Stickleback

Notes by Eamonn Clarke

Stickleback by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli first appeared in the comic 2000AD and was published in a trade paperback by Rebellion books in August 2008. The misadventures of the so-called "Pope of Crime" are covered in two stories called Mother London and England's Glory.

This is a set of notes to the many references in the book. As always if you have any comments please email me.

For Stickleback I was able to use blog entries written by the artist Matt Brooker aka D'Israeli which gave details of many of the references.

For notes on other Edginton and D'Israeli books please see my home page.

Page numbering. There are no page numbers in the trade paperback. I like to stick with the convention of having the odd-numbered pages on the right side and I will call the title page of the first chapter where it says Mother London page 1.

Mother London.

Page 2, panel 1. Albion is an ancient and traditional name for Britain. The marker stone bears the design of the Green Man which is a religious symbol associated with forests that probably predates Christianity.

Page 2, panel 2. As we will discover later in this chapter this tree may be a version of Yggdrasil the World Tree, although here it is probably a British Oak tree rather than an Ash tree.

The Druid carries a staff topped with a sickle which was used for cutting the sacred plants such as Holly and Mistletoe used in their rituals.

Page 2, panel 5. In old english a Flitch could refer to a cured side of bacon or a section of a log. Apparently it can also describe a dead body which seems to be its meaning here.

Page 3, panel 3. Versions of Gog and Magog crop up in several mythologies and also feature in the bible. In British myth they were giants who defended Britain from its attackers and are traditionally known as guardians of London. In one version of the legend they are referred to as the Sun and the Moon as the Druid calls them in panel 2. Another epic poem called the Polyobion refers to them as a single entity Gogmagog and calls them a "mighty oake".

Statues of Gog and Magog can be seen in the fictional Carfax Abbey depicted on page 60 of Scarlet Traces by the same authors.

Page 4, panel 1. Almost an origin story for the legend of Gog and Magog as London's protectors.

Page 5, panel 2. An advert for Zopto-Besmol which is a fictional tonic in the works of Edginton and D'Israeli. Similar posters and slogans can be seen in their War of the Worlds and Scarlet Traces.

Page 5, panel 3. The London scene depicted here is based on the set designs for the 1968 musical film Oliver!

Page 5, panel 4. Barrett's Brewery was in Vauxhall, London and did indeed make a Stout beer. Because of their robust nature Stouts were often marketed as beneficial to invalids (and still are to some extent). I haven't been able to discover if this is a genuine advertising poster.

Page 5, panel 5. In the H.P.Lovecraft Cthulhu mythos Abdul Alhazred is the name of the author of the Necronomicon book.

Page 5, panel 6. Galatea was the name of the animated statue in the Pygmalion legend. Edginton is giving us a clue to what is to come.

A similar figurine of the four-armed Goddess Kali can be seen amongst Robert Autumn's possessions in both Scarlet Traces and The Great Game.

Page 6, panel 1. The spotty, bespectacled and timid young man may be a reference that I have missed?

Page 6, panel 2. Alhazred refers to some of the techniques used by bogus spiritualists.

Page 7, panel 1. The name Captain D'Ascoyne is a reference to the Ealing studios comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets. The main character in the movie sets out to inherit a Dukedom by murdering eight members of the D'Ascoyne family who come before him in the line of inheritance. All eight D'Ascoynes, including a General D'Ascoyne and an Admiral D'Ascoyne, were memorably played by Alec Guinness. If you have seen the movie you will recall that the ending has a reveal similar to the one Alan Moore used at the end of Watchmen.

The D'Ascoyne name may also reference the Matt Brooker's nom de plume of D'Israeli.

Page 8, panel 7. Galatea's secret is revealed.

Page 10. Abdul Alhazred is revealed to be literally a mechanical Turk. The original chess-playing mechanical Turk was a fascinating automaton that toured the royal houses of Europe in the 18th century and caused a great deal of intrigue as to how it was able to play chess to such a high standard. If you are interested in that sort of thing there is a very good book by Tom Standage all about the Turk.

One of the mechanical figures on the wall of the vault has lettering on its chest and resembles Robot Archie.

