Stupidfuture: Obscure Sci-Fi Parodies

Those who fear the future are largely afraid to laugh at it….

Hey, Avatar: Roger Dean Wants His Islands Back

Posted by stupidfuture on December 5, 2009

Remote Control Alien/Human Hybrid Claims Natural Resources For Prog

The upcoming James Cameron flick Avatar features a Space Marine named Jake Sully(played by Sam Worthington), who ends up controlling an alien body in order to help bilk the local aliens of planet Pandora–the Na’vi–out of some kind of mystical floating metal.  Apparently, said metal causes parts of the local geography to float as well…causing effects that are straight off of a Yes album cover, you know, the ones done by Roger Dean.   Who is, of course, famous for doing Yes album covers.  (Sorry, Starblazers fans, I know when you see “Space Marines” next to “Avatar” it gets your pulse racin’….)  James “Terminator 2” Cameron directs, but James “Titanic” Horner does the music, so it’s a wash.  “Near, far, wherever you are, I believe that topographic oceans must go on….”

I’d say spoilers beware, but if you watch the latest trailer it basically tells you the whole plot anyway.  Sully falls for an alien girl (Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldana) and after a period of painful moralizing, sides with the aliens.  Now, don’t get me wrong, some of the mechs the Space Marines use look really good, and the blue-skinned, frog-eyed Gungan wannabe Na’vi are kinda neat.  Me-sah likey da Na’vi.  I also liked The Navvie from the old Sega Genesis game The Chaos Engine, he was a big tough guy with a lot of hit points.  But I digress.  Nobody could ever figure out why he was called a Navvie(gator?) officially anyway.  Plus, the Cameron movie has Sigourney Weaver in it.  Big credibility points for that.  But when all is said and done, in a stupid future with floating space islands, Roger Dean will come and take back what’s his.  Because he’s famous, you know.  For doing all those Yes album covers.  That’s what he’s famous for.  Yeah.  Err, Yes.

34 Responses to “Hey, Avatar: Roger Dean Wants His Islands Back”

  1. I laughed, I cried. It was better than Cats…

    Yeah, they kinda look like cat versions of Gungans, with some Gamilon DNA. Though, I saw some new close-up footage the other day and the detail of the CGI is pretty amazing. And Cameron developed a new motion-capture system that captures every nuance of the actors facial expressions and translates them to the CGI characters. The plot does seem a bit predictable, but I’m still looking forward to the visual experience.

    Man, I was thinking the exact same thing – this is like Cameron’s Roger Dean Yes album cover fantasy movie… I was wondering how he was going to explain the floating islands.

    I really dig Roger Dean’s Asia album covers… maybe that robot girl from Astra will make an appearance in Avatar.

  2. realleigh said

    I do hope Roger takes back what is his — a life’s work that began as far back as the 1960’s. You don’t have to be a YES or ASIA fan to see the influence in Cameron’s work. My friends are saying Avatar is James Cameron’s characters in Roger Dean’s World. If it wasn’t for Dean the characters would be in front of a green screen. I have had the opportunity to meet Roger Dean several times and there is no other man/artist on the planet as humble and gentle as him. His original sketches are so incredible and intricate and his paintings like Center of the Earth, Floating Jungle and all of his Dragons, especially the way he creates the scales on the dragon’s skin MUST HAVE influenced Cameron or his hired artists. You can see his work online at

    I hope Roger Dean demands credit somehow…

    • Well, even if he doesn’t get official credit, I’m sure the film will generate a lot of interest in Roger Dean’s amazing art and it will indirectly be wonderful publicity for him. On our site here alone we’ve noticed many searches everyday for “Roger Dean Avatar” that lead people to our comic. He will probably get lots of new fans, and even Yes and Asia will benefit a little, too, as a whole new generation discovers their albums. Many filmmakers and cinematographers use their studies of famous art for reference in scene composition and lighting, though I do agree that the extent of the designs in Avatar – even from just the trailer – seems to the point you would think Dean was hired as an art director on the film… hopefully Cameron will give him credit for inspiration in the inevitable “Art of Avatar” book…

      • Barbara said

        Dream on about any credit…Hollywood will rewrite history. Roger Dean should be credited, and paid….end of story. It is a basic right and should never be ignored.
        Plagiary should not be tolerated. It will be the end of real creativity

  3. Even the colours of the flying creatures looked like Roger Dean artwork. I couldn’t beleive I didn’t see his name in the credits

  4. Chris said

    I hope the give Roger some coin for this. Obviously alot of his ideas in the film.

