It’s the simple things that sometimes make the biggest impact. An offhanded compliment, a charming sketch, chocolate cake…. Or, a simple combination of two little words: like, “Star Man”.
Separately, these two words are about as mundane as can be. Put together, however, they’ve inspired a bunch of interesting creations.
For starters, Starman was the name used by a number of DC Comics superheroes throughout the years, spanning a number of comic books titles and incarnations. I happened across a few issues of one of the eponymous series to feature this character. It was silly.
David Bowie took the simple concept of a star man, added some simple lyrics and some simple music, and made a song called “Star Man”. The tune was part of “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars” – a concept album about a man who came from the stars and became a star on earth. Strangely enough, Bowie later starred in a movie about an alien which was called neither Ziggy Stardust, nor Star Man (but rather, “The Man Who Fell To Earth”).
In a coincidental turn, another movie was made about a man who fell to earth, and this one *was* called Star Man. It featured Jeff Bridges as a well-meaning alien who has absolutely nothing to do with glam rock. It’s a terrific movie, if somewhat dated.
If there’s any connection among the various star men mentioned above, it’s that they are invariably saviors. We humans always seem to look to the heavens for someone to deliver us from ourselves. One of our strongest urges is to yearn for a hero that is something other than human… something better.
Unfortunately, these two sketchbook pages do not contain something better. They do take a page from the Bowie playbook, and capitalize on simple. Both depict confrontations that seem fairly one-dimensional, but perhaps take on a tad more depth when considered in the context of heroes and villains.
The sketch on the left I’ve written about before. The image just sprang into my head as I started to draw it. Simple on the surface, I hope I’ve left enough ambiguity in the picture than it prompts the viewer to ask a few questions. Such as, what happened here? The guy whose head has been lopped off seems surprised and a tad vulnerable: did he have it coming? Was the aggressor provoked? Who, if anybody, is the hero or the villain here?
We tend to idolize people who stand up for themselves, but this picture leaves in doubt whether the guy who decapitated the other one was standing up to a bully, or the bully himself.
In the righthand picture, I’ve merely slapped a “Man” from a comic book cover onto a picture of some sort of protester. I added “blast lines” to further the comic book connection. I actually think the lines look hokey, and regret putting them in, but oh well. It’s rather unclear whether the young man is a skinhead, an occupy wall streeter, or some other kind of activist. However, as an individual it is doubtful whether he really has much power on his own.
Again, who’s the hero and who is the villain? The person fighting against a perceived injustice, or the police in the background keeping order? Is it fair to say that we usually elevate the people whose positions we agree with to the role of the hero?