1984: Strange Johnny Nemo Days

Strange Days (1984) #1-3, The Johnny Nemo Magazine (1985) #1-3 by Peter Milligan, Brett Ewins, Brendan McCarthy, et al.

These books are another part of the British Invasion (which included books like Miracleman and Axel Pressbutton), brought to you by Pacific Comics, but then ended up with Eclipse Comics when Pacific Comics went belly up.

Milligan, Ewins and McCarthy had all done work for 2000AD in the UK before they did this book for an American publisher. I have no idea whether these were originally intended for a UK publisher, but I doubt it since the aspect ratio of the pages is the normal American standard sized one.

There’s three continuing stories in the Strange Days series: First off (in every issue) there’s Freakwave, which has artwork by Brendan McCarthy, and it’s the way weirdest one.

I’m not going to attempt to describe what it’s about. Mainly because I have no idea. And because that’s boring, anyway, but it’s great fun. And the creators had fun doing this, obviously, with that lavish artwork and the “similar ilkness” and “get this head in the clouds” (they’re referring to a city formed as a head that floats in the air).

It’s that kind of thing.

The three main serials are all eight pages each, but there’s some stand-alone pages sprinkled here and there.

The most straightforward bit is Johnny Nemo, who’s a private dick (or something) in the future. Yes, he solves mysteries and goes around shooting a whole lot of people (it’s British so there has to be hyperviolence) and all the normal stuff.

And has a manual ad block.

But it’s a traditionally told and drawn story: Inked lines and kinda solid colours.

The artwork gets very wild at times in the interstitial bits.

It is!

Oh, yeah, the third story is about a super-hero (of sorts) called Paradax. It’s not quite as straightforward as Johnny Nemo, but it’s nowhere near as weird as Freakwave.

But it has the occasional page like that.

And then Strange Days ended. I don’t know whether it was planned as a three issue series, but all the three serials finished up quite properly. That is, I have no idea whether Freakwave had an ending that made any kind of sense, but again, that’s the point.

Paradax went off to have his own two-issue comic at Vortex a couple years later. I don’t think Freakwave continued.

Picking Johnny Nemo as the star of the next comic is a no-brainer: It’s funny, sharp and easy to follow, and apparently this was supposed to be a six-issue mini-series?

Johnny Nemo is streamlined even further for this series: More jokes, more violence, more plot. In this one he basically goes after a drug dealer, but he runs into people like those upper-class twits (who are hunting plebes). Oh, the social commentary!

The backup feature is a new thing called Sindy Shade, and is slightly more weird than the main feature, but it’s drawn in the same style. Keeping things simpler the second time around. Oh, and McCarthy’s gone: It’s just Milligan and Ewins for this series.

Milligan explains the reason he’s no philosopher.

The third issue, the artwork is done by Steve Dillon and Ewins, and it’s fine, I guess. Not as sharp as Ewins on his own.

The editors announce that the book has been cancelled due to low sales. So I guess they had to wrap up both Johnny Nemo and Sindy Shade quickly:

And… eh… That’s an ending, I guess…

Sindi Shade has even less of a conclusion.

All the parties involved went on to have extensive careers in comics. Milligan continued Johnny Nemo with a variety of artists at other publishers, and the stories have been collected extensively.

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