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Moorcock & 2000AD (Nemesis the Warlock/Hawkmoon)

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  • Rothgo
    There are two editions of the coloured Nemesis as I recall: the 'Terminator' edition alleges a very limited print-run (already sold out), the 'Deviant' edition being what will go on general release.

    As to random sized arrows, these are fairly clearly a circular set viewed from a skewed angle: reminiscent but not the same. Said he with a very derivative-work avatar which I really can't defend!

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  • David Mosley
    There's a new reprint volume of 'Nemesis the Warlock' coming out from Rebellion (current owners of 2000AD), which is reprinting the old '80s Eagle Comics reprint series that Kevin O'Neill not only coloured for the US market but also added additional artwork to in order to alter the original UK comic dimensions to the standard US comic book format.

    Anyway, I've just seen the cover of this new reprint and noticed something rather interesting:

    What's that I see in the upper right corner?

    As I said above, it was Bryan Talbot who introduced the Chaos Star to 'Nemesis' when he took over drawing Book 4 (not included in this volume, btw) and it's been incorporated ever since (ironically given that Pat Mills doesn't seem to be Mike's greatest fan - see above). This design isn't *quite* the same as the (trademarked?) Chaos Star that Walter Simonson designed for Michael Moorcock's Multiverse with its different length/sized arrows but it's not that dissimilar either I think.

    Hey, maybe Mike, Alan Moore and Grant Morrison* could get a class action suit going together against Rebellion for their various copyright 'appropriations'?

    *Rebellion are issuing a 'Complete Zenith' reprint volume later this year despite GM alleging that they don't own the (full) copyright on the series; Alan's reasons for not completing 'The Ballad of Halo Jones' are well documented.

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  • Kyrinn S. Eis
    Cranky or not, Mike, we treasure these candid moments.

    Let's hope the New Multiverse series isn't as big a thorn in your side as some may fear.

    Feel better soon, I pray.

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  • Michael Moorcock
    The comic lifted so much in its early issues and seemed to sensationalise and simplify politics that I really didn't have any sympathy for it. I have to admit that it later introduced more interesting themes, but it still struck me as a mere extension, in many aspects, of the Fleetway comics I'd refused to write for in the 50s, which reflected simplistic notions I'd objected to while working for IPC.
    According to Orwell, whose arguments are reflected in those of the Rev. Cleaves and to some extent my own (in that letter, which I'd never reread until now) I'd have grown up a raging fascist because of the prewar Amalgamated Press (earlier name for IPC) juvenile stuff I read (including Sexton Blake) and that of course is demonstrably untrue. I now have a different view, of course. I just thought the comic sought for and found a lower common denominator in those early runs whereas, of course, I'd been hoping to see something more sophisticated. I'd set great store in the prepublication publicity. It's not an argument I'd continue, these days, though, because the comic did do some more interesting things later. I suppose, too, I happened to know what a knee-trembling fear of The Communist Menace Len Matthews and some of Fleetway's management had and saw that reflected in 2000AD. While never remotely a commie, I was a Kropotkinist and the management gave me a weirdly hard time the whole time I was there, characterising me as a communist (while being too afraid of communism to sack me!) which I've talked about elsewhere. I wasn't, of course, the only writer those guys lifted from, but they did seem to me to be producing a corrupted version of many of my ideas and the images I'd created to exemplify them. I didn't like that and still don't. However, if the only good that came out of the comic (if this is true) was Alan Moore, I have in the final analysis few complaints. Certainly it represented in those early issues part of what I perceived as a degenerative process. I'd earlier begun and abandoned a book on popular fiction which spoke up for a higher level or sophistication than, for instance, Judge Dredd, which I still think is crap. Bryan Talbot had the grace to ask me if I minded his adapting Bastable and Cornelius to his own purposes (in Luther Arkwright) and of course I had no objection and appreciated the result (though have to say Bad Rat is still my favourite of his). A French friend (who was an editor of Metal Hurlant, among other things) and I were recently talking over the problem we found ourselves confronted by. We were among those in the forefront of trying to marry 'high' and 'low' arts, producing popular tools with which to identify and confront things we considered social ills and getting rid of what we regarded as artificial boundaries. What we now wonder is did our idealism lead to some sort of corrupting process -- or at least did we help give that process a vocabulary, some sort of intellectual respectability ? I'd already begun to try to address this problem in Barbarella and the Anxious Frenchman in NW circa 1968. Anyway, I thought most of what the comics guys were claiming was pretentious crap, justifying their own deep vulgarity and creative bankruptcy
    -- merely changing the scenery and language but not the essential approach of what I'd hated in the likes of Battler Britton. Though I know this wasn't the perception of the kids of the day, many of whom went on to do things I enjoyed, I thought much of what was going on at IPC and Marvel was just a way of dressing up the mixture as before, sometimes with a dash or more of sentimentality added. I was hoping for something new, more genuinely confrontational and, I suppose, more inventive than Pat Mills and his guys could produce. I'd wanted to see real advance (of the kind exemplified today by Alan Moore) not another whirl of the same old merry-go-round. As someone who's seen so much of his work lifted and turned into something cruder by alleged admirers, this is something I might one day also try to address. It's something Alan and I have touched on in conversation. He's one of the few who's claimed me as inspiration whom I'm proud to be associated with, precisely because he did take certain ideas and make more of them -- inspiring me and others in his turn. As far as my disappointment is concerned, an example I've offered in the past is Warlord of the Air which, especially in the hands of certain comics guys, just became at best a set of 'cool' images offering conventional 'attacks' on conventional subjects. I had a specific intention there, mostly to take a look at 'benign imperialism' and the way it was justified by the left -- the bent idealism which set such store in 'airmen' (cf Rex Warner's The Aerodrome -- Warner had some of the same concerns).
    Xeroxing never seemed much of an homage to me...
    I'm often more reconciled to this than I am at this precise moment when my neuropathy seems to be making me decidedly cranky! Usually, I don't talk too much about my disappointments but prefer to dwell on what I like. And, of course, there is much that I like about modern comics. Most of the stuff remains derivative crap, however, in my view. And of course always was. I produced my share of it.
    Last edited by Michael Moorcock; 01-01-2008, 07:32 PM.

