain (as good an explanation as any for where ideas come from), and it fills my head with an image or a scene or a concept that captures my attention. Whatever that thing is, I got it for free from the universe. But it comes with the responsibility of building a story to support it. Because if I don’t do that, nobody will.
In some cases, that thing is something I can work forward from. “A gorilla that fixes spaceships” was the starting point for Grease Monkey, for example. “A giant robot rises from the dust to grapple with other giant robots” was the key image for the first chapter of BROID.
In other cases, that thing is so context-heavy that I have work backward from it to figure out how it got there. “A human soldier fighting an alien soldier in a bombed-out city” was the image that led me to Ground Zero “A vast, fertile cavern inside an asteroid” was a vivid dream I worked backward from to create Pitsberg.
Cybersuit Arkadyne is another story that worked backward from an image. That image was so pivotal it would serve as the inflection point between two “books,” so you will see it here at the end of Book 1. Almost no one has seen it until now. It shocked me when I understood what it represented, and if I built the story properly, it will shock you too.
That’s really the whole point of all the work we do as storytellers, to help a reader feel the same thing we felt when that alert came through the galactic radio frequency and zapped us in the head. The point is to capture and share an emotion. It’s part of the magic that makes me want to keep doing this for as long as possible.
Here are the last two issues of Cybersuit Arkadyne I drew before I had to put the project away and move on to other things that would pay the rent. I’ve never forgotten what a revelation it was to have full command of this story and make it look exactly the way I wanted. It filled me with so much pride and satisfaction that it drove me to seek a work/life balance that would allow me to do it all the time, whether it earned money or not. It took me a few more years to get there, but not as many as I thought.
Issue 5: Berserker
Production period: February/March 1992
Issue 6: Fever Crisis
Production period: March/April 1992
Every summer, the San Diego Comic Con would land on or around Jack Kirby’s birthday, and they would put out a call for art submissions to go into the program book. Birthday greetings to Jack were always welcome, so I decided to put Arkadyne into a classic Kirby space-scape with all of its high-octane psychedelia. Below is the piece as it appeared in the ’92 program book, though it was reduced to a quarter page, crushing all of its splendor.
This was the last Arkadyne-related piece I ever drew. Ianus Publications, the publisher of the series, also did an annual fan art magazine called the Anime Shower Special. It was exactly what it sounds like, drawings of wildly different quality (and questionable value) of anime girls practicing good hygiene. This was my contribution to the third issue, because I like to ruin things for hormonal fanboys.