Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Fishmas!

Speaking honestly, 2013's been a bit of a shitter mostly. There were some good bits, definitely, but it's all been downhill since around September-ish, hence the general Scrooginess I've been feeling throughout December. HOWEVER, over the past two nights I've been visited by three spirits (well, two good friends and a sibling), and that "festive feeling" has finally arrived, sort of. So let's have one last thing before the 25th happens - The Trout Xmas Special!

How appropriate! One of those terrible Viz wannabes that's also Christmassy. This being the only issue of Trout that I have, it makes sense to look at it now, otherwise it'd mean waiting a whole year for the opportunity to arise again. And a lot of things can happen in a year - what if something should "happen"? The world would be denied knowing about the contents of this particular comic! And what a tragedy that would be etc.

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...

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Twenty days left, not like anything's going to happen

So we may as well do this "year in review" thing that everyone else started doing in September. Let's see now...

On a purely cultural level, it's been a bit of a bugger. We've lost Bob Godfrey, Ray Harryhausen, Lou Reed, Richard Briers, Mel Smith, Charles Grigg, Marcia Wallace, Patti Page, James Gandolfini, Richard Griffiths, Felix Dexter - more or less everyone that anyone's ever cared about is now dead. It's not that nice, really.

What with all the death and disaster, there hasn't been much good "new" stuff around either (at least not that I've noticed). The fact that my favourite album of the year is a compilation of forgotten indie bands from the Nineties that Ben Baker put together could be considered "evidence" of this, but it's more likely I'm just not paying enough attention.

But just like last year, at least there's been that one constant to hold onto and laugh at/with. Viz is what I'm talking about, and it's never going to go away and that makes me and several other people GLAD. Here's the twenty-seven best bits of Viz from 2013, in roughly descending order. How happy we shall be!

27 - Cover of the Year - Lichtenstein Fartpants

Ooh, look at that etc. I'm thinking I should get a bigger scanner soon, it'd be easier than trying to convince Dennis Publishing to reduce the width of Viz slightly. The problems this brings to freeloading folk such as myself shall become evident as this list progresses...

Friday, 6 December 2013

Putting the tinsel up.

Hmmm... Nineteen days to go, I got my first card today. Been selling trees to people for two weeks now, A Spaceman Came Travelling has been on the radio at least twice a day this week, and I feel like watching Scrooged. Suppose something "festive" should be done here?

Okay, the Christmas issue of Viz is out now. Everyone should go and buy it. We Blight Christmas will warm your heart like nothing else, and you get a free 2014 calendar. This is what you're looking for:

Well hey look, it's the return of Norbert Colon as well!

Here's something of a "Christmas Cracker" from December of 2002, and from the pages of the NME no less. Everyone goes through that "NME phase" at some point in their life - my phase, fortuitously, included this nice little two-pager by Viz man Alex Collier, written by NME staffer Mark Beaumont. It stars the Cooper Temple Clause, a band I'll still have time for today (this is them, in case you don't know them), and they're visiting various other musical folk dressed up as Father Christmas. If you weren't into the whole "new music" thing in 2002, it's doubtful that any of the jokes here will make any sense, but here you go anyway:

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Willy the Third

Anyone who's taken their enjoyment of comics beyond the "casual" level is surely aware of Leo Baxendale's Willy the Kid books, right? Mr. Baxendale , creator of the Bash Street Kids, Grimly Feendish, Minnie the Minx, Little Plum, Sweeny Toddler and so on, working only for himself, free of any editorial restrictions - the first book's an absolute masterpiece, and the second one's not too shoddy either.

But how about... the THIRD Willy?

Cover image taken from Kid Robson's blog, for reasons soon to be made clear.

See You Jimmy!

I've received several "comedian-based" annuals over the years - from Lenny Henry's Well Hard Paperback to Harry Hill's Fun Book. None of these (well, perhaps excluding the Spitting Image Book) have made as much of a lasting impression, however, as Russ Abbot's Fun Book.

Why was the five-year-old version of myself gifted this? Was I a junior Russ Abbot's Madhouse fanatic? Were things getting desperate on the 24th of December in 1990? Those are questions I'll probably never get around to asking. It's still a book that lives up to its "fun" title, though.