1987: Lost Planet

Lost Planet (1987) #1-6 by Bo Hampton, other Hamptons, et al.

This series is obviously a work of love by the entire Hampton family: I think five or six of the siblings were involved in the making of this series.

It’s basically a riff on early adventure serials, so you have this adventurer who’d investigating a MacGuffin… but then they mash all things imaginable into the stewing pot.

So we get magic, dinosaurs, space travel, savages, alternate worlds, and everything that’s fun, in one single series.

Bo Hampton writes and does the artwork for the main storyline (which typically takes up 17 pages of each issue), and his artwork is pitch-perfect for this sort of thing. Unfortunately, the storytelling is choppy as hell. There’s no rhythm to it. It’s just difficult to get involved in it while reading it.

It’s a pretty amusing read, though.

Since the main attraction is so short, we get lots of backmatter and backup stories. For instance, in the first issue we get the background on all the Hampton siblings.

Scott Hampton draws a couple of the backup stories. This one is the original version of something that had been redrawn and coloured for publication in Epic Magazine, so we get to see the original grey-washed one here.

But most of the backups are written by Bunny Hampton and feature non-Hamptonian artists. Here’s Mark Chiarello, doing a very stylish job on an unfortunately not very thrilling story about how Amelia Earhart ended up on the Lost Planet. All the Bunny Hampton-scripted stories are of this kind: They fill inn the backstories of the characters we follow in the main serial. It makes sense to do it that way, and I can see the enthusiasm by everybody involved, but since the stories end with “and then they ended up on the Lost Planet”, it’s somewhat unsatisfying.

Bo Hampton apparently drew these pages on duo-tone craftint paper, which is paper that has tones embedded in the paper that you bring out by painting over it with a special chemical. It was used heavily in the 50s on newspaper strips, but had gone out of style by the 80s, and the main problem is that is leaves the artwork somewhat muddled if you then add colour to it. Colourist Tom Littlejohn does an admirable job of adding mutes colouring to these pages, though.

Tsk! The fourth issue printed the pages out of order, so the second and first pages get shifted around.

Bunny Hampton writes about what a typical day in the Hampton household sounds like. They’re all still living at home? At least they all work in the same room, and it sounds like they like to argue. It’s cute.

Bunny Hampton has a tendency to overwrite: We see that Romney’s mother is knocked out by the avalanche, so why put it in the caption, too?

That choppiness in the storytelling… I don’t know whether it’s because Bo Hampton hadn’t thought it all out in advance, so he just brings out these random ideas (and then have to infodump them on us), or whether he just has too many ideas? Perhaps if this book had been twice as long, it’d have better flow.

The first five issues were released on a pretty steady clip, but there was a one year delay between the fifth and the sixth issues. Bo Hampton was involved with Total Eclipse during that time, I think? So perhaps that just had to take precedence. But it’s nice that he finished it, because the ending is pretty nice.

IDW released a collection of this series last year, and it doesn’t really surprise me that it’s taken this long for it to be collected. The collected edition is in black and white, which will probably allow the reader to enjoy the craftinting more clearly. But Littlejohn’s colouring job is very nice, too.

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