Featuring the Webcomics and Graphic Novels, Fantasy and Sci-Fi by Mark Oakley!
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What is, Thieves & Kings?

“Thoroughly engrossing self-published black-and white fantasy saga. [. . .] This is a story for fans of Bone, Elfquest, Nausicaa, or Harry Potter to fall in love with; highly recommended for teen and adult fantasy readers everywhere.”

   -The Library Journal

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Stardrop! Featuring the space Princess Ashelle living on Earth.
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   Stardrop. . .
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Mini Mysterious Theater. . .

Jen Jacobs, aka, "Regular Jen" is in her student apartment.
 
She has just returned from a successful shopping excursion to the local thrift store. She found cute skirt and a flashy pink top for which she paid altogether only $8.59. —An unbelievable steal when compared to the average sticker price common in any modern fashion boutique. —And neither article of clothing bore any defect or trace of having been worn by previous owners. Jen wonders how this is possible and suspects the local thrift store might be involved in some kind of racket.
 
Now, a skirt and top like these are by no means the sort of saucy ensemble Jen would normally feel comfortable wearing around town, (though Ashelle had been so excited that she had managed to convince her to wear them home from the thrift store. A daring and somewhat anxiety-hued bus journey was the result). So no, not regular day clothes to be certain, but they will compliment nicely her on-stage persona.
 
Jen Jacobs is the lead guitarist in the super-cool, all-girl 80's punk rock band, "The June Rocks!".
 
The fact that both the 80's and the mass popularity of punk rock have long since faded into fond and slightly embarrassing memories in the collective human awareness before Jen was even out of junior high is of little consequence.

 
scene 1 scene 2

 
 
   Jenny Mysterious. . .

First Day Back

Webcomic Jenny_Mysterious by Mark Oakley www.iboxpublishing.com

 
 
   Thieves & Kings. . .

Sample Chapter from, Thieves & Kings, Volume 3, "The Blue Book"

Thieves & Kings, page from the graphic novel series by Mark Oakley www.iboxpublishing.com

Thieves & Kings is not a webcomic. It is an all-ages fantasy/adventure graphic novel series which I've been working on since 1994. It is nearly done; I hope to wrap up the story in the 7th volume, (currently in production). The chapter featured here offers a good example of what it's like to read Thieves & Kings. --It's a peppy sequence, and it contains both regular comic pages, and some text pages. It doesn't show much of the title character, (Rubel) and none of the Shadow Lady, but Heath and Varkias carry the show quite nicely. I hope you enjoy this sample of my work!

 
 
   The Walking Mage. . .

The Walking Mage webcomic #2 - Fired

The Walking Mage is a complete story. Originally it was done in black & white, (which you can check out here, if you like). I wanted to experiment with color and so began by using a computer to color the Walking Mage for its print release. After a few panels I decided that it would be a lot more fun to paint it by hand, and so switched to water-color around episode six.

The story itself is quite a good little yarn; funny and pointed in many places, as political satire ought to be. I was actually quite surprised to learn this! I found myself laughing out loud in several places. --I don't know why this story in particular was so hard for me to accept, but it was. I avoided reading it for several years after it first went to press. The ending is rather abrupt, but it was a serial strip, after all.

So anyway, after having let this web-comic languish in the digital attic, I've decided to pull it out and post it again for all the world in its full-color glory. This is the first time the Walking Mage has been available in full color on the web. I hope you enjoy the adventures of Quinton and Varkias. Cheers!

 
 
   News From the Studio. . .

Mark at the Movies!

 

April 27th, 2012

Virgin Sacrafices? Say what. . ?

--What do Mirror Mirror, Hunger Games and Cabin in the Woods all have in common? More than you might think.
Okay, I see connections all the time. Things nobody else sees. It's my job as a writer and story-teller to perfrom this function; gives me things to write about.

Normally I let a lot of it go, or just discuss it with friends. But this morning I thought, "Hey, what the heck? I'll post this one on my website. That's what I set it up to do, after all."

So. . .

In quick succession I watched three films in as many weeks.

“Mirror Mirror” (Snow White re-done. Very pretty, very fluffy, witty and light.)

“The Hunger Games” (Kids forced into gladiatorial combat in a Brave New World. Well-produced, well written and well acted). and

“Cabin in the Woods” (Joss Whedon’s latest offering. Witty, and ‘fun’ in a gut-churning kind of way.)

Okay. Big deal; Mark watched some films. But did anybody else happen to notice that these are all. . . the SAME film?

Let me break it down for you. . .

1. The Woods.

All three films take place in the woods.

 

2. Sacrificial Virgins. (Um, say what. . ?)

Mirror Mirror: Snow White, (a lovely virgin youth), is sent off into the woods to be killed. Her heart cut from her chest.

