Thursday, 5 May 2016
The House Of Dollman
I always felt a bit uneasy about The House Of Dollman, a deeply weird strip that ran in Valiant and was then briefly reprinted in Vulcan.
Dollman was a master puppeteer, who'd built himself a little army of robots to fight crime and 'enemy agents', and that was all well and good, except for the fact that puppets are intrinsically creepy. And Dollman's puppets were the creepiest ones of all. I mean, look at them there, don't they just give you the heebie-jeebies?
And reading this strip as an adult lays bare it's weirdness even plainer. Firstly, Dollman regularly refers to his mechanical marvels as his 'children'. Ok, a bit odd, but we can go with that, just. But then it's explained that the robots don't actually talk at all.
Instead, Dollman throws his voice into each puppet, each one having a separate and distinct personality of it's own. Also, in later stories, the puppets argue amongst themselves and challenge their master's decisions. Bear that in mind as you read the tales that follow: All the dialogue coming from the puppets' mouths is actually Dollman talking to himself.
Do we need to make a referral to social services? How is this guy allowed out in the community?
Still, it was all drawn, I think, by the wonderful Eric Bradbury, so it looked great, even though it probably terrified a generation. And there's fun bits, like in the first story where somebody more or less says: Gee, I hope nobody kidnaps the Professor, that'd be terrible!
And the fact that the second tale takes place in 'a tough area of London' Whereabouts is that, I wonder?