It's A Quarter To Three...And There's No One At The Bar, But You
And, all inebriated stupor aside, welcome back to Uncle Mikey's
spiked spoke on the wheel of Karma. Apologies for me being recently
absent, but periodically I have to make contact with my alien
masters . . .
Ah, I actually meant to say I have to attend to certain items on my
But absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, and by that I
mean the appreciation I've experienced at reading the very kind
comments which many of you recently made in favor of the efforts
which Kez and I have put ourselves through on behalf of these
comics. Lauren Bacall was right . . . it's all about applause.
For my part I need to point out how a great deal of your praise needs
to be directed at Mister Kez. There is no way in heck I would've
been able to leap over all the hurdles he's faced . . . or wove
through the labyrinths of bureaucracy and business with the ease he's
demonstrated. More than likely if we knew then what we knew now . . .
But that's all part and parcel of it, isn't it? This has to be a
Labor of Love. No one in their right mind takes on this sort of
thing if all they want to do is make money.
But, then again, if all Kez and I were doing was trying to make
money, I seriously doubt we'd be receiving as many accolades from so
many good people. I'm not going to lie: Money would be nice. But
the support and good wishes we've received from all of you have gone
a Very Long Way towards eliminating a lot of headaches we've faced.
And it only makes me want to try harder to make sure the end product
is as entertaining as possible. Thank you. Thank you very much.
And, speaking of trying harder . . .
Working in Adventure Fiction raises some particular questions that
you don't usually encounter in other genres. The one which confronts
me more than most . . . and the reason behind this post . . . deals
We presume, for instance, that Mike Mercury is a sensible and
rational person. One would hope that Doctor Beaker and Professor
Popkiss didn't want to put Supercar in the hands of a flighty
nutbar. Not only that but, as a rule, flighty nutbars do not live
long enough to qualify as test pilots.
So, in adventure after adventure, we have the sensible and rational
Mike Mercury leaping behind the controls of a sophisticated vehicle
and voluntarily putting himself into danger. Facing crazed island
dictators . . . wandering into ancient tombs . . . shooting down
airborne explosive packages . . . skydiving out of runaway
balloons . . .
This is sensible? Rational?
Hardly. Not the sort of thing one expects out of a calm-headed test
pilot. And Dorothy Gale was just a simple Kansas farm girl who
sometimes thought about rainbows. And Bilbo Baggins quite firmly
told Gandalf that the residents of Hobbiton had no use for adventures.
In which lies the point, or the secret, to all of this. The best
adventures are not sought after . . . the best adventures simply
happen! This is what Alfred Hitchcock pointed out in film after
film. Roger Thornhill makes a simple gesture in a restaurant and
ends up dangling from Mount Rushmore. Melanie Daniels writes down
the license plate of a handsome man and has to fight for her life
against swarms of attacking birds. Hitchcock seldom had to rely on
peppering his stories with two-fisted characters who leaped headlong
into disaster. He instinctively knew it was much more thrilling (and
oftentimes much more fun) to have ordinary people suddenly finding
themselves facing dragons.
Not that I'm accusing Mike of being "ordinary". Test pilots are, by
nature, cool and reserved and careful. Courage is what's called for
in such a profession, rather than recklessness.
Ah, but aren't coolness and courage just the sort of qualities we
wish to see in our heroes?
So we arrive at the genre of Adventure Fiction. The rather ordinary
Bilbo Baggins finds himself accompanying some dwarves and a wizard to
the Lonely Mountain. Dorothy Gale, the small and meek, is captured
by a hurricane and taken to Oz. In both cases these people had to
reach into themselves to find untested reserves of will and courage
in order to carry the day.
So it could well be with Mike. In the other comics it's not so much
of a problem. The agents of SHADO are clearly dedicated to fighting
off the alien menace. The officers of the World Space Patrol are
equally focused on their job of patrolling the interstellar reaches.
Mike is neither facing UFO attacks or invasion by the Subterrains.
