Newspaper strips. A three-barrelled shotgun unloaded into the face of the reader every morning over their breakfast. I have always loved newspaper strips. So has Jimmy Broxton. Thank God.
Jimmy and I have been working together for nearly a year on our Soviet dystopia THE ENGINE for Madefire. Over that time we talked endlessly, finding we shared a love of the same kind of stories.
“I was born in the wrong time,” he said to me one morning, “I wish I’d been around decades earlier so I could have done a newspaper strip.”
Not being the sort of sensible folk who might let fashion, commerciality or common sense get in the way of a plan, we decided to do one anyway.
I suggested we invent an old strip, something we could pretend we had discovered and were now reprinting. I developed a background for the strip, its characters and creators. Jimmy began to draw some sketches. Eventually, we were looking at a wealth of work. GOLDTIGER – the iconic ‘lost’ newspaper strip. That wasn’t.
Some ideas get away with themselves and I soon realised that the lives of its creators, Louis Schaeffer and Antonio Barreti, were just as much a part of the story as the strips themselves. The initial failure to get the strip commissioned broke Barreti, a man who had always been on the brink of sanity, and he would spend the next few years in care, still working, still creating GOLDTIGER.
There’s definitely a hint of Spike Milligan here, the British comedian and writer who suffered from many mental breakdowns throughout his career (at one point, convinced he had to kill his Goon Show co-star, Peter Sellers, he went to the man’s home armed with a potato knife. He walked straight through the actor’s plate-glass door front door and ended up being hospitalised for a fortnight. Sellers lived on.).
We had two stories, the strip and the chaos going on behind it. Then I realised the two stories didn’t need to remain separate, that eventually they could meet. Then who knows what might happen?
Well, you will if our Kickstarter project is successful. At least, you’ll have an inkling of it (our plan is for a series of books, if you’re going to dream then, damn it, dream big). The first book, THE POSEIDON COMPLEX, is sitting there right now, waiting to be funded. It’s going to be a lavish affair, bright and bold and mad and beautiful. Even if I do say so myself.
Why should you help us get it made? Well, hopefully because you want to read it. But also because GOLDTIGER has a habit of affecting its creators. I dread to think what might happen if it’s unsuccessful. What effect might it have on me? I know where Broxton lives after all and I own several knives…