Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Shiver and Shake - 1980!

Well gosh, if Shiver and Shake isn't my new favourite old comic, I don't know what is. And him over at Kazoop's going through the whole lot of them in just as meticulous a fashion as he did with Cor!, which is obviously a good thing. Meanwhile, this week I've got hold of the 1980 annual (published in 1979, obviously).

Whilst it's slightly disappointing to not find anything of Brian Walker's Scream Inn in this particular book, it has yielded some other nice surprises...

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Manuel "Spain" Rodriguez (1940-2012)

No-one told me that Spain had died last November - I only found out tonight. Who is he? Go and have a look on Wikipedia if you don't know, but he was a lot of things - a cartoonist, a biker, a biographer, a Marxist... To me, he's the only one out of all those underground "comix" folk that actually took me out of my comfort zone.

Reading Zap for the first time, I was prepared for all the "shocking" stuff inside them - from the likes of Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams and the rest of them (and that stuff really is shocking if you don't know about it already!), but for all the violence, racial and sexual imagery presented by that lot, it was still presented in a cartoony sort-of-way - making it hilarious at the same time. Spain's stuff, on the other hand, was grubby, realistic, cold, and mostly left a bad feeling in the stomach.

As such, he could be called the only cartoonist who's ever moved me in a way that isn't a humorous sort-of-way, and I'll remember him if only for that reason.

Take a look at some of his stuff after the jump (it's a bit on the "NSFW" side of things, obviously).

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Pirates! (Argh etc)

Here's something interesting, from the days before ridiculous Internet-based stuff reduced pirates to nothing more than annoying memes (and by extension, stuff like "National Talk-Like-A-Pirate-Day"). The days when pirates were romantic and exciting and murderous and fascinating all at once, and not something that's given Johnny Depp a career for life. This is a souvenir book from 1968, promoting the new Pirates of the Caribbean ride at California's Disneyland. Amazing what charity shops can be hiding, isn't it?

Filled with historical information, production drawings and photographs, and a guided tour of the ride itself, it's a nice read and a "historical document" of sorts - apparently most of the original animatronics from the ride have been replaced by likenesses of Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush and the rest of them. And of course, in the finest of traditions, Walt Disney's the only one who gets a named credit in the whole book! If anyone can tell me who the artists of any of the drawings in this thing are, I'd appreciate that a lot.

Particularly with the opening/closing pages - a nice big map of the whole thing. Available in wallpaper size! (Double click, obviously):

Here's the rest of the book, after the jump - enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Plugging for George

Back in November, I told him over at Wacky Comics that I'd put some more stuff from Plug up here. Naturally, I forgot all about it until yesterday, so here we go. What's three months between folk?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Simon Donald looking spotty

Here's something else from that Cartoon Aid thing - the contribution of Simon Donald, aka. Mr. Viz. It's fairly amusing!

And here's the lucky lad who got to meet Mr. Donald - wonder if he had any idea of the sort of malarky Simon was usually drawing?

That's him there, in the middle, clearly terrified of the camera. Not the handsome fellow we know him as these days:

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Joining In with Terry Bave

Everyone else has already mentioned this, but hey - let's join in! Terry Bave's now blogging (or plugging - hopefully it'll go beyond the one post talking about his new book).

To "celebrate", here's a couple of interesting Bave-bits. The first of which is his contribution to Cartoon Aid - a charity event in 1988, run by CITV, that asked kids to design a cartoon character and be rewarded with a trip to Disneyland. Not only that, but their character would then be "brought to life" by a professional cartoonist, and all of those characters would then be put into a nice big hardback book. The profits of this book all went to the Wad Sherifay Refugee Camp in Sudan.

Of the 36,000 entries received, there was one overall winner, and fifteen regional winners (who were all rewarded with a trip to Frankfurt). And who were those "professional cartoonists" that were on board? Well, amongst other people there was Bryan Hitch (of Marvel fame), Patrick Gallagher (Oink!), Mike Collins (Marvel and DC), Simon Donald (Viz) and Davy Francis (Oink!, again). Oh, and Terry Bave, of course. Here's what him and Shiela did for it:

And here's a mini-profile on the guy, with a photo as well! All the winners of the campaign got to meet these fine comic-folk, and most of them had their pictures taken with them as well.

Now, why couldn't that competition have been running when I was in school? Bah, etc.

More from that book in the future, but for now we're all about Terry, so here's a Winker Watson he did for the Dandy in 2001, in which Watson and Creep meet their maker, so to speak:

Good, eh?

