May 24th: Comics in SPAAAAACE!

By on May 24, 2012 in
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Date: May 24, 2012

Title: Comics in SPAAAAACE!

Podcaster: Paul Caggegi

Organization: The Process Diary

Links: http://processdiary.com

Description: Amidst all the hyper-drives and FTLs in science fiction, the often-overlooked generation ship, or space ark presents a more feasible option to colonise the stars. Paul Caggegi has made it the backdrop of his mini-comic, “Humm” which is available free as an eBook from his website.

Bio:Paul Caggegi is a freelance video editor and motion-graphics artist who lives and works in Sydney Australia. He spends vast amounts of his spare time working on web-comics and collaborative anthologies with other comic artists from around the globe. He is fascinated by space, and when he can, he dusts off his old Newtonian and goes star gazing in his backyard.

Today’s Sponsor: “This episode of 365 days of Astronomy” is sponsored by iTelescope.net – Expanding your horizons in astronomy today. The premier on-demand telescope network, at dark sky sites in Spain, New Mexico and Siding Spring, Australia.

Transcript:

Comics in SPAAAAACE!

Hi everyone, my name is Paul Caggegi. I am the host of the blog and podcast, The Process Diary and I must preface this episode of 365 Days of Astronomy by basically saying I’m not a scientist. I don’t even play one on TV. I am an enthusiast when it comes to astronomy. I own a humble 650mm Newtonian ‘scope, it’s on an EQ mount, and on occasion I take it to my backyard, point it roughly in the direction of South so it kind of works, and then use a couple of iPad apps to figure out what’s up in the night sky and then go searching for it. You might say I have a passion for astronomy, and a passion for science. I’ve always been into science fiction.

One of my hobbies – and this is the subject of this episode today – is comics. I’ve enjoyed reading them ever since I was a kid, and now I enjoy creating them. Now one of the things I was really into when I started getting into comics was the idea of the scientist as hero. This was because the first comics I ever read were part of a hidden stash I found in my grandfather’s house – they belongs to one of my uncles – and there was a lot of circa 1960s 1970s Marvel comics there. That included things like The Incredible Hulk,Spider Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men. Fantastic Four was perhaps the best example of a scientist hero in Reed Richards, who used science to vanquish evil, you might say – that’s the short version.

What was going on in comics at the time was very telling of that era, I mean the 60s were when the USA were trying to beat the Russians to the moon, and so science was a big part of society. And comics – being sort of like, at that time the very low end of pop-culture – really were showing how far ingrained that was.

Fast-forward to past my teenage years, to where I’m a slightly bigger kid, and I come across books by James Kakalios. One in particular was The Physics of Superheroes. And this really brought me back to those early days of reading comics. It talked a lot about the Golden Age comics where superman wasn’t as invincible as he later became. He could leap tall buildings in a single bound, sure but he kinda had to do a running jump first.

Things like scientific accuracy while not the first thing you think of when you think pop culture, especially movies, is there and it’s in surprising places.

As a creator of comics, I endeavour to be as accurate as I can within the context of the story. As an entertainer your number one job is to entertain, but if you can make your number two job to educate, it lifts the story into another realm. And that’s what I tried to do with a little story I titled Humm for an anthology that I put together with six other artists called 8 in Space! And while a lot of the stories were fantastical, they entertained. We’ve got everything from discovering Bigfoot on Mars to chickens in space; releasing a pet back into the wild and the wild happens to be outer space; a planetary invasion and taking happy-snaps on an asteroid; walking between the planets of the solar system – all of these sorts of things. And then my humble little story about a generation ship which has made it to an exo-planet so that humanity can take that first step to become a space-faring race.

The hero of the story is one of many clones aboard this ship. They’ve been drifting through space for about 77 generations. One of the plot-devices that you often see in science fiction is faster-than-light travel or wormhole tunnelling or things of this nature which – in the case of faster-than-light travel is actually pretty improbable, but in terms of a story device, is a very necessary plot point in order to keep the action and momentum of the story propelling forward, you know you can’t rally your troops, get in the ships and say “ok, 77 generations from now your kids are going to fight the war that I’ve just made you riled up about” it just doesn’t work storywise. But jump through a portal and be there in an instant, and get from point A to point B then your armies are ready to fight another army who’s just gotten there and then you get action, you get drama and you get a story and you sell tickets to the movies and even if people say “well you know that’s not scientifically accurate” they walk out of there feeling like they’ve had a good time. That’s entertainment.

But what if a story was to revolve around something like a generation ship that didn’t necessarily need faster-than-light travel? What I wanted to do was tell the story of what it would be like to be part of that generation that sets foot – or is about to set foot – on the destination world.

The speculation of this is because recently we’re discovering a lot of extra-solar planets and I’m going off what we see in the media. I don’t read peer review journals, I don’t subscribe to any of those, but I do see a lot of reports saying “scientists have discovered another planet floating around this star. This is how they found it” and then I’ll go ahead and listen to some podcasts which describe the technique… it’s enough to spark up my imagination, and write a story about it which I hope inspires others to be interested in these subjects.

So the goal of the story was to really ground it in some kind of reality… however outlandish you might think a ship full of clones floating around in space for 77 generations might be… and that the obstacles that would be overcome would basically be of a nature that were unavoidable, say, an asteroid collision or taking off a part of the vessel, and two heroes trying to save the people aboard that bit of the vessel – that was the interesting story for me. And so drama was easy to set up, it was kind of “hero against the world” type of thing.

Needless to say – the story did quite well. I released it as a free download on Free Comicbook Day and I got over 400 downloads. I don’t know if it’s because there’s a hunger for this sort of thing, or because I advertised it fairly well through my own podcast, but I feel that it somehow was successful. And so that’s what I do.

Now if you’d like to check it out, you just have to go to pandeia.com and there’s a section there called “Free eBook Downloads” you can also find my eStore there and it’s also listed there for free. It’s called HUMM – Free Comicbook Day edition. Take a read through it and tell me what you think because I’d love to know from people who listen to this who are a little more science-minded than I am, if there’s anything that I could’ve improved on. For the next story, of course.

For now this is Paul signing off from The Process Diary and my daughter in the background there, for 365 days of Astronomy. Thanks for listening, bye for now.
End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
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The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by the New Media Working Group of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Audio post-production by Preston Gibson. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. Web design by Clockwork Active Media Systems. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. Until tomorrow…goodbye.

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