2013 SPRING FEATURE: The White Angel
"The White Angel" is a new comic that was envisioned by George W. Dennis, the best Indie Sci-fi comic book artist that I have ever come across. It is a hard science fiction story set in the year 2158 primarily in the asteroid belt, and also in outlying worlds such as Neptune. Drawing inspiration from the stories of Paul Preuss and Arthur C. Clark, as well as insightful technical information from Winchell Chung's atomic rockets website ([link]
), George brings to life an immersive and intriguing vision of the kind of adventures that could lie ahead a little over a century from now.
Rather than getting caught up in far future technologies such as hyperspace and artificial gravity, focuses instead on the kind of future that could lie ahead for us right around the corner. The asteroid survey vessel Muneqita ([link]
) makes use of centrifugal system somewhat similar to the one in "2001: A Space odyssey," and the thunderspear fighter ([link]
) has thrusters both in the front of the cockpit, as well as behind it—something almost unheard of in mainstream sci-fi universes such as "Star Wars" and "Star Trek."
In addition to this, George utilizes highly impressive artistic techniques beyond my ability to describe. Needless to say, most comics that I personally have seen in stores do not have artwork that is as good as what "The White Angel" has to offer.
Below is an interview I conducted with George, a.k.a. ~beltminer:
~SPACE-COMMANDER: I have noticed that a number of indie comic book artists in the dA community are setting up websites for their respective comics and posting updates on either a weekly or a monthly basis. Do you have something similar planned down the road, or will you be pursuing a different strategy for promoting The White Angle?
~BELTMINER: I hope to set up a web site for the comic at some point in the future, however I have so thoroughly enjoyed my experience on dA that for the foreseeable future I'll just be right here.
~SPACE-COMMANDER: As a comic book artist, what are some of the most difficult challenges that you have had to overcome?
~BELTMINER: My biggest challenge so far without question has been the digital medium. My background is in fine arts and I have never been a computer guy. I picked up a book a number of years ago on digital coloring for comics and I was blown away by the possibilities. That book, as well as the explosion of high quality self published material that has been coming out, well, got me hooked.
~SPACE-COMMANDER: How important do you feel it is to stick to the hard science fiction genre, as opposed to drifting off into science fantasy? Is good science-based and character-based fiction enough to keep a sci-fi story interesting, or is at least a small element of fantasy ultimately required in order to keep the viewer engaged?
~BELTMINER: I don't know man, when you're talking about science fiction a little fantasy is always going to be part of it. But I always liked the hard science part. The otherness that good science fiction has comes from believable future technology. That being said, good science fiction is still fiction, and if the characters aren't three dimensional then you can't become emotionally invested in the people that populate your story, be they human, other, spaghetti monster (haha), or whatever. It will never work. Great fiction is always about people.
~SPACE-COMMANDER: Which artists would you say that you draw the most inspiration from?
~BELTMINER: I'm influenced the most by guys like Russ Heath, Joe Kubert, and Jean Giraud, and that Canadian dude Travis Charest kills me.
~SPACE-COMMANDER: Which book did you find the most helpful for learning your techniques?
~BELTMINER: The book that started it all for me was Coloring and Lettering Comics by Todd Klien and Mark Chiarello. If you get a chance to, grab a copy for yourself. It's getting old now but I still consult it all the time. That book is the most concise, to the point reference that I have ever found and the only one that I use all the time.
~SPACE-COMMANDER: What is your position on art as a driving force for meaningful cultural impact? In other words, is it the duty of an artist to address moral and social issues, or is it better to focus almost entirely on entertainment?
~BELTMINER: That's an intimidating question to ask a comic artist, lol. I think an artist's duty is to communicate what he or she has in his or her heart. I think that's why art takes so many forms. You say what you have to say and it's going to resonate with someone somewhere, be it in a song, an image, the written word, you name it. I don't know if art and entertainment are always the same thing. Take a look at Hans Rudi Giger--that's art, but that guy makes me uncomfortable. I heard some one say that he reveals more about us than we may wish to know.
~SPACE-COMMANDER: Do you feel that the next great era of space exploration will follow something cataclysmic like the Pacific Ocean disaster you described in The White Angel, or do you think that either government agencies or companies can get us there in the absence of such a crisis?
~BELTMINER: The human presence in space that we all dream about hinges on commerce. If a way can be found to make space travel a profitable industry then it will work. I'm really encouraged by companies like Space X. If we get there then that's how it will happen. I'm afraid that if we get hit by an asteroid like in "Deep Impact," then we'll just be arguing about who gets the press when the lights go out.
Questions for the Reader:
1. How important do you think it is for science fiction stories to stay true to real world possibilities?
2. What is one sci-fi movie or TV show you saw that addressed a scientific phenomenon in a way that you feel was shallow or poorly researched, and what do you think should have been done instead?
3. Would you be willing to invest in an asteroid mining start up company one day?
4. Who is your favorite hard science fiction author?