Without going into too much detail, this is a page from one of my Fairburn Topic
books. Such books were meant for the study of particular topics like dinosaurs, space
flight, cars or animals, which weren't covered by our other lessons. But once the
headteacher (and my class teacher - it was a small school) Mr Geraghty saw that I
had an aptitude for writing bizarre stories and creating ridiculous comic strips,
he allowed me to use the Topic books as I pleased, and as such they became a cavalcade
of junior creativity, inspired by whatever was going on around me at the time.
In itself, this page appears really quite slight, but it had a massive effect on
my future career. Inspired primarily by a visit to my parents' friends Diane & Wayne
Townend (who played me a selection of songs by a German band called Grobschnitt,
after whom the character is named). A little bit of research tells me the album in
question must have been Solar Music Live (I've misquoted the lyrics of Golden Mist
in the bottom right hand corner).
At first, I gave no thought to how Grobschnitt might speak, giving him the same extreme
dyslexia that my other new character Apeth had recently suffered from. What's interesting
is that I clearly notice my mistake half way through, then explain it by suggesting
he only did that by force of habit because he is Apeth's cousin. Then I correct my
course, changing it entirely to give Grobschnitt an entirely different personality
Though the original page was written in pencil, has faded terribly and is thus difficult
to decipher without applying extreme contrast, it's clear to see that Grobschnitt
is even more ghoulish and violent than anything I'd previously written, with his
skeletal, helmeted head (possibly inspired by Judge Death, who had just made his
first appearance in 2000 AD, a comic I bought every week). His principal monologue
(in which he marks himself out as a bit of a trickster) attempts to convince the
reader to commit suicide. Upon being found out, he is then apparently shot in the
face at point blank range.
Over the next few years I would return to Grobschnitt several times, developing him
only slightly but maintaining his character as a rubbish prankster, before forgetting
all about him and getting on with the rest of my life. It was only when I rediscovered
some of these books at the end of the 1990s that I remembered him, retooling him
for the next century in the Origen's Wake animations Grobschnitt's Revenge and The
Imagination of Doom. My eight year old self would have been very proud.