Fishpaste

Notes by Eamonn Clarke

As you read some of the graphic novels by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli you may notice certain recurring images and characters.

This page is a companion to my annotations for their books and lists some of these in-jokes and their meanings where known.

Star Brand Fishpaste. Pots of Fishpaste or adverts for Star Brand Fishpaste crop up in all the books annotated on this site. For a long while this was a bit of a mystery to myself and to the contributors kind enough to email me. Then I discovered this interview with D'Israeli on the 2000AD site, and on page 3 the secret is revealed:

The fishpaste thing was inspired by "Geof Darrow's Comics and Stories," an outsize-format French album containing most of Darrow's Bourbon Thret stories (later reprinted individually by Dark Horse in Cheval Noir, I think). Darrow's famous for piling on the detail, but in those early stories in particular, he'd play games with the backgrounds; if the action took place on a crowded street, there'd be other sequences of action going on with the characters in the background, bizarre characters, little jokes, stuff you could look at for hours after you'd read the main story. And this approach - of rewarding the reader for paying extra attention to your work - really appealed to me, and I wanted to think of some thing I could do in a similar vein. So that's what the fishpaste thing is; a little reward for paying attention. You spot one, you're in the club - I should have badges made. (Incidentally, the name "Star Brand" on jars of fishpaste refers to the Green Star, symbol of the International Esperanto language movement. Grandan "saluton" al cxuij 2000AD-legantaj samideanoj!)

Zopto-Bemsol Usually accompanied by the tagline "Effulgent and Prime" Zopto-Bemsol appears to be a fictional tonic or patent medicine created by Edginton and D'Israeli. It crops up in all of the three Scarlet Traces books and also in Stickleback. In keeping with the War of the Worlds theme of Scarlet Traces the Zopto-Bemsol ads use the same style font as on the cover of Jeff Wayne's Musical version of War of the Worlds.

Spartan helmet. Spartan helmets and statuettes of Spartan warriors crop up in the Scarlet Traces books and in Stickleback. In Scarlet Traces the helmet seems to have been adopted as the symbol of Spry's political organisation. Given that Edginton and D'Israeli are fans of the Ray Harryhausen movie Jason and the Argonauts it is possible that the helmet actually belonged to one of the Argonauts instead.

Mr Benn

D'Israeli would appear to have a particular fondness for one of the classics of British children's television. Mr Benn was a bowler-hat wearing gentleman who at the start of each episode would visit the Fez wearing shopkeeper in his costume shop. When he tried on a costume he would go through a magic door into an adventure centured around the costume he had chosen. The shopkeeper appears in Scarlet Traces, Leviathan, Kingdom of the Wicked and Stickleback.

Mike McLean and his staff. Mike McLean is the proprietor of Asylum Books and Games in Aberdeen. His name appears on a shop in Scarlet Traces and on bottles of 'Rot Gut' in Leviathan. He also appears as the BBC bomber in The Great game and in this pub scene from Stickleback where he can be seen serving his work colleagues Seonaidh (pronounced 'Shawny') and Ultimate Steve.

 

 

 

 

David Moyes. David Moyes is a writer and friend of Ian Edginton and D'Israeli. He appears in Levaithan as the first man to be transformed into a Stoker, and in Stickleback where Buffalo Bill invites him to dinner.