The End of Dead Duck

Here are two drawings by me of the Savage Pencil character, Dead Duck, dated 1995.

I collaborated with Savage Pencil on two serial stories published by the English comics magazine, Deadline, under the editorship of Frank Wynne at the time. I did the writing on the stories, and later on provided Sav X with rough sketches of characters. He would incorporate my sketches into the finished pages, by a mix of collage and cropping, and complete the inking in his normal way.

The stories were black humour, and pretty unpleasant. For the second serial we did, “Dead Duck’s Real Horrorshow”, Sav wanted to do vicious send-ups of UK television shows, especially daytime chat shows and cooking programmes; the more banal and trivial, the better. “I just like the futility of it,” he told me. I had to make videotapes of shows which I never normally watch, just to get the idea of what they were about. I also created likenesses of the TV presenters, pausing the tape and copying off the screen.

In these two drawings, which I think were used at the very end of the story, there’s no Savage Pencil input at all, and I depict a bizarre ending for the Duck’s life as he somehow transforms into a wooden cabinet, which is then eaten by woodworm. I suppose I was trying to emulate the violence of Sav’s work. In the first drawing, collages of the TV characters appear all over his body. The dark cross-hatching of the drawing is intended to suggest dark oak Jacobean furniture, which is also why the character speaks a degraded form of old English.

The whole brief episode of working for Deadline was completely untypical of my so-called comics career: collaborations, satire, scatological content, appearing in a mainstream comic, working to a schedule, and (more to the point) getting paid.

The Deadline stories are mentioned in the recent Savage Pencil collection, Rated SavX: The Savage Pencil Skratchbook, available from Strange Attractor.

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