The Complete D.R. & Quinch

Posted by on August 6th, 2010 at 12:05 AM

 


This image and below ©2010 Rebellion.

 

The Complete D.R. & Quinch
Alan Moore and Alan Davis with Jamie Delano
Rebellion; 128 p.p.; $17.99
Softcover B&W with a color section
ISBN: 9781906735883

It’d be hard today to convey the level and nature of the excitement readers felt in 1984 when a fresh new talent — an author — blew into the company town, overhauling a run-of-the-mill commercial comic, revitalizing it completely and, in the process, making it utterly his own. Who was this guy? Where had he learned to write like that?

Fan press being what it was and the Internet being nothing what it is, Alan Moore’s commandeering of DC’s Swamp Thing raised that kind of ruckus and unknowing. Where had this guy come from?

We now know, of course, he’d come from some other English-speaking country where he had polished his craft to the high sheen that so dazzled on the American scene (such as it existed in funnybooks back then). In time we’d learn — and even be able to see — that Moore had done a host of comics prior in Jolly Olde: the Bojeffries Saga, the uncompleted Marvelman and the uncompleted V For Vendetta for Quality Comics, Captain Britain for Marvel U.K. and Future Shocks, Time Twisters and Skizz for I.P.C. among plenty of others.

One of those others was his series for I.P.C’s 2000 AD anthology, D.R. and Quinch. Indelibly animated by artist Alan Davis, the two titular alien characters were self-centered, heedless “college age” problem children with a weakness for weaponry of fantastically enhanced destruction in a far-off, space-faring future. In essence they were even more foreign-ized Katzenjammer Kids who had swapped Germanic inflections for a different, no less definitive spoken trademark, that of American “Valley Girl” speech. Theirs was a verbal mannerism that, in its day, bespoke a witless lack of self-awareness and reflection (which is why the title for the quintessential movie of the dialect’s celebration remains so eternally perfect: Clueless). The air-headed talk neatly clashed with D.R. and Quinch’s deficiencies in reason and restraint to say nothing of their unconscionable acts. It was like getting beaten up with a lollipop.

All this comes up thanks to a new compilation of misadventures in The Complete D.R. & Quinch. Then as now the duo is introduced in a single, one-off Time Twister done in signature fashion, that is, “detailed in the following blockbuster story which is totally amazing and well-written and everything.” Short and sweet and hell-bent on vengeance, the miscreants were at their clipped and inventive best in this debut involving time travel and the catastrophic reshaping of earth for petty score-settling.

As Moore relates, “One strip, one story, and I think that me and Alan both thought the characters amusing.” D.R. (as in “Diminished Responsibility”) and Quinch were well received by the readership, so the pair continued to careen through several of their own features, short stories and multi-part romps assailing romance, military service and Hollywood.

This volume reprints the material at a somewhat smaller scale than a 1986 collection from Titan Books, D.R. & Quinch’s Totally Awesome Guide to Life. Davis’ art remains ever sharp in gloriously contrasting black and white, although emphasized words — and there is a lot of emphatic, if not panicked dialogue — highlighted in bold print get blobby and run together on occasion. This present book contains additional pin-ups, promo bits and reprinted covers as well as two rare and valued additions. One is the inclusion of two pages of Moore’s script whereby he sets down the groove and amps up the vibe for Davis: “These first four frames really don’t need to be too much bigger than inserts. In fact, man, they can be microscopically small to a fantastically germ-like degree.”

 

 

The other worthwhile feature is a color section of the strip done by Davis and Jamie Delano several years after the original run. D.R. & Quinch’s Incredibly Excruciating Agony Page is made up to resemble something of a warped advice column as conducted by the delinquents and Chrissie, the off-kilter romantic lead. These reprises are quite lovely in their lurid choice of colors by Mark Farmer but in the end served to indicate just how slender the concept of the strip was from the first: essentially a good joke stretched thin to cover any manner of anti-establishment comedy.

No doubt Moore sensed as much early on. “There came a point where I looked at it and thought, ‘Well, this is humorous in a kind of Animal House way, socially irresponsible kind of way, but I’m not really that comfortable about making jokes about nuclear weapons…’ I probably got as many laughs out of it as I could.” (All Moore quotes taken from George Khoury’s The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore).

Some of those laughs remain (even now “Mind the oranges, Marlon!” deserves a cult following), mostly through the relentlessly in-character torturing of the quaint, naïve patois for debased purposes. Davis’ art remains transporting and, in that, achieves a kind of timelessness. But in most other ways The Complete D.R.& Quinch remains an historically dated work, harkening back to the days when there seemed to be no end to the versatility and creativity of a bright, new supernova appearing in the comics of the New World. The typewritten copy of his script, its print blurred and its enclosed letters inked-in from a well-worn carbon ribbon, adds to the amber-encapsulated glow of antiquity.

 

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