This issue must have taken me ages. I was heavily into 2000AD by now, and who can blame me? My imagination had been pretty traumatised by a sudden move to public school at the age of nine, starved suddenly of mythology, baffled by "catalytic cracking" and "the ablative" and the absence of girls, sectioned by separate desks for every boy and separate teachers for every subject, sustained only by the scraps afforded by Mad Magazine and Oink. But then, in 1985, for just 24 pence a week, it found its salvation.
The late Massimo Belardinelli, just doin' his thing.
In fact it was struggling now to keep up. My hatred of that school had become so bad that I persuaded my parents to send me to a therapist, and of the one session I finally received the only detail I can remember now is me confessing my frustration that my imagination seemed so tiny compared to these guys'. How did they do it? Where - as Alan Moore was often asked, and possible went on to suffer a nervous breakdown trying to find out - do you get your ideas from? And it wasn't just the Alan Moore's stuff. There were the richly researched and nightmarishly illuminated worlds of Pat Mills, the surrealist panache of Peter Milligan's teen-friendly metaphysics, the aspirational shopping-mall dystopia of John Wagner's Mega-City One which teemed with poor, beaming, fad-chasing bastards seeking their fix of fun even in the cannon's mouth, and all of this served with wit - with jokes even - and monsters! So many monsters.
"Get off my back, Father!"
There were no supermen, or at least none I was interested in. There were wanderers, terrorists, deserters, smugglers and surfers, very few of whom looked recognisably human. Everything 2000AD was teaching me was stuff I wanted to learn, and to this day I'm still playing catch-up as a writer. (The scifi pilot I've been hawking around, subtitled "Prog 1", has perhaps as a consequence been deemed "too dense" for Radio 4. Which it is, but that's another post.) Yet for some reason Issue 7 of Power Socket was to be the last I completed. I'm not sure if I gave up, or decided to wait until I was better at it, or maybe I just started enjoying school a bit more. I suspect the truth is - and my "visual notebooksW back this up - that there was just so much out there now to copy, why bother sticking with a super-hero serial? In the Autumn of 1986 Dad suggested we take Power Socket Issue 7 along to show to my new heroes at a signing. I did. "What do you think?" he asked. Alan Moore said "Um, I'm more of a writer," and was lovely. Kev O'Neil (responsible for the image above) said "Do you lay it out first? You should try laying it out." And Pat Mills, to my surprise, turned out not be a woman. I can't remember what he said. Or John Wagner. But I've got the signatures. And all have remained my heroes.
And one day I hope I'll get to show them what I've made since.