These are the episode notes and errata for Pratchat episode 55, “Mr Doodle, the Man on the Moon“, discussing the twenty-seventh Discworld novel, 2001’s illustrated “Discworld Fable”, The Last Hero with returning guest Georgina Chadderton (aka George Rex).
Here are George’s drawings that we mentioned in the podcast!
Notes and Errata
- The episode title is a reference to Australian children’s television icon Mr Squiggle, the “Man from the Moon” who visited Earth in his pet rocket (named Rocket) to turn children’s “squiggles” – scribbled drawings of random lines and shapes – into delightful pictures of birds, fish and koalas with yo-yos using the pencil he had for a nose. His show is an Australian institution, running for forty years between 1959 and 1999 on the public broadcaster, the ABC. We previously mentioned him in #Pratchat44, “Cosmic Turtle Soup“. (The episode was originally titled “Mr Leonard, the Man on the Moon”, but then Ben rediscovered that the nickname “Mr Doodle” was suggested for Leonard in Men at Arms, and it was too perfect a fit not to change it!)
- Other guests who’ve returned after a few years include Cal Wilson (in #Pratchat1 and #Pratchat3, and then #Pratchat50), Stephanie Convery (#Pratchat2 and #Pratchat42), Richard McKenzie (#Pratchat5 and #Pratchat40), and most recently Nadia Bailey (#Pratchat17, then #Oggswatch2021 #Pratchat54). Guests who’ve come back without such a big break include Will Kostakis, Fury and Joel Martin. (If there’s a guest you’d love us to get back on the show, let us know! We already have a few in mind…)
- Adelaide is the capital of South Australia, and the smallest state capital on the mainland (Hobart in Tasmania is much smaller). Unlike the other British colonies in Australia, it was established by free settlers rather than convicts, but it still nearly destroyed the Kaurna people who lived there. Like Australia’s many smaller cities (basically everywhere that’s not Sydney or Melbourne), it has a reputation of being more like a big country town.
- Earthquakes in Australia are usually too minor to be noticed by humans, but in March 2022 Adelaide experienced two big enough to rattle windows and give people a fright (and prompt the posting of images of garden chairs knocked over with captions like “We will rebuild”, a common sentiment when mild disasters occur). Adelaide is surrounded by fault lines, though, which explains why sometimes they get a few in a row; this ABC News article gets into the details (and gives an example of the meme we mentioned).
- If you want to get a preview of George’s graphic novel, she released Oh, Brother, a teaser of the original version, which you can find in the shop on her website. (Ben’s read it, it’s really good.)
- You can find out more about the Paper Cuts Comics Festival on their website, papercutscomicfestival.com.
- Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a British comedy film directed by Anthony Fabian set to be released in July 2022. It’s based on the 1958 novel Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico, and stars Lesley Manville as the titular cleaner living in post-war London, who dreams of escaping her life and owning a fancy gown made by Christian Dior. The nearly three-minute long trailer does indeed reveal pretty much every plot beat of the film.
- In Greek mythology, Prometheus is one of the younger Titans who helped the gods overthrow the other Titans. In many versions of his story, he subsequently tricked Zeus, including causing him to accept bones and fat rather than meat as a sacrifice from mortals, which is what angered Zeus into hiding fire from them. Prometheus then stole it back, but in some accounts also taught humans many other hallmarks of civilisation, and possibly saved them from obliteration at Zeus’ hand. For these transgressions he was, like Fingers-Mazda, chained to a rocks and had his liver eaten by an enormous eagle in the day, only to grow whole again overnight to repeat the torture for eternity. He is eventually freed by Heracles, in some versions with Zeus’ permission, though Heracles kills the eagle rather than letting Prometheus do it.
- The Bayeux Tapestry is a famous artwork depicting the history of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. It’s huge, almost 70 metres long, and was probably made in England not long after the events describes, perhaps in the 1070s. Traditionally it is thought to have been commissioned by Queen Matilda, the wife of William the Conqueror, but historians consider it more likely to have been commissioned by the Bishop Odo, William’s half-brother. It got its name in the 18th century when it came to the notice of scholars as it was displayed in a cathedral in Bayeux, Normandy. The seventy or so illustrations on it are not woven into the linen fabric, as in many tapestries, but are embroidered, using a form of wool yarn, leading some scholars to prefer the term “Bayeux Embroidery”, though many think this is splitting hairs as the term “tapestry” isn’t that precise.
- Fan service means anything including in a work of fiction that’s specifically designed to please an existing fan base. The term originates with Japanese manga and anime, where it often more specifically means content which is titillating or sexual in nature.
- If you’re interested in learning about the visual literacy in comics, and in general about how comics work, we highly recommend the now classic work by Scott McLeod, Understanding Comics.
