That metal-slamming sound could be heard all over North Am in 4000 A.D. Equipped with red mini-jumpsuit, white go-go boots, and a Kung Fu grip, Magnus—Robot Fighter, was at it again, battling errant robots back to their nuts and bolts—even during dates with his smokin’ hot space vixen Leeja, the daughter of North Am’s Senator Clane.
Russ Manning’s creation of Magnus held my interest circa 1966 with his sharp focused, graphic ink strokes and deftly rendered metallic surfaces. He was a master of the comic world to me. I copied panels from his stories over and over again. I spent eighth grade dodging teachers while I sat in the back of the room copying Magnus and robots and trying to remember American history.
Manning’s stories fleshed out a science fiction world that captivated my young man’s ideal but it was his ink lines that solidified it all. Each panel was designed for maximum graphic effect. I started my intense study of composition through Manning’s panels: how to tell more with less.
From the tickle-rain take-over of North Am’s Weather Control to the “Weird World of Mogul Badur” where Magnus is kidnapped to an alternate dimension (replete with more evil robots that wait on apathetic obese people, pre-dating WALL-E), it read like an issue of National Geographic to me, reporting on what lies waiting for my adulthood in the future.
I can’t make it to 4000 A.D., but I’m excited to know that others want to go there still. Wednesday is the release date for the next generation of Magnus, from Dark Horse and I’m as excited as a shiny red Battle Rob. [Note from Tor.com: Expect a review in tomorrow’s “Wednesday Pull List” comics post!]
Will 1A return to protect Magnus and mankind? Slamming robots and karate-chopping metal heads that SQUEEEEE! is enough to make me get the ink pen back out.
This is my idea of a spanking clean future world: soft-sculpted high-rises, pedestrian walkways the size of the promenade at Teotihuacan, and flying Buicks.
Notice how perfectly diametric Mogul’s features are: the exaggerated eyebrows balance the rich downward shapes of his beard. The shadows are formed with similar shading that all end in sharp points.
Check out this body posture. If this doesn’t send flutters through every wannabe action illustrator out there... Here’s Magnus in full, fighting form: the legs just pushing off; the torso in mid-twist; and a perfect head turn towards his next move—and the bad guys. All in understated anatomy, just the right amount of shadow, and none of it rendered in values. Perfection.
Greg Manchess is an illustrator working in New York and Portland. He is currently writing his first novel.