Research Blog Antarctica #156 – Penguins on Ice

Comic book: Sergio Salma: Penguins on Ice (ibooks, 2005)

Penguins on Ice is a collection of comic strips about Fred the Penguin and his compatriots. The jokes are based on simple ideas, such as how all penguins look the same.

The artist, Sergio Salma, is guilty of a sin so great that I can’t recommend this to any fan of Antarctica: He mixes the Arctic and the Antarctic. Penguins and Inuit. That’s just unforgivable. Even if some of the strips are funny.

Research Blog Antarctica #151 – Mystery in Antarctica

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Comic book: Francis Bergése: Mystery in Antarctica (Cinebook, 2015)

Buck Danny is an American ace pilot and the hero of a long-running series of French comic books. Mystery in Antarctica is Buck Danny no. 51. Like with any pop culture phenomenon, once it runs long enough it acquires its own logic, leading to shifts in tone that may seem strange to newcomers. As a character created in the Forties, Buck Danny is a blonde, square-jawed hero type with a funny sidekick. Yet his adventures take place in the modern world. This album was originally published in French in 2005.

Buck Danny is all about flying airplanes, so his enemies need jets too. Thus in Mystery in Antarctica, common pirates are somewhat implausibly equipped with serious military hardware. It’s especially funny because Buck Danny is all about realism in its depiction of fighter jets and US Navy protocols.

The story itself features a couple of classic Antarctic subjects. Nazi expeditions to the south and a Sea Shepards style environmental organization appear. The main focus is still on what I suspect is the central theme of all Buck Danny stories: Modern fighter airplanes and how cool they are.

Research Blog Antarctica #150 – Anibal 5

208174018-Anibal5_zoomedComic book: Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess: Anibal 5 (Humanoids Publishing, 2015)

This is a collection of two Anibal 5 albums, published in English by Humanoids. I read the first one in Finnish translation as a child, and its mix of softcore sex and scifi weirdness made a big impression on me. I was at an age where stories don’t really leave lasting impressions, but the scenes and images do. Now that I read it again, I recognized much of it, but the context was new.

Anibal 5 is a sex-addicted super-agent cyborg who fights and fucks and complains his way through various predicaments. The first album is definitely the better one. The second follows Anibal to Antarctica, where crazed feminists have created the Republic of Clitoria and must be stopped.

So no, this won’t win any prizes for progressive values.

The fist half of the comic has that Jodorowsky energy, but the second half is running on empty. Cringe-worthy stereotypes of man-hating feminists are not its only problem. Still, the idea of an Antarctic republic of women is not without peer. Ursula Le Guin’s short story Sur imagines an early all-women Antarctic expedition, and books such as the novel The Birth of the People’s Republic of Antarctica and DJ Spooky’s The Book of Ice have explored similar territory.

Research Blog Antarctica #123: Heart of Ice

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Graphic novel: Alan Moore: Nemo: Heart of Ice (Top Shelf, 2013)

Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen started with two volumes of relatively straightforward intertextual adventure stories before ascending into the realms of conceptual psychedelia. The spin-off Nemo stories, focusing on the daughter of the submarine captain, are a little bit more restrained than the main series.

In Heart of Ice, the heroes journey into intertextual Antarctica to witness the works of Lovecraft, Poe and others. Conceptually, it creates an interesting counterpoint to the real Antarctica. In real life, Antarctica is mostly uninhabited and empty, a white space devoid of human meaning. In Moore’s comic book, it’s a region steeped in reference and history. There are old literary concepts hiding behind every corner.

I may read too much into this, but perhaps this is why the events of the book are depicted as happening during the Antarctic night. Maybe the empty whiteness of the Antarctic day would have undermined the concept.