Of Alan Moore's three series for 2000AD, 1983's Skizz is the definitely the least remembered and little celebrated by those who do remember it. Skizz was Moore's first on-going strip for 2000AD with art by the talented Scot, Jim Baikie. Lacking the cult humour of D.R and Quinch (which I have covered) or the thematic richness of The Ballad Of Halo Jones (which I shall be covering), even Moore himself at first found little to commend about the adventures of cute alien who fell to Earth and who found himself trapped in the grim circumstances of the working class during the early years of Britain under Thatcher. Moore was given the brief to write the series when E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was due to come out, by the time the series debuted in the UK, E.T had become a a huge hit and on course to become the much beloved classic it is regarded as today. Alan Moore despised the strip pretty much from the off, describing it in an interview that November as "that horrible E.T. rip off I did for 2000AD, you've got this cuddly little alien that everybody likes who's having a really bad time on Earth 'cos everyone's beating on him 'cos he's little (that's the plot so you needn't read it)." Quote from Hellfire, reproduced in Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore by Lance Parkin. But is Skizz deserving of Moore's ire when looked back on today? Let's see shall we?
We begin with the alien who will be christened Skizz in trouble in his spaceship as it passes Earth. He ends up having to make an emergency landing. His ship addresses him as Interpreter Zhcchz and tells him the ship is going to self destruct with him inside it to prevent contaminating of a backwards, "restricted development" planet.
|Skizz's ship goes Boom.|
Zhcchz: "I am interpreter Zchhcz of the Tau-Ceti Imperium and I am not afraid."
He is afraid though. There is too much oxygen making him feel dizzy and the gravity is to light so he keeps falling over. The buildings are alien to him and he wonders "what can they be like, the creatures that built these horrifying monuments?"
He stumbles upon a pub fight that has spilled onto the pavement. He notes that the planet's inhabitants are some kind of evolved ape, the fight frightens him and he runs. He keeps running until he reaches suburbia. He looks for a place to shelter and secretes himself in a nearby shed and feels "safe at last."
We are then introduced to "Roxy", a teenage girl who is living in the house Zchhcz is sheltering in. A boy called Darren is calling up to her, hoping he can take advantage of the fact her parents are away to get off with her. She sends him away with a flea in his ear. Later in bed, she hears something moving downstairs.
|Roxy discovers a terrified Skizz.|
Roxy: "You're not from around here, then?"
Roxy brings the terrified Zchhcz into the house. He hides behind the sofa while wrestling plays on the TV and thinks of all the aggression he has seen so far, and of Roxy - "why should this one be any different?"
Roxy offers him some coffee which he takes, then drops, recoiling from the heat. She shouts at him for making a mess and he cringes away from her. She apologises and calms him down and ruminates that he's obviously from space and cleverer than humans, "we never seem to meet any stupid spacemen" she says.
She thinks he's too puny and nervous to be an invader and asks his name. She repeats her name to him and his interpreter skills start to kick in and he repeats, "Rrrahk-see" back at her, then tells her he is called "Zhcchz" and takes off his helmet so she can see his lips. She dubs him "Skizz" which is what I shall call him now, as that is how the other characters refer to him.
|"Skizz" introduces himself.|
We then cut to the antagonist of the story, a bespectacled government investigator called Van Owen, (who has a clipped, posh accent hence some weird spellings in stuff I quote from him) out with a team looking at the scene of the explosion where Skizz's ship self-destructed. He demands a sniffer dog because he believes something walked away from the crater.
Back with Skizz and Roxy, trying him on muesli has made him sick as well, and Skizz worries he won't be able to eat anything here. Van Owen gets his sniffer dog but it can't find a trail. Then Van Owen sees tracks left by Skizz and says there is a "three legged space monster... and it's slep in the middle of Birmingham."
|Van Owen (right)|
Roxy feeds Skizz the baby food and he doesn't throw it up. He sleeps on the sofa feeling very unwell. Roxie goes to school and finds that creepy Darren told everyone he spent the weekend at her place, she confronts him and smacks him one. Then as the lessons go by she worries about Skizz. When she gets home she finds him unconcious and calls Loz, telling him to bring Cornelius and the van.
|Loz and Cornelius.|
They also take Roxy, Loz and Cornelius into custody. Cornelius freaks out and hurls a policeman through the window. They have to tranquilise him. Later when he has recovered, they quiz him about Skizz but he says nothing except that he has his pride and do they need a pipe-fitter?
Van Owen goes to talk with Roxy. He accuses her of habouring an alien spy for three days, "did it ask about our satellite defences? Ennything about out politics?" Was it threatening and that's why she won't talk. She just asks him what he has done with Skizz. Van Owen says he is elsewhere.
|Van Owen being a prick.|
We then get images of Skizz dreaming he is safe and sound on his home planet. Actually he is hooked up to a machine that has got the virus he is suffering from under control, and "he's going to live." As he dreams, Van Owen and the other scientists observe him. Roxy meanwhile is feeling guilty about handing him over to the government as is Loz.
