Reading about Sri Lanka left me thinking about science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, who, I know, lives there. Or lived there. I wondered whether he was still alive. So, from Sri Lanka in the news, I googled Arthur C. Clarke. Apparently Mr. Clarke, age 90, is still among us, despite the rebel bombs blowing up in his home city. I read a bit about Mr. Clarke, and was startled to learn that in the mid-1950s he had contributed to the Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future comic strip. Dan Dare was a British comic strip. When I was very, very young, before I had even learned to read, a friend of the family from New Zealand gave us a couple of old Eagle Annual books, perhaps from his own youth. Dan Dare was featured in this book; and the strip included the character pictured here, Lero from Cryptos Beneath the Three Suns of Los. I distinctly remember the image of this mysterious blue-and-yellow alien, but that, too, warrants a later post of its own; suffice it to say, Sri Lanka led to Arthur Clarke who led to Dan Dare, who then led me to The Black Dossier by Moore and O'Neill. It seems that ol' Dan makes a cameo appearance in the latest volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, along with Jet Morgan and Jet-Ace Logan.
I suspect that anyone younger than fifty, and not a citizen of the Empire, would be hard-pressed to identify the Dan Dare reference in Moore & O'Neill's latest offering. That, of course, is where Mr. Jess Nevin's Impossible Territories: An Unofficial Guide to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a "book length analysis of... The Black Dossier containing panel-by-panel annotations" comes in useful. An on-line version of the annotations is available here, and Dan Dare is explained on page 10, panel 8. As it happens, Mr. Nevin is a member of the LiveJournal community, known here as ratmmjess, and whose bloggerly exploits I follow through my LJ contacts list, and who once kindly provided me with an insight into the east Texas real estate market.
And that is how, some two (or more) hours after quickly scanning a news item about Sri Lankan politics, which led to Arthur Clarke, which led to Dan Dare, which led to The Black Dossier, which led to a guy I (sorta, in a virtual sense) know, I found myself once more aghast and agog at how small and interconnected this world of six-and-a-half billion people can actually be.
[addendum] Were Moore and O'Neill Americans, I wonder, would their Dan Dare, Jet Morgan, Jet-Ace Logan references have been replaced by Tom Corbett, Rocky Jones, and Commando Cody? Along these lines, if I had less of a life than I already have, I might find it entertaining (if not worthwhile) to create a pastiche of The League based on Mr. Nevin's annotations, finding American equivalents for the densely obscure British pop-cultural and literary references. Such an undertaking would require refreshing my familiarity with The Rise of Silas Lapham, immersing myself in 100 years of output from the Stratemeyer Syndicate, and conducting a serious review of the entire output of both Harvey and Gold Key comics. I mean, okay, I was known to beg my mom for an occasional issue of Turok, Son of Stone, but... nah. This project goes way on the back burner in the back seat of the Wayback machine.
While typing this entry I just wasted another two-and-a-half hours allowing myself to become distracted by Mr. Nevin's annotations, and browsing web sites about Jonny Quest, Turok, and American literature. I dunno, it'd be tough to match the quantity and obscurity of Moore and O'Neill. Perhaps a racketeer named Don Budge? Naaahhh.... too obvious. How about setting my story in Boston, and alluding to the Boyleston subway stop on the Green Line as "Bilestone," inferring, obviously, that I'm both green with envy over Moore & O'Neill's success with their thick shakes of obscurantist drivel (someday I'll figure out where I picked up that phrase), and bitter because I don't recognize even a fraction of what they're on about?
Needing an annotation guide to read a comic book leaves me feeling like an imbecile.
Following a chain of links from an assassination in Sri Lanka to my own (virtual) back door leaves me wondering how Kevin Bacon fits in to all of this.