Today I give you an example of the innovative narrative found in Phoenix: Space.
Have you seen a 1957 movie “12 Angry Men”? It’s an unquestioned masterpiece and important part of American cultural heritage. It’s thrilling from the beginning to the very end, even though it takes place in one room for most time.
Now, imagine similar story in cold and infinite outer space.
26th century. A spaceship with important cargo and 5 persons on board is on its way from distant colony to Earth. The journey will take approximately 400 years.
One day, the whole crew wakes up from hibernation. It appears that this year’s pilot Makimura is dead and the ship was heavily damaged after being hit by meteor. The four remaining crewmembers board the escape pods.
They use radio to communicate between each other and discover that the Makimura was probably killed. It means that the killer is among them. Through talk and remembering things from past they try to uncover the murderer. In six months their portions of food and water and oxygen will run out. Their chance of survival is like one to quadrillion.
In the panel above we see them as they give farewell to Kizaki. His pod is drifting away from the others and there is nothing they can do about this.
Notice how the narrative of the story is split between four strips. We see all the crewmembers all the time. Separated and connected in one time - their unimaginably desperate position is mirrored in the composition of the panel.
But the story of Space features more innovations in the art of comics. I will show them in the… future.
“Nostalgia” - sixth volume of “Phoenix”. IMHO - one of the most beatiful love stories ever written.
Set in the distant future it follows history of Eden 17 - colony in space established by Romy (depicted) and her husband, George. Unfortunately, he dies shortly after arrival. Romy decides to go on no matter what. She bears a son and after some time she bears another children with her own son… But for some reason she’s unable to have a daughter.
After many decades Romy starts to feel an unspeakable nostalgia for Earth. The feeling is so strong that she decides to visit it. More info with more panels…
This is an extremely rare color guide hand colored by Katsuhiro Otomo himself. This was one of a select few pages that was done to give the Akira comic book colorist Steve Oliff an example on how Otomo wanted the look of the book to be colored.