I'm starting a loose theme month of UK originated comicbooks, with a look at what is probably Alan Moore's most popular work for venerable UK sci-fi comic 2000AD. Although The Ballad Of Halo Jones is unquestionably his best work for 2000AD that strip was somewhat unpopular with the readership at the time, whereas D.R and Quinch were very much appreciated by the then audience of mainly teenage boys. Alan Moore is sometimes unfairly pigeonholed as a "serious" writer, and his out-and-out funny stuff is rather relegated in importance in relation to his "serious" works (although even his most "dark" work Watchmen contains loads of jokes, wit and wonderful ironies that make the grimness much easier to bear. There is much humour to be found in every Moore work, if you happen to be receptive to it). D.R and Quinch is his best known comedic work, although the recent reprints of things like The Bojeffries Saga have finally put some of his finest comedic writing back into the comics mainstream.
Anyway, D.R and Quinch. Now the collection I am looking at today is the Titan Books one from 1986. This contains all the Alan Moore and Alan Davis 2000AD strips not the later, Jamie Delano penned strip the "Agony Page". There is a more recent collection with every single D.R and Quinch stip in it, but if you're not a completist, the "Totally Awesome Guide To Life" can be picked up for mere pennies and has the added bonus of being the same page size as the originals, avoiding the sometimes cramped appearance the more modern reprints of UK comicbook material can have.
Before we begin it's interesting to note that Alan Moore himself has practically disowned this strip while simultaneously nailing it's enduring appeal. As quoted in Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life Of Alan Moore, he has this to say about it:
Alan Moore: "D.R & Quinch are probably the comic strip I shall ask to have eradicated and destroyed upon my death bed. What D.R & Quinch are is a continuation of the great British tradition of making heroes out of juvenile delinquents. If you imagine Dennis the Menace with thermonuclear capacity you are probably pretty close to the idea of D.R & Quinch."
He later clarified this saying:
Alan Moore: "It makes violence funny, which I don't think it right. I have to question the point where I'm actually talking about thermonuclear weapons as a source of humour...there are a lot of good things about D.R & Quinch. I think Alan Davis and I both put a lot of nice work into it and some of it is amusing. But it has no lasting or redeeming social value as far as I'm concerned".
D.R & QUINCH: HAVE FUN ON EARTH - Our terrible twosome made their first debut in 1983, in what was called a "Time Twister". Time Twisters and Future Shocks were short stories often containing a surprising twist that 2000AD used to test-drive new writers and artists before offering them the prize of an on-going series. Moore was an absolute master of the short story form and ended up with three series in 2000AD as a result. Skizz (his first), The Ballad Of Halo Jones (his best) and DR & Quinch (his funniest), which span out of this one eight page story.
It's interesting that Moore chose to frame D.R & Quinch within a British tradition of mischevious anti-heroes, as they were actually inspired by two American National Lampoon characters called O.C. and Stiggs. The pair of them are alien students, Waldo "D.R." (for "Diminished Responsibility") Dobbs, (who looks a bit like a Marvelverse Skrull with a quiff) and Ernest Errol Quinch, his muscular purple skinned companion in crime. This first tale sees Quinch writing up how he and D.R exacted an elaborate revenge scheme, and amusingly the credits for the story have "E.E Quinch" as writer, rather than Alan Moore.
It begins with Quinch writing that he and D.R had been suspended from college due to Dean Fusk finding stolen good in their locker. So get their elaborate revenge the borrow a time-flyer and go to the pre-history of "this utterly worthless filth-ball planet called Earth" Using thermonuclear weapons they alter the shape of the continents and then start intervening throughout history to inspire humans to make it out into space.
|Intefering in Earth history armed with nukes.|
Quinch: "The shape of the continents in the northern hemisphere spelled out 'Dean Fusk is embezzling the canteen fund' in Centralian...while the southern hemisphere read 'Mrs Fusk is a convicted shoplifter and their horribly ugly son is a known snitch'"
Naturally for this grave insult, Earth is blown up. Dean Fusk falls apart after that and QUinch and D.R get back into college when they accused the Dean of having criminal tendencies and that he planted the stolen goods in Quinch's locker. Quinch reflects that it was a summer well spent and with that it ends.
|Earth goes Kaboom.|
D.R & QUINCH: GO STRAIGHT - The strip begins with D.R and Quinch in court, the judge reads off a long list of charges including "forging sacred relics" and "transmuting base metal into gold." D.R. says they are sorry and "want to give up their irresponsible ways". The Judge says if they perform an act of charity then he'll reduce their sentences by a century or so.
