How Grobschnitt Came To Be By the spring of 1980, we were firmly settled in Fairburn. We’d bought all the furniture, installed the shower, Artexed the walls and ensconced ourselves completely in our new village lifestyle. Mum and Dad were even on the local village committee, whatever that meant - deciding on village things with all the other elders I suppose. (More like getting drunk in the Waggon & Horses, I expect, but Dad was still the treasurer.) At which point, we realised we’d been neglecting some of our old friends. Mum and Dad had some new ones, of course - Ralph and Christine came round every now and again with their two boys, Steven and Richard, and sometimes we went to see them in Castleford. But it had been a good few months since we saw their best friends, Diane and Wayne Townend. Diane and Wayne lived across the road from us when we’d lived on that council estate in Airedale, at 14 Dove Drive. Actually the same flat we’d lived in when I was very young. The story goes that we moved out of No 14 because it was an upstairs flat and I kept falling down the stairs, so we moved to No 11 which had a downstairs as well. But my bedroom was still upstairs, so I never quite understood that. Nevertheless, there we were at No 11 with two whole floors, and that’s when Diane and Wayne moved into No 14. They were by far the coolest of Mum and Dad’s friends. Always young and fashionable but still down to earth. Very much into art, music and making the place look nice. We went on holiday a few times - to local seaside places like Scarborough and Primrose Valley - so I got to know them pretty well. I’d say maybe they were like my favourite auntie and uncle. They always treated me like a person, not a kid. Always got me the coolest presents. Wayne especially was like a sort of mentor figure to me in a way. He was an artist - not by profession (he actually worked at the same sweet factory as my Mum, doing the job her Dad used to do) but he’d studied at art college and regularly still painted - I remember going to at least one public exhibition of his work - so he gave me a few tips when I showed an interest. Later in life, as I got more interested in music, he introduced me to bands and artists I wouldn’t otherwise have listened to - King Crimson, Bill Nelson, Kate Bush, Japan - stuff that had a profound impact on the rest of my life. And, crucially, he was funny. Seemed to be his mission in life to make me laugh. Usually in random, crazy ways. Of all the adults I knew, he was the one most likely to pick me up and dangle me upside down by my feet. Sometimes it’d be cross-eyes and stupid voices - once he put a green bucket on his head, crossed his eyes and shuffled into the room saying ‘Hello, I’m Gilbert Quim’ and it still makes me laugh (Disclaimer: i was a bit older then, this isn’t a child protection issue). Sometimes, he’d introduce me to new stuff just because he knew it would both make me laugh and completely blow my mind at the same time. It was Wayne that introduced me to Kenny Everett - they had a video recorder long before other people had video recorders so he taped it off the telly (it was on at the same time as Blake’s 7, which I would never miss) and showed me some bits of Captain Kremmen. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. Adult, but childlike, and crazy, but it knew exactly what it was doing. And it was set in space! Another time, he played me a song called Peasant in the Big Shitty by The Stranglers just because he knew it would make me laugh like hell, and it did - especially the bit at the end where Dave Greenfield’s voice keeps rising in pitch until it gets so high it disappears. And then there was this one time, when he decided to play me an album called Solar Music Live by a German band called Grobschnitt. Specifically a track called Golden Mist - a lengthy psychedelic jam punctuated by the lead singer pondering the eternal question: “Would you like to sit on your bum on the surface of the sun?” before letting out an almighty scream. Well, you would scream, wouldn’t you? Obviously this was the absolute high point of comedy for me. Things just couldn’t get any funnier than this. (Note to adults: It isn’t actually funny to anyone over the age of eight, so don’t go to Grobschnitt looking for laughs.) My response? The very next day (whenever that was - there are no dates in this book, though it must have been somewhere between March and May 1980), I went back to school, picked up my crappy blunt pencil and turned it into a crazy cartoon character. What Grobschnitt Actually Is This first appearance of Grobschnitt is basically all about me trying to