Tag Archives: Mike Cruden

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 21: TIN MINDED

18 Aug

PROG: 50 – The Guardian

Script: Mike Cruden

Art: John Cooper

Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: It is the 21st Century and a small boy wants to go outside his house, his father agrees provided he is accompanied by the large ‘Guardian’ robot. The robot, with long flexible arms, constantly refuses to let the boy engage in youthful japes, such as climbing an old tree, citing ‘Negative! High Danger Factor!‘ The Droid does agree to go through the old abandoned town on the basis that the mutant inhabitants only come out at night and that he is programmed to keep the boy within reach at all times. As they walk through the deserted sector the ground gives way and boy and robot crash into an underground passage. The boy starts to make his way up to the opening he has fallen through.

Shock: The long flexible arms of The Guardian refuse to let the boy out of his reach. With the immobile robot stranded on the mine floor the boy will never be allowed to reach the surface, and in the dark mutant eyes twinkle…

Thoughts: Mike Cruden, in the first of eight Future Shocks he would write for the Prog, delivers a Terror Tale before its time. The simple concept, that a trapped robot programmed never to let the child out of its proximity thus traps the child, is well executed and, importantly for what was still a kids comic, aimed directly at the reader. There is no name given to the child nor his father, in essence this is ‘every’ child, at least ‘every’ reader, and his simple wants for fun, climbing a tree, are the same as the readership. Up until this point Future Shocks had exclusively featured adult protagonists so Cruden deserves a lot of credit for thinking to connect with his audience. John Cooper, in his second shock in three issues, draws his usual 50′s Sci-Fi styling and a wonderfully grumpy thwarted kid who scowls his way through the entire strip. Every panel features his  petulant unhappiness until, in out final view of him, his face is one of sheer terror and fixed with a look that ensures that, regardless of the reader’s age, there is a timeless pleasure in this bleak ending.

Shock’d? There is no real shock in the tale, just a fantastically terrifying conclusion that must have kept more than one squaxx up at night.

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