The Rocketeer,

Minute 012: Howard Hughes Said So

May 09, 2017


Brian Fies is a writer and cartoonist who created the award-winning graphic novels Mom’s Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow, as well as the Eisner Award-nominated webcomic The Last Mechanical Monster. He’s been a newspaper reporter, environmental chemist, science writer, husband, and dad to twin girls.  Just like The Rocketeer, he lives in California.


Howard Hughes is telling two government agents why he’s not going to rebuilt the Cirrus X-3 rocket. He’s sorry he ever “dreamed the damn thing up.” He tosses the folder about the X-3 into the fireplace, and it begins to smolder.

One of the government agents says, “Sir, I’d wish you’d reconsider.”

The Army colonel asks, “What’ll we tell the President?” The cover of the folder is engulfed in flames. Artwork on the cover shows three people wearing rocket packs, flying past the World’s Fair’s iconic Trylon and Perisphere.  The Perisphere has “1939” emblazoned on its surface. The phrases “Hughes Industries” and “Rocketing into the Future” are prominent on the artwork.

“Tell him the dream is over,” says Hughes. “Tell him Howard Hughes said so.” Hughes’s face is lit by the light of the burning folder.

Back at Chaplin Field, Cliff and Peevy are meeting with Bigelow, the landlord of the hangar they’re using.

“What’s this ‘three hundred gallons’ here?” asks Peevy, looking at an invoice. “We don’t burn that much fuel in two years, Bigelow!”

“You burned it up in two seconds when my fuel truck went up,” replies Bigelow. “The truck’s on there, too. It’s all itemized.”

“Hey,” says Cliff. “I didn’t blow up your truck! The guy in the car did!”

“After bouncing off you,” says Bigelow. “Pilots are responsible for a safe landing – – you know that. ”

“Where are we going to get this kind of dough, Bigelow?” asks Peevy. “You know we gotta sell the Gee Bee for scrap!”

Bigelow shrugs. “I’m sorry, fellas,” he says. “I hate to kick you when you’re down — but business is business. I’m out of pocket here!” He pauses.  “Of course, I could always use the old clown act. ”

Peevy shakes his head. “We don’t do the clown act no more!”

“Peevy, Peevy – wait,” interrupts Cliff. “It’s worth fifteen bucks a shot–”

“Ten bucks a shot,” says Bigelow. “Five bucks goes towards your bill.”

In This Minute

Terry O’Quinn as Howard Hughes
William Boyett as Army Colonel
William Frankfather as Government Liaison
Alan Arkin as Peevy
Bill Campbell as Cliff Secord
Jon Polito as Bigelow



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