Part Two.
The Totally True Story of Alex Daily

Who Was Totally There

And So Would Know.

For this part, I'm gonna hand you off to a pastiche of a well-known online comics encyclopedia, by which I mean, this is still me, borrowing the authority of somebody else's voice by pretending to speak in it.

Lambiek Lambeak, take it away.

In 1942, Alex Daily, often signing simply as "A." or "Daily," was a cartoonist in the right place at the right time. With the occupying forces' implicit ban on imported entertainment in place, there's a lot of space in newspapers for a homegrown long-form adventure serial. Though by 1942 the text comic form had died out in most places around the world, Dutch Protestant culture of the time considered balloon-style comics a lesser form, with text comics being more "educational," keeping the text comic alive and well for decades.

First strip of Avi, March 16, 1942. (2012 restoration.)

On March 16, 1942, in De Nationale Courant, the formally untitled strip (now known in these early years as simply Avi) starts its first arc, The Secret of the Cave. The strip runs throughout the war, dodging censure by sticking to storylines rooted in mythology and fairy tales -- the occasional heavy allegory or metaphor seems to sail past the Nazis and their total lack of imagination. Aquila the Last Eagle is introduced in 1946 when Avi strands on Noxalia, a fictional Waddeneiland. Storylines will center around Aquila and Noxalia for the rest of the 40s and much of the 50s.

First appearance of Aquila the Last Eagle, 1946. (Modern redraw of lost strip.)

In 1951, when De Nationale Courant fuses with Het Nieuws van Nederland to become De Algemene Krant, the strip takes a short break to retool, returning in 1952 as Avi & Aquila, to reflect the second lead character it's picked up in its first decade. Storylines in Avi & Aquila lean more socially concious, and the strip occasionally gets into hot water for its hard stance in favour of progressive issues before getting formally cancelled by De Algemene Krant in 1961 after the strip's first kiss between the two leads leads to backlash from mainstream conservative readers.

Avi and Aquila kiss, 1961.

Daily returns to publishing two years later, retooling the strip into album form as simply Aquila the Last Eagle, moving on from the text comic form in favour of now-standard balloon comics. At the advice of their editor, Daily soft reboots the story, with the first album a retelling of Avi and Aquila's first meeting. The emphasis is no longer on Avi as a traveling reporter -- she and Aquila live on Noxalia, and most adventures start and end there.

Aquila the Last Eagle 1, Avi and Aquila.

The rebooted album series produces 327 albums from 1963 to 2022. In its first decade, it introduces many of the recurring characters and concepts associated with the series today -- the Time Knife appears as early as the tenth album, the villainous Silver Otto and future usurper The Emotion appear in the twelfth album, election drama dominates an infamous run of four albums from 1967, and the Plaid Knight first descends upon the island in 1968.

Silver Otto, Aquila the Last Eagle 62, The Frozen Mayor. (Modern restoration.)

In the 70s, Daily, now frustrated by the limitation of the island setting, has Avi and Aquila leave Noxalia behind for a return to the itinerant adventurer lifestyle. An increased focus on serialisation and action betrays an increased American influence -- albums stop being relatively standalone, with multiple years-long arcs running through the series, some paying off as late as the 90s. Fight scenes become more common, with some of them occasionally -- unthinkable in the newspaper strip -- having a fatal outcome.

An action panel, from Aquila the Last Eagle 102, Intergalactic Conquerors!.

With an eye on TV animation, Daily simplifies the character designs in the 80s, but no TV show or film ever gets off the ground. One unfinished pilot episode gets shopped around for a few years, but never lands anywhere. A Game Boy Colour game is produced to tie into the show, but with no show on the air to tie in to, interest is limited and few copies are sold.

An unaired French Nintendo commercial, advertising Aquila the Last Eagle for Game Boy Colour.

In the 00s, Daily has the book occasionally flirting with a hard reboot -- a trip into the multiverse here, a flashback story there. A fresh start for a fresh millennium. But none of these attempts ever actually pull the trigger, and instead, the book is made more accessible to newcomers by adding an introduction page and more cleanly reintroducing characters like Silver Otto.

Introductory spread, from Aquila the Last Eagle 302, We'll Be Alive!.

From 2012 onwards, the main book has to share the release schedule with spin-off miniseries like the in-continuity Alive! Nine Kings!, about the return of the Weather Kings to Noxalia while Avi and Aquila are away, Eagle, about Aquila's life before the island, Last Mine of Yours, adapting Silver Otto's backstory from the Game Boy Colour game, and the out-of-continuity Harsher Stars, about Avi in World War Two, Aquila and the Neon Gold Rush, a reimagining of the book as a cyberpunk noir epic, and Far Away, which does the same thing but with mecha anime.

Panel from Aquila and the Neon Gold Rush, volume six, One Last Time.

Alex Daily lives and works in the most dreadful place on Earth, an apartment building that doesn't allow pets.

So why can't that be true? There's nothing there that's by any definition unreasonable -- certainly, it fits into known history, both that of comics and of... history.

Well, okay, it can't be true because I was born in 1991. That does get in the way of certain things.

But it's certainly truer, more true, more truthful, than anything said about King Arthur in the past 500 years.

In part three. On (Not) Wanting To Be Seen.