Tag Archives: Alien Abduction

FS 48: MOPING UP THE TALENT

4 Oct

PROG: 95 – Brain Drain

Script: Steve Moore

Art: Ron Tiner

Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: At some length Tharg considers the reasons why so many humans disappear each year before introducing the tale of Arnold Quigley-Jones,  a contented government astrophysicist with a young family and evident happiness at his lot. Unbeknownst to him he is being watched by two shady men, who proceed to zap him with a strange green ray, although he remains blissfully unaware of the fact.  Days later, as if programmed, he proceeds to a rendezvous point and boards a UFO. Taken to a mother-ship it is explained to him that he is being invited to join a collection of the Galaxy’s greatest minds. Quigley-Jones readily agrees and consents to an operation to make sure he can endure the rigors of space travel.

Shock: Quigley-Jones comes around from the procedure to find his brain has been transplanted into the cumbersome body of a robot-janitor. The aliens muse that the most intelligent of humans is only fit for menial duties aboard their spaceship.

Thoughts: Steve Moore, the author of the very first Future Shock, returns to scripting duties and raises the bar with a Robo-Hunter type gag spread out over four pages. A joke about humans only being fit for menial labour, wrapped in an alien abduction mystery and encased in Tharg’s meta-musings about the various reasons so many humans go missing each year. The tale throws men-in-black, comedy dogs, faux Reggie Perrin workplace bonhomie and an almost happy ending into the mix before mocking our hapless hero and the entire human race. Moore is ably assisted by Ron Tiner whose style has radically altered from his debut. Gone are the square-jaws and heavy inks, in are comedy robots, overly-energetic domestic pets and a lovely detailed but light cross-hatching style. Quigley-Jones’ final robo-form is pure Ian Gibson and Tiner really understands the whole fun Moore is having with the ludicrously named astrophysicist and his fate. Tiner’s style subtly morphs as the script demands, the Men-In-Black are very noir-ish, the abduction 50s Sci-fi in style and the comedy shock drawn with a Emberton-Gibson feathery looseness.  Also of note is that Tharg has graduated from his usual Banner-Heading role and last Future Shock’s mid-episode dialogue captions to make a full appearance in three introductory panel. It may seem an odd place for Old Green Bonce to appear but the gravitas  is part of Moore’s juxataposing the serious element with the evental comedy pay-off and subverting the expectations of the reader. Reprinted only the once this Shock is well worth a re-read and is an early example of nailing the 2000AD humour and the perspective that pervades so many of the comic’s classic tales.

Shock’d?: Absolutely. Moore wraps up his evident goal, a joke on how dumb humans are, in so many layers and curve-balls that the demeaning status of Quigley-Jones comes from no-where and yet is consistent with all that has gone before. It’s impact is reinforced by the excellent artwork which indicates Tiner had the makings of a perfect funny robots artist. Of course the sharp readers will have noted that with a pooch prone to making extensive comedy sound-effects and a name like Quigley-Jones the tale was never going to end up well for our slightly smug protagonist.

FS 39: HOLDS WATER

9 Sep

PROG: 82 – The Rescue

Script: Stan Nicholls

Art: Vanyo (misspelt ‘Vanio’ in credit box)

Letters: J Raphaeline

Plot: Lawrence Cramer is drowning in the Ocean after having fallen from his cruise-ship. Crying out for help he is astounded to be grabbed by a UFO’s tractor-beam and lifted to safety.Greeted by two sage-like humanoids who inform him they respect the sanctity of life and he will come to no harm. They then proceed to show him other alien species they have as ‘guests’, it becomes clear to Cramer the guests are being kept like Zoo exhibitions. The aliens assure Cramer he will be comfy as he will be kept in the exact same conditions as he was found..

Shock: True to their word the Aliens bundle Cramer into a huge goldfish bowl filled with water… in exactly the same conditions as he was found.

