Before the dawn of computer games there was the pad and pen.

When I was a kid, my dad would periodically commit minor white collar crimes and come home with a bulging briefcase. Sometimes it would be lined paper, sometimes discarded computer printouts.

This was about 1970 and I was seven. Unfortunately all the real examples are gone, but this is how it worked.

I’d start with a blank sheet and a BIC Biro.


I’d draw a landscape.  It’s an alien planet.  There’s an extinct volcano.


Then I’d add a character. Here’s a spaceman marooned on an alien world.


He gets up.  He has to get to the top of the volcano.  It’s important.


He starts to climb.  All the time I’d be talking in his voice. He might be trying to reach a spaceship in orbit through the radio in his backpack.


As I kept talking, bits of the story would fill in.  He’d have things added as he went along.


Now he has a rope.  Now the inaccessible cave inside the volcano has treasure. He has to reach it – and fast.  Now he lowers himself down.



Now he figures out how to swing across. The gravity is a bit lower, so he can push himself off the wall.


Now he’s trying to reach the ship in orbit on the radio, but it’s hard because he’s in the deep shaft, so they can only hear him when overhead. He’s got their attention.


They’re manoeuvring down without touching the sides. Beat that Elon Musk.


He’s on board and now they’re headed back to Earth to spend the money on building the world’s most amazing house.  New sheet of paper loaded.


I don’t know whether it’s a good or bad thing that this doesn’t happen so much any more – or maybe it does? Probably it’s neither, but I’m glad to have done hundreds of these. It helped to create a beginning, a middle and an end without being served them on a plate. And it’s a lot cheaper than £49.99.