Monday, May 14, 2012

Twenty-Five Cent Comic: Vector

Vector: Druid Rave Edition

I want to point out, first of all, that this comic cost $1.50. In 1986.

By comparison, a Marvel Comic in the same time period would have set you back $.75. So, as a buyer in 1986, you start out by making a huge sacrifice--you could pass on TWO decent Marvel Comics to pick up Vector. And while the book is hefty, it's only 30 pages. 

Let's check the sales pitch on Vector just to be sure we want to part with our milk money.

"COLOR COMICS WITH FULL COLOR COMPUTER GRAPHICS" is emblazoned on the cover. Now, I firstly, believe this means it will be a comic with fully computerized artwork. Hmmm. We'll see.

The inside cover, which talks about the rest of the Now Comics line up, goes on to say that Vector is "the ultimate visual experience! Full color comics with computer graphics."

Ok. Granted, in 1986, I was only doodling snowmen in Deskmate. But I know 1986 was capable of producing some fascinating and cutting-edge computer graphics--especially if those graphics were unintended for, say, a video game or some other kind of application but for the printed page. The cover depicts a pixelated style--seems ok enough. Reminds me a lot of DOS games I played with from around that time.

So opening up the book, you find... regular old comic art. Not particularly well-executed. If I had drawn this book in high school, I think I would have been fairly pleased with myself. I mean, hey, it's a finished comic! We clearly stopped at nothing to get to that point. There are badly drawn faces and questionable wrist joints peppering each panel.

This kind of establishes what the characters look like. To a degree.

You know, it really reminds me of a low-rent school-giveaway PSA comic, except the PSA is that I can't tell what the fuck is going on with the story other than that the "modem" is bringing some kind of malevolent force upon our two main characters, whose appearances change rather steadily throughout the first 5 pages.

Not "Modem"!

I gather the woman bought a computer, and that's what started this mess. Just like a woman. I finally found out that she is Alice, and her companion is Henry.

So I can't follow the story, the art sucks, and this is a computer-graphics comic that has provided nothing remotely computer-graphics-like.

By page five we get a little bit of pixel, revealing a touch of the computer world.

A preview of pixelated things to come...

They run around a little after that, but by page 13, they have fully entered the "computer world" and all the money I paid for this comic is put to... use.

Alice. Has. Enormous. Hands. And I think Henry might have some kind of deformity.

What the fuck is up with her hands!?

The resulting few pages are like a weird trip where body parts are suspiciously malformed and exaggerated, and every single scene is surrounded by what look like digital artifacts. You know, in case you couldn't tell what you were looking at.

Henry and Alice fight it out with a bunch of guys that they kind of refer to as "modems" but it's unclear. I'm not tracking down issues 1 & 2 to find out. I could use that $.50 to buy a side of sour cream next time I get a jones for a baked potato!

I showed this to Stan and asked him what was going on in the last panel. He said, "They guy got knocked over, or something." I replied, "That's the woman!"

Sometimes we color in the teeth, sometimes we leave it to chance, sometimes the characters are recognizable, and sometimes not.

I can't be the only one who feels that none of these characters look remotely the same from panel to panel.

There's some bullshit about Stonehenge being a transfer point for some weird computer druid guys living in "Dimension V", and the general plot as I now see it is that Henry has some "memory" of theirs that they must take back. Ok. There may be a third character called "Vector" or that may just be Henry. It's very hard to tell in the computer world. But they are referring to someone as Vector and when we all crash back to the poorly-drawn comic realm, there appear to be three people, one of whom seems massively constipated.

Panel 4 says it all...

Then something explodes. And Alice says we can all go back to normal. Yay!

 I want to point out also that no one, no one, takes full credit for any of the art here. We have a "computer consultant" and a letterer. We have a copyright by Jim McGreal and Rich Mrozek. But there's no "art by" or "pencils" or anything. No one wants to put their name on this.

The letters page is also entertaining. There is only ONE positive letter--most go on about how bad the art/story are. One exciting letter complements the story highly but offers that the art is so bad "maybe I could help you". The editorial team ACTUALLY TELLS HIM TO SEND A SAMPLE. Nothing says "got it together" like issue three of a comic without a fully-staffed art team.

The "Vector Letter Sector" scanned better than it read in real life. White on yellow = one sad fellow.

In short, Vector seems to be mostly about poorly-directed flash with no substance, throwing words around like "modem" and "vector" without much knowledge either of the 1986 computer world OR how to create computer graphics. When it's the banner headline of your comic, your gimmick better be phenomenal.

I don't know how Vector ends. I don't know how many more issues we got. I think a case could be made for this to have been the last one, but honestly it probably crawled along for a while longer. Now Comics did wind up putting out some comics that people remember, so Vector didn't kill the company or anything, it just didn't help. (This is, by the way, my HIGHLY factual account of how all this went down, gleaned entirely by what I read within this comic. I have put no research into it, so be sure you cite this article for Wikipedia later. Thanks!)

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