The Iasttime Chris Claremont left his i mark on Edinburgh the result was sheer l
chaos. Reality itself warped around the i 7 city centre as an evil mutant wreaked
A tarmac. Luckily forus all, though, his : superheroteamTheX-Menwereat
his terrible revenge on the world by transforming buildings into swarms of bees and streets into rivers of flowing
hand to save the world yet again.
The return visiton 6June inthe Science Fiction Bookshop is a quieter affair with no superheroes in
attendance, unless one counts artists . John Bolton and Art Adams, along with Claremont to sign copies of their new
Marvel Comics venture The Classic X-Men. The new title is a lull-colour
no-ads comicreprintingthe early adventuresoflheteam(expandedand i
retrospectively revised for better continuity with the regularX-Men
1974, ‘by accident’, and turned from a
minor bi-monthly into the hit ofthe
a decade, a comic that now outsells its ' closest competitor by about 100,000 copies while stillretaining great
critical acclaim- a remarkable balancing act. ? Although his pre-eminence in the
; field iswell-established—and he looks
well on ittoo; well-fed with a thinning
: theories (on why The X-Men took off the : way it did), I don't know if any olthem
and greying head topped by a JB-style cowboy hat— this New York Theatre i graduate still seems a little bemused by his success. ‘There’s a lot of
are true. They’re good characters,
they’re well-written, the stories are ‘ engrossing. It’s hard to say. I mean ill knew for sure what makes it sell Iwould 2
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With the medium of the comic book and its resonance and power achieving greater recognition in the adult/art world, I wonder if his long stint is some kind of shotat the GreatAmerican
: Novel, but. ..
‘I think that line is a crock of shit myself. I question whether
Shakespeare knew that he was writing
deathless prose forthe ages. ‘Hey,
rm: cu”. Bill, we got a commission forThe Globe next month, can you hammer something together?‘ And a month or so later you had Julius Caesar. . . You write the best story you can do, be as true to your own instinct, creative impulses as you can, and along the way achieve greatness perhaps.’ Semi-apologetic about the multitude of geographical and atmospheric errors in the Edinburgh story in 1979, he draws my attention to the next issue
of The New Mutants which ‘takes place in Ullapool. It’s an Ullapool that probably looks nothing like the real thing, but I couldn’t find any reference and I’ve never been there, so that’s the way it goes.’
Claremont plans his scripts ‘about 3—6 months’ in advance, but his plot threads and subtleties of characterisation can be and have been spread overyears. Involvement with the characters' lives and loves is only hall the story. Like the veteran SF fan that he is, he finds the big and awesome irresistible. Hopping across the galaxy to an X-Man is almost on a par with nipping down to the chemist. How can someone follow up a story in which an X-Man saves the entirety of creation from desctruction?
‘Comics are pulp liction,’ answers Claremont. ‘Melodrama is their stock-in-trade. Nothing wrong with that. The trick is to make sure that the melodrama is balanced by solid, down-to-earth, as-realistic- as-possible characterisation. Phoenix saving the Universe is no more absurd on the lace of it than the events of 2001: A Space Odyssey or 2010.
‘You top it in different ways. Marv (Wollman, Marvel writer) started out by destroying worlds and then having crowds of people running around in the streets going ‘0migod omigod, our world’s being destroyed’, you saw superheroes being destroyed, it was like a BIG BIG BIG moment. Me, I would’ve started out with a couple of people, a family. Iwould’ve taken a page or two to get you to know this family, to be interested in them. And then destroy them.‘ (Mab)
Flexi-veggies John and Naomi make an equally attractive couple. as I sexually compatible as their chums. ’Don‘t forget your knickers.‘ John ‘ cautions. well aware of his wife's randy tendencies. They are preparing for a picnic on Hampstead Heath with Jade and Roger. They have a son whom Miss Macdonald insists on calling ‘the boy‘ until he is rechristened Blot by Roger. He and Roger spend their day being ignored by the others. The picnic is not a success but Naomi manages to work off her frustration among the l rhododendrons with a handy gipsy. John ﬂirts with Jade. Jade plays with f herself. Blot plays with Lego. and Roger bumps his head and takes up i jogging. Meanwhile. the Beast. the eponymous yoghurt culture. symbolically (1’). significantly (1’). defrosts.
Sharman Macdonald is a thin satirist. as nasty as the small boy who fills his wate pistol with vitriol. Her pistol. however. squirts diluted Perrier. I don‘t doubt that her targets are real. what is in question is whether or not they‘re worth aiming at. ‘Bloody waste of time. Blody thing‘s dead.‘ says John ofthe
yoghurt, and for once I could see what he was getting at. Life in NW1 and environs. it seems. is catching a carton of Ski before the sell-by date. (Alan Taylor)
0 Going Critical, An Unofficial History of British Nuclear Power Walter Patterson (Paladin Grafton £2.95) The disaster at Chernobyl and the short-running farce of the Dounreay reprocessing plant inquiry at Thurso gives Patterso‘s latest book — written before the Ukraine was zapped — a pressing urgency. i Patterson. a renegade nuclear physicist. writes with technical I authority. scepticism and dry wit on I how the brilliant dream of’atoms for peace‘ has curdled into a sour i nightmare. He is especially scathing of the balls-ups that have dogged the nuclear industry‘s attempts at solving the horrendous technological difficulties which have surrounded the reprocessing of fuel rods. Patterson is no fool; nor is he an open-toed sandal-wearing herbal tea enthusiast. His calm sense makes Going Critical all the more disturbing; it reads like a better class of horror storv. (John Sweeney)
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