Sunday, December 22, 2013

Entry 208: Amnia Cycle Inspiration

So those are some of the opening shots from Amnia Cycle followed by the first page of Hayao Miyazaki's master piece, Nausicaa.

When I started drawing Amnia Cycle I didn't know what it would be, but I quickly pulled some ideas together to get me started.

First-- I knew it would be a Sci-Fi, because that would be the easiest thing for me to make up. I could make everything up that way and not have to get reference for anything.

Second-- I decided that I would have a female protagonist and that she would be a pilot. Nausicaa is no small influence here.

Nausicaa is one of my favorite comic series ever. I've read it several times and learn so much from it each time I look at it. I've wanted to do something kind of like Nausica for a long time. When I was working on Star Wars I started working on an idea to pitch to Dark Horse Comics for a Star Wars mini series that was very influenced by Nausicaa. I gave up on the idea when I realized that it was just to derivative.

As I've said on this blog, I drew the first twelve pages of Amnia Cycle on a plane. I didn't have any reference. I couldn't look back at how Miazaki started Nausicaa, but you'll notice how alike some of the shots are. Even the design of Tara bears a resemblance to Nausicca.

Here's another page from Nausicaa.

If you haven't read Nausicaa, I can't recommend it enough.

That is a still from David Lynch's film Mulholland Drive

I am a pretty big fan of David Lynch. I saw Mulholland Drive three times in the theater. And viewing movies multiple times in the theater is something I never do. I really like it.

It's influence was not a conscious one, but after the fact I realized the the relationship of Tara and Amnia was no doubt suconsciouly influenced by the relation ship of Betty and Rita in Mulholland Drive.

That is a two page spread from The Metabarons by Juan Gimenez and Alejandro Jodorowsky.

For me, The Metabarons is one of the reasons I even like this genre and want to do anything with it. It was huge influence over my Star Wars work and pretty much anytime I'm drawing sic-fi.

Here are pages from Moebius's Garden of Aedena, part of his series of books called the Aedena Cycle.

Moebius is another influence that runs through a lot of my work. When I came up with the name Amnia Cycle, one of the reasons I liked it was because it reminded me of Aedena Cycle.
Also, the idea of making up a story as I go along is an idea influenced by another Moebius work, The Airtight Garage.

Those are a couple pages from Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's Gundam: The Origin.

Certainly the primary influence over Amnia Cycle is Manga (Japanese comics). And Yasuhiko's work is a big influence over the way I'm approaching Amnia Cycle. From the simplicity and efficiency of his line work, to his use of color.

I always admire how Yas's (Yasuhiko's) work looks so effortless and not fussed over. It really looks like he is drawing it really quickly and just nailing it. That is a big inspiration and something I strive to achieve every time I work on Amnia Cycle.

Another inspiration for how I approach Amnia Cycle, believe it or not, is the band Guided By Voices.
Here is a video for a song off one of their most recent albums, Class Clown Spots a UFO.

One time, while I was reading Gundam: The Origin on the bus and listening to headphones, this song came on. It was right during a cool action scene. I really liked the effect it had on the scene. I also realized that Guided By Voices were like Yas. Nothing is fussed over, they're making it quick and nailing it. I also realized that this song is stating what I think must be a guiding philosophy for the band. "Keep it in Motion". Keep it moving, don't stop, don't over analyze, don't fuss, keep it in motion. I've adopted the statement as my own.

Guided By Voices is an influence in other ways too. They are considered a "low-fi" band, and I kind of think of Amnia Cycle as a low-fi comic. I'm not taking special care to rule out panel boarders, word balloons will occasionally touch words and are a little pixely, there is no inking, and it's kind of scribbly. But those things aren't the priority. It's like something Robert Pollard (singer/song writer of Guided By Voices) has said "It's about what's in your head and getting it out."

That is a shot of Zarco from Amnia Cycle along with a shot of Black-Jack from Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack.

It's the hairstyle that influenced a million manga characters. I'm just doing it one more time.

Actually, everything about Zarco is inspired by Manga. This kind of character who is ambitious and has a rival counterpart is not a character often seen in American comics, but is pretty common in Manga.

That's right! LOST! It's an influence on Amnia Cycle too.

I think Lost was a bad show in many ways. I didn't like the entire style of it, from the scripting, to the acting, to the directing, the music, none of it was what I would consider good. But what I did like were the ideas, the plotting, the mysteries, and how they could answer a mystery and create a whole slew of more questions. I found it all pretty engaging.

There have been a few moments in Amnia Cycle that, when I thought of them, I realized that they were kind of like Lost ideas. Here are a few.

The questions I'm creating are similar, but the answers are very different.

I promise to end Amnia Cycle in a more satisfying way than Lost.

I fear I might have made to much of the fact that I'm making Amnia Cycle up as I go. It's true, but I do have an end in mind and a loose road map to get me there. Though there is a lot that I'm improvising, I wouldn't want to talk anyone into believing that they can't trust the story to deliver on it's promises.

I kind of know how it ends… I think it's going to be satisfying. We'll see together.

Thanks for being on the journey with me.
Blogged and Blogged.


  1. also end s.h.i.e.l.d better than lost pleas!

    1. Issue 5 is one of my favorite comics I've ever done. As for the last issue, issue 6, I still haven't seen any script. Take it up with Hickman… Actually don't. I'll be doing that.

    2. did you call Hickman yet to find out if there is a script for issue 6? I check your blog daily hoping for a new s.h.i.e.l.d. update. keep up the good work no matter how long it takes.

  2. It's cool to see all of these influences pulled together and laid out like this. It could also be a checklist of all the cool stuff someone should seek out just on general principle.

    Except maybe GBV.


    1. I know things like David Lynch and GBV aren't for everyone. They are acquired tastes in my opinion, and I wouldn't say everyone needs to be into them. But if you are into comics and sic-fi, then Nausicaa and The Metabarons are for you. I believe they are some of the best comics ever made. Gundam: The Origin, I've only read two volumes now. It's supper fun and I like it a lot. So far it hasn't revealed anything like the depth of those other two books. So I guess I'd recommend it, but not as strongly.
      Lost on the other hand, I'm not recommending. Ultimatly, it's really only a good thing if you are a student of telling certain kinds of story and you want to see how to make it work and make it not work… Plus, everyone watched it.
      Seriously, for people reading this, add Nausicaa and The Metabarons to your list of things to read.