Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lots of Alan Moore in today's bits of TPO - Skizz, D.R. & Quinch, Chronocops and The Reversible Man. Even more Moore tomorrow as I tackle the genesis of Halo Jones, where Ian Gibson make some decidedly interesting comments. Got nearly 6000 words under my belt today, which is just as well because next week's threatening to be problematic at best. Into Edinburgh all afternoon on Tuesday and then all day on Wednesday for two non-TPO projects.

My deadline for delivering the manuscript is the end of this month - that's 120,000 words required in 22 days' time. The running total? 47,472. Quite a ways to go yet, methinks. Anyway, here is today's extract, coving the creation of Harry 20 on the High Rock. In space no one can hear you scream. In Harry 20, no one can hear you opening the spaceship window, it seems...
Another series that had been lingering in development hell was Harry 20 on the High Rock, written by Finley-Day. He says the space prison drama was inspired by the 1979 film Escape From Alcatraz, starring Clint Eastwood. ‘That’s very much what it was, the idea of a prison satellite. I thought that would be the next stage in how you get rid of people.’ Another inspiration was the book Papillion by Henri Charriere about life on the notorious Devil’s Island prison. ‘It was about sticking people somewhere so they’re out of the way.’

Robin Smith says the scripts for Harry 20 had been around for ages before they finally saw print in Prog 287, published in October 1982. ‘It had to be used because it had been paid for. In Gerry’s original scripts a character reached into his spacesuit to take a spanner out. There was a chase scene in another Gerry script – maybe it was for Dan Dare – where a character bashed out the window of a spaceship and started shooting backwards. Alan Grant rewrote that.’

‘Gerry was really good at coming up ideas,’ Grant says. ‘He didn’t know how to realise his ideas, but he had a real knack for spotting something and translating it into a 2000 AD story.’ Grant believes he was still on staff at 2000 AD when given the job of fixing Finley-Day’s efforts on Harry 20. ‘When Gerry delivered the first script, I took it to Steve. I said we can’t print these scripts the way they are – the sentences don’t make sense, the word balloons are way too long.

'Steve said it was my job to sub-edit it. We had a slight falling out about this. I said I had been employed as a sub-editor, not a writer. This required a major rewrite job. Steve agreed to pay me freelance rates to rewrite the whole of Harry 20. It was more to put right all the things that Gerry got wrong, I had to cut it by about 60 per cent because he over-wrote everything. My job was to put the scripts into publishable form, which was good practise for me.’


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