A Tale Of Hope
♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden gives us his thirteenth in a regular series about comic series that never were. Today it’s the turn of Brent Anderson’s Oasis In Space…
Brent Anderson’s Oasis In Space…
“Why should we preserve a livable planet if not for our children and grandchildren,” questioned Jacques-Yves Cousteau. In the 1990s, award-winning storyteller Brent Anderson was going to help do something about it.
Anderson was going to chronicle the work of the famous Cousteau and the crew of the Calypso in a proposed, seven-chapter, ecological comic book series beginning with Oasis in Space: An Adventure of Exploration and Discovery.
According to Anderson, “Cousteau and his son Jean-Michel and the crew of the Calypso take six children, each from a different continent (North America, South America, Japan, Africa, Europe, and Australia) on a voyage of discovery. They travel first to Antarctica, then on a round-the-world voyage to explore and learn about the relationships of humans to their ecology and the value of nature.
“The areas visited include Antarctica, the Amazon, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, Mauritania Africa, the Andaman Islands, and Mexico. Each child is given a list of riddles they are to answer at the end of each voyage, the answers to which would enlighten and educate them about the problems the ecological world suffered and help them supply possible solutions for the future.”
“The Cousteaus were very concerned about the effects human over-population was having on the environment,” Anderson said, “particularly the oceans; coral reefs were dying, the floor of the Mediterranean was becoming sterile, Antarctic ice was melting, and, as fishing yields were declining, increasing ocean-bottom harvesting was destroying swaths of the Pacific floor.”
Adapted from an original story by Richard C. Murphy and Pamela Stacey, the series would feature scripting and art by Anderson, and be edited by Stacey.
“Working from a first-draft expanded outline written by Murphy and Stacey,” Anderson explained, “I wrote an 80-page script and laid out the comic book storytelling in pencil. It was to be released as a series of seven separate comics, one for each of seven chapters, ultimately collected into a book collection, and distributed free to the children of many countries in the world. It was a very ambitious project, and if it had come together might have had some significant productive effect on the world.”
The cartoon book was to be published all around the world in as many as 146 different languages, and was to be distributed by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.)
“I think there were some problems with cultural and language translations of some of the riddles and their answers,” Anderson confessed, “which we never really got a handle on.”
The cartoon book was also to be linked to the Cousteaus‘ Bill of Rights for Future Generations, which Cousteau launched in 1991 in his campaign for a formal resolution to inscribe this first Article of this Bill of Rights into international law. In 2001, the motion was delivered to the Secretary General of the United Nations by Jean-Michel Cousteau, under the pretense that “every person has the right to inherit an uncontaminated planet on which all forms of life may flourish.”
Anderson added that the goal for the project was to see the following principles adopted by the United Nations and incorporated into every political constitution in the world:
A Bill of Rights for Future Generations
Article I. Future generations have a right to an uncontaminated and undamaged Earth and to its enjoyment as the ground of human history, of culture and of social bonds that make each generation and individual a member of one human family.
Article II. Each generation, sharing in the estate and heritage of the Earth, has a duty as trustee for future generations to prevent irreversible and irreparable harm to life on Earth and to human freedom and dignity.
Article III. It is, therefore, the paramount responsibility of each generation to maintain a constantly vigilant and prudential assessment of technological disturbances and modifications adversely affecting life on Earth, the balance of nature and the evolution of mankind in order to protect the rights of future generations.
Article IV. All appropriate measures, including education, research and legislation, shall be taken to guarantee these rights and to ensure that they not be sacrificed for present expediencies and conveniences.
Article V. Governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals are urged, therefore, imaginatively to implement these principles, as if in the very presence of those future generations whose rights we seek to establish and perpetuate.
“I know words are very different from actions,” Anderson said, “but words provide a framework within which action is possible. With these words, ‘we embrace an action from which only good can come — good for all the bewildered children of today who look to adults for security, and good for the bewildered children of tomorrow whose security we also hold in our hands.’”
As far as why the project never happened, Anderson is at a loss like the rest of us. “I’m not sure exactly why the Oasis project got sidetracked,” Anderson confessed.
“There may have been various reasons. I was juggling between Oasis and another big project, The Spacing Dutchman(for DC Comics) and waiting on contracts to prioritize one or the other on my work schedule. My health was not good at the time, and had slowed my production way down. I went through a chemical detoxification and recovery program in 1989, right in the middle of my negotiations for both projects (1987 to 1991.) I believe I received theDutchman contract from DC first. When the Cousteau paperwork did arrive, I was already way behind on myDutchman delivery date to DC, and had to put Oasis on partial hiatus. I believe the Cousteau Society was struggling financially at the time, the premise of the riddles being at the core of the story probably proved difficult to translate into other languages, and the plan to have each country’s government sponsor the printing and supervise distribution through UNESCO was probably beyond Jacques Cousteau’s ability to politically broker. Also, the day I left my meeting with Pamela Stacey and Dick Murphy, Bush #41 had started bombing Iraq. Cousteau’s unified-earth-through-its-children dream looked to be drifting farther and farther away from ever being possible.”
Besides partnering with writer-extraordinaire Kurt Busiek on Astro City OGNs, Anderson is working on El Jaguar: Origins, as well as collaborating with Busiek on another project he’s not at liberty to say more about right now.
As for Oasis, though, he can sum it up in four words: “It was very ambitious.”
Lost Tales©2019 Scott Braden. All Rights Reserved