Loz is in the local pub and is shown a copy of the local newspaper with the headline "Space Monsters In Birmingham" which fingers Loz, Cornelius and Roxy as involved. Skizz's dreams turn to nightmares and he cries out, Van Owen says:
Van Owen: "Get a language machine installed in there. I want the thing talking English in two weeks and after than... It's all mine."
Skizz is put through an English teaching course. He is shown images and what to say when he sees them. When he sees the symbol for a female he says "Rahk-see".
|Skizz learns English.|
Roxy: "... a damn sight more human than you'll ever be!"
She storms off to school where people tease her over the article. Even her teacher makes an alien joke at her expense. Back with Skizz, he says his first sentence, "Yuu urrr veee aylens!"
In the local pub a reporter bothers Cornelius about Skizz. He gets angry and smashes a glass against the bar and the reporter beats a hasty retreat. Days pass and Skizz masters English, so van Owen starts interrogating him. When Skizz says he crashed on Earth because it was the only planet in the solar system that could support life and he had to make an emergency landing because his ship was failing, Van Owen refuses to believe his reason why.
|Don't bother Cornelius if you know what's good for you.|
Roxy: "Hang on Skizz, hang on. I'm coming."
Roxy, Loz and Cornelius meet up, Roxy wants them to help her get Skizz back. Loz isn't keen and Cornelius worries that it would affect him being able to get a job. What about your pride, appeals Roxy, which makes him mad. She apologises to him:
Roxy: "I'd be alright if I knew what they were doing to him. They could be doing anything couldn't they? I sit at school and think about all the things they could be doing to him and he's screaming. They'll break him and send him mad."
Cornelius then says he probably won't ever get a job so he'll help her as he feels sorry for Skizz, like him there is plenty he doesn't understand. Loz reluctantly agrees as well.
|Skizz about to be operated on.|
At the local snooker club, Loz starts rallying support to help get Skizz. He speaks to a radical friend of his who did some work at the army base after "trying to smash the system from within."
Skizz tells Van Owen that his people's technology has advanced so far that they don't need weapons, the only things they have that could be compared to weapons are "snuffers" which destroy suns. This shakes Van Owen and he leaves Skizz for now. Skizz thinks that he won that round but then becomes sad that he had to use the threat of destuction to "take pleasure in that single instant of awe and fear in the face of an enemy." As he sits in his cell he thinks:
Skizz: "He had managed to seize a small, pathetic victory... but the game had been lost. Lost forever."
The protest goes into action, while the guards up front deal with them round the back a car stops to"ask directions", the guards open the boot and all the rats run out, the man driving says they have plague. With protesters and rats running amok, the laundry van is waved through, it has Loz and Cornelius in it.
|Operation: Rescue Skizz!|
Roxy waits anxiously then Loz and Cornelius arrive having switched to Cornelius's van and she is reunited with Skizz in the back. He tells her "it is good to see you." Van Owen organises an armed police manhunt with instructions to shoot Skizz's rescuers much to the disgust of the senior cop there. Loz meanwhile says they need to get Skizz out of Birmingham then they can tell the wider media about him which should make him "untouchable".
Skizz: "That is good... I have.. grown tired... of people touching me."
|Skizz and Roxy reunited.|
Cornelius: "Look up there! Look at it! There's nothing as important as that! Not even pipe-fitting!"
Cornelius and Roxy leave in the van with Skizz. Loz meanwhile has returned to the pool hall where Van Owen tracks him down and tries to threaten him before realising Loz's friends outnumber him. Loz tells Van Owen to get lost, but Van Owen says he remembers what type of van Cornelius drives and that they shall be on the lookout for it.
Roxy is freaking out a bit, going on the run from family and school and she isn't sure she can be an actress without O'levels. "I quite fancied being a star" she says. Skizz apologises saying he has denied her the chance to be a comet. "Star" corrects Roxy, but she says that although she wants to be a star, Skizz is from one and that makes him special.
Loz tells Roxy's dad that she is in danger from Van Owen, so he agrees to come along to be another "witness". The van hits the Spaghetti Junction which Skizz thinks looks like an abstract art piece. The police catch up with them but Cornelius rams them. Van Owen authorises shoot-to-kill but Loz and friends catch up and block the police so the van can escape.
|Van Owen is a sore loser.|
Then suddenly lights appear in the sky and other Skizz like aliens descend from a huge ship overhead and apologise to Skizz for taking so long to come and get him. Van Own tries to shoot Skizz before he can leave, but Cornelius, who is still alive picks him up and hurls him over the edge of the raised up portion of road they are on.
|Skizz's people come to a last minute rescue.|
Skizz: "They were cruel and ugly. There was so much despair. And so much love... Some of them have style and some of them have their pride... and some of them... some of them are stars."
|Awww, all of my feels.|