Okay, I’ll say it just one more time; getting fan mail was the absolute best part of working on Star Blazers Rebirth. Most of the letters were short and sweet, along the lines of “good job and thanks for continuing the story.” Others were a bit longer and contained heartfelt praise for Star Blazers as a fond memory. Then there were some that took it farther; asking questions, suggesting new projects, speculating on what was coming next, and even sharing some creative inspiration. Here I’ve pulled together the ones I found particularly memorable or worthy of a reread now that the story is behind us. (And I don’t want to diminish the others in any way, they all put a smile on my face regardless of length.)
The comic started with Chapter 0 in August 2005 with new chapters appearing every 60 days. Dino H. had this to say after reading chapter 3:
Thanks for reviving this series…can’t wait ’till it gets animated with our classic voices and an older Desslok and the eventual meeting of a new enemy, perhaps some more old enemies that we thought we dead? (Lysis, Volgar, several scattered fleets of the Comet Empire/Bolar Federation merge to become old/new enemy with a purpose? Perhaps some generals on Galman that are still upset from losing their families in the countless battles with the Star Force? Desslok’s wife? Child? Talan? (We could go on for a while.)
I hope we’ll see more of Andromeda 2’s last moment. A ship that beautiful HAS to have more coverage of her last moments..
As Dino found out later, just about everyone on his list had a part to play, and he wasn’t too far off with the idea about Desslok’s wife. So far as I know, he doesn’t have one, but someone else’s wife stepped up to the plate late in the game. And there were more sightings of the Andromeda 2, albeit not in one piece. Might it be rebuilt one day? The EDF hasn’t had much luck with ships named Andromeda.
Incidentally, Dino was just the first of many to suggest that the story ought to be animated one day, which was an impressive vote of confidence after seeing only a handful of pages. Animation storyboarding (for TV) is what I do when I’m not drawing comics, so I was naturally thinking in those terms as I went along. I imagine the production obstacles against such a project would be huge, but the storyboarding wouldn’t be so bad.
Kenny Mann wrote in after reading chapter 4 and sparked a debate that I sure didn’t see coming:
I found this site by accident but I was blown away with the story, concept, and art. I trust we will see what exactly happened to the Andromeda II, or will it make an appearance at the end of the series to save the day perhaps? I do have one request. Is there anyone who gets married and takes their husband’s name? Lets see some proper wives.
Kenny was commenting on my choice for Nova not to take the married name “Wildstar” and Wendy not to take the married name “Glitchman.” I felt that these two strong-minded, self-made characters would follow the example of many women in our time and keep their own last names for the sake of career and personal identity. Some agreed with my choice or didn’t think it mattered much. Others agreed with Kenny. Just goes to show you, no detail is ever too small to go unnoticed.
Frequent letter-writer Kevin Mickel picked up on Dino H.’s suggestion and ran with it after reading chapter 4:
I would like to point out that the idea mentioned by another reader about the return of Lysis, who survived his final battle with the Argo (unlike his Japanese counterpart) is very intriguing. Don’t know if you can do anything with it, but I have always wondered what his ultimate fate was.
I’d already decided by this time to make Lysis’ fate into a major story point and the temptation was great to dangle a teaser in front of everyone, but it was much more fun to leave it hanging until the end of chapter 11. Then it was even MORE fun to add a twist in chapter 12.
‘Davinator 61’ had some interesting speculation early on that, while completely contradictory to my plans, would have been interesting to explore:
What of Mark Venture and Trelaina? Is she, perhaps, the custodian of his disembodied self as she waits for the rest of him wherever in the universe she now dwells? Or does she herself drift through the universe unaware of his fate? Or if she is aware, does she constantly mourn his loss to the point of being unable to function normally? Is, perhaps, her grief the cause of the black hole and the return of the Star Force’s old enemies that even now threaten Earth and the human race? It would be interesting to bring final closure to the “Mark-Venture-loves-&-loses-Trelaina-of-Telezart-then-later-loses-his-own-life-saga.”
