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Author Topic: Pat Mills on Action article.  (Read 3358 times)

Frank

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Re: Pat Mills on Action article.
« Reply #45 on: 03 September, 2016, 09:22:12 am »
.
I started Steve MacManus's book last night:


"To my mind, 2000ad was not a science-fiction comic, it was a comic that took traditional adventure stereotypes and recast them in the future .... call it what you will, but it wasn't science fiction. For example, the early issues featured future cops, future sportsmen, future warriors. The comic explored time travel and featured robots and cyborgs, but the thrills came from the heroes and the situations they found themselves in, not from the dull thud of hard science fiction"
p.78. McManus, Mighty One, 2000ad, 2016


McManus is using a very hard line definition of what sci-fi is*, favouring the dense and cerebral to the exclusion of the pulpy fantasy that makes up much of the genre, but he makes a good point regarding what the point of the story is.

The GSVs and drones are so specific and central to the narrative drive and themes of a Banks Culture novel, it's impossible to imagine them being rewritten as Viking adventures (for example), with long boats and slaves taking the place of sci-fi tech.

John Probe, on the other hand, could easily be transformed into a superhero (with a magic crystal that gives him powers) by the application of patch paper on just a few speech balloons. The tech element is window dressing, an aesthetic upon which the story is hung.

Whereas Blade Runner and Ex-Machina explore what it is to be an artificially created person, Mach-1 explores what it's like to karate kick someone really hard in the face.


* Discussing the VCs, McManus goes on to clarify what he means by opining that Gerry Finley-Day's experience of writing WWII strips for Battle "could be applied to this similar scenario, but set in the future" (p.124).

Will Cooling

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Re: Pat Mills on Action article.
« Reply #46 on: 03 September, 2016, 09:28:32 am »
Time-travel? Man / machine symbiosis? Is that not sci-fi? You’re correct to say that much of the prog wasn’t particularly Star Wars-y – I'd suggest that was something to be thankful for.

I think early 2000ad was a bit Star Wars-y, in that both used stock sci-fi ideas as a springboard to tell a familiar story, the appeal of which was primarily character and action*.

The episodes of Flesh I've read weren't really about time travel - they were about cowboys being eaten by dinosaurs. The stories were certainly made possible by a traditional sci-fi concept, but that was just the initial impetus.

Maybe they came back to time travel ideas later, and Claw Carver discovered he was his own great-grandfather or something, but I haven't read those episodes.


* I suppose the sci-fi/not sci-fi debate can be summed up by the question of whether Predator is a sci-fi film or an action movie into which a single sci-fi element has been introduced. If lobbing an alien into a recognisable genre movie turns it into sci-fi, then Superman and Alf are sci-fi

Flesh is a sci-fi story. Unless you can find another genre for time-travelling cowboys sending meat back to the 23rd century from the Cretaceous. The story doesn't have to be about time-travel per se, it can be the element that brackets the story but that still qualifies it.

MACH 1 features an artificially modified superhuman with an artificial intelligence implanted into his body.

Interesting you don't mention Judge Dredd amongst the first twelve issues. Is that not sci-fi also?

Superman would also qualify. Predator too, although it straddles the line between sci-fi and action flick. Still qualifies. Alf is a sitcom with a sci-fi element. Because aliens.

Ignoring Dredd is even crazier when you consider that Pat was the one who pushed the strip further into future and ran with the Carlos' outlandish designs. He commissioned a poster of Mega-City One because he loved how Carlos drew the futuristic buildings for Christ's Sake!
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Frank

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Re: Pat Mills on Action article.
« Reply #47 on: 03 September, 2016, 10:08:05 am »
Ignoring Dredd is even crazier when you consider that Pat was the one who pushed the strip further into future and ran with the Carlos' outlandish designs.

See my remarks above about the difference between window dressing and theme*.

Maybe it would help if we made a distinction between genre and story. Temporal location and technology mean many of the launch line up strips can be accommodated within the sci-fi genre. That doesn't mean they're sci-fi stories.

They're heist stories, sports stories, creature features, and invasion stories.


* Those massive blocks would eventually become thematically important, but not for another 3 and a half years, and in the hands of Wagner and Grant

Greg M.

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Re: Pat Mills on Action article.
« Reply #48 on: 03 September, 2016, 10:14:29 am »
So, by your definition, which 2000AD stories are sci-fi stories? Not VCs / Bad Company / Rogue Trooper / Halo Jones Bk 3, which are all war stories. Not Strontium Dog - western. Seems John Smith might be the go-to chap for sf concepts - Firekind and Indigo Prime: Killing Time probably meet your criteria. Moore's Chronocops? Innumerable Future Shocks and Time Twisters fit the bill. Personally, it all seems a bit of a reductive exercise though.

Jim_Campbell

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Re: Pat Mills on Action article.
« Reply #49 on: 03 September, 2016, 11:14:10 am »
Almost all literature, genre or otherwise, is really about something else. If we're going to ignore 'window dressing' and define a work in terms of subtext, metaphor or allegory, then we end up in a stupidly reductive cycle of stripping away layers until just about everything is really just a story about the human condition. If we have a definition of science fiction that excludes the examples I mentioned above, then, I'm sorry, it's a stupid definition.
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JOE SOAP

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Re: Pat Mills on Action article.
« Reply #50 on: 03 September, 2016, 11:19:50 am »

I'm not concerned about genre definitions as long as something entertains or stimulates but if it mattered to me there could be certain definition of strict or hard Sci-Fi that is dependent on whether a new technology, setting or discovery created a moral/philosophical conundrum that previously didn't exist for us as evolving humans e.g. the artificial intelligence and cybernetics of Blade Runner; space-travel and encounters with unfathomable higher beings in 2001. Of course it's a shifting perimeter as there's always the idea that we're now living in what in the past would be considered a Sci-Fi world.

