Nineteen and a half years ago, Fleetway published The Totally Stonking, Surprisingly Educational And Utterly Mind-Boggling Comic Relief Comic. Written by the likes of Richard Curtis, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Mark Millar, Pete Milligan, Dave Gibbons, Garth Ennis and more, drawn by the likes of Brian Bolland, Simon Bisley, Hunt Emerson, Sean Phillips, Jamie Hewlett, Arthur Ranson, Philip Bond, Dave McKean, David Lloyd, Bryan Talbot and more.
Comic Relief is a African relief and UK social charity that runs the biannual telethon on the BBC, Red Nose Day. And in 1991, this was a comic book moneyraising event that sold out in hours of release.
But that was nineteen and a half years ago.
I’ve been talking with Comic Relief for some time about doing another one. And while time issues and promotional priority issues scuppered a fully fledged printed comic in time for the twentieth anniversary, they’ve agreed on a digital reissue of the original comic, with additional content twenty years on.
So. Simple job, yes? Just scan and pan… except there are new legalities here. The comic features Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dan Dare, Judge Dredd, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man, Captain Britain, Wolverine, Dr Strange, Dennis The Menace, Desperate Dan, The Bash Street Kids, Roger Mellie and other Viz characters, The Sleeze Brothes, Doctor Who, K9, Cybermen… oh and Robocop.
And we’ll need sign off from the owners of all of them. Or have to hack away at the original with whiteout. That’s Job Number One.
I’m going to make a big presumption that none of the creators will have issue with their old work being republished in this manner. And I’ll be asking Alan Moore if he minds his name being used, given that it’s not being published by Fleetway this time.
Job Number Two will be approaching the very A-list of modern comic book talent, asking if they’d be willing to write and draw one or two panels for a new wraparound revisit.
Job Number Three, sorting out a digital delivery system that will please everyone.
And Job Number Four. Scanning the original in. This comic is so rare it hasn’t even been illegally pirated. And hopefully it won’t be.
The comic takes place on the night of Red Nose Day in the BBC studio, as the event starts to go wrong with the human race to be replaced by creatures with openable faces via the Red Noses, behind which is a doll’s house cutaway of a house, which the creatures keep tidy, muttering “My house is in order”. Creepy satire, combined with knockabout humour, with cutaways to Richard Curtis’ Edmund Blackadder set in the modern day, being taught the realities of charity, which he constantly refuses to learn. I loved it when I bought it off the newsagent shelf, and I’ve just enjoyed rereading it. And hopefully next March I’ll be able to make it available to everyone, and raise a wodge load of moneys in the process.
Okay, Time to start writing some letters. Wish me luck.
So. Any advice? Any copyright holders like to get in touch? Anyone who worked on the original book like to share their memories? Anyone working on a 50,000+ selling book like to offer a panel or two for use in four months time?
UPDATE: A number of creators of the original have got in touch offering assistance and help. Rebellion has signed off on using Judge Dredd and Andy Lanning on using the Sleeze Brothers. And DC have begun to go through their necessary motions. It’s happening people. it’s happening.