WW1

Way back in the early 1990s my brother Steve and I were looking for a comic idea for me to write and him to draw. It was back in the days before PCs were much use for anything and when self-publishing meant finding someone you knew who had unlimited access to a photocopier. We can't have had much hope of the story ever seeing the light of day but it was all practice and that was the kind of thing we did for teenage kicks.

We were both avid readers of old Battle and Victor annuals, acquired mostly at jumble sales or school fetes, and had vast quantities of Commando picture libraries, each of them frayed and dog-eared from being read and re-read. Therefore a parody of these entertaining childhood diversions seemed a natural and obvious way to continue our interest in creating comics.

I have no idea now where the idea for the Walking Wounded themselves came from. It was probably just my spin on the popular convention in such stories of taking an unlikely bunch of ill-matched soldiers who when combined are actually an unstoppable fighting machine. In reality I suspect most of the members of the team would have ended up either in the Home Guard or ENSA, but the realities of battle were never a particular strong point of the genre, Charley's War honourably excepted.

The villains of the piece are the Nazis (obviously) and also a lunatic fringe of the French Resistance. I'm not sure now why I decided on that but I dimly remember being inspired by a news report at the time which claimed that the French Resistance were in fact useless and that the only real opposition the German occupiers faced was from British agents. I'm sure this was total nonsense but it gave me the germ of an idea.

I wrote the scripts in a pretty informal way, usually just specifying dialogue and stage directions rather than working out panels. One of the directions I used repeatedly was "a large battle ensues" which was my cue to Steve to fill a few pages with action! Even more shoddily, I hadn't worked out an overal plan when I scripted part 1 and had absolutely no idea what was to happen next. Fortunately, I had come up with the basic structure when I cracked into part 2 and I think as a result from then on it moves quite fluidly.

We started the enterprise in 1995 during my holidays from university. The artwork was completed in 1999, by which time it was Steve's turn to be studying for his degree. We moved on to student film-making and then to working stupid hours to pay back student debts. Things went quiet for us on the comics front but our interest never died and then I came across the Smallzone website which offered comic printing amongst many other useful services. Steve and I talked about it and we decided to use Resistance as a tryout to see if self-publishing was something we really wanted to do.

The full story is 26-pages which meant that there was another 2 internal pages plus all 4 sides of the cover to produce. Also the artwork had never been lettered in its entirety before, which proved problematic as neither of us could really do lettering. Steve ended up hand-lettering the whole comic, and he made a far better job of it than I ever would have done. However, it's still a bit of a problem and we've now hit upon a much slicker method for future publications.

We filled the couple of spare internal pages with Beales on Wheels, a specially created mini-story that introduces a new member of the Walking Wounded. Steve illustrated that and also provided a fantastic front cover, not to mention the back cover image of the dead pigeon. The inside front cover was all me, essentially a contents page done in Microsoft Word it did at least prove useful in one respect. The name Massacre for Boys came to me whilst putting this together, the first time we've had a label for our larger plan of loosely-connected stories that both stand alone and when set together tell a hidden tale.

Looking back at The Resistance That Went Mad, it's not the greatest comic really. The rather exaggerated violence and xenophobia were meant ironically, but that's not always obvious and it's too easy to misinterpret the story as some kind of UKIP rallying call. The artwork's lovely but sometimes rather too detailed for its own good. However, it's definitely got something and we're still rather proud of it.

The main purpose of Resistance was to see if we wanted to self-publish new stuff, and the answer to that was a resounding yes. Shane Chebsey of Smallzone did a great job of putting the comic together and we learnt a lot of practical lessons about comic production, the kind of stuff that's only apparent when you actually get something "out there". It's not the kind of thing that's going to shake the comics world to the core, but you have to start somewhere!

Chris Denton, 09/04/06.