Hello everyone! Welcome to the Christmas edition of Exotroopers! I’ll be covering some odds and ends from my Exotroopers Christmas story. The first exhibit, above, is what happens when a ridiculously high-resolution scanner meets a low-resolution concept sketch. Still, I think it turned out okay. If it’s not clear (and believe me you do NOT want to try viewing this thing at “original” size), that’s an angel, based on a description from Isaiah 6:1-3 and a marine creature called a sea butterfly. I first thought of and sketched this concept way back in high school, worked it into “Christmas With Exotroopers” as part of Zed’s visionary experience, and finally did a new sketch this morning. I scanned it at maximum resolution (after all the things I have seen go wrong scanning pencil drawings, I’m inclined not to take chances), cropped it and did a black-white reverse which is “standard” for me.
Here’s some of the other things that found their way into my very surreal Christmas story:
Ded Moroz, the evil Slavic Santa.
A news story on protests over the cancellation of Bosnian Christmas celebrations, which I used as a basis for a more dramatic scenario.
The “Christmas tank” photo used for the ebook cover image. I located several images of decorated tanks. This was the only one featuring a modern-looking tank (a modified M60 is my best guess), and the decidedly somber background settled it for me. Here’s another image of a tank that looks even better for the presumed late-Cold War junkyard environment of the exotroopers.
An upload of the Czeckoslavakian film “Alice”, a very strong contender for creepiest film ever supposedly based on a supposed children’s book. The stop-motion White Rabbit was used as a model for the rats in Zed’s ultra-twisted envisioning of “Nutcracker”. I saw bits of the film, including the permanently traumatizing opening, ten years ago on a college “channel”, and tracked it down later. I seriously considered covering this film in an installment of “Revenant Review”. After all, how is a taxidermied rabbit that climbs out of its display case NOT “undead”?
A British visual history of nutcrackers, some of which get more than moderately weird. Then there’s a positively disturbing specimen featured here from an American collection, which just might tie into the mythos of the “Nutcracker”. Also, here’s a painting I used as a model for Zed’s nutcrackers. In learning about the background of the original story of the Nutcracker, I concluded that an “authentic” Nutcracker would look like a German soldier from the mid- to late 1700s. On researching uniforms from the period, I found documentation of a variety of uniforms, including types which would be reasonably familiar to Americans from Revolutionary War counterparts. The soldiers in “pope hats”, however, were too good to pass up!
David N. Brown