So I was sitting in front of the computer sometime in September 2005 watching an episode of DEADWOOD and thinking about how Alan Moore lucked into all those lovely postmodern ideas like assembling disparate adventurers of the 19th Century into the 20th Century model of a superhero team and remembering how much fun it was to write MINISTRY OF SPACE when my computer told me it’d finally downloaded a piece of public domain film I’d started torrenting four hours earlier. In a rare moment of nostalgia, I’d decided to download an episode of one of the old FLASH GORDON serials. Buster Crabbe running around, with his peroxide hair that he was so embarrassed about that he used to keep his hat on all the time while in public, unconscionable rudeness in 1930 America. Total nostalgia trip for me, because all of those things — the FLASH GORDON serials, the old BUCK ROGERS serial, KING OF THE ROCKETMEN and all that — were shown on British tv when I was a kid. “Steam-powered STAR WARS,” my dad used to call them. And I’m watching DEADWOOD, the American cable tv series that eviscerates the Western genre, mixing history with fiction in its imagining of the last days of the Wild West. And it suddenly occurs to me. Where did the space heroes go when they weren’t in space anymore? I found myself looking at the clapboard and pine of the Deadwood camp and seeing it made out of bits of abandoned 1930s sci-fi rocketship, and a fifty-year-old Flash Gordon calling people “cocksucker.” So I noted it down and put it in the Loose Ideas folder on my computer desktop. I told myself that I didn’t particularly want to do another “retro” book. God knows there were and are enough shallow retakes of old genres and materials around, ironic or straight. But the fucking thing nagged at me.S
PAGE FOURTEEN Pic 1 CUT TO: in a small room with one small porthole in its curving steel wall, we discover LIGHTNING BOWMAN sitting on a chamberpot, wearing only a long-sleeved velour t-shirt type thing with a lightning bolt embroidered on the front, totally naked from the waist down. Straining. Lightning Bowman used to be an athlete, tall, bronzed, blond. His hair is still blond, but, when we see him move, he's stooped, and he's not lean any more, just thin. He doesn't fit his own skin. He's coming up hard on fifty, and not looking good on it. LIGHTNING is a major character. I think we can introduce him with a page-wide shot, squatting on his chamberpot. The floor, by the way, will either be steel or wood, and have a DIY, home-made kind of finish. We'll see why later. BOWMAN Hnng. Pic 2 Spittle flies from his lips as the tension lets go. BOWMAN Pfffah. Pic 3 He stands with difficulty, pulling his shirt down reflexively over his cock. Because we don't need to see that, do we? No. BOWMAN Goddamnit.