Monday, September 17, 2012


How the X-Men Orphaned Me To a 2000 AD Foster Home Where I Was Abused and Loved It
Toby McCasker

I did some growing up on a tiny island country in the South Pacific called Vanuatu. You can drive around the capital Port Vila, where I lived and wore no underpants ‘cos it was fucking hot, in like three hours. That’s it. That’s the place. It’s lovely. Everyone’s nice, and the natives are simply too good-natured to even think about discriminating against the white minority busy dodging tax on their fair island – most of whom are too ignorant to pick up even the most basic of Bislama in return (it’s a phonetic Creole language that’s only 5,000 words big, ffs). This kind of racial harmony was a great thing to see at a young age. Thing is, Vanuatu is also really boring. What’s a kid to do but thieve imported Marvel comics from the local South African mixed business? They all had the tops of their covers shorn off for some reason, so for ages I thought I was reading about the many misadventures of the A-Meii.

Thus my comic fixation started with the Uncanny X-Men, circa early ‘90s. This was about the time Bishop had come back from his crappy future to do some badass shit and Storm had become the leader of the gross Morlocks. Good stuff, and I loved it for years afterwards. Remember Magneto magnetising all the adamantium out of Wolvie and then he got his own hairy series for a while where whenever he popped his shitty bone claws he’d bleed liters? Awesome. And then that asshole Cyber stomped on them one time and they were all twisty and crazy for ages. The X-Men were the only comic superheroes I liked, and could relate to. Everything else seemed just a bit too hokey and I never understood how anyone gave a fuck about some eligible bachelor flying around in his underwear or a guy with the miraculous power to have tiny wings on his ankles. The X-Men were and are real talk, despite the fact that if you take their collective name out of context you wander into a transgender surreality. They resonated with how much of an outsider my unorthodox upbringing was totally making me.

And I had a massive crush on Rogue, you don’t even know.

A coupla years later after relocating to Melbourne, Australia, I was something like twelve years old and X-lurve had gotten me into the habit of spending hours in the news agency. I’d just go crazy for all the cool mags and shit they had on the shelves, I don’t know what my goddamn problem was. Invariably I’d end up lashing all my pocket money on anything that looked awesome. One time I bought this thing I’d never heard of, a soft-cover copy of a 2000 AD graphic novel called Indigo Prime: Killing Time. It was full of Jack the Ripper brutally dissecting prostitutes and all kinds of virulent psychosexuality and was pretty much the most fucked thing I’d ever seen at that point, and it scarred me for life. It was a cool scar, though. The kind you show off to people you find attractive and then a knowing wink passes between you, with sex very much on the cards. Speaking pretty broadly, it spurred in me an attempted understanding of and a definite appreciation for all things totally out there. If it weren’t for Killing Time, I would be a relatively normal human being. As it slouches, it went on to profoundly inform everything I became enamoured with from then ‘til now: Underground metal, arthouse films, disgusting VHS horror movies, even the way I dressed (which was weirdly, and everyone always gave me shit for how strange I looked and how long my hair was). I’d even go so far as to say my worldview was altered by what became constant weekly exposure to 2000 AD’s magazine apropos. Certainly the inside of my head exploded with thoughts and ideas and artistry that set me apart from 100% of the schoolyard. Even the token smelly kid looked at me like I was Ed Norton in a Fight Club carpark.

And I had a massive crush on Durham Red, jesus ass, you are not even aware. No, seriously. Here is a picture someone drew of her eating my dick:

It got to the point where I insisted I was gonna rename myself “Finn” after I discovered “Rogue Trooper” would probably be shortened to “Rog” by most lazy Australians. Finn and Rogue Trooper were two of my favourite stories alongside Strontium Dogs (post-Johnny Alpha era, The Gronk forevs), Sláine, ABC Warriors, Outlaw, Flesh, Tyranny Rex (babe), Cannon Fodder (shades of Killing Time here)… the list is epic and always distinguished. To this day I don’t know who the fuck Tharg the Mighty is. Mayhap he is an ideal like Batman but with more intergalactic vernacular, but whoever has long been the impetus behind this magazine was/is brilliant beyond considerable measure. At some point in the mid-‘90s, they must’ve worked out a crazy tie-in ad deal with EA for the release of Urban Strike. Remember those games? You were in a helicopter and flew around blowing shit up on your Sega, winching pixel men to safety even worse danger. Part of this deal must’ve included “in-mag crossover content” or whatever the fuck stupid ad people in double-breasted wool suits talk about. 2000 AD ran with this so hard I couldn’t believe it, putting out a five–episode Urban Strike story that was totally brutal and subversive and all of its characters fucking died horribly and I think the world also ended. Here is a comic that can even make advertising obligations awesome, over a period of five weeks, while clearly maintaining a strong deficit of fucks with which to donate.

And without it, I’d have an all-year tan, a vapid wife who used to be hot but is now fat, two shitty kids, a white picket fence and a completely unnecessary Range Rover in the backyard of our presentable house in a quiet suburb where everybody says “Hey champ!” but really they’re all committing incest.

Fucking thank you.


Toby McCasker

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