“Final closure” is a relative term in a universe where nothing gets destroyed but only changed, but in terms of Venture and Trelaina’s further involvement with the physical world, closure is probably the right word.
Another nice surprise was receiving the occasional letter from outside the U.S. Here’s a roundup of those who wrote in from points far and wide:
My name is Abed Altal, I’m from Amman-Jordan. It’s an honor for me to be a
fan of Star Blazers ever since I can remember!
The Yamato was the first thing I remember drawing in the 3rd grade.
After that lots of my art is related to Star Blazers. Anyway, I’m here to share with you my ultimate art work: a 6.45m long model of the Yamato!!! It took me 3 years to make it look the way you see in the photo, almost 8 hours of daily work.
You can read more about it at my blog.
Hello from a Greek Argo maniac (perhaps the last one)! One of my most vivid childhood memories on TV are Battle of the Planets (some people here still remember this as G-Force) and of course this great cartoon with the translated title (from Greek) Starship Argo!
I believe that I am the only one here in Greece who remembers this incredible cartoon from the offerings of 80’s (thats when it came to us). Only recently I realised the full name of this cartoon, and I was so excited to read the fanmail in your page. Well….I am not alone !!
As it turned out, Mixahl didn’t have to look very far to find a fellow fan:
Hello from Greece! My name is Panos Mastronikolas and I’m 34 years old . I remember the early 80s when I see for first time the great battle ship Yamato come back from his grave to save the planet Earth. After 27 years until now I have in my ears the epic theme song from the cartoon. It was amazing feeling. If you make test between Star Blazers and other cartoons probably the present ones are better quality but the greatest cartoon for ever and ever is Star Blazers! I believe this cartoon give to all of us not only a happy hour but also good thoughts and ideas about how we must fight against evil.
As the Rebirth story continued, certain trends emerged in the fan mail. The three most common questions were as follows: “any news about the live-action Star Blazers movie,” “can the Yamato movies be dubbed into Star Blazers stories,” and “will Rebirth be published as a graphic novel?” The quick answers are “no news as of right now,” “no because we don’t have access to the original sound elements” and “very likely yes.”
In fact, we are discussing when and how to bring Rebirth to book form, but this is a long process with a lot of logistics to work out. However, this process was made much easier by the online poll we conducted to determine reader preferences. Here were the results:
Total votes received: 237
Would you prefer to buy:
1. an expensive single volume after the series is finished: 66%
2. less expensive smaller volumes while the series is still going: 34 %
What sort of cover do you prefer:
1. hardcover (more expensive): 27%
2. softcover (less expensive): 41%
3. doesn’t matter: 32%
Would you prefer the artwork be reproduced:
1. in color no matter how it affects the cover price: 94%
2. in black & white to guarantee a lower cover price: less than 1%
3. doesn’t matter: 6%
Which format would you prefer:
1. exactly as seen on the website (one page at a time): 42%
2. webcomic pages doubled up (two at a time): 18%
3. doesn’t matter: 40%
Are you most likely to:
1. Definitely purchase a copy: 68%
2. Maybe purchase a copy: 32%
3. Not purchase a copy: less than 1%
Conclusion: according the votes above, a full-color single-volume graphic novel would definitely be purchased by most of you. The issues of page format and hardcover vs. softcover don’t appear to be particularly divisive. Thank you again to everyone who voted!
