UB Comix #1: I don't get it

UB Comix #1 explained.

I don't get
Comradely Clusters
The Big Three
We Meet
Last Call

I don't get #2 either

Hi-res ~107K
Lo-res ~32K

Travel back to 1987. There was no "rubberback" Urantia Book, there had been no "alternative" publishers, and the copyright wars were just barely on the horizon. There was just the Foundation's hardcopy, with an ever-climbing price tag. Some folks were clamoring for cheap copies of the revelation, and some folks were suggesting mass-media promotion, including television advertising.

UB Comix launched onto these choppy seas, in the photocopied mini-comic format popularized by cartoonist [*]Matt Feazell. What the cover of the first issue is supposed to look like is a Madison Avenue ad agency storyboard panel for a Urantia Book television spot, of the loud-and-flashy variety.

There are five questions in the ad copy. The first three were posed on the dust cover to the first edition of Clyde Bedell's Concordex. Mr. Bedell, or someone, evidently thought these weren't sufficient, because the fourth question was added on the second edition of the Concordex. I stole the fifth question from my beloved mate Mary Jo, who recalls this as "the first time I had one of my lines stolen for a comic book." It wouldn't be the last. I've always thought of it as responding both specifically to those who thought we needed cheaper books and generally to life's tolls. You may interpret it however you wish.

Along the side of the board you should be able to read "Ur.Bk, 30-sec spot," and a pseudo agency name. This was barely readable in the photocopied print editions, and was completely illegible in earlier scans, so it's about as clear as it's ever been in this version. In coloring the page for this new online edition, I've tried to keep that storyboard-rough look with simple airbrushed pastels.

1999 Jul 08

Hi-res ~92K
Lo-res ~36K

The first of several cartoons more generally related to religion than to the Urantia Papers in particular.

I'm not particularly proud of the artwork in this first UB comic. This page in particular was crude, even by my poor standards. But in preparing this edition, I was reminded of something I learned early in my cartooning attempts: Certain techniques, like coloring, and photo-reduction, while they may not exactly "cover a multitude of sins," at least tend to make them somewhat more "forgivable." At least I completely re-did the lettering.

1999 Jul 08

3Comradely Clusters
Hi-res ~169K
Lo-res ~69K

Study groups have always been the foremost means of collective investigation of the papers. Of course you don't ever see the loving fellows of Urantia Papers studygroupdom glaring at each other like those folks in panel #2, do you? No, neither do I.

This cartoon dates itself more than most by the caption in panel #3, referring to "the Brotherhood and the Foundation." Yes, hard though it may be to believe, back then the original Brotherhood (now Fellowship) shared the 533 Diversey headquarters with the Foundation. Internecine squabbles aside, most folks can agree it's really a nice old building, and somewhat "Urantian" itself, with the little globes gracing the front porch. As I recall, I drew this from memory without picture reference; in any case, it's far from technically accurate, but I think it captures the gist nicely. (Here's a photo of 533 Diversey.) The 533 building character recurs in a later comic. Don't you think the Mickey Mouse gloves were a nice touch? My apologies to those in cultures where the "OK" hand sign means something quite less socially acceptable.

I suppose some might need the "Tupperware" bit explained. Back before we all bought all our goods over the Internet (what, don't you?), some things, most memorably Tupperware and Amway products, were sold exclusively at living-room parties. To some outsiders, the interest in these gatherings, the techniques and gimmicks, may seem almost religious--dare I say cultish without overmuch invoking the pejorative implications of the term? Thus: like the UB study groups. One of the tricks which Tupperware living-room salesfolk teach their disciples is how to expel excess air from a container by pressing down on the top while letting up slightly on one corner. This is called "burping." Or so I've been told. I never attended those churches myself.

1999 Jul 24

4The Big Three
Hi-res ~149K
Lo-res ~88K
Poster ~877K

There's nothing to get. Nothing in this cartoon has any significance whatsoever.

Seriously (at least, more so than the preceding paragraph), in some ways, this page is the raison d'etre for UB Comix. This idea had been done in pencil as a large-format poster (11" x 17") for a long time before UB Comix #1. It seemed destined for the centerspread of issue #1.

The graphic used on the web page is a 60% reduction of the poster version.

1999 Jul 30 [Rev 2001 Dec 17]

5We Meet
Hi-res ~252K

Based (loosely) on the "Government on a Neighboring Planet" paper, of course, with its "continental nation." As far as I know, I'm the first (and only) one to have a revelation of the neighboring planet's name. Those little "TM" marks, well, you know, if you can trademark the name of one planet you must be able to trademark the name of another, right? And if the Naborians seem somewhat purplish, well, those on the continental nation are alleged to have received a bit more of the violet-race genetics than our world.

First contact stories have long been a staple of science fiction. The big-budget movie "Contact"; a Star Trek The Next Generation feature film, as well as one of the better episodes from the series; even going back to "The Day the Earth Stood Still." Or H.G. Wells's "War of the Worlds," for that matter. Let's hope our first contact is peaceful. The lines "Squa Tront" and "Spa Fon" hark back to a memorable first-contact situation in the old "EC" comics line.

I suppose it needs to be noted that the usage of "Vern Grimsley/Grin Vermsely" pre-dates the armegeddonist episode. At the time this comic was done, Mr. Grimsley was simply the most visible character in the Urantianist cult, so I borrowed him when I needed to have a specific parallel-world personality. The "Oh No" comment is not meant to reflect anything but the typical jibe at a pop personality. I've never heard from Mr. Grimsley if he was amused or offended by the usage, if indeed he is even aware of it. I did send him complimentary copies of the first (and all subsequent) UB Comix issues.

Might there be a "Naboria Book" parallel to our "Urantia Book"? I've wondered how other worlds have, as reported, learned about and derived spiritual edification from the life Michael lived on our world.

And finally: It seems to me we're going to need some event as dramatic and profound as discovering our "Nabors" to avoid a cataclysm, and perhaps they need some such salvaging catharsis as well. We will both still need the "Sons of God."

1999 Aug 06

6Last Call
Hi-res ~74K
Lo-res ~51K
Poster ~304K

If our reputation as the "World of the Cross" preceded us in our galactic journey, we might find less than total acceptance. (Hey! Is that a three-brain type on the left in the mirror?)

This seemed an appropriate, if a bit more cynical, afterthought to the "We Meet" science-fiction story. As with "The Big Three," of issue #1, this was a larger-size poster I had done some time before UB Comix had ever been conceived.

As with The Big Three page, the graphic used for the web page is reduced (66%) from the poster graphic, although this one suffers much less color detail loss due to the reduction.

1999 Aug 12 [Rev 2001 Dec 17]