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Ray Zell
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Red Pandora

OH, BUT ‘new’ Pandora’s birth was a messy one. Bless her. After a break of a month or two, the Pandora strip, minus the ‘Peroxide’ or fanfare, reappeared in the Feb 24 ish, 1996, and half its size.  Nobody believes me, but there were doubts that she would even return.  A version was rejected, where - get this - original Pandora had been abducted by aliens, experimented on, and plonked back on earth, half her age.  Which, because of the eventual ‘Auntie P’ angle, I am now glad of!  And next, I myself even requested the original debut ‘Pandora’ strip be pulled... think it featured Therapy?... whatever, I just didn’t like it.

Ultimate rock bitch Pandora Peroxide used to write herself, but I couldn’t get a handle on new dowdy ‘post-grunge/skatecore’ Pandora.  And to top it off, people I was bumpin’ into were callin’ me a ‘sell-out’ over the new strip and one band’s roadie sneered at me, that there was some biker gang who had Pandora Peroxide as a mascot - and if ever they met me, they’d kill me. Well, they obviously never met me. But, y’know, it still killed me.

Anyway, her first two strips in its new format was in b&w, but the third was the first to be in colour. It looked hideous. I was quite new to utilisin’ colour over at the Kontinuum strip, but with Pandora - I was usin’ more colours than a fuckin’ rainbow, and, for a time, it just resembled a pizza with word bubbles. Or, more appropriately, an afterbirth.

So, as time dragged on, I was coming to terms with (oh, woe is me...) no more weekly compliments of, “Pandora was great this week!”. In fact, I was gettin’ no feedback on her AT ALL. Not even bad!  And, the stale icing on the mouldy cake was - Pandora no longer appeared in readers’ Sex Object polls....

Luckily, somethin’ Ginger (of The Wildhearts) had said, came back to me. I remember showin’ him initial sketches of the new Pandora and explainin’ - wanky as it sounds - how I couldn’t ‘find her’.  Spoke the wise one, “Ray, just ease her into the current rock climate, then, gradually phase the original Pandora’s personality back”. So, that’s what I did.  I made Pandora fuckin’ SEXY again.  And LOUD.  And BITCHY.  And... it worked. Thank the Lord.  Oh, and Ginger.

In fact, one of the first people to tell me he ‘fancied’ new Pandora more than the original, was one Paul Brannigan; back when he was a lowly freelancer.  Never forgot that.  ‘Course, it didn’t match the subtlety of the further indication of Pandora’s new found appeal, when Chris McCormack of 3 Colours Red wanted to commission me to draw Pandora on her knees givin’ him a blow-job, while he grasped her hair in bunches.  I politely refused.  But, it’s the thought that counts...

So.  Yeah.  She was ‘back’ and she was baaaaaad.  Even I started to love her.  And she hit number one in the readers’ poll.  Two years’ runnin’!  Even Pandora Peroxide couldn’t match that!!  And she dyed her ‘blue’ barnet red in a Casey Chaos/red carpet dye interface.  Type thing.  Usual deal.

Pandora’s even stopped bein’ so much of a loner with the introduction of work experience kids. First Wek (Work Experience Kid. Yeah, it’s genius, I know....), with his zombie eyes, green dreads and total enthusiasm for tea making - who was even voted into the K! readers’ ‘Hero Of The Year’ poll?!?  And, currently, Web (Work Experience Brat.  C’mon, this is gold!), with her Joan Jett looks, precious Ville-Valo-fag-butt-encased-in-a-plastic-heart necklace, and her devotion to purple.  Er, the colour, not the band.

And the delicious icing on the fresh cream cake, is that original Pandora, now known as Auntie P, occasionally comes to visit.  So, all’s well, hell and Zell on planet Pandora, and, hopefully, they’ll all live bitchily ever after.

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