When the story passed its first major turning point in chapter 6 (which I won’t reveal here in case some of you haven’t read it yet, and if that’s the case then what are you doing HERE?), it moved into its most complex phase in which every single character had to choose sides for what was coming up in chapter 11. As tough as this part was to write, I wanted to get through it as quickly as possible so I could get to the real meat of the story. Chapters 7 and 8 went online together, netting this response from “Wicked Good Grrrl:”
Oh, wow, wow, wow! I loved logging in late July 31st and being able to read TWO splendid chapters of Rebirth. If the library I’m writing from weren’t closing at six, I could write a longer letter about what I liked, and how afraid I am for Wildstar’s health. In summation, Wildstar’s nightmares seem a twist on the general trope from the Nightmare on Elm Street series. I haven’t seen more than snippets (err, sorry!) of same, but I’ve come to understand it’s about teenagers having fatal nightmares, a la “if you die in your dream you’ll never wake up.” Perhaps the twist here is that Wildstar keeps dreaming of Nova’s death, but he’s really afraid of his own death? Perhaps if he allows himself to sleep through the nightmare and dream lucidly enough, he will realize even if Nova died, Earth still would have been saved by the Iscandar mission. Even if Capt. Nova died, he would still have Miyuki. And by extension if Wildstar dies, nonetheless some good, hoped-for event will come about. Wildstar is not terribly old, if Miyuki was about ten when Nova disappeared, and she is now around 22, no? Nonetheless he’s a man who’s constantly cheated death, I think, and maybe enough to wonder how lucky he could be.
“Wicked Good Grrrl” writes her own Star Blazers fan fiction, which may explain her ability to wring out an idea for all it’s worth as she did here. She also contributed an idea to chapter 12, which is explained in the “Making of Chapter 12” essay.
Jon Johnson wrote in after chapters 9 & 10 to share an amazing discovery he made during a visit to Japan:
I’ve been to Japan three times in the last couple of years to visit my girlfriend. During the most recent visit (in June) we stopped in a small city called Tsuruga for lunch. I was astonished to find a bronze statue of Dr. Sane across the street from where we parked. There were quite a few others, too, all depicting characters and scenes from both Be Forever Yamato and Galaxy Express 999. These statues were apparently erected seven years ago, but to this day I have no idea why they’re there, and I don’t think many fans of the show even know they’re there since I’ve never found many references to them on the internet.
Our research turned up the following about Jon’s discovery: many cities in Japan erect statues like these as tourist attractions, often to commemorate the birthplace of a famous anime or manga artist. In this case, Tsuruga City serves as a transportation hub for both sea and rail, and thus has a strong connection to Leiji Matsumoto’s longtime interest in ships and trains (which, naturally, have played major roles in his work.).
For this reason, the Tsuruga chamber of commerce chose to mark its 100th anniversary in 1999 with a Matsumoto art expo and the placement of these amazing statues. Jon was kind enough to include this link in his letter, at which you can take a virtual tour. If you find yourself language-challenged, just make your way down the green list to the left of the map. Galaxy Express is at the top, Yamato at the bottom.
Back to story-related matters, Matt Power shared some of his speculations after reading chapter 10. Some were wildly off the mark but others were dead on:
1) It’s only a matter of pages before Desslok shows up. I’m gonna say midway through 12 we’ll see him.
2) Kathleen is easily the hottest thing the Argo has ever seen (okay, it’s not a prediction, but it has to be said)
3) Nova is clearly not dead…yet
4) Who’s behind all this? Well, my vote is for a combo platter of Dark Nebula higher-ups along with – let’s just come right out and say it – Zordar’s father! Zordar was only a “prince,” after all…there had to be a king.
5) What are they up to? Elimination of and revenge on Planet Earth, the first world to embarrass the Comet Empire. They’re doing it thru psionic manipulation of the Bee People and random rebel factions of the Gamilon Empire as an advance army, all of whom will be “turned back” by Desslok at some later point, perhaps turning the tide of the final battle.
6) There will be a huge battle on the spiritual side: Starsha, Alex, Trelaina, Venture et al vs. Zordar, Invidia, the Denguils, and anyone else the SF annihilated. A War In Heaven, if you will. Fanboy request: Here’s a GREAT chance to see our boy Lysis again. (But on which side? Ooooooh!)
