In May 1980, the National Union of Journalists called a strike at publisher IPC. This meant my favourite comic, 2000 AD, was taken off the shelves for five whole weeks. I assume this is why I started reading my old comics again - which is what I must have been doing when I wrote this story. ‘The Money Shop’ was an idea I ripped from the cover of Tornado No 17, which had a cover date of July 14, 1979 - just a couple of months before I arrived in Fairburn. But it wasn’t just theft on my part. The cover was an invitation to enter a competition called It’s Your Turn. All I had to do was write a story called The Money Shop and send it in. The writer of the best one would not only win the £20 cash prize, but also see their story printed in Tornado itself! I’ve no idea how favourably £20 stacked up against the usual fee for a couple of pages in a comic back in those days, but it sounded like a good deal to me. Imagine how many issues of Tornado I could buy! Sadly, Tornado folded five weeks later, so as far as I know the winner was never announced, and naturally I would have known we were long past the deadline. But that didn’t stop me wanting to win. I was determined to write the best story I could manage. Maybe this idea - the Money Shop - would finally reveal me as the master scribe I knew I was destined to become. What it actually revealed was raw, untempered avarice - a freewheeling fantasy of stupendous acquisitiveness that lays my young self’s deepest desires bare on a plate: a world in which everything is free. You don’t just get free money in this story - it’s pretty much free everything. Yes, you have to pay for the toys and consumer goods, but they’re often cheaper than could possibly be practical, and technologically far superior to anything we’ve managed to invent in the 43 years since this story was written. And since the money’s just lying around on shop shelves, I don’t have to pay for any of it. But I look again and it’s clear this isn’t just a basic lust for money and goods. The money is a means to an end, and the end isn’t simply to have things. All of these things I buy are gateways to experience. The Adventure TV allows me to go inside it and participate in an episode of Blake’s 7. The Adventure Shop (next door?) is itself a gateway to the Jungle Cruise. Even the robots I buy from the Super Save Store are just there to keep me company for an afternoon. What I was really craving was a good time, and money’s value was only relative to how good a time it could buy me. Underneath all that though, there’s a much darker impulse at work. I wasn’t that violent in real life, but my imagination was starting to head down quite a vicious road. My goal in this interactive episode of Blake’s 7 is to murder all the bad guys - especially arch-baddie Servalan, who specifically gets shot in the heart. The Jungle Cruise is an avalanche of violence - from the crocodile vomiting itself to death to the ape suddenly appearing from nowhere just so it can kick me in the guts. Worst of all, in an extraordinary moment of naked racism I don’t think is parallelled anywhere else in these books, there’s the moment where I get out my pocket gun (because, you know, obviously I had guns in my pocket) just so I can murder a Native American (also in the heart - obviously my favourite target). And if that’s not bad enough, most reprehensibly, I dehumanise them as an “it”. I’m sure this sprint towards brutality was all about me wanting to write the most exciting story I could think of, without having any of the necessary skills to make that happen. The cartoon violence is absolutely inspired by the comics I was reading. But it comes across as a mad kid suffering from an acute episode of ADHD, and - as my wife (a primary school teacher) has often said to me - these days I’d probably get flagged up for some kind of special investigation, just to make sure everything was alright at home. To be frank, things weren’t alright at home. There was no violence - at least, not yet. My parents didn’t believe in physical punishment, so I wasn’t accustomed to being hit. But they weren’t getting on with each other, and that probably had a knock on effect. Whether an increasingly aggressive imaginary life was part of that, I can’t say. But I’ll explore that idea a bit more when we get to Part Two. One thing that genuinely did bother me about my home life is very plainly expressed. I didn’t like “the dirty air in the car”. Back then, it was still legal to smoke in the same car as a child, and my parents both smoked. This meant virtually every car journey was a choking hot box of nicotine, and I absolutely hated it. They found it irritating when I complained, so I learned not to, but the times we went on holiday with Diane and Wayne - with four adults continually smoking in the same car as me, occasionally burning me with stray cigarettes when we went over bumps in the road - were pretty much unbearable. When I started smoking myself a decade later, I didn’t quite know how to break it to my Mum. So I didn’t say anything - just pulled out a packet of Marlboro, lit a fag and hoped for the best. Fearing some kind of tirade or at least mild disapproval, she surprised me by falling into hysterics. It was brilliantly funny, apparently, that I smoked now, after all that complaining I used to do at them when I was a kid. It took me twenty years to kick the habit. That was thirteen years ago so I feel relatively lucky, but I could have done without spending all that money on it. I could have done without the thyroid cancer I developed the year afterwards as well, but I can’t blame all that on the dirty air in the car. Can I?
The Money Shop
Ceremonies For Sale School Rules Football The Micronauts: The Return of Supersilver Apeth (frum Ota Sbees) Exploring the Underworld When I Was Happiest Plant Description The Money Shop: Part 1 The Money Shop: Part 2 Moses and the Pharaoh Ideas for Sports The Money Shop: Part 3 Watch: Cocoa The Horrible Black Friday Waen Shepherd’s Run I Do Not Like… My Wellington Boots I Am John McEnroe Police Horses My Name is Alice Captain Kremmen: The Cat Soldiers Andrew’s Body Area Star Wars: Revenge of the Jedi Summer Scaredy Cat Goes to the Dentist’s Judge Dredd: The Shape Changers Apeth Returns The Phantom Strikes Again Grate Rubbing Starkiller Captain Shepherd The Origin of Tomato Man Copy Writing & Exercises
Happy Easter! A home made Easter card I made for my Mum and Dad
Grobschnitt’s Page Meet Grobschnitt, the dome-headed Harbinger of Mischief
Apeth (from Ota Sbees) Ritern ov thu perpal geriller
TERM 3 1980 continues with the embassy siege and The Empire Strikes Back
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
Christmas 1979 Can Waen last the night without opening his presents?
