When I was a lad I fully expected to go into space before my twenty first birthday, but that’s because I grew up in the eighties, the era of the space shuttle, when bank holidays meant realistic films like Space Camp and Flight of the Navigator, which put kids firmly in the intergalactic driving seat. I remember being mocked in the school playground for having prophesised the tremendously conservative date of 1993 for mans first visit to Mars.
In the words of John Cooper Clarke ‘Children are the future, unless we stop them now.’ and stop us they did, going into space that is. The great atrophy of civilisation had already begun. 2001, 2002, one futuristic date after another was allowed to pass with not so much as a flying car to be beheld.
But what of people who grew up in this period earmarked by Sci-Fi for amazing feats of mankind? In what way do they use these futuristic tropes? Nervous in a Cape 7 follows two astronauts as they wonder around an alien landscape thinking about things. They ruminate on past relationships, wonder how they ever ended up doing such a shit job and muse bitterly on how they’ll never get their book written now. Staring across the green mountains of the planet, one realises that the question he’s probably been asked most in his life is ‘Where are the Toilets?’
It’s humorous, deep and beautifully drawn stuff, rather like Joe Kessler who’s Windowpane I reviewed a few weeks back, Christie seems to use the cosmic as a way of examining the munadane, and manages to reveal some deep truths in the process. Back in the eighties we thought that mankind would be transformed by its intergalactic efforts into something better. But now we realise that if we do explore space, it’ll be for the profit of some company that doesn’t take account of people’s happiness, and that it’ll be more of the same, boredom, frustration, anxiety and loss.
Nervous in a Cape 7 is similar to Kessler’s Windowpane in another respect; its anthology-like quality. Christie displays the same restless unwillingness to settle into a single style or subject matter, which allows some welcome comic relief in the form of an ongoing series in which 50 Cent reads the work of Dr Suess.
There are also interesting autobiographical strips, which are almost like early Jeffrey Brown in tone and style, the protagonist however insists on always wearing a mask and cape, but then none of us entirely live in the real world, perhaps that’s one of the reasons the real world is so crap.