Thoughts: A page and a half gag strip that delivers terrific value over seven panels, indeed Cramer only spends four panels on the alien craft but Barden Agency’s Vanyo (Mind of Wolfie Smith, Dredd: Bill Bailey Wont You Please Come Home, Battle) gives sumptuous detail of the smug aliens, their menagerie and the doomed Cramer drowning in the goldfish bowl. Writer Stan Nicholls was another of Dark they Were And Golden Eyed shop staff to have a Shock published and while this would be his only contribution to 2000AD he would go on to be associated with the comic’s profile in his role as the first London store manager of Forbidden Planet. Slightly detracting from the impact of the strip is the odd editorial decision to place the second half-page at the bottom of the page, meaning a half-page advert has interrupted the flow of the story, a criminal decision given the story is so compact and needs that flow to work quickly.

Shock’d?: In the final panel of the first page bold inking emphasises the phrase ‘(conditions) exactly the same as that in which we found them‘ which would have flagged up what was coming to even the most slack-jawed of readers but that just sets up the anticipation of the joke, and consequently there is a glee in turning the page knowing Cramer is going back in the drink. A semi-shock but a beautiful joke and a lovely little entry to the pantheon of Future Shocks.

FS 33: FLIGHT OF THE HUNTER

31 Aug

PROG:74 – DEAD HIT

Script: Robert Flynn

Art: Pierre Frisano

Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: Red Packer is a successful but cynical Big-Game Hunter who returns home to find an alien envoy asking him to come protect them from wild animals on their planet. They explain that as their race is so advanced they have lost the courage for physical tasks of confrontation. Seeing he would be well rewarded in diamonds, Packer readily agrees and soon arrives on an alien planet ready to hunt

Shock: Suddenly the Aliens depart and Packer finds himself confronted by huge talking apes who are clearly intent on hunting him. He realises he has been brought for their sport not the other way around.

Thoughts: A beginning, of Pierre Frisano’s short five issue stint on Future Shocks, and an end, of Robert Flynn’s time writing for 2000AD, marked by a very ordinary story which rehashes the theme of ‘Man does X on earth, Aliens do X to man’. With FS 2, Trawling, it was eating / being eaten, in  with FS 26, Space Bug, it was mining a body to a husk and now it’s the not very original ‘Hunter becomes the Hunted‘, agonizingly with that very cliché included in the final dialogue box. Flynn’s previous Shocks had always avoided this more obvious of devices and, while often containing logical flaws, did have merit for trying to create dynamic stories. Here he produces the most trite of Shocks but manages to write a contained and flowing tale. It might not be original but it is polished. The real beauty of the strip is from the rare English-language appearance of French post-war artist Pierre Frisano, a name few would associate with 2000AD. Initially a cover illustrator, Frisano was constantly employed in one country, France, rather than being primarily associated with the UK, such as fellow Continentals Ezquerra and Belardinelli, or working throughout the continent, such as Caasanovas.  Responsible for popular Sci-fi series San Ku Kai, and Courtesans, as well as several Opera translations, his B&W ink-work is highly formalist but with beautiful detail, the tighter early style of Colin Wilson is an obvious reference in the main character illustrated above; while his colour work, with a populist tendency to buxom women, has clear parallels with modern master John Burns’ wash and ink work. The five Future Shocks over the next few Progs, alongside a prior episode of MACH 1, was to be his only work for 2000AD as his French career boomed over the 1980s. As with many artists of a slightly older generation his Sci-Fi stylings are very 1950s orientated whereas his strength was in historical  fantasy art, Dante would have been the perfect outing for his talents. Sadly no-longer with us it is a nice part of 2000AD‘s heritage that he contributed these fine pages.

Shock’d?: A bit of a damp squib after an effective build-up and marred by the terrible ‘Hunter becomes the Hunted’ line that should be barred from any genre fiction. Packer’s landing on the alien planet could have led to several different shock endings so that it is this very traditional reversal-of-fortunes ending is a disappointment.

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