Page 11, panel 1. This is the original Scotland Yard building.

The name of the scheming Professor Philo Thynne may be a nod to the dastardly Hercules Grytpype-Thynne from the radio series the Goon Show.

Page 11, panel 3. Sergeant Leonard Chipps may be related to the mysterious Sergeant Chips who appeared on page 14 of Scarlet Traces?

Page 11, panel 6. Lug and Peepers make their first appearance.

Page 11, panel 7. And are revealed as Siamese twins. Lug is an english slang word for ear. Mr Peepers uses some form of powerful spectacles.

Page 12, panel 2. As D'Israeli's blog reveals these are the actors Moore Marriot, Will Hay and Graham Moffatt pretty much as they appeared in the railway comedy Oh, Mr Porter!

Page 12, panel 4. In Oh, Mr Porter! Will Hay's character is frequently disturbed by a cow that lives at the railway station.

Page 13, panel 6. The train was carrying a load of Hydrochloric acid and something described as a vesicant agent. These chemicals will reappear later in this story.

Page 14, panel 1. D'Israeli's blog points out that these police officers are Constable Archibald Berkeley-Willoughby from the radio series The Adventures of PC 49, and Sergeant George Dixon from the extremely long-running TV show Dixon of Dock Green.

Page 14, panel 3. Chief Constable Lime refers to Stickleback as the Pope of Crime, this reminds me of Sherlock Holmes' description of Professor Moriarty as the Napoleon of Crime.

Page 15, panel 1. The Jolly Cripple pub is the favourite haunt of the crew from Ian Edginton's pirate series for 2000AD called The Red Seas.

Page 15, panel 2. I didn't spot them but D'Israeli's blog tells me that in the background on the left are the famed escapologist Janus Stark and his mentor Blind Largo who was like a Victorian version of Stick from the Frank Miller  Daredevil comics.

Page 15, panel 5. Bey explains how his mixed heritage hinders his promotion prospects in the police force. He uses the phrase "The Dark Detective" which reminds comic readers of Batman: the Dark Knight Detective. Steve  Englehart wrote a famous Batman story in the 1970s called Dark Detective which was used by Tim Burton as the basis of his first Batman movie.

Page 15, panel 6. Ali Pasha was the ruler of what we now know as Turkey.

Page 16, panel 2. Bey bumps into Janus Stark.

Page 16, panel 6. Tonga is based on the Pygmy warrior from the Andaman islands who was a character in the Sherlock Holmes story The Sign of the Four. Black Bob appears to be a traditional enthralled Zombie character from the Haitian voodoo legends as opposed to the modern George Romero interpretation.

Page 17, panel 1. The Gingerbread Man nursery rhyme has been corrupted to refer to Stickleback.

Page 17, panel 6. Mr Punch from Punch and Judy is shown on the wall. The "one lump or two" question may remind us of Mr Punch's hunchback.

One of D'Israeli's recurring motifs, a Spartan helmet, can be seen at the bottom of the wall.

Page 18, panel 1. Lots of stuff in this panel.
Going clockwise: on the left is a large stone head of the demon Hastur from Edginton and D'Israeli's Leviathan; the poster above the chair advertises the Circus of Dr Lao; the picture above the row of shrunken heads is of Captain Jack Dancer from The Red Seas; the large statue is another representation of Kali but here shown as she was animated by Ray Harryhausen in the The Golden Voyage of Sinbad; at the bottom right of the panel is a greek vase showing Heracles fighting the Hydra; and between Stickleback's legs is an Ormolu Mantle clock as used on the After Eight mints box.

I cribbed many of these references from D'Israeli's blog.

And the villain or hero of the piece makes his first appearance. As discussed in his introduction Ian Edginton was inspired by great villains such as Dracula, Fantomas, Moriarty and Diabolik. In this interview on the 2000AD site he also mentions The Spider as another great villain from British comics history who partly inspired Stickleback.

Page 18, panel 2.  Stickleback invites Bey to say his name and "make him real". Stickleback's real name is not revealed but as in other myths and legends true names have power.

