Tag Archives: Steve Moore

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.

I SHOCKED THE FUTURE: HUNTER TREMAYNE

5 Sep

Hunter Tremayne, author of Future Shock 28 ‘The Juggernaut’ was kind enough to answer some emailed questions about his experiences working for the early Tharg and how his story came to print. His generous answers give illumination into the early days of the comic, the comic-shop scene in 1970s london and where a particularly stuffy Base Commander from Dan Dare came from.

Base Commander Tremayne takes no guff from Dan Dare in 2000AD Prog 20 (1977)

Q) What age were you when your story, The Juggernaut, appeared in 2000AD and what sort of exposure had you had to comics at that time?

A) As I am an actor as well as a playwright, I like to keep the date of my birth a secret! But I was a teenager. I read a lot of comics as a boy, but mainly American ones. Make Mine Marvel!

How did the submission to 2000AD come about?

I was working at the London sci-fi bookstore ‘Dark They Were & Golden-Eyed‘. Also working there from time to time was Steve Moore, who was writing Dan Dare for 2000AD (he wrote a character called “Tremayne” into Dan Dare, who socked me on the jaw for talking too much – I was a bit of a chatterbox as a teenager!) I had written several articles for British comics fandom, mainly Martin Lock’s BEM, and when I expressed an interest in writing a Future Shock, Steve Moore put me in touch with Kelvin Gosnell.

'That' Punch - Dan Dare Socks it to Hunter Tremayne in 2000AD Prog 21

Did you have much contact with either the Editorial Staff or the artist Garry Leach?

The way “The Juggernaut” was published was unusual. What happened is that Garry Leach and I were friends, and when I told him that I was planning to write a story for 2000AD (I hadn’t yet rang up Kelvin Gosnell) we went down the pub and came up with the idea for the story. Then Garry drew and inked and lettered it all up, I called Kelvin Gosnell and the following day Garry and I showed up with “The Juggernaut.” Kelvin was expecting story ideas and art samples, but here we were with a Future Shock that was ready to run, so that’s what they did! The only change they made was to turn the Russians into “Volgans”, which was a bit daft as the tank had a huge hammer and sickle on the side!

How did you feel about the published piece at the time – do you still hold a copy of the prog in which it appeared?

Pretty chipper as I was published at my first attempt! I no longer have a copy, though: I lost almost all of my writing and published work in a fire in 1991.

Did you read 2000AD before or after your Future Shock? If you lost interest in it was there a reason why?

When I went to Kings Reach tower with Garry the office was filled with middle-aged men bashing away at typewriters. I was a teenager and decided that this wasn’t something I wanted to do for a living. And writing for children’s comics was never appealing to me.

You’re credited with working on Graphixus ‘The Adult Comix Showcase’ around the same time, what can you tell us about that and did you do any other comics work?

Well, Mal Burns published Graphixus and we were big friends, so I did some stuff for him. I wrote quite a lot of other stuff, actually. I wrote some “When They Were Young” scripts for Look and Learn. I wrote a girl’s serial story for Bunty. The best of it was for an adult anthology comic called Pssst, for whom I wrote a ton of stuff. ! I think the last comics work I did was for an issue of Load Runner.

Did you submit other Future Shocks that never made it to print?
No.
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Do you still read any comics or keep a passing interest in the medium?
No. In 1986 I was involved in a comics project called Bordeline (which is how Neil Gaiman met Dave McKean) and when that crashed and burned it broke my heart, and I never wrote another script or read another comic until Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I read the sequel to that, too. They were great fun, but by the third Alan had vanished up his own rear end, so I gave up halfway through.
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You’ve written several plays and novels since your 2000AD script, what can you tell us about them?
Well, as for the novels, “Archangels” was published in 1996 and is still out of print. In Fear and Dread is a novelization of a screenplay I sold to 20th Century-Fox and is still available from Amazon as a POD book, though the British edition has some enormous typesetting errors that still haven’t been fixed. My latest short story “The Dealer In Strange & Diverse Curiosities” will be published in BIG MAGIC 2: SOUVENIR this Christmas.
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I have principally been involved as a writer with the New York theatre. I am a playwright, actor and director. My proudest achievement is VERMILION WINE, my tribute to great noir movies like THE BIG SLEEP and OUT OF THE PAST. It has had two runs in New York, and I will be directing a production of it next spring in Barcelona, where I currently live. This September and October the Riereta theater in Barcelona will be presenting SIX IN THE CITY, six of my one-act plays. I am directing three of them and acting in two.

.Is there a central theme or interest that has characterised your work?

Unrequited love and the Orpheus myth.

.Do you have any websites or ways for people to keep up to date on your current work?

My main website is  www.huntertremayne.com. There are also Facebook pages for me, SIX IN THE CITY and VERMILION WINE
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Many thanks from Futureshockd to Mr Tremayne for his time and generous answers,. If you enjoyed Hunter’s interview and work be sure to check his forthcoming productions.

