Friday, December 17, 2021

Comic Cuts — 17 December 2021

Could that be a glimmer of light I see at the end of the tunnel? After a couple of weeks writing about individual artists who worked on Action, I've managed to get back to the main narrative and I'm taking a break from re-reading 'Kids Rule OK' to write this. The intention at the moment is to end part one with the closure of the first run of Action, with part two looking into the reasons why that happened and how the paper was retooled by hands other than those of Pat Mills to make it more acceptable to retailers.

Doodling around on Wednesday while I was talking to my Mum on the phone, I found that the main narrative to this point runs to 25,000 words, so you can see I've gone into it quite deeply. For comparison, the Countdown/TV Action book had 40,000 words of introduction, and that, along with the indexes, became of 200 page book. I'm still trying to figure out where to fit in the artists essays—maybe run them with part two or as a piece in a later issue... I won't know how much space I have until I start laying out the main article, which I will be starting on early next year if all goes well.

I was very pleased to get back to the bigger story because I'd had a nagging voice in the back of my brain telling me that I shouldn't have taken time out to write other stuff. You lose momentum and all the details you're storing in your brain start to fade away; the worry is that you come back and have to relearn everything from scratch before you can pick up all the threads. Thankfully, I had left myself in a position where, on Monday morning, I was able to get straight back in to where I had left off back in November and start writing (about Hell's Highway).

The only frustration is that so many of the participants have disappeared without there being any interviews to fall back on. Anyone who has read my histories of comics will know I try to write from first hand account wherever I can — hence all the transcribing of interviews a few months ago before I even wrote a sentence. Quite a few of the people involved I've spoken to, but there are still gaps, the biggest of which is John Smith, who was editing Action when it was pulled. He has been the fall guy for 45 years, and it would be fascinating to get his side of the story. I have a couple of ideas about why the axe came down on Action when it did; I'm not going to go into it here but something significant happened the day after it was axed that may have made defending the comic further impossible.

Having just now read the opening episode of Kids Rule O.K., I'm worried about how prescient it was. I've used the opening two pages as a header, and no doubt your eyes were drawn immediately to the violent affray on page two. But if you read the Prologue, its a description of what happened in 1986:

Eeeek! If only Jack Adrian had the status of David Attenborough, we might have done something about this twenty years before An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and Frozen Planet (2009) made climate change a talking point and thirty years before The Blue Planet II (2017) made everyone aware of how pollution was destroying the planet.

Let's see what else Jack's crystal ball predicted...


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