Page 19, panel 2. Other members of Stickleback's gang include Miss Scarlet the tattooed lady, Fiery Jack who controls fire, and another look at Lug and Peepers.

Page 19, panel 3. Rotherhithe is a dockland area of London. Eton and Harrow are posh private schools in England.

Page 19, panel 4. This argument that criminals are better at controlling petty crime than the police has been used about several individuals and organisations over the years. In London it was commonly said about the notorious Kray twins.

Page 20, panel 2. Stickleback refers to two other crime families.
The Peckham boys are a reference to Derek 'Del Boy' Trotter and his family in long running TV sitcom Only Fools and Horses.
The Walford Queens are a nod to the fictional borough of Walford, the setting for the British TV soap EastEnders. Much of the story in EastEnders revolves around the Queen Vic pub which in recent years has been run by the Mitchell family. Grant and Phil Mitchell appeared on page 26 of The Great Game.
Both the Mitchell and Trotter families have had some dodgy dealings but neither could really be described as criminals in their own right.

Page 22, panel 1. In the distance is the dome of St Paul's Cathedral.

Page 22, panel 5. Detective Bey lives in Festival road. As revealed in his blog D'Israeli intended this as a nod to the children's TV character Mr Benn who lived in Festive road. The garden wall, gate and front door resemble those of Mr Benn's house. In the title sequence for the cartoon the children of Festive road could often be seen playing in costumes which may explain the boy in the sailor suit in this panel.

Page 25, panel 1. Lime refers to a Penny Dreadful, a cheap weekly publication filled with lurid stories often about famous criminals. A well-known Penny Dreadful was the story of Varney the Vampyre which was referenced on page 8 of Scarlet Traces.

Page 25, panel 4. Dengue fever is a viral disease spread by mosquito bite. Bey is right to be suspicious as it is a disease of the tropics and unlikely to have affected Thynne unless he had been travelling recently. On page 11 we learnt that Thynne had been working his automatons scam in London for the last 3 years.

Page 26, panel 4. A glimpse of the giant Oak and two wooden thrones among the roots.

Page 31, panel 4.English folklore includes several stories of a ghostly Black Dog. The concept was included in the Hound of the Baskervilles and more recently in the Harry Potter books. Winston Churchill famously referred to his experience of depression as being followed or visited by "the Black Dog".

Page 32, panel 1. This is the Saint Sophia Greek orthodox cathedral in Bayswater, London. D'Israeli used the video tour at the Saint Sophia website for his reference material.

Page 32, panel 2. Valentine and Mariah are shown wearing the linked crowns which make up part of the Orthodox church marriage ceremony.

Page 37, panel 1. The Monarch of the Glen is the title of a famous painting of a Stag by Sir Edwin Landseer. Here the Stag is replaced by a miniature wire-haired Dachshund dog. D'Israeli's blog reveals that this dog is called the Captain and appears in McLean's Last Case in the Leviathan book. I confess I thought he was a Scottish Terrier until I read D'Israeli's notes.

Page 38, panel 3. The branches on the tree indicate the various parts of society the City Fathers control: on the left are the crossed swords of the Military and the scales of justice representing the Law; on the right are a Caduceus representing the medical profession and an Ankh which may represent religion.

Below the symbols are some Anglo-Saxon runes. As D'Israeli points out in his blog these can be translated. My attempt reads as follows: "Magik is bolloks, be rational". Highlight the gap to see the text. The smaller word underneath on both sides translates as "Fishpaste" making its first appearance in Stickleback.

The figures on the floor below the Druids' feet presumably represent Gog and Magog.

Page 39, panel 2. Presumably the branches we can't see have symbols for commerce and crime.

Page 39, panel 3. In the street slang of Victorian England dippers were pickpockets, footpads were muggers and cracksmen were breaking and entering specialists particularly those who could open safes.

Page 40, panel 4. These three gentlemen are Seonaidh, Ultimate Steve and proprietor Mike McLean from Asylum Books and Games in Aberdeen. Mike Mclean has also appeared in Scarlet Traces, The Great Game and Leviathan as well as other books by Edginton and D'Israeli.