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 14: RUNT FEST

11 Aug

PROG: 41 – The Runts

Script: Steve Moore

Art: Pat Wright

Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: A space freighter takes off with a huge consignment of wheat for ‘a hungry earth’ without realising that a pair of feral rat-like aliens, The Runts, have sneaked aboard. As the crew go into suspended animation for the four-year journey The Runts begin to breed and consume the vast food supplies. By the time of planet-fall the animals are too numerous and large to be stopped, the flood onto the planet and begin to consume earth’s bounty, both cereal and human. Their numbers swamp the army, their size and volume leave gas and explosives inefficient against them, nothing can stop their progress to eradicating all food, including mankind, from the planet.

Shock: The Runts ‘suddenly’ stop. They have eaten too much and their stomachs burst. Mankind is saved.

Thoughts: Seemingly an extended excuse to use an ‘almost’ dirty-word Alien species name, The Runts’ story puts it pretty close to the list of all-time rubbish Future Shocks. First of all Earth is so starved that they are shipping grain in from planets four years flight away, yet when they reach earth The Runts, presumably from a planet so rich in food man can harvest it, find so much food they eat themselves to death. Unlike The War of The World’s plausible deus-ex of bacteria killing aliens, which the strip clearly seeks to ape,  here the Runts’ own biology conspires against them as their lack of a hunger-inhibitor means they simply eat themselves to death. Yet we’ve no understanding of why that didn’t happen in their home-world. Perhaps a diversion to their changing while in space could give a get out of jail excuse for this but none is given. Even forgiving this huge plot hole there rest of the story isn’t much better; the idea that small mammals can sneak into a spaceship inside a Wellington Boot whilst it is being worn is equally ludicrous and unnecessary. What little going in the scripts favour can said to be the nasty scenes it indulges, such as a man being eaten alive by these rat-like creatures, and the manner in which The Runts explode onto the second page. Pat Wright, a veteran of Battle comics, turns in his second and final turn for 2000AD and his Arthur Ranson like art is adequate but lacking in backgrounds and fairly dull. The figure-work varies wildly from great to off. Wright was famous for difficulties with deadlines so maybe some of it was rushed, but The Runts themselves are beautifully illustrated although they do look very photo-referenced in comparison to other elements in the art. Either way the sins of the strip are all the writers and The Runts is a strip best forgotten.

Shock’d? By the middle of page 2 it is clear the runts will be ‘unstoppable until….’ so that a mysterious H.G.Wells type answer comes in the final panel is no shock. Nor is it a shock that it is a botched H.G.Wells type answer given the evidence that the rest of the story hasn’t been thought through.

FS 6: HANDS UP THE MOST EVIL SPECIES

7 Aug

PROG: 30 – BEAUTIFUL WORLD

Script: Unknown

Art: Ron Turner

Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: A massive starship drops out of warp on the edges of a planet responsible for a failed attempt to destroy every other species in the galaxy. The crew take evasive action to avoid the debris of war and the still active missile defence system. A crew member ponders why the combined allies had not destroyed the source of such an evil genocidal race when they had finally defeated them..

Shock: The ‘most warlike species the galaxy has ever known‘ is the human race! The captain tells his crew, and the stare in amazed agreement at the planet, that Earth was the most beautiful planet and so paradoxical it should spawn such evil as humans. 
Thoughts: A similar theme to both King of the World (Shock 1) and Food for Thought (Shock 2) of ‘man is a violent creature’ comes back and is nicely disguised by the alien species in the craft having a humanoid form, including a rather foxy blonde crew member in a 60s Star Trek style mini-dress, but, as revealed in the final panel, having rather lupine hairy forearms and claws which had been kept out of sight. That similarity of theme points to the ‘unknown author’ being Steve Moore however Peter Harris could also be a candidate due to the 50s Sci-Fi feel and the use of a non-relevant dramatic tension device (the attack by the missile system) making it strongly reminiscent of the previous Prog’s story Just Like Home. Either way the tale shares that story’s ‘classic golden era’ sci-fi feel although it lacks it warped nasty final imagery, instead going for a Gene Roddenberry  preachy ending.  Ron Turner’s art gives good space ship and even better Space- hottie; even if she is a wolf.

Shock’d? After a two page build-up of just how horrible the genocidal species have been it’s not a huge shock to find out it’s mankind; there is not a lot else it could be unless they discovered Santa’s home-world had gone homicidal.  In addition the fact that our role as ‘the most warlike species ever’  and the crew’s non-human form are revealed in the last half-splash page tends to lessen the impact of each – the impact of the lupine claws is slightly diminished by the heavy prose and the huge central image of earth, even though they are front and central on the page. However like Just Like Home the story has a good visual dramatic tension with the missile fight so it works nicely as a story if not a particularly shocking one.

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