Wednesday, 13 October 2010

How Dirty Frank Won My Heart:- Rob Williams & D'Israeli's "Low-Life" In 2000 ad Prog 1706


1.

Like a man who's survived all that fuss with the red and green lenses and is finally presented with an optician's prescription which makes the world look far clearer than it'd been for a long while before, the seventh chapter of "Hostile Takeover" by Rob Williams and D'Israeli provided this now-happy reader with three moments that've transformed the serial from being less than the sum of its parts into a convincingly beguiling tragi-comedy.

2.

It was laughing at the panel to be found at 4.2 - below - that made me realise I was changing my mind about "Low Life". And it was a great howl of a laugh, actually, the kind of unexpected and joyous whoop that marks a change of heart if not yet opinion, because no story that's quite as funny as that in part can be entirely disregarded as a whole.


It was a laugh rooted in the incongruity of Dirty Frank rolling off a brilliant punchline immediately after a panel depicting a gruesome massacre, a bloody business which was instantly revealed as the straight man for Frank's gag as much as a grisly plot-point in its own right. And just as the fact of the massacre set up the black comedy of Dirty Frank's joke, so does his apparent buffoonery provide the comic-book jaded reader with a means to engage with the butchery. After all, mass-killings are far, far more prevalent than everyday kindnesses in comic books, and as a consequence the slaughter of all those dubious gentlemen from the East is unlikely to move an audience more familiar with comic book bloodshed than comic book kisses. But by grounding Dirty Frank's outburst in humour, in the reader's grinding experiences of Twenty-First century air-travel, the audience is elbowed out of the banal business of another bloody scene of future butchery. Instead, memories of the casual callousnesses of budget airlines compels a strange and sideways measure of sympathy for the victims of the Judges' execution squad; we've not been sprayed with bullets, or anything in any way comparable to that fate, of course, but it is possible at a not-too-considerable stretch to imagine those cheap-fare companies joking about how such a problem-solving strategy as machine-gun fire might resolve their never-ending struggle to dehumanise their wretched customers. As Mr Williams has Dirty Frank say;

"Heavy Firepower! Murder! Screams! The culling of the innocents!" (Beat: new speech balloon) "Economy class at its natural solution!"


Well, it is, isn't it, and for the first time I was convinced that Frank was worth listening to, that he was more than merely a vehicle for some rather sad outsider humour. His ludicrous cry of "Gott In Himmell!", for example, issued at his first sight of the bloodbath, only makes the whole business more amusing as well as more shocking. More amusing, because Dirty Frank is revealed as man who's so disordered he's reduced to expressing himself as an SS officer stereotype from a Sixties war comic, and more shocking, because he's the only character on view who can make the Mega City One of 2132 ad as affecting for us as any human enterprise should be for a reader.

Or to put it another way, he's the Fool, the audience's co-conspirator, who knows what he can't express and who expresses it clearly to the gallery, who's too disordered and too wise in his madness to inhabit his world without revealing its hypocrisies and its sufferings too, and who stands for "us" in the midst of all of those who belong to "them".


Which is not, I'd contend, as a reader new to Dirty Frank and "Low-Life", a role he's been effectively fulfilling in "Hostile Takeover" up until this point. Until now, he's just been a fool amongst many others, not The Fool, more pronounced in his foolishness than his fellows but hardly a character that might be used to illustrate Fo's belief that "Comedy makes the subversion of the existing state of affairs possible."

For in truth, Dirty Frank has come across too often in "Hostile Takeover" as a gelded, disordered eccentric used mainly to deliver up drollery, as if mental disorder was funny in itself, and the strip's suffered for it.

3.

