For the recent Black Crown Omnibus of the CUD Band comic strip (by Will, Carl and artist Philip Bond), Will wrote some lengthy sleevenotes, too many to fit in the book. With special permission from Shelly Bond, here are the unexpurgated notes to read along with the comic book (still available in all good comic stores).
The comic-book adventure Rich and Strange had a nebulous aim to tell the tale of British indie combo CUD’s unmeteoric rise to renown, subsequent slump and accidental revival. We framed it within a semi-fictional turn, where the writers were attempting to revive their musical fortunes later in life than is sensible. But where does fact become fiction? Which events have been changed to protect the idiot? This complementary commentary may confuse the subject even further by making wild claims that some of the story is true and less believable than the lovingly engineered strip would have you think.
Page 1. Panel 1. Rather than start humbly, here we stake our claim that CUD were a genuine band, with some success, despite our efforts to sabotage our career. We had records out and got in the charts and, as a result of the comic-strip, made it big a second time, or so was the plan…
Glastonbury is the UK’s biggest outdoor festival. 1992 was a rare mud-free, not CUD-free affair.
Here, I must praise talented and tireless letterist Aditya Bidikar for adding the lines under the U in CUD. This harks back to an early logo when the U was a cow’s udder, complete with three teats. (Cue joke: How many tits are in CUD?)
Lyrics: ‘Eau Water’.
Panels 2-3. The original script had Carl listening to a prog tune he is more likely to play in the dressing room. For legal reasons, we switched it to CUD’s ‘Love in a Hollow Tree’, which he wouldn’t play in the dressing room. Currently, he plays a lot of Cheap Trick.
Page 2. Panels 1-2. Carl is particular about his tipple, having spent some years in the wine trade. I deferred to him here as to the vintages. The Duband Vosne Romanée is recommended served with a salad of pigs’ feet in truffles..
Note the seated doll in panel 1. This is Space Baby, a plastic knick-knack picked up on a tour of Poland, made cover star of our 1990 LP ‘Leggy Mambo’ and an unpopular T-shirt. He reappears later.
Panel 3. Lyrics: ‘Purple Love Balloon’.
Panel 4. There are hints throughout that other 90s British indie bands ended up in Dying Embers. Matt Cheslin is the bass player in Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. I wrote a whole scene with him later, which had to be cut, involving me leaving my used colostomy bag as an exploding cushion on his seat.
Panel 5. Mangal is a Turkish restaurant in East London.
I love the fact that old Carl and I spend the whole adventure without trousers. And me without undies either.
Page 3. Panel 1. 17 years after out last gig currently places this adventure in 2035.
Panel 4. We got Mike to contribute here, choosing his favourite yellow Telecaster, bottled Newkie Brown ale and cuss words.
Page 4. Panel 1. This is close to how our first gig went. There is actual filmed footage of it online, here…
At the time, Carl and I were Fine Art students. Mike studied Graphic Design (alongside comics ace Duncan Fegredo, as it happens).
Panel 2. Carl believes that a key theme of Rich & Strange is misremembering, with him recollecting our CUD adventures and perceiving events differently to me. That’s not how I remember it.
Lyrics: ‘Mind the Gap’.
Panel 4. True! Mike saw Carl and me play in our synth pop duo, Planet Wobblers, and offered his services as a bass player. We put him on guitar and in CUD instead. He bought the guitar for 50 quid from a mail-order catalogue.
Panel 5. True! We rescued bits of a drum kit before another bunch of kids smashed them to pieces.
Panel 6. Lyrics: ‘Art!’.
Page 5. Panel 3. Shelly insisted there be some cute women in the story because Philip Bond draws cute women, which is as good a reason as any.
Page 6. Panel 1. Kudos to colorer Lee Loughbridge for his cool cupboard blues here, flashback, cigarette-tinted tawny greys and the fawn and yellow splendour of Dying Embers’ lounge.
Panel 3. Flatmate and manager (for want of a person more available) Zed Baxter was indeed a Scrabble guru and enjoyed half an hour of fame as a contestant on long-running Channel 4 anagram-busting gameshow Countdown. He was also an ordained minister, albeit for the Church of Subgenius, and subject to a fee of $35.
Panel 4. Planet Wobblers (see above) was the name of a synth-pop duo that Carl and I performed as when other members of CUD went AWOL. Like a Pound Shop Pet Shop Boys.
Page 7. Panel 1. The original name for the original version of the band was Allez Cud Dem Nidd Du Prog, somewhat catchier than the name we settled on, I’m sure no one will agree. The River Nidd dribbles through North Yorkshire.
Panel 2. We did play the Hot Klub in Stalowa Wola, Poland in 1989.
Panel 3. A genuine issue in the Netherlands, this, and probably one reason that we rarely toured the Continent. That, and the fact no one wanted us.
