Here we go again, with a title that doesn't really stand out at all, in any way whatsoever... But I set out to cover ALL of these things, and ALL of them I shall! There's a fair few more of the atypical variety to go, but there's also several more "interesting" ones on the way too. For now, let's get Top Banana looked at, including its inspiringly literal covers...
The talented Mr. Dyson seems to've been Top Banana's "main" artist, contributing no less than EIGHT strips to the first issue, and around that amount to all the other issues too, with the exception of the ninth one, due to him having a cold (according to the editorial). Dyson's strips run the full gamut of good-ness, from the crudeness of Wayne's Worms and Greta Head:
...to the overheard-pub-joke-turned-into-a-comic-strip Silas Stamp:
...and from the could've-been-funnier-with-a-better-writer Dicky Lipsync:
...to the 1990s-dinosaur-bandwagon-jumping Vera Silaptor:
And just to be nice, here's that banana mascot thing again, only this time in colour:
Whereas Paul's work there is perfectly suited to the comic format (as in, funny to look at and easy to tell what's going on) the same can't be said for Top Banana's OTHER main contributor, Lee Johnson. His first page in the first issue is interesting enough - odd to look at and an amusing concept:
It's all downhill from there though... Witness the cathartic mess that is Malcolm Farnham:
The just-bloody-typical-of-this-sort-of-comic The Lads:
The same-old "drawing-the-same-face-over-and-over" style is further employed in Housewife Hit Squad:
Whilst Ponk wouldn't appear out-of-place on the wall of a toilet cubicle:
Once you've finished scrubbing your eyeballs, we'll move on to something less miserable... Well, not really. Because Phil Neill does a lot of stuff in Top Banana as well, with his own brand of everything-phobia. In Phil's hateful little world, arthritis turns folk to domestic murder:
...All homosexuals are rapists:
...Incest is fine providing your daughter's breasts are big enough:
...And if you're ever at a loss for a punchline, just have your characters shout obscenities until you've run out of space on the page:
Hmmm, positivity, positivity... When reading these titles, it's best to judge them on their own terms rather than in comparison with other, better things, so I'll always try and find SOMETHING to enjoy about them. Most of Top Banana's worst stuff is out of the way now, with the rest being more readable, some of it even enjoyable! By way of example, here's two adventures starring the demented Bertha Twill, by Rob Yuppies (otherwise known as Rob Filth):
And here's something interesting - a Viz imitator using a Viz character in a satirical sort of way. It's Terry 'Fuck' Waites by Dave Gough:
For something else in Dave Gough's somewhat appealing scribbly style, here's Bert, Your Dirty Coal Man - either editor Mike Rowlands REALLY liked this strip or he's crap at his job, as this exact same strip appears twice within issue three of Top Banana:
And now, from Kim Outram, a thing that could only ever be funny in the 1990s - it's Mr. Nobby:
Sticking to the theme of over-sized appendages, here's Lee "still-getting-work-nowadays" Healey with David Ember and his Monster Member:
Lee's as prolific for Top Banana as he is for any other title he's appeared in (he was more or less doing Acne single-handed at one point). Also appearing within these pages he has Stupid Gameshow:
...The subtly-monikered Orgasm:
...And that familiar comic trope of "tyrannical judge" - Judge Mental:
In a further example of Mike Rowlands' expert editorial skills, the same issue that contains Judge Mental has ANOTHER "judge" character, just a few pages beforehand - this one's Judge Rabies, by Nick "also-still-getting-work-today" Brennan:
Nice punchline there, Nick.
Here's another one of several Brennan bits appearing in Top Banana, this one being... a spoof of It's A Nice Life perhaps?
Another Nick also does stuff for Top Banana, this one's called Nick Miller. He did a LOT of stuff for various titles in the 1990s, such as Acne, Fizog and It's Wicked. Within these pages, Miller's contributions are many - there's "students-in-a-flat-sitcom" Nuts:
Tony Husband-scripted The Lovers:
And Carry On-esque, copyright-baiting You Can Never See Enough of Dick & Fanny:
Let's see, what else have we got here... Oh, here's something. A "regular feature" sort of thing, set up thusly:
Yeah, you (as "the reader") nominate someone, and then Dave Iddon (who we've met previously in Zit and Gutted) then draws the nominee getting twatted by a big banana. This results in wonderful pieces of slander such as this:
And in an age where you can get arrested for calling someone names on Twitter, this seems "refreshing" in a nostalgic sort of way. Dave Iddon does a few other things here too, such as the ho-hum Eccentric Eric:
And Mickey Mouth, possibly my favourite single page out of the whole of Top Banana:
Just a few more "highlights" now before we get to the finale, as in, here's some other things that are in Top Banana. There's Neil Bradley's "clever satire" Ad Land:
Various bits by Ash Garrard:
Toby's Troll by Mike Gibbie:
Jean Harlot by someone called "Pie", perhaps? I've narrowed this down to being the possible pseudonym of either Mark Coley, Peter Booth, Mick Harrison or Wayne Dawber, but no amount of Googling has helped me out there. I like it though, whoever it's by:
And a couple of bits by Andy Fraser. He's a good artist, and the intention's clear here, but the script just isn't "there". It takes a skilled writer to come up with something like Viz's Vibrating Bum-Faced Goats or any of Jack Black's various fascist adventures, something that just doesn't exist here:
In Andy's defence, at least he made the covers look nice. Whilst Top Banana's first festive issue looked like this:
The next year's one looked like this:
So, "good on him" for what it's worth.
Now for that "finale" I mentioned before, as in, the ONE THING that makes Top Banana stand out from the drivel. It's a character called The Drink Demon, nothing remarkable in itself (an imp is tasked with driving people to the drink), BUT, in each issue, a different artist gets to have a go at drawing it. Observe, in chronological order...
Issue one - Dave Iddon:
Issue three - Dave Gough:
Issue four - Kim Outram:
Issue eight - Nick Miller:
Issue nine - Mike Gibbie:
Well, it impressed me anyway...
STOP PRESS! Really! Well, in a sense. I thought I was finished here but just noticed something odd about Top Banana. Look again at that bit where you nominate someone to get twatted...
Now compare it with this excerpt from one of Paul Dyson's strips:
See what I'm seeing? It's the same bloke! That pointy nose, the weird little sort-of ponytail that seemed so prevalent in the 1990s which Dave Iddon included on his caricature... Plus, the letter's signed by "Paul". What can be figured from this? No-one nominated anyone, so one of the artists nominated himself to show how it's done, in the hopes of getting readers to "properly" nominate someone.
Still, a fun idea in theory.
Oh, before we finish... The title of this particular posting? The reasoning behind that is hidden in one of the many scans featured in this article. Anyone sharp/bored enough to figure out what it's on about will get a prize or something. Most probably consisting of a few issues of Smut.