Notes on Smax #4
by Foo Sek Han and various people.
Corrections, additions, and suggestions are welcome - please send me an email.
(Except when otherwise credited, all text © copyright 2004 Foo Sek Han. Please ask for permission if you want to duplicate.)
All characters and art are copyright 2001, 2002, 2003 & 2004 their respective creators.
Publications, titles of publications and characters appearing therein are ©, ® and/or ™ of their respective publishers, authors or creators.
April 14 2004
Sorry for the long delay, everyone. I had not been able to obtain a copy of Smax #4 when it came out (dreadful comic-importing services in Malaysia, I tell you), and only managed to locate one which happened to arrive at the same time as Smax #5 in the store I frequent (as mentioned, dreadful...). Nevertheless, I hope these annotations are adequate, albeit late, and would do well to satisfy the reader.
The cover is, of course, a pastiche of the famous painting "St. George and the Dragon" by Raphael, down to the white horse and the spear. There are a number of similiarly-themed - and in fact similarly-posed - paintings that can be found during the Renaissance period, and Raphael himself did another version of the same painting, although it was still the original one which stuck in people's minds. More versions of "St. George and the Dragon" can be found through Google Image Search, and a short bio on Raphael with paintings here: http://www.b-link.co.uk/ckn/famouspaintings/raphael.htm. The halo over Smax's head is from earlier and more religious renditions of the same painting, although I can't say I know where the flower (beside Morningbright's head) is from, and I'm pretty sure none of those paintings had little dwarves holding scoresheets above their heads.
Panel 4: I don't know who the three persons in the foreground are - they may be just nameless secondary characters, but I think there is some significance. Any help, here?
The title "Trip, Trip to a Dream Dragon" is from Syd Barrett's song "Octopus", like the previous episodes of Smax.
Panel 5: "Fellow, I know!" is the high fantasy equilavent of our more common "Man/Dude, I know!".
Panel 1: The two are most obviously Professor Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter, from the famous Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. "Broadsheets" are newspaper publications which are based on facts (rather than tabloids) of national and international occurences. In the books themselves, Hogwarts University (where the two hail from) often have trouble coming from the Wizard's daily newspaper "The Daily Prophet", emphasized in the 4th Book The Goblet of Fire where an over-zealous reporter Rita Skeeter harassed Potter and his friends by exaggerating reports and making up wild stories regarding them. Dumbledore's comment on their education methods is both reminiscent of traditional English schools and also Hogwarts University - he often says something common to this whenever confronted by critics of his administration methods.
In the books, however, the students dresses up in wizard/witch-like robes rather than what is depicted here, which looks more traditional English school. It does remind me of the illustration of one of the children in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. though I guess it's just because they wear similar glasses.
Panel 2: "Hellscabs" is a direct parody of "Hogwarts". In the original Harry Potter series though, it wasn't Dumbledore who brought the children into dangerous field trips but rather Rubeus Hagrid, the friendly half-giant who happens to be the lecturer on Care of Magical Creatures with a perchance for treating extremely deadly and dangerous beasts as "cute pets".
Panel 3: The "Boys' school VS Girls' school" theme is a common occurence in British children literature.
Panel 4: Dumbledore's comment on nice dragons with Scottish Brogues is referring to Draco of the film Dragonheart, who is voice-acted by Sean Connery.
Panel 4: Whose shield is it on the ground? It doesn't seem to be Captain America's old or new shield, although I think it might be a patriotic superhero's as it features a white star and stripes. The burning armour on the right is familiar, but I can't place it.
Panel 1: The path of skulls contains a number of comic characters. Jérôme_WICKY points out: "one is Hellboy (left), recognizable thanks to his trademark sawed-off horns, and the other (right), a skull wearing a hood, could be either Skeletor of the popular "Masters of the Universe" toy line or the pre-Vertigo version of the DC Comics villain Dr. Destiny." The skull on the left to the centre foreground skull may belong to The Thing of Fantastic Four, and the one to the right of the centre skull with a tap on the head may be Shadowy Mr. Evans from the Grant Morrison run of Doom Patrol, though I probably am mistaken.
Panel 1: It really shouldn't come as surprising that the fantasy roleplaying equivalent to our Dungeons and Dragons is called Malls and Muggers, no? This is similar in theme to the comicbooks found in Top Ten (The Accountant, if I'm not mistaken). I'm not too sure whether it is traditional for D&D campaigns or novels to have the dwarves thrown into danger first before the rest of the party goes in, but this reminds me greatly of Aaron Carter's
Nodwick, where the character of the comic's namesake, being a short henchman, is always used as expandable cannon fodder/bait/tool in every single adventure he's involved in.
Panel 1: What exactly is the mechanical punching glove on the left supposed to be?
Panel 6: Termagant, from Dictionary.com, "comes from Middle English Termagaunt, alteration of Tervagant, from Old French. Termagant was an imaginary Muslim deity represented in medieval morality plays as extremely violent and turbulent. By the sixteenth century, termagant was used for a boisterous, brawling, turbulent person of either sex, but eventually it came to refer only to women."
Cockatrice, from Pantheon.org: "The basilisk, or cockatrice, is a creature that is born from a spherical, yolkless egg, laid during the days of Sirius (the Dog Star) by a seven-year-old rooster and hatched by a toad." It is also the mythical king of serpents.
Panel 7: The Battery Fairy, I think, is actually a Christmas ornament, albeit with a living angel/fairy inside to produce the light...
Panel 5: I've got to admit those dwarves are some of the cutest things in this comic. The one in blue is the Dungeon Master (or Mall Master/Mall Manager/Mall CEO, whichever fits you), and the other two are playing as dungeon dwellers (or mallrats).
Panel 7-9: The lyrics are, indeed, ABBA's Dancing Queen. I doubt Smax's taste in music sways that way, but I suppose that he never turns off his radio at home when he goes out for work in the Top Ten police force, and thus the sword had to learn the catchiest and simplest tune available. (Well, at least it isn't "Opps, I Did it Again".)
Panel 3: While offsprings inheriting powers of their parents (even though the powers came from a particular elixir or drug) is normal in superhero and fantasy stories, Rexa having a much more powerful Strong Light force than Smax is curious - is the potion more useful on females, or is it because Rexa inherited more genes from her mother (XX chromosomes)?
Panel 4: In Smax's world, it appears, dowsing (using a similar forked branch) is done to search for underground metals, rather than our more common dowsing for underground water. Dowsing had never been scientifically proven as a reliable way of searching for underground water, though, so I assume in this world dowsing is considered a rather normal activity for the more magically-inclined.
Panel 4: Like the earlier "Fellow!" line, Rexa's "You're the Chieftain" is the equivalent to our "You're the boss."
Dennis, yes, is the same fellow mentioned by Lionel in Smax #3. I can't quite determine where this image of Dennis is from, though - while the scythe, black cloak and skull head is common in most anthropomorphic interpretations of Death, this is the first time I have seen Death depicted as wearing a crown of spikes, eyes like a burning furnace, and having many little skulls and many little skeletal hands.
"Coming Next: The Two Towels!" - The Two Towers is the second book of The Lord of the Ring trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Thanks to: Jérôme_WICKY.
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