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
The Fugitive A man runs - but who is he? And what is he running from?
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
Giant Karza! Arch-enemy of the Micronauts grows to super size!
The Money Shop
INSPIRED BY…
Tornado No 17 (July 1979)
Bonfire Night Waen’s first time at the annual village fireworks display
Captain Carnivore Gary Shepherd is hunted down by a deadly flying meteor
Super Jesus A special pin-up of your favourite Nazarene webslinger
Grobschnitt’s Page Meet Grobschnitt, the dome-headed Harbinger of Mischief
Apeth (from Ota Sbees) Ritern ov thu perpal geriller
TERM 3 1980 continues with the embassy siege and The Empire Strikes Back
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
The Money Shop
 The Money Shop
THE GHOUL  ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK Available now exclusively on Bandcamp
In May 1980, the National Union of Journalists called a strike at publisher IPC. This meant my favourite comic, 2000 AD, was taken off the shelves for five whole weeks. I assume this is why I started reading my old comics again - which is what I must have been doing when I wrote this story. ‘The Money Shop’ was an idea I ripped from the cover of Tornado No 17, which had a cover date of July 14, 1979 - just a couple of months before I arrived in Fairburn. But it wasn’t just theft on my part. The cover was an invitation to enter a competition called It’s Your Turn. All I had to do was write a story called The Money Shop and send it in. The writer of the best one would not only win the £20 cash prize, but also see their story printed in Tornado itself! I’ve no idea how favourably £20 stacked up against the usual fee for a couple of pages in a comic back in those days, but it sounded like a good deal to me. Imagine how many issues of Tornado I could buy! Sadly, Tornado folded five weeks later, so as far as I know the winner was never announced, and naturally I would have known we were long past the deadline. But that didn’t stop me wanting to win. I was determined to write the best story I could manage. Maybe this idea - the Money Shop - would finally reveal me as the master scribe I knew I was destined to become. What it actually revealed was raw, untempered avarice - a freewheeling fantasy of stupendous acquisitiveness that lays my young self’s deepest desires bare on a plate: a world in which everything is free. You don’t just get free money in this story - it’s pretty much free everything. Yes, you have to pay for the toys and consumer goods, but they’re often cheaper than could possibly be practical, and technologically far superior to anything we’ve managed to invent in the 43 years since this story was written. And since the money’s just lying around on shop shelves, I don’t have to pay for any of it. But I look again and it’s clear this isn’t just a basic lust for money and goods. The money is a means to an end, and the end isn’t simply to have things. All of these things I buy are gateways to experience. The Adventure TV allows me to go inside it and participate in an episode of Blake’s 7. The Adventure Shop (next door?) is itself a gateway to the Jungle Cruise. Even the robots I buy from the Super Save Store are just there to keep me company for an afternoon. What I was really craving was a good time, and money’s value was only relative to how good a time it could buy me. Underneath all that though, there’s a much darker impulse at work. I wasn’t that violent in real life, but my imagination was starting to head down quite a vicious road. My goal in this interactive episode of Blake’s 7 is to murder all the bad guys - especially arch-baddie Servalan, who specifically gets shot in the heart. The Jungle Cruise is an avalanche of violence - from the crocodile vomiting itself to death to the ape suddenly appearing from nowhere just so it can kick me in the guts. Worst of all, in an extraordinary moment of naked racism I don’t think is parallelled anywhere else in these books, there’s the moment where I get out my pocket gun (because, you know, obviously I had guns in my pocket) just so I can murder a Native American (also in the heart - obviously my favourite target). And if that’s not bad enough, most reprehensibly, I dehumanise them as an “it”. I’m sure this sprint towards brutality was all about me wanting to write the most exciting story I could think of, without having any of the necessary skills to make that happen. The cartoon violence is absolutely inspired by the comics I was reading. But it comes across as a mad kid suffering from an acute episode of ADHD, and - as my wife (a primary school teacher) has often said to me - these days I’d probably get flagged up for some kind of special investigation, just to make sure everything was alright at home. To be frank, things weren’t alright at home. There was no violence - at least, not yet. My parents didn’t believe in physical punishment, so I wasn’t accustomed to being hit. But they weren’t getting on with each other, and that probably had a knock on effect. Whether an increasingly aggressive imaginary life was part of that, I can’t say. But I’ll explore that idea a bit more when we get to Part Two. One thing that genuinely did bother me about my home life is very plainly expressed. I didn’t like “the dirty air in the car”. Back then, it was still legal to smoke in the same car as a child, and my parents both smoked. This meant virtually every car journey was a choking hot box of nicotine, and I absolutely hated it. They found it irritating when I complained, so I learned not to, but the times we went on holiday with Diane and Wayne - with four adults continually smoking in the same car as me, occasionally burning me with stray cigarettes when we went over bumps in the road - were pretty much unbearable. When I started smoking myself a decade later, I didn’t quite know how to break it to my Mum. So I didn’t say anything - just pulled out a packet of Marlboro, lit a fag and hoped for the best. Fearing some kind of tirade or at least mild disapproval, she surprised me by falling into hysterics. It was brilliantly funny, apparently, that I smoked now, after all that complaining I used to do at them when I was a kid. It took me twenty years to kick the habit. That was thirteen years ago so I feel relatively lucky, but I could have done without spending all that money on it. I could have done without the thyroid cancer I developed the year afterwards as well, but I can’t blame all that on the dirty air in the car. Can I?