It’s the 1980s. A peaceful alien is stranded on Earth but soon finds a friend and protector in a human child. But the government, realising that a creature from another world has arrived, set out to track it down and capture it… If that sounds like the plot of the classic film E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial, you’d be right. However, it’s also the basic plot of the classic 2000AD story Skizz. And before anybody starts shouting anything about being a rip-off, for all the similarities on the surface there are also countless differences which set it far apart. The first, and most obvious, is the presence of writer Alan Moore. Which means, for those who know his work, that all bets are off on what to expect.
Alien interpreter Zhcchz, of the Tau Ceti Imperium, is a rather harmless pacifist of a being, and his arrival in England’s “second city” of Birmingham is a curious one. It’s a town of working class people and punks, more alien to him than he is to them. Found by schoolgirl Roxy O’Rourke (who simply names him Skizz), they’re soon captured by an apartheid-era South African government maniac called Van Owen. However, with the help of Roxy and her friends Loz and Cornelius Cardew, they manage to escape and…
…and right now you’re probably still wondering how this is different from E.T.
The setting alone makes a huge difference. The location of Birmingham, and during the Thatcher era of Britain in particular, creates a sense of oppression in the same way as V For Vendetta did. The South African villain, while now an outdated cliché, fills that role too and both aspects of it reflect Moore and 2000AD’s rebellious nature to challenge oppressive regimes.
Roxy herself is a stunning character, and her emotional turmoil throughout the whole story is far more personal than anything E.T.’s Elliot ever offered. Meanwhile, unemployed pipe fitter and “violent manic depressive” Cardew is a symbol of how an uncaring society can grind down anybody, until all that’s left is personal pride.
This is one of Moore’s earliest pieces of work for 2000AD, less gleefully anarchic than D.R. & Quinch and less elegant than his masterpiece The Ballad Of Halo Jones. However, it still packs quite a punch. It plays on emotions, much like most of Moore’s best writing, without ever feeling too preachy.
The art by Jim Baikie, who also wrote the wonderful second and third series which are also contained in this edition, is fantastic and holds up against some of the best work even now. Every page and panel is used to create maximum impact, and it helps the story to flow so smoothly that it has an almost cinematic quality to it.
Individually, each series of Skizz had far more pros than cons. Collected together in this edition they’re even better. It’s easy to overlook Skizz as a product of its time, and today it’s somewhat forgotten. But in its own way, it stands as one of 2000AD’s better – albeit less obvious – series from over the years. It may not be essential, but you’d have to have a heart of stone to read it and not be affected by it.