Tesla Strong, daughter of science-hero Tom Strong and a rugged science-hero in her own right. Tom Strong is a creation of Alan Moore/ Chris Sprouse and appeared in America’s Best Comics, part of DC’s Wildstorm imprint. The books ran through most of the 2000s and are among the best comics of the new millennium.
Additional references can be found at:
This dates from back when we were house-sitting for my parents in Sterling in the late 1980s. I sold the original years ago but I think it measured about six inches on the vertical side.
As for inspiration there are three things going on here:
- I’ve always liked the way Val Paul Taylor works Pacific Northwest themes into his work – Val and I were classmates for one all-too-short years at BYU.
- I’ve been a fan of alternate history since Kirk Mitchell’s Procurator series in the mid-Eighties and I take great delight in designing arms and equipment for “What if” scenarios.
- While the Kenai Peninsula art “scene” had opened up immeasurably since I left home in 1971, it was still very much dominated in 1988 by touristy themes such as moose, mountains, the Northern Lights and PUFFINS!
We couldn’t go anywhere without running into paintings of puffins….
I’m not the first artist to hide Easter Eggs in work, but I think I might be in contention for the title of “most obscure reference.”. Take the nice little pen & ink drawing I did in the summer of 1988 depicting a British tank crew on the Western Desert ca. 1941. In the foreground is the commander sipping a mug of tea, in the background was an-obviously-recently-shot-down pterodactyl and on the hull of the tank itself is painting the Cross of St. George.
Unfortunately it all worked out the way a visiting friend predicted: ” Nice drawing but no one will get the reference”
Today’s drawing falls into much the same category…
Never mind the fact that the idea has been retro-designed to approximately TL 1939…
They’re the first thing you see on an episode of Fireball XL5
“OK Venus?” “OK Steve” “Right…let’s go!”
Some guys my age like to golf all the time. Other guys work in their gardens. Me – I like to re-design things just for the h*ll of it. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Fireball XL5, if nothing else but for the fact that it was my favorite show during 5th grade at Woodland Park Elementary in deepest, darkest Spenard…and it was time to give the jetbike a reworking….
My latest effort at re-designing Fireball XL5 involves the Thruster Packs used for either EVA outside of the ship or movement around a planetary surface.
Clunky technology is one of reasons I love Gerry Anderson’s work. The shows have vehicles and equipment that look futuristic but are in fact usually manifestations of a mature (dead-end) technology that will be tossed aside when the Next New Thing comes along. Think 8-track tape players or RCA Selectavision. The Hawker Hurricane vs. the Spitfire. – the sort of thing I’ve referred to as “technodork” in other writings.
The search for a functional reason for those pointy-shouldered uniforms has bedeviled me since 1963 but other than aesthetics their main value was ease of construction and tailoring. I left the pointy shoulders off the regular duty uniforms but incorporated them into the thruster pack design as a multifunctional breastplate of sorts with concealed mounts for accessories, mounting brackets for propulsion units and foldable wings for fuel economy . It also provides measure of protection while looking suitably “outer space-y” with the pointy shoulder features.
…now if I can just figure out how to make those “oxygen pills” work.
It’s pretty obvious that aviation and aircraft rate fairly high on my list of interests (obsessions?). I like classic aircraft best – mostly 1930’s and early World War 2 “stuff”- but I like some of the odder concepts that came out right after World War 2 when the superpowers were in a race to see who could be first to put pilfered German technology to practical use.
Of course American designers came up with some interesting concepts on their own. The Skyshark was an attempt by Douglas Aircraft to combine turbine technology with contra-rotating propellers to get a really, really fast naval attack plane – but unfortunately technology available in the late 1940s was not equal to the task. Once more a beautiful concept was shot down by ugly fact when the gearboxes between the engines and propellers routinely disintegrated into bits of metal during acceleration so the United States Navy wisely went with the A1 Skyraider as the attack plane of choice.
Of course that doesn’t deter me from making whimsical drawings of the plane (in imaginary insignia/markings ) in my sketchbook …
Carrying on with the alternate time-line historically correct superhero idea: CPT Carter Hall, US Army (Airborne) tests his wings. This design actually took some time to come together for me as Hawkman traditionally uses edged weapons and maces (granted they are enchanted edged weapons and maces) but they just didn’t look right. I also briefly considered giving him an officer’s sword ( yes – they still do exist) but in the end I went with just the good old M1911A2.
(answering the age-old question: Why do you use a .45? Answer: Because they don’t make a .46!
I also considered giving him an oxygen mask w/bottle but I don’t think he would routinely fly high enough to need one.
The drawing itself needs a little cleaning-up but I wanted to get it posted as soon as possible. The design is a “rework of a rework”; two years ago I posted a series of XL5 designs including one of the ship itself, but I’ve never been happy with the drawing because A) it was a sketch and not nearly as polished as I like my work-in-public to be and B) I wasn’t totally happy with some of the details and proportions.
Visitors to my studio are often more interested in my tools than my art , because for every factory-made purchased implement in my collection there is one I’ve made myself. Usually it’s a sculpture tool of some kind and was created for a function that all my other tools couldn’t accomplish. For example I have a small blade set into a handle but angled back at the grip which I contrived when I couldn’t find a way to smooth out the leaves of a plant that billowed out from the base.
The same thing happens with words. Every now and then I have to invent a new word because current ones don’t work for me. For example, what is the collective word for technologies that went down a blind alley and were discarded when mature – things like eight-track tape players or the Consolidated B-36 Peacemaker bomber? I love that sort of thing but grew tired of rattling down the seven word “blind alley” appellation and started to use the word “technodork” instead.
Today’s drawing comes from another category with a made-up name: “Retro-tailored Design” or RTD. RTD refers to designs that have been made to look like they came from another era. It’s a challenge to design something that will convincingly fit another era. One designer put together a series of faux ads that showcased modern devices like cell phones and MP3 players – but all of them with the squared off look and wood grain cover from the 1970’s. Pocket Books released a novelization of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that depicted the station and starships in a 1950’s motif…and of course Steam-punk is full of RTD with smart phones and lasers designed with a Victorian flourish.
So, back to the drawing: what if the freak lightning bolt-striking-chemicals accident had happened in London in the late 1930s instead Central City twenty years later? You’d end up with LT Barrington Allenby-Smith RN looking something like this as he was running about at super speed fighting the Germans.
Although… I would think that a code name like “The Flash” would be a bit too flamboyant for a Royal Navy officer, but I do believe he would carry out his duties with an element of “dash”…..