Sunday 9 August 2015

Crazy golf with a Swedish couple we befriended

And so back to Scotland once more, this time in a celebratory vein. If you "enjoyed" any combination (or even all three) of Electric Soup, Northern Lightz and Wasted, this may be of interest. It's a thing that you can actually buy in real life! Presenting, for your pleasure, The Khollected Khaki Shorts:

You can go and buy it from the Braw Books shop, for just under ten of your Earth pounds, right now if you want. Definitely worth it, 220 pages collecting the "best of" the 28 issues that were made between 1999 and 2011. Because I'm dead cool and so on, I was already familiar with a lot of the stuff in there. Bought the final last issue spectacular thing when it was first out, and then early last year, co-founder Adam Smith sent me as many of the older issues as he could find - nice of him, yes? You can pretend to be hip and with it by familiarizing yourself with some of the contents before ordering yourself a copy, by following on and reading this summary sort-of-thing about Glasgow-based underground sensation Khaki Shorts, right here...

The "how it all began" story can be found on the Braw Blog, but for the sake of consistency I'll interpret it here too - feel free to correct/scold me if any of this is wrong. Adam Smith and Rob Miller bumped into each other in 2004, and then got to collaborating on a comic. Four of them had already been done since 1999, but then Rob Miller got involved and the whole affair got a bit of a "relaunch" thing going for the fifth issue, becoming what it would become and all that. Early issues were in A4 format and sold to anyone who'd listen, mostly left behind on sticky, alcohol-soaked tables. Around 2007, the size was reduced to A5, meaning the comic was taken home by people (and also halving the production costs), and a lot of the earlier issues were reprinted in that format too. Good things began!

A large mixture of "styles" are within, with an increasingly expanding roster of artists (and naturally, characters too). Let's have a butcher's at a few of them, eh?

Iain D. Smith tackled the horrors of everyday life head-on with such strips as Bedroom-Based Bert and Lads Together:

Whilst "Cheese Monster" (???) told of the fun that could be had on the night bus:

And for Rob Miller's own long-running Elexender Browne, the "realism" is all too real, making for a read that's not for the squeamish:

Things don't fare much better for Dour Wullie either, being the later years of a certain bucket-sitting comic character:

On the lighter side of things, there's the scatological humour of Arab Strap frontman Aidan Moffat:

And, amongst MANY other characters, we have happy-go-lucky gangster Luvvable Lex:

The "out-of-sight" Kounter Kulture Kevin:

And the epic exercise in boredom that is Star Trudge, "caught in a boring story-arc destined to run a minimum of 1,000 strips":

...You can get all fifty of them in a nice A5 softback collection if you want:

That's in the Braw Books shop as well, which also carries collections of many other "things" going back to the days of Electric Soup.

Speaking of which, Khaki Shorts commemorated the 20th anniversary of Electric Soup's first issue with a nice little four-page thing, reuniting/resurrecting Soup alumni and characters alike... Shug 90, Dave Alexander and Frank Quitely:

Outside of that reunion, Shug has a fairly consistent presence within Khaki Shorts, bringing Electric Soup favourites (of mine, anyway) the Wilderbeests and Polis Story:

Other "artists in residence" include Neil Bratchpiece, who brings us such things as West Enders:

And the honestly-completely-without-irony Apocalypse Now & Then:

Lerned Justin's A Cat and a Cartoonist is... odd?

Whilst the work of John G. Miller is incomparable to anything:

(Another plug - you can get collections of Miller's stuff going back to the 1980s at the Braw Books shop - took me a while to get used to his stuff, but once you do, it's compulsive!)

Yet ANOTHER veteran of the Scottish underground, Curt Sibling, is involved with Khaki Shorts too. When I first saw his stuff in Wasted, I dismissed it as "thinly disguised softcore furry porn" - turns out he does that stuff deliberately to wind up Bronies, so... More power to him and all that? Anyway, his stuff in Khaki Shorts is wildly preferable:

Co-founder AJ Smith does a LOT of stuff - hard to pick and choose so forgive me for going overboard here, but these are a few of my favourite bits - see if you can figure out which individual panel I'd include in my Top Twenty-Eight Most Favourite Comic Panels Of All Time:

Clue: It's that one on the bottom where his hat's jumping off his head upon hearing Avenging Angels by Space.

And... Something else that makes Khaki Shorts unique... Here's something by Ignatz Award-nominated American guy, Noah Van Sciver:

...Which makes Khaki Shorts the ONLY small press publication to feature both future Viz artists AND a future MAD Magazine artist.

Impressed me, anyway.

The very last issue of Khaki Shorts came about in 2011, with a special softback bumper-sized issue:

Complete with the dreaded "Great news inside!" message that so often foretold the demise of a comic, and also the only coloured (as in, not just yellow) strip to appear, featuring the "mascot" of Khaki Shorts in his first appearance since the first issue:

Much like in the very last issue of Buster, all the characters are given "endings" in this last issue (most of them involving grisly deaths), as well as Boy Mindless coming to the horrific realization that his future lies in reprints... And he's right!

Go on, 220 pages of this sort of stuff for the price of sixty-six tins of Aldi's own rice pudding. Can't say fairer than that, can you? "Recommended by me", as if that means anything.

Just to finish off, here's a "covers gallery" of all the issues I have:

No idea why this won't shrink down like the rest of them. Still, good cover, eh?


  1. Trawling through the scans of pages, I saw only a handful that looked worth clicking on to enlarge (although I didn't). It looks just a tad too amateurish (in the main) for me. My tenner will be going elsewhere, I'm afraid.

    1. Don't be afraid, not everything's for everyone. This stuff's "right up my street", and the art mostly matches the humour. Likewise, I can't stand most stuff from Marvel or DC - bores me to tears!

  2. tales from the Murk was worth a read... and view... a bit sick, twisted and a bit "insane" little tale....
    reminds us of a D&D story....
    ... and read sampling of some others....
    the gentleman above should at lest check that one before dis-regarding everything....
    they remind us of some of the early 70's strips from those hand-made publications of stapled together Xeroxes of typed pages and Comics like these... even the same "styles" of art were used.... somewhat remember these "Fan-zine style" publications from my youth... I was much more into ("Creepy" and Eerie") Horror comics.... Always been into Horror Comics ... so never really paid these much mind .... and we have also had over 6 years of Art school .... ( used to be a rather talented artist as well ( nervous disorder kind of ruined that)...

    1. I've got this book:

      A big fat 700-page collection of those handmade comics, some really good stuff in there! I've been getting "small press" comics for about ten years now, intending on reviewing a lot more of them here, in the near future...

  3. Welcome back, proper!
    Another thorough post.
    Nice one, Ryan.