  5. […] find all this and a lot more in the discussions and articles on these links – Digital Spy Stupid Future – Roger Dean wants his floating islands […]

  6. Lydia said

    Avatar is an okay story, set in Roger Dean’s universe! It is a travesty that there is NO MENTION of thanks or any mention of Roger Dean in the credits. Believe me I stayed in my seat to the very end of the credit roll.

    Something is very amiss, and James Cameron needs to at least put a “special thanks” credit to Roger Dean.

    Someone has “re-mixed” a trailer for Avatar using Yes music for the soundtrack.

    I feel like buying some Roger Dean art to show some support for him.

  7. Steven Worringham said

    im a huge roger dean fan. have been for years. when i saw avatar, which was gorgeous, btw… one of the most beautiful films i’ve seen in awhile…. i was constantly thinking of roger dean. the arches, the floating islands, the forests and landscapes, the colors of the flying dragons… at the end i searched the credits carefully and said… wtf? not even a thank you to roger for these ideas? for the inspiration? not one acknowledgement at all. im a big james cameron fan too, but to not even mention roger dean’s influence in that film is rediculous. i think he should sue for copyright infringement. gimme a break, james. and ILM (industrial light and magic) who did most of the specials for this film…. common; you guys HAVE to be roger dean fans… why not give him SOME credit??? shame on you. maybe the film cost so much money, they couldnt afford to pay dean for his ideas, so they stole them. i get that. but have the common courtesy to THANK the man.

  8. paolo said


  9. paolo said

    Avatar, the copy

  10. photography blog said

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  11. Janna Silverstein said

    Cameron took lots of “inspiration” from BattleTech (known as MechWarrior these days), too. The mechs in the film are straight out of a 30+ year old role-playing game. Jordan Weisman probably has grounds to sue just as much as Dean does.

    “Original” hasn’t been part of Cameron’s vocabulary in years. Technological innovation has been, though. No question that Roger Dean deserves a huge nod for the inspiration obvious in Avatar. But Cameron gets the credit for the revolution he’s presented in motion capture technology and sensible and effective use of 3D technology as well.

    • Hey, thanks for stopping by. The mech suits are indeed akin to stuff from BattleTech, but a bit smaller scale than your average Destroid or Mad Cat. They reminded me a heck of a lot of the mecha from the anime Gasaraki, actually. FASA’s intellectually property policy was interesting since they clearly lifted some designs from Bandai/Macross (the Valkyrie, a.k.a. JetFire from Transformers) but then turned around and sued ExoSquad….

    • minespatch said

      Same goes to the Giger aliens. Did Cameron give credit to Giger for the designs?

      • Actually, Ridley Scott directed the first Alien movie, and he was inspired by one of Giger’s paintings for the alien design. He did hire Giger to adapt the design for the movie, plus design other props and sets. Giger wasn’t hired for Cameron’s Aliens or other Alien sequels, but he was credited for the initial design.