Page 42, panel 2. There are blokes in gorilla costumes everywhere in popular culture but the one who springs to mind is Peter Sellers as the bumbling detective Clouseau who is one of several characters wearing a gorilla disguise at a fancy dress party in the original Pink Panther movie.

Page 42, panel 3. Bey's costume and mask are based on an outfit Vincent Price wears to the masked ball in The Masque of the Red Death film.

Page 42, panel 5. This is Sir William Ashbless, owner of the ship in Edginton and D'Israeli's Leviathan. The other "shiny gee-gaw" around his neck is the eye of Hastur.

Page 43, panel 2. The doorman wears a Satyr outfit, unless he is an actual Satyr?

Page 43, panel 3. The man on the right is Aleister Crowley who, amongst several other things, believed in the concept of Thelemic free will: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law".
This expression also cropped up as part of the theory of anarchy in Alan Moore's V for Vendetta.

Page 43, panel 4. The large structure filled with cage dancers resembles the horrifying ending of The Wicker Man film.
The twin heads look like the two faced Roman god Janus. D'Israeli points out that the two faces are Gog and Magog.

The figure hanging at the top right resembles the Hanged Man from Tarot cards. All is not what it seems?

Page 43, panel 5. The figure on the right with the beard and wedding veil is the Hermaphrodite from Pagan rituals. In the Wicker Man movie Christopher Lee appears in a similar outfit during one of the island rituals.

Page 44, panel 1. The Harlequin character is from the Italian Commedia dell'arte tradition. He is also one of the influences on the British Mr Punch character.
The Hobby-Horse is another figure in various Pagan and British folk traditions including Morris dancing.

At the bottom of the panel may be the Bishop and the Actress from a thousand ribald jokes.

D'Israeli regards this as his favourite panel in Stickleback.

Page 44, panel 2. The figure with the trident is Bok the gargoyle from the Doctor Who serial The Daemons.

Page 44, panel 5. And this mask resembles Azal the Daemon from the same story.

Page 46, panel 2. The phrase "So perish all traitors" was used by the executioner at beheadings at the Tower of London.
"Thus perish all traitors" crops up in several pieces of literature including a book called The Red Mask by Rafael Sabatini which seems appropriate for this setting.
Sabatini also created the character Scaramouche who fought in the French revolution while disguised as a member of a Commedia dell'arte troupe. Another connection?

Page 46, panel 5. "Abandon hope ye who enter here" was written above the gates to Hell in Dante's Inferno.

Page 46, panel 6. Stickleback and his gang wear the uniform of the Salvation Army. As they have come to rescue Bey from Hell itself this seems an appropriate disguise.

Page 47, panel 3. If this really was Bok the gargoyle, and not just a man in a suit, then Lime's bullet would have little effect. After all "Five rounds rapid!" didn't.

Page 48, panel 4. I thought the symbols on the map might be Nicholas Hawksmoor's six London churches which were also a plot point in Alan Moore's From Hell. However the placings are wrong, only one of the six Hawksmoor churches is south of the Thames.

Page 49, panel 4. The reference to culled prostitutes could mean that the grisly killings of Jack the Ripper were at the behest of the City fathers. England's Glory is the sequel to this story and seems to occur in 1887. The main Jack the Ripper killings took place in 1888. Possibly Jack was controlled by the City Fathers or his killings were hushed up by them.  After the events of this book he is free to do as he pleases?
But see the dates discussion on page 94.

Page 50, panel 1. Gog and Magog now look like the Green Man as seen in the very first panel of the book.

Page 51, panel 1. D'Israeli points out that this panel is a reference to the art of Sergio Toppi.

Page 52, panel 1. Lime refers to Sepoys, who were Indian soldiers in the British army. Were Stickleback and Lime involved in the Indian mutiny of 1857 when the Sepoys rose up against oppression?

Page 53, panel 1. Stickleback repeats the line about Tyrants.

Page 53, panel 3. "Sweating cobs" is a British expression for sweating profusely. The cob may refer to pebbles or cobble-stones, or to a small bread loaf called a cob. Large drops of sweat may resemble either.

