Switch Runners at Sugary Serials.com


By Shawn Robare



So I know I’ve mentioned the Sugary Serials comic anthology before, but I thought I’d take a second to point to it again.  Basically the anthology is build around the concept of all ages comics influenced by the dynamics and feel of Saturday morning cartoons.  There is already a huge variety of stories available in their archive (they’ve been going for almost a year now.)  One of the more recent stories that I’ve been enjoying the heck out of it called Switch Runners by Mark Rudolph and Jerzy Drozd



Mark and Jerzy decided it would be a fun challenge to try and design a comic based on a fictitious story/toy pitch much like the 80s properties G.I. Joe, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Transformers, etc.  They wanted to push themselves a bit out of their comfort zone by molding the idea around a vehicle-based toy line, trying to make the story a bit more interesting than shows like M.A.S.K.  Personally I think they succeeded in spades, creating a really vivid set of characters that are both influenced by 80s action cartoons and yet still feel new and interesting.  They did some swell work on the vehicle designs as well, putting together a concept that I know I would have been salivating over as a kid (basically all the heroes vehicles have 2 modes, one built for transportation/speed, and a second built for artillery and defense, which basically grounds the thing.)



The basic story line revolves around a group of space explorers who are drawn to a strange planet ruled by an evil being called Tritannus (he uses emergency beacons to draw unsuspecting aliens to his planet so that he can enslave them.)  The explorers end up crashing into one of the planets moons (which happens to contain a natural element that is a major source of Tritannus’ power), brining their ship and a portion of the moon cascading down to the planets surface.  The explorers salvage as much from their destroyed ship as they can to built a new set of vehicles (with the help of the element from the chunk of moon they brought down with them) and a base while they try and figure out a way to fend off the attacks from Tritannus (who wants to reclaim the moon fragment to regain his full power) and find a way off the planet.



There are shades of all sorts of 80s cartoons and other kid’s shows within the story and influences on the character designs (from Thundercats and M.A.S.K., to Bravestarr and the Muppet Show), but the world does not feel recycled in the least (it could totally hold it’s own on the DVD shelf next to Voltron and the Silverhawks.)  It’s also very natural in its influences and doesn’t resort to overt or snarky cartoon references, which seem to be about as far as most 80s influenced contemporary cartoons go.  That’s something that I enjoy about the anthology in general…



The team of heroes consists of five characters led by a slightly frustrated Ramp (who bears an intentional striking resemblance to Tom Selleck), and includes the distant Anchor (in the first picture above), the lively Talika, enthusiastic Rondo, and the hard nosed Farz (the redhead driving the vehicle Dispatcher above.)

As far as the villains go, they’re a little stronger in number (with six), including Cyndrl (a creature of fire housed in a containment suit who talks in excited run-on sentences), Crass Reptillicus (the narcissistic know-it-all) and his admirer Shila (who is equal parts lovely lady and Baby Huey in a powerhouse of a dinosaur body)…



…as well as Tackle (a scheming half rock, half robot cyborg) and Terzo (the ex of Anchor and a turncoat traitor to boot.)



As I mentioned above, a screeching power hungry trio of aliens that combine to form the mighty Tritannus leads the villains…



The comic is still updating on the Sugary Serials site (it’s up to page 11 as I type this), so if you have a second and enjoy 80s action adventure cartoons you might want to give it a try (as well as the rest of the comics in the anthology), you won’t be sorry you did.  I can almost hear the 80s hair metal influenced theme music in my head as I read each page…