        Funny, I was just reading the other day that some Halo video game fans are complaining the Cameron stole the look of Halo for some of the Avatar military and planet designs… however, the guys who designed Halo have mentioned many times that they were hugely inspired by Cameron’s Aliens for the design of the Halo universe. So the circle of influence goes round and round…

  12. Dejael said


  13. Nathan said

    Great, great movie! Definately one of my top favorites. As I was watching, I was sure that Roger Dean was hired to design the entire visual concept. How exciting! I am a very happily born and raised Yes fan, and Roger Dean’s incredible Yes album artwork filled my childhood (and adulthood) with visual wonderment- the perfect accompaniment to Yes’s dreamy-imagery inspiring, and universally positive concept music. Lets call a spade a spade here, it is obvious that Pandora is Roger Deans world, just get out your old Yes albums and have a look! It is obvious they didn’t want to pay Roger Dean for his intellectual and artistic property. Its obviously plagerism and I hope Roger sues and wins!

  14. Cameron Striewski said

    Avatar is a massive technical achievement, but like the film’s theme, the filmmaker is essentially stealing what does not belong to him. It’s like James Cameron is sending a message, “I can take anything I want, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
    In response, Roger Dean should absolutely sue for plagiarism, that of his entire life’s work as depicted in the blatant rip-off seen in Avatar’s moon world of “Pandora.” Dean might not win, not because he doesn’t deserve to, but because of mega-corp money giants and their influence tied to Cameron and his project.
    From misty floored rain-forests, to the floating mountains/islands (both in look and layout), the insect-like helicopters, and especially the flying dragons (stolen down to the graphical patterns of colored flesh in both blue and red versions) even the blue-skinned children seen in Yes’ Yesterday’s cover art, Pandora is Dean’s dreamworld brought to 3D animated life. Perhaps Pandora is appropriately named (subconsciously so?) because of the legal battle that should be unleashed as a result of such an arrogant thievery. But who cares? Cameron and shareholders don’t care so much about bad PR as much as a bad bottom line. Make no mistake about it, Dean has been harmed by this theft. His own project “Floating Islands” will probably never be made, and if it is, will probably never have the level of technical craft that Avatar’s half-billion dollar budget allowed for. For most of the uneducated masses, it will be Cameron’s film AKA “vision” that came first. It’s disgusting to hear Avatar’s designers mention Dean’s work as “whimsical” and something they wished to avoid. Is it whimsical because Dean’s artwork is created by hand and not photo-realistically rendered by mega-computers? That’s the kind of demeaning, belittling comment typical of the Jar-head clan.
    Cameron should have learned his lesson with the Terminator film when he was forced to retroactively credit writer Harlan Ellison for the inspiration of that film. Like Ellison, Dean in all likelihood would have given permission if asked before the fact or been given an honorary credit. Instead, Cameron laughs when he admits in his Entertainment Weekly interview when asked if the inspiration came from a Yes album cover, “It might have been, back in my pot smoking days.”
    As if smoking pot is an excuse for forgetting to credit the true and obvious artistic visionary of Avatar. Hey James, “I see you.” Too bad, what’s inside is as empty as the film’s end crawl.

    • Rick said

      Extremely well put. If Cameron’s actions go without consequence than it sends a message that flagrant plagiarism is an acceptable thing. How can he make a film where morals play such a key role, yet he clearly lacks any moral fiber. His denial when confronted about makes the whole thing even more sickening. I regret having purchased my ticket to this theft.

    • Eddio Pina said

      It´s contradictory the thematic of the film and the actitude of the filmmaker. in this case Cameron is obvios a “People of Heaven” and Dean is the Naa´vy. Cameron depredate the work of Dean and he should do something to drop off this predator out of his world (or should I have written “Work”) or at least get a payment (c´mon we are not in planet pandora but in planet Earth where his “relayer” album cover was sold in $.2.350.000,oo goto ). Anyway I always loved the work of Dean since I purchase the “Yessongs” album back in ´73. there is a book called “Dragon´s Dream”. now a collector´s piece if you can find it them buy it, you don´t regret.

