Wednesday, October 16, 2013

More Moore part 26: D. R. & Quinch

D.R. & Quinch (1983-85)

As you can tell from those dates up there, this is somewhat of a 'lost issue' of More Moore. I had D.R. & Quinch planned but somewhere along the line I totally forgot about it until halfway through my From Hell writeup, which chronologically came about a decade later. D.R. & Quinch was one of Moore's works from British boy's mag 2000AD, along with "Skizz" and The Ballad of Halo Jones, and so should fit right in between those two works. As it is though, D.R. functions perfectly as a palette cleanser after the monstrous, occult blackness of From Hell, so even though I'm probably a few months late with this one, its laughs bring some welcome relief.

D.R. & Quinch is Moore's take on "O.C. & Stiggs," a pair of miscreant youth who first appeared in the pages of The National Lampoon and later were made into one of Robert Altman's worst movies. O.C. and Stiggs were degenerate teens writ large, sadistic engines of destruction that left nothing in their wake, and in Moore's homage to the duo, Waldo 'Diminished Responsibility' Dobbs and Ernest Errol Quinch are essentially the same, only in space, of course. In many ways, D.R. & Quinch feels like the evil half to Moore's other longform 2000AD work, The Ballad of Halo Jones; both deal with traditional teenage roles in a futuristic setting. But while Halo Jones is somewhat of a typical teenage airhead, shopping with her friends, D.R. and Quinch are the 'bad kids' in any '80s school movie, taken to absolutely ridiculous extremes. D.R., the green Skrull-like with the greaser pompadour, and Quinch, the doughy purple beast of few words, exist as pure id, curving a maniac swath through every situation they're in, with each chapter simply a new situation for the pair to wreck havoc in. And much unlike Halo Jones, it is astoundingly hilarious. There was at least one line in every chapter of D.R. & Quinch which made me laugh out loud, and Moore's humor is black as they come, each line dripping with irony and mayhem. To anybody that thinks Moore is always serious or can't write humor, D.R. & Quinch would be my exhibit 'A' to refute those arguments, and it is by far the most entertaining work he did for 2000AD.

Each chapter of the work has a punny, 'Beach Blanket Bingo'-style title, like "D.R. & Quinch Go Girl Crazy," "D.R. & Quinch Get Drafted," or "D.R. & Quinch Have Fun on Earth." That last title is the first chapter and deals with the pair having malicious fun during man's evolution and ends with the Earth being vaporized after they make the continents spell out offensive phrases. When a judge gets on their bad side, D.R. swears a revenge that sees then start a galactic thermonuclear war just to get even. When D.R. attempts to impress a sweet, shy 'good girl' named Chrysoprasia, Quinch shows her home movies of his friend's vicious escapades that so unhinge the poor girl's mind that she becomes a firearm-wielding nogoodnik called 'Crazy Chryssie." The pacing never slows down, and the whole thing really feels like an after-dark Chuck Jones cartoon, all giggling insanity drawn with aplomb by Alan Davis, who had done the fist few chapters of Marvelman and will work with Moore again on Captain Britain.

All the chapters of D.R. & Quinch are beautiful works of mad genius, but the one that really shines through is the penultimate "D.R. & Quinch Go to Hollywood." That's Space Hollywood, of course, since the Earth was destroyed back in the first chapter, and it finds our boys stringing along a bunch of stereotypical Southern California-type aliens with a script they pilfered from a hobo in a bus station (a hobo that looks suspiciously like Moore with antennae). Maybe it's just because of my own experiences living in the LA suburbs, but the boys' Hollywood experience is near-constant amusement, as they convince powerful Hollywood execs of their 'artistic vision' (which requires women in crab suits and sixteen thousand oranges, among other things) and eventually leads to their leading man, a thinly-veiled (or not-at-all-veiled) parody of Marlon Brando who is "totally unable to read or write" being crushed by the oranges. The movie is released and the critics are wowed by the power of its avant-garde scope, even as the swindled execs chase them out of town.

D.R. & Quinch is far more entertaining than it has any right to be. It's a slight work by Moore from a publication that routinely got his lesser pieces. There's really not all that much to talk about in each chapter, other than the fact that Alan Davis' pencils are fantastic (and he does a damn good Brando caricature). There's absolutely no character growth at all, and the entirety of the script is rapid-fire irony gags somewhat like the movie Airplane! that relies on the fact that D.R. and Quinch consider themselves nothing more than lovable college kids even as they cause mayhem and destruction on nearly every page. But, even if it's a slight and stupid work from the medium's greatest craftsman, it's a damn funny one, and I enjoyed D.R. & Quinch far more than I expected to. It's no masterpiece, but if you want a really, really funny comic, you could do a lot worse. Honestly, I'd probably say it's better than Captain Britain.


Best quote:"After the library we demonstrated our deep humanity by visiting those less fortunate than ourselves at the 'Home for Distressed War Veterans'./This is where out maniac friend Pulger lives./Pulger did some fighting in the Ghoyogi Slime Jungles, which slightly affected his personality./I can honestly say that he is the most interesting adult that I have ever met."


Up next: The dark side of Toontown in "In Pictopia."

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