One suspects that he'd be just as happy putting Supercar through its
paces and then kicking back with a little music and some peace and
But he hears calls for help. He becomes faced with dragons such as
Masterspy, or Harper and Judd. He feels the occasional tickle to
take Supercar beyond its established limits. Or, more often than
not, he ends up stung by whatever bee Doctor Beaker has in his
That perhaps is the secret . . . with Bilbo, Dorothy or Mike. Not a
character who starts Adventures, but rather a character who Finishes
30 December 2002, The 66th Post: UFO (the comic)
Good Evening, Fellow Inmates!
Completing our mini-series on Misc!MAYHEM projects with a look into
the proposed UFO comic book.
As with the Supercar comic, bringing UFO into this format presents an
opportunity for change, or at least upgrading the series. And, as
with Supercar, the question of course is how much change to apply
Off the bat I need to pour some oil upon the water. I want to stem
any rising tide of worry or concern which fans of the series might
have in regards to our plans. We're all experiencing, as an example,
the growing sense of unease surrounding the Thunderbirds movie
project which is currently in the works. Perhaps all of this is
premature, but I can't help but feel that this film is in the hands
of people who not only have little or no knowledge about the source
material, but could care less about it.
Allow me to point out that, with our effort, such is Definitely Not
the case! Each and every person involved with the comic is not only
reasonably familiar with the show, but is a fan as well. In some
cases a Severe Fan! We're trying to go the extra effort to make sure
that the comic book series identifies as closely as possible with the
So. What exactly can the reader of the comic expect?
Well, in discussions with the creative team (as well as some of the
fans that I've had a chance to meet in person . . . hello Denise),
it's obvious that UFO was a character driven show, and that the
central character was Commander Straker. While not wanting to rag on
people such as Michael Billington, Vladek Sheybal, Gabrielle Drake
and George Sewell, even a casual glance through the episodes will
reveal that Ed Bishop quite often carried that show on his
shoulders. In the annals of genre television his characterization of
Straker stands out as a dramatic classic.
It'd therefore be stupid to relegate Straker to the background.
Which won't happen. But the main body of the comic series will take
place with a SHADO of the near future. A SHADO which will be very
familiar, but which will also reflect the changing times. A SHADO
which will definitely involve Commander Straker . . . but an older
Straker. A Straker that's seen some changes enter his life. Some
ghosts buried, but some ghosts which refuse to go away. The comic
book will continue to explore the complexity of Straker's character,
and eventually we'll go down roads which the television episodes
didn't have a chance to travel.
Which brings us next to the other characters in the series. Ideas
and proposals have been bounced back and forth, and it's been felt
that, in many cases, there's plenty of room to work with. Meaning
(off the top of my head) that Virginia Lake is going to do more than
just pout at the instruments (or at Straker, whichever is closest).
And our favorite Moonbase operatives will be doing more than simply
touching up their makeup while waiting for UFOs to approach.
(Sexist pigs? Not at Misc!MAYHEM. We keep our pork where it
belongs . . . well done between two slices of bread!)
So much for the characters. What about everything else?
Visually the "look" of the comic will reflect the changing world of
the near-future Earth, as well as an older SHADO. With the help of
Anthony Taylor we've had the benefit of being able to work with Mike
Trim, who handled design work for the original series, and who is
graciously adding his pedigree to our efforts. This, combined with
the artwork of Christopher Jones, will translate the style of the
television series onto the illustrated page.
In terms of plotting, some interesting possibilities have been
discussed. Since the comic isn't burdened by the restrictions of a
special effects budget, things could be visualized that could only be
hinted at in the episodes. Imagine, for instance, an alien outpost
on one of the moons in our solar system.
Imagine exploring the history of the alien invasion of Earth.
Imagine new and recurring characters . . . human and otherwise.
The war between SHADO and the alien invaders is going to continue
within the pages of the comic. The invaders will face a SHADO which
will feature new faces and machines . . . but still quite capable of
defending the Earth. And the humans will find the aliens ready to up
the ante and attack not only with their standard weapons, but with
new plans and threats.
Speaking personally? I'd advise finding a foxhole. It's going to
Supercar TM and © 1959 and 2003 Carlton International Media Limited.
Licensed by Carlton International Limited.
Represented by Bliss House, Inc., West Springfield, MA 01089
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