Panel 5. These headlines are all from genuine press clippings that we provided for Philip. Others that missed the cut include Popular Chewnes, Holy Cow!, Never Kowtow, Just Be Cud To Me, Cow Soon Is Now?, and Udderly Fab-tastic!
Page 8. Panel 2. Another indie band name drop, David Gedge of The Wedding Present, who writes his own line of biographical comic books. Thank/blame the Weddoes for giving CUD our first break.
Panel 4. An early draft had Carly related to a fan of CUD who has been supplying exotic shirts to Carl for donkey’s years. Take a bow, Deborah!
Page 9. Panel 1. This large panel is awesome! We were so lucky to have Philip Bond draw this strip. But this isn’t the first time Philip has drawn CUD. Back in the heyday, he worked on several singles inserts and an amazing poster for the album ‘Asquarius’, along with genii Glyn Dillon and Jamie Hewlett.
Lyrics: ‘Strange Kind of Love’.
Page 10. Panel 5. In real life, Mike does live in a mansion of sorts, with penguins for neighbours.
Page 11. Panel 4. Again, there is video evidence for this (above). I had booked a US road trip when CUD were offered a slot on Vic Reeves’ music/comedy show ‘Popadoodledandy’. Friend (and bass player) Jessica mimed my part too well. A longer version of the script included examples of times every member of the band missed a show. How many do we need to still get paid?
Panel 5. Love Philip’s CUD tots here, enough to rewrite history that we all met in indie kindergarten.
Page 12. Panel 1. Another pop star ref here. Look it up.
Panel 2. Space Baby, the traitor!
Panel 4. In 1987, having just spent £50 on our first studio recording, Carl sent a cassette to Peel and got the offer of a BBC session within the week! When we next turned up at Carl’s house to rehearse, he asked us which day would suit for going to London to record it. We laughed at this hilarious joke…until he picked up the phone and called the BBC…
Tragically, the BBC are now considering moving out of Maida Vale – the home of countless pivotal recordings.
Panel 5. Gee, us and cover versions. Don’t think we chose any seriously, as fans. ‘You Sexy Thing’ was just something we played at parties but it sure got us attention.
Page 13. Panel 1. Ex-Mott drummer Dale Griffin worked as a BBC Radio 1 session producer from 1981 to 1994.
Panel 2. I knew our drummer tried this but only recently confirmed the rumour that Bonham lined his kick drum with foil.
Page 14. Panel 4. I’ll credit Shelly again here for saying there ought to be some entertainment put on for the Embers gang. An indie tribute act seemed fitting.
Panel 5. Here, I reveal the original plot, had the series lived on for several more episodes, while Carl quotes lyrics again – this from ‘Now’.
Page 15. Panel 4. CUD found their drums in a skip, and now we’re full circle. Almost like it was planned.
Panel 6. Just had to drop in to our local.
Page 16. Panel 4. Carl came up with the idea that the ‘new’ CUD should sing twisted versions of our old tunes. This, of course, is a play on ‘Rich and Strange’. Maybe we should add it to our live set.
Page 17. Panel 6. True. That bloody blue van! Nice painting on the side, but it had to be tow-started every time. We drove it all the way from Leeds, north England to western Poland. In winter. Even during this period of communism, Trabants and empty shelves, the Eastern European locals found our vehicle lacking.
Page 18. Panel 1. For this reason I am not allowed a mic on stage. Instead I feed Carl lines for him to sensibly ignore.
Page 18. Panel 5. A play on our tune ‘Hey, Boots’. (You should really give these songs a listen on some streaming service, or whatever.)
Page 19. Panel 1. See what we did there? (See page 4).
Panel 2. “Same faces from seventeen years ago.” We play to the same faces from 25 years ago now. Don’t see why this would change. Lyric is a spin on ‘I’ve Had It with Blondes’.
Panel 3. Lyric is a spin on ‘Now.
Page 20. Panel 1. Lyric is a spin on ‘Only (A Prawn in Whitby)’.
Page 21. Panel 1. I might be out the band when Mike sees this panel. (We didn’t share the script with the rest of the group.)
Panel 2.Boom-tish! Will there be a Side Two? (CUD did once release a one-sided single.) I had a sequel idea involving a quest to find the drummers from CUD but, for now, it’s a wrap.
Panel 3.Current drummer, Gogs, finally gets a look-in here. I did write a scene for him, as a scalper selling worthless CUD show tickets, but it didn’t make the cut. Sorry, Gogs.
And we end, where we began, singing our hit. Ta-ra!
CUD: Rich & Strange is available in Black Crown Omnibus through all good comic-book stores. Signed copies of Black Crown Quarterly #4, with wraparound CUD cover and 10 pages of story are available through the CUD shop.