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Cartoon Messiah.

Byline: Tom Slemen

WHEN "Uncle Daddy" (it's a long story involving a shady lodger) passed away in June 1982, he left his (possible) 8-year-old son Harry two unusual things: a Hartley's Wall Chart of 10 Great British Cars - all featured on the mounted lids of Hartley Jam jars - and a 20-inch-Grundig colour television, because Harry was a tellybug, especially during the school holidays, when the boy rose earlier than usual and watched everything from a cloth-cat named Bagpuss, to Robinson Crusoe, Paint Along with Nancy, right through to The Sullivans and Runaround with Mike Reid.

It was unhealthy for a child to remain so immersed in the cathode-ray tube world of monochrome TV but now Harry had colour telly in his room and his stepfather Jimmy begrudged the lad having such a set.

"I could be watching the racing from Sandown on that telly," Jimmy had told Harry's mother Pauline. "You should be watching Crossroads in colour," he suggested to his wife of two years, "and the Wonderful World of Disney is on later, and Private Schulz," he added.

Pauline told Jimmy to shut up and stop being selfish. She said Harry loved television, and yes, he did stay in a lot to watch it but other boys his age in Dovecot were running amok in gangs.

Cartoon Harry came down from his room and asked his mother a strange question: "Mum, did you ever watch the Cartoon Messiah when you were little?" Harry's mother squinted her eyes, shook her head of rollers, and to layabout Jimmy, she said: "Isn't that a terrible name for a kid's cartoon?' Jimmy frowned sulkily in his armchair and pulled on a few centimetres of a woodbine as he scanned the sports pages of the ECHO. Harry followed his mum into the kitchen as she made the tea. "Jake Splinter is the Cartoon Messiah," explained the boy, "and he kills people, and you see blood and he swears sometimes."

Messiah "Ooh, I don't like the sound of him," said Pauline, checking the three Ocean Pies in the oven, "you mean he swears like naughty words and that?" Harry uttered one of Jake Splinter's four-letter swear words, and his mother scolded him and almost slapped his leg.

A week went by, and each day Harry would draw disturbing images of a weird egg-headed man in green chopping people up with a hatchet. 'Who's that supposed to be?' Pauline asked, and Harry said it was the Cartoon Messiah, Jake Splinter killing his neighbour, Mr Gripes, because he was old.

That evening at 7pm, seven boys and girls - all school friends in Harry's class, came to the house and went upstairs to watch the boy's colour telly. When things became too quiet up there, Pauline tiptoed up the stairs and opened the bedroom door an inch.

She peeped in to see the children sitting on the floor in front of the TV, and on the screen was a shocking cartoon featuring the egg-headed gangly green Jake Splinter, putting a budgerigar in a blender.

The face of Splinter suddenly turned to look at Pauline - as if he could see her - and his zig-zagged mouth smiled: "I spy a stranger," he said. A snow-storm of static filled the screen with a deafening roar of ensuing white noise. What chilled Pauline was the way the cartoon character had looked at her - but what chilled her more was the furious faces of the children as they turned around - they were filled with pure hate.

? Continued next week
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 3, 2011
Previous Article:MasterMinds.
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