It's no secret I've been posting less material than usual (thank heavens for the Reader's Entries, even if there's only two regular authors), nor that the reason for my inactivity is that I've been extremely busy.
Despite that, I've constantly tried to create new forms to attract the attention of the readers, even when most of them seem to have failed.
Here's a new one: a weekly section (it'll be posted all Mondays, unless something happens) where I'll share, review and generally babble about a piece of transformation done elsewhere in media. It can be from comics to TV, or even work by fellow authors.
Most of them, you probably already know, but if not, then you might appreciate the share. I hope these posts encourage discussion. Seriously, it's very easy to drop a comment with your thoughts, and you can even do it anonymously, if that's what worries you.
You might also drop me a message in firstname.lastname@example.org suggesting other pieces we can discuss in future weeks.
So, let's start with our first feature.
On the onset of this blog, I shared my appreciation of the very old pulp comic strip titled It's a Gas. That lead to my very first caption adaptation, so it's ratter fitting that our very first feature is that one too.
Obviously, the review will contain spoilers (if there's such a thing in this kind of material), so if you don't know it, check each individual page before reading my comments. Sorry about the quality. The comic is quite old.
So here's our cover, and the introduction of our soon to be APed character, Jenny. I think she makes for a very appealing main character in this genre. She's cute, innocent, vivacious and though we don't know her exact age, old enough to fully grasp what's about to happen to her.
That Mr. Quint has a certain Spells 'R' Us Wizard vibe, which could only be a good thing. I also like that close up of Jenny, since we can compare it with one that comes a bit later...
Quint promises to change Jenny's life. Things are getting good.
We met another character, her father, who is "too young" for the job he wants, whatever that means for a middle-aged man. Anyway, this ought to be the only credible motivation for him to wish to be older later on.
"An answer to dreams". It's never stated how the gas determines if a person is to be made older of younger, but this seems to be the answer. It depends on what do you wish. In that case, Jenny is dreaming of being a young adult. An appealing character, I told you. I've always preferred willing characters over reluctant ones.
And now it's Jenny's mother turn. She wishes to be young again to regain her looks.
Despite her worries, Jenny's mother seems to have a good figure in this page. Which bodes well for Jenny. Anyway, here the parents are showcased as not very pleasant people, which makes it easier for us to accept their fates. They also ignore Jenny, even though she's holding the instrument of said fates.
This is it. THE PAGE. Luckily, I found this one in a better quality. Open it in a new tab.
Everything about this page is perfect. It starts by telling us Jenny is anxious to try it on. If, as I believe, she knows what the gas will do to her (and despite her surprise here, the theory is supported in the next page), that means she is aware she's about to become a woman. I love when there's a feeling of anticipation before the transformation itself.
And then it happens, and it's great. There's an actual process, in what's probably the very best panel in the history of AP comics. The choice of wear is also very good. The fact that it's torn and also the changing length of the sleeves and hem (from ankles to mid-tight) gives you a very good idea of how much she has grown.
There's also that classic "What's... happening... to me!" line, which is better if you imagine her voice is changing with each word.
Then there's the character design. I think the gritty style of the drawings fits this very well, and this is one of the few relatively realistic-looking APs there are. I love that they weren't afraid to give Jenny a well-developed body (one of the problems with some APs, is that they simply draw the characters as slightly taller versions of their younger selves). But Jenny is not only nearly as tall as her parents now. She's curvy, and perfectly so. Her legs and arms are toned, her cleavage can be seen and it's abundant, and even her buttocks are round. Her face has also matured a bit, which is appreciated and also mostly neglected elsewhere, and that's supported not only by our eyes, but by the fact that her parents can't recognize her at once. Clearly, she has changed a good deal.
Sadly, we don't know her exact adult age either, but she seems to be in her prime. Early or mid-twenties.
Now we arrive to the aftermath of the transformation, and though there are some nice touches, this is where the story lacks, mainly due to the short length of the comic, and because I have to admit I'm awfully partial to a deep post-change exploration.
That vertical panel on the left is great though. We get another stupendous glimpse at how much Jenny's body has changed. They did an awesome job drawing her there. Even her hands and feet look adult now.
