Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Weird inspirations

A panel from COMBAT COLIN No.4, out now.
When I was doing Combat Colin for Marvel UK I wanted to take it beyond the usual type of humour strip you'd see in British comics. I saw no reason in doing yet another type of strip that mimicked the Whizzer and Chips style formula. Thankfully, Richard Starkings and other editors at Marvel were quite accommodating.

Combat Colin started out as a gag-a-week half pager with Colin as a bumbling wannabe soldier, which was sort of traditional fare, but I gradually evolved the strip. First by running occasional serials, bringing in weird villains, and then developing the supporting characters. The old 1960s strip The Cloak (from Pow! comic), by Mike Higgs, was my biggest influence, and I was also inspired by Jack Kirby (hence the collage above). However I was also inspired by other stuff such as cult TV shows. 

You no doubt know that The Prisoner is referenced a few times in Combat Colin. Most blatantly when he and Steve (and other heroes) become Prisoners of the Place of No Return in a village looking very much like Portmeirion (where The Prisoner was filmed). 

However, another influence towards the end of the strip's run was Twin Peaks, David Lynch's surreal TV show that aired in 1990. Obviously some aspects of that show were too adult to put into Combat Colin but there were little touches such as mysterious symbols, sinister owls, the fish in the perculator, and The Giggly Sisters owning a pair of pet dogs... Twin Pekes! 

There are some other bits inspired by Twin Peaks too and you'll see those reprinted in Combat Colin Nos. 5 and 6 this year. I recently re-watched the 1990 series (still brilliant, apart from the middle episodes that sag) and bought the new series on DVD. Fantastically bizarre, thought-provoking stuff. Curiously, one of the new aspects of the new series... portals to elsewhere... is something I put into my Combat Colin strips long ago, so there's a nice synchronicity there. 

Of course, most young readers of Combat Colin back in 1990 wouldn't have been up late watching Twin Peaks, so I had to make sure that any such references worked on two levels so they wouldn't alienate anyone. They had to make sense within the context of the strip, but were a nod to the TV show for older readers in the know. No doubt some still found the whole thing a bit strange though... in fact I hope they did! Weird comics are the best comics.

You'll be able to revisit those stories in Combat Colin Nos. 5 and 6 when I publish them sometime this year.

Maddest TV show you'll ever see. Unmissable!


Manic Man said...

Big fan of the original Twin peaks, the film too. Got the New book on pre-released.. watched the new series.. didn't think much of it.. didn't like how it kinda shows the modern views of Lynch in his style compared to the original, really hated the major changes in some characters.. wasn't too keen on the 'rewriting' of past events.. and thought the ending was god awful.. the original had some 'weird for the sake of weird' but it always felt it had meaning.. most of this new stuff didn't.. Haven't got the DVD yet so I don't know about all the new bits that he promised.. but then, it seams more based on what is refered to as the 'soap opera period' of the original.. which is seen as the worse when Lynch had pretty much left the show.. and the fact it kinda makes the book (the secret history which details events of the town) unofficial.. and.. oh I could go on but not worth it ^_^ wrong place.

anyway, when references are done right, which yours always appeared to, you didn't need to understand them to enjoy the work, but when you do, you get extra enjoyment. Like I said, yours were done right.. so that's good ^_^ I've seen some people put in references which if you don't understand.. makes it all bad.. (as most people will say when comparing something like old Simpsons to new Simpsons..)

anyway.. good work and a show of how to do it right

Lew Stringer said...

I know what you mean about the stylistic changes between the old series and the new but I just accepted that. It seemed to suit the darker, dreamlike direction the new series took. I watched the new series immediately after rewatching the first and it was a little jarring but not too much.

I really liked it anyway, and actually cheered at some points in the later episodes when good characters had a nice resolution. Didn't like the final scene but I guess we're not supposed to. Overall it was incredible stuff.