Starstruck was ahead of its time in 1980, and it’s still ahead of its time. The difference is it’s now being posted online (and of course there are hundreds more pages each lovingly painted by yours truly over the inspired inkwork of Mssr. Michael Kaluta). GO READ IT HERE. And while you’re reading it, look around. If you cast a clever eye, you’re bound to find me lurking in the shadows.
I first encountered it at the ABA convention in DC. The Marvel Comics reps were tearing down, and there was no way they wanted to schlep books home. So I kindly volunteered to take the Starstruck Graphic Novel (#13!) off their hands. Reading it was my introduction to Anarchera and adult storytelling. Here was a comic that took advantage of the form, and as a student of narrative I could not but be impressed.
I’d been fortunate enough to work with Mw Kaluta on this video for the Alan Parson’s Project:
I was familiar with his work from that and his remarkable covers for Madame Xanadu, et al., but Starstruck was a revelation. It was all manner of good put together in ways unthinkable to anyone but Elaine Lee and Mike Kaluta working together on a plane never before imagined. It’s not got neither the 80’s dystopian bells and whistles of Dark Knight, or the OCD completeness of Watchmen. Instead it has life. I can only imagine what Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby might have thought!
A properly thoughtful take on its wonders by John Hilgart can be found on The Comics Journal site.
A particularly inspired section reads thus: “Everything adds up, even if you cannot figure out what it might mean or where it’s headed. Starstruck’s reputation as a confusing book unfairly implies that it is a confused book, which it emphatically is not. History, culture, family relationships, religions, vernacular speech, and all manner of written texts from this fantastic world accumulate and intersect with perfect consistency”.
W. Andrew Shephard has another fine take in his review on The New Inquiry.
But I while I could show you pages of art and masses of critical acclaim, I will instead quote one random tiny part of the marvelous Glossary (also online). Here’s a snippet about the March Baptists:
“In the book of South Carolinians 1:35, Zed gives to his followers his famous 27 AMENDMENTS to the 10 COMMANDMENTS of Moses (Old Testament). The first seven of these are: 1) Thou shalt wear brown shoes, 2) Thou shalt purport thyself in commodious and seemly ways at all times, 3) Thou shalt talk louder than anyone else in the room, 4) Thou shalt leaveth thy door open by six inches and keep thy best foot on the floor at all times, 5) Thou shalt not be surprised by anything the Lord Thy Zed doeth unto thee, 6) Thou shalt button thy top button in the presence of thy neighbors, 7) Thou shalt March faithfully and without hesitation into the Heavens. The March Baptists took the Seventh Amendment quite literally. After the Unification, the March Baptists did more for the push into space than any other Amercadians. March Baptists researchers developed ships and weapons, March Baptist workers built them, wealthy March Baptists financed the work. They poured credits and human fodder into the new Amercadian Space Brigade. They were not among the first to go into space, however. During simulated flights it was found that non-Baptist crewmembers (the majority) developed a tendency to repeatedly bash the heads of the March Baptists into large metal objects after only a few marbecs’ confinement in the small (by our standards) ships. Only after they began to build and launch their own mission-ships were March Baptists able to realize their god’s commandment. As of this writing, the March Baptists have missions on 938 planets and free-floating temples EVERYWHERE.”
Over 30 years the story has appeared in small and teasing installments. And where some of those bits were in color, all were physically shorter – they were a different aspect ratio altogether – on intended for a magazine format. Some have never been seen in color before I painted them. So to round off this attempt to share one of my great loves (and two years of my work), here are a couple of befores and afters (and please note the new panels that the greater page height allows!):