How offensive was your summer?
Well, after a day and a half of attending various events in Edinburgh, today was all about getting back to the grindstone. Happily, I've reached a point in TPO where I'm only having to incorporate a modicum of new material, unlike the massive revisions of the early chapters. Part of today's work was on the infamous Summer Offensive, when Grant Morrison, Mark Millar and John smith were given a much freer hand editorially to revitalise the comic for an eight-week stint. The results were controversial, to say the least. As an extract, I've pulled out three paragraphs where Morrison discusses Big Dave and Really & Truly. Expect swearing ahead. Today's wordcount total: 81,872.
Really & Truly was designed to feel like dance music, according to Morrison: ‘Upbeat, breezy, pointless and cartoony – a kind of Josie and the Pussycats with narcotics. I took a couple of Es and just wrote all 48 pages in a day. It’s not difficult. I took lots of drugs in the 1990s, I wrote comics every day – obviously there was a huge crossover. I do it every week now without Es but I think it definitely added a sheen to that strip. Like Ecstasy, it takes over your head and plays with you for a bit. Then it’s gone and you’ve learned nothing except how nice the world can look when it has a smile on its face. Really & Truly is no award-winner but it has a certain throwaway charm.’
The most enduring and outrageous strip in the Summer Offensive issues was Big Dave. The opening four-parter saw Manchester’s Hardest Man hired by then British Prime Minister John Major to attack Saddam Hussein in Target Baghdad. This was followed by Monarchy in the UK, where Big Dave tackled the Royal Family and earned himself a three-in-a-bed sex romp with Princesses Diana and Fergie. Considering all that’s taken place since these stories first appeared, it will require a brave publisher to reprint them in Britain anytime soon.
‘I consider it one of the best things I’ve ever worked on,’ Morrison says. ‘We were expecting some flak but the truth is most people liked it. Big Dave was originally intended as the Viz-type strip in our relaunch. We wanted to do a satire which was not so much political as directed towards the media. The captions in Big Dave were based on the journalistic shorthand of Sun headlines; it was patriotic, jingoistic and taboo-breaking. The mistake we made was in thinking die-hard comic fans were au fait with the ideas we were discussing. I was shocked by the number of readers who couldn’t grasp the satirical aspects of Big Dave at all, in spite of the fact they were nailed to every page. Give years later the same detractors were all reading Loaded and laughing at South Park, so they can all fuck off.'