Here, Jenny acknowledges that she knows the effects or the gas are turning people younger or older. Clearly Quint explained it, which makes her reaction in the previous page a bit strange. It could be argued that while she knew what the final result of the transformation would be, she was taken aback by whatever sensation she was experiencing as she changed. Then she panics and calls for her mommy because... she's a kid. Even when you know what to expect, you can panic. Did any of you play with metal on the microwave as kids?
So, here's where I would have liked a bit of exploration. A bit of looking at the mirror, or something. She seems too calm and too adjusted in too short a time. The bit when she realizes she has outgrown her bed is cool, though.
"It's permanent, momma!" is another clue that she was perfectly aware of what was going on. Naughty girl. She transformed herself even though she knew there was no going back.
And in the last panel, there's that other close up I was talking about. It's a nice comparison with the previous one, since you can see how much her face has matured, particularly her lips and the shape of her eyes and nose.
Finally, we see exactly what's going on in her mother's mind. I think that framing suggests she's even a bit jealous of Jenny's new look. Which leads to the rather abrupt ending...
Looking shapely even under the sheets, Jenny is already wondering about her success with MEN. Not even boys. That's not something I'm overly fond of, though most authors love to showcase that aspect in AP stories. Seriously, is attracting men the only perk of getting older? I also can't understand why she's thinking about something like that, since there were no mental changes to her aging, and she was too young to be thinking in those terms. Maybe it's simply an outburst of her new hormones? I do like that she acknowledges her own attractiveness, though.
This is also one of those strange sources where they address the theme of missing childhood, which is a kind of tragic element to this genre, and one that I like to avoid in most my stories. I usually convince myself they aren't losing their life because of whatever magic reason/some health improvement.
On a side-note, couldn't her mother give her a proper nightie? Poor Jenny is still in her torn garments while some available adult clothes must be around. I guess the woman is too preoccupied with her own plans to care about her girl's comfort.
Another nice look at Jenny's figure courtesy of that silhouette...
And the final reveal, which is no reveal at all. By the way whatever happened to the mom's clothes?
That's all. This is the kind of story that leaves you (or me, at least) wanting for more, not exactly for missed opportunities, but because what you saw was so good, you need the keep with it.
I was so curious about the aftermath that I even wrote an ill-conceived sequel to my adaptation of the comic. Don't ask. I was starting with the blog and even worse at it that I am now.
But it does leave you with a few questions. For one, there's nobody to take care of Jenny now, and she was already due to a difficult adjustment period. And who will take care of the baby and the old man?
Despite the lack of aftermath, as I've said, this has everything I ask in an AP: the thrill of the anticipation, a visible process, noticeable physical changes in the character and a bit of wonder and surprise at the changes (if not enough of that either). Yet, I think even after all these years, this is a clear contender for the "Best AP Ever" title.
I give it a perfect score of 5 TF STARS out of 5.
I give it a perfect score of 5 TF STARS out of 5.
It has also influenced my work in many ways, and I suppose I should talk a bit about the adaptation. I'm not overly fond of it (something in common with most of my work from that period), but I suppose it was a landmark in many ways.
Something that didn't convince me is the choice of models. The little girl is a bit too young when compared to her original counterpart. Then there the adult one, towards which I am fairly indifferent right now. Not that worthy of one of my favorite comics.. I distinctly remember this was a very difficult image hunt for me, mainly because I wanted to keep the general appearance of the characters.
In the end, I couldn't find a good picture of a redhead in a nightie, nor a yellow nightie for that matter. So I settled for a blonde in a purple one, and I made my very first major Photoshopping. I think I did a good job with the hair, but the yellow isn't that good. I also tried to replicate a bit of the tearing in the nightie, both in the hem and the cleavage. I also dropped one of her straps (ugh, the original had sleeves!) and I even added a headband. I found the unaltered image again for comparisson.
I'm not even revisiting the text. I'm pretty sure I couldn't write anything back then, though I remember that I dropped countless references to the comic. And then there's the sequel, which is simply garbage.
That's all this week. See you with another feature next Monday. And please comment. Everyone knows It's a Gas, I think. Share your thoughts on it.
PS: Other than the final part of BLZBub' story, this month's Reader's Entries are closed. I know TG was a very weird category, so you have a very open one for September: Science-Fiction.