Page 53, panel 6. The reason for the train robbery on page 13 is revealed. Stickleback used the chemicals to produce the flame thrower Black Bob uses on page 52 and the Mustard gas in this panel. His use of flame and mustard gas reminds me of the scene from V for Vendetta when V escapes from the Larkhill camp.

End of Mother London.

England's Glory.

Page 59, panel 1. This image of St Paul's recalls an iconic picture of the cathedral taken during the Blitz of World War Two.

D'Israeli's blog contains details of how he created this image.

Page 59, panel 3. D'Israeli reveals that in Ian Edginton's script this character is called Bond, and may like Ashenden and Sharpe later on be one of the 'legacy' characters in Stickleback

Page 60, panel 3. The Vampiric characters in this sequence are based on the hopping Vampires in the 1985 Hong Kong film Mr. Vampire. The Vampire in this panel has the legendary eyebrows of Pai mei in the film Kill Bill. Although consulting D'Israeli's blog tells me that in fact the eyebrow sorceror is, in fact, from the movie Zu Warriors of the Magic Mountain.

Page 61, panel 3. And Death by Butterfly is from the film The Butterfly Murders.

Page 63, panel 2. The hopping vampires or Jiang Shi appeared in other Hong Kong movies. In the films they can be put to sleep by attaching a Chinese spell to their foreheads.

Page 64, panel 1. The shrouded objects being pulled by the steam traction engine will be revealed on page 67.

Page 64, panel 2. A Spartan helmet can be seen on one of Stickleback's shelves. The portrait shows a man with a scarred face (or has the picture been torn by a knife?) which may be the Picture of Dorian Gray. Eirik Hunt notes that the giant head was a gift to the Simpsons from Montgomery Burns in the episode Blood Feud. The poster for the Circus of Dr Lao can be glimpsed in the top left corner. The Kali statue is at bottom right.

Stickleback has also acquired some new henchmen: Mr Tickle and Gay John.
Mr Tickle's appearance is based on Richard Attenborough as Albert Blossom in Doctor Dolittle.

Page 65, panel 1. Presumably Miss Scarlet is referring to Edward Hyde.

Page 65, panel 2. And the weedy Scottish doctor is Dr Jekyll from the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Lug and Peepers disappear from the book after this so presumably their investigation is ongoing and may appear in a future Stickleback story?

Page 67, panel 4. The three steam powered robots bear the names Launcelot, Galahad and Gawain after the Knights of the Round Table.

Page 68, panel 1. The robots are revealed to be steam-powered Mecha and the soldiers carry machine guns. We are deep into Steampunk territory.

Page 68, panel 4. W. Somerset Maughan wrote a novel called Ashenden: Or the British Agent about a World War I spy called John Ashenden. Possibly Alexander Ashenden is his father?

Page 69, panel 1. This is the Bethlem Royal Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in London. Its name is the origin of the word Bedlam.
On his blog D'Israeli points out that the man being dragged to the hospital is Herbert George Sewell, a time-traveller from some Judge Dredd stories. Sewell shares his first names with H.G.Wells the author of the Time Machine.
George Sewell was a British TV actor who appeared in the series Special Branch and UFO.

Page 69, panel 2. The painting Stickleback is perusing is The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke by Richard Dadd, an artist who produced most of his works while a patient in various psychiatric hospitals.

Page 70, panel 3. We don't learn the identity of the mysterious Professor behind the mirror in this story. The most obvious possibility is Professor Moriarty who in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books is shown to be connected with British Intelligence.

Page 71, panel 2. The Jewel of Seven Stars is the title of a horror novel by Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula.
This particular crown is fictional but its history suggests it is inspired by the Imperial Crown of India.

Page 71, panel 3. As revealed on D'Israeli's blog the tentacled creatures in Stickleback are inspired by some of the nameless horrors from the writings of H.P.Lovecraft.

Page 71, panel 5. Ashenden refers to some trouble in the East. Given the likely date this could refer to India's growing discontent with British rule?

