Captain Harlock: Deathshadow Rising #5 & 6, 1991
As spring approached summer in the year 1991, Emeraldas arrived to even the odds against the Deathshadow and help get Harlock back to the captain’s wheel of the Arcadia. With the playing field growing ever more complex, Alexander Nevich reveals the next phase of his vendetta: taking down the Illumidas occupiers of Earth!
This was the climax of my first Captain Harlock miniseries, and with climaxes came big-scale space battles. That meant I’d have to draw a LOT of ship shots. I’ve already talked about how time-consuming they were. There’s a reason animators prefer single images that slide across your screen, because all those details are murder to draw. It’s pretty much the same in comics.
When I took over for the previous artist, Ben Dunn, Robert Gibson (the writer) told me that Ben had asked him NOT to write big space battles because of how difficult they are to draw. My reply to Robert was to give me all the space battles he wanted, and that freed him up to start writing stories that put them front and center.
My feeling on this was simple; space battles are a staple of Captain Harlock. You don’t give a pirate a badass spaceship and then NOT do the space stuff. If that meant I’d have to put in more time at the drawing board, so be it. That’s the comic I would want to see as a reader.
Over the years, I’ve heard from more than one professional comic artist that this is not the kind of thing comics are good at, because of pacing and page count limitations. From the first time I heard that, I was determined to prove it wrong. That was what drove me to work so hard on this series, and later to make space battles the framing device of my Grease Monkey graphic novels (which can be read here). I say you can do just about anything you want in comics. You just have to be willing to put in the work.
On the inking side, things were really coming together. My brush technique was getting stronger and the results were coming faster. Rather than finishing a page and wishing I’d done it better, I was laying down lines that I liked right away. When I look back at these issues now, certain panels stand out for being as good as anything I could produce today.
After this, there would be nine more issues of Captain Harlock in my future. I would continue to pencil, letter, and ink all of them no matter how difficult they got. Stay tuned to ArtValt and you’ll see every one of them.