Saturday, 18 January 2014

Shocking Mister Scratch.

(From my sketchbook) This is Mister Scratch, the scarecrow king. He is a mysterious masked figure, as you can see, who watches over all of Belfast from the panoramic point of a field high up on the Cave Hill. He will answer the distress call of his hometown in its hour of need with his unearthly control of crows and his ability to do amazing things with corn based cereal products. Here he is putting that Deadpool character(copyright The Mighty World of Marvel) in his place using his Uncanny Comb of Calamity.FZZT!
                Speaking of calamity I am reminded of of my attempt to get superpowers; inspired by an issue of the Amazing Spider-Man that detailed a confrontation between himself and Elecktro ( in which Spidey eventually stopped him by webbing his wrists to his ankles thereby earthing/fuzing him FZZT!). I was knocked out by Elecktro's cool costume with that striking lightning bolt mask and the form fitting snugness of mighty yellow and green. As a child I had thought it perfectly normal to assume me and all my mates would grow to manhood and possess these heroic physiques which filled the pages of superhero comic books which boldly lend themselves to such outfits. Sunken chests, droopy postures, knobbly knees and pot bellies belonged in the pages of The Dandy and the Beano and not the full color fantasies that were America's greatest cultural export.FZZT!
                  After gasping my way, several times, through this epic confrontation I determined to get the power to shock others and to move with the speed of a thunder bolt(not actually an ability Elecktro had but it occurred to me, using the hard won childhood insight and wisdom that constantly got me punched, he probably should be able to mimic the speed with which natural lightning moved) To this end I built a pyramid of furniture in the middle of one of our upstairs rooms directly beneath a light bulb which hung from the center of the ceiling. Climbing very carefully up this wobbling Tower of Babel I stretched as high as I could, unscrewed the bulb, licked my finger and stuck it up into the light fitting. FZZT! I felt a slap that seemed to throw me on to the bed where I rolled into a gap between it and the wall. It was a very unpleasant experience and my finger had ended up all black and sooty. Yet when I pointed that blackened finger at the old wardrobe on the other side of the room nothing happened. This was very disapointing as I had intended to disintegrate it with an arc of electricity thrown from my finger. It seemed this was not to be my Origin story after all and I had failed to become the super powered individual  I longed to be. I decided not to mess with live electrics again as I had an uneasy feeling I had narrowly dodged a messy bullet. That weird invisible slap had quite put me off. Soon after I did become a costumed hero. Battery Boy. By diligent and relentless training I developed the ability to throw old batteries with surprising accuracy. Not quite the same thing as bolts of electricity I know but this was real world Belfast not comic book Manhatten.
              I do not have a case book of adventures to pour over in my midnight lair but I did once save a chicken from a fiery death. A mean spirited neighborhood boy had a live chicken in a wooden crate which he placed on a fire he had built in the alley behind Etna Drive intending to burn the chicken alive. I was really shocked by this terrible cruelty and I...well, I guess I sprang into action as Battery Boy.  I drove him off whilst pelting him with the old ever ready batteries ( Although I startled myself when one of them connected with his cheek bone. Not as startled as he was though.) He ran off screaming threats but weeping, as bullies often do. I carried the chicken in the crate round to Jamica street where I showed it to some workmen from the country who were working there. One of the workmen offered to take the chicken home with him that night where he would release it to live about his country home. A good life for a chicken he reasoned. I agreed to this and he cemented our exchange by giving me a huge biscuit his wife had baked for his lunch. Now I know one should not seek reward for good actions but by God it was the biggest ginger nut I had ever seen.
                I think perhaps the fate of the chicken was but an appointment with death but delayed. It probably ended up that night plucked and in a pot and that that workman had cleverly distracted me with his big biscuit. I am easily distracted. This may have even permanently impacted on my personality as a friend recently remarked I would do anything for a biscuit.
                Well there you go. Not exactly The Fantastic Four meeting Galactus. More Howard The Duck versus The Hell Cow. Yet I think it does demonstrate the positive influence of comic books on impressionable minds.