KID SHIRT

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

TOMMY ROT

Nick Gutterbreakz' rememberings of Seventies Westerns, War books/comix/films, etc (below) roughly parallels my own childhood. WW2-related literature survived into the Seventies, I reckon, because it was a way of critiquing the Vietnam War w/out actually having to mention it. Mainstream filmakers only started openly referencing Vietnam w/out fear of inciting another Sixties-style Drug-fuelled Yoof 'uprising' when Hollywood sniffed Oscars/box-office action with worthy dreck like "The Deer-Hunter" (surely the cinematic equivalent of a Brooce Springsteen LP?).

I think what I am really mourning is loss of choice, rather than loss of childhood. Tesco and WH Smith have all but annihilated the small independent newsagent, yet are unwilling to stock minority-interest magazines like Shivers, The Dark Side, Terrorizer, Tattoo, True Detective, Wrestling and Hot Rods magazines, etc. And the death of sale-or-return distribution in the UK has murdered easy High Street access to Marvel/DC comics. Smiths in Yeovil (which has a catchment area of, say, 40-50000 people if you include the outlying village populace...) won't even stock The Wire magazine because "we get no call for it". (Yet they put out of business the small family-run shops who did keep it on the shelves. *Sigh*...)

Apart from 2000AD, unless a comic has a TV/film licensing tie-in, then you can bloody well forget about it. Sooooo, I was pleasantly surprised and shocked to find Smiths had suddenly started stocking Commando again for the first time in 15 years.



"Tusker Force" is typical (but entertaining) fare: a British officer/Public School type in Burma commandeers a bunch of locals and trains elephants to gore invading Japanese troops. Subtle (or PC) it ain't...

As you're probably aware, some of my favourite people are Japanese and I bear no malice against them as a race. I wish I could say I'm 1/64th Japanese, but I'm not. From a cultural/intellectural POV, how can I compartimentalise these two strands of my personality? Is it possible to reconcile my love for retro-jingoistic tommy rot like 'Tusker Force' with my respect and admiration for vast swathes of contemporary Japanese culture? (See? This is what 'PC' culture has done to us: it's easy to intellectually paralyse yourself by worrying about this kind of paradox...in fact, you can tie yourself up in knots for hours over-analysing stuff like this: "Does not compute! DOES! NOT! COMPUTE!".) I'm comfortable, I guess, with these two sides to my psyche, but I can see that some people might be 'offended' by something that could be interpreted as Anti-Japanese...

I mean, I don't think for a minute that Commando is being published as an 'ironic' project, yet my personal interpretation/internal deconstruction of it is.

Therefore, I was v. pleased to hear about a recent Japanese 'war' film (forgive me if I've got the plot muddled...anyone care to give me a title to go with this?) where a squad of heroic Jap soldiers set out to thwart the dropping of the third atomic bomb. Bring it on: sounds pretty cool to me...

7 Comments:

At 7:14 pm, Blogger Psychbloke said...

WWII has certainly dropped out of the kidscape, alongside cowboys and indians and cap pistols - a move best exemplified by Action Man's transition from wearer of authentic SS Commander kit to camp, lycra-clad, roller blading fop.
How do I feel about this? - not sure.....Don't want to harp on about it in case I end up sounding like one of those people who complain that you can't use the word 'gay' to mean 'happy' anymore.
But Comics is another matter - they have completely disappeared from newsagents. Even 2000AD has gone - spent a day in London looking for it everywhere when your strip was published before Christmas and, honest Kek, I couldn't find it anywhere.
Remember those Summer Specials? Bit fat reprints of old war/ Marvel DC/ Tarzan comics on crap paper? Best thing about summer holidays.
As for Sven Hassell - 'twas all I read when I wangled my way into an adult lenders card at 13 (homework research purposes). Truly bleak stuff in places. I remember a scene where a guy uses his hands to estimate the weight of the breasts on a female corpse. That combination of sex and horror has always stayed with me.
I also remember them using that, 'he's a noble German soldier who hates the Nazi's' angle in Hammer in the brilliant 'Action' Comics.
On that note, Surely a 'Dredger' post is long overdue from one of us?

 
At 8:24 pm, Blogger kek-w said...

Yeah, sad to say but Action Man has def. turned into a Boy Band member.

In Yeovil, for a couple years they actually put 2000AD on the top shelf of Smiths right next to the gay mags. It's now slowly moved down to the middle tier next to Metal Hammer (but not Terrorizer: "We don't stock that. There's no call for it round here...") I mean, perish the thought that kids should read 2000AD...

No wonder comics are becoming an adult ghetto.

Annuals: *sigh*

Sven Hassell: 'nuff said.

And "Action" (2000AD's precursor?): gone but def. not forgotten. Who's gonna do a post...?

 
At 8:30 pm, Blogger Psychbloke said...

