2000 AD Prog Slog

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Prog 675

The reinvention of Harlem Heroes by Michael Fleisher, Steve Dillon and Kevin Walker is up to part five this prog and I have to say, I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. The original incarnation of The Harlem Heroes by Pat Mills and Dave Gibbons apart from all the lead characters being black was about team loyalty, pride in where you come from, good sportsmanship and respect for the opposition balanced against healthy competitiveness, all under a sheen of good old fashioned comic book violence. The new Harlem Heroes seems to be about a bunch of meatheads running around and blowin’ fings up.

The art is by the same team who drew one of the most enjoyable Rogue Trooper stories of recent years, Cinebar. Their work there looked exciting and dynamic; here, although solid, it looks static and plodding. To be fair, it might be that the I find the story and characters so un-engaging that it’s me who is interpreting the art this way and, actually, it might be as good as it was before.

Michael Fleisher is definitely a controversial choice for a 2000 AD script writer. Years before, he had gained a strong reputation amongst comic fans for his work on Jonah Hex (never read it) published by DC Comics. More recently, he wrote a limited series for them called Haywire which I did read and remember quite liking. At this time, editors at 2000 AD were vocal about their irritation at discovering the creator talent only for them to bugger off to America. So I imagine that at a time when the line is expanding and new contributors are required the current Tharg probably saw stealing at least one of America’s creators back amusing. On the surface, hiring Fleisher probably seemed like a good idea. My recollection is that his pacing on Haywire was similar to that used in the scripting tone at 2000 AD. However, although he observed 2000 AD’s unsentimental and violent story content he never seemed to pick up on the satire, wit, intelligence and investment of ideas that the best of them also contained.

This is why the new Harlem Heroes is populated by charmless meatheads. The big white guy with the guns? He’s a meathead. The moody black guy who leads the team? He’s a meathead. The guy who is good with computers? Unfortunately, he’s a meathead too. Even the woman; she’s a meathead. The bloke who runs the prison from which they escape? Meathead. The bloke who tells them that they have to now run around killing drug dealers? Meathead. The drug dealers? Meatheads. Absolutely everyone is a meathead… except for the accountant character. He’s a weasel.

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  • "Meathead, meathead, meathead, meathead, weasel". Nice summary.

    By Blogger Mark, at 7:47 pm  

  • Hi Paul, I only came across this blog about a week ago and just thought I'd pop in and say how much I'm enjoying it. Expect more comments from me as we enter the 700s, which is an era I've glowing memories of, largely due to being 13 at the time (it's a kind of eeire metallic green glow which may well contain strange and powerful mutagens, since you ask).

    By Blogger Joe, at 4:03 pm  

  • Why thank you, Mark.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:46 pm  

  • Hi Joe, nice to meetcha. According to my current rate, the 700s are less than a month away.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:47 pm  

  • There was a remark about how loooooooooong the harlem heroes series seemed.

    In thrill power overload one of the Thargs remarked that Fleisher was extremely prolific and would send in at least 1 script per week.

    Because of Mirror group rules any script that was paid for had to be used so 2000Ad was publishing Fleisher written stuff for several years after Tharg realized how crap he was and gave him the elbow.

    By Blogger Derek, at 11:23 pm  

  • 1 script a week doesn't sound especially prolific to me. Not compared to, say, Alan Grant, for example. Also, I would say, a couple of scripts and the years of material he'd had published before are enough to realise that he's not up to standard. So, I don't accept the book's explanation. I wonder if this is the reason used to justify the amount of poor material published at this time, Derek.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:27 pm  

  • I'm only repeating what thargs of the time said. Alan Mckenzie likened editing Fleishers scripts to "polishing a turd"

    Dave Bishop said "At least 1 new script would arrive each week, I remember them piling up next to Richards computer". Richard being Richard Burton.

    Steven Macmanus said "If you don't manage a writer you will find a script on your desk every day with an invoice. If you put it to one side think you'll read it later before you know it you've got 10 of them"

    Also Macmanus said that IPC forbid the comic carrying more than £30000 in stock, such contraints didn't exist under maxwell "They woke up one day and realised there was £300000 of scripts and art in the 2000AD office - months, even years of work"

    So, theres the words of tharg, make of them what you will.

    By Blogger Derek, at 1:05 am  

  • Sorry Derek. I wasn't challanging you but the statement that you were reporting on. The Tharg at the time should have ensured that they were on top of the scripts coming into the office. Surely the scripts must have been commisioned for the writer to invoice for them. If they weren't commisioned, then surely Tharg could send them and the invoice back. Sounds unconvincing to me.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 4:19 pm  

  • Oh, and Derek, I haven't read the book and don't really have the time to do so, so I appreciate when you contribute this type of report. Thanks, mate.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 4:24 pm  

  • no worries paul.

    Theres a lot of "he said she said" from the former occupants of thargs office. Richard Burton seems to get a lot of slagging but theres more than enough to go around.

    and they really put the boot into maxwell but considering the chaos he caused thats fair enough I guess.

    By Blogger Derek, at 5:37 pm  

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