Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. As it’s now December, I will be examining the LAST pages of random comics, so watch out for SPOILERS! Today’s page is from 2000AD #317: “D.R. and Quinch Have Fun on Earth!, which was published by Fleetway and is cover dated 21 May 1983. This scan is from The Complete D.R. and Quinch, which was published by Rebellion in June 2010. Enjoy!
Back before Alan Moore became a grumpus, he used to write some extremely funny comics, and the stories he wrote about D.R. and Quinch might be the funniest. This is the very first one, which was supposed to be a one-off but proved so popular that Moore came up with some more. Obviously, any comic fan worth his salt can recognize Alan Davis’ excellent artwork, as he drew every D.R. and Quinch adventure before he, I don’t know, insulted Moore’s beard and became persona non grata around the Northampton Gnasher’s home.
In this first adventure, which is part of Tharg’s Time Twister series, Ernie Quinch (he’s the big dude typing in the last panel) narrates the story about the time he and his best friend, Waldo Dobbs (known as D.R. for “Diminished Responsiblity”) went to Earth. You can’t see D.R. too well on this page – he’s in Panel 1, next to Quinch, and he’s in the final panel, blasting that bird – but he looks kind of like a Skrull with a pompadour. They’re both troublemakers of the highest order, and in this story, they’ve been using a time machine to zip around Earth doing all sorts of stuff, like causing things to evolve into humans, getting the pyramids built, giving science a nudge, and making them interested in space travel. They’ve also been carving chunks off of the continents, but we don’t know why. It turns out that they did all this to get revenge on Dean Fusk, who had suspended the pair from college. So on this page, Moore gives us the payoff – the continents of Earth, sculpted a bit by D.R. and Quinch, spell out insulting comments about the dean and his family, so the League of Planets destroys it. Meanwhile, Dean Fusk is so upset by the insults that it kills him, and D.R. and Quinch are able to get their suspensions lifted. Not a bad summer. This becomes a fairly typical template for D.R. and Quinch stories – Moore gets a bit more room to tell them, but they’re basically about these two getting into trouble for behaving badly, behaving even worse as they try to get out of trouble, and somehow managing it while getting revenge on various uptight characters. It’s quite funny.
This was early in Davis’ career (but not too early – he had already drawn a lot of Captain Britain strips), but we can already see his marvelous sense of design and some of his trademarked style (we can see even more on other pages, but this page doesn’t have too many human-looking creatures, so it’s not as “Davisian”). As stories in 2000AD weren’t very long (this is 6 pages), both writer and artist had to pack a lot of information into each panel, and Moore, of course, likes words, leaving less room for the artist. Davis adds some nice touches – in Panel 1, D.R. is shooting a spit ball at the son of the dean, and notice that in Panel 3, the humans who have made contact with the League of Planets are being dragged away. David also draws “Centravian” on the dean’s shirt and over the door, making sure it resembles the Earth’s continents. Moore’s understated “Dean Fusk sorta went to pieces after that” is accompanied by Davis drawing him dead, making Moore’s statement a bit more sardonic. We see this throughout the serial – Moore writes Quinch and D.R. as kids who believe they’re wonderful, while Davis shows them doing some terrible things. In the final panel, Quinch notes that “if all kids found something interesting to do instead of hanging around causing trouble, it’d be a better galaxy” while directly underneath the caption box, D.R. is blasting away at a bird. Not to mention the fact that D.R. and Quinch just caused the destruction of a planet and the death of billions of people. Moore and Davis work very well in this comic (as they did in other books in the early ’80s) to heighten the irony in Moore’s writing. If only Davis hadn’t insulted Moore’s beard!
This has been reprinted many times (I own a color version from the early 1990s), and I imagine this collection is still in print. It’s well worth checking out.
Next: Is this the Art Deco-ist comic ever? Be here tomorrow to judge! I don’t think you can find one more so in the archives!