Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Who ate all the pies? Not Sam Slade

Well into 1982, chugging along nicely. Busy trying to untangle the genesis of Slaine, so will have to finish that tricky task tomorrow. In the meantime, here is today's work in progress extract...
April 1982 brought the return of Robo-Hunter, after almost two years out of the comic. Sam Slade moved to Brit-Cit, as Grant began co-writing the series with Wagner: ‘I was anxious about starting work with John on Robo-Hunter, because I had enjoyed his work on it so much when he was writing the strip alone. But I really got into it. Sam Slade is just a great character, the hard put-upon P.I. for whom everything always goes wrong.’ Robo-Hunter became almost a permanent fixture in the comic for the next eighteen months, with Ian Gibson drawing every episode.

The first story of the run was The Beast of Blackheart Manor. ‘We were censored on that,’ Grant recalls. ‘Throughout the story we had Sam commenting on the pies at Blackheart Manor, how good they were. He kept walking off frame to get another pie. All these people were getting murdered. The last episode was going to reveal as Sam bites into another pie that’s where all the dead bodies had gone. This was how the robots made money, selling the pies to tourists. But we weren’t allowed that. We couldn’t have a hero being an inadvertent cannibal.’

Even the most innocuous phrases could cause problems. Both Grant and MacManus recall a sound effect in Robo-Hunter being censored. Barry Tomlinson had taken over from Bob Bartholomew as the managing editor responsible for passing each issue of 2000 AD as fit for publication. ‘The original speech balloon on Prog 278 had Kidd saying, “Do something, Slade! I’m gonna pop!”,’ MacManus recalls. ‘Tomlinson said you can’t have the word pop on the cover, it means fart.’ But MacManus says getting approvals from Tomlinson was much less difficult than it had been with Bartholomew. ‘Barry gave the comic a much easier ride. The comic was so successful by then, it made him look good around the building. All the other titles were slowly dying. Rather than censoring the comic, he gave it marks out of ten every week.’

Target wordcount: 120,000. Current wordcount: 41,122.


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