7) I’m also going to wager that Wildstar stands a 50-50 shot of surviving, perhaps dying at the moment of rejoining Nova. Merrill and Miyuki then carry the torch. A lot like the rumors about Harry Potter getting killed, no one wants to see it, least of all me, but it may be just the perfect thing to give the story closure and poignancy. Don’t do it, though 🙂
And the overall effect of Rebirth can be nicely summed up by Clubber Lang in Rocky III: “My prediction? Pain.” It’s all gonna end in tears for some people.
Kevin Mickel also wrote in after chapter 10 to press some of his points further:
I see that you had Wildstar say he believes Nova (and the others on the Andromeda II, I assume) to be alive. Is he right? Only future installments will tell, but I had a hunch that she might be from almost the very beginning of the story. I look forward to seeing how it all pans out.
Last time I wrote, I mentioned how I (like others) was wondering where Lysis was after all these years, since he survived in Star Blazers, unlike in the Yamato series. Your response was kind’a cryptic. Maybe he is alive, maybe he isn’t. Let me go on record to say that if something was shown in the Yamato series (TV shows or movies) that was left out of Star Blazers, I see no reason why we can’t say it really did happen, we just didn’t “see” it.
My point is, Star Blazers and Space Battleship Yamato are NOT the same thing. Sure, one is based on the other, but it went off in its own, slightly different direction. I think that is worth recognizing, and there would be nothing wrong with plumbing those slight differences for story usage. Now, I am not saying we need to see Lysis in Rebirth. There is no reason to have him appear (unless you have one somewhere). All I am saying is, when there are differences, go with the Star Blazers version, not Yamato. After all, this is Star Blazers Rebirth, isn’t it?
Lucia Alfieri added her voice to the married-names debate after reading chapter 11:
I do believe the crew of the Andromeda II is alive. I don’t know where they are being kept or who is behind the black hole, but now that Lysis has returned, I have no doubt that he has a part in this. I wonder what Desslok would think of his one-time favorite officer now.
I definitely want to respond to the issue about Nova and Wendy using their maiden names as opposed to their married names. While I agree that there may have been a time when there was a need for the woman to take her husband’s name, real or perceived, this practice has come to mean something different in the past century. It is now more an issue of identity. After centuries of being seen as nonhuman with no identities of their own, more women are retaining the identity of their family of origin to show their individuality separate from their husbands. I actually know married women in my field who are better known by their maiden names. And what about female celebrities? Gracie Allen, Julia Roberts, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, even Jessica Simpson when she was married. We don’t know them as Mrs. Burns, Mrs. Moder, Mrs. Hall or Mrs. Lachey, do we?
I do see the generational differences in the use of the term Mrs. in this comic. Remember, Sandor is ten years older than Wildstar and Nova, and I believe more than 30 years older than Miyuki. The Ventures were probably in their 50s or 60s when Jordy was lost in the Andromeda II. Commander Singleton does refer to Derek and Nova as “The Wildstars” in his retirement address. For them I’m sure the practice of women taking thier husband’s name was more common. Additionally, I think the Commander wanted to convey the power of both Derek and Nova’s legacies in a way the commission could understand. For Nova and Wendy, I’m sure it helped their credibiity to keep their maiden names, and for Wendy it offered a bit of leverage. I would bet that if Miyuki ever married Bruce, she would be at an advantage to use her maiden name because it is so well known. I do support you allowing these characters to use their maiden names 100%. While the practice of wives taking their husbands’ names may not end, at least I know you support this as a viable option for shaping the identites of women in this comic. I hope more people write in about this because I’d really like to see what is being said on both sides.
Steve Jordan wrote in after chapter 12 and had this to say:
I read promises of “this is the big one” about Chapter 12 and assumed all was to be revealed…but no! The tale is yet to be told! Some major revelations, perhaps. (Besides the fact that BH776C would have to be moving at about 4000x the speed of light, it sure is convenient that Galman happens to be on the way to the Black Hole of Doom!)