D.R then discovers where the Judge lives and that he has an empty house nextdoor. They then visit their friend Pulger, a maniac and unstable war veteran. Then they set up a charity for "the rehabilitation of dangerous ex-servicemen" and make the headqarters the house next door to the Judges. Who is displeased by all the noise and violence that kicks off. He says threatens D.R with burying them when sentencing comes around. But D.R says their charity is a success and the Mayor will be visting.
|Pulger the loony war vet.|
D.R & QUINCH: GO GIRL CRAZY - THis strip is a nice little parody of the ending of Grease. Quinch is horrified when one day he goes round to D.R's and discovers he's been acting well-behaved and normal. That is because he is in love with a girl called Chrysoprasia. He also reveals he's joined her drama club and is playing the romantic lead in a play so he can't hang out with Quinch much anymore.
Quinch: "Could this be it? No more extortion, no more fraud, no more putting pirahna bees in rich kid's lockers? Could this be.. the end of D.R and Quinch?"
Of course not. Quinch grabs Chrysoprasia and takes her back to their secret hideout and shows her a lot of home movies showing him and D.R up to all sorts of mischief. He hopes that this will put her off D.R but it backfires as she turns from a sweet, innocent girl into "the kind of woman Waldo deserves" and her new name shall be "Crazy Chrissie". She forces Quinch to go get her boozed up and armed and they crash into the theatre where D.R is performing on stage.
|Quinch's plan creates Crazy Chrissie.|
D.R & QUINCH: GET DRAFTED - This story begins with D.R apocalyptically hungover. He opens a letter from the War Office and it is a draft notice for him and Quinch. When they get down to the enlistment office, D.R is curious about what weapons they'll get:
D.R: "He showed us a vast quantity of dangerous weapons. Many of them were so utterly horrible that I had not dared to believe they could exist. I felt totally patriotic."
Things seem to be going well until they get to basic training and have to suffer under a nasty drill sergeant right out of Full Metal Jacket. They are sent to fight on a planet called Ghoyogi and D.R writes a letter to Quinch's rich mother asking if she can get them out of this situation.
|War is hell.|
|Alan Davis's art really is wonderful on this series.|
|Oh hai Chrissie how u been?|
D. R & QUINCH: GO TO HOLLYWOOD - This story allows Moore and Davis to have fun including lots of nods and parodies of famous actors and so on. The strip begins with our protagonists meeting a tramp and giving him some money for coffee. In gratitude he tells them he used to be a famous screenwriter in Hollywood ( a planet called Hollywood, not the deceased Earth's version) called Torquetto Jubbli. He developed writes block and the studio head told him to leave, but gave him two tickets to come back if he had an idea. Which he finally has done and he brandishes his script before falling down apparently dead.
|D.R and Quinch make their mark.|
D.R: "Well, like I can't exactly reveal that to you right now...but the third word is probably oranges"
The script is almost totally unreadable, not that this prevents D.R from improvising a movie from it. Helped along by the fact Marlon reads the script and declares it a masterpiece. D.R mixes in oranges, flamingo's, nuns and dead fish together for a big set piece. Unfortunately Marlon gets squashed under a big pile of oranges, though this inspires the name of the film as "Mind the Oranges, Marlon".
|Things don't go quite right.|
D.R: "Hey, that's showbiz man."
D.R & QUINCH: GET BACK TO NATURE: This final eight pager was written and drawn when tensions between Alan Davis and Moore were running high due to Moore blocking reprints of Captain Britain and the mess over Marvel/Miracleman was on-going. So neither's heart seems to be in it any more. D. R and Quinch are running a summer camp for kids called Camp Apocalypse. They do such responsible things as throwing kids into poisonous plants to indentify them. Kill birds for them to identify and introduce them to large vicious creatures by mistake. When the parents arrive to collect them, the kids are running riot with guns and D.R and Quinch are making a quick getaway. And that was that for the Moore/Davis D.R and Quinch.
|Worst Summer Camp Ever.|