I contributed several scripts to Picture Library #1, but the one that took by the far the longest to write was Thirty Kroner Kincaid. This strip started out with a throwaway comment by David Frankum that he wanted to do something in the style of the "based on a true story" tales of wartime heroism that were a regular staple of The Victor.
Always eager to have David on board, I immediately set to work. As may be apparent, the main influences on Massacre For Boys are those old IPC comics from the 70s and 80s (Battle, 2000AD, Eagle, Scream! and so on). However Steve and I have always enjoyed the DC Thompson stuff as well, especially The Victor, but also Warlord, Hotspur and, of course, Commando. Indeed, we pastiched the Commando-style in an early Walking Wounded strip (see MFB In Colour).
David sent me a scan of one example of the genre (which I loved), but finding that I had no Victor material in the house, I bought myself the recent "Best Of" the annuals material. I devoured it avidly, and indeed added the "Best Of" for the regular comic to my collection as well. One approach I could have taken was a straight parody, and just made up a totally unlikely series of events, then presented them as if they had really happened. Sort of like a Quentin Tarantino war film. However, I decided what I really wanted to do was tell an actual true story. As a nice counterpoint to Walking Wounded (which is pretty unrealistic, sadly) I decided to research the real Commandos and see if there was anything I could work with.
My first idea was to use Mad Jack Churchill, one of the most inspiring maniacs whom ever lived. However, I couldn't really find a way in to start telling his story, which in any case probably requires a great deal more than three pages. Then I found out about the Lofoten Islands raid, which seemed so different to any kind of battle accounts I'd come across before, and potentially funny, so I decided I had to do it. I did consider having an extra page, with Jack Churchill leading a beach landing, unopposed much to his annoyance, but decided this would just distract from Kincaid's adventures, and so, regretfully, reduced him to a one-panel cameo.
The character of Kincaid I made up, but there was a real individual who "misplaced" thirty kroner during the raid, and whom was not named in historical records to save embarrassment. The exact manner in which the money was lost I also invented, based on inferences taken from the description of what really happened. I'm quite proud that everything in the script is either fact, or else invention that does not contradict any known facts.
One of the things I like about the finished script is it almost entirely succeeds in hiding how much effort has gone into it. Reading the story through, it's so briskly written, with a what I hope is a light-touch, you might think I knocked up in an afternoon. Ha, I wish. Thankfully, when I finally presented the script to David he was kind enough to accept it, and furthermore, do his usual phenomenal job on the art. I particularly loved the naval battle sequence, and then the expressions on the faces of all the characters. He also came up with the idea of a restricting the colour to red shading only, just like DC Thompson used to do, which was a masterstroke. All three pages are a joy to look at. Nikki Foxrobot then did her usual, incredible job on the lettering, the tasty icing on a delicious cake.
You can read page one on David's blog here, and all three pages if you buy the comic, obviously. UPDATE: Oh, all right, because you're all so lovely the complete strip is now available from our Facebook page and on the main MFB site.