Sunday, 9 July 2017

Serial killer.

Do you ever pick up a book thinking it is going to be about one thing and it turns out to be about something else entirely? Or as I found in the case of this new book by Pat Mills and Kevin O Neill several different things all round. Serial Killer was one such reading experience for me.  I jumped in believing it would be a warts and all very naughty but satirical history of British comics in the seventies and to a certain extent this is partly true, and it revealed warts of Cromwellian proportions.I also quite quickly realised I was reading something all the more disturbing for having its morbidly creeping goblin roots jutting out in plain sight. Just give those roots a tug and watch out for what you pull to the surface.
             Dave Maulding is a comic book script writer who has been seeding his scripts with dangerous information, such as how to make home made bombs, how to distill poisons from things you can find at home and all manner of reckless stunts. It is all very like a Blue Peter guide to self harm and home destruction. he does this quite deliberately in the hope his gullible and innocent readers will absorb this information and in doing so harm themselves. He is a sneaky poisoner of innocence who justifies his warped agenda on the grounds of seeking retribution for his own suffering at the hands of a cruel and malicious newsagent. Hmm, never thought I would have cause to type in that particular set of  variables.
            Dave Maulding is also having mother problems. The er,mother of all mother problems. She constantly pops up at the most unexpected moments, giving unasked for advice on eberyuthing from how to dress to how to date. She is also dead. Very dead, very murdered. Done away with long ago and buried behind a wall while her son grew up believing she had abandoned him for a better life.
              And this is not even the worst or most awkward thing which is happening to him. You see, Dave maulding has a compulsive fetish for.., Well, you read the book and you will see. All these things conspire to make Dave Maulding something of a remarkable shite of a human being by anyone's standards much less the dubious moral standards, or lack of them, set by the general tone of the world he inhabits. I had sort of expected a Rigsby-like comedic drama which also told a little known history of The British comic era of that period, and it was that and so much more. By that I am referencing the classic Rising Dampness of Eric Chapell's unforgettable Yorkshire television series. A snow globe perfectly capturing the seediness and run down quality that so permeated British society in those days.
              Millions of children grew up reading the dandy, The Beano, The Topper, Beezer,, Bunty, Tiger, Lion And Thunder and so on and so forth. Newsagents racks were an explosion of color and the main support for a universe of quirky and terribly British eccentric characters, many of whom were household names. They cost a pittance and sadly paid a pittance to their mostly unnamed and unrecognised creators. Yet change was on the way, in the years to come all these wonderful titles would disapear one by one. Its still quite a way off but the ch-cha-changes are starting to take form, creators are beginning to ask themselves questions one would take quite for granted now. The titles themselves are still selling in huge amounts although the hands on the rudders are cold steely and driven by leaden souls. The fading tacky Glam that distracted for a while, it is still the early seventies after all, is crumbling into nihilism for a generation that has come to believe it has no future. The readership, at street level, are desperate for heroes of another kind and those characters of a swarthier nature are going to answer the doorbell before too long, kicking the door down and setting the building on fire in the process. the pieces on the board are being vandalised, the rules are changing and a new game is about to begin.
                Read Em And Weep; Serial Killer is by Pat Mills and his creative partner Kevin O Neill who have worked together for so long and on so many subversive and much loved characters they have most likely formed a sort of creative telepathy and as such it is difficult to judge who has the most input on this novel. Who would want to anyway, there is no contest. They are equally to blame for this very funny and wicked comedy of terrors.
                  Its the first part of a four book series, a quartet of cringe inducing awkwardness and Carry On Comics hilarity. Read it and weep with laughter.