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Yars' Revenge The Comic Book Continued

Posted by StanJr, 16 April 2014 · 748 views

Last time around, I gave you a peek into the inspiration behind writing a Yars' Revenge comic book that will (likely) never see print.  It's a great writing project and will be a good way to get some practice in, should I ever be so bold as to make a pitch to one of the big comic publishers.  It's also a fun way to merge two of my favorite hobbies.  And since I am doing it, I figure it would be fun to share it with the only community who could really get the concept.  Therefore, I am subjecting you to this blog.
This go round, I'm going to talk a bit about why a Yars' Revenge comic, specifically, has merit and what my philosophy is on the direction of the story.  I am also including a few pictures of some concept art I have done.  When you view it, please remember that I am barely a writer and not even remotely an artist, so these are the squiggles that bounce around in my brain poorly translated by my feeble hands.  Be gentle.
So why is Yars' Revenge good material for a comic book or even a story?  If you grew up in the dawn age of video games as I did, then you probably spent as many hours reading the instruction manuals as you did playing the games.  Video game instruction manuals in those days were rich with material, not just controller diagrams and scoring charts.  Since graphic capabilities were modest by today's standards, the instruction manual was a way to paint a vivid picture of the action on the screen that may only be represented by a few colored dots.  Atari excelled at creating these larger than life backstories for their games.  If you play Berzerk, you know it's a game about shooting robots and avoiding a bouncing smiley face, but if you read the manual you find out all about being stranded on the planet Mazeon and the relentless robotic hordes of Evil Otto combing the mazes to destroy you.  It helps bring the game to life and engages the imagination.
Yars' Revenge took that idea one step further by providing an entirely separate comic book alongside the instruction manual to tell the story of the Yars' and the Qotile and their conflict. Although it was only 9 pages long, the story written by Hope Shafer was rife with material that could set a young man's imagination to work.  Popping that cartridge in the VCS and taking down that dastardly Qotile was fueled by the knowledge that a peaceful race of mutated flies was being threatened by a deadly enemy!  Imagining that you were navigating the scattered remains of Planet IV in the Neutral Zone in order to protect yourself from the destroyer missiles while you planned your assault was as much fun as actually hitting the swirl in mid-space to earn an extra Yar.
So the imagination of young Stan was irrevocably stimulated by simple, yet fascinating storytelling.  Revisiting that little comic book thirty (oy vey) years later, older, wiser, more educated Stan starts to recognize the building blocks that yielded that food for the creative brain.  Drawing upon years of  watching Star Trek and Star Wars, and reading Silver Surfer and Guardians of the Galaxy (the original team and way before they were cool) comics and Asimov, Heinlein, and Clark novels, certain sci-fi ideas and themes came to bear upon that humble story of space flies and their struggle with a giant cannon.
If you look at it plain and simple, what you have in the story of the Yar, as we know it, based solely on Hope Shafer's story, is a Utopian culture accidentally born from the wreckage of another civilization's attempt to expand beyond their sphere.  The Yar are a peaceful people who spend their energy on improving their society.  They have no inherent enemies and no apparent internal struggle.  (my lovely wife, Aimee, says this makes them super boring also).  Then along comes the Qotile, an unknown enemy.  The Qotile takes up camp on the moon of a nearby planet (although the map on the last page of the comic incorrectly places the Qotile on Planet Epp itself) and starts blowing Yars up left and right.  The peace-loving creatures must now mount a defense to protect themselves and get rid of this hostile force.
It's a great set-up for a video game.  It's also a pretty good premise for a sic-fi story (not overly original, but pretty good nonetheless).  That backstory provides a sturdy skeleton upon which an even bigger story can be fleshed out.  
There's plenty to do with the Yar themselves.  How did they evolve into a peaceful culture?  What is life like in a culture without strife or conflict?  Is it all Star Trek: the Next Generation, or is there more to it?  How is such a society organized?  What do they do?  Apart from the cultural concepts, there are also basic characteristics about the Yar that warrant examination.  For instance, they can "eat" anything and convert it into energy.  What does that mean for their food consumption?  Do they need to farm at all or do they just eat everything they see?  How much energy do they need to survive, and therefore how much do they need to eat per day?  When they convert matter to energy, they can also emit that energy as a powerful beam that can destroy just about anything.  How does that work?  It seems like an offensive capability, but this is a peaceful culture.  How do you reconcile that?  They can also fly from planet to planet, so they must be able to survive without oxygen.  That alone is kind of huge.  And let's not forget that they have fly anatomy, but also torso and legs like humans.  So what's the deal with that?
And while the Yar are plenty interesting, the obvious point of curiosity in this story is the Qotile.  Shafer's story tells us very little about this mystery enemy.  Where did the Qotile come from?  Why is it killing Yars and destroying planets?  It is clearly, from the illustrations, a fairly sizable installation to just pop up on a moon unnoticed.  
Even the Razak Solar System itself has a lot of potential.  There are three planets that we know of.  What are they like?  Do Yars live on all of them?  Are there more?  Are there other solar systems close enough to travel to?  Can Yars travel that far?  Did the Qotile come from a nearby planet or star?  Are there other inhabitants of those planets?
The list goes on.  And I think that this rather lengthy treatment demonstrates that there is plenty in what little we currently know about this story to expand and explore for many, many new stories.  Honestly, I think the possibilities are broad and far reaching and could be a lot of fun.
It also appears that I have gone on and on, so let's save the discussion of my direction for the story for next time.  If you have read this far, then you deserve a break.  As always I would love to hear feedback and discussion about these ideas.  It's all just fun and conjecture, so please feel free to share!
Thanks for indulging me
About the concept sketches: 
The first sketch is a very brief wing study.  If you look at the comic, the anatomy of the wings is kind of all over the place.  I was trying to make more concrete sense of how they connected to the body and operated.
The second sketch is costuming.  This is based on the designs in the original comic, which are never explained, but are clearly distinctive.  From that I have been able to infer at least 5 different areas or departments of Yar culture and social organization as well as internal organizational structures.
The third sketch is basic Yar anatomy.  The heads are particularly intricate and interesting.  

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Thoses sketches are reall cool... Back in college I was attempting to do a 16-bit Yars remake with something along those lines and even had a story about what happened to the Yars after the first Qotile invasion. Hope the comic goes well for you.
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Thank you!  I'd love to hear more about your story as well.

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The typical SF story goes like - the Quotile are an expansionist, xenophobic race with an insatiable need for natural resources.  (Actually, their problem is they evolved from a species with a high birth rate.)  The canon is part of an automated scout which is preparing the Yars system for colonization.


When the Quotile scout first landed on the moon the Yars attempted to make peaceful contact.  This was unsuccessful and none of the attempts were enough to trigger the scout's automated defenses.  The Yars were quite unprepared when the first attacks occurred and had to re-discover how to use their natural abilities in an offensive manner.

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I had considered something along those lines, Eric, and decided it was way over done.  I thought about pitting the Yar, who require very little resource and could live in the Razak System for eons, against the Qotile who are resource hungry like you describe.  


Some of what you said there at the end is on the nose, but the story behind the Qotile is going to be far more complex and unusual.


Another abandoned idea was that the Qotile were actually Earthers who had exhausted the resources of the Sol System and had come to Razak seeking resources.  In that version, the Qotile is just a giant fly swatter.  Luckily, this is so cliche it is just a bad joke.  I groaned at the notion and quickly moved on.


I have decided that outer space is far less trite and convenient.  If I ever get to tell the full story of the Qotile, it will be far from typical and convenient.

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