March 19th, 2010
Long ago, far back in the primordial blog ooze, last month, we launched a competition.
I agree – I’ve always th0ught it looks more like a cat than a horse too. But it’s a horse, by tradition if not necessarily design, and it’s won the Knight & Squire baddie competition, so it can be whatever it likes. (If you want a bit of background, I nicked these images from this blog here which gives a good straightforward overview of the White Horse’s place in England’s dreaming.)
Everyonbe who runs a competition always says this, but I swear it’s true – we were totally blown away by the quality of entries in the British supervillains with ridiculous regional accents competition. We talked about the decision a lot behind the scenes, and it was almost literally too close to call, but in the end we went with Jacob Munford’s kliller idea, The White Horse:
The White Horse, a long lanky figure clad entirely in a ghostly, etherial white and an elongated mask. Mostly seen only from a distance but a close look the slow creep of moss is peeking across the costume. Speaks largely in hushed whispers and gutteral grunts (actually Old English, of course).
Batman is investigating murders in the countryside for whatever reason, dead bodies piling up across old ruined castles and the like. Clean murder scenes, except for the white horse symbol. Soon, he’s seeing police and tavern walls and street lamps with the same symbol. History and symbols as paranoia. He sees the figure of the White Horse around every corner, but can’t get close. Can’t track a ghost man, but the figure, idea, symbol is his only lead. He starts to research and finds that there’s been a White Horse since before the Normans.
The White Horse is to rural fields and countryside as Batman is to Gotham. But Gotham is rooted in the last century, while the countryside is riddled with ancient ruins, sigils, hushed stories and rocks. The Uffington Horse as a ancient, mysterious, perhaps sinister Batsignal/tribute/sigil. Hard to put a finger on which it is. Hard to tell what it is all about. Which is the ultimate enemy of Batman, right? The inability to pin something down? Until he does, of course.
We feel Jacob perfectly nailed the vibe here – something simultaneously historical, modern and timeless, with authentic roots in the landscape, scope for hundreds of years of adventures. Zom is going to write-up a Rogue’s Review of The White Horse just as soon – you guessed it – as he can be arsed, explaining with his usual insight and elan just why this villain is such an instant classic. Congratulations Jacob, you’re bloody brilliant you are.
Jacob’s prize was going to be really shit, but then I found something on my bookshelf which actually makes the prize really good. The shit bit (it’s not shit, it’s fucking brilliant actually, but I’m being falsely modest because doing so is a highly-treasured national characteristic) is the following progs of 2000AD, the galaxy’s greatest comic, now and forever: 842, 843 & 844 (all 1993) and 869, 870 and 871 (1994).
Each one has got an episode of Big Dave, the brilliant, shit lost Grant Morrison/Mark Millar comedy collaboration, with art from Steve Parkhouse and Anthony Williams. Fleetwauy got such flak for it when it first came out that it is never ever going to be reprinted, so these should have some interest for any trugeeks out there. Also some Shaky Kane doing his Kirby thing on Soul Gun Warrior in there(like Godland only ten years ahead, and far more out ther), Smith and Harrison on the seminal emo-death-fest Revere, and the delights of the Summer Offensive – Maniac 5ive, Slaughterbowl, Really & Truly. Even Morrison, Millar and Ezquerra on Dredd. Pretty good, pretty fucking good actually, for a load of old shit.
The icing on the shit, however, is my spare copy of Morrison and Rian Hughes’ Dare, the lush Hughes-designed Titan edition from the late eighties. The cover’s a bit creased, but the interior is in really nice nick, and it’s the real thing, a stone cold classic of po-mo Dark Age British Boys comicbookery. All yours mate.
[Jacob - this bit's just for you, skip on everyone else - if you've got any or all of this then please don't be too British about it (we're assuming you're reasonably local, the tone of your writing and knowledge of the Uffington thing mainly) - let us know and we'll have a rethink and come up with a different prize. Email us at email@example.com and give us your address. Also, pop up in the comments to this post if you please, and come in for a well deserved gloat.]
We weren’t just being smarmy when we said that the quality of entries to this competition was staggeringly high. In scenes of inter-Mindless carnage not seen since Zom and Amy were forced to share the same womb, we really couldn’t agree on which one should win. In the end, everyone thought that It Burns’ riverside ruffians Fish & Chip deserved some recognition too. Here’s why:
Names: Fish & Chip
Visual Reference (couldn’t figure how to post images. I am a cunt)
Fish: Tim Curry
Chip: Chris Farley from SNL’s Hedley & Wyche British Tooth Paste commercial.
A dandy and a ruffian, Fish and Chip control all fare and commerce on the Thames (that was their boat Dickie Grayson used for momentum in issue 7). They operate out of a swordfish-shaped submarine (shameless rip from the 50s Batman Movie).
If you cross them, are captured and brought on board the Spam Javelin, you’ll find yourself in front of Fish seated in a throne made of pornographic images. Chip will then enter from the shadows, whereupon Fish would ask him, “mmm . . . What shall we do with him/her Chip ol’ salt?”
Chip replies, “Heh . . . hehe . . . heHaha ha . . . oy fink ee’s a filfy rotta, Fish.”
Chip pulls out a pruning knife . . . two days later your body washes up on shore, gutted like a cleaned out cod.
You can totally hear Chip’s dialogue there. Spot on.
So congrats to It Burns. Not just congrats, but yet more old 2000AD shit, but even older this time, and not shit at all, but again, pretty fucking bloody good my friend. It’s progs 591, 592, 594, 595, 597 and 598. So? So what? So Zenith phase 2, that’s what. I’m having a squizz at them now and they look really good actually, the fuzzy old paper somehow making Yeowell’s swathes of black even starker than I remember. Again, there s a surprising amount of great talent on display elsewhere in these progs: John Smith and Will Simpson on the marvellous Tyranny Rex, Steve Dillon on Rogue Trooper, John Wagner and Colin Macneil on Chopper – Soul on Fire (who doesn’t love Chopper? Not the strips, though obviously, but actually Chopper himself? Such a cool guy. Who didn’t weep at the end of the apocalyptic Supersurf 11?) John Ridgeway on Dredd. Mills and John Fucking Hicklenton on the totally mental and amazing Nemesis book 9. A miscredited (got to be, right?) and stylistically embryonic Colin (Chris) Weston doing an Alan Grant Dredd. Some really excellent stuff there.
It Burns – pretty sure you’re a North American – if you have never red any of this stuff before you are in for a real treat. Also gonna chuck in a copy of that Nick Fury Morrison strip from 2002 or so, the one-off with the Mckeever Man-Thing story in it, because it was knocking about. Congratulations to you too chum, get in touch with your address: firstname.lastname@example.org, and also don’t forget to gloat.
That’s it. Congrats and thanks very much to everyone who entered – if I had enough weird old Grant Morrison comics kicking around then I would give them to all of you. Personal mention from me got to go to RetroWarbird’s Earl Grey, I loved that one:
‘But Earl Grey, you broke your own rules – you raided that bingo hall in the evening, not at tea time at all!’
‘My dear Knight, how stupid you are. The raid began on the very stroke of high tea.. in Calcutta!’
Stay tuned for the reults ofg the Iron Girlyman competition soon! (It’s not to late to enter that one. I know we said the closing date was last week or whatever, but we’re not exactly sticklers for punctuality around here, a s you may have noticed.)
Nighty night readers, and may all your nightmares have silly, supervillainous gimmicks in them.