Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Xmas 2012 - That was good!

Well, here we go - it's nearing midnight on New Year's Eve, and I'm indoors with only the axolotl as company. No complaints there, it's been the same for four years now. Take advantage! I can be noisier than usual, what with the neighbors all being elsewhere or otherwise awake. Ho ho!

And speaking of Ho Ho, the busiest few days in the life of Mr. Claus have just passed by.

Yep, it was a good one. Read on if you're interested. If not, happy new year to the lot of you, see if 2013 can be made any more interesting than 2012.
Right then, where to start...

I don't know, it was just a genuinely merry week. Work was more fun than usual (we even did a Secret Santa this year), I had more alcohol than usual, there's an open fire at my mum's house, we went bowling... Even the TELLY was good for the first time in a long time!

The obvious highlight of it all was The Snowman and the Snowdog. Thirty years after the original (blimey!), and produced in a year that saw the death of John Coates (producer of the first Snowman), it couldn't've been more perfect. The titular snowdog's ridiculously cute, it's packed with references to the first film (look out for the motorbike and the toy soldiers - even the grandfather clock's in the same place), and the flying music sounds like Badly Drawn Boy (really it's by Andy Burrows, but it still sounds like Badly Drawn Boy). It's also a real test to those resistant to blubbering at cartoons - the opening scenes alone will have anyone who's ever lost a pet at least rubbing their eyes a bit.

Oh, and two of the snowmen are caricatures of Laurel and Hardy. NOTHING is wrong with this film.

Other than enchanting snow-based animated films, there was the sometimes-annual Christmas Special of The Royle Family. Not as good as the 2006 special, but miles better than that one where they're sitting in a caravan.

Meanwhile, there's the bits about the festive period that everyone secretly thinks is the best part of it all, but not many admit it - the presents!

This year? Spoiled rotten I was, and very grateful for it all I am too.

First up, from the work's Secret Santa, I got this:

It's Where's Wally? - THE MUG. With some tea as well. Apparently it looks like me, but the mug's missing the nose warts and mono-nostril.

From the other Secret Santa I signed up for (this one on the Retro Gamer forum), I got this 3D Pac-Man money box:

He makes VERY loud noises when coins are dropped inside. So there'll be no more late-night saving for me.

My brother got me some good stuff:

The 1982 Oor Wullie book, the first collected set of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, Grand Theft Auto IV...

Back in the D.H.S.S. by Half Man Half Biscuit on big chunky vinyl...

And the Bash Street Kids Trash Can Alley interactive shooting game thing. Boisterous music plays as three different versions of Wilfred pop up, and you must shoot him down before he laughs at you. A smashing pile of stuff from the sibling there, thank him on my behalf by visiting his fancy blog, perhaps?

Now then, festive fashion! Here's two of the T-shirts I got:

The Muttley one's from my sister, and the CatDog one's from my mum. Both are fetching and are guarenteed to impress employers and potential suitors.

Two calendars will be competing for wall space in 2013, one from each parent:

They're both good, so it's just possible I might have to spend an extra six seconds per month turning to the next calendar page.

MEANWHILE, it's not Xmas without some annuals, and a fair amount of them appeared this year:

The ever-reliable Viz, the familiar-sort-of-but-not-quite Beano and Dandy annuals (the Dandy one being strange - it's a 75th birthday celebration of sorts, but it was clearly put together before the decision to sack off the comic was brought up), the super-duper and also ever-reliable Classic Beano & Dandy (this series of books used to be called Dandy Beano, and every last one of them's worth getting), and the Family Guy annual, which doesn't contain any comics but is still filled with "other" kinds of content.

This stack of older annuals turned up a few days after Xmas - they must've fallen under the seat on the sleigh or something. There's the 1992 Dandy there, as well as the Beano books from 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990.

A lot of new reading material has found its way into my domain over the Xmas week, but there's also a few things to watch as well:

That opening ceremony for the Olympic Games, loved that I did. Watched it four times when it was on, and now it's there to see whenever I want to. Also the silly closing ceremony and seven hours worth of actual sports. I'm not into sports at all, but it could make for a good lazy afternoon's worth of viewing - especially seeing as I didn't catch any events at all back in the Summer, due to being in work. Also there's The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists, which may've been the best film of 2012, and We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, a Spielberg-produced dinosaur-based animated film from 1993. Never seen it before, but it combines three things I like a lot, so really it can't fail!

More reading things also:

Really looking forward to getting stuck into this one - it's the first fifteen issues of Fortean Times collected into a big fat book. Back in 1973 it was known as The News, today it's the best magazine around. And that's NOT an opinion, it really is!

