Steve Wacksman
May 2008
On The Inevitable Extinction Of The Human Race or What, Me Worry?
Last week I was contacted by the great Greg Klee, he of the Boston Globe and a client with which I've been fortunate to have a long and fruitful relationship. And though I've never met the man in the flesh, I imagine him to be a dashing gentleman who dresses to the nines, has impeccable manners and can crush walnuts with his bare hands. In short, a man for the ages.

He briefed me like so ( and I paraphrase, but just barely):

" Some scientist or another claims that if we found fossils on Mars it'd  mean that intelligent life is more common throughout the universe that we think and since we're a neighboring planet it would mean that we're next in line for extinction"

Or something like that. The details, as presented. were fuzzy.
Never deterred by lack of understanding, Greg and I carved out a two part solution:

A) Mars Rover discovering fossils on Mars
B) Alien Probe discovering fossilized human remains on a barren Earth.
I've always enjoyed drawing machinery (excepting bicycles which, like cattle, are hard to draw). In this particular instance I turned in a finish with which I was pleased, only to have an editor feel that it needed revisiting. Such are the pitfalls of collaborative efforts.

Having not read the scientist's argument, i might have misunderstood, but I assumed that human extinction would not have been brought about by our own hand. I drew an intact city in the background, implying that humankind perished due to plague. I like to think Monkeypox, but only because I think it's a funny name for a disease.
The editor, on the other hand, imagined it would be due to warfare and requested that I demolish the city. He furthermore opined that the alien rover looked too familiar and asked that I strip it of its treads and make it a hovercraft.

Armed with the knowledge of our imminent demise, I threw caution to the wind and polished off an entire case of Genesee Cream Ale this weekend.
Zombots From The Past!
The Front, natch.
Here's a little something from the archives..

I did my "Zombot" pencils for Pentech in 1992 I think- as I'd done almost nothing of note at that point, I haven't any idea how the Art Director found me, but find me she did and she was incredibly gracious and a joy to work for. After we'd discussed the project over the phone she sent out a large padded envelope full of samples. Artists that contributed to the aptly-named "Cool Art" series included Peter Bagge, Drew Friedmen, Gary Panter, Mitch O'Connell, and Drawger's own Elwood Smith and Lou Brooks.

I was deeply and inexorably under the spell of Charles Burns at the time and was drawing decayed flesh and robots on everything. Thus the Zombot pencil was born, although to a deafening roar of indifference from the pencil-buying community who evidently preferred their school and office supplies I received a fairly handsome compensation from Pentch as I recall and two large cases of the product. As I lived in a cramped Manhattan rabbit hutch with no storage space whatsoever, I gave away as many of the pencils as I could, consolidated the remaining pencils into one box and eventually 'stored' them at my friends' families beach house on long Island. Where they are now is anyone's guess, but I'd be willing to bet an outer-borough landfill became their final resting place.

The only time I actually came across them in a retail environment was when I was browsing the aisles at a Big Lots store in Northern Kentucky (don't ask).

Regardless of whether these set the world on fire they were great fun to do and an interesting and creative use of some great artwork by some of the days best artists. And no, I'm not including myself in that bunch- like I said, I'm mystified by how I came to be amongst the chosen few. But I was a snotty kid back then and reveled in my status as a 'young gun' and probably didn't give it a second thought. In hindsight it was quite an honor.

Technical note: The artwork was inked at 250%, photostatted onto acetate and painted with Cel-Vinyl animation paints. The copy was written by the inestimable David Burd, who is as good a human being as he is a copywriter. And that's saying something, bub.

PS: The pencils, of which I have no photographic record, were indeed cool; a melange of decayed flesh and veins overlaying a background of bolted together metal plates. Trust me, they ruled.
You guessed it: the back!
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