Of course, a joke's just a joke, and even a well executed one doesn't of itself bring a comic strip into focus and make it function as it might. But then, that single joke isn't the only element of "Hostile Takeover" that helps ground the story and compensate for whatever confusion and underachievement has come before. For this week has also brought with it the emergence of Dirty Frank as a point-of-view character who's more than a confused and rather emasculated bystander. Rather than being a baffled and rather piteously peripheralised figure, Frank is here shown both taking the lead and grasping truths that his more typical fellows can't. In that, he's more than just the outsider who can communicate the meaning of his world humorously to us in ways denied to the other citizens of 2132 ad. He's also starting to fulfil the role of the knight errant, and far more a Chandleresque protagonist than a Cervantian one too, and so now he's become our hero as well as our representative in the strip.


It's a point that can be illustrated at 7.2.5, where our disordered hero is shown being tailed by several of his fellow oddities from the Wally Squad. There we're at last shown in clear focus that, despite his mental infirmity, Frank has skills which his fellows lack beyond his unquestioned bravery, dedication to the job, and unintended predeliction for quipping. Alone as he is in the sensory overload of a Big Meg street, Dirty Frank has the capacity to focus his attention upon details which escape all of those around him. He can spot and categorise the corruption that's escaped the unthinking observers, that hidden and unpleasant truth that the more respectable and supposedly sane members of society can't. Indeed, even his fellow members of the Wally Squad can't fully grasp what he perceives and processes. "Why does Thora want is following Frankie anyway?" asks Judge Coil at 1:3, "Aside for the obvious reason: to observe a complete lunatic at large in order to avoid eventually becoming like him?" But Thora, and presumably those lined up with her, know that Frank's a more substantial man than Coil suspects, a truth that's evidenced by the "complete lunatic"'s private investigations.

And if he's at his lowest ebb by the last page of this tale, there's also the sense that our Frank's got everything he'll need to close this matter successfully. He's his skills, his conscience, his unconscious ironic distance, and now, through daring and sacrifice, he's earned his chance to deal with the dragon in her lair.

4.

So, Dirty Frank's now more precisely placed as our representative in 2132 ad, and he's explicitly established with the unfamiliar reader as a protagonist of some substance. More than just a loyal if mind-battered foot-soldier, he's the Detective Fool, and the balance of the strip has shifted from being a rather muddled narrative to one in which Frank is placed centre-front and worthy of being there. And, in combination with those two components, there's a third matter to be found in "Hostile Takeover: Part Seven" which defines Dirty Frank as a figure of greater substance than he previously seemed; his untypical and uncompromising integrity. "These are Dirty Frank's comrades of longstanding. Justice should be their myopic goal", Frank records in his "case notes" at 2:5, and, as a result of displaying such probity, he's transformed into Serpico and Avila and Ciello, "our" man against all of "them". Before he was one of a gang, or he seemed to be, and now he appears to be the only one capable of stopping his "comrades" from the worst of crimes. And though there's a great deal of reason to doubt whether Thora's game is as nefarious as it's seeming at the moment, it's effectively Dirty Frank against everyone else, which of course marks him out as the last honest gunslinger in town.

In truth, he's a believer, a man committed to his service and its principles, clear-minded in the terms of his duty even as he's somewhat confused as to everything else. The very presence of that word "comrades" in his notes reveals both his naive integrity and his vulnerability, his desperate need to trust those around him just as he surely can't rely on Mega City One's citizenry itself. And regardless of what I might think of the fact and principles of the Judicial State, the expression of Frank's devotion to his duty while others fatally betray their comrades lends him an absolute dignity that ennobles the character and ensures that I'll be reading carefully next week.

5.

It's not that Dirty Frank should have by necessity stood revealed as "Hostile Takeover"'s sole apparent hero from the tale's first chapter, strong and competent and shiningly decent. After all, heroes need to be confused, and sidelined, and rendered helpless, so that the pleasure of their fightback and the catharsis of their victory is intensified. But this story was confused in itself, and particularly for the new reader, as we've discussed before, and the need for a clear heroic centre to the tale increased as "Hostile Takeover" became more challenging and opaque. After all, if a plot is slippery and hard to make sense of, an engaged and sympathetic point-of-view protagonist gives the reader something to hold onto, as any who love the occasional mystery or thriller can testify. But to provide a tale without either clear plot or straight-forward protagonist when chapters are being doled out in tiny weekly installments is to risk losing both the momentum of the tale and the enthusiasm of the reader.


