Thursday, 29 August 2013

Not nearly enough of someone reading "Three Men In A Boat"

Taking the long way back back from the shops this afternoon through Nunhead Cemetery, a rolled-up copy of 2000AD rubbing its stupid ad for some paperback off on my hand in the usual manner, it suddenly occurred to me that that thing about always keeping to the left only really works in mazes. I have had a stomach bug so my mind's not the sharpest right now. This, nonetheless, I duly tweeted, receiving a reply from somebody, "Apart from when it failed miserably in Three Men In A Boat". Well I've read the book, but I don't really remember it, and certainly not this bit. So, heading onto youtube in search if an enlightening clip, I hit upon this. And it was not what I expected. And it made me laugh more than anything I can remember. And I will not rest until everyone has seen it. (And I do not yet care if that makes me a bit racist). Thank you, Paul!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Let It Spread

Being on the internet is - just a little bit - inherently depressing. It's a beautiful day outside, or else you should be asleep, and either way you know an hour or two's undistracted boredom might provoke a little creativity, yet here you sit/lie/steam spinach before update after update of things that are going to make you angry, no more genuinely interacting with others than if you were passing notes in class, or perhaps more accurately - since the internet isn't a public space but rather a shared private space, a public toilet, not a town hall - writing something under a message left on the cubicle wall. Even when the good stuff is shared online, chances are it's old, or new and brave and tragic. Or if it's new and not the News, if it's something brilliant that someone has made, that too is a little depressing, because what's it doing on the internet? Why is nobody being paid to broadcast this work in a medium with proper start and stopping times, independent of the likes of us having to pass it around amongst ourselves like a pamphlet? Who's in charge? And what's happened to Alan Partridge's Mid-Morning Matters!

But I'm glad I was on the internet for this clip. It's American, like a lot of what I seem to watch online (particularly now The Daily Show is being hosted by John Oliver* - I've aways loved it, but now I'm rooting for it.) And while there's a lot to be said for keeping up with The American News (if for example the words "Carlos Danger" mean nothing to you, you might well be missing out on one of the greatest and most hilarious and simultaneously enervating mysteries ever thrown up, and I mean literally thrown up, by a political career - yes, that is what "literally" means, I've checked...) still I'm unused to hitting upon something as cheering as this Stephen Colbert clip. It's a heck of a curveball. It's big. It's good. It's a fear-killer. Shoot-to-kill laws, Piers Morgan, Putin and the trolls all turn to steam while it's playing. You should watch it.

"It's spreading."

* By the way, discussing Egypt with Andy Zaltzman in their Bugle podcast John came up with one of my favourite ever political observations:
"Under a dictatorship, you get used to a dictator kicking you in the balls. Under a democracy, you have to get used to 50% of your own population kicking you in the balls."

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Power Socket 7: "Aw, sneck!"

This issue must have taken me ages. I was heavily into 2000AD by now, and who can blame me? My imagination had been pretty traumatised by a sudden move to public school at the age of nine, starved suddenly of mythology, baffled by "catalytic cracking" and "the ablative" and the absence of girls, sectioned by separate desks for every boy and separate teachers for every subject, sustained only by the scraps afforded by Mad Magazine and Oink. But then, in 1985, for just 24 pence a week, it found its salvation.

The late Massimo Belardinelli, just doin' his thing.

In fact it was struggling now to keep up. My hatred of that school had become so bad that I persuaded my parents to send me to a therapist, and of the one session I finally received the only detail I can remember now is me confessing my frustration that my imagination seemed so tiny compared to these guys'. How did they do it? Where - as Alan Moore was often asked, and possible went on to suffer a nervous breakdown trying to find out - do you get your ideas from? And it wasn't just the Alan Moore's stuff. There were the richly researched and nightmarishly illuminated worlds of Pat Mills, the surrealist panache of Peter Milligan's teen-friendly metaphysics, the aspirational shopping-mall dystopia of John Wagner's Mega-City One which teemed with poor, beaming, fad-chasing bastards seeking their fix of fun even in the cannon's mouth, and all of this served with wit - with jokes even - and monsters! So many monsters.

"Get off my back, Father!"

There were no supermen, or at least none I was interested in. There were wanderers, terrorists, deserters, smugglers and surfers, very few of whom looked recognisably human. Everything 2000AD was teaching me was stuff I wanted to learn, and to this day I'm still playing catch-up as a writer. (The scifi pilot I've been hawking around, subtitled "Prog 1", has perhaps as a consequence been deemed "too dense" for Radio 4. Which it is, but that's another post.) Yet for some reason Issue 7 of Power Socket was to be the last I completed. I'm not sure if I gave up, or decided to wait until I was better at it, or maybe I just started enjoying school a bit more. I suspect the truth is - and my "visual notebooksW back this up - that there was just so much out there now to copy, why bother sticking with a super-hero serial? In the Autumn of 1986 Dad suggested we take Power Socket Issue 7 along to show to my new heroes at a signing. I did. "What do you think?" he asked. Alan Moore said "Um, I'm more of a writer," and was lovely. Kev O'Neil (responsible for the image above) said "Do you lay it out first? You should try laying it out." And Pat Mills, to my surprise, turned out not be a woman. I can't remember what he said. Or John Wagner. But I've got the signatures. And all have remained my heroes.
And one day I hope I'll get to show them what I've made since.

Power Socket 6: A true account of the fates of Ortlay, Sendado and Offaldien

There is a skill to making up a name. Clearly I hadn't learnt it by the time I was eleven. Who knew the Wombles were named after places?
And so begins the second, never-completed adventure for our useless heroes in which we find out not only what a soul looks like, but what happens if you accidentally fall into one. The symbol on the Vulture's forehead, chest and earrings of course firs appeared to Sgt. Lonnie Zamora, painted in red on a large silver egg-shaped object which landed in Socorro, New Mexico back in 1964...


In case you were wondering where you'd seen it before. I loved that symbol. Enjoy, Earth-things.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Power Socket 5 "Who let him at the laser cannon?"

Here it is then, 1985's action-packed conclusion to the Black-Shark arc. With arks. I like the robots in this, and the signage, and the signage on the robots. I hope everyone's keeping cool. Ka-bluey!