Page 72, panel 2. The Chinese gentlemen is called Egg Shen which was also the name of the wizard who helped
Jack "I was born ready" Burton battle the forces of evil in Big Trouble in Little China.

Page 73. William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody and his travelling Wild West Circus. Buffalo Bill took his show to London in 1887.

Egg Shen's name can be seen on his tent. We can also note the large portrait of Annie Oakley.

According to D'Israeli Bullseye the Human Target is based on the Blob, a villain from the X-Men comics.
His act of stopping a cannon ball with his stomach was used by Homer in the Homerpalooza episode of the Simpsons.

The giant with the man on his shoulders in the middle of the circus scene is one of the Lundgrens from the American Gothic comic by Ian Edginton.

Page 74, panel 4. The shop signs:
Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes was a horror writer.
Milton Subotsky was a producer of horror films.
On his blog D'Israeli points out that the word balloons cover up the names of Peter Cushing and Ezra Winston, a comic character created by one of D'Israeli's favourite artists Alberto Breccia.

The chap with the fez running down the middle of the street is the shopkeeper from Mr Benn who makes regular appearances in D'Israeli books and must be immortal or very long lived? His costume shop is on the left of the street here.

Fiery jack refers to:
The Trotter brothers who were the central characters in the British TV comedy series Only Fools and Horses.
Steptoe and Son was another classic Brit TV comedy which was remade in America as Sandford and Son.
Norman Stanley Fletcher was the hero of yet another British comedy show called Porridge. Fletcher shared his prison cell with a chap from Birmingham called Lennie Godber who was played by Richard Beckinsale, the father of the Hollywood actress Kate Beckinsale.

Page 74, panel 5. Des Kinvig ran an electrical repair shop in the short-lived Kinvig science-fiction comedy TV series written by Nigel Kneale.

Page 75, panel 2. Lots of stuff in this panel. Clockwise from top left are:
The Mask of Sutekh from the Doctor Who story Pyramids of Mars.
The Star Turtle carrying the four elephants who in turn carry Terry Pratchett's Discworld, although I think this concept originally came from Hindu mythology.
A Mummy Case from the Pyramids of Mars.
On top of the shelves is a Spartan warrior or possibly one of the Argonauts.
There is a Spartan helmet on one of the shelves.
Below them is an Alien egg case that has hatched.
The little lizard creature is from The Red Seas.
The skeleton with the enlarged skull is from Quatermass and the Pit
The spider in the glass case is one of the Metebelis three spiders who did for the Third Doctor in Planet of the Spiders.
The glass jar contains one of the Martian bodies from Quatermass and the Pit.
And next to it on the table is Jeff Tracy's ashtray from Thunderbirds.

Many of these references I got from D'Israeli's blog. Please email me with any that I missed.

Page 75, panel 3. The Alien facehugger from the egg casing is in a jar. Thank goodness.

Page 75, panel 7. The older Annie Oakley is based on Betty Hutton who played her in the 1950 film Annie get your Gun.

She is holding the Jewel of the Seven Stars crown.

Behind her on the wall is a picture of the demon Hastur from Leviathan with the strange symbol from the door of his cell.

Page 76, panel 2. Smokey the Bear is a character from American publicity campaigns about protecting forests from threats including forest fires. His demise at the hands of Fiery Jack on the next page is rather ironic.

Page 77, panel 2. A Bodkin is a type of sharp blade or Stilleto.

Page 77, panel 3. Fiery Jack says the Round and Round the Garden nursery rhyme while fighting old Smokey.

Page 77, panel 5. The giant Maggot in the case is from another Doctor Who story The Green Death.

Page 78. Annie Oakley's resurrection bullets are clearly inspired by the fantastic sequence in the Jason of the Argonauts film when King Aeetus uses the teeth of the Hydra to raise Skeleton Warriors to fight Jason and his men.
Link to a youtube clip.

Page 78, panel 6. The right hand Zombie is based on Roy Rogers. According to D'Israeli the central cowboy and the left-hand Indian are based on figures from the Marx toys Lone Ranger figures.

Page 80, panel 3. A Spartan warrior or an Argonaut?

