Here are Panda and Jo performing, for a number of perfectly good reasons, "Sympathy for the Devil" against a background acknowledged by the artist (Terry Wiley) as borrowed from a 1969 Monkees annual. Jo (the one dressed up as Jimi Hendrix) is a student at the University of Novocastria; Panda - Pandadomino Quartile - is pretending to be a student too, but is really the ruler of some other world, distant in time and space, where she lives in the rambling splendour of Sleaze Castle (on no account to be confused with Castle Leazes, the complex of halls of residence in the University of Newcastle). Confused? Good, then you are probably getting the idea...
There is a plot, of sorts: Panda, visiting Earth on a shopping trip (as you do...) is marooned by a technical hitch, and has to inveigle her way into student life and make friends with Jo in order to be on the spot when the portal materialises six months later. Fortunately, once she has successfully found her way home, she is able to call back and tell her past self how to do this, so the main narrative is able to concentrate on how the alien integrates herself into local culture. At this level, the story is simply about the two friends doing student-type things, coping with family mishaps, boyfriends and social life, with the added twist that although Panda is, in her own world, an extremely old, experienced and powerful being, on Earth she continually encounters situations which make no sense to her. This is pure soap opera, in which the characters and their relationship are explored in the most mundane way, and finds an echo in Jo's postgraduate study of popular television; the introduction of the exotic outsider Panda creates something richer and stranger, as well as exploiting the humour of the incongruity. The Bonfire Night party is a good illustration of this, and also manages to have fun at Jo's expense, as she tries to explain something which is so familiar that she has never really considered its origins. Alternatively, this one-page anecdote can be read as an opportunity for a different kind of joke, in which Panda's doodling with her sparkler brings together the "V" motif and the Guy Fawkes theme.
There is a lot of fun for comics fans and others in spotting the allusions scattered throughout Sleaze Castle. These may be in-jokes, but their sheer quantity and variety means that no-one need feel excluded. Yes, there are a number of comics references: Jo's mother attempts to resolve a quarrel over which sister should retain the portable television by asking who uses it more ("Who watches the Watchman?"); one of the figures in the background of the party is a pretty girl in black wearing an ankh pendant and a top hat - but if you are exasperated by this fannishness, you may enjoy the contrast between the women of the Women Cartoonist Society, each of whom speaks in her own voice, and the terrible obsessives of the Komiks Klub (who buy their copies of Captain Armenia from Forgotten Pelmet). If these jokes are lost on you, you may like the pawnbroker's shop of C.O.Jones, or the Cafe Kirkby where some of the dishes don't have much Spam in them, or the people on the beach playing Hangman's Cricket... or any number of other jokes, some of which have probably gone straight over my head! (Tell me about them...)
There are three collected volumes of Sleaze Castle and if I have understood correctly, Part Zero is the first in order of narrative and the last in order of composition. All the other stories take place on Panda's world, and weave together several storylines, and while this has a certain charm, the result is more diffuse, lacking the focus of Part Zero. So start here, and soon you will be searching out the earlier collections, the uncollected comics, the Surreal School Stories...
Sleaze Castle: The Director's Cut Part Zero by Terry Wiley and Dave McKinnon, published by Gratuitous Bunny Comix, 1996Images reproduced by permission
There is a new Sleaze Castle home page from an earlier incarnation of which I stole this wonderful wallpaper. It is worth a visit, but you probably know that, since it was probably part of your route here.
I've had one letter about this page so far - and here it is!
took a look at your pages. kool :)
couple of things
One of these technical errors has now - I hope - been corrected; the other we just have to live with...