Yeah...someone's gotta nail those Vogon scum!

 
At 8:34 pm, Blogger kek-w said...

Absolutely, but how do I reconcile that with my love of contemporary Vogon films and music...?

 
At 9:23 pm, Blogger GTTRBRKZ said...

I'd love to do a post on 70's British comics, but I ain't got the time.

Some shit that would be in it:

TV Comic - crap Basil Brush strips but also cool Dr.Who stuff too (pre-Dr.Who Weekly!)

Vulcan - Seminal weekly featuring Mytek The Mighty (giant robot ape), Robot Archie, The Steel Claw, Trigan Empire. Probably a lot of this stuff was sixties reprints - Kek?

Look-In - Gave us crucial strip versions of The Tomorrow People, Bionic Man/Woman, Sapphire & Steel, Space 1999...

Starlord - Gave us Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters, plus lush paper quality, before being absorbed by 2000 A.D.

Hulk Comic - Marvel Uk's first attempt to cut loose with home-grown talent. Pros:The Black Knight Epic, Night Raven (precursor of 'V')cons: laboured attempts at Nick Fury & Hulk. Eventually turned into just another reprints rag.

Battle - machine-gun fest WWII insanity, featuring a frightening amount of people getting killed.

Others? Help me out, Psychy...

 
At 9:41 pm, Blogger Psychbloke said...

OK, wotabout 'TIGER' comic with Billy's Boots? ("ooops - I've lost Dead Shot Keen's magic boots just before the most important match of the season AGAIN")

And "Hot Shot Hamish" - jeez, I'm gonna go Google for that name right now.....

Or, anyone remember PSSST magazine with our first glimpse of Bryan Talbot / Luther Arkwright?

 
At 10:22 am, Blogger kek-w said...

"Mytek The Mighty (giant robot ape), Robot Archie, The Steel Claw, Trigan Empire. Probably a lot of this stuff was sixties reprints"...yep, pretty much...mainly from (memory failing me right now) Lion and Valiant, I think. Trigan Empire was drawn by the late, great Don Lawrence (Chris Weston's mentor) and was in Look and Learn, I think...I remember reading it when I was v. small in the mid-Sixties. Beautiful artwork. I think Chris W. is editing/overseeing a series of deluxe reprint editions of Trigan Empire...well worth a punt.

The UK Marvel Hulk comic gave a lot of Brit talent their first (or early break) as editor Dez Skinn (now editor of Comics International) commissioned new material for the comic. David Lloyd (or 'V' fame) did Nightraven. I think Steve 'Preacher' Dillon might have drawn Nick Fury...he also did some Dr. Who strips too...

Look-in was a bit after my time (!!!?) but used to feature some gorgeaous artwork by the late Frank Bellamy who also drew 'Garth' in the Daily Mirror...

"Billy's Boots"... bloody hell ...don't get me started...I grew up on "Alf Tupper, the tough of the track"...all that stuff went into"Second City Blues", believe it or not...

As for "Mytek", "The Steel Claw", "Dollmann", etc...those are the classic Silver Age Brit comic characters (my fave is The Spider)...you might not be aware that Fleetway, who owned the rights accidentally sold them to Warner Brothers a few years ago (doh!) as part of a job lot...historically, this is the UK equivalent of Marvel accidentally selling Spider-man to DC...As a result, British creators were unable to create new stories featuring classic Brit characters (Fleetway owned 2000AD at the time, so all these characters could have been revived in 2 thou...Chris Weston and I came v. close to doing an updated version of The Spider together (w/out realising that Fleetway had lost the rights to the character) until David twathead Bishop took over as editor and nixed reviving old characters.) DC have now suddenly realised that they're sitting on a goldmine of classic UK characters...

Enter Alan Moore, who has recently announced his retirement from comics, yet still wanted first dibs at these characters...so his daughter (who is a crap writer) is writing the series with him 'overseeing' the plots (ie they get to put his name on the comic and he gets a consultancy fee in return)...I'd like to thank Alan Moore for effectively stopping any other UK writers from having a crack at these great characters (Robot Archie by Grant Morrison, anyone?), and for stooping to a level of nepotism that I thought was beneath him. Alan has consistantly positioned himself as a man of 'principle' over the years...(wouldn't work for Marvel because of the Marvelman fiasco...fell out w/ DC and publically announced he wouldn't ever work for them again, so DC had to create a 'new' imprint for him so that he wasn't seen to be directly working for them, etc) Okay, fair enough, he's supporting his own daughter, but I feel quite strongly about this, so I will be boycotting all Alan Moore product henceforth. (Like, he gives a shit.)

I certainly won't be buying the 'Albion' limited series bollocks written by Leah Moore...but I will be buying the The Spider reprint edition that will soon be published by Titan.

 

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