- A Clockwork Orange is a 1962 science fiction novel written by English author Anthony Burgess (1917-1993). It depicts a dystopian future in which teenagers speak in a slang called “Nadsat” (from the Russian suffix meaning “-teen”) and form gangs to engage in random acts of “ultra-violence”. The protagonist, Alex, recounts some of his exploits, including falling out with his gang and being abandoned by them after an assault and robbery to be arrested, imprisoned and eventually put through an experimental form of aversion therapy, the “Ludivico Technique”. Stanley Kubrick famously filmed the novel in 1971, with a young Malcolm McDowell in the role of Alex; the film was controversial for including the violence (including murder and rape) present in the book, and has been hugely influential, introducing some of the slang terms like “droogs” (friends) and “ultra-violence” into common parlance. The Kubrick film was based on the US edition of the novel, which omitted the final chapter, and Burgess did not like the result. Burgess himself wrote a musical stage adaptation in 1987, and there have been many other stage productions since.
- bell hooks (1952-2021) was the pen name of Gloria Jean Watkins, an academic, activist and writer who wrote many influential books about race, feminism and class. hooks used lowercase for her pen name (which was also the name of her Great Grandmother) in an attempt to emphasise the work over the person. Ben is mistaken when he says she doesn’t use much capitalisation or punctuation, though; while she does favour plain language and long sentences, she uses standard English grammar.
- There have been four editions of The Last Hero in English:
- The original 2001 hardcover (160 pages; UK – Victor Gollancz, ISBN 0-575-06885-X; US – HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-104096-7) is the one all three of us have read. It has Cohen atop a mountain on the cover, and is roughly 24cm wide and 28.5cm tall. As far as we know is the only one to feature the full-colour illustration of Leonard on the Moon looking at the Disc, which appears on the back cover of the dust jacket. (A pencil drawing of this illustration appears in the background on page 121 (or page 133 in the later editions). There’s a German translation of this edition, but it seems most other translations are of the second edition.
- 2,000 copies were made of a limited “Deluxe Edition” of the UK hardcover (ISBN 0-575-07370-5), though we’re not sure what exactly was different about it – all the photos we can find look just like the hardcover Ben has with the dust jacket taken off! (For the record: the cloth cover underneath is plain black, embossed with the title, authors’ names and just Cohen from the original cover in gold.) Some sources list it as a “slipcase” edition, so it might have been exactly the same except with a slipcase instead of a dust jacket. (It was only £25 compared to the standard edition’s price of £17.99, so this minor change seems about right.)
- The 2002 paperback edition (176 pages; UK – Victor Gollancz, ISBN 0-575-07977-2; US – Eos/HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-050777-2) has the same page dimensions as the original hardcover (though the cover is a little smaller). This one features the Rincewind “Scream” cover and includes text describing it as “The No. 1 Bestseller” and “Includes 16 pages of all-new illustrations”. That the new illustrations did not appear in the deluxe edition caused some fans to be disgruntled with the publishers…
- The 2007 paperback edition (176 pages; Victor Gollancz, ISBN 978-0-575-08196-3) is pretty much exactly the same as the 2002 version, except with an illustration of the entire Silver Horde on the cover, and it’s smaller: about 17cm wide and 19.5cm tall. Thanks to the specific layout, the page numbers are identical. This version has stayed in print since it was introduced, and is also the version on which the ebook, published in 2015, is based.
- There’s also an audiobook of The Last Hero, published in 2008 by Isis Books (ISBN 978-0-7531-4058-1 / 040202) – the company with the original license to produce unabridged audiobooks of Pratchett’s works. Its narrated by Stephen Briggs. Its unclear as yet if a new audiobook of The Last Hero will be released as part of the new Penguin Audiobooks…
- The Scream – whose actual title is Skrik (Norwegian for “Shriek”) or Der Schrei der Natur (German for “The Scream of Nature”) – is an 1893 pre-expressionist artwork by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944). It depicts a bald figure in the foreground, standing on a bridge or pier near the sea, under a red sky; the figure is clutching its head and has its mouth open in a scream. Munch painted four versions, two in oils and two in pastels, and a lithograph – a carved version from which several monochrome prints were made, some of which were then hand-coloured by Munch. The first version is on display in the National Museum of Norway in Oslo, and bares a pencil inscription in Norwegian, written by Munch, that went unnoticed until 1903: “Kan kun være malet af en gal Mand!“, “Could only have been painted by a madman!”
- Is Rincewind a “young person”? He’s certainly much younger than Cohen, but by the time of The Last Hero he would by some accounts be around 57, though he looks considerably younger in Kidby’s drawings. Perhaps wizards age more slowly than other folks – or his time in the Dungeon Dimensions put a temporary stop to his physical ageing.
