Thursday, 19 December 2013

Look behind you and all that

Six more sleeps till "the big day", and somehow, despite all my efforts, I'm not feeling "Christmassy" in the slightest. I'll be blaming recent real-life events for that, but am still endeavouring to get at least a BIT festive. This might help:

Yeah, a pantomime! The Hoot pantomime no less. I've talked about Hoot before, and I'll be talking about it again - it's far too good a comic to be as neglected as it is. It was completely left out of the otherwise excellent Classics From The Comics (it's not even mentioned on the cover), and last year, when DC Thomson put out a book collecting several pantomime-themed stories from their archives, Hoot was left out once more.

In my ongoing heroic quest to right such wrongs, here's the whole thing, in full...

Exciting stuff, eh? That bit where everyone flies in to save the day only to be unceremoniously vaporised? All the more impressive is that (apparently) Steve Bright did this whole comic himself. Peter Gray says that he did anyway, and he knows his stuff. Obviously drawing his own characters (Super Fran and Want-A-Job Bob), but ghosting everyone else as well - Barrie Appleby, Ken Harrison, Robert Nixon, and to an unbelievably-convincing level, David Mostyn (Snackula) and John Geering (Dogsbody). 

And you know what? Because Christmas is a nostalgic time of year (in that it was ALWAYS better when you were younger), here's something else. The Hoot pantomime was Babes In The Wood, which just happens to be the first pantomime I ever went to (or so my memory tells me), way back in... 1990. Yes. So here's the nice-looking programme from that very show, along with a few interesting bits from within:

A nice start with the cover there, combining two favourites into a whole. What challenges await and so on. Here's your usual programme stuff - a list of who's in it:

Ooh, him off Neighbours! And one of the Nolans too. Smashing. Here's the "forthcoming attractions" bit - I definitely remember going to see Rainbow. The thing with Zippy and George and Bungle.

And a puzzle to keep the kids quiet. NONE of those differences could escape the keen eyes of me and my brother:

Really, I wouldn't've bothered scanning (or even keeping) this programme were it not for the OTHER puzzle pages, done by a mysterious pair called Annie Butcher and Ken Meharg. Just LOOK at these things!

I can't remember anything at all from the actual pantomime, but these images have stayed with me my whole life - a show outperformed by its programme? Seems that way. Just thought they were worth sharing with the world. 

And here's an advert from it, from when a Curly Wurly was about five feet long:


  1. Steve Bright himself told me he did the whole comic and hid his signature under applause! in the last bit..
    I asked him did you do the Hoot squad as I couldn't believe it...But he did every page..he is a great ghost artist...he did a great Davy Law style for exampe..
    so even Snacklua!

  2. The Hoot editor and Dandy editor liked being a lumberjack in real life is caracutured as chopping the Hoot squad tree down!

    Steve Bright said...

    Hi, Peter.

    Lew's absolutely right, as usual - I did indeed draw this page, along with all the others in this particular comic, which was one of the most enjoyable (and daunting) tasks of my time in comics. Lew's also correct about the lumberjack/Morris Heggie connection, although I think Morris might be a little put out at the suggestion that the drawing is a caricature of him. It wasn't intended to be, but if you look very closely, the inscription of 'HEGGIE & CO.' is written on the chainsaw's lower handle. The whole idea for the comic was Morris's brainchild, and he wrote it all. And yes, he also used to chop down trees during a six-year gap in his D.C. Thomson career.

  3. Cheers for that, Pete - it's not that I didn't believe you, it's just that Mostyn and Geering have such unique styles, and Bright captured them so well... He's unbelievable!

  4. 1990? Only seems like last week to me. I've got the first couple of issues of Hoot, plus maybe a Christmas issue. Must look them out and give them a read. When you think of the number of comics that D.C. Thomson once had on the go, it's a little dispiriting to realise that only The Beano is left. Merry Christmas to you when it comes, THB.

    1. Merry Xmas to you too, Kid.

      It's all relative - 1990 seems like forever ago to me, but then I hear kids getting nostalgic about 2003 and THAT seems like yesterday to me.

      This general dispiriting nature of everything's a bit annoying - there's hardly anything left from "back then", and nothing new to replace any of it. Ho ho ho and all that.

  5. HOOT was an excellent comic and I discovered it through your first post dedicated to the title. On quite a few occasions I’ve noticed I have a strange kind of luck in getting hold of complete sets or large joblots of titles that are new to me literally on the day or the week when I discover them, and HOOT was one of such cases - I was fortunate to get hold of a full set on eBay a few days after I read your post!

    Those programme illustrations are really striking!!

    1. Happy to be of influence! That IS a strange bit of luck, don't complain about it ;)

      I've been picking up odd issues of Hoot here and there over the last couple of decades, but this week I found the full set for just £15 in a collectables shop. Happy days!

    2. Do you maybe have a spare copy of issue 38 to sell?

    3. Not at the moment, sorry (and it'd be to give away, not to sell!) - current "spares" I have are issues 1, 5, 11, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25.

  6. I loved Hoot, I recall the Topper advertising the first issue (didn’t it have free alien holographic stickers?) wasn’t easy but I managed to track them down- great days! Merry Christmas to you sir

    1. Merry Christmas to you too!

      When you say "tracked them down", are you talking about the stickers? I'd love to see them - I've got vague memories of sticking some fairly horrifying alien holograms to our fridge, but Googling something like that is the most pointless thing ever.

      Just for the information, here's the freebies given away with each issue (according to the covers):

      1 - A super duper pencil topper
      2 - Super sizzling sausage flying balloon
      3 - Sky-high space spinner
      4 - Fun colour stickers of Cuddles
      5 - Space age 3D hologram

  7. Stefan Dennis... don't it make you feel good!

  8. I'm sure I've seen the art style of those puzzle pages on something I got for Christmas in, er, the same year the "true" last episode of Only Fools & Horses was on (1996?). It was a 'make your own monster kit' with plasticine and press-out eyes, ears, horns etc.
    I remember making a character called Bob, who I planned to use in some stop-motion animations, though we didn't have a video camera then. These days you can probably get a webcam that will do stop-motion from Poundland, but I can't be bothered.