Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, March 27, 2021

life signal
In his own words, here’s what Will Eisner was going for in his second full-length graphic novel, “Life on Another Planet”:

“This was… an attempt to produce a graphic novel that was constructed in the same structure as a classic literary work. By taking what would be a science-fiction plot and treating it from a more humanistic viewpoint, I hoped to come up with a book that would deserve adult interest.”

The book — originally entitled “Signal From Space” and based upon the broad sociological repercussions from a SETI-like confirmation of intelligent life in outer space — was written in the late 1970s. As such, it’s full of contemporary trappings: Cold War intrigue, New Age-ish religious cults, and corporate co-optation. These elements, among others, were what Eisner used to instill that “humanistic viewpoint”. As a result, the science-fictional catalyst to the story is largely relegated to the background.

There is an interesting plot device that Eisner came up with, and I’m surprised that I’ve never seen it employed anywhere else, before or since. It concerns an Idi Amin-like dictator (again, a contemporary element) who exploits the discovery of alien radio transmissions from “Planet Bernard” in a decidedly unique way:

ETERNAL PRESIDENT: Can we possibly pay on any debts to the other nations, Mr. Mbobe??

FINANCE MINISTER MBOBE: No, we owe over 100 billion to 5 nations, mostly in the West…

ETERNAL PRESIDENT: So… Then we shall freeze all foreign property… close the borders, and… WE SHALL SECEDE FROM THE PLANET EARTH… We will no longer owe money to anyone! I DECLARE OUR MEMBERSHIP IN THE PLANET BERNARD! Invite the Star People cult to Sidiami! WE ARE NOW A COLONY OF ANOTHER PLANET!!

This is a fairly brilliant concept. What’s to prevent some human-rights abusing thug regime from declaring its membership in the international community to be null and void, if it has the option of aligning itself with some absentee offworld master? As far-fetched as it seems, it makes perfect sense as the most cynical of maneuvers in power politics. Or, in an even more timely manner, in the late maneuvers of debt-burdened Eurozone countries

And again, I can’t believe no one else has employed this concept in other mediums, whether in books, movies, or elsewhere. Eisner used it as an integral subplot, but I could see it as the main plotline for a farcical comedy. Someone in Hollywood needs to get on it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/27/2010 07:59pm
Category: Business, Creative, Politics, Publishing
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