Page 80, panel 4. The stone head is based on the head of the Melkur in the Doctor Who story The Keeper of Traken.

Page 81, panel 4. The Roy Rogers zombie wields a Bowie knife. Stickleback uses a Kukri the traditional weapon of the Gurkhas.

Page 82, panel 3. "A genuine Shoggoth preserved in alcohol". The Shoggoth is a monster from H.P.Lovecraft's Cthulhu stories that first appeared in his book At the Mountains of Madness.

Page 84, panel 2. Stickleback's boat has an Eye of Horus design on it, possibly as a mark of protection.

Page 84, panel 4. The Fleet, Effra, Wandle and Walbrook are all subterranean rivers in London. The Longbourne or Langbourne is a lost river that the London ward Langbourn is named after.

Page 84, panel 6. Mithraism was a Roman religion that spread through the Roman empire to Britain. The influences on the temple design here can be found in this entry in D'Israeli's blog.

Page 85, panel 4. This is the Library of the Brotherhood of the Book which also featured in Ian Edginton's pirate story The Red Seas. As revealed in D'Israeli's blog the Library is a nexus point or connection between the different worlds explored in Ian Edginton's books. In this respect it is similar to L-space in the Terry Pratchett universe, the Bleed in DC and Wildstorm comics, the Snowflake in Warren Ellis's Planetary, and the Aleph in Alan Moore's 1963.

At the bottom of the panel are statues of Hermes and of Mithras killing a Bull. There is another statue of Hermes holding his Caduceus on the balcony of the library. The disembodied head is Mithras again.
Behind the statues are a model ship, possibly the Argo from the film, and Doctor Doom's mask.

Page 85, panel 6. Orlando Doyle was the villain in the first series of Edginton's The Red Seas. Here he is the blind librarian with a magic eye bandage. D'Israeli notes that the blind seer concept dates back to Tiresias from Greek mythology. Orlando's name may also be a nod to the immortal character from Virginia Woolf's novel Orlando.

Page 86, panel 1. Stickleback pays Orlando with one of the thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus.

Page 86, panel 3. On the Librarian's desk is the music box from Camberwick Green. At the start of each episode the music box would open to reveal which character the story would be about. It was a moment of high excitement for a small child. Honest!

Page 86, panel 4. There is a copy of Abdul Alhazred's Necronomicon on the table.

Page 86, panel 5. The Library of Alexandria was one of the lost wonders of the ancient world. It may have been destroyed by the Romans as suggested here. The idea of a lost library with untold knowledge is a potent one and Alexandria has cropped up several times in literature and pop-culture.

Page 87, panel 1. This is the little one-eyed idol from J.Milton Hayes' monologue The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God which begins:

There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Kathmandu,
There's a little marble cross below the town;
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the Yellow God forever gazes down.

Page 87, panel 2. And this must be Mad Carew himself who steals the jewel from the idol in the poem.

Page 87, panel 4. In the poem the jewel was returned to the idol.

The ship is being attacked by a Kraken or another nameless horror of the deep.

Page 87, panel 5. D'Israeli notes that the Eastern gentleman here is based on Fu Manchu.

Page 87, panel 6. The Tower of London is said to be the most haunted building in England. It is supposed to be home to the ghost of Anne Boleyn amongst many others.

Page 88, panel 4. The Latin inscription translates as Dragon's egg, pleasant boiled or fried.

Page 88, panel 6. The resurrection bullet bears an Alpha and Omega design similar to that on the Doomsday weapon in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

Page 89, panel 1. This is an actual poster used by Buffalo Bill. It shows some Cuban Rough Riders carrying their flag.

The "Rootinest, Tootinest" phrase is popularly associated with Yosemite Sam.

Page 90, panel 4. Could that be Mr Blobby behind the cook to the right?

Page 90, panel 6. David Moyes is a writer and friend of Ian Edginton and D'Israeli who has also appeared in Leviathan and Scarlet Traces. In those books he was devoured by a demon and his shop was blown up. His prospects here don't look very good either.

Comic Cuts was a comic book first produced in 1890.

