Tomas de Rat / Tomas the Rat

De Ijzeren Vogel / The Iron Bird page 10

Like the previous page, this one was completely re-done, because the original had both abysmal handwriting and drawing done directly in ink (actually, it was almost entirely filled with unreadable ‘text’, with only few drawings). I didn't include the scan, but you can guess what it looked like from the previous examples. In the re-make I tried to shrink the text to leave more space for the drawings, but there is still a lot of it. I also modified it somewhat to make more sense.

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

De Ijzeren Vogel, page 10

Row 1

Of course Smuggler didn't manage to escape so quickly, it is just Tomas' dad who wants to play a prank on him with a Smuggler costume. This may mean that Smuggler himself uses a similar costume to stay black.
This is the only time that Tomas' father appears in the comics. It is unclear what his place in the universe is, but judging from the kind of research he has done, he might be a detective or so.

Rows 2-3

What happens here, is in essence a summarisation of the entire story. In a normal comic, the author would first have written this story and then drawn it, here I first drew the story and then wrote it down, and luckily it appears to make sense and even have a small degree of complexity.
The most tricky thing is that the iron bird appears to have been stolen and destroyed after Smuggler was imprisoned, implying that there might be a second enemy. However, there is not, and the explanation is time-related. Apparently Tomas has not used the bird anymore after his last trip to Brussels, giving Smuggler enough time to steal it and destroy it in Tomas' private hangar in New York. In case Tomas would have wanted to use the bird sooner, Smuggler left behind the huge monster in the airbase, in the hopes that it would slow down or even kill Tomas. After destroying the bird, Smuggler apparently became impatient and went on with his assaults.

The sighing parrot is just a gimmick I included to admit that there is quite a lot of text to read. In later comics, this parrot would often “break the fourth wall” by showing up and giving silly comments on some things in the story. This is an idea I kind of stole from a Belgian comic series by Seron, called ‘De Mini-Mensjes’ (The Mini-Humans), where a supposed reader would sometimes appear between the panels to criticise things in the comic. In retrospect, ‘De Mini-Mensjes’ has quite a bit in common with my comics and may have been a large source of inspiration.

Row 4

Pricky's idea has a funny connotation to it if you would have read the other comics. Every time Tomas takes a flight in an aeroplane, it either crashes or something else goes awry. I think he even says in one of the comics: I hope this one doesn't crash for a change. This is why it was a bit silly to have one of the planned comics focus around a plane crash. To stand out from the other comics, that one would have needed a story a few orders of magnitude sillier than ‘Snakes on a Plane’.

In the original sketches, Tomas' comment was even more appropriate because sometimes there was only like one square centimetre left for the characters, due to the horrible sprawling mutant text which wasn't only unreadable but also took much more space than strictly needed.

Row 5

Tomas' dad seems to have questioned Smuggler extensively to get all that detailed information. Or, if you are one of those people who like conspiracies that do not make sense at all, maybe Tomas' dad was an accomplice to Smuggler and tried to kill his own son!

Rows 6-7

The question of what Smuggler will do when he is on the loose again is kind of redundant. We all know that he'll resume his attempts to blow up Tomas!

So, this is where the story ends. The Dutch “Einde” of course means “The End”. Don't forget to take a look at the back cover.