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  • David Mosley
    started a topic Moorcock & 2000AD (Nemesis the Warlock/Hawkmoon)

    Moorcock & 2000AD (Nemesis the Warlock/Hawkmoon)

    Having got The Complete Nemesis the Warlock Volume 1 for Christmas, I noted with interest Pat Mills' comments in his Introduction that one strip, The Sword Sinister featuring a character called Olric, was a 'homage' to Michael Moorcock "which I felt long overdue given his comments about 2000AD in The Guardian when I launched the comic." Given that the Nemesis the Warlock features other Moorcockian tropes such as an evil mask-wearing Empire, an alien as 'hero' (cf. Hawkmoon) and Chaos vs. Law I somewhat naively assumed Mills meant the comment good-naturedly, but it turns out - from an unrelated search on Nemesis at the 2000ADonline forums - that far from being supportive of the new comic (as I supposed), Mike was quite critical of its content.

    Thanks to the 2000AD forums I can provide some background on this episode. Initially, there was an article in The Guardian on the launch of 2000AD which I reproduce below (with Grauniad spelling mistakes intact):

    Originally posted by The Guardian, Monday, 21st February 1977

    The themes of the British children's comIc take a controversial 20 year leap forward today with the launch of an adventure strip based on a cold war instead of a NazI scenario

    The comic, 2000AD, is published by the lnternational Publishing Corporation, and aimed at an audience of about 1.5 million children aged 8-14, shows a BBC newscaster (closely resembling Angela Rippon announcing the invasion of Britain by the Volgan Republic of Asia ; a thermonuclear strike from underground silos on a Midlands town ; and Marshal Vashkov, leader of the Volgans, ordering the execution of a Prime Minister looking much like Mrs Margaret Thatcher on the steps of St Paul's.

    A Side attraction of 20000AD is its revival of Dan Dare as an "abrasive" spaceman shorn, according to the publisher Johnny Johnson, of the "rather prissy, head-prefect mannerisms" he displayed in Eagle comic 25 years ago.

    But the new departure in the comic is its combination of what it calls "future shock" with a spicing of contemporary actuality in the strip Invasion. A stricken King Charles III waits on an airstrlp to be flown to exile In Canada - leaving the hero, a defiant lorry driver called Savage, to take on in future lnstalments (sic) the "invaders who destroyed his home, his family, his country."

