Tuesday, January 11, 2005


As Second City Blues slides into its third episode in this week's 2000AD, I thought I'd give you a brief insider's view of the mechanics of comic-strip writing. (Ideas, huh? Where do them blinkin' writers get 'em from?)

Tucked away in this episode is my own personal 'tribute' to Dave the Head ("He got decapitated racing trains in the Irish Tunnel..."):

Dave the Head (head, as in Hedonist) was a local Yeovil 'legend', a man who was not, shall we say, particular about how he got trashed. Anything that could be imbibed, implanted, snorted, sucked, digested, absorbed, ingested, hoovered, popped, dropped, shot, chased or placed under an eyelid was fair game for Dave. He would drink fifty low-alcohol beers, if they were free and he thought they would eventually get him up there (wherever that might be...). And there is nothing, I'm sure, more degrading, than seeing a man with Tipex stains under his nose.

For me, the definition of pure existential panic was The Head at closing-time, skint and with no take-outs. He was the King of Liggers: if he thought you had a distant relative who lived locally and who might possibly have half a glass of sherry in the house that he could blag then he'd be whining on at you for hours: "Can't we go back to your auntie Mabels, then? I thought you said she only lived a couple miles from here..."

"But, Dave, it's five in the morning and I'm fucked. And it's only tuesday..."

"Oh, go'won, go'won, go'won..."

He once crashed a 16 year-old girl's birthday-party in search of alcohol and, er, female company, then walked all the way back to Yeovil from Sherborne in the rain when her parents chucked him out (he was in his mid-twenties at the time!). His idea of a classic seduction was to get so pissed that he'd fall on top of his hapless female victim (often in the pub), thus pinning her beneath his bony, corpse-like frame. This was known locally as The Whitlock Lunge.

He had a tattoo, long before it was fashionable to get one. Unfortunately, it was a unicorn...but worse, it looked as if the tattooist had traced it from a My Little Pony Annual.

Yeah, I know, we've all had mates like that. Dave was sort of an adopted pet: a scapegoat and a mascot all rolled into one ("The dead guy's their mascot..."); he was The Eddson Cru's equivalent of Lol Tolhurst (of whom Robert Smith once said: "He's like a threadbare old blanket that you can't bear to part with..."). There are many, many terrible tales I could tell of Dave's desperate hedonism, but one of my favourites was the night when he really started to get on our nerves...

The late Alan Knight, landlord of The Butchers Arms loaned us a length of washing-line (he was very accomodating like that), so we trussed Dave up like a gimp and lead him through the darkened streets of Yeovil (while locals mocked and laughed at him, like Dick Turpin on his way to the gallows) promising him a bottle of White Lightning cider at the end of the evening as his just reward. He was then forced up a ladder and made to assume a Cruciform pose on the large christian cross on the side of St. Guilda's Catholic School...but then we stopped...suddenly taken by the spirit of the moment...after all, there was something humbling and wonderously beatific about his christ-like pose, lit by the halogen-lights of the dual-carriageway (Saint Dave the Head: patron saint of scapegoats...)...pride and wonder suddenly flooded through us: he was our saint (the thought that he could fall 20 feet to his death, martyrdom or serious injury, never even crossed our minds)...and then we started laughing. Really laughing...

And then the police turned up.

Oh shit. How are we going to explain why there's a man up there on the cross and he's tied-up? But the police kindly provided a convenient, ready-made explanation for us: "Hahahaha...nice one, lads. Red Nose day, is it?" Er, yeah, that's it, officer. That's exactly it... (shit, it was Children in Need Day, and we were so pissed that we'd forgotten..."Hahaha. Right, you are, then. Better get your mate down before he gets hurt..." And the cops get in their car and drive off, laughing...

We help Dave down off the ladder, thinking: Fucking hell, that was close...maybe there is a God, after all. Maybe Dave really is our lucky patron saint of wasters...

"Right, where's my fucking bottle of cider, then." he says.

(Somewhere, Flinty has got a picture of St. Dave the Head up there on the cross, and one day, I promise, I will post it.)

In the end, though, Dave got increasingly desperate: he took up Morris Dancing so that he could meet women. (Nasty.) And then had the nerve to laugh it off as a sort of Cool Pagan Sorta Thing To Do. But we all knew his days were numbered and it was only a matter of time...

Dave's not actually dead, far as I know. Last I heard, he'd moved to Portsmouth with a woman that he'd met while morris dancing, which is, I suppose, about as close to death as you can get without actually giving the Reaper a blowjob.

Writers, eh. Where do they get their ideas from?