Robotech’s horrendous comic art
Ah, Robotech. Harmony Gold’s unholy mash up of Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada (and Megazone 23 if you count that horrible movie) has been around for a while, and whether you like it or not has been a cultural landmark for anime in the US. While I am not a huge fan of HG’s copyright bullshit causing problems for the Macross franchise in the States, I do find it fascinating, in a horrifying way, how Robotech has spawned so much over the 30 odd years it’s been a thing.
I’m pretty sure there’s been more canceled Robotech projects than there have been Macross anime in Japan that we haven’t gotten here. The Academy Kickstarter is just the tip of the iceberg; a CGI series, a follow up to The Sentinels and another likely shitty sequel to The Shadow Chronicles along with a planned N64 game have all been on the chopping block. And with the Palladium Books RPG Tactics Kickstarter seemingly failing to deliver on what was planned for “wave 2”, that may be joining the list.
But we’re not here to talk about that.
Robotech has had multiple comics, changing hands through several publishers. Titan’s recent effort is just one of many (and holy god does it suck) and technically the license has been in the grasp of both DC (both the main label and the Wildstorm imprint) and Marvel (Eternity Comics was bought out by Malibu who eventually folded into Marvel). One such publisher was Academy, who had just changed their name as of obtaining the rights to Robotech in 1994 when they had left Eternity Comics. Several of the previous Eternity series continued like Return To Macross and Academy also had their own series crop up, including several spinoffs and one shots like Worlds of Robotech.
The art in some of these comics is fucking appalling.
That’s a page from a one shot called The Misfits. Look at how the artist literally did not care to draw faces on anybody in all but one panel. Marvel at the fact that they couldn’t be bothered to separate individual fingers on a hand. Rob Liefeld would find this offensive.
The cover is just as bad.
I hate to criticize art so harshly, but this was published work people paid money for. Slapped together lineart and colored pencils. Where the fuck are those two guys’ legs?
Oh, and there’s also a Looney Tunes joke in there, for seemingly no reason at all:
They do this parody of the “Duck season! Rabbit season!” bit and it’s the most spontaneous bullshit ever. This is Robotech for fuck’s sake, where are the Veritechs and the SDF-1/2/3/whatever the fuck thing Harmony Gold has come up with to explain away the fact that their worldbuilding is based off trying to combine 3 unrelated anime series?
Well, fortunately we do get to see some of that in the Academy Blues comic:
Academy Blues is a prequel series where Lisa and some of the other girls are going through education in the “Robotech Academy” for military duty on board the SDF-1 and some stuff happens that I honestly skimmed over because it just wasn’t that interesting. The main focus is Lisa thinking about her boyfriend Karl who passed away and trying to deal with that while doing her academy work. The artwork in this is not nearly as bad, but they had to bring on guest artists because Sean Bishop, who did most of the art, worked in animation as well.
The main reason I’m bringing it up is they continued the Lisa plot with this:
The cover looks like something Chris Hart would draw. But you haven’t seen the worst of it. Hoo boy. I hope you’re ready.
Insert scare chords and blood-curdling screams here.
I have seen Ken Penders’ work and none of it comes close to being as abysmal as this. Somebody greenlit this. This was an official Robotech comic and yet it looks like…this. Again, I don’t like having to be so harsh but what the everloving FUCK was the artist thinking? This is supposed to be dramatic, heavy stuff about Lisa dealing with her boyfriend being lost and all and it’s being told in art that looks like Klasky-Csupo shit all over the page. If I had willingly spent money on this back in the day, it would be in the bin.
Academy had the Robotech license for two years, and this was one of the final comics they published before shuttering in 1996 for good after trying and presumably failing to launch a new original series called Noble A.R.M.O.U.R. Halberder helmed by the Waltrip brothers (who also worked on Robotech). I guess the shitty art did them in sales-wise, or people were disappointed and didn’t want to touch Halberder.