work out who or what Grobschnitt actually is and what he represents. In many ways, I’m trying to capture and reproduce what made the original experience of listening to Golden Mist so hilarious. There’s a bit in the bottom right-hand corner where I have a strange-looking man with question marks on his face slightly misquoting the lyrics I’d heard, helping me to remember what inspired it all these years later. But this isn’t just about that particular night or telling that particular joke. I think here I’m experimenting with trying to capture the whole experience of being overwhelmed by something so crazy, it makes you erupt into endless laughter. Grobschnitt isn’t just one line in someone else’s song - he’s a representative for the entire experience of being assaulted by unexpected comedy mischief. I’d tried this already in my English book a couple of times, most notably with Apeth and Tedosaurus, and I must have known I was attempting the same thing again. Grobschnitt even starts out speaking like Apeth, with the same deliberately misspelt writing style - my shorthand for ‘stupid’ - before I obviously thought better of it, decided I wanted this character to have a separate voice with more thought put into it, apologised (‘It’s Apeth’s writing!’) and drew a picture of Apeth, labelling him ‘My cousin’ as a way of explaining why Grobschnitt might accidentally use the same voice. It’s a crazier-looking Apeth though, with wacky, bombed-out eyes and a fixed frown that makes him look like he’s seen something deeply traumatic - but hilariously traumatic nonetheless. There’s another misstep in a panel on the left where we see that Grobschnitt has some writing on the back of his head, completely messing up a joke I’d heard about Superman wearing his pants over the top of his tights. Suggesting that, in my search for the right material, I was slowly discovering I’d be much better off writing my own than feebly butchering someone else’s. But I knew jokes were the right way to do it, somehow - that words, collected together in the form of jokes, held the power to carry bizarre concepts that could unlock different, more exalted states of being, if only you used the right ones, in the right order. And then it came, in the central panel at the bottom. After having been away and thought about what his character should actually be like, he announces ‘I’m back’ and proceeds to implore you to ‘go to the highest cliff in the world, and jump off it with your eyes closed!’ Yes, that’d be pretty mad. He also wants you to do it as soon as possible, or in his words, ‘Get it done before you find out I’m a bloodthirsty murderer!’ Obviously, he can’t be allowed to get away with this, so during his final maniacal laugh (presumably oblivious to the fact he’s actually told us his secret plan outright), he is shot in the face by some kind of weapon. What kind? Well, it’s difficult to descrbe. I suppose it’s some kind of gun-sword. After which he hastily apologises and claims he was ‘only joking’. Bit violent, isn’t it? What Grobschnitt Did Next Grobschnitt returns several times over the course of my time in Fairburn, and a couple of times afterwards too. I’m not sure I ever really truly get to grips with his character or what it is he’s really supposed to do - he never really gets going, to be honest - but I think if I were to put my finger on it, I used him as some kind of harbinger of mischief. Especially later on, in my second year, when I started deliberately using him as shorthand for remembering how crazy I must have been to think him up in the first place. So when Grobschnitt turns up, you know Shepherd’s in a very silly mood. And then I grew up. And then I read these books again as an adult. And I was so taken with Grobschnitt - who somehow seemed like a key to unlocking this lost time of happy craziness, when I still had a Mum and Dad and three grandparents and I didn’t really know much, but what I did know was that I was a very crazy boy who liked writing and drawing and laughing, and that’s all I really needed to know - that I made him one of the central characters in an animation I made with Tim Hope called Origen’s Wake. And when Origen’s Wake got picked up by Channel 4 and made into an episode of their Comedy Lab series - still to this day the only TV script I ever managed to take fully to broadcast - Grobschnitt was there. Relegated a little to the sidelines, but if we’d expanded it into a series, he would have been a much stronger presence. And that’s the last we ever saw of him. I still hope I’ll see him again one day. I just hope I’m not standing on the highest cliff in the world when I do.
