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Without going into too much detail, this is a page from one of my Fairburn Topic books. Such books were meant for the study of particular topics like dinosaurs, space flight, cars or animals, which weren't covered by our other lessons. But once the headteacher (and my class teacher - it was a small school) Mr Geraghty saw that I had an aptitude for writing bizarre stories and creating ridiculous comic strips, he allowed me to use the Topic books as I pleased, and as such they became a cavalcade of junior creativity, inspired by whatever was going on around me at the time.

 

In itself, this page appears really quite slight, but it had a massive effect on my future career. Inspired primarily by a visit to my parents' friends Diane & Wayne Townend (who played me a selection of songs by a German band called Grobschnitt, after whom the character is named). A little bit of research tells me the album in question must have been Solar Music Live (I've misquoted the lyrics of Golden Mist in the bottom right hand corner).

 

At first, I gave no thought to how Grobschnitt might speak, giving him the same extreme dyslexia that my other new character Apeth had recently suffered from. What's interesting is that I clearly notice my mistake half way through, then explain it by suggesting he only did that by force of habit because he is Apeth's cousin. Then I correct my course, changing it entirely to give Grobschnitt an entirely different personality altogether.

 

Though the original page was written in pencil, has faded terribly and is thus difficult to decipher without applying extreme contrast, it's clear to see that Grobschnitt is even more ghoulish and violent than anything I'd previously written, with his skeletal, helmeted head (possibly inspired by Judge Death, who had just made his first appearance in 2000 AD, a comic I bought every week). His principal monologue (in which he marks himself out as a bit of a trickster) attempts to convince the reader to commit suicide. Upon being found out, he is then apparently shot in the face at point blank range.

 

Over the next few years I would return to Grobschnitt several times, developing him only slightly but maintaining his character as a rubbish prankster, before forgetting all about him and getting on with the rest of my life. It was only when I rediscovered some of these books at the end of the 1990s that I remembered him, retooling him for the next century in the Origen's Wake animations Grobschnitt's Revenge and The Imagination of Doom. My eight year old self would have been very proud.

The Yellyog Gang (Mar 1980)
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Tedosaurus (Feb 26, 1980)
Grobschnitt's Page
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1977
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Look at My Dad
The Yellyog Gang
Would you like to join?
Mar 1980
Robschnitt's Age
ith irst etters issing
ar 980
Apeth
from Outer Space
Feb 26, 1980
Tedosaurus
Half teddy, half dinosaur
Feb 26, 1980
Gary Le Strange relaxing in the Comedy Store
Apeth, the dyslexic primate from outer space - you can tell I've given his appearance a lot of thought
Tedosaurus - half teddy, half dinosaur
Mystery Personality was just one of the ever-fascinating Yellyog Gang - or at least he would have been if I'd ever written anything about them
Grobschnitt was one of the few characters I did actually return to