Comics, graphic novels or mangas: The diversity of graphic works is huge and space, together with its (potential) inhabitants, is a popular subject. But how do the various styles differ and what drawing techniques bring emotions to life? And how are the cosmos, the exploration of space and the various aerospace technologies presented in comics?
Dr. Elisabeth Scherer from the Comic Research Network “icon” discussed these questions with children in the comic workshop. And more than that: in the workshop, children spent two afternoons drawing their own comics based on a Japanese science fiction story. The story was translated by two HHU students from the Department of Modern Japanese Studies. The basics and techniques were learned together with professional manga artist Christina Plaka and then put on paper.
Read the translated story "The Cat" by Shin’ichi Hoshi, including the drawn comics, here.
Mr. S lived alone in a somewhat remote house in the middle of a small wood. No, that wasn't quite true, because he lived there with his cat. It was an expensive cat with a beautiful coat that Mr. S loved dearly and cherished above all else.
He bought books about cats, which he read over and over again until he almost knew them by heart. He experimented with what food his cat liked and prepared it for him to eat every day. And, if his cat seemed the slightest bit sickly, he anxiously called the vet.
Most people like to watch TV in the evening, but Mr. S much preferred to pet his cat's back.
One evening, he heard something unusual outside. Then a knock sounded at the front door. Mr. S stopped playing with his cat and tilted his head in confusion when he opened the door and looked outside. Because it wasn't a hand that had knocked on his door.
It was a long, thin, brown thing. It looked like a cross between a crocodile's tail and the tentacle of an octopus.
"What kind of prank is that supposed to be?" asked Mr. S, glancing at his counterpart. But at that very moment he fainted. The long, thin, brown thing was not a dummy or a toy, but part of a living creature. It was about the size of a tall human, but its body shape was completely different.
Seen from the front, the creature had the shape of a cross symbol from a deck of cards. But from the side it looked like a spade symbol, and from above it had the shape of a heart symbol. It hopped around on a single leg and its foot appeared to be in the shape of a diamond symbol. The long, thin arm extended from the center of the head.
This being was undoubtedly an alien. It had come all the way from the planet of the cards. The card alien slipped through the door into the house.
The cat lay around bored and meowed. When the card alien heard this, it began to speak: "I have the ability to communicate telepathically with living beings of all kinds and origins. I learned that at school. Would it be all right if we had a little chat?"
The cat stopped meowing and replied telepathically: "Well, I can actually talk to you. That's very practical. By the way, I've never seen anyone like you before, what exactly are you doing here?"
"Allow me, I'm an explorer from the planet of maps. I travel to many different planets and keep records of whether planets are peaceful or not and what differences there are between them."
"And that's why you came by here."
"Yes, that's exactly the case. But I'm pleasantly surprised. The inhabitants of most planets get scared when they see me and run away screaming. But you take it very calmly."
"As sovereign, I can't be afraid of every little thing."
"Fascinating. So you are one of the sovereigns of this planet. At first I thought the collapsed two-legged creature back there was one of the rulers. I beg your pardon. Then what kind of two-legged creature is he?" The card alien pointed with its brown arm at the still unconscious Mr. S.
"They call themselves humans. They work for us as our slaves. They are diligent and work very hard," the cat replied promptly.
"What tasks do they do?"
"To list everything would take too long, but for example, my human built this house for me. The humans also breed cows for us and give us their milk every day."
"Aren't humans intelligent creatures then? Couldn't they start a rebellion if they ever become dissatisfied with their life as slaves? Couldn't that be a problem?"
"No, not at all. Their intelligence is not sufficient to think that far." The card alien listened, impressed, before pulling out a device with a strange shape.
"I apologize for my rudeness, but would you allow me to use a lie detector? We want to make sure our records are accurate."
"Sure thing," the cat replied with a roll of his eyes. The card alien pointed part of the device at the cat's head and asked blithely. In this way, it checked whether the conversation had been true so far. What's more, it carefully checked whether the cat was really peaceful.
"We are finished, thank you for your patience. I have never seen a species that rules a planet so peacefully. I sincerely hope that you can continue to rule for all eternity."
The cat replied with another "But of course, that's the plan," while the card alien maneuvered its misshapen body out of the door. It then climbed into the small spaceship parked in the grove and disappeared up into the night sky.
Meanwhile, Mr. S regained consciousness. He looked around nervously and turned to his cat: "You didn't happen to see anything, did you? I have a feeling I've seen a figure with a very strange shape."
The cat responded as usual with a meow.
Mr. S nodded and replied: "You must be saying you didn't see anything. That must be the case. After all, there are no living creatures that are brown and have the shape of a cross symbol. I must have imagined it."
Mr. S began to pet the cat's back again. The cat meowed as if nothing had happened.