I see this potentially ending in a number of time-wasting ways: with yet another Pyrrhic victory (Andromeda II is truly lost, more people we care about die, but the Earth scrapes by yet again), with a Heechee Gateway ending (Derek & Nova are reunited in an eternal fall beyond the event horizon), or where Derek finally finds peace just in accepting his beloved’s death and he and Wendy get married. Feh. (There are a dozen variations of this, but those come straight from the “Least Favorite Obvious and Stupid Endings” Department.)
Please don’t use any of these endings. You can do better by the Star Force…by Derek, with whom I identify because I “played” him for years. (And as you’ve already managed to teach me, some parts of us just don’t go away.) After bringing them back to life for me, you simply HAVE to do better than that.
Yes, a black hole moving at about 4000 times the speed of light is a pretty kooky concept, right up there with a liquid ocean on Pluto, a self-warping Planet Iscandar, a Hyperon bomb with its detonator located in another galaxy, or an interplanetary flood being stopped by an exploding space battleship. In other words, perfectly in keeping with the Yamato school of space science.
Steve Jordan and I have since become e-mail buddies, and BOY am I glad none of his time-wasting endings ever occurred to me!
As the last chapters approached, some letter-writers decided to take one last opportunity to throw in some more speculation on how things would wrap up:
I have a funny feeling I know what’s causing the power drain on the engines, and if I’m even halfway right, someone (as in the person behind everything going on with Earth and its colonies) is going to be in for a very big surprise when his or her “Ghost Fleet” gets its collective “ectoplasmic stern” kicked back into the “hereafter.”Or possibly even farther. After all, the bad guys (or former bad guys from your point of view) aren’t the only ones who ended up as ghosts, which you’ve already shown plenty of times with the cameos of departed Star Force members.
Lonnie H. Dickens Jr.
Since “Alternate Universes” have been shown to exist, this is the theory I’m going with: we’ll have several Argos/Yamatos converging on the black hole from alternate universes, and this will be way of destroying all of the Star Forces in each and every universe all at the same time.
With Desslok’s help, they’re going to find Nova and the crew of Andromeda II. (I have a funny feeling that a twist will be played here) and Desslok is going to turn into a bad guy again. I got an impression that he really did not want Wildstar or the Yamato at his planet and he wasn’t too friendly either. Something tells me he’s going to try to destroy the Yamato or do something else to prevent them from completing their mission. Am I close?
-Nathaniel Aaron Miller
I am still holding out hope that Nova is alive. Between the ghost visits and all of Wildstar’s dreams, we have seen most of the fallen characters. We have seen Starsha, Sasha, Astra, even Queen Gardiana. We have not seen Nova, Homer, Jordy Venture, or any other Andromeda II personnel. I am hoping this is for a reason. Also, is it possible that if we do indeed see Zordar’s dreadnought again, perhaps we’ll see the likes of Captain Gideon?
I could go on all day, but I’ll leave it at this: seeing the last page of chapter 15, with Wildstar in his old Star Force uniform looking like the Wildstar of old (though a bit grayer), a huge uncontrollable smile crossed my face. Keep up the good work!
Then, of course, there was this brilliant letter from Mark Piggott which perfectly summed up exactly why I started this project in the first place:
Ever since I first saw Rebirth, it’s been like a time machine taking me back thirty years, sitting in front of my TV every day after school, waiting for the next episode of Star Blazers to come on. That’s the way this series has been for me. I can’t wait until the next chapter comes out. The anticipation is unbearable at times, the wait painful but worth it in the end. Rebirth has made me feel young again. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to give us fans something new to look forward to.
Lastly, I was tremendously happy to learn that I’d actually managed to inspire a couple of guys to follow their own creative spirits and add extra layers to the project. First, John Bibb did an amazing job editing the very first chapter into an audio-visual presentation:
There’s one thing this story has always been missing: a SOUNDTRACK. I’ve recently started playing around with Windows Movie Maker, and discovered you could import image and music files as well as video clips, so I decided to try and add what’s been missing for so long.
