Wednesday 4 November 2009

Cloud 109 - The Fifth Instalment

Gina, Rabby and Cary are back in The Cloud 109 chatroom after an encounter with some particularly nasty steel toothed mini zombies.

Interesting aside for those of you interested in the provenance of the characters that appear in this ongoing epic. The character of Duke is modelled on a one time band mate of younger son Tom's, Mr Jimi Riddle, whose outfit The Riddles were an overnight sensation with bookings at the best London garage band venues, a tour of Sweden looming and talk of a distribution deal with Rough Trade Records.

Sadly they proved too much of a handful for their relatively elderly managers, whose memories of the punk era were at a variance with the hyper confontational stance of Jimi and Co, who would subject their audience to varying degrees of abuse according to their mood.

Managerless, carless and abandoned in the wasteland of chavtown on sea a.k.a. Hastings, Jimi with admirable chutzpah took himself off to London's East End and cobbled together another troupe of minstrels with no less a figure than Pete Doherty's very own Drew McConnell, filling in on bass for Tom whose attention was by this time otherwise engaged with a pink haired burlesque dancer over in Brighton. Jimi's still working on the grand project as I type and I can only wish the guy every success.

While we're on the subject of graphic novel character sources; Tintin's distinctive quiff was modelled on Herge's brother Paul, whose upward rise through the Belgian Army was tempered by the frequent ribbing he was subject to, often being referred to as Major Tintin. To counteract this lamentable state of affairs Paul Remi adopted a distinctly austere military haircut and took to wearing a monocle much in the manner of Erich Von Stroheim. The resultant new look was however mercilessly lampooned by Herge via the appearance of Colonel Sponz in "The Calculus Affair".

The best fantasies always have a deep rooted resource in the here and now.


  1. I always thought Dave Gibbons must have based Walter Kovacs on Elisha Cook Jr, though I don't think he's ever said that.

  2. Great to hear from you Dave, there's a lovely story from Alan Moore about Walter Kovacs alias Rorschach who was originally a rewrite of Steve Ditko's NeoCon snap-brimmed, mad vigilante Mr.A, who was itself a much more extreme version of Charlton comic's The Question.

    The following quote from Moore, gives a fascinating insight into the mindset of Ditko:

    "Steve Ditko's Question/Mister A, Rorschach is a kind of logical extension of that character but I'm sure it's not one that Steve Ditko himself ever imagined, in fact I did hear that someone was interviewing Steve Ditko and asked him whether he'd seen Watchmen and this character in it called Rorschach and he said "Oh yes, I know that, he's the one who's like Mister A, except Rorschach is insane."

  3. I heard all the Watchmen characters were originally supposed to be Charlton heroes. So Rorschach was the Question, Nite Owl was Blue Beetle, Dr Manhatten was Captain Atom, and so on.

    It's interesting that Moore has commented that Ayn Rand's philosophy is totally barmy extreme-right stuff (I agree with him) and yet in spite of all that Rorschach emerges as the real hero of Watchmen. He's the one whose dogged (no pun intended) investigating reveals the Big Bad's plot - see, I'm being soooo careful to avoid spoliers ;-) And he's the only one who takes a clear moral stand when all the others are being very unheroic (but political) about agreeing a compromise solution.

    I don't think I'd have him round for dinner, though.

  4. Yes I'd also heard about the Watchmen Charlton connection. I think initially the idea was that Moore was going to rework the characters in their original Charlton guises but with some of them getting toasted in the process and as D.C. who were going to publish the series had just shelled out on buying the copyright to the Charlton heroes they were a bit concerned, hence the rewrite under the guise of Watchmen.

    But yes, I'd definitely echo your comments on Rorschach.