Call me a big dork, but I love maths almost as much as I love superheroes. And I guess it was inevitable that one day I’d try to combine the two.

But first:

 

Wa-hey! I’ve got published!

 

I’ve had a strip accepted for the Indie Comics Quarterly anthology, which I’m very pleased about. And that strip is none other than Pazuzu!, which has been hanging in limbo on the front page of Fundament Zero for some time now.

So, should you choose to purchase this anthology, what can you expect from me?

Well, I had an idea for a while of creating  a team of super-mathematicians within the Universe Gun universe. In the same way that the Doom Patrol deal with all the weird stuff in the DC Universe, these folks would be the team who get called in for all the mind-bending cases when the laws of mathematics go wrong. And in a superhero universe, that can be pretty serious. If shouting a “speed formula”  can make you run really fast (like Johnny and Jesse Quick in DC), or 5-dimensional imps can alter reality, then maths becomes a sort of magic, like an operating system for the world that can have physical effects.

I’m a computer programmer, and it hasn’t escaped me how similar computers are to genies of myth and legend. They can do anything, but they’ll obey the letter of your command, and not your intent, so you have to word what you say to them very carefully, ie programme them correctly.

So all these ideas fell together last year to create the strip Pazuzu!

In the orbit of Jupiter (and this is very isolated due to my restrictions on space travel), there exists a very special school with the deliberately dry name of  The Institute for Hypermathematical Studies. Here, away from the heart of human civilisation, they explore the realms of superhero maths, opening up weird phase spaces, experimenting with power equations, and so on. The staff are:

Dr Joj Horizon – Martian co-founder of the Institute, a sort of sci-fi Dr Strange played by George Harrison. Non-powered, but master of numerical simulations, and host to a rather unusual entity.  (I won’t spoil Pazuzu! yet…)

Mantissa – Horizon’s lover and co-founder, she belongs to an obscure Martian sect who refer to themselves as “this” to eliminate ego. I’m trying to take Doc Strange’s other-dimensional girlfriend/student Clea and give her her own agency while retaining the odd submissive streak to the character. Mantissa is a talented optimizer, and amplifies Doc Horizon’s simulation abilities.

Fibonacci Girl – Oola Gantz is a whizkid post grad, who’s discovered an equation that allows her to replicate herself, each duplicate being as powerful as the two before! The original and first copy (both with a 1 on her sweatshirt) have some basic Amazing Strength and Stamina, Girl 2 gets Flight, Girl 3 has Amazing Heat Vision, Girl 5 gets Amazing Breath added, Girl 21 has Amazing Giant Growth, and so on. To limit her, Girl 144 is evil due to a flaw in her equation, and must never be summoned again! Definitely the physical powerhouse of the team.

Little Zeno – Farlane Mc3 is a plucky little guy from the Life Star – the last superhuman that it made before shutting down in the 33rd Century. He can repeatedly halve his size, but never reach zero, and modify his density, similar to The Atom in DC. Often runs around at 3 feet tall for no real reason. Named after Zeno’s Paradox, which describes how a finite number can be sub-divided into an infinite number of components.

I’ve written a 23 page story featuring this team and some of the Universe Gun characters, but shelved it for drawing later on once Universe Gun got under way. Then last year I heard about a Mad Science themed anthology and put together the nine page black and white strip, Pazuzu!, for it, which details how Horizon and Mantissa got started. Its a Faustian tale of hubris that plays on the genie/computer analogy I made earlier. The Great Database and New Mumbai feature, so we see a bit more of Mars here.

And since its set in the 33rd Century, I decided that it should have a real 1970’s vibe to it – the cast have dungarees, afros, ponchos, sideburns and all the other fine things from my favourite ten years of the 20th Century! Someday soon I’ll do a 30th Century rockabilly 1950’s strip to complete the analogy!

As you can see from the preview page on my site, its a black and white strip. That was an interesting challenge, especially since my default style has become so colorful. It was quite satisfying to get my head around the art of spotting blacks, balancing the black and white on a per-page and panel basis, and most importantly clearly delineating everything without colour. I decided to go for “pure” black and white (ie no grayscale pixels) had to come up with some new processes for making see-through touchscreens and other effects.

So, I may be the first person to attempt to mash mathematics, superheroes and 1970’s fashion together into a story. If you want to see how it turned out, check out Indie Comics Quarterly in May 2014, which I’m sure is full of other equally esoteric goodies. I’ll probably return to these ideas in a few years time when Universe Gun catches up to them.

See you squares in seven!

Dr Mike 2000, 3 May 2014

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