Friday, 11 January 2013

A slightly delayed look at the last ever Dandy, Part 3 - who was missing!

Here we go, the reason this post was so long in producing. It's...

25 Dandy Characters Who Perhaps Should've Had A Place In The Top 75 Dandy Characters Ever

And that's shouting! Admittedly, this lot are mostly from 1988-2001 or thereabouts, but this is my list and those were my years for the Dandy.

So, in no particular order, here we go:

Thursday, 10 January 2013

A slightly delayed look at the last ever Dandy - Part 2

As was just "discussed", the last ever Dandy took the form of a countdown of the 75 greatest characters to ever grace its pages, and naturally they couldn't include everyone's favourites. In the Dandy's penultimate panel, Nigel Parkinson stuck in a few characters that were missing from the main list:

Whilst I'm not usually "into" Nigel Parkinson's stuff (the drawings are fine, it's the colours I disagree with - something just seems off about them), I do really, really like this picture. Even though it's sodding Hey Jude AGAIN.

This is that list, with occasional "thoughts" in brackets:

75-Meddlesome Matty
74-Plum MacDuff
73-Tom Tum
72-Auntie Clockwise (hated this back in the day, but the version here's amusing)
71-Mitch and his Mummy

70-The Burrd
69-Sir Coward de Custard
68-Jolly Roger
67-Hamish the Haggis Basher
66-Kid Cops
65-Monkey Bizness!
64-Marvo the Wonder Chicken
63-Bamboo Town (should've been a LOT higher on the list, I love these!)
62-Bing-Bang Benny (ditto)
61-The Tricks of Screwy Driver

60-Old Ma Murphy
59-Izzy Skint
58-Tin Lizzie
57-Bertie Buncle and his Chemical Uncle
56-Freddy the Fearless Fly
55-Joe White and the Seven Dwarves
54-Owen Goal
52-Pre-Skool Prime Minister (the one Jamie Smart comic I enjoy)
51-Claude Hopper

50-Jak and Todd (?!?!??!?!?!? - No no no NO)
49-Peter Piper
48-Hungry Horace
47-Simples! 101 Ways to Use a Meercat (Yes, the final years of the Dandy had a strip based on an insurance comparison website)
46-Bad Grandad (absolutely horrible, the worst thing to ever appear in the Dandy - and not just because the title character's design is a straight copy of Carl Fredrickson from Up)
45-Peter's Pocket Grandpa
44-Strange Hill
43-Old King Cole
42-The Umbrella Men
41-Pepperoni Pig

40-Julius Sneezer
39-Pinky's Crackpot Circus
38-The Bogies (no, no, no)
37-Agent Dog 2 Zero (another triple NO)
36-Robin Hood's Schooldays
35-Ollie Fliptrick
34-Big Head and Thick Head
33-Dinah Mo (a nice surprise - thought she'd've been LONG forgotten about)
32-Jibber and Steve
31-Harry and his Hippo

30-Our Teacher's a Walrus
29-The Talking Ball
28-My Dad's a Doofus! (a quadruple NO)
27-Ali Ha-Ha and the 40 Thieves
26-Dirty Dick
25-Nuke Noodle (seriously?)
24-Postman Prat
23-Greedy Pigg
22-My Freaky Family
21-Hyde and Shriek

20-Desperate Dawg
19-Jack Silver
18-Blinky (a Beezer refugee who found his home in the Dandy for many hilarious years)
17-Keyhole Kate
16-Black Bob
15-Mr. Meecher, the Uncool Teacher (I like this, but the 15th best ever?)
14-My Own Genie (Oh, don't be silly)
13-The Arena of Awesome (?!?£"$?"?!?£*$&")
12-Harry Hill's Real-Life Adventures in TV Land
11-Cuddles & Dimples

10-Bully Beef & Chips
08-Beryl the Peril (a Topper character who didn't join the Dandy until the 1990s, but alright then)
07-Bananaman (similarly, he was born in Nutty but will always belong to the Dandy)
06-The Jocks and the Geordies
05-Korky the Cat
03-Winker Watson
02-Corporal Clott
01-Desperate Dan (of course)

So, who do I believe deserved a place on this list? Find out in the next post...

A (slightly delayed) look at the last ever Dandy - Part 1

Humble apologies - this post here was intended for early December, but festive shenanigans got in the way (and took priority too). Plus, there's a LOT of back-issue scouring involved, and the scanning and the cropping and the re-sizing... All very annoying but hopefully worth it.

