Copyright Acknowledgment: All images of THE OUTER SPACE MEN , THE WORLD OF THE FUTURE and other Products and Images, created by Mel Birnkrant, are Copyright (c) MEL BIRNKRANT
I’ve been working on OUTER SPACE WOMEN for a while now, and thinking about them even longer. So here, they will appear, one page at a time. I’ll add the drawings to this Sketchbook, and if any of these ever happen, transfer them to the main menu. It is pointless to hold and hide these drawings, waiting for the Four Horsemen to reveal them as finished figures. At the speed this project is progressing, if they ever get around to them, I may be no longer here.
The following pages will be both an introduction to the characters, and suggestions for the Horsemen. I plan to go into the details, as I far as I can anticipate them. Some of these will be complicated, as more than a few will incorporate a trick or two that’s new; especially, when it comes to lighting effects, some subtle, some more spectacular, but all easy to do.
I have discussed this project with Eric. It was at his suggestion that I undertook it. He knows that I am working on it, and it is Official, not merely speculation. His intention, at the time, was to actually do a line of OSW. What he had in mind was something simple, to create each new OSW by merely putting a new head on TERRA FIRMA’S basic body. That is very doable, but each will need a new upper torso too. This is because each one will relate to an existing male figure and use its accessory, and helmet. As most of the helmets are different, the torso will have to be adjusted to fit each one. On the plus side, the breasts on all will remain the same. Those are far too good to change!
Three will use the same upper torso, the one designed for TERRA FIRMA. Four more will need to be customized. Counting TERRA FIRMA, there will be seven female figures in all, for now. Each of these will parallel an existing male. On the other hand, there are some of the original figures that can’t be easily adapted to create a female. COLOSSUS REX would look like Mrs. Shrek. Putting breasts on ALPHA SEVEN simply won’t cut it. If ALPHA SEVEN is to ever have a new incarnation, I would strongly opt for this one. This is, and will remain, my favorite. I also see a simple way to make him more exciting with some tricky lighting. A transparent brain would allow his eyes and the orb on his forehead to be illuminated.
CYCLOPS and ORBITRON, too, wouldn’t be easy to do. ELECTRON + remains a possibility. GAMMA X, Maybe. But how exciting can she be if the transformation consists of simply slightly changing what’s inside the can? GEMINI too does not lend himself to becoming female. But all the others are adaptable!
Two more things: First: Once I got into these I realized that simply changing the head and neck fitting will not suffice for all the characters. The additional changes will be very minor, but necessary: a hole for female MYSTRON’S tail, flaming hands and feet for female INFERNO, and a few new bellybuttons. That’s it! All the rest will simply get new heads and adapted upper torsos. Three of the heads have been conceived as two pieces, like ORBITRON'S head and brain, for ease of molding and extra play.
Secondly: I sacrificed some of the character variations I did already, and applied them to this project. It is clear that they were never likely to happen, while, as females, they may. One of the best examples of this is OHPROMATEM. METAMORPHO’S Twin Brother becomes his Twin Sister. Thus, she is even more opposite than before, and I only had to change the gender of a few pronouns in the story.
Speaking of the stories, I wrote most of them today. It proved to be a very strange experience, sort of like a glitch in the continuum of time. It was over forty years ago that I sat down, one afternoon, and watched, in amazement, as seven short stereotypical stories poured out of my pen point, and filled a page. I don’t really know where those stories came from; other than the fact that they were all common clichés. As I have said before, it took no longer to write them than it does to read them. I still find that a little strange.
Did I really write those stories as fast as I recall? It’s true I had spent a year of working on the figures, and their table top scenery, so I must have developed an inner awareness of who the characters were. And yet, I never consciously thought about it. The whole idea of stories was an afterthought. The Packages were underway, in the able hands of my friend Bill Basso, when the idea of adding stories occurred to me, as a means of filling space. I remember doing it, while sitting in the livingroom, with a notepad on my lap, watching TV.
I might add, here, that my 12 year old friend, Jaymie Valyou, who I met at Futuretro, was the first visitor, here, in 40 years, to realize and remark that the packages for the OSM were directly patterned after the packaging of Matt Mason.
I woke at 5:00 A.M., this morning, and couldn’t go back to sleep again. So I got up at 7:00 and sat at the computer to read the news and drink a couple cups of coffee. I surfed around the internet till 9:00. Then I answered some emails, and finally ran out of things to do. I suddenly remembered that four of the five OSW I’m working on still needed stories. I had whipped out Terra Firma’s tale, in the space of half an hour, a week ago. But I had six more to go. One of those, OHPROMATEM, will be just a minor alteration of the one that was already written, and another, ASTRODITE, I wrote yesterday. But, I still needed four more.
I had been thinking about names for a long time, mostly, on sleepless nights. Names are much harder to do, these days than they were in 1968, as so many have been taken in the subsequent 45 years of superheroes, action figures, and moving pictures. But I had a selection of "safe" names, trademark wise, in mind, and sorting out the choices; I grabbed what seemed best, at the time, and started to write.
It proved to be a weird experience. When I began, I had absolutely no idea what these stories were going to be about. I simply constructed a first sentence that incorporated the name of the character and her planet, and then watched, in amazement, as one sentence followed another, and I discovered what was going to happen in each story. The experience AMAZED me. And I realized it was true; 45 years ago, I could have easily written all those stories in a single afternoon, for the same thing happened, this time, too.
By 10:30, I had finished the first three; then, took a break. I was back by 11:00, with one more story to go. I picked a name, one that has been used before by William Shakespeare, "DESDEMONA" and changed one letter, so it may not qualify for, or need, a trademark, and began to write the final story. Good Lord! From not knowing what it was going to be about, it just flowed out, as fast as I could type it. In 30 seconds, the first three quarters of the story was complete, without a rewrite. Then I got stuck, and it took 20 minutes more to figure out the last two sentences. In the end, I simply omitted one. It said too much. And I was done!
Well, that was exhilarating! Like last time, I felt like I had help! Nothing has changed over the years. These stories are the same collection of clichés that the others were, written in the same pun infested style. It is as if time has stood still. And whatever was happening then, just took place again.