Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Who Is The Goose?

They may be consigned to the history books and almost forgotten now, but for any comic fan growing up in the late 80s and early 90s the League of Powers, Britain's answer to the Justice League and the Avengers were an institution. In their heyday, tens of thousands of readers regularly thrilled to the adventures of The Atom Twins, Billy the Kid, Fusion, Mentallica and the rest of the team, published by our very own Atomic Clock Comics.

Sadly it was not to last and ACC crashed into insolvency and acrimony leaving almost no trace behind; a short-sighted penchant for cost-cutting meant that due to exceptionally low grade paper-stock and non-fast inks even the comics themselves are now mostly smudges and dust. But they and their battles live on in our, the fans, hearts and our minds. And now, having secured the rights from her creators for Underfire Comics (scurrilous press reports that claim Granger and Allcock were not of sound mind when they signed the contracts are libellous and being investigated as such; both doctors we talked to were happy to confirm the two creators understood our questions and any gifts provided were purely a formality in the proceedings) The Goose will once more rise to do battle with evil.

But just who is The Goose? A regular guest in both The League of Powers and The Mighty Mentallica she has never before starred in her own comic. Little is known of her background, only that she is a truly powerful Psychic and maybe even a rival to Mentallica herself. The following article, from ACC fan-historian Oli Baily's introduction to the last ever issue of The Mighty Mentallica, written for the ultra-rare re-print collection of the final ACC story arc, The End of The League of Powers, sheds some light on the creative process that gave birth to the character. But to find out her secrets, you'll just have to wait...


Alan Allcock and Ed Granger joined the Atomic Clock Comics bull pit in the summer of 1987 and were probably the only Deaf/Blind, Artist/Writer team working the comics circuit at that time. The pair had collaborated before, most prominently in the Doo-Wop soaked ‘Cry Baby’ series which, despite the obvious irony, was serialized in early editions of ‘Sight and Sound’.

Granger became known for both his prolific output and his violent aversion to criticism of any kind. He could punch out whole issues overnight on his faithful 'Perkins Brailer' before handing them over to staff writer, Rab Jaffrey[1] to decode. This regularly lead to strange translation errors which, as no one on the staff dared risk igniting Granger’s infamous temper, were more often than not passed totally unedited to Alan Allcock. As Allcock observes, ‘Our reviews got much better after Rab had his fingers slammed in a van door. I suppose you could say we owe a lot to Glaswegian gang culture for the ‘Granger style.’ Some have cited such translatory mishaps as a possible explanation for the decidedly surrealist turn taken by Granger in the concentration camp drama series ‘Get Me Owl!’ released later that year. Some suggest the prominent clairvoyant character in The Mighty Mentallica series was originally penned by Granger as ‘The Ghost’ only to appear, rather puzzlingly as ‘The Goose’ in the final, printed version. Once pressed about the inspiration for this bizarre character, Granger simply replied ‘She’s the damn psychic – why don’t you molest her.’

The Mighty Mentallica may be vintage ‘Granger’, but it was in fact based around a concept originally invented by Allcock. ‘Al was always messing with his mind,’ remarked Granger ‘Sometimes it would be drugs, other times he’d hook himself up to these cheap looking devices he bought from mail order catalogues. I don’t think any one of them worked. Once, after he’d been missing for three days, he left some garbled phone message in the middle of the night saying he could levitate a live iguana and propel it around the room psychically using a technique he called ‘yogic sucking’. When I got to his place he was sound asleep on the kitchen floor, the kind of deep sleep only a blind-drunk, deaf hippy can fathom. He was stark naked apart from some kind of colander taped to his head, and there was no trace of any damn reptile.’ Frustrated by his own failed experiments, Allcock opted to channel his interests into more creative endeavours. As Johnson recalls, ‘I was all fired up to slap down his P45 when he passed me a sketch of a girl ripping a whole galaxy in two with the just her mind. I’m still not sure whether that was a proposal for a story or an indirect threat on my life. You could never tell with Alan.’ In any case, Johnson drafted Granger as script writer and the whole Mentallica sideshow frolicked into town.

The decision was taken to slot Mentallica into the whole League of Powers Universe, which proved a deft stroke by Johnson. 'It was a harmonious time' he proclaimed, 'for a while there was a distinct possibility we might achieve our dream and break even'. However, such jollity proved short-lived. Within a year, the prolific output of Allcock and Granger had expanded the Mentallica cast to over fifty characters and spawned a number of spin-off titles (The Conjurer and Gibbon Assassin being the most prominent) and divided the readership. Sales dwindled as plotlines became more bizarre and impossible to track. 'It was time to trim the fat', said Johnson, 'and Mentallica was verging on the obese'. Johnson decided to act whilst Granger attended his daughter's wedding in Rhyll, rewriting the entire ending of the penultimate Mentallica issue. The original draft had seen the whole Mentallica cast unite in celebration on defeating the galactic hoard. Johnson chose to re-write this as one protracted killing spree in which The Mighty Mentallica wanders around the League of Powers mothership indiscriminately exploding the heads of most of the cast. 'It was carnage' recalls Allcock 'for weeks I'd see nothing but guts and brains when I shut my eyes. There must have been seven whole pages of flying meat.'

Granger arrived back to the office a week later and entered the building with a cricket bat already raised above his head. In his police statement, Johnson rants: 'He was like an animal - frothing at the mouth and breathing through his teeth. His eyes seemed to have rolled back as though he were in some kind of murderous trance. I hid behind the photocopier for two hours while he staggered around the office, bumping into furniture and striking anything that made a noise'.

Granger was still a patient in a local secure mental unit when the ACC winding up order came. He was contacted by Allcock and agreed to write the final book in his most famous series as part of his ongoing therapy. 'That was the last anyone heard from him.' Wrote Allcock. 'For all I know he's still living in his pyjamas.’

[1] Rab Jaffrey is said to have lost his sight after being struck with a whisky bottle during a routine fracas at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, only to regain it completely five years later, when he was pushed from a moving truck.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Sneak Peek!

Here are some panels from The Goose, not giving too much away though…

Lunch time...

 The Geese?

Who's this guy?