2000 AD Prog Slog

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Prog 1003 06/08/96

Last prog there appeared a fascinating article on the creation of new thrill, Outlaw. Apparently, writer Paul Neal pitched the idea to Tharg which he liked but couldn’t use because of its similarity to the upcoming Mazeworld. So instead, Tharg’s editorial droids decided to keep the things that he liked, the name and the sci-fi/western tone, and to work with Neal on a new story. Tharg stresses that the new thrill isn’t in anyway like Strontium Dog because Johnny Alpha’s motivation was bounty whereas Outlaw’s is revenge. Clearly Tharg’s memory is on the blink because he seems to have forgotten all about Alpha’s year long search for Max Bubba to avenge the murder of his norm partner, Wulf.

Anyway, the story that these great minds came up with is this; Five years ago, a teenager won a gun fighting competition which really annoyed everyone so they killed his family. He went on the run then fell in love with an alien and then they had a daughter together somehow. Now some bad men turn up and kill the alien and kidnap the daughter telling Outlaw (that’s his real name apparently) that he has to defend his gun fighting title or they’ll kill the kid.

What’s great about this setup is that it’s a fabulous example of comic strip contraction as it’s all done in three pages. Since that opening, the thrill has become a good example of protraction with episodes that are virtually dialogue free. The story follows Outlaw’s journey across the planet to the gunfight where he’s already encountered, shot and killed a grave robber, some guys who want him to take part in their alternative competition and ‘sand pirates’. It seems to me if this planet is populated entirely by arseholes it might have been a good idea for the kidnappers to give Outlaw a lift to the gun fighting competition that they want him to take part in so badly.

Most baffling of all to me is how Outlaw won the competition in the first place. When I think of gun fighting I imagine great speed and dexterity with a pistol and taking out your opponents with a single shot each. Outlaw seems to get himself out of his scrapes by producing a pair of great big cannons from which he sprays his opponents with ammo from a seemingly bottomless supply.

To be fair, Outlaw is only four episodes old so, who knows, maybe the strip has many surprises to come but Tharg’s feature certainly places unnecessary pressure on the thrill to be good.

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  • This guy's entire 2000AD output seems to have been during a period where I had dropped the comic.

    By Blogger Mark, at 8:37 pm  

  • Outlaw. one of my 'favourites'.

    For me this was the slide that lead to my departure. This was the Issue Bish-op Chose to make his mark. A big muddy rubbish mark

    By Blogger Victor Resistor, at 8:48 pm  

  • I think this was the period where Bish-OP gave serious consideration to dropping Dredd from the line-up altogether sheerly because of the stink of the movie, which is why it no longer says "Featuring Judge Dredd" on the cover. Also Durham Red received the same Alan Smithee credit that Strontium Dogs did, which is a shame as it was one of the better stories of this run. Outlaw was a mess of a strip that thankfully did not come back.

    The highlights of this run are a particularly fun Dredd/Death with Greg Staples on artwork using the ink and flat colours technique that looks a lot more dynamic than his fully painted work followed by one of the best Dredd one offs of all time, Death of a Legend. You should be coming to that fairly soon, so I'll keep mum about it.


    By Blogger kennyevil, at 2:35 pm  

  • Mark, how long were you away for?

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:32 pm  

  • Victor, it's cetainly a memorable thrill to me for the same reasons.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:33 pm  

  • Chris, I talk about Durham Red and the Judge Dredd/Death stories in today's entry.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:35 pm  

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