The Ian Gibson column: Fedex and the publisher’s token

Ian ponders the reprint of the Millennium series he worked with Joe Staton on. And it's not something he's proud of...

A genuine British comics legend: Ian Gibson

I am hoping that, by now, the hospital in California – the Methodist Hospital of Southern California, for those who are keen on specific details – will have ordered replacement suction tubes for the ones that are sitting in a box in my studio.

I suppose it shows how pan global the manufacturing market is, even for such oddities as medical tubes, when the package seems to show that Stryker Instruments, based in Kalamazoo (don’t you just love that name!), have their tubes manufactured in France. And those are the ones that were intended for the Methodist Hospital in California. Not the most efficient of systems? In my naivete, I would imagine that Kalamazoo is somewhat closer to Southern California than is France.

But Fedex in their renowned efficiency, delivered them to me.

I have asked Fedex to come and collect their package to take it away. For I have no use, in my wildest dreams or even my darkest nightmares, for ‘Femoral Canal Tip, Irrigation/Suction (for use with Stryker Interpulse* System)’. But, sadly and inconveniently, they have failed to manage that quite simple task. It seems they can’t find me. They managed to deliver the tubes. But now they can’t collect them.

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This may explain why DC Comics sent me a message (not via Fedex) to inform me that Fedex were having problems delivering a package to me. Between us, just in confidence, and don’t let it spread further than the dozen (that many?) people who may read my ramblings: but I have to admit that I am quite happy not to receive that package. Not that ‘irrigation tubes’ are much of a substitute. ( hat could be the seed for some philosophical debate?) Because I fear that the contents will be a couple of copies of the collected edition ‘reprint’ of the Millennium series that I worked on with Joe Staton. Not something I would proudly display on my shelves.

I was suckered into that contract, just as the poor readers were suckered into shelling out their good pennies for, what was in effect, pure market manipulation. One of the low points of my creative career. Not that there was much creation on my part. Though I did sometimes attempt to ‘improve’ on Joe’s pencils, when the mood took me. But after a few slaps on the wrist from Dick Giordano, (GRHS) I eventually gave up and inked, as best I could, over the pencils as they were delivered, whether I understood the marks or no.

I had taken the contract on the understanding that it was my series and I would pencil and ink the whole shooting match. But then the editors foisted Joe onto me, and me onto Joe. We were not a well matched pair. Joe, in his own work, inks loosely over tight pencils. And I ink tightly over loose pencils. There was no great harmony going on. The only reason it became a ‘best seller’ was because the story thread spread over all the other comics in the DC universe. So you had to read Millennium to figure out what was happening with your own favourite character’s story. Good marketing. Bad comics!

So, if the mystery tubes ever get collected by Fedex, and they even manage to deliver a box of Millennium TPB editions, then the former will be winging their way to California to provide someone with ‘suction’ relief (?), and the latter will be bagged up and taken to the local Cats’ Protection charity shop to join the assorted copies of the Judge Dredd ‘Complete Case Files’ which have already mysteriously found their way there.

Am I allowing my imagination to find some connection between ‘irrigation tubes’ and a bunch of crappy old comics?

Read Ian Gibson’s previous column for Den Of Geek here.