  15. Gideon said

    I’m with Roger Dean on this. I love the movie and whilst watching was thinking, ‘haven’t I seen this world before somewhere?’ Unbelievable that they would get so much inspiration from his worlds and then give no mention, I even saw an interview in which the designers say how wonderfully creative they are and go so far as to deny the influence. It’s a clear case of plagiarism and I hope James Cameron emerges from a dark night of the soul with an intention to do the right thing, just as he has his character Sully do! Pandora was created by Dean and then turned into a movie, with some other neat effects no doubt. In the mean time, this being one of my favourite movies, I’ll be saving up to buy an authentic Roger Dean painting.

  16. I am new to Roger Deans world and am immediately a loyal fan. I purchased a calender of his work maybe only a month or two before I had ever heard of Avatar. I have been greatly inspired by this movie and have seen it six times. My six year old son noticed the similarities between the art of Roger Dean and the art of Avatar all on his own and so did I. I am only very excited about the fact that so many amazing revelations have recently been brought about by the message and beauty of Avatar. I would like to thank James Cameron for bringing the plight of our planet to so many people who may not even understand the concept otherwise. Roger Dean does deserve credit and I think that everyone who sees Avatar will become a Roger Dean fan. Some times good comes from the strangest places I am learning. I would like to point out that tribal culture should also be given credit because this supposedly unattainable utopian world was once alive in the very people who are now being pushed to exstinction like to many other amazing things about our planet. Instead of fighting over who deserves credit when we all obviously know who’s mind created these beautiful landscapes we should be finding ways to contribute to the momentum of the movement that we should all be part of. I am inspired to find my true nature and become something greater then what I have been. I thank Avatar for this awakening of my senses. After the second time seeing Avatar I woke up in the morning feeling the wieght of the emptiness of my life up to that point. I was devestated by my lack of living. I feel a greater hope now then I have experienced in a very long time maybe ever. I feel that this movie although not original in it’s theme or art is inspirational to many and it is my souls vision of a better world. It has brought it all together for me and I pray to God that it will inspire many others as it has me. The culture of the Na’Vi is the world that was taken from us but does still exist in remote parts of our world that will soon be destroyed by clear cutting and strip mining. We should be devoting our selves to a greater cause. Everyone of us. Why stand on a silent platform? What does the billboard say? Come and play. Come and play. Forget about the movement. That is Rage Against the Machine. Just wanted to make sure I gave them the credit they so strongly deserve.

  17. judy said

    Even the blue people are suggested on the back of the “Yesterdays” album. Same colour.

  18. Mike said

    I just saw the movie. While I was watching I had the thought “My God this is Roger Dean!” I have been a Dean fan since the seventies. I have all the YES albums, I had a book of all his art and I still have half a dozen 2′ X 4′ posters I bought in the seventies. Pandora is Dean art as well as the creatures that inhabit it. No doubt in my mind. I’ve seen them all before. I gather that too many people got the same idea. Why no credit to Dean? What’s going on here?

  19. Richard said

    “…Dozens of Yes fans…”? Please.

    • Hey, Richard, thanks for stopping by…I’m sure you surmised that we are a humor/parody site that pokes gentle fun at a lot of topics, including classic/progressive rock. Of course we do realize that Yes are a highly influential band selling (at one estimate) 30-40 million albums worldwide. Recall, however, that Cameron’s Avatar takes place in 2154…how many Yes fans will there be in 144 years? It’s hard to say….

      • Hmm… who knows, maybe prog makes a big comeback in the future. I’m sure The Beatles will still be popular (probably be the classical music of the future), so maybe any other bands that originated around that time may at least be of historical interest. Or maybe Yes fans form a cult in the next couple decades to be cryogenically frozen and reanimated in the future. Or the band members of Yes undergo some experimental gene therapy and extend their life-spans for another couple centuries, continuing to tour at Six Flags parks around the Solar System…

      • Richard said

        Hi Stupidfuture,

        Thanks for the straightforward reply. I do appreciate good humor and parody (except when it’s MY sacred cow getting gored ;-).

        The issue in question is serious one here in the “real world”, that of blatant plagiarism, and extreme irony. The Yes “tribe” has noticed this pretty clearly, and rightly so.