But a Dirty Frank who's suddenly active, if somewhat beaten-up, and following his own agenda, who's uniquely competent and fiercely honourable, who's Serpico-ised to the degree he has no allies at all, and who's a Fool that speaks for us all rather than a fool in his undies eating popcorn, is a character that serves to lock every other narrative component securely and satisfyingly around him. After all, we'll put up with any degree of confusion if the likes of a Marlowe or a Shardlake or a Rebus is there at the centre of things, or actively searching for the centre of things.

Up until this week, Dirty Frank has seemed placed more at the edge of events than the heart of the tale itself, and perhaps that's where he'll be when next Saturday rolls around. But for the moment, "Hostile Takeover" seems like his story rather than a series of plots occuring to a large number of characters which will, eventually, be tied together in one fashion or another, and the tale is all the stronger for being more obviously that of Dirty Frank's.


.

11 comments:

  1. There's an odd thing with Frank and Hostile Takeover: Frank always gets the sillier and more absurd Low Life stories, like Biblical manifestations and going undercover as a heavy metal guitarrist. Aimee Nixon always got the grimmer, more morally dark stories. And they would sometimes appear in each other's stories (originally Frank was a tertiary character and the strip was solely Nixon's).

    The strip started with transvestite robots and Frank calling a guy Crazed Gang Leader Jay, and only got darker after he met up with Nixon and then she was removed - I doubt that's a coincidence. This is Frank in the wrong strip because Nixon's MIA.

    - Charles RB

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  2. Hello Charles:- and as just about always, your comment contains data that I could never have dreamt of. The whole idea that Low-Life ISN'T Dirty Frank's strip is inconceivable to me because of my brief exposure to it, which I guess returns us to the point we were discussing a few progs back, namely, there needs to be more attention perhaps to the idea that readers aren't familiar with the deep history of a property.

    But there was the sense, because of those three factors I tried to discuss above, that all of sudden this was Frank's strip here, and having a strong character completely at the centre of things surely made the strip shine!

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  3. Well to the Dirty Frank Fan Club, it took a while but you got there.

    You have to keep in mind that he is still a Judge - something as yet unspecified happened to him as a young Judge but he had all the combat and investigatory training under his belt, plus he is a Wally Squad member so has to be able to go it alone for long stretches of time without back-up. Now he also seems to have gone native slightly (and this earlier incident can't have helped but going native is always the big problem with Wally Squad members, see also Jack Point) but all those Judge skills are still there and he seems capable of adopting other personas for his duties - in the rock music one he came across as a dapper band manager (even if Dirty Frankisms leaked out endangering his cover). In the Biblical one he is transformed into a gleaming cyberangel and lays down a beating on his enemies.

    Don't be distracted by his outward appearance - he is an undercover judge after all. His Case Notes are usually more insightful and clear than his ramblings, which seems to indicate he is sharper than he seems (Simon Coleby, one of the early artists who talked Frank over with Rob Williams a lot has said "Frank is outwardly insane but I always felt that there is a sternly controlled, analytical core to the character."). I know it is fashionable to give your detective a mental illness these days (like Monk and his ilk) but I see Frank as more of a Columbo - he probably hasn't worked out who the killer is as soon as he walks in the room but his dishevelled looks and rambling persona make his suspect underestimate him and he usually annoys them into giving the game away. I just looked Columbo up on Wikipedia:

    -
    Lt. Columbo is a shambling, disheveled-looking, seemingly naive Italian American police detective who is consistently underestimated by his fellow officers and by the murderer du jour. The subjects of his investigations are initially both reassured and distracted by his circumstantial speech and increasingly irritating asides. Despite his unprepossessing appearance and apparent absentmindedness, he shrewdly solves all of his cases and secures all evidence needed for indictment. His formidable eye for detail and meticulous and dedicated approach only become apparent late in the storyline.
    -

    Remind you of anyone?

