Indiana Jones: The Hidden Land, 1983
This project taught me a new maxim: Whole Ass or No Ass.
Shortly before Return of the Jedi arrived, my mindset inexplicably shifted from Star Wars to Indiana Jones. I’d already drawn plenty of Han Solo stories and a Blade Runner tale, so I thought maybe I could tack another Harrison Ford merit badge onto my uniform. There were certainly plenty of fanzines at the time that would welcome it, so there would be no trouble finding a publisher.
I started in the month of May as both Jedi and high school graduation were imminent (guess which one I was more excited about) and I got four pages in before taking a break. I returned to it in mid-June to draw two more pages and then I hit a wall. I don’t remember now if I actually had this story worked out in any way. Typically, I’d write a one-page outline and then dive in, making up scenes and details along the way. But with this one I just…stopped.
The reason was simple. I suddenly came to the realization that I was unqualified to write this story. I didn’t know enough about the state of the world in 1936 to produce anything authentic or meaningful.
Had I continued forward, the best I could have done was a series of action sequences with a bunch of made-up mumbo jumbo about a magic orb that accelerated the growth of plant life. With such an object, you could turn deserts into gardens. The question would be, who could be trusted to use that power responsibly? If Indiana Jones could wrest such a prize away from the forces of fascism, he would then have to face the ethical choice of whether or not to turn it over to capitalists instead. And he might just end up throwing it away for all eternity, beyond the reach of fallible mortal men.
Now that I write it out, it seems like a story with some meat to it. But it was 58-year-old-me who came up with that plotline just now. 18-year-old me would have done a half-assed version. At least 18-year-old me was smart enough to decide “no-assed” was better than “half-assed” and walk away before things got even more embarassing.