This week’s art has been rather strangely dominated by images of women giving suspicious gifts of fruit.
First off, I finally finished the cover to Universe Gun #3! I’ve had this one hanging over me for 13 weeks now (since I’ve drawn 13 interior pages), and went through 3 different designs to incorporate the idea of Venus Green‘s hand, holding a banana Excalibur-style, emerging from a tesseract in the middle of a rainforest.
I’d originally had the idea of just a close up of her hands peeling the banana. I’d love to draw a peeled banana someday, the ribbed texture would look great in this art style. I had an idea afterwards of her hands peeling the banana emerging from a cubic device covered in industrial style warning sticker (biohazard, radioactive, and so on), with the box held by a pair of robot hands. I couldn’t get this one down at all, and tried a simpler design with the hand emerging from a box too small to contain the whole figure.
I eventually came up with the final design. Instead of revolving around a clever paradoxical image, shoot it from a straightforwards angle and get some nice plant drawings in there. This image is much better, but still remained pencilled in for 13 weeks before I took it on myself to finish it off this week.
Prior to doing the cover, I was doing interior art where Venus first appears, and says:
Would you like a nice piece of fruit?
This was finished Monday night, which is when we get a new topic for the Oz Comics weekly draw-off on Facebook. This week’s topic was Maleficent, to coincide with the movie. I knew very little about her – she’s a Disney princess villain something something being played sympathetically by Angelina Jolie? I had the idea for drawing a science fiction Maleficent, with her horned headpiece like an exo-brain device like Gloriana J wore in my strip of that name. And then the ideas started coming together. How would a science fiction villain create a poison apple? Imagine an apple in a bell jar, with radioactive and toxic attachments bombarding it with evil dark energy like a particle accelerator. You could have a medical drip bag feeding it something nasty, say evil looking tadpole leeches swimming in the bag? She could be programming a curse in the mirror, I thought, but hang on, that was from Snow White, not Sleeping Beauty. Never mind, the apple should be central to the image. (If you’re familiar with the Disney movies, you may realise that something’s wrong by now. If not, I’ll let you follow the mental journey I made.)
I’ve had an idea for years now of Ms. Amazing overseeing the creation of a science “apple of knowledge”, where the entire sum of human knowledge is imprinted on to a piece of fruit by a particle accelerator device. She gives it to someone and they eat it. Ms. Amazing exists to upgrade the planet from human to superhuman, Eve’s primary role was to upgrade humanity from blissful ignorance to awareness, so it fits rather well. Its not the kind of idea that’s easy to shoe-horn into a story, but I’ll use it some day. And this was a chance to draw the evil version of this event.
It got me thinking about this recurring motif of the woman with an apple. Eve gives Adam the apple form the Tree of Knowledge in the Christian creation myth. This has always fascinated me when I realised that Eve gets punished by painful childbirth, and that this is actually kind of true. Our big heads mean we have to deliver our babies prematurely compared to most animals, and even then we’ve settled on a balance that makes human childbirth pretty traumatic. Its been hypothesised that our whole “pair-bonding” mechanism has evolved to keep the two parents together to care for these difficult and helpless children we have. So love and recreational sex are the consequences of intelligence? That’s kind of cool! Further pointing to this idea – the introduction of knowledge turns the Biblical couple from being blissfully unaware and naked like animals to uncomfortably sexily naked like people.
There’s also Eris, the Greek goddess of Discord, and idol of Robert Anton Wilson and the Illuminati. She started a war between the gods that spilled over into the world of men merely by giving a golden apple out at a party, inscribed with the words “to the fairest one”. This instantly caused an argument between the goddesses, and led to the whole Troy storyline. Researching this, I learned the awesome Dutch word “Twistappel” – an idiom for anything that causes trouble and jealousy like the Apple of Discord did. Its a great term for “Employee of the Month” awards, for example.
And there’s the posioned apple in Maleficent’s story. It’s starting to look like you should run a mile if a chick tries to give you an apple!
The mythical posioned apple is probably a reference to the Biblical story or the Greek myth, but I doubt that those two would have a common origin. Its a strange and rather cool coincidence. What is it with apples? Back in Biblical/ancient Greek times, they’d be one of the sweetest things around. Sure, they pale in comparison to our hyper-palatable snacks like chocolate bars, and look positively healthy, but an apple back then would be a second only to a peach. Are these stories about the trouble that can befall a strict well-ordered military society (like Rome) if too much pleasure is introduced? Apples can’t be hallucinogenic in the same way ergot contaminated bread is, but could be fermented maybe.
This was all swirling around in my head during the day and I was planning to make a triptych out of it – Eve, Eris and Malificent with their troublesome apples. I came home and checked with a couple of our daughters (who are Disney princess experts) to see what they thought, and the whole thing fell apart.
Maleficent doesn’t have a poisoned apple! That’s the evil queen in Snow White! She uses a poisoned spinning wheel to get Sleeping Beauty instead!
I stood there swearing as they openly pointed and laughed, as if I’d just said “Hey, Cyclops is the one with the claws, right?”
So, tonight I ended up drawing Maleficent creating a poisoned spinning wheel instead, modelled on the eight arrows of chaos. It turned out great, and you wouldn’t know about the hassle that went into it if it were not for this blog entry.
I’ll get around to the triptych soon, as time permits. One day I’ll write that scene with the science apple of knowledge and Ms. Amazing. In the meantime, stay strong and fruity!
See you in seven, suckers of citrus sustenance! Dr Mike 2000, May 30 2014