    The strip opens under a facsimile of the Daily Mirror masthead ; "The NATO ring of steel around the Volgan frontier is shattered on a thousand mile front." The Soviet Embassy in London, representing the only Eurasian country with a long NATO frontier and a tradition of Volga boatmen, did not want to make a formal comment on a copy of the comic, but Mr Valery Zemskov, its press counsellor, offered a personal comment: "It is not an embassy's business to analyse children's comics. But this comic does not surprise me at all since it provides another example of what some people are doing constantly and continuously - to whip up war hysteria, to breed distrust in children's minds towards other countries which they hardly know.

    "We do not see our country in this comic strip. Actually, it does not matter which country this comic reminds us of. It is a matter of principle that children should be educated in the appropriate atmosphere, free from hatred towards other people, to give them the sense of confidence and stability which is so important for them to become rational and sensible people when they grow up. Any educationist would share this personal opinion of mine."

    Mr Nicholas Tucker, lecturer in developmental psychology at Sussex University has recently voiced worry about the tendency of comics to hark back to the second world war. He was pleased that at least IPEC (sic) had not drawn the Volgans with slit eyes. "One is glad that a comic is trying its hand at another story. The trouble is that, if you set these things in the future, even a child can see what a depressing prospect it is. I don't think children want to read about thermo-nuclear war.

    "If you go back to the past, you are stuck with the old Nazi theme. If you are in a political union with a country like Germany, it's embarrassing to be pumping out propoganda against it in comics. You are caught in a cleft stick - unless you abandon this particular form of violence. The only way out is for somebody to try a new form of adventure more in keeping with our own situation, as the Goons and Monty Python did with humour."

    Mr Bob Edmands, of Great Baddow, Essex, comic collector, said: "There is a very strong hint that the Volgans are associated with Russia. I am not sure that it is progress if British comics are swapping their World War II obsession for cold war paranoia." He found the new Dan Dare, drawn with a Dr. Spock (sic) hairstyle, "a very rootless character, just another cipher." The strip was thin on technical explanations of the space technology which had made it popular in Eagle. It tended towards the modern cult of the amoral, ruthless comic hero which a lot of people found mildly disturbing.

    While the resemblances to Mrs Thatcher and Miss Rippon haye (sic) been noted with private glee by some IPC staff, the corporation says officially that the strip is not meant to echo existing people or a real overseas country. The name Vulgans was considered for the invaders, but it was thought unsatisfactory.

    IPC is confident that its Dan Dare is a valid hero for children unburdened by nostalgia for the original. Although 2000AD is officially published today, it first hit shops on Saturday and was a sell-out in some areas of the South-east --- party (sic) because each copy gave away a flying toy worth more than the cost of the comic. The real test of the cold war interests of British youth will come in future weeks.
    An Editorial followed the next day:
    Originally posted by The Guardian, Tuesday, 22nd February

    The Obergruppenfuehrers of yesteryear, like the chinks who ravaged Korea are just about due to be stood down. Zay have been meetink zee English schweinhunds insatiable appetite for glorious war and insular superiority for more than a generation. It is some other barbarians turn to test the British mettle and die screaming for mercy in the attempt. Not having another obvious war to turn to at the moment, IPC has invented one, in which the Russians, thinly disguised as Volgans, obliterate Birmingham with a 50-megaton bomb, end Angela Rippons final broadcast at the point of a bayonet and kill Mrs Thatcher on teh steps of the peoples tribunal of St Pauls. It may or may not do the kids any harm. They are pretty impervious by now. But AD 2000 is probably not what the signatories had in mind when they extolled cultural contacts and cooperation between the media in the (forgive us for being prissy) Helsinki agreement.

    The Russians accepted certain obligations which they may not discharge as fully as they ought. But could a cosmic arbiter decide which is worse - to lock up dissidents or to publish nationalistic hymn of hate? There is no doubt that Russian children get a lopsided view of Britain, and other western countries, both in their schoolrooms and through their media. But it is a political lopsidedness in which 1977 is the early 19th century and back-broken toilers kneel to the capitalist oppressor. It is useless for Britain to try to correct these imbecilities if its own children are fed with horror stories about what the Russians are plotting to do to them.
    The original article also prompted Mike to write a letter to The Guardian, which appeared the same day as the Editorial:

    Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
    Sir,- For a decade between 1955 (when I was 15) and 1965 I was associated with Children's magazines, as an editor and contributor. Between 1958 and 1961 I worked for what had been The Amalgamated Press and which ultimately became IPC's magazine division. In the course of a couple of years IPC took over the three leading publishers of children's comics and magazines, the others being Newnes-Odhams and Hultons. Prior to IPC's take over these publishers had a fairly conscientious attitude towards children's publications. After the series of take-overs the rot in my opinion, began to set in.

