Tag Archives: Barry Clements

FS 45: 2000AD Feat MINDY (& MORK)

26 Sep

PROG: 90 – KID’S STUFF

Script: Barry Clements

Art: Carlos Pino

Letters: John Aldrich

Plot: Rick Travis, deep space pilot for the Intergalactic Mining Corp., is knocked off course by a meteor storm and his ship spirals uncontrollably to the surface of a mystery planet.  Thrown clear of the debris he is found in by some small children and later falls in and out of consciousness on the operating table and in a recovery ward. He notes his mouth has been filled by some strange ‘breathing apparatus’.

Shock: The mouthpiece is a baby’s dummy. Rick has landed on a planet where the infants are the ‘adults’ and the adult’s are the children. His recovery is being undertaken on the children’s ward.

Thoughts: Barry Clement’s last work for 2000AD passes itself off unremarkably as a solid piece of retro-Sci-fi Shock but not one that would pass muster today. As with Clement’s last protagonist, Pritchard the Poacher from FS 42, Rick Travis is a fairly anonymous hero and the reader is never invested in his fate. His journey through the tale is completely passive: he crashes without any attempt to avert disaster, he is rescued without drama while unconscious and he gains cognition of the adult / child switch without any peril or endangerment.  Clement’s internal dialogue is somewhat mangled and lacking a unified voice, at once juncture he refers to the ‘driving proficiency test‘, at another he’s growling ‘some joker cut rough and landed me one‘. The saloon-bar Americana of the latter sit oddly with the formalism of the former. The art of Carlos Pino is it’s usual professional standard. The sci-fi is resolutely retro, our hero manfully square-jawed and the children a picture of Janet and John innocence. The spaceship does break in two in the most unconvincing of manners and a slight inconsistency in the strip occurs during Travis’ operation where adults (who would, of course, be infantile) appear to be conducting the procedure; but otherwise its a fine turn. The Future Shock and Prog 90  are illustrative of the change occurring in 2000AD around this period  as Pino’s work stands out as very dated when compared to the artists around him (Belardinelli going weird in Flesh, McMahon’s bonkers’ turn on The Day The Law Died, Kevin O’Neil’s fantastic Volg war madness in Ro-Busters and Ezquerra’s iconic Strontium Dog) and the tale lacks any of the madness and boundary pushing that Mills, Wagner et al. were beginning to mine so profitably.

Shock’d?: The children-are-adults reveal does come on a final half-page spread and is quite sweetly drawn with lots to amuse any young readers with nascent revenge fantasies about their parents; however a minutes pondering leaves one to conclude ‘so what?‘. Just as a viewer had better not ask too many questions about why Mindy is attracted to an undeveloped boy, albeit one in a man’s body, the Shock requires you don’t think too much over Travis’ predicament because he hasn’t really got one. As Kidd, from Robo-Hunter, was able to establish himself as an adult, although one subject to constant jokes about his infantile appearance, Travis surely would be able to show his alien hosts he is an elder of his species. In the meantime his peril is hoping he has an appetite for Farley’s Rusks and liquified food.

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FS 42: REDONDO Y EL BERK

20 Sep

PROG: 85: POACHER

Script: Barry Clements

Art: Jesus Redondo

Letters: Jill Raphaeline

Plot: John Pritchard, a countryside ne’er-do-well poacher, is making his way through the forest when he is astounded to observe a UFO land and two multi-limbed creatures emerge. Not realizing they are being observed the aliens take human form and walk off towards the town, confirming to the departing craft they will report back in twenty-four hours. Pritchard realises he can’t report this without giving away the fact he was trespassing and so decides to observe the aliens before deciding what further action to take. He maintains a vigil as the they visit and photograph a pub, port and Zoo. Confused, Pritchard finally decides to tell the authorities and leads the police to the landing site in time for the rendezvous.

Shock: The Aliens stay hidden and wait out the humans until Pritchard is arrested by an exasperated and disbelieving Police for his confessed poaching and trespassing. Finally they can board their returned craft in secrecy and when they do they look at their photographs and decide that Earth is a nice place for a holiday but a bit boring to live on.

Thoughts: Prog 85 has a few unique claims. Mick McMahon’s ‘The Cursed Earth Will Not Break MeDredd cover is in that select group of classic covers paid homage to by a later prog (Prog 1657′s Shakara Cover by Henry Flint). It contains the first credit given to a female contributor, Jill Raphaeline from this Shock, and it was the first to contain two Future Shocks in the same prog. It is also rare in that both stories are listed as Future Shocks rather than using another banner, such as Time Twisters, or just forgoing a banner and having a stand alone short strip, such as Prog 245′s ‘SuperBean‘ which appears alongside an Alan Moore Future Shock and a ‘Abelard Snazz’ strip which had, of course, graduated from a Future Shock to its own short irregular eponymous series. However back in 1978 2000AD has few such branding qualms and the readers are given two Shocks for their groats.

The first of two Barry Clements’ Shocks for 2000AD, Poacher is a lackluster affair saved only by being the Future Shock debut of one of the finest Spanish artists to grace the pages of the ‘Galaxy’s Greatest’, Jesus Redondo. The script is plodding and reaches a conclusion it foreshadows in the first half page as the un-engaging moronic Pritchard gets his comeuppance. The Alien’s sight-seeing is, as demanded by the strip, rather dull. Setting the story in rural UK may have fired the reader’s imaginations that Aliens could be amongst them, but a more dramatic environment than the Ambridge duck pond may have given the story some dynamic. Given very little to work with Redondo does a top-notch job; Pritchard is fully fleshed out, including a great pair of flares, and the drawings of the various venues visited by the Aliens are packed full of detail. Known for his turn on Nemesis BK II,  as well as The Mind of Wolfie Smith and Return to Armageddon, Redondo’s true star turn for 2000AD is the vast number of Future Shocks and other one-offs he has contributed. Indeed he rightly returned to the Prog in 2011 for a beautiful four-page Terror Tale with line-work every bit as detailed and sumptuous as it was in 1978. This might not have been the best story to kick off a thirty year association with 2000AD ‘s one-offs but it certainly is the birth of a beautiful thing.

Shock’d?: A shock would have been for Pritchard to devise some cunning way to escape the law and expose the Aliens, sadly that is not even attempted. The shock, that the Aliens are sight-seeing, doesn’t amount to much because there is never any menace in their words or deeds. A short line about ‘walking undetected‘ and ‘reporting back‘ is not enough to substantiate that anything is going on beyond taking photographs of zebras. The ‘shock’ appears about as thrilling as the Alien’s own conclusions about Earth.