The Shadow of a Forgotten Moon: Starguards, Chapter 8

Editor’s Note: The fictional story of “Inky” Grant and his comic strip will appear here every week or two (or sometimes three). Read the whole saga from the beginning, if you wish. WARNING: This one is a little bit not safe for work, for comic strip violence and comic strip “content.”

“Look, I come at this from a different perspective than you do,” says Rax Gibbones, author of City on Fire: Unsolved Murders of Jazz Age New York. “I don’t sit around thinking about this shithead’s ‘art.’ Did O.J. Simpson give a good performance in Goldie and the Boxer? How were Hitler’s watercolors? Henry Darger? I don’t even give a shit about your Jackson Pollock, after he killed those girls. It’s the same thing with Henry R. Grant. He ‘deconstructed science fiction’? Bullshit!”

Gibbones continues: “All I care about is this: did he or didn’t he murder people? If he did, then we shouldn’t even be talking about his ‘art,’ it’s immoral. It doesn’t matter. If he didn’t, then you and any other idiot with arrested development can sit around debating the value of his little comics. What do you people call yourselves? ‘Geeks’? The ‘geek community’? You people can ‘geek out’ about Starguards comic books at your ‘geek conventions’ all day long for all I care if Henry R. Grant didn’t murder anyone. At that point, I could not care less, it isn’t my problem.”

So: did he or didn’t he murder people?

“We know this,” Gibbones says. “In January 1924, contemporaneous evidence demonstrates without any doubt that Grant’s brother-in-law, Rusty Malone, solicited him to assist in a paid hit on warehouse security guards. The guards were criminals, which we know gave Grant some solace. We know that Grant accepted the offer to commit the crime. We know from his art that it was on his mind in the days leading up to the scheduled hit on February 6, just drawing after murderous drawing, each one seeking to answer the question of when it’s all right to kill. And we know that after February 6, just two days later on February 8, Malone got whacked.”

But, Gibbones adds, “What we don’t have is any definitive proof that the hit on the warehouse guards happened. We don’t have the bodies. But we have plenty of evidence that it happened. We know that they were working with Powlen, the best clean-up man in the city, maybe in the world, so the absence of any corpses means nothing. Powlen cleaned it up. And whacking Malone was part of the cleanup. And let’s also remember what happened to Kovalenko, years later, his awful, awful death. This is a mystery with legs across decades.”

“Inky clearly did not kill anyone,” comics historian Eugene Kovalenko (1930-1985) claimed in a 1976 interview with the Boogernose fanzine. “In chapter 8 of his Starguards magnum opus, we witness a mind in torment. He’s drawing all these conscience-stricken panels, and in his notes, he’s doodled images of his alter ego, Mary Luna, literally ‘battling demons’, both internal and within herself, as symbolized by the horns on Mary’s head in some of the sketches. By chapter 9, we witness a mind at ease. So that means that Inky backed out. Malone had no one to replace him. And this is why Malone got whacked, because Inky refused to commit murder. And he went into the history books as the man who deconstructed science fiction.”

“That’s not what happened,” Gibbones says. “In chapter 8 of his shitty little Scooby Doo cartoon, Grant’s mind is in torment, he’s working overtime to justify this murder he’s promised to do. Then on February 6, 1924, he kills some guys. He discovers that it’s OK after all. They deserved it. He got a bunch of money. Life is good. And in chapter 9, his mind is at ease. I mean, if he didn’t do the job, where did the money come from? Crime pays after all. That’s your Starguards message, you amoral little twerp.”

CHAPTER 8:

THE SHADOW OF A FORGOTTEN MOON!

Deconstructed science fiction
Incorporeal unreality

NEXT TIME: SAVIOR OF A PLANET IN FLAMES!

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