2000 AD Prog Slog

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Prog 308

There have been some enjoyable yet modest little Time Twisters before now, particularly those written by script robot Alan Hebden, but it’s Alan Moore’s tales which remain the most memorable. Perhaps this is because his are the only ones that get collected and remain in print. This prog features his first, called The Reversible Man, drawn by Slog favourite, Mike White.

In The Reversible Man, a man lives his life backwards, starting with his death (or birth in this case) in the street and ending with his birth as a baby (or death). During the strip he sees his mother come back to life and every year he is demoted in his job. In the recent documentary about 2000 AD on Radio 4, a critic for The Guardian newspaper talks about how good this strip is, it being one story, four pages long out of the thousands upon thousands that 2000 AD has produced, pointing out that it predates Martin Amis’ booker prize short listed novel Time’s Arrow by years. (I haven’t read Time’s Arrow, incidentally. I understand that it’s a novel which is like a comic but without the pictures).

The critic (whose name, I’m sorry to say, I can’t remember) talks about it being, in parts, strangely moving, particularly one scene, where the character is walking along with his wife. Unexpectedly, they spread their newspapers onto the train station platform, stand up, have the papers flutter up into their arms and then bump into each other. After that they go their separate ways and he never sees her again.

For me, it was the end of the story which stayed with me the most. It finishes with the line, “The End. Well, not exactly the end. But...” First time around, I took this to mean that the character starts to live his life forward, but on re-reading it for The Slog, I interpreted this as his life continuing to run backwards in the womb up to a single sperm wriggling backwards out of the egg and, perhaps, beyond.

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  • Philip K Dicks "Counter Clock World" predates this by around some 16 years (1967). It's a crime story set in a world where the processes of time have suddenly started going in reverse. The real twist is that everyone is aware of it, but it's a manageable problem. The entertainment is in the detail: Dick describes a world where civic services are changed to meet strange new demands. Undertakers now don't bury people, but assist with locating recently awoken corpses and getting them out of the ground quickly; eating is private affair as it's accomplished through the anus by imbibing a nutritional melange; people get younger and more juvenile but see it coming, in much the same way as we view dementia. It's a great and entertaining read - I wholeheartedly recommend it.

    By Blogger Ken Davidson, at 7:46 pm  

  • Ken, I think I failed in this entry by not mentioning this book. I remember that there was supposed to be a SF novel that pre-dates it but I couldn't remember what it was. I did do a light Google search but nothing. So, cheers mate. I'll put it on my reading list... after hundreds of issues of 2000 AD.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:42 pm  

  • To be fair Paul you could probably coast through the novel fairly quickly, the style is easy-read, a bit like a Harry Harrison novel. Maybe use it to break up the progslog without meandering too far away from the fantasy domain? Christmas, mulled synthahol and a good book? ;)

    By Blogger Ken Davidson, at 6:26 pm  

  • After reading Valis, which I recommend by the way, I find it hard to beleive that Dick ever wrote a book I could coast through. :-)

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 12:09 pm  

  • To be fair, I seem to remember Amis attributed his inspiration to Kurt Vonnegut's brilliant, loopy Slaughterhouse 5. To be fairer still, though, I don't know why anyone was remotely surprised Amis stole the idea from someone else though since he is clearly lacking in any imagination whatsoever, an onanist so short of ideas that he's written books about being a writer!

    Also since genre fiction tends to date better than most 'literature', I bet people will still be reading Moore, Vonnegut and Dick's stories long after anyone can remember who Martin Amis was...

    By Blogger Tam, at 12:28 pm  

  • Yeah Amis is somewhat up his own arse - a phrase he'd probably appreciate. I mentioned this Alan Moore Time-Twister a few months ago (real-time) and one of my fellow contributors posted a link to a quality scan of the story. Just checked and it's been taken down. Bah...

    By Blogger Stavros, at 8:19 pm  

  • Of course, with his casual disregard to the forward movement of time thanks to being a magic man, Moore could have stolen the idea from Amis

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 9:35 pm  

  • http://community.livejournal.com/scans_daily/2963275.html

    there ya go :D

    By Blogger Drhoz, at 9:08 am  

  • Definitely one of the best 2000AD stories ever.

    By Blogger dmstarz, at 5:27 pm  

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