    Surely the pitch was: What if Columbo looked like Alan Moore, sounded like Tony Adams and smelled of wee?

    At the start he is disorganised and directionless but once the pieces started dropping into place he is like a shark sensing blood in the warer, focusing in on the clues.

    You will eventually find that no one else could have possibly solved the crime but Frank. I think he has a 100% success rate so far.

    I do think there have been problems with the story but I think the core progression of Frank in this has been spot on (I think that is how everyone first discovers their love for Dirty Frank - he is an odd and engaging character so you want to see what happens then he reveals there is more going on under the surface). I think his Case Notes should have kicked in earlier so the new reader would have got that he was an undercover Judge and that the surface might be misdirection to some degree as that first instalment seemed too focused on giant transvestite robots, something which doesn't appear to have much relevance for the rest of the story. Plus introducing Aimee Nixon as a geisha for one page was confusing for even the experienced reader.

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  4. Hello Emperor:- and how strange that we seem to degree despite coming at this whole matter from different starting points, if not oppossing points of view. Because wherever Low-Life is now isn't a logical development from where it started, especially in terms of a weekly serial which we presume needs to be constructed to help new readers onboard as much as please old ones. That first episode simply didn't set up where we are now at all, though of course the events therein lead to where we are; but the trannie robot, the apparently-lonesome Japanese woman, Frank's membership of an underworld gang; none of these distractions helped establish the core business of the strip, which is a shame, because once it's found its feet, it's a cracker. You're quite right to mention Frank's case notes - they're the best use of first-person narration I've come across in a long time, they really are, and they helped greatly.

    The Columbo analogy is a fascinating one. But of course, Columbo starts with a precise perp and a precise crime and the arrival of the be-raincoated one locks the conflict into place; in truth,. we know what it'll be from minute one.

    One thing that the detective genre is never shy on doing is establishing recognisable character traits and nailing them straight away at the beginning of a story in a way that informs the coming tail. It never gets old, for example, to take an ancient example, to hear Watson telling us of mysterious cases that Holmes has undertaken and of his deductive skills there. Comics are too keen to get on with the story and forget to just quickly sketch in the key character's skills and personality. Frank, for example, in his skills, loneliness and integrity shoudl have appeared as that from day one, rather than those qualities being mentioned in part at different times.

    Aimee Nixon as the Japanese woman? Hell, I don't even know who Aimee Nixon is! I'm surely not going to respond to her in a new guise!

    But, I'm onboard, the creators are too fine to not stick with, and I'm looking forward to Saturday'scoming to see, presumably, Frank start to turn it around.

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  5. I agree it is that first instalment that is problematic. That first page drops Aimee Nixon in as a geisha without giving more than a minor hint all isn't what it seems. Aimee then turns up on a motorbike and without any hint she was undercover as a geisha. I had assumed this aspect would have been at leas mentioned in subsequent episodes but hasn't even been alluded to. Instead her arm is swiftly removed and when she does appear she is unconscious. It seemed to be there to foreshadow further developments (like Frank pitching up at that location, wherever that is specifically as I don't think we have seen it again) and being assisted by Aimee who would reveal herself. Its all a little perplexing because if the resolution of this story hangs on that first page then it is still going to seem problematic.

    If in the first part of the story we'd had slightly less space to Frank's antics and given the third page over to Aimee leaving the Japanese penthouse, stripping off the geisha robes revealing biker chick gear and motoring off (presumably to meet Frank) - then we'd have had a feeling of two paths converging and everything moving forward (although I'd also consider swapping it round, so you start on Frank and the trannybot, switch to Aimee, back to Frank, back to Aimee and boom for the cliffhanger, or even start on killing Thora and work backwards?). If his Case Notes had kicked in earlier to provide a hint all is not what it seems and that Frank might be slightly sharper then it could have eased the new reader in - as the longer term reader already knows this it isn't spoiling anything or setting up a nice reveal.

