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.