2000AD did act as a wolf in sheep's clothing using the skin of Sci-Fi to tell more layered action stories often with political and satirical overtones and the element of futurism adds a cosy distance with a heightened, attractive aesthetic for an action comic, but it was never too concerned with being hard Sci-Fi because as a definition that gets limiting pretty quickly so it's a broader definition of sci-fi that involves certain aesthetic features.

As always, this is all by degrees and there's the constant coalescing with other genres, but barring Sci-Fi props like time-stretchers, dimension jumps and mutant psychics, plenty of Judge Dredd stories could easily have a modern day setting and still work and the central theme in Flesh is at its core ecological and functioned more as latent subtext in a man tames beast story - but 2000AD has always been irreverent and it just looks better to have Joe firing 6 types of bullets while riding a suped-up chopper and have time-travelling cowboys fighting dinosaurs.



Magnetica

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Re: Pat Mills on Action article.
« Reply #51 on: 03 September, 2016, 12:15:20 pm »
For me it all depends on your definition of the term.

For example I used to read SFX magazine and they had a pretty broad definition of what they would cover - they used the term "genre" and it would cover everything from Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, to Star Trek, Star Wars, 2000 AD, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, James Bond, Buffy, Angel. So a load of stuff that could be classified as fantasy or horror rather than Sci-Fi.

Now look at Bond as an example - you could make a case for early bonds featuring not yet invented gadgets as Sci-Fi, but the later Daniel Craig films are about as Sci-Fi as Spooks or 24 and there was no way they were going to cover them.

To me there is a clear distinction between things that  explore the consequences of science extrapolated into the future (or even advanced civilisations set in the past) and things that have Sci-Fi trappings as a means of advancing the plot. Take Dr Who as an example. Throughout most of its history the Tardis has merely been a device to enable the story to the set in a particular place and time (and indeed had a rule that they can't just pop back a couple of hours to undo their mistakes as that would just destroy any dramatic tension.) It is only recently - as far as I know but I'm not as big an aficionado as some - that they have started to explore the consequences of time travel with the so -called fixed points in time. Even the regeneration is just a device to allow the series to continue with a new actor.

At the end of the day, I don't think it really matters - I know what I like, and don't sit there watching it or reading it attempting to classify it. And more to the point I know what others classify as Sci-Fi, as in "oh we don't have to watch that Sci-Fi rubbish do we....". :lol:

And as the idea that Sci-Fi features "plausible" future technologies...well not always. Yes some technology that exists now actually far exceeds what was shown at the time - take the tablet computers and data recorders in Star Trek TOS as an example, but other things are still mostly (probably) impossible e.g. warp drive, the transporter etc and it's not just me saying that...read the physics of Star Trek book - it would take longer than the universe has existed to scan you into the transporter, more energy than in the whole universe to accelerate to warp speed etc - but as I say they are actually just plot devices.

Frank

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Re: Pat Mills on Action article.
« Reply #52 on: 03 September, 2016, 04:31:25 pm »
So, by your definition, which 2000AD stories are sci-fi stories? ... it all seems a bit of a reductive exercise

I'm happy with my definition of the launch up as not very sci-fi*, or no more sci-fi than adventure stories like The Steel Claw, which nobody considers sci-fi. The idea that some stories are more sci-fi than others doesn't seem controversial.

That doesn't mean anybody failed, or that the stories weren't up to scratch. As Magnetica points out, it's not really important, but then absolutely nothing we talk about here is. I thought it was interesting and I enjoyed talking about it.


* Indigo Prime (10); Chronocops (10); VCs (3) because of its off world settings & spaceships; Bad Company (5) off world setting and the pathetic fallacy of Ararat; Rogue Trooper (3) being generous because of concepts like biowire and the biochips; Halo Jones Bk 3 (8) off world and spaceships are fine, but the depth of thought the boy Moore brings to the battle in Jupiter's space/time bumps up its score; Strontium Dog (3), but only because of the original concept of the time bomb.

On that scale, Dare would be a (3) for the spaceships and aliens, Flesh would be a (2) for the time travel, Harlem Heroes would be a (2) for the jetpacs and vague future setting, Mach-1 scores (1) for his computer, and Bill Savage scores hee-haw. Dredd's basic setting & tech is worth (3), with that score fluctuating each week depending on whether the crime being investigated revolves around a future technology or if it's just about Dredd being mean. That was silly, but fun - it doesn't mean anything.

M.I.K.

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Re: Pat Mills on Action article.
« Reply #53 on: 04 September, 2016, 01:19:26 am »
or no more sci-fi than adventure stories like The Steel Claw, which nobody considers sci-fi.

Say what? A bloke with a bionic hand that has the power to turn him into an invisible man after an accident in a laboratory isn't science fiction?

Richard

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Re: Pat Mills on Action article.
« Reply #54 on: 04 September, 2016, 11:59:41 am »
Quote
Say what? A bloke with a bionic hand that has the power to turn him into an invisible man after an accident in a laboratory isn't science fiction?

That sums up exactly why I said that this whole debate is ridiculous.

Richard

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Re: Pat Mills on Action article.
« Reply #55 on: 04 September, 2016, 12:22:55 pm »
On further reflection, isn't this more about what is "proper" sci-fi and what isn't -- there are degrees of SF? Rather than "it's not SF at all."