Gail Williams remembers the short lived British comic Revolver. Because someone has to...
Digging through my comic collection will bring up some old favourites and some absolute howlers. And as with most things in life, it’s the howlers that give people the most to say, so I’m going to shoot my mouth off about Revolver.
Revolver was a monthly comic/magazine which ran for a whole seven issues from July 1990 to January 1991. Of those seven issues I have the first three. Why three? Because one’s not really enough to know for sure, things can take a while to warm up, and back in 1990, I was young and willing to forgive.
So why did I stop buying it? The last issue I brought was September 1990, and there were ‘things’ happening in my life at that point, not least of which was moving to Wales, and not wanting to have too much stuff at my sisters place (she’s a neat freak, unlike me). Of course if I’d actually like the thing I might still have made the effort, but I see Revolver now and I think – someone shoot me for Heaven’s sake.
So what’s wrong with it?
Well for a start – completely wrong format. Rather than the neat comic book size we’re all used to, Revolver was full magazine size, this may have been because unlike most comics, it was sold in newsagents rather than specialist comic outlets and wasn’t a single story, but a collection of many (Purple Haze, Dare, Rogan Josh, Happenstance and Kesmit to name that ones that I can remember without trying – and how sad is that 25 years on?). Still this worked for other comics, the Beano, Dandy, the Eagle, so that shouldn’t have put people off. But even now I find it irritating because it means that Revolver can’t sit properly in my comic book collection as it’s too big for the boxes. So you’re probably wondering why I didn’t just throw them away if I don’t like them. Good question. Not sure of the answer, except that I’m aware of how valuable Issue 1 of a comic can become so I keep them just in case – fairly sure this isn’t going to happen with Revolver, but hey ho.
Then there’s the drawing. Now to be fair because Revolver contained a number of strips it also contained a number of different styles. And not one of them was or is to my taste. Oh, I’ve just remembered another strip, called Pinhead Nation, and in that the human bodies were normal with tiny heads (or oversized for normal heads, whatever). The proportions bugged me and the story line wasn’t exactly riveting, so I started to wonder if the artist had got the idea because he just couldn’t scale heads right, and questions like that don’t help anyone.
The subject matter didn’t help much – and here’s the heresy – Purple Haze was about Jimi Hendrix, and I don’t rate his music, I’m not interested in his lifestyle, and I couldn’t care less about the man if I tried, Hendrix brings me out in a case of complete indifference. So there was no way Purple Haze was ever going to be my drug of choice.
Dare was an interesting resurrection, it was an update of the Eagle’s Dan Dare and his daring dos. Not a good one, but there you go. However, the story line did transfer to Crisis for completion, so it can’t have been all bad in someone else’s eyes.
So was Revolver unremitting awful? Probably not, things rarely are.
Happenstance and Kesmit, I did like. Rereading it now, I’m not sure why, but this was the reason I gave the comic the third try.
And to be honest Revolver did do something rather unusual in that it is unarguably multicultural, with a timeline background in all the ‘inclusivity’ of the 1980’s and the almost enforced acceptance of alternative cultures and lifestyles that that brought with it, Revolver should have been onto a good thing with this broad brush approach. Unfortunately like any cross barrier attempt, the theory is easier than the practice.
And that, in my opinion, is what did it for Revolver. Someone, probably several someones, sat down and had a great idea, discussed mass appeal, what will draw different people together, what’s edgy, what’s exciting and then they made a decision. Problem is that like all group decisions they’re usually an uncomfortable compromise that ultimately doesn’t appeal to anyone, and given its short run, Revolver seems to have taken the bullet for this one.
So would I suggest anyone to give it a shot for early nineties nostalgia? No! Do what this comic did, shoot yourself in the foot rather than read it, the wound would be less painful. And more interesting.
Right that’s it, shot fired, case expelled, move on.
Gail lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and
the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits
and pieces are a bit wonderful. Well okay, she lives in Swansea with
her husband and daughter. And the world’s most demanding cat. To find
out more about Gail, check out www.gailbwilliams.co.uk - Dare you!