Page 90, panel 7. There was a cook called Shockeye in the Doctor Who story The Two Doctors.

Page 92, panel 1. London's Hyde Park  cropped up in both Scarlet Traces and The Great Game.

Page 93, panel 1. Another grim ending for Davey Moyes.

Page 94, panel 5. Cody refers to Stickleback as "Crooked Man". There is a nursery rhyme about a Crooked Man, and The Adventures of the Crooked Man was the title of a Sherlock Holmes story.

Page 94, panel 6. Except this is not the real Cody as Stickleback confirms here.
A short digression on dates: The real Buffalo Bill toured England in 1887 which is presumably when Stickleback met him.
The Cuban rough-riders poster used by this imitation version on page 89 is dated at around 1898.
The back cover of this Stickleback book describes the events as happening at the "Turn of the nineteenth century."
So it seems likely that the events here are taking place somewhere around 1900.

Page 96, panel 3.One of the Native American performers has been transformed back into a Cigar store Indian.

Page 97, panel 1. Some of Cody's zombies seem to have been in the process of packing themselves away in pickle barrels. Zombies preserved in barrels are a major plot point in the Return of the Living Dead movies.

Page 97, panel 3. Zombie Annie Oakley's caravan has a rather grisly human skin on the wall?

Page 98, panel 4. It's a fairly obvious one-liner for what he does but Fiery Jack's cry of "Frying Tonight" reminds me of Kenneth Williams' use of the same line in Carry on Screaming.

Page 101, panel 5. Another Knight inspired Mecha name, this time it's Sir Percival.

Page 106, panel 2. Stickleback refers to General Charles Gordon or Gordon of Khartoum as he was known. The events he is talking about happened in 1884 -85.

Page 106, panel 4. This is another Lovecraftian horror which reminds me of the description of a Shoggoth in At the Mountains of Madness.

D'Israeli notes that the he was influenced by H.R.Giger's work for his designs of these underworld scenes. Giger is of course best known for his work on the original Alien movie.

Page 107, panel 6. Another reference to the Necronomicon. A Djinn is another name for a Genie in Arabian mythology.

Page 108, panel 2. Dicky Sharpe must be a descendent of Richard Sharpe the hero of a series of novels by Bernard Cornwell. General Gordon arrived in Cairo in 1884, Richard Sharpe died in 1860. He fathered several children including a son Patrick born in 1815. Presumably Dicky is a grandson.

Page 108, panel 3. The creature here is based on the Cyclops monster in Ray Harryhausen's first Sinbad film The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
D'Israeli also says that it was in part based on the monster from The Dunwich Horror.


Page 112, panel 4. Another of the steam-Mechas bears the name Sir Tristram.

Page 115, panel 1. D'Israeli notes that the events here are based in part on the story of the Donner party.

Page 116, panel 2. The phrase "That old-time religion" tells us that this is a Lovecraftian Elder God.

Page 122, panel 4. The Empress of Limehouse may be a reference to the daughter of Fu Manchu who plotted to take over her father's crime empire in the Limehouse district of London. She was played on screen by several actresses but her appearance here may owe something to the actress Anna May Wong who also played other alluring London-based characters in films such as Piccadilly and Limehouse Blues.

Page 128, panel 1. Titbits magazine was first published in 1881 and still survives today. It has always had a reputation for publishing lurid, tabloid stories.

Page 128, panel 2. The painter's apron bears the name R Tresal which I don't recognise unless it's a pun on trestle.
2013 update: Simon Gurr emailed me about the Irish writer Robert Noonan who is remembered for his novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, published under his pen name of Robert Tressell. While writing his great work, Noonan worked as a sign-writer and painter & decorator (his nom de plume was indeed a pun on trestle-table)

One of my father's favourite books as well. Embarrassing!

Page 128, panel 4. Stickleback looks out of a circular window similar to the one on Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum. On either side are a square and an arched window recalling the three windows from the British children's TV show Play School. In each episode a short film or story would be shown through one of the windows. Maybe Stickleback is looking out to the start of his next story. We can only hope so.

The sequel London's Burning appeared in 2010.

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