That's two of Gary Larson's Far Side books, as well as the complete Get Lost, a VERY short-lived MAD imitator that was forced to fold after just three issues, mostly down to financial issues. I'm about a quarter of the way through this one at the moment, and it's easy to see why the MAD people got so angry about it - it's nearly identical, equally corny, and ALMOST funnier!

Here's the Zit Christmas Special, and issue of Big Comic Fortnightly and the Beano from the week before I was born - very lovely all round. Zit is a ruder, cruder rip-off of Viz that was around in the early 1990s - it'll be "covered" on this blog here sometime during 2013. Be excited!

Here's a REALLY nice book. As of right now, it's NICE and it's INTERESTING, but if I'd've got this one when I was, say, ten (?), it'd've been a pants-wetter of a book:

Monsters, Zombies, Vampires and more, combining stories, facts and activities in one fat volume, all organised by whichever monster the chapter's focusing on. For example, the chapter on Dracula also has information about blood, the chapter on witches tells the history of flight, and the chapter on The Fly tells the bare facts about teleportation. Some fine illustration flows through every page of the book too - below being three choice examples:

The illustrators aren't given individual credit, which is a shame - they're just listed at the front of the book. For the record, they are: Fernando Cortes Ramos, Andres Escobar, Francisco Garcia and Ivan Dario Espinel. I haven't been able to find any information on them, anywhere, but at least I know they're good at what they do.

Finally there's the "big present"...

Yeah! Been "interested" and "up for" the idea of Skylanders since it was out in 2011 - the idea of an endlessly expanding universe, only limited to which of the nicely-designed toys you own - is instantly appealing. It's entirely possible I'll be putting more into acquiring the toys than actually playing the game, and it's also possible this thing will bankrupt me, but that's all part of the fun!

And... That's the good bits. Nothing ever's perfect, and there's always one thing that'll put a slight downer on proceedings. This year it was the death of Gerry Anderson - purveyor of Supermarionation, husband of Lady Penelope and creator of too many good things. A nice obituary of sorts can be read of 'Kid' Robson's blog. Combine that with the death of John Coates, the end of the Dandy, the closure of a beloved chain of local bakeries and the closure/relocation of a local toy shop, and it seems 2012's aim has been ripping away large chunks of a lot of people's childhoods.

Keep focusing on the "good" stuff though, that's the only way to get by. That'll do for a 2013 resolution, maybe. Fireworks are going off outside now, another year gone!


  1. Regarding The Snowman and Snowdog - didn't like the music, which was completely underwhelming. Even if they had used an old-fashioned carol of some description, it would've been preferable to what they did use. Apart from that, it was good. I'll definitely be buying the DVD when it hits the shops.

    Happy New Year.

  2. I think you'll have a hard job finding anything positive to say about Zit, THB. I knew a few people who worked for them and got ripped off, and the comic was so poor they couldn't even give it away - read Chris Donald's Rude Kids autobiography for further details!

    1. I've heard the part about Zit sueing Viz - that's fairly stupid on their part! There's bound to be SOMETHING amongst the dozen or so issues I have, I'm trying to stay positive here.

      Rude Kids is a book I've been meaning to get for a while now, keep seeing it in charity shops as well.

    2. Zit sued Spit, not Viz. Spit was set up by former Zit contributors, and Zit's publisher ("a fucking arsehole" - Chris Donald) decided to take them to court for trying to pass their title off as Zit. They lost the case. If you can find some back issues of Spit, give them a try. It was one of the better Viz clones.

    3. It's a confusing mess of words, that's for sure. I've got a few Spits, and have trouble telling it apart from Zit most of the time.

      There seems to be a lot of inbreeding amongst the Viz clones - not only with the same characters appearing across different titles, but sometimes with the same strips as well! Poot, Gas and UT are my favourites of the lot, and Lazy Frog's alright as well.

  3. Thanks for the link! Glad you like your presents.

  4. Pac-Man, Waldo, Monsters and Zombies? Sounds like an excellent Christmas. ANY Christmas that loaded full of comics goodness is a GREAT Christmas indeed.

    I've been trying to decide if I want to collect some of the Skylanders myself... problem is I'm not a gamer, and would only be buying them for my shelf... so I'm not sure what the point would be. But some of the characters are just amazing.

    1. They're shockingly expensive! I was expecting maybe £5 each, but when I went out looking for some the other day it was more like £8 each - or £15 for the giant ones.

      Great-looking characters, some of them. There's one that's a huge suit of armour with a massive eyeball on top. That's the one for me.