- Ben makes good on his promise to describe at least most of the new illustrations from the second and later editions, but for reference, here’s a list:
- Pages 50-51 – a map of part of the Disc, showing the route of the fleet that set out from Ankh-Morpork towards Krull.
- Pages 70-71 – a portrait-oriented image of Death, the Death of Rats and Albert (holding a kitten in a box) looking up at A’Tuin’s immense life timer.
- Pages 90-91 – the view down to the Hub from the spire of Cori Celesti.
- Pages 104-105 – the Kite flying towards the viewer off the edge of the Rimfall.
- Pages 116-117 – a painting of the wizards, the Luggage and Vetinari in the darkened hold of the ship, looking at the glowing lines of the spell tracking the Kite‘s path. (This is the one Ben later thinks is based on an existing work; see below for the answer we’ve come up with, thanks to subscriber Fiona Margolotta!)
- Pages 126-127 – a portrait-oriented image of Rincewind on the moon, with one of the elephants in the background, in “the Scream” pose. (This is the image used for the cover of the second edition.)
- Pages 138-139 – Ridcully, Ponder and another member of the Faculty (possible the Lecturer in Recent Runes) in the bow of the ship, the Luggage in the prow. The wizards are looking up at the moon, where the Kite blasting off can be seen, resembling a shooting star. Ridcully is fishing over the side of the ship – there’s a pile of very weird fish on the deck, and a worried looking sea serpent in the ocean. (This scene doesn’t quite appear in the text, but it’s a great painting.)
- Pages 154-155 – a parody of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam”, depicting Cohen in Adam’s pose giving the finger to Blind Io, who takes the place of the Christian God, and is surrounded by the other gods. (This appears in sketch form in the background of the pages where Rincewind talks the heroes out of their plan, on pages 144-145 of the first edition and 160-161 of the later editions.)
- Our episode about Interesting Times was #Pratchat21, “Memoirs of Agatea“, a pun on the novel and film Memoirs of a Geisha. (See the episode notes for more.) The pun just about still works if you pronounce it “A-gatt-ee-ah”… Sadly the official source, The Discworld Companion, neglects to supply a pronunciation, but probably whatever Stephen Briggs says in the audiobooks is “correct”.
- Old Vincent is noted as being 87 in Interesting Times, and having trouble with his memory. He is not actually the oldest of them; that would be Mad Hamish, who in Interesting Times is 105. Cohen himself estimated his own age as between ninety and ninety-five, while Caleb the Ripper was 85. Boy Willie is noted as being the only one under eighty.
- How much time has passed since Interesting Times? As usual there’s no canonical answer, but clues and fan theories suggest it’s probably been about three or four years.
- The Cabin in the Woods is a 2011 horror comedy, directed by Drew Goddard and written by Goddard with Joss Whedon, which parodies slasher films and serves up a critique of more modern “torture porn” style horror films. It has a great cast, including Chris Hemsworth (of Thor fame) and Bradley Whitford (of The West Wing), plus many actors familiar from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and/or Angel. It has a stereotypical collection of college student horror characters head for a weekend in cabin out in the woods, while a pair of scientists observe them and subject them to chemicals and other stimuli that force them to behave like horror movie characters, all leading to a mysterious ritual. The scientists receive messages from other labs around the world advising them that other experiments have failed, leaving the American team as the last hope…and we won’t spoil any more than that, because it’s a pretty great film.
- The Agatean Empire does not appear in any subsequent novels, but there is a canonical answer to what happens next in The Compleat Discworld Atlas, so we’ll revisit this when we cover that book.
- Leonard of Quirm – as he is more often called, though he is also referred to as Leonard da Quirm in the books – is first mentioned in Wyrd Sisters (see #Pratchat4), where he is responsible for designing the wave machine used for special ocean effects at The Dysk theatre in Ankh-Morpork. Notably he is still “at large” in that book, working primarily as a painter from the Street of Cunning Artificers, and doing engineering as a side hustle. He’s safely ensconced in the Patrician’s palace by the time of Men at Arms (#Pratchat1), having designed and built the gonne which – deemed more dangerous than the other things Leonard had actually constructed – was meant to be destroyed by the Assassin’s Guild. By the time of Jingo (#Pratchat27) he’s been in the palace for five years – and we realise he does get to go along on the submarine adventure in that book, but only under the Patrician’s strict supervision. He also appears in The Fifth Elephant (#Pratchat40), and is mentioned briefly in Soul Music (where one of his illustrations inspires the Librarian to build his motorcycle; see #Pratchat19) and The Truth (where Mr Tulip admires one of his artworks; see #Pratchat42), but will only return once more, in Monstrous Regiment.
