This Earth Alive - D.N.'s second & 'lost' adventure
Submitted by The Dark Nebula on April 13, 2007 - 05:12
Recently serialised on Webcomics nation on the Dark Nebula website is a new version of the lesser-seen 'This Earth Alive', the original version of which has never seen print.
After releasing my graphic novel 'The Dynamic Dark Nebula' back in '82 I commenced work on my next D.N. adventure, 'This Earth Alive' in which I introduced my next character, Planet Earth, the first properly-devised character with earth-based powers.
Because I'd availed myself to a government subsidy called 'Book Bounty' at the time of releasing the graphic novel I couldn't call this 'The Dynamic Dark Nebula' #2, perhaps 'Dark Nebula vs Planet Earth'. In any event i was in no hurry to release it & it sat on a shelf, as did the growing inventory of D.N. material which I continued to write. 'This Earth Alive' would be the last D.N. story I would illustrate as Glenn Lumsden joined me at the time as series artist for the first Grandstander story.
Meanwhile the Cyclone crew were forming - Gary Chaloner, David De Vries, Glenn Lumsden & myself & we each brought to the table our various characters & projects. Glenn & I brought D.N. along, as well as The Golden Age Southern Cross. There were plans to run This Earth Alive but because I always wrote my stories as epics (as evidenced by the 64 page origin) 'Earth' was no different (44 pages in length, from memory).
With Cyclone 1 looming large in the publishing window the decision was made to go with the snappier, tighter Grandstander story (the third in the rotation) & run Earth later. Grandstander was serialised in Cyclone 1 - 3 & the idea came up to run a prose version of This Earth Alive, which ran in Cyclone 4 & 5. Actually part 2 wasn't prose & even though it was part two somehow seemed to be a different story & seemed to lose impact - so it did see the light of day, Planet Earth became a part of Australian comic history, but a lesser-seen, obscure one.
Fast forward to 2003/2004, when I was recovering from a near-fatal car accident & convalescing at home, going through all the artwork I had stored from all those years ago. I had all the art from the 64 page graphic novel but only one page of This Earth Alive. Back then I made the decision that when we relaunch the Dark Nebula it had to be with material we were proud of. The graphic novel felt somewhat dated (maybe with a lot of inking retouches it could run) & the only version of This Earth Alive that existed was the Cyclone 4 & 5 one, which also didn't really stand the test of time.
It was then, with the immense help of Shane Foley, who's work & contributions on The Jack Kirby Collector, his own Shakah Rune, & many other projects (including Dark Nebula the first time around) we not only retold the origin in a new prose format which worked but did the same with This Earth Alive, reconstructing it from the original plot verbatim. You see, the published version in Cyclone 4 & 5 omitted elements which were crucial for the movitvations behind the Grandstander & Asylum stories.
While this is the first time many people, even long-time Dark Nebula fans, will see this story, it's as close to the original vision of this story as you could get without the original art.
So read & enjoy - I think you'll find the later stories make more sense with it in the rotation.
Oh, & you will see Planet Earth again. Once the inventory runs its course he'll play as much a role as many of the other support characters in Dark Nebula but when & how will be a story for another time.
Of course, the question remains - what happened to all that artwork? Perhaps some questions are best left unasked.