Rewriting The Past
♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Hayes takes a look at 2000AD’s Hope…For The Future by Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton and out in November…
Hope…For The Future
Writer: Guy Adams
Artist: Jimmy Broxton
One of 2016’s most deadpan jokes in the comics business was Goldtiger, the sexy and previously lost Swinging Sixties adventure strip credited to Antonio Barreti and Louis Schaeffer, collected into a handsome archive volume through the sterling detective work of writer Guy Adams and the artist known as Jimmy Broxton. Goldtiger was eventually published by Rebellion, whose relationship with the two creators has now led to Hope, a 2000AD strip also set in a past which doesn’t quite align with anything that was in the history books.
This time it’s a 1940s Los Angeles, where magic and the occult are a fact of life. Private detective Mallory Hope takes on a missing persons case which sees him venture behind some of Hollywood’s most tightly closed doors, into a plot of child exploitation, violent gangsters and dangerous femme fatales. Enchantment lurks everywhere, whether seen or not, although Hope knows all about that. Having watched his family be dragged away into the void by a demon, Hope has acquired a devil of his own that no one else can see, drawn by Broxton as a shadowy figure in robes looking like a nun’s habit, always lurking behind Hope’s shoulder with its face obscured by a gas mask.
There have been enough stories and films about occult Los Angeles to constitute a genre of its own, and all 1940s noir is saturated with post-war fatalism and unquiet ghosts, so Hope is built on a pastiche of other stories right from the start. But Goldtiger worked because Adams and Broxton enjoy pastiche, and have a sharp sense of why the genres they pay loving tribute to were working in the first place. Goldtiger‘s humour was constant meta knockabout, in which a disgruntled comic artist started drawing himself into his own newspaper strip as if he was a petulant god, but the jokes in Hope are more spread out and macabre, like the mysterious gangster gorging himself on food before vomiting it all up into a bucket made of gold, engaged in some deal with a devil of his own.
Broxton has adjusted his art style to match, swapping the clean lines of Goldtiger’s yellowing mock-newspaper panels for heavy pools of black and pale ink washes, an LA looking suitably bleached in the wan sunshine, with occult runes snaking over the art like the hidden electric currents of the world. This first story is technically called Hope…For The Future, although there’s not much sign of any of that on the horizon so far. If there were, the strip might not work so well.