Tomas de Rat / Tomas the Rat

De Ijzeren Vogel / The Iron Bird page 6

You can't see it due to the digital clean-up, but the pages were not quite rectangular. You can still notice this as missing parts at the edges. The pages were more like trapezoidal, because I wasn't too skilled with scissors back then. Drawing straight angles also was not my strongest point. The reason why the panels do have straight angles is because I corrected this when inking them.

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

De Ijzeren Vogel, page 6

Row 1

Like I said, Smuggler was not quite prepared for his trip through the window, although he did manage to calculate his launch velocity and angle perfectly such as to crash into Tomas' quarters. A lamp that apparently wasn't yet properly reattached since the fall of the building, makes for a finishing touch to his wild entrée. Again, his veil of darkness has been lifted, probably just so I'd be able to draw the stupid expression on his face.

Mind that even though the fictional mirror copy of Earth is inhabited by man-sized intelligent animals, there are still regular animals as we know them as well (also note the little bird in the window). Otherwise it would be pretty weird to have a huge speaking hamster as a pet.

Although the wall with the broken window has a tiny bit of perspective, you still see a cross-section because I still could not quite grasp how to draw two perpendicular walls in one view without cutting through one of them.

Row 2

Tomas still doesn't seem to fully realise who the flying hamster is. He probably has suspicions, though, because he uses a gun to chase him away. And no, he's not confusing him with a jackal. Calling an animal a jackal appears to be an insult, apparently racism also exists in the parallel universe.
You can see more perspective in the second panel, although it is still quite messy, mostly because it was added after the 2D image was drawn (much like a cheap 2D-to-3D film conversion).

Row 3

Glass windows appear to be very expensive in Animal City, because Tomas worries about the repair a lot, even though he paid for raising the entire building less than a month ago. Or maybe he has a ‘falling building’ insurance but not a ‘broken glass’ insurance.

Now the window is drawn in full perspective glory. This is because there was quite a lot of time between inking the first two rows and this one. During that time, I had learnt about perspective.

Row 4

This time, only Tomas and Pricky take the iron bird for a trip. Even though the bird is stuffed with high-tech like laser cannons, it still requires climbing up a ladder to board it. A high-tech self-folding ladder, that is. Don't forget to compare the current style of the cockpit with the one from page 1.

Rows 5-6

More time passed between inking the previous rows and this one, and it shows. These rows are inked with proper drawing pens, which allowed me to draw more details in the microscopic panels (like the little stove in the restaurant setting the carpet on fire with its sparks). Perspective is here to stay, even though it is applied sparingly. I refrained from using many extreme viewpoints to avoid deviating from the original style of the comic too much.

Anyhow, Tomas decides to go back to Brussels, in the hopes that with SNIK eliminated, he won't risk being blown to pieces this time. We know better. Instead of choosing for the exquisite Belgian cuisine, he goes to a Chinese restaurant, probably because that was my favourite food at that time. The Chinese characters are real, by the way. Originally they were just some pseudo-Chinese doodles, but I copied some real ones from a Chinese bank note while inking. About twelve years later when I started to learn Chinese and with the availability of automatic translators, I found out they mean ‘country’, ‘people’ and ‘silver’. The whole (国民银) would mean something like “National Silver”, could have been worse for this randomly generated restaurant name (at least it was not 翻译服务器错误 or “Translate Server Error”). Of course it does not sound anything like “Shing-Li” when spoken, more like “Kwo-min-yin”.

Row 7

Smuggler seems to have followed our hero to Brussels and has managed to put a strong laxative in their food (probably in the starter). When it starts working, he puts something explosive in Tomas' dish. You might wonder: why the roundabout with the laxative if he had access to the food anyway? Well, I suppose there is some good reason.
Anyhow, although I didn't really know how comics are made, I did know it is customary to build up some suspense at the end of a page — especially one that needs to be flipped. In this case you are probably wondering what will happen when the invulnerable Tomas swallows a bomb, and the only way to find out is to flip the page.

If you wonder what the heck is happening to the hedgehog in the last two panels, it is just a sudden mutation caused by the artist going slightly crazy. In this comic it's reasonable, but in the SnES comic “The Secret Drug Trade” there are a few rows in which the story goes completely nuts, just because I liked to go nuts sometimes at that age.