    I won't ever claim to be a good writer but having banged out a few scripts the final few drafts seem to largely involve asking "does this help the story or did I put this in because I like it?" It is the stage where you have to 'kill your children' and when you have to hit a tight page count it can be vital. As I think I mentioned I have written a Dirty Frank story (the script has been accepted and is sitting in the pile at FutureQuake Mansions) and he is both a joy to write and a menace, as he can completely get away from you - at one point I was wondering if I should ask for an extra page or two, but I was being self-indulgent. Hacking it back really helped keep the story focused, not that it is as good as anything Rob Williams could write but I enjoyed writing it (even if I suspect the allegory might not be that obvious).

    Worth pointing out the Mongoose clearance sale still seems to be on and they have copies of Mega-City Undercover going cheap - that contains the Lenny Zero stories as well as the first slice of Low Life ones. There is a second volume coming up with the later Low Lives, plus Jack Point is worth getting as it is another look at the Wally Squad with them perhaps going native and there being the hints of higher level Judge corruption (the great thing is that most of the decent, older stories are being reprinted so there is less need to pick up back progs and wade through some iffy material). They also have Thrill-Power Overload which is well worth getting if you haven't got it, an eye-opening history of 2000 AD (see who pissed Pat Mills off the most) but with a few exceptions - Alan McKenzie (and possibly Richard Burton?) don't give their side of the story, which is a pity as they navigated us through some highs and lows but it might be there would always be... awkward questions asked so I can't really blame them.

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  6. Hello Emperor:- I love how we suffer from the same condition of "I hate seeming to appear as if I could ever write better than Rob Williams/Pat Mills/John Wagner etc". Perhaps I ought to have called this blog "In The Opinion Of An Idiot" and had the comments named "More Idiot's Opinion", then we might feel safe that we're not attacking these fine writers that we so admire to the degree that we're claiming to be able to do their jobs.

    I tend to feel that the creative and the critical faculties are quite seperate things. It's rare to find folks who do both outstandingly well, or equally well, even where they're trying to do so. Wolfe's a FAR better essayist than a novelist, so is Vidal, Orwell too, though he's several hundred classes up than the other two where his last two fictions were concerned. That's an entirely random selection, of course, based on the books directly by my computer, actually, but it is true as a general rule. I think criticism is often seen as something which a good writer can bang off in their spare time, but my suspicion is that it's terribly hard to do well. I certainly find it so difficult that I often despair.

    And though neither you are claiming to be a writer nor I an editor, I thought your suggesting for killing a few babies in the early Low-Lifes were sound as suggestions for some experimental cut'n'pasting. No-one ever knows how meddling with a script, even with good ideas, will result, of course, but they did seem to me to be changes designed to make the work more explicable without patronising the reader, and that's always a good idea where I'm concerned.

    For what that's worth. I'm not trying to pretend that I'm either an editor or a writer, of course ...

    Thank you for the steer to Mongoose. I'm off now.

    I do have Thrill-Powered Overload and I'm re-reading it to make sense of the Mark Millar years on 2000AD as I wade through Silo and the Grudge-whatever. I had forgotten how unbelievably 2000AD was in the middle nineties, and sadly TPO doesn't explain how scripts which were patently AWFUL - I'm talking generally here - were so often bought and why artwork which was no better than I could produce was being commissioned. I shared a house with a lover of 2000AD in 95/6 and I couldn't even face reading his copies after a few weeks. I know there's some information in TPO about that period, but the key issues are rarely answered. The comic was awful, had been awful for years, and was going to be awful for a good while yet. I'm glad it weathered that period, but there must have been alot of readers to loose in order to retain a few at the end of that degenerative process.