        As someone who has practically meditated on the collaborative musical and artistic vision of Yes and Roger Dean for nearly 20 years, I think I have a feel for what that vision is. What I immediately saw in Pandora was nothing less than a magnificently rendered realization of the world of Roger Dean, in some exacting detail. I, like many, sat through the end credits, fully expecting to see mention of Dean as conceptual consultant, and being confused and disappointed when it did not appear.

        It’s not just “floating rocks” that Dean ought have claim to. There are many instances (e.g., the floating rocks at the end of “The Neverending Story”) which pay tribute to the same visionary and spiritual source as Dean’s own work.) It’s in how the rocks and mountains were floating in relation to one another, the details, the Arches(!), the bioluminescence of the forest life, the fiercely harmonious lifestyle of the people with their ecological environs, the color palette (blue people!), riding flying lizards, etc. Some conceptual variances in the showcasing of the world-elements notwithstanding (and of course the script itself) can be seen as distinguishing a unique achievement, yet the world itself taken as a whole can be clearly seen to derive from Dean’s work.

        To believe that Cameron was not aware of the level of similarity to pre-existing work, and to not have consulted Dean on this is too much to ask.

        The irony, then, is to have a story about fighting grave injustice perpetrated upon an innocent people in their native land take place within a visionary world of such resemblance to another man’s work without so much as a mention in the credits! It wounds the credibility of Cameron’s work, and Cameron himself. And it sadly diminishes the otherwise positive impact of an wonderfully inspired cinematic tour de force.

      • The other question is, what about surrealist artist Rene Magritte, and his castle on the floating rock, from 1959? Should Roger Dean have given him credit? Just playing Devil’s Advocate here, but Mr. Dean would have been around 15 when that painting came out – and I believe it was a pretty popular poster back in the day… may have been an influence on his work, I think (but Mr. Dean doesn’t seem to mention any influences on his bio, as far as I can tell).

        Also, just wanted to mention that I believe Leiji Matsumoto, creator of Star Blazers (Space Battleship Yamato), seems to have had some influence from Roger Dean – remember the blue Gamilon alien race, and also think about the designs of the Gamilon homeworld buildings and spaceships – sort of organic like Dean’s architecture. The influence was cemented for me when I saw Matsumoto’s work on Daft Punk’s animated movie “Interstella 5555” – there’s a scene on the alien homeworld where two of the blue-skinned aliens are floating above a landscape with Dean’s “Arches” clearly in the background. Check it out here: (The arches start at 2:20)

  20. I grew up loving progressive rock (new) and used to copy Roger Dean’s covers amongst others. Now, as a pro and a few decades later, I think that Cameron needs to come clean and recognise the best graphic artist of the 20th century. ROGER DEAN. Cam, you were influenced by him. Be cool.

  21. nanc said

    Okay….I just want to add this bit of info…after reading some of the above comments I want to ask, “are some of you twelve?” Really people, it was not a great movie, boring plot that I have seen in dozens of movies.
    At first I was a little thrown back by the fact that James Cameron would make a movie that is in all certain terms, a cartoon. Knowing what an avatar in this computer age meant, I was not sure what the movie was about after seeing short advertisements with military guys, alien race, and an alien world. But after seeing the movie I was impressed, not really a great movie but it was pretty visually impressive. Ironically, the story line is very similar to many other movies. But when the movie got to the scenes of the “floating mountains” OMG!, I started saying to my husband, “that’s outer planets” which is one of the terms us Yes fans call those floating pieces of land on their album covers. Being once a huge (almost a religion) Yes fan, I then noticed the extreme similarities between Roger Dean and this movie. But hold on! Cameron not only must be a Yes fan at one point of the movie he has incorporated not only Yes scenes but Jon Anderson’s first album. Olias of Sunhillow. Some of the references cannot be mistaken. The tree of light where the alien race goes to worship their creator is directly from that album. Many times I wanted to start singing Olias of Sunhillow. Why doesn’t he admit and give credit where credit is due.

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