Dinosaurs 1 Space Travel Ships Sport Dinosaurs 2 Judge Dredd: The Blood of Satanus Captain Carnivore A-Maze-Ing! Star Poster: Super Jesus The Micronauts: Giant Karza The Origin of Electro Optical Illusion Time Frantic Thingies Men in Space Topic Book Word Find Puzzleman Evel Knievel: Fury Falls More Puzzlers Star Poster: The Hulk 1 Grobschnitt’s Page Captain Starlight Star Poster: The Hulk 2 The Yellyog Gang The Adventures of Puzzlemaster Jupe Woman Line Pin-Up: Doctor Doom Lazer Lash The Human Maze Three Squares Raven Mad Marvel Sketches Robschnitt’s Age: 1 Snotty Notty Space Battles Metalorian Man Robschnitt’s Age: 2 The Superhero Sports Day Captain Kirk & Pywal Carbo-Catalogue How Dumb Are You? The Space Invaders: 1 Pin-Up: The Empire Strikes Back The Space Invaders: 2 Gi-Gant-Ic! Index
TERM 2 The birth of the 1980s - Blake’s 7, Blondie and battles in space
TOPIC 1 He knows the names of all the dinosaurs
March/April 1980
Grobschnitt’s Page
HELP ME KEEP THIS WEBSITE ALIVE
Great Space Battles Three mighty empires take their first steps into outer space
Waen Shepherd 2 Waen’s heroic antics in the far-flung future of 2007 AD!
Ward’s 7 John Ward and his band of rebels fight the evil Federation
Superman the Movie Souvenir programme from when I went to the pictures with Louise
Tedosaurus Prehistoric fun with a teddy bear the size of a dinosaur!
Apeth Badly-spelt high-jinks with a purple gorilla from outer space!
Captain Carnivore Gary Shepherd is hunted down by a deadly flying meteor
Super Jesus A special pin-up of your favourite Nazarene webslinger
The Origin of Electro Waen Shepherd, TV Star, turns evil and drains the city!
Giant Karza! Arch-enemy of the Micronauts grows to super size!
ENGLISH 2 A general increase in manic stupidity and excessive violence
Happy Easter! A home made Easter card I made for my Mum and Dad
A-Maze-ing! The most unbelievable maze you’ve ever seen in your life!
Optical Illusion Time Amazing visual tricks that will boggle your mind!
DIANE & WAYNE
Wayne Townend, circa 1984 - not sure but I think there might be something wrong with his eyes Mum, me, Wayne & Diane - Blackpool Pleasure Beach, August 1984 Grobschnitt's Page
Apeth (from Ota Sbees) Ritern ov thu perpal geriller
Puzzlemaster Help Puzzlemaster escape the clutches of the Martian spacelords!
Captain Starlight Know your Starlight superheroes with this amazing fact file!
