Well, give or take twenty-years. But I'm never one to let the facts get in the way of an Alice Cooper-based pun, and the release of PARAGON #18 gives me that opportunity. Two Spencer Nero tales in this one - aside, of course, from another smashing instalment of 'Bulldog and Panda' by Cobley / Prestwood / Campbell, and a particularly notable episode of Jikan from Howard / El Chivo / Caliber. Here's a few words on 'Spencer Nero and the Reckless Return of the Ruthless Rhymer'.
This story is a sequel to the original 'Ruthless Rhymer' two-pager from PARAGON #13, back in the mists of 2013 (Yikes! Time moves fast in the small-press world!) That tale was drawn by Neil 'Bhuna' Roche, and I loved his design for the Rhymer so much that I was moved to write a lengthier tale of the vicious versifier. The Rhymer is inspired by the cruel and hilarious writings of poet Harry Graham, but he's also very autobiographical - the Rhymer is the impatient side of me that gets annoyed by selfishness, thoughtlessness, bumbling, and general idiocy, the short-tempered side that wants to dish out ridiculously disproportionate justice to the irritating. As such, writing his antics proves very therapeutic - although his outrage inevitably makes things worse for him in the long run. I particularly enjoy writing in rhyme - rhyming stories have become a bit of a PARAGON tradition - and it's always a welcome challenge trying to get the meter right.
Art is by Nero-newcomer Dave Snell, who does an intensely characterful and atmospheric job - I absolutely love his scornful, self-satisfied and yet rather hapless Rhymer - exactly how the character should be
To finish up, here's a few random observations:
- Can you spot the signed picture of Aleister Crowley on Mr. Alabaster's desk?
- Also on page 1, the Rhymer's resurrection is a bit of a tribute to the end of the movie 'Carrie'.
- The large ladies in the elevator on page 3 are a tad Beryl Cook - something which has cropped up in my stories before.
- That's William Kitt in the museum on page 4 - the most chameleonic character in Spencer's supporting cast, he's like the David Bowie of the strip, when it comes to changing his look all the time.
- Spencer is borrowing Homer Simpson's 'think unsexy thoughts' routine on page 5.
- Page 6 sees Edward Lear in full fight - Davey Candlish is a real fan of this poet (though I didn't know that when I wrote the story.) In fact, Davey told me he'd had a recitation of The Owl and the Pussycat at his wedding!
- Page 8 gives me the excuse to bring back the Rhymer any time I want - but given the conclusion to the story, I'm not sure how much rhyming he'll be doing!
Unfortunately, magic gremlins got into the works when the story was published, and replicated a speech balloon from a previous page atop the climatic panel - so here's said panel as it was meant to be seen. Cut it out and stick it into your copy - or paste it onto the screen if you're reading digitally!