Anyway, the last ever issue of the Dandy then. For a start, it was hard to get hold of thanks to the wonderful folk at WH Smith's (we requested ten copies for our shop, they sent one - and people wonder why the comic industry's dying a slow, sad death?). Eventually I ended up with three of them, so that's alright. 

Now, how to best celebrate the final issue of a British institution, with characters familiar to generations of comic-lovers? How about getting someone to knock out a mess of bug-eyed, barely recognisable scribbles during his lunch break? Yeah, that'll do:

Ken Harrison drew a far more appropriate, and all-round more respectful design as well, but this was relegated to the back cover:

How about doubling the demand by producing two different covers? Empire and gamesTM both did it for their celebration issues, why not the Dandy? Oh, DC Thomson, how you boggle the mind!

The cover promises "75 Classic Stories", but this is far from the truth. The comic takes the form of a countdown of the 75 greatest Dandy characters of all time, but the vast majority of these are done by the very people who helped to finish off the comic. Alex Matthews does a good job of Wacko and Tin Lizzie, Nigel Auchterlonie's Korky's a bit of fun, Wilbur Dawbarn does a VERY nice Robin Hood's Schooldays, and Lew Stringer's Smasher's a good one too - but for the most part the characters that shaped the childhood of thousands of people are reduced to throwaway three-panel (or even single panel), somewhat mean-spirited gags. 

Wouldn't it have been more respectful (and indeed, cheaper!) to fill the entire comic with reprints? As in, showing the characters in the form they took that made the Dandy the success it (mostly) was? Also, and with specific reference to Stuart Munro here, as quoted on Lew Stringer's blog:

"I also drew Hamish The Haggis Basher. It's a Tom Paterson strip that only appeared in one annual in the 80's, I had no picture reference and haven't read the strip, which is a first for me!"

Yeah, good one, that's respecting your influences there. Don't bother reading the thing, just make it up.

Which brings me to the next point - why did they even bother messing with the Dandy in the first place? Why not, back in 2004, turn the entire Dandy into a comic full of reprints, with the cover being the only new content each week? It worked for Buster for around ten years, and even then it was only shut down because the publishers couldn't be bothered with it anymore.

Meanwhile, all these new characters and the artists that came with them could've found work in a new, seperate title launched by DC Thomson - called 100% Funny or something. If this would've lasted for as long as the 2010 version of the Dandy lasted, it'd be a minor success (akin to Monster Fun in terms of longevity), and become an odd little footnote in comics history. You know, instead of being the thing that put the final nail in the coffin of Britain's longest-running comic.

Overall, we've the final years of the Dandy to thank for introducing Wilbur Dawbarn, Nigel Auchterlonie and Alex Matthews to a wider audience, and the best of luck to those three.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Terrible comics to make you buy things

"Back in the day", if you were putting adverts into comics, it was considered good manners to at least TRY and disguise your plugs as content. Sometimes, proper comic folk were employed to draw such adverts (Dave Sutherland and Bob Dewar both produced memorable ones - well, memorable to me, anyway). 

Most of the other ones, however, could be better defined as insults to the intelligence of the nation's youth. Behold:

Yes, baseball! That's something EVERYONE can relate to, yes? Or maybe the two kids in the USA who took out an overseas subscription to the Dandy.

At least the Honey Monster's got an amusing face here, but it's more pity-amusement than anything else.

Here the perpetrator has sat himself down with a Beano and tried to copy Roger the Dodger's head, and create a depressing monster at the same time.

At least Marmite have gone for a few staples of "naughty child" comics - wet cement, complaints at the garden gate and so on. Shame it's turned out the opposite of Marmite (as in, disgusting).

The art's almost passable on this one, but the structure of the whole thing's a mess. In the sense of "Oh no, plot development! Wait, no it isn't."

I'll let this one off - it's nicely done, the aliens are cute, Ricicles taste better than Rice Krispies and I'd happily seek out some of those stickers on eBay (but wouldn't bid more than £2.87 for them).

Captain Bubble - less of a comic, more of a seizure.

I can't even begin to describe the amount of hatred and bile Captain Dean stirs up in me (and why're they're so many captains in these adverts?). The panel with the roadie's amusing, a bit.

Saved this one for last - it could almost pass for an early Viz strip. Especially those last two panels ("Cor - £50 worth of Wimpy burgers." "Yum, slurp.").

Up next... Something really fun!

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.