I’ve posted the results on YouTube here.
To everyone: I’ve always enjoyed Space Battleship Yamato’s music, and felt that it would go perfectly with Tim Eldred’s Rebirth comic. I hope that you find it an enjoyable presentation of both.
And taking it another step, Bill Robert sent in his concept for opening and closing theme lyrics that were so prescient I had to wonder how he read my mind so well. I’m sure after reading the whole story, you’ll be amazed to know that these came in before Bill had a chance to read the final two chapters…
I know that turning this story into a cartoon series is pretty much impossible, but if it ever comes to pass, I thought I’d take a stab at some new opening and closing lyrics for the theme. I’m no Ginny Reddington, but here goes…
OPENING THEME: We're off to outer space We're leaving Mother Earth To save the human race Our Star Blazers
A black hole bearing down on Earth Ensures the Star Force's rebirth The Argo leaves her icy tomb To try and avert certain doom
We must be strong and brave Fight forces from the grave We'll protect Earth's colonies And face the ghosts of her enemies
Advised by Desslok and old friends We thought we'd never see again We will prevail and Earth will survive We'll keep peace alive with our Star Blazers
CLOSING THEME: We're off to outer space We're leaving Mother Earth To save the human race Our Star Blazers
The spirits from the Years Of Fire Chose this moment to conspire Though they fell to us before We must defeat them once more
We must be strong and brave Our home we have to save We'll go on, despite the cost And try to find ones we have lost
Through all the stress and all the strife We must be a force for life Then in the end, ensure good will thrive We'll keep Earth alive with our Star Blazers
And with that, the Hall of Fame closes its doors. In closing, I want to send out a big thank-you to all of those who took the time to write in and keep the Rebirth fuel tank full:
M.F. Albon, Lucia Alfieri, Andrew Allen, Abed Altal, Andrea (from Italy), Mixahl Aramis (Greece), Lee B., Bryan Benson, John Bibb, Frank Billington IV, Ken Blaisdell, James P. Bowling, Tom Brevoort, John Brunson, Anthony Byrnes, Omar Caal, Eleazar Calupig, Robert Chau, Brian Cirulnick, Bobby Clevidence, Sgt. Joseph Cortez, Michael Cruson, Angie Dargo, Davinator 61, Jeff DeLuca, Ed Demling, Lonnie H. Dickens Jr., Dinordo69, Robert Esquivel, FireBPM, Cheryl Flynn-Brantley, Joe Geniec, Michael G. Gonzalez, Sean Greer, Dino H., Max Hall, Hillel, Thomas Hoyte, Keith Hyde, Alex Jacobs, Dennis James, JMD, Jon Johnson, Steve Jordan, Andy Kampf, Crystal Kirkham, Frederick J. Kopetz, Lady of Avalon, Josh Lambright, Chris Lattimer, Stu Leppo, Dorian Lopez, Michael Lucas, Kenny Mann, Panos Mastronikolas (Greece), Ray Masullo, Reggie Mathis, Tim Maxwells, Kirk McClendon, Eddie McElhannon, Bennie Mcrae, Stephanie Merrick, Kevin Mickel, Nathanial Aaron Miller, Susan Moore, Mar Munsayac, Jonathan Murphy, Stephen Noel, Arthur Painter, Mike Pepe, Sam Pettus, Mark Piggott, Scott Pinto, Brian Pitts, Luke Plaizier (Australia), Matt Power, John Pylaras, Sandro Reyes, Bill Robert, Craig Rohloff, John Santoni, Debbie Santos, Satanic Mechanic, Joseph Simon, Brent Smith, Jacob Spadt, Scott Sperti, Jeff Stoner, Stuart Teich, Ilena Di Toro, Clint A. White, Wicked Good Grrrl, Christopher J. Wilbur, and members of the Dessloktoberfest, SpaceCruiserYamato.com, and All Things Yamato message boards.
It would have been a lot less fun without you!
-Tim Eldred, August 2007