Tag Archives: Jose Luis Ferrer

FS 29: SnEEDS MORE WORK.

27 Aug

PROG: 59 – Tin Can

Script: Mike Cruden

Art: Jose Luis Ferrer

Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: WW3 has ended with total nuclear devastation, food stocks have never replenished and now a morsel of food will start a bloody battle. A scavenger spots a half-buried tin can and makes across open ground, dodging bullets from a sniper who is also set on possessing the mystery contents. The sniper takes down the scavenger and she comes out of the shadows, only to be felled by a throwing knife from her ‘kill’ who had only been playing dead. The scavenger shows no remorse for having killed the beautiful woman and makes for the can.

Shock: He dusts down the bounty and finds it is not foodstuff but a useless can of motor oil, it prompts him to laugh ‘loudly and insanely‘.

Thoughts: A let-down of a Shock and a low-point to mark the departure of Jose Luis Ferrer and his beautiful art from Future Shocks. Ferrer was to go on to draw the first three instalments of Sam Slade: Robo-Hunter and then transfer to sister title Starlord but not return when the titles merged. His art on this outing has a fabulous bleak introduction panel depicting the residents of a shelter dwelling looking destitute, but thereafter is very sketchy and lacks the scratchy detail he usually displayed. Naturally he draws a great ‘beautiful’ female face on the fallen sniper although she does have rather manly arms before her gender is revealed. The story however really lets the Shock down, the third person narration and lack of personality in the scavenger are very distancing and there is little to engage the reader. As a consequence there is no investment in whether it is the scavenger or the sniper who survives their encounter.  The ‘shock’ of the tin being oil not food really doesn’t hold up either;  we’ve been told that the entire population is starving however there is no indication, and no reason, that oil isn’t just as vital to survival.There is electric lighting in the first panel so presumably there are generators and oil has value. In addition quite why the discovery should send the scavenger insane isn’t really justified, presumably it isn’t the first time he’s been frustrated in his pursuit of food. Cruden’s technique of not personalising the character worked really well in FS 21: The Guardian but in this strip it is at the heart of why the tale doesn’t work.

Shock’d? The fact the tin can contains oil not food is a ‘shock’ in the formal sense although it doesn’t really hold up as shocking and of consequence. Would have been better had it been a pop-up snake-in-a-can.

FS 26: DOESN’T FLY

24 Aug

PROG:55 -  Space Bug

Script: V Wernham

Art: Jose Luis Ferrer

Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: On a distant planet and after months of drilling Prospectors finally hit pay dirt – oil to replenish earth’s diminished resources.  As one of the men heads to the radio room to call in their claim he is bitten by a bug. It seems to have an immediate effect and he collapses. Meanwhile an alien craft has also hit the jackpot with its mining gear and they too begin to mine the resources.

Shock: The aliens in the craft are the bug that has bitten the miner in the radio room, they intend to fully pump his blood dry.

Thoughts: Its hard not to like this shock due largely to the lovely work of Jose Luis Ferrer and the silly old-world charm of ‘staking claims’ and other anachronistic nonsense. However it is an unoriginal script, recycling the story of FS 2 Food For Thought and, more importantly, one that doesn’t manage to hide its shock. The transition between the Prospector’s story and the switch to inside the Aliens ship needs to be more disjointed, leaving the reveal they are one and the same event to the end. Instead it is fairly impossible to not see that the Aliens are the ‘bug’ immediately and so spoil any shock. That flaw, which the mysterious writer Wernham certainly could have avoided, and the similarity to the old Shock aside it is a fun enough old school Shock and finishes with a great image of an oil-well being built on a human hand.

Shock’d?: Sadly not as much as the strip hopes as it is clear the bug and the aliens are one and the same immediately and with another page of the story to go.

FS 20: VENUS (BLANK) TRAP

17 Aug

PROG: 49 – FLY GUY

Script: Steve Moore

Art: Jose Luis Ferrer

Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: After destroying an orbital ‘moon’ Space Station the Nivlek Aliens land on the farm colonies of Venus, ‘the Garden of the Solar System’ and demand to be recognised as new rulers or the planet will be obliterated. Faced with annihilation the colony’s leader ‘Mayor’ Croxley cedes authority and takes the insectoid aliens on a tour of the farms. In the giant greenhouses, stuffed with huge versions of Earth’s botany,  he shows them into a special Restricted Area.

Shock: In the Restricted Area the fly-like Aliens are consumed by giant Venus Fly Traps

Thoughts: An excellent Future Shock that disguises the terrible pun that lies at the heart of it. The Venus setting isn’t overplayed so only the keenest reader will predict a Venus Fly Trap the first time we see the Insectoid Nivlek. Moore throws a great bit of distraction into the story by having ‘Mayor’ Croxley squabbling with his advisors and turning the tables on both the aliens and his detractors by having kept the Fly Traps from them all. A fine example of compressed story-telling Fly Guy packs in the destruction of a ‘death star’-like artificial moon, an alien invasion, the political squabbling of the invaded politicians  as well as the grisly resolution.  It also marks the first time Moore makes mankind the victor rather than the victim after three strips of humanity taking the pain. Under-used European artist Jose Luis Ferrer does a terrific job on all aspects of the strip with his style strongly reminiscent of the more familiar Jose Ortiz.

Shock’d? It’s Venus, they’re Flies.. its obvious! Except it’s not because Moore nicely downplays the more obvious links and throws a great distraction into the plot. The shock may seem inevitable in retrospect but right up to the Restricted Area doors opening it was all still to play for. A well executed shock.

FS 15: THRILL POWER SOCKET

12 Aug

PROG: 42 – TIME PAST

Script: Martin Lock
Art:  Jose Ferrer
Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: Dan Aulnick has completed his first mail-order time machine and sets out to test it. He connects it to the mains and successfully transports himself to pre-historic times. Marvelling at his success he notes the proximity of several angry Neanderthals and decides it is time to head back to 2073

Shock: Dan realises there is no power-socket in the prehistoric times. He gulps as the angry mob draws near. 

Thoughts: The second of Martin Lock’s four Future Shocks has a significant claim to fame in that it is the first to mine the very enjoyable seam of ‘ah….bugger‘ endings where the protagonist’s own ineptitude leads to his downfall. Aided by beautiful art by Spanish veteran this page and a half institutes a grand Future Shock trope with the maximum of efficiency and charm. It also raises one of those small query’s whereby the authorial voice of Tharg, introducing the strip, seems different to that of the author of the Shock. In this instance Tharg gives the embellishing, but superfluous, detail of Dan Aulnick’s name and the date. while in the strip Dan himself references ‘Splitsky’s first Mail Order Build-it-yourself Time Machine.’ This raises the issue of whether ‘Dan Aulnick’ is a simple consumer or whether he is the inventor. Absent Tharg’s intro naming him as Dan Aulnick the strip would read as if this is the inventor and the machine the prototype – and make the mistake more plausible. However with Tharg’s intro ‘Dan’ becomes the purchaser and so all the time machines will have the same error. Which makes it just that bit less believable because it has gone from a ‘potty amateur scientist’ trope to a ‘complete failure of a company to notice a flaw in their mass market product’ Shock. This is, of course, a very strict analysis to apply and is largely irrelevant because Ferrer and Lock give us a great fast hit of the future of Future Shocks.
Shock’d: With a large panel showing Dan plugging into the mains socket in 2073 everyone can see the shock coming but that doesn’t make the enjoyment of Dan’s ineptitude any less fun.

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