I’ve never been one for comics really, but walking past Oxfam Bookshop the other day I couldn’t help but be distracted by this disgruntled little fella peeping out from the cover of a book called Skin.
Skin is a graphic novel written by Peter Milligan in the early 1990s that tells the story of a young skin head, Martin ‘Atchett. Martin’s not like the other skins though, he’s a 'Thalidomide Baby’, one of those unfortunate kids to have been mutated by the drug thalidomide breaching the placental barrier during pregnancy. Like most 'Thalidomide babies’ Martin has foreshortened arms and legs (and for some reason he also has huge ears); basically, he’s a tragic little sod, and you’re made to feel even more sorry for him by the incessant bullying of the narrator. Our introduction to Martin goes something like this 'Martin looked like a wanker, but of course he couldn’t even do that. Wank, I mean. Couldn’t shake his own knob, wipe his arse, comb his hair.’ Nice…
Martin has a steady group of friends though, sort of. Some of them are OK with him, some of them are shitty with him. Surprisingly, a girl called Cross Eyed Ruby sort of has a crush on him. It’s not surprising because of his terrible deformities (well, maybe a little) but because he’s a horrible little shit who keeps shouting “bollarks” and telling people to fuck off.
Understandably, Martin has a lot of pent up anger, but it’s not until Cross Eyed Ruby educates Martin on the corporate history of the Thalidomide drug that 'Atchet finds a direction for his angst. With the knowledge of who was responsible for marketing the under-tested Thalidomide drug to British women, 'Atchet finds his way to Sir Allard-Cox Boyd’s office, rips off his arms with a hatchett, attaches them to his own and then throws himself from the top story of the building. All in all, it’s a very gratifying story, even if it’s a little dumb.
I’m not sure where you can find Skin, it’s no longer in print and I doubt it will be back in print for a while. But what a story….
Another use of the gallery feature to advertise yet another Tundra-published book. This one by Baron Storrey, one of the great old masters that always seemed comics-adjacent, but almost never actually in comics.
(Heavy Metal issue #143, March 1993 - Page 5 Gallery by Storey)