Comic book author and artist Gene Day (1951-1982) is best known for his SF work on Marvel Comics’ Star Wars series and as an editor and artist for Dark Fantasy (1973-1980). He also created art for Chaosium games including Nomad Gods (1977). My brief bibliographic blurb is based on Wikipedia. Here is a wonderful gallery of his work including images from his various Star Wars publications.
Future Day (1979), a “graphic album,” contains seven “graphic stories” on themes of galactic conflict. It might be worth comparing Day’s rather nihilistic formulations of war and galactic expansion/conquest with the positivist depiction of heroic liberation in Star Wars. I would suggest that Day is deliberately responding to the phenomenon of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). The art and storylines are filled with indirect correlates to the Star Wars universe (“cute” R2D2-esque robots, hulking spaceships with similar details to imperial cruisers and X-wings, etc.)
I’ve not been that impressed with the three SF comic books I’ve tackled so far on my site — Paul Gillon’s The Survivor, 1 (1985), Samuel R. Delany and Howard V. Chaykin’s Empire (1978), or Gene Day’s Future Day (1979). While I enjoy the art and individual panels of text/image, I struggle with the bland/simplistic stories. I’m going to refrain from rating this one as I don’t think I’m the best judge of their merits. That said, I am always interested in exploring the genre in all its formulations from my decades of interest!
A note about dates and publication: None of the stories were previously published elsewhere. I’ve included the date (when present) as signed by Day. I defaulted to 1979 if no date exists. I own a limited Collector’s Edition (volume 308 of 500) signed by the author.
“Gifts of Silver Splendor” (1979): The last Acton, Nevorhien-B, wages a lost crusade against the Lizard-Men of Senti. Day presents a punchy progenitor narrative common in so much SF–homo sapiens aren’t responsible for their achievements but rather are uplifted by ancient alien knowledge. War as an act of cosmic fertilization… Other than the striking first panel of Nevorhien-B linked into his “thought-ship,” “Gifts” lacks the imaginative power of some of the other shorts in the collection.
“Hive” (1978): Another final conflicts wraps up the final threads…. a “Queen” and her last drone attempt to fight off the last wave of invaders. The fighting moves inward, from outside a vast spaceship to the final room. There’s a nihilistic twist. This is humanity’s final final stand. Day’s brutal conflicts engage with final moments. Last gasps and blows. Warfare cannot be avoided. Battle lines are draw for perpetuity.
“Days of Future Past” (1978): A silly homage to Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder” (1952), “Days of Future Past” places an alien entity that threatens to change the course of history into the body of a ferocious dinosaur. Time-travels end up changing the narrative but in different ways than they imagined.
“Gauntlet” (1978): As with others in the collection, Day’s formulation of war treads into more disturbing territory. In this instance, a galactic conflict with spaceships that look like airplanes against massive alien ships is but a hellish testing apparatus (that inflicts real injuries?) for modern-day (?) pilots.
“Paper Dragon” (1977) contains the most powerful and inventive use of image and text in the collection. The story itself is completely forgettable. Day attempts to present a dystopic future where mass warfare creates unintended consequences that threaten to end the human race. A new scientific discovery creates a new more existential nightmare… a hodge-podge of ideas that don’t mesh.
“War Games” (1977) is the best realized vision in the collection. War, cue Day’s relentless themes on conflict discussed above, drags on and on. The original causes cannot be extricated from the morass of the past. Instead, a new logic defines conflict–possession of the physical tokens of representing humanity dictates the moves and countermoves of galactic conquerors. “War Games” contains striking images and effective use of text. The only story I recommend from the collection!
“Black Legion” (1977): More of an illustrated short story than the others in the volume, “Black Legion” lays out the final movement in another galactic conflict. Here a galactic horde relentlessly searches for food to maintain its ability to push onward. But this path is but entropic fizzle… the empty hulks remain littering the stars.
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