- Cohen doesn’t wear a loincloth – it’s always been described and illustrated as a “leather hold-all”, like the furry underpants worn by He-Man.
- The exhibition of Terry’s life and work that Ben remembers was Terry Pratchett: HisWorld, which featured at the Salisbury Museum from September 2017 to January 2018. Two books were produced for the exhibition – one limited edition small hardcover available only at the exhibition, and another larger art book. and you can find it and details of the exhibition at pratchetthisworld.com. The Shed of Doom was not actually build for HisWorld, but the following year for the Chalke Valley History Festival, where the HisWorld recreation of Terry’s writing room was also exhibited again. We’ve included a Tweet from the official @Discworld_com account below with some great photos of the Shed, and the CVHF also have a time-lapse video of its construction on Vimeo.
- In the Pokémon series of videogames, there are several goals: one is to fill out your “Pokédex”, an index of every Pokémon creature, by capturing at least one specimen of every species. But you are also on a quest to prove yourself as the greatest Pokémon trainer in the region, usually by defeating the gym leaders – the best trainer is each of the local “Pokémon gyms”, which are basically training camps for Pokémon trainers, usually specialising in Pokémon of a certain type. When you enter a gym you find a unique (or at least distinctive) challenge you must overcome to get to the gym leader, which always includes fighting Pokémon battles against their gym members. And that’s even before you get to the final part of each game, which involves battling against the champion trainers above the individual gyms! Which is all to say that Evil Harry Dread being one of those unnamed trainers in the gym before the leader is a pretty scathing review from Liz of his Evil Overlord status.
- Crufts is a famous UK dog show. We previously talked about it briefly in #Pratchat7A, “The Curious Incident of the Dragon and the Night Watch“.
- The Nothingfjord Blue swamp dragon does indeed seem to be a clear reference to Monty Python’s famous “Dead Parrot Sketch”. In the sketch, Mr Praline (John Cleese with a silly voice) tries to return a large, blue and clearly dead parrot to a pet shop, the owner of which (played by Michael Palin) tries to argue that it is not dead. The parrot in the sketch is described as a “Norwegian Blue” (a nonexistent species) which has “beautiful plumage”; the shopkeeper at one point claims that it is “pining for the fjords”. NoThingfjord, meanwhile, was first mentioned in The Last Continent as the birthplace of Mad the dwarf. It’s also mentioned in The Last Hero – it was the Duke of NoThingfjord who employed Mad Hamish and other members of the Silver Horde as mercenaries, in the battle they were asked to repeatedly re-stage for the purposes of capturing it in a tapestry. Some more details are given in The Discworld Mapp, where it’s revealed that it’s home to the Discworld’s equivalent of vikings, who were great explorers but not very successful raiders since they always made appointments with their potential victims, giving advance warning of their arrival.
- The barbarian heroine in The Light Fantastic is Herrena the Henna-Haired Harridan, who also gets a passing mention in Eric. We should also give Conina, Cohen’s daughter from Sourcery, a shout-out too.
- Open All Hours was one of two successful BBC sitcoms developed from Seven of One, a showcase of sitcom pilots starring Ronnie Barker, which was broadcast in 1973. (The other was the prison comedy Porridge.) Barker, in a false moustache and pronounced stutter, plays Arkwright, the owner of a corner store in Yorkshire, who longs for and lusts after Nurse Gladys, who lives across the road with her elderly mother. He also attempts to teach all his dirty tricks for selling to customers to his assistant, his orphaned nephew Granville, played by David Jason – known to Discworld fans as both Albert in the live-action adaptation of Hogfather, and Rincewind in the live-action adaptation of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. Open All Hours ran for four series between 1976 and 1985, and remained popular enough to spawn a sequel, Still Open All Hours, in which Granville (still played by David Jason) has taken over the store. Still Open All Hours has had six series between 2014 and 2019.
- Liz has mentioned Diana Wynne Jones’ fantasy novel The Homeward Bounders before, in #Pratchat31, “It’s Just a Step to the Left”, and #EeekClub2021, our first special episode discussing topics chosen by subscribers. In the book, demonic entities known only as Them play a boardgame with the denizens of the many alternate universes that exist – in part by selecting mortals who will be thrown out of their own universe, and must then try to make it home.
- The painting of the wizards observing the spell (from pages 116-117 of the later editions) appears to be based very specifically on A Philosopher giving that Lecture on the Orrery in which a lamp is put in place of the Sun, painted in 1766 by Joseph Wright of Derby. Wright’s style may seem familiar – he also painted An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, which was the inspiration for Kidby’s cover painting for The Science of Discworld. (See #Pratchat35, “Great Balls of Physics“, for more information.) Thanks to subscriber Fiona Margolotta for helping us solve this mystery!
More notes for this episode coming soon!
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