Friday, 25 January 2013

Solar Wind

Space Year 2013. So my son Dylan turns 3 pretty soon, and he's almost old enough to start reading comics.
I had the occasion to show him The Bumper Book of Solar Wind the other day, explaining to him that Daddy helped make this one. It made me think of those days when we were making Solar Wind, ten years ago now since we were working on issue 1.

And I've been reading them again, through new eyes. I've never really been able to see it as a comic before now, I'm just too close to it. All I could ever see were the mistakes and the story behind how every page was put together. It seems kind of crazy to think now that we put all of that hard work into making this insane tribute to the comics that we loved as kids. All the work Paul put in, the hours and hours of work he put in and thought he put into it all.

The elation we felt when we won our award the first year we were eligible, when we were so convinced we would come about ninth we weren't even there yet, that we knew people really got it. We always wanted it to be a democratic comic, that anyone that was interested enough or passionate enough could send us material, from a mad little drawing or a letter to a six page comic strip.We loved it when people sent us stuff that really got what we were doing, and why we were doing it, we didn't really care if it was any good or not. Though they usually were good. Practically every strip in them has been mentioned as somebody's favourite.

But the work Paul did to get it made. I know the work I put into my small part in it. The ridiculous things we did for it, like borrowing my Grandma's wheelchair and wrapping me up like a Mummy for one tiny photograph in Traction Man. We went to extraordinary lengths to acquire a VHS copy of Condorman and sat and watched it at mine, just so we could do a four paragraph pisstake of it. The hours we spent trawling car boot sales looking for old Mandy annuals and props for the photo stories, and the insane things we persuaded people to do for them. Skulking round Hardwick Park dressed as Griefbringer and Harshmallow at seven in the morning. Filling as many pages as we could ourselves if we had to, sometimes nearly half the comic because we were only accepting submissions in a certain genre for no reason other than to make that particular themed issue stronger.

Learning and learning about storytelling with every mistake and every success.

They look like they could be a pair of annuals from that time. I currently had mine with a
pile of actual 80s annuals. It's such a fun comic. And it's so funny. More than anything we just wanted it to be funny, an enjoyable read that made people laugh and maybe made them think of the comics they loved as kids. There's just no badness in it, you know? It's got a heart and a soul.

Towards the end we felt like we'd taken the joke as far as we could, and almost everyone had their own comics by then anyway, and were moving off in a million different directions. I felt like my work was moving farther and farther away from what Paul's initial vision of Solar Wind was, and what I tried to help him with as best as I could in any way I could.

But it had come to it's natural end, I think we all knew it really. It's the better comic for that.

I'm telling you this because I think one day people might want to know some of this stuff about Paul's comic, and I've never really spoken about it to anyone but him before. I think it's a special comic, maybe even an important one.

That John Wagner, Alan Grant and Pat Mills approved of them and liked them is what makes me so proud of Solar Wind. That the people who made the comics I loved as a kid that shaped who I am today liked our silly tribute to them. I'm prouder of Solar Wind than anything I've ever done in my life except having my son.
So to my dear friend Paul, and to everyone who contributed to Solar Wind or supported it or believed in it, me and Dylan say thanks.

It's the best comic of the 21st century. It's the best comic of any century.