Hey, guys! Bet you didn’t expect a new post so soon. Well, I just wanted to share something I came across while I was working on last week’s Nostalgia Update.
As you may know by now, my own comics from between 2007 and 2011 were part of the Nostalgia Update. While pretty much all of them were still stashed online, I ended up going back to my hard drive backup for some of the files. Along the way I bumped into an old comic I was working on and thought it would be interesting to share with you guys.
First things first, a bit of context: I was never big on Terminator as a teen. I went to watch Terminator 3 on the movies because a friend dragged me along and afterwards always thought of the franchise as your typical ’80s-style Arnold action flick. Only much later did I figure out that the original James Cameron movies were intelligent, character-driven movies that told a really cool, ‘timey-wimey’ (to borrow a term from another time traveling franchise I love) story. One of the reasons I found that out was also the subsequent Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles series, which tragically only lasted two seasons between 2008 and 2009 and is an underrated, oft-forgotten TV show. I became a big fan of the show and consider The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Terminator: TSCC an amazing trilogy.
Anyway, so, being big on Terminator by the time Sarah Connor Chronicles was ending – that is, 2009 -, I had the idea of doing a GMod comic set in the franchise. And although I call it a “fanfic” in the post’s title, I approached it more like I first approached Half-Life 2 when doing The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage: a story set in the same universe, but focused on different characters and away from the original protagonists.
Basically, my 2009 idea for the Terminator comic was a series set in the apocalyptic future of the franchise, a pair of years before Arnold Schwarzenegger’s original Terminator was sent back in time in the first movie. Humanity was all but wiped out by the self-aware AI Skynet and the few survivors organized into pockets of resistance. Whereas the movies focus on the ultimate savior of Humanity, John Connor, and his mother, my comic series would’ve kept John Connor and his Tech-Com crew as mentions or, at the very best, rare cameos. Instead, it would focus on a different group of Resistance fighters.
That Resistance group, which I tentatively called ‘the Roaches’ (as a reference to the fact that cockroaches supposedly can survive any apocalyptic scenario), would be used to fighting T-600s, which are Terminators that, instead of being covered by living tissue – i.e., skin -, have a crude rubber fake skin that makes them easy to detect. In the first comic of the series, a nearby Resistance bunker would be taken down and members of the Roaches would be sent to assess the situation and retrieve any survivors or supplies that were left. There, they would find the whole base slaughtered, and soon come across the cause of it all: a T-800 (a Terminator with a living tissue covering), or a variant thereof.
And this Terminator model would look like a female human. The first of that kind, even.
The Resistance members soon figure out ‘she’, impersonating a Resistance survivor, is a Terminator and fight her. They get a few casualties but actually manage to bring her down, relatively intact. They then deactivate the never-before-seen Terminator and drag it back to base, where it would be reprogrammed. The story would follow on from there, with plot points such as everyone being very uneasy with this realistic-looking Terminator and even a character developing a creepy attraction to her, as well as the scientist characters being unfamiliar with the more advanced model and therefore the reprogramming being risky at best.
That was basically the idea, but there’s more! I actually got as far as doing some tests and reskins, although bear in mind that this was 2009, so options were a lot more limited than nowadays, although there was already a (low-resolution) Terminator endoskeleton model available.
Obviously I got the idea for a female Terminator from Cameron, the female Terminator portrayed by Summer Glau in the TV show, but my interest was not in copying that portrayal, but rather create a story where such a thing is completely new, weird and confusing for the characters. Back then, I reskinned a head-hacked model of Alyx Vance in HL2 citizen clothing – the character was called both “Alice” and “Eve” depending on the age of the notes, with Eve being the most recent name I gave her:
I also used a nude Alyx model to represent the Terminator model laying on a table, as a test for an early scene in issue 2 where the Resistance re-programmers are discussing this new Terminator series and model and whether to risk reactivating her, as the reprogramming could’ve gone wrong:
I never got very far into this, actually; although it might seem like I had a lot to go on, usually my ideas for comics were, and still are, as planned and complex as this. I think the problem was that there wasn’t enough content to work with and I wasn’t good enough with Photoshop to create good-looking Future War scenes. Plus, while the Alyx model had a very convincing “emotionless” look to me, I always felt it was awkward and jarring to have such a well-known face be a Terminator (and besides, I could never properly remove that headband of hers).
That said, I did make a short test comic of the Terminator reactivating, and frankly, it’s the reason I decided to post this, because it’s surprising to find something from five years back and still find it amazing. Take a look yourselves, but I’m quite proud of this one!
And that’s pretty much it. I have some more test images but I think these are enough. Funnily enough, very recently, before finding the backed-up files, I rewatched Terminator 2 and felt like resurrecting this idea with a few alterations. That said, I also didn’t get very far, because, even though there’s a lot more stuff available (and Joazz released an amazing T-800 endoskeleton model), it also makes people harder to buy into a Terminator comic built off from spare models from other videogames, and I just couldn’t find the models I wanted to make the comic I wanted. Besides, while I love the Terminator universe and this idea of mine, I’m not sure I want to go into further fan-fiction for yet another fictional universe.
I hope you were entertained by this peek into one of my pre-production processes from way back. And hey, if you decide to make a Terminator comic yourself, go ahead – just try not to reuse my ideas, please! I might still make them, who knows?
All right, hopefully I’ll have new stuff to post sometime, but for now this is it! If you wanna make sure you don’t miss a thing, please consider subscribing to the site. I’ll just finish off with another test shot of “Alice”/Eve”, a particularly cool one I felt was appropriate to finish the post. See ya!