Our tour of my embarrassing juvenilia, promised as a “reward” for your assistance (oh, you poor goddamn people) in Operation Steve and Emma, continues! This week… just what was the Terrible Secret of SPACE… er, THE MUTT?
You’ve already met the Chensakau, the Space Velociraptors who were one-half of the story. The MUTT was the other half. Seven unfortunate human souls, crammed into one artificial body and given a week to avert interstellar war by hunting down conspirators in the year 2296. That’s right, when I was 17 I thought it would be really cool to recycle the central conceit of HERMAN’S HEAD as my narrative framing device. Facepalm. ALL THE FACEPALMS, ALL AT ONCE.
Here’s the largest image (click the little link above) in this particular collection, a “splash page” sketch emphasizing the epic lameness of the whole shootin’ match. The idea was: In 2296, the Chensakau Imperium coxesisted uneasily with the Terran Republic, each species controlling a handful of star systems in an old and long-settled galaxy. The Functionary Corps, professional bureaucrats sworn to the service of the Chensakau empress, hatched a plot to drag the two powers into a full-scale war. I cannot remember their reasons, if they had any. Let’s assume the usual: A lifetime supply of free cupcakes and beer if they somehow pulled it off.
TSS Wallenberg, a Terran patrol vessel with a crew of seven, was ambushed and destroyed by a Chensakau vessel lurking in the Oort Cloud. I was really, really confused about the nature of the Oort Cloud, envisioning it as something like the asteroid field in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. There was no Wikipedia back then, kids. We had to go check actual books out of the library, like the beasts of the field.
Anyhow, that would have been it for the intrepid crew of the Wallenberg, if not for the intervention of a vastly more ancient species based, as you can see, on the eerie anal-probing little guys from Whitley Streiber’s COMMUNION. These guys wanted to prevent the war, but like all Cheapskate Magical Omnipotent Fantasy Assholes, they didn’t want to use any of their vast actual cosmic powers. Or do anything sensible and logical. So they, uh, collected the souls of the seven dead crewmembers, put them into an artificial body, and sent this brain-chorus of the damned back to earth with a mandate to hunt down the human traitors who were helping the Functionary Corps spring their scheme.
Big Shyamalan Surprise: One of the MUTT souls turned out to be one of the major conspirators. Gasp! Tweeeeeeeeeeest!
So, uh, yeah. An ancient alien race so powerful they could capture and re-use souls at will, but so stupid they’d use that power on a cockamamie plan like this one. Above you can see my equally dimwitted initial conception of the Mutt; a patchwork of body parts (and mullet parts) salvaged from corpses found floating in deep space. Because when you want your secret agent to be inconspicuous… that’s what you make ’em look like. Fortunately, I soon wised up and settled on this final design:
A synthetic male body with African/Pacific features. I’m almost 100% certain this guy was influenced by King Mob, as I was an INVISIBLES reader at the time. I do dig the face, I think it was one of the few things that worked, but damn… that left shoulder is apparently dislocated so far out of its socket, the Mutt in the tie ought to be begging for death. “To be an artist means never averting one’s eyes,” they say, and to that I would add: Especially in anatomy class.