Yanick Paquette’s ‘Terra Obscura’ Sketches Add A Little Black Terror To Your Life [Art]
Good news for fans of public domain “science heroes” — and as weird as that description might sound, I’m definitely one of them. This week, the first adventures of Tom Strange and his crew of two-fisted crimefighters has been collected with the release of Terra Obscura: S.M.A.S.H. Of Two Worlds! Alan Moore, Peter Hogan and Yanick Paquette tell the story of a group of heroes resurrected after decades in suspended animation as they’re pit against the villains who run the world in their absence, and it’s as good an adventure story as you’re likely to find.
To celebrate, we’re taking a look behind the scenes at some of Paquette’s sketches, along with a rundown of the series. Check it out below!
If you’re not familiar with Terra Obscura, it might require a little explaining. When Moore’s America’s Best Comics line launched — the imprint that brought us League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Top Ten among other things — part of the big idea behind it was imagining what comics would look like if superheroes had never become the dominant genre. That was the core premise of Tom Strong, a “science hero” that was more directly descended from pulp adventurers like Doc Savage than that same idea filtered through the lens of Superman. It worked beautifully, too — Moore and Sprouse’s Tom Strong is one of my favorite comics, full of great ideas and beautiful techniques — and one of the key stories was the arrival of Tom Strange.
Strange hailed from a version of Earth on the opposite side of the galaxy, and came to Strong for help to rescue his friends and teammates in the Society of Major American Science Heroes, who turned out to be a bunch of almost-forgotten public domain superheroes from the early days of comics, like the Black Terror and the Fighting Yank. It was an interesting take on the characters, and kicked off a revival for them that’s extended across companies.
Now, as a new Tom Strange series is on the stands from Peter Hogan (who co-wrote the original miniseries with Moore, who is no longer involved with the project for reasons you may have heard), those first two stories are in the new paperback, along with some bonus material from artist Yanick Paquette. Here’s a look at his sketches and cover designs: