Posts Tagged ‘Funky French Space Jesus’

6 Degrees of Francis Bacon Day 9: Ulysses 31

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

No one else can do the thing you do...

As suggested by Flying Monkey Comics‘ very own Andrew Livesey, we go from a picture featuring a telly, to Telemachus, and his dad Ulysses 31. This was a cartoon in the early eighties, chiefly remembered for having a kickass theme tune, which is awesome. If you can ignore the Countdown bit. Weirdly enough, no matter what language it’s in, it’s always strangely reminiscent of Journey’s Steve Perry.

Unlike most cartoons when I was a kid, Ulysses 31 was actually good. It was weird, creepy, atmospheric and had a definite conclusion. Of course, Greek Mythology is a terrific source for a sci-fi makeover, and both France and Japan have pretty distinguished credentials with regards to surreal sci-fi/fantasy, so a combination of the two is always going to be a winner.

In The Odyssey, Telemachus is at home on the island of Ithaca, no doubt developing a raging Oedipus complex, whereas in Ulysses 31, his dad takes him along on his suicidal cosmic adventure. You may be a Groovy French Space Jesus, but that’s just bad parenting, dude.

This picture makes specific reference to Steven Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds , in which Tom Cruise gets his daughter to sing to herself so she doesn’t hear him beating special guest wacky cameo Tim Robbins to death. That, along with the incongruous use of John Williams Trade Federation March from Episode I, was probably the best bit of that movie. The worst was undoubtedly the part where the schlubby single parent everyman, played by The Cruiser, manages to single handed destroy an Unstoppable Martian Killing Machine. If I burst out laughing during what is clearly meant to be a tense moment, then you know a film has problems.

So where next?  Suggestions for something cool, related in some way to any of these auspicious subjects, can be made here, on my Twitter feed, or at the Facebook Group.

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May The I Have A Bad Feeling About This

Friday, May 4th, 2012

It’s May The Fourth, so at some point my Mum will make the joke she’s been making every year since 1978. Of course, to an obsessive bantha hugging nerd such as myself, every day is Star Wars day. Recently the artist Ralph McQuarrie passed away and his contribution to the look of the Star Wars universe can’t be overstated – in fact it’s entirely possible that without his initial paintings, Star Wars wouldn’t have even got made. That story’s been told many times before, and far more eloquently than I ever could, but the best I can do is to say that he is the single biggest artistic influence on me. I probably didn’t realise that for many years. Even as a fairly ignorant kid growing up I knew who he was, as his work was all over various books and magazines (that was our equivalent of the world wide web, back in the 70s), but I certainly didn’t understand any of the principles of filmmaking. I thought his paintings were based on the films, rather than the other way around (It always baffled me that the stuff in the paintings was slightly different).

When I was a kid, I watched my Betamax copy of The Empire Strikes Back every weekend (every day on school holidays). I remember one time I paused the tape on one of my favourite shots (our heroes escaping onto the Cloud City landing platform) and drew my version of the scene. Turns out practically that entire image was Ralph’s. Not only did he do amazing concept art, but he also knocked out a bunch of matte paintings in his spare time. Talented bastard!

Shortly after McQuarrie, another legend of fantasy and science fiction art passed away. Jean Giraud, AKA Moebius. Although his work was probably not as widely seen, he was massively influential and his surreal, organic vistas and unique, off kilter characters are instantly recognisable. And, I was surprised to learn that Ralph McQuarrie’s design for the Imperial Probe Droid in Empire, was based on a Moebius drawing. Let’s all shoot at floating mechanical spider things, in tribute to Jean and Ralph.

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