Tomas de Rat / Tomas the Rat

De Ijzeren Vogel / The Iron Bird page 5

If the pages look clean, it is because I spent a lot of time cleaning the scans in Photoshop. Much of the first pencil drawings were still visible, and some of the darker lines from the back side of the paper showed through. That's right, I drew on both sides of the paper — of course. My nine-year-old self had to stuff every piece of paper with as much information as possible! There were also some white stickers on this page (and the previous) to cover some printed text, because it wasn't even a blank page I had used. Nowadays I would go to the store and buy a block of quality drawing paper, but back then I had to be more resourceful.

Click the image to toggle between the original Dutch text and the English translation.

De Ijzeren Vogel, page 5

Row 1

The little note is kind of mysterious, apparently SNIK knew he would be killed soon. Or, he could write notes in a split second. Anyway, it is mostly burnt so we get only few details about his ‘testament.’ Apparently he has a friend called John Smuggler, who will be very pissed now. (This name sounds cool in Dutch, but in English of course might be a tad too obvious. I didn't bother to find a suitable replacement for this name in the English translation, however.)
We don't know what Smuggler's up to, but a plausible guess is that the last sentence ended like: He will blow you up.

Row 2

We get to see Smuggler himself sooner than expected, because he is coincidentally spying at the air base when the bird arrives. Because it's not obvious from my stylised animal drawings: Smuggler is a hamster. No, he isn't burnt or covered in tar. From this point on, all enemies of Tomas' are drawn in black to keep them mysterious (and easy to recognise). I ‘borrowed’ this concept from another comic although I can't remember which one. There is no other explanation why my 10-year old self decided to colour the villains black. Anyone who desperately wants to believe in a certain obvious explanation is an idiot.

Row 3

Yes indeed, Tomas is supposed to be invulnerable like Achilles. This is not because he was dipped in the Styx, but due to some potion he drank at the end of his second comic ‘The Four Magic Flowers in the Mirror.’ And with invulnerable I mean he could be strapped to an exploding nuke and survive it. This seemed cool when I was nine, but of course it's one hell of a way to make a main personage boring. It did provide for some funny situations (see page 7), but eventually I realised that a vulnerable hero is much more interesting, and in “The Secret Drug Trade,” I made him vulnerable again after an insane battle inside a burning bank.

Smuggler has of course his own flying contraption, but unlike SNIK he didn't feel the need to paint his name on it in huge letters. Because he's pissed off, he growls instead of using the standard “hahee!”

Rows 4-5

This is probably the most absurd part in the entire story. Tomas and Pricky are enjoying a good glass of wine when suddenly the entire building topples over! Don't ask me how Smuggler managed to prepare this in only one hour, but he found a way to make an entire skyscraper, together with the attached smaller one, fall on its side. Without really damaging the buildings, that is. The most damage is caused by the building slamming against the ground, but even then it is still in one piece, with the second building wobbling to and fro on the bridges. Apparently Smuggler's only goal was to have a good evil laugh.

Impossible as this may seem, the Chinese have unwillingly proven in 2009 with their Lotus Riverside block 7 building, that it is actually possible to make a building fall sideways while keeping it mostly intact.

Rows 6-7

The absurdity doesn't stop here, because the animals somehow are able to put the fallen skyscrapers back up without demolishing and rebuilding them. But it gets better. Smuggler has arranged for a more personal meeting with Tomas, which involves launching himself to the top floor of the building using a kind of catapult. The attentive reader will notice that when Smuggler smashes through the window, he is not drawn black. Maybe his generator-of-evil-darkness has failed temporarily due to the shock. Unfortunately he hasn't thought much about the consequences of smashing through a window at high velocity, and he apparently also forgot to bring a weapon, as you'll see on page 6.