The Hunger Games: Children sent as tribute into the woods to kill each other.

Cabin in the Woods: Five college kids drawn to the woods in an elaborate sacrifice ritual.

3. Self-Entitled, Psychopathic Elite:

Mirror Mirror: The Queen sends Snow White to die in order to perpetuate her fascist hold on the kingdom, (a slightly different twist on the old fairy tale). The elite ruling class include a small group of powdered dandies and big dresses while the peasants are being brutally taxed into starvation.

The Hunger Games: The games are presented as entertainment for the sumptuously wealthy elite ruling class. The peasants are slave workers kept in a state of near starvation to support the state. The ruling class openly wagers on the child gladiators.

Cabin in the Woods: The ruling elite have signed a deal with the 'old gods’. The technicians in charge of the sacrifice also callously wager on the outcome of the ‘games’, throw parties after the successful murders.

4. The Leading Character is a Strong Young Woman.

Mirror Mirror: Snow White is smart, strong, compassionate and capable. A true heroine who upstages the prince, drawing the other outcast dwarves to her side and inspiring the populace.

The Hunger Games: The lead actress is smart, strong, compassionate and capable. She is also a true heroine, making hard choices, drawing others to her side and inspiring the population by her example.

Cabin in the Woods: The ‘Virgin’ is smart and compassionate, though less heroic. She shares the spotlight with another character and the final victory is one of principles over material reward; this film ends with the waking of the old gods, and presumably the end of humanity, but she and her companion successfully maintain their spiritual integrity. Through the film, she draws the sympathetic attentions of her persecutors.

5. Rebellion

Mirror Mirror: Snow White joins forces with the dwarves, who use guerilla warfare tactics against the Queen’s forces, robbing the tax officer and redistributing the wealth to the peasantry. Snow White becomes a competent swords woman.

The Hunger Games: The lead character resists the system in as much as she is able, inspiring riots and uprisings among the peasantry. The concept of guerilla warfare is present, “Running into the hills" is discussed. She is an expert archer.

Cabin in the Woods: The Virgin and her male friend, the ‘Fool’, storm the control complex, release the imprisoned monsters and cause the technician servants of the elites to be destroyed by their own machinations.

6. Visual style.

Mirror Mirror: Clothing styles were gaudy and colorful, big poofy hair and dresses and over-the-top opulence among the elite.

The Hunger Games: Same thing! If you plucked characters from Mirror Mirror, they might fit into the crowd scenes of the Hunger Game’s elite with only minor adjustments.

Cabin in the Woods: Clothing was different, but the style of technology presented was very similar to that in the Hunger Games; the whole ‘controlled wooded area’ was surrounded by a honey-comb shimmering energy field very similar to that which domed the wooded game area in the Hunger Games. The two areas were infested with miniature secret cameras to catch the movements and action of the struggling kids for the benefit of distant viewers. The technicians had precise remote control of the environment, able to release monsters, toxins and other perils to manipulate their victims. Visually and psychologically, this aspect of the two films was almost identical.


Canopy of light from which film?

The number of pictures available from these films on-line was limited, so there are dozens of visual similarities which I can't immediately share. Though, it seemed to me that Hunger Games sat, visually and aesthetically, in the center between the two other films, with both Mirror and Cabin borrowing from it, but not necessarily from each other. I find it interesting that in terms of popularity, Hunger Games also sat much more significantly in the popular conscious than the other two.


(In the two images above, we see the heroine consoled by her adoring servants. Interestingly, there was also an oddly placed black dude in Cabin playing a servile sympathetic character who alone among the elite did not engage in crass behaviour towards the sacrificial children.)

The thematic and psychological similarities between the three films, each released within a week or two of each other, I found all quite striking. There are other films in this category I’ve not yet seen. Another Snow White film, (“Snow White and The Huntsman”), and Pixar’s “Brave” will be released later this year. We’ll have to see what they have to offer.

So what’s the zeitgeist here? Why is this stuff bubbling up from the collective unconscious in this manner?

I should note that I doubt very much this subconscious messaging is a deliberate thing; when ‘idea waves’ roll along, and they do, (I’ve been part of several), the source can either be pro-humanity or anti-humanity, but it has always been of unclear origin.

I don’t know what the original intent is behind this, (however such a thing might be understood), or what the final result will be. I do, however, strongly believe it’s best to consider such questions on the conscious level rather than just let ourselves be affected by these kinds of subliminal messages without our recognizing that it’s even happening.

What are your thoughts?

Let me know and I’ll post some responses here.

 

-Mark Oakley
April 27th, 2012

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