|The Ace of Cups. Art by Scott Twells, letters by Filippo.|
Is it true? Am I down to only one blog post per year? Blimey! 2018 wasn’t a particularly productive year for me, from a comics-related perspective: indeed, by no standards was it an ordinary year, with too much else work-related going on, sapping time and energy for the creative process. However, a few stories managed to escape into the wild – a couple of Spencer Nero yarns and Something Else. Possibly. Here’s a few words on ‘em:
“I like men who have a future and women who have a past.”
- - Oscar Wilde
In ‘Spencer Nero and the Trouble with Girls’, from PARAGON #22, an iconic British hero faces a gender-swap, and anyone who has concerns about this is accused of being a Nazi (in one case by an actual Nazi.) What, you may ask, could possibly have inspired this story? Who, I reply, knows? The mind of the small-press writer is sometimes best left unexplored. (As is the mind of his editor, who managed to schedule this story for September 2018, perfectly coinciding with a certain high-profile media event.)
But, this being a blog, we’d better at least have a gentle rummage.
The basic idea for this had been sitting around for a while – to gather up some of Spencer’s former female foes into a Sisterhood of Sirens, and derive some humour out of Spencer’s mistaken inability to take them seriously. (As a nod of the head to the original title for ‘The Pack’, and to suggest Spencer’s dismissive attitude, I’d considered calling it ‘A Few Bints and Spencer’, though I knew I’d never get away with it!) At one point, there was going to be an entire page of Spencer just laughing at the idea of women being a threat to him. In the end, the story went off in a different direction, as a comment on contemporary pop-culture, though Spencer’s off-hand sexism slipped through in a few panels. I’m not sure any of the characters come out of the story particularly well – as is my wont, everyone’s opinion and perspective, including my own, is thoroughly mocked.
It’s also a pretty continuity-heavy tale, featuring, as it does, the skull of Ekhidna from ‘Spencer Nero Goes South’ and ‘The Paragon Paradox’, Veleda the Druidess from ‘The Hour of the Heron’, Mrs. Simpson from ‘Spencer Nero and Mrs. Simpson’ and Dr. Von Zero from ‘The Island of the Naztecs’ and ‘The Hidden Olympics’. The story also features Spencer making greater use of the Janus Mask’s abilities, first unveiled in the aforementioned ‘Paragon Paradox’: technically, there should be a story in between, ‘The Spencer Nero Club’, which really flags this up properly, but I gather it’s still being drawn. Nonetheless, I like it when a series has been running long enough that you’re able to include various callbacks and links to previous continuity – hopefully this wasn’t too disorientating for any new readers.
|Simpson attack! Art by Scott Twells, letters by Filippo.|
However, the story is a tour de force for Mr. Scott Twells, a gentleman who, of late, has been saddled with the onerous chore of rendering umpteen of my scripts into a wholly undeserved and vivid life. Scott’s got it all, artistically-speaking – a unique and distinctive style, a stunning grasp of action sequences and the uncanny ability to capture characters’ mood, emotion and personality. I think this is probably his strongest Spencer Nero work to date – I particularly love the contrast between his finely-defined characters and his more impressionistic take on the Irish landscape of County Kerry.
You can pick up PARAGON #22 here:
A French ‘Phant! See?
‘Spencer Nero and the Elephant in the Room’ was written in a matter of hours to provide an elephant-themed story for this year’s Ganesh-centric PARAGON Winter Special. As stories go, there’s not much to it – editor Davey Candlish originally suggested Spencer and Oswald tangling with a haunted African tribal mask, but somehow I ended up thinking about fictional elephants from children’s books instead. A quick check, and yes – it turned out Babar was indeed from the 1930s, and therefore the best fit. Somehow, Scott Twells (there’s that man again) managed to use my pretty thin premise to conjure up some typically glorious art. I don’t know if tarot cards were involved. In retrospect, the title of this story bothers me – it needs to work on another level, as well as being literal, and it doesn’t. Unless the elephant in the room is the British class system, and Spencer’s subordinate status to Alabaster. All right, that’ll have to do.
|Art by Scott Twells, letters by Filippo|
You can get your copy of annual here:
Now, the third thing this year has, improbably enough, also featured Scott Twells, but I’m not sure if it’s been officially released. The Psychedelic Journal, to which I’ve contributed in the past, has done tales of Time Travel and the Wild West, but has subsequently moved on to the theme of Wizardry. As such, I concocted a story about a real-life sorcerer, the remarkable 1930s Thelemic sex-wizard and rocket engineer Jack Parsons. Now, I’ve seen the completed comic, but I haven’t seen it for sale on Comicsy, so I don’t know if 'Babalon Working' was fully unleashed to the general public. For the moment, here’s a random panel.
|A bit phallic, innit? Art by Scott Twells, letters by Chris Mole|
Happy new year!