    Awkward questions? The only questions, really, and I'm sure that none of the gentlemen you mention were in any way solely or even largley to blame for what I've written above. I have no doubt it was a variety of factors.

    After all, I'm not claiming to be a comics historian who knows what happened during that period, any more than a writer, an editor, a batsman, centre-half or .....

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  7. I do agree, although I am unsure about "idiot" though, perhaps "ignoramus" would fit better ;)

    As I've said before it can be useful to get input from all sorts of directions, if it is a new/returning visitors or writer still learning the ropes who should know better. Granted suggesting a "improvements" is a little cheeky but it is part of the process of critiquing work and working out how script works (and how it can work better), so I hope I avoid too many dead arms at the next con I attend, as I can put it down to it all being part of my learning process (like the fair use criteria). Perhaps the comments could then be called "Ignoramuses Who Should Know Better" ;) Although I did also make the typo "ignormaus" which has some appeal...

    Yes the early-mid 1990s are a chore and a half - if I hadn't been drinking heavily during that period I might have remembered to tell my newsagent not to bother getting me a copy but luckily it was also the delivery method that favoured drunken inertia as a) I wouldn't have been in on the ground floor when the quality took an upswing b) I might not appreciate the current streak of quality (although I'd like to have thought I would, on both fronts). Luckily it is people like me hanging on like grim death which kept the old girl afloat long enough for Rebellion to scoop it up. As far as we can tell it shed well over half its readers in this period, some of this is down to a disastrous change in distribution forced on them by management, but this doesn't account for 10s of thousands of readers or the consistent accounts from those that dropped the comic around this time or the recollection of those who stuck in. I recently had a trawl through this era, partly to re-read Zenith and the only thing keeping me going was a game I was playing: "find the worst prog" (currently 883 is in the lead). Mark Millar has dismissed his 2000AD work as "shit" but I don't think I'd go that far - I liked his Canon Fodder (although it may be Chris Weston isn't that enthusiastic ;) ) and I enjoyed Maniac 5 at the time although it could have been so much more. "Silo" is so derivative it is almost funny (I though the mention of Bulwer-Lytton was a nice touch until I discovered Grant Morrison had included a mention of him in Zenith previously) but it is saved Dave D'Antiquis' art (I'm hoping to get a message to him at the moment as he seems to have been spotted). "Grudge-Father", "Robo-Hunter" and "Babe Race 2000" were just awful, although no more dreadful than most of the other stories in the prog at the time.

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  8. continued...

    How this came to pass is difficult to nail down and will probably always be subjective. There are external factors like the disastrous move to fully-painted art and trying to cope with the aftermath of the British Invasion and its brain drain, but then again if you look at the Judge Dredd Megazine at this time you'll find all the talent who either got their break there or kept their hand in there until Tomlinson and Bishop took over at 2000 AD and it was this talent that formed the core of the recovery. It is indeed a pity TPO doesn't cover this era in a lot of detail, there might be room for The Untold History of 2000AD but it would devolve into claim and counter-claim, possibly bordering on being actionable ;) I'm assembling a few bits and bobs to email you and will drop in a few links for further reading on this topic too (is your email address on the 2000AD forum still the right one?).

    The ironic thing is that for a lot of creators, their ire is actually reserved for the Diggle-era. I've spoken to John Smith and he speaks very fondly of that era and his long chats with Mark Millar (even if he often felt a gooseberry when planning things with him and Morrison), but then again he was one of the creators still getting work through that period - one of the few who helped raise the tone in otherwise pretty dreary issues (I keep meaning to ask him more about that period). So everyone's viewpoints can be a little different, although I think the consensus of the readers is pretty much in line with Mark Millar's assessment, it just spreads out to cover almost the whole range of stories on offer at the time.

    But I am also not claiming to be a comics historian or writer or Russia's greatest love machine (although I am still doing what I can to make the last one happen).

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  9. Emperor:- so, I'm an ignoramus, am I?

