Comic Art Friday: Typhoon Taarna

It struck me this morning as ironic that on the birthday of the late, great Tony DeZuniga — who led the tsunami of artists from the Philippines that took the American comics industry by storm in the 1970s — his native land is being pummeled by one of the nastiest typhoons on record.

Weird universe we live in.

Taarna, pencils by comics artist Tony DeZuniga

I happened to be in the Philippines for a major typhoon once. On Thanksgiving Day in 1974, Clark Air Base — where my father was stationed at the time — was struck by Typhoon Irma, packing winds approaching 100 miles per hour. It was the most powerful typhoon to hit the area in the base’s 90-year tenure.

We lost electrical power by late morning. Fortunately, my mother had cooked the turkey early as a precautionary measure, so the bird was ready to roll at mealtime. Most of the accompaniments we ate cold, straight from the can. When we weren’t eating, we spent the day mopping up the water that blew in under the front door, bracing the windows with duct tape in case the winds shattered them, and praying that the roof would hold. It did. The bamboo pole that held our TV antenna aloft was not so fortunate.

Anyway, in memory of Mr. DeZuniga, that’s his rendition of Taarna, the heroine of the final segment of the animated film Heavy Metal, leading off this post. Below, you’ll see Taarna again, as drawn by Tony’s close friend and colleague, Ernie Chan, another member of the Filipino-American comics community who passed away a mere five days after Tony left us.

Again, irony.

Taarna, pencils and inks by comics artist Ernie Chan

Speaking of Taarna…

For several years, I maintained a reference page about Heavy Metal on Squidoo, the web community founded by marketing guru Seth Godin. A while back, I got a cryptic email from the site’s administrative team, advising me that they were shutting down my page due to some kind of inappropriate content.

Nothing in the notice explained exactly what content was under review. Although nudity is depicted in the film (okay, it’s animated nudity, but still), I didn’t use any nude images on the site. The text was 100% original — I wrote the entire page from scratch; no content was pirated from Wikipedia or any other site — and 100% profanity-free. The only links on the page went either to my Comic Art Fans gallery (where my Taarna commissions are displayed) or to Amazon (where readers could purchase the DVD of the film — the kind of link Squidoo encourages). So I have no idea what the issue was.

At any rate, I copied all of the text into a Word document for my own records, and deleted the page. If you want to know more about Heavy Metal — a landmark film in the history of animation, and an essential bridge between comics and the movies — you’ll have to look elsewhere than Squidoo.

You could always just ask me, of course. I know almost everything there is to know about the film.

I used to have a Squidoo page that demonstrated this.

Taarna, pencils and inks by comics artist Gene Gonzales

Our final Taarna image is a new one, courtesy of Gene Gonzales, who — unlike Messrs. DeZuniga and Chan — is still with us, and still creating lovely artworks like this. I love the dramatic angle Gene employs here. Taarna looks strong and majestic, as a good Taarakian defender should. Her windblown hair is gorgeous as well.

Although…

…I hope that isn’t a typhoon stirring up.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Comic Art Friday, Dead People Got No Reason to Live, Hero of the Day, Reminiscing, Ripped From the Headlines, SwanStuff, That's Cool!

3 Comments on “Comic Art Friday: Typhoon Taarna”


  1. Really beautiful artwork. Tony DeZuniga and Ernie Chan were both very talented artists. You are fortunate to have met each of them and acquired such wonderful commissions. This blog post is a good reminder that when we fans are at comic conventions where veteran creators are guests we should take the time to go over and say “hello” and tell them and tell them how much we’ve enjoyed their work. Because you never know if you’ll have that opportunity again.


    • So true, Ben. I’m grateful for all of the times I’ve taken those opportunities. Even more, I’m sad for the opportunities I could have taken, but didn’t. I wish the former outnumbered the latter, but I’m not sure that they would.

      I still have a Common Elements concept that I created specifically for Tony DeZuniga to draw, but I didn’t get around to it. I’m not sure I’ll ever assign it to another artist — it’ll probably always remain “what might have been.”

  2. J Says:

    I experienced that Thanksgiving Day typhoon also. We had just moved in our house and did not get the turkey done in time. Ate tuna fish out of the can (since we had no power) or water. Our neighbors roof was blown off across the street and landed on top of the house next door. We all helped to get as much out of the neighbor’s house during the eye as we could.


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