Thursday, 23 April 2015

It Came! by Dan Boultwood Review


1950s Britain and a flying saucer crash-lands in the countryside. A giant robot emerges, intent on absorbing all the Britishness in the land. It’s up to “genius” scientist Dr Boy Brett and his plucky lady friend Doris to alert the proper authorities and see to it the unwelcome guest gets what for. Tally ho, chaps – for Queen and crumpets! 

Dan Boultwood’s It Came! is a brilliant parody of cheesy British sci-fi b-movies from the early to mid-20th century. It’s presented as a film in comic form with a trailer and ads at the start, the main feature – with intermission – followed by more ads and movie posters at the end. There’s even a couple of fake IMDb pages (well, all of it is fictionalised!) at the end featuring the actors playing Boy and Doris, Dick Claymore and Fanny Flanders! 

The tone is pure comedy throughout with a healthy dollop of raunchy British humour reminiscent of the Carry On! movies. The title is an indicator of the kind of sexual innuendo (in-your-end-o) that make up most of the dialogue as well as a lot of casual misogyny on the part of Boy as he talks down to Doris: “Now, Doris, you’ve got the most important job of all…” “Shall I put the kettle on?” (don’t worry, she gets her own back at the end!). 

Contributing to the filmic effect, the art is presented in wide panels for that cinematic look and it’s black and white like most cheap films from this era. There are also cheap props used like the obvious model of a flying saucer hanging off a string! The nods to the crap storytelling are well-observed like one chapter ending on a “cliffhanger” as the doors are closing, sealing in Boy and Doris – only for them to make it out in the next, with the characters remarking that the doors looked to be closing much faster before! 

I love how the script pokes fun of- fondly - stereotypical British behaviour and values. From the quaint countryside towns where people are so out of touch they’re not even aware the crown has passed from a King to a Queen, with their bunting, pints and pork pies, to the towns with their “sophisticated” toffs smoking pipes, what? Boy’s constant gibberish appending his lines: “old fruit/pin/knob, etc.”, the primness of the characters’ sensibilities, not to mention the very British finale – it’s like reading the comic that informed Dick Van Dyke’s performance in Mary Poppins! 

The characters are meant to be one-dimensional cut-outs but knowing that they’re actors playing characters, with Doris at least possessing a measure of 21st century sensibility, makes them appear more rounded. They’re as developed as they need to be though as the enjoyable silliness and humour are the important features of the story. It’s a little short at four issues however as the comic has basically one tone and one joke repeated throughout, it’s the right length so it doesn’t become wearying to the reader.

It Came! takes a wry, post-modern look at the campy, brainless b-movies of yesteryear from their bad production values, hammy acting, hack scripts, and bizarre overall tone. But it does so in a charming, clever, imaginative and very entertaining way so that even if you’re not a fan of this particular sub-genre (like me), you’ll still get a lot out of the book. 

Well-directed, Dan – bally good show!

It Came!

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