The Yellyog Gang Meet my latest hideous bunch of nutty nightmare fuellers
March/April 1980
Grobschnitt’s Page
Grobschnitt's Page
How Grobschnitt Came To Be By the spring of 1980, we were firmly settled in Fairburn. We’d bought all the furniture, installed the shower, Artexed the walls and ensconced ourselves completely in our new village lifestyle. Mum and Dad were even on the local village committee, whatever that meant - deciding on village things with all the other elders I suppose. (More like getting drunk in the Waggon & Horses, I expect, but Dad was still the treasurer.) At which point, we realised we’d been neglecting some of our old friends. Mum and Dad had some new ones, of course - Ralph and Christine came round every now and again with their two boys, Steven and Richard, and sometimes we went to see them in Castleford. But it had been a good few months since we saw their best friends, Diane and Wayne Townend. Diane and Wayne lived across the road from us when we’d lived on that council estate in Airedale, at 14 Dove Drive. Actually the same flat we’d lived in when I was very young. The story goes that we moved out of No 14 because it was an upstairs flat and I kept falling down the stairs, so we moved to No 11 which had a downstairs as well. But my bedroom was still upstairs, so I never quite understood that. Nevertheless, there we were at No 11 with two whole floors, and that’s when Diane and Wayne moved into No 14. They were by far the coolest of Mum and Dad’s friends. Always young and fashionable but still down to earth. Very much into art, music and making the place look nice. We went on holiday a few times - to local seaside places like Scarborough and Primrose Valley - so I got to know them pretty well. I’d say maybe they were like my favourite auntie and uncle. They always treated me like a person, not a kid. Always got me the coolest presents. Wayne especially was like a sort of mentor figure to me in a way. He was an artist - not by profession (he actually worked at the same sweet factory as my Mum, doing the job her Dad used to do) but he’d studied at art college and regularly still painted - I remember going to at least one public exhibition of his work - so he gave me a few tips when I showed an interest. Later in life, as I got more interested in music, he introduced me to bands and artists I wouldn’t otherwise have listened to - King Crimson, Bill Nelson, Kate Bush, Japan - stuff that had a profound impact on the rest of my life. And, crucially, he was funny. Seemed to be his mission in life to make me laugh. Usually in random, crazy ways. Of all the adults I knew, he was the one most likely to pick me up and dangle me upside down by my feet. Sometimes it’d be cross- eyes and stupid voices - once he put a green bucket on his head, crossed his eyes and shuffled into the room saying ‘Hello, I’m Gilbert Quim’ and it still makes me laugh (Disclaimer: i was a bit older then, this isn’t a child protection issue). Sometimes, he’d introduce me to new stuff just because he knew it would both make me laugh and completely blow my mind at the same time. It was Wayne that introduced me to Kenny Everett - they had a video recorder long before other people had video recorders so he taped it off the telly (it was on at the same time as Blake’s 7, which I would never miss) and showed me some bits of Captain Kremmen. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. Adult, but childlike, and crazy, but it knew exactly what it was doing. And it was set in space! Another time, he played me a song called Peasant in the Big Shitty by The Stranglers just because he knew it would make me laugh like hell, and it did - especially the bit at the end where Dave Greenfield’s voice keeps rising in pitch until it gets so high it disappears. And then there was this one time, when he decided to play me an album called Solar Music Live by a German band called Grobschnitt. Specifically a track called Golden Mist - a lengthy psychedelic jam punctuated by the lead singer pondering the eternal question: “Would you like to sit on your bum on the surface of the sun?” before letting out an almighty scream. Well, you would scream, wouldn’t you? Obviously this was the absolute high point of comedy for me. Things just couldn’t get any funnier than this. (Note to adults: It isn’t actually funny to anyone over the age of eight, so don’t go to Grobschnitt looking for laughs.) My response? The very next day (whenever that was - there are no dates in this book, though it must have been somewhere between March and May 1980), I went back to school, picked up my crappy blunt pencil and turned it into a crazy cartoon character. What Grobschnitt Actually Is This first appearance of Grobschnitt is basically all about me trying to work out who or what Grobschnitt actually is and what he represents. In many ways, I’m trying to capture and reproduce what made the original experience of listening to Golden Mist so hilarious. There’s a bit in the bottom right-hand corner where I have a strange-looking man with question marks on