    Right!

    I mean, it may be objective and all, but perhaps "Mr" Ignoramus would've wounded less ...

    ......

    Anyway. If you can recall where Mark Millar said his 2000AD work was "shit", please please let me know. I'm currently feeling somewhat challenged as I engage with it, though it is inspiring to see in detail how he went from some very much less than sterling scripts in the early '90s to those wonderfully well-written Superman Adventures towards the end of the decade. I use that word "inspiring" deliberately, too. The upward curve of his achievement and the development of his technical knowedge is incredible.

    Mr Weston doesn't think well of Cannon Fodder, does he? My feeling? Well, it's a superhero of sorts and whatever problems there are, and I'd say there would a good few of them, they'll easily fill out a chapter of t'book. But have you actually read Cannon Fodder recently? Just curious ...

    Your information, as always, would be appreciated, Mr E. I hadn't even realised there was any contact detail on the 2000AD forums. My visits there are rare, for reason you'll understand. Please do feel free to use the myzen address before I remove it and with plastic surgery adopt another identity. In particular, any solo interviews with Mr Millar from the period 89 to 95 would be very much appreciated.

    As always, your knowledge of the history of 2000AD is a boon here. And I glad that you're not Russia's greatest love machine, for that would make you Ra-Ra-Ras-putin, and therefore a somewhat worrying presence in these comments.

    I hope you're well, Mr E!

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  10. Welllllllll I was suggesting ignoramus for the comments not the whole blog ;)

    As to his "shite" comment, see here (it has been deleted from Millarworld but the quote is a copy and paste of what he said), if you scroll through that thread you get to Chris Weston's comment on Canon Fodder. Chris is friendly and enthusiastic, so I'm sure he'd be up for having a quick word his work with Millar (rather than having to rely on an off-the-cuff comment), if I bump into him on the Interwebs I'll point him your way but you shouldn't be shy about emailing him (see also the raw interview with him that was the basis of his contributions to TPO, where he compares the two stories). I'm sure John Smith would be up for providing his fourpenneth, as he was the other part of the trio driving the Summer Offensive and is still a very vocal supporter of Millar's work.

    I recently read Canon Fodder when it was reprinted in the Megazine, followed by Kek-W's take on it in a later issue. I really enjoyed it at the time and the re-read didn't disappoint. Not only is it my favourite amongst his early works, by a long chalk, but it was also a highlight in the prog at the time (which might not actually be saying an awful lot ;) ). I do find myself nodding along in agreement with Chris Weston's comments about it and obviously having him on board was a great boost, but still it was a diamond in a lot of rough. Pity they called a halt to it after the second episode, but Nigel's illness would probably have made it grind to a halt anyway (he is recovered and back though but too much water has flowed under the bridge I suspect). If only the rest of his work was this good at the time then he could have looked back on it with more pride.

    I'll get you some thoughts and links and bits and bobs over to that address - probably nothing Millar-related that you'll be unaware of but it is wise to get the information twice rather than not at all. I do have a bit of a lead on another Millar/Morrison interview from the time of the Summer Offensive (which might be worth tracking down through the newspaper archives, if only for the photograph of the two of them sitting on a throne, apparently), plus a bit of a cautionary note highlighting why some of those interviews should be taken with a pinch of salt (although, thankfully, only specific ones, plus even though some are fictional it still upset a lot of the Old Guard).

    And finally, while there might be some passing resemblance to Rasputin that is where it ends. Thankfully, as otherwise it'd mean my most private parts are kept in a shoe box somewhere and now resemble a very old banana.

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  11. Hello Emperor:- I'm ABSOLUTELY grateful for the links. You're so right that it's better to have two paths to a source than none at all, and though I'd the Chris Weston stuff, all that lovely material on the 2000AD boards hadn't come my way at all! My thanks.

    Actually, more than my thanks; double-plus-thanks-good, un-Rasputin.

    Sometimes Newspeak says it better!

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