    Oddly enough your piece on IPC's new comic 2000AD has a very familiar ring . The 'scenario' is almost exactly identical to one prepared in the early 60's and was the cause of one of the last of several rows I, as an editor had with the management (whose cynicism as regards their children?s periodicals can be extraordinarily and puzzlingly fierce!). I spoke strongly against the project as did a couple of other people who happened, by this time, to belong to the NUJ committee, as I did.

    Our objections - entirely moral, of course, and using no threats - seemed enough for the management to scrap the project. In those days I suspect they would rather give in than risk tensions arising to spoil that by now somewhat bland atmosphere of their corridors. Since then most of the people I knew who had any original creativity have left IPC and the quality of the children's papers has declined as, gradually, the old AP, Odhams and Hultons editors and writers who gave us a whole range of excellent (and successful) publications, including Eagle have gradually left or been squeezed out. There have been no knew ideas come from IPC's juvenile division for years - primarily they have relied on a barren imitation of TV subjects and of DC Thomson (Dandy, Beano etc) characters.

    Yours faithfully, Michael Moorcock, C/O Anthony Shiel Associates, 52 Floral Street, London WC2
    A second letter, from a London vicar, also appeared alongside Mike's:
    Sir, - John Ezard's article on the publication of the new comic "2000AD" (February 21) was the most thoroughly depressing piece of news for a long time.

    The thought of an audience of up to 1.5 million children indulging the prejudices of the paranoid anti-communist hysteria of current British society and wallowing in an IPC directed thermonuclear war means that we have in no way progressed as a nation from the anti-German war-comics that pervaded my childhood in the fifties and early sixties and which still sell at an alarming rate. The comments of Mr Zemskov that the comic was designed to 'to whip up war hysteria, to breed distrust in children's minds towards other countries which they hardly know' and that 'children should be from hatred toward other people' were most telling; how much better a vote of confidence in the future of the human race would it have been if IPC had pondered those considerations, instead of enticing its impressionable readers with 'a free flying toy worth more than the cost of the comic'.

    Or do IPC believe that commercial considerations transcend all social and moral ones?

    Yours faithfully,
    (Rev) Michael J. Cleaves
    Baptist Church
    Shooters Hill Road
    London SE3
    Of course, I was one of those 1.5 million children who thrilled to the exploits of Bill Savage's war against the Volgans (much as my father thrilled to the adventures of Dan Dare vs. the Mekon some twenty years previously). Originally, Mills intended the Volgans to be explicitly Russian - which, from a purist pov, I'd have preferred - but he was over-ruled by IPC's management.

    Mike, I assume your objections to the original '60s proposal you mention in your letter above were to do with the 'xenophobic' themes of foreign invaders, and I wonder whether this played any part in the writing of the Hawkmoon novels in the late '60s (in making Hawkmoon a German and the Evil Empire British)?

    Interestingly, despite Mills' apparent resentment towards Mike, Bryan Talbot - who illustrated Books 4-6 of Nemesis the Warlock - in his Afterword to Vol. 2 of The Complete Nemesis mentions how he'd noticed that the original artist Kevin O'Neill had incorporated the single arrow of Law into the Termite Empire iconography. As a result - and since Nemesis was a follower of Chaos, he gave the warlock a badge with the Chaos star on it as an emblem.

    I've created a Nemesis album for the Comics - Inspirations gallery in the Image Hive, where I've uploaded some relevant images, although I haven't yet added any Talbot related ones.

    Links to the 2000ADonline forums (may require registration):
    Fascinating piece of 2000AD history - 1st letter (from Rev. Cleaves)
    2nd fascinating piece of 2000AD history - 2nd letter (from Mike)
    COLD WAR TAKES A COMIC TURN - Original article & Editorial
    Lets talk about Nemesis - Summary of the Moorcock/Mills 'dispute' (this is what my search originally threw up - the Moorcock connection was completely incidental to what I was searching for.)