his face slightly misquoting the lyrics I’d heard, helping me to remember what inspired it all these years later. But this isn’t just about that particular night or telling that particular joke. I think here I’m experimenting with trying to capture the whole experience of being overwhelmed by something so crazy, it makes you erupt into endless laughter. Grobschnitt isn’t just one line in someone else’s song - he’s a representative for the entire experience of being assaulted by unexpected comedy mischief. I’d tried this already in my English book a couple of times, most notably with Apeth and Tedosaurus, and I must have known I was attempting the same thing again. Grobschnitt even starts out speaking like Apeth, with the same deliberately misspelt writing style - my shorthand for ‘stupid’ - before I obviously thought better of it, decided I wanted this character to have a separate voice with more thought put into it, apologised (‘It’s Apeth’s writing!’) and drew a picture of Apeth, labelling him ‘My cousin’ as a way of explaining why Grobschnitt might accidentally use the same voice. It’s a crazier-looking Apeth though, with wacky, bombed-out eyes and a fixed frown that makes him look like he’s seen something deeply traumatic - but hilariously traumatic nonetheless. There’s another misstep in a panel on the left where we see that Grobschnitt has some writing on the back of his head, completely messing up a joke I’d heard about Superman wearing his pants over the top of his tights. Suggesting that, in my search for the right material, I was slowly discovering I’d be much better off writing my own than feebly butchering someone else’s. But I knew jokes were the right way to do it, somehow - that words, collected together in the form of jokes, held the power to carry bizarre concepts that could unlock different, more exalted states of being, if only you used the right ones, in the right order. And then it came, in the central panel at the bottom. After having been away and thought about what his character should actually be like, he announces ‘I’m back’ and proceeds to implore you to ‘go to the highest cliff in the world, and jump off it with your eyes closed!’ Yes, that’d be pretty mad. He also wants you to do it as soon as possible, or in his words, ‘Get it done before you find out I’m a bloodthirsty murderer!’ Obviously, he can’t be allowed to get away with this, so during his final maniacal laugh (presumably oblivious to the fact he’s actually told us his secret plan outright), he is shot in the face by some kind of weapon. What kind? Well, it’s difficult to descrbe. I suppose it’s some kind of gun-sword. After which he hastily apologises and claims he was ‘only joking’. Bit violent, isn’t it? What Grobschnitt Did Next Grobschnitt returns several times over the course of my time in Fairburn, and a couple of times afterwards too. I’m not sure I ever really truly get to grips with his character or what it is he’s really supposed to do - he never really gets going, to be honest - but I think if I were to put my finger on it, I used him as some kind of harbinger of mischief. Especially later on, in my second year, when I started deliberately using him as shorthand for remembering how crazy I must have been to think him up in the first place. So when Grobschnitt turns up, you know Shepherd’s in a very silly mood. And then I grew up. And then I read these books again as an adult. And I was so taken with Grobschnitt - who somehow seemed like a key to unlocking this lost time of happy craziness, when I still had a Mum and Dad and three grandparents and I didn’t really know much, but what I did know was that I was a very crazy boy who liked writing and drawing and laughing, and that’s all I really needed to know - that I made him one of the central characters in an animation I made with Tim Hope called Origen’s Wake. And when Origen’s Wake got picked up by Channel 4 and made into an episode of their Comedy Lab series - still to this day the only TV script I ever managed to take fully to broadcast - Grobschnitt was there. Relegated a little to the sidelines, but if we’d expanded it into a series, he would have been a much stronger presence. And that’s the last we ever saw of him. I still hope I’ll see him again one day. I just hope I’m not standing on the highest cliff in the world when I do.
DIANE & WAYNE
Wayne Townend wearing some eyes that might not actually be his, circa 1984 Mum, me, Wayne & Diane - Blackpool Pleasure Beach, August 1984
TERM 2 The birth of the 1980s - Blake’s 7, Blondie and battles in space
Waen Shepherd 2 Waen’s heroic antics in the far-flung future of 2007 AD!
The Flame in the Desert An evil fire threatens the safety of the world
Super Jesus A special pin-up of your favourite Nazarene webslinger
HELP ME KEEP THIS WEBSITE ALIVE
Tedosaurus Prehistoric fun with a teddy bear the size of a dinosaur!
Apeth Badly-spelt high-jinks with a purple gorilla from outer space!
Apeth (from Ota Sbees) Ritern ov thu perpal geriller
TERM 3 1980 continues with the embassy siege and The Empire Strikes Back