Thursday, 26 March 2015

That time Jermy Clarkson appeared on the cover of The Dandy

Oh, Clarkson. Silly old Jeremy.
Welp, yesterday saw the other shoe finally drop in the long-running "will Clarkson get fired?" Boulevard Farce.
He did.
Now, I've no particular beef with Clarkson. Sure he holds and loudly expresses opinions with which I vehemently disagree but he is at least thoughtful and entertaining when doing so. For the most part.
A few years ago, the bookshop in which I worked received three books at more or less the same time. These three:
Three reprehensible people pulling the same "I mean honestly? Is it just me? Tch!" face and pose. I took them around all my fellow booksellers and said: "One gun, two bullets."
Every single person (and I believe there was a fairly wide range of personality types) chose not to shoot Clarkson. Even those who hated him grudgingly admitted he was funny. But I suppose few people can look bad next to the other two.
Clarkson remade Top Gear in his own image and it was a billion times better for it. A show about reviewing cars (of which I care little) became a wacky comedy which I admit to enjoying.
It may have been easy to look the other way over vaguely racist remarks (which is weird to admit) but actually punching a work colleague in the face because you can't claim a steak dinner on expenses (even though you could clearly buy it yourself without your bank account even noticing) is more than too far. The details may not be fully available but I believe that is the gist of the contretemps.
Never mind that: COMICS!
Presenting The Dandy No. 3523, dated February 26th 2011.
Look! There's Korky the Cat dressed as the Stig next to the masthead! Love that.
Now, I've written at length before about the Dandy's rich history and its late (too late in fact) revival which saw the arrival of "TV funnyman" Harry Hill to its pages (and front cover) for a year. The strip was Harry Hill's Real-Life Adventures in TV Land and was credited to "Harry Hill and Nigel Parkinson" although I have no way of knowing how much input Hill really had.
It didn't really matter, it was a fun strip in which Harry's cartoon avatar would encounter characters from a specific TV show or genre (it started with him meeting a bunch of TV chefs) with a load of silly jokes along the way.
This week, Harry is invited onto "Top Car". Yes, "Top Car". The Dandy and The Beano have long had a strange relationship with celebrity. Lots of people have appeared "as themselves" with official endorsement (Paul McCartney, Mike Reid, er, Oscar Pistorius) but sometimes other celebrities would be required for a gag unofficially. So Jezza is not named in this issue.
Anyway, the thought of driving leads to a gag about Harry's Nan's bad driving:Before the action necessarily moves on to the Top Gear, sorry, Top Car studios. Ha! Nailed it!
Harry stops to ask a "little boy" for directions: 
Bandaged head? Too soon?
Then we meet Ckarkson, sorry, "Boomy Bloke". 
I love Parkinson's caricature here.  Just time to meet "the other one"...
...and we're off, Wacky Races style. 
Lovely little attempt to bring back some old rivalry there. It's really a shame no Fleetway titles remain as the Beano and Dandy were obviously very supportive of each other then. HE SAID THE THING!
Anyway, an accident sends Cla... Boomy Bloke off the track and into a pond.
"The Boss" it turns out is The Sti... The Mystery Test Driver. 
And who is that?... 
You see why I had to include that panel earlier? It's a call-back! 
And so ends an unflattering appearance by "Jeremy" in Britain's longest-running comic.
Actually, I've just realised that The Beano has now overtaken that title.
And so ends an unflattering appearance by "Jeremy" in Britain's second-longest-running comic. 
And, on that bombshell...

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Arbitrary list of Irish comics characters

Hail glorious St Patrick, dear saint of our isle!

Okay, the isle next door to me. My Irish heritage leads me to throwing together another listicle. This time in honour of St Patrick's Day.

So who are the best Irish characters in comics? And, no, Irish-American does not count. Sorry Daredevil, Hitman and Spider-man 2099. Although Captain America (Steve Rogers that is) is the first-generation son of Irish immigrants so would qualify for an Irish passport if he so wished.

First appearance: X-Men 28, 1967

Irishness: Redhead, banshee-related powers, owns a castle that housed ACTUAL LEPRECHAUNS.

Best thing: Popular character over his history, even becoming a major character in the First Class movie.

Worst thing: I mentioned the leprechauns, right? His daughter is also a banshee-themed superhero and his cousin Black Tom Cassidy is a baddy.

Silver Banshee

First appearance: Action Comics 595, 1987

Irishness: Banshee-related powers, owns a castle.

Best thing: Was responsible for introducing the post-crisis Superman to his vulnerability to magic.

Worst thing: Making me type that nerdy sentence above.

First appearance: The Vertigo Gallery: Dreams and Nightmares 1, 1995
Irishness: Took part in the 1916 Easter uprising. Emigrated to New York. Drunk.
Best thing: A vampire that cheats at arm wrestling. The true heart of Garth Ennis' Preacher.
Worst thing: Giving in to his animal nature in ways that Jesse Custer could not forgive. Go read Preacher.
Kev Hawkins

First appearance: The Authority: Kev, 2002
Irishness: Recognised as an enemy of the IRA and the UDF. Drunk. Honestly, this list should only be Garth Ennis characters.
Worst thing: Making a joke about Apollo and the Midnighter being "a couple of poofs"....
Best thing: ...and waking up in hospital.
First appearance: Marvel Superheroes: Contest of Champions 1, 1982
Irishness: Redhead, shamrock-themed costume, "the luck of the Irish" is officially her superpower.
Worst thing: Contest of Champions was a story pitting heroes from all over the world against each other. This meant (as 90% of Marvel characters were American) creating lots of new characters from lesser-visited areas of the Marvel 616 world. Which meant the creators using a LOT of lazy stereotypes. Seriously, "the luck of the Irish".
Best thing: Does not appear often.
Fiddle O'Diddle
First appearance: The Dandy, 1994

Irishness: I... just... I mean COME ON!.. LOOK AT IT! AND it's called FIDDLE O'DIDDLE!!!

Best thing: Drawn by Tom Paterson, so at least had funny pictures.

Worst thing: Literally everything. It makes me want to apologise to the Irish on behalf of all British comics readers.

So that's that.
This may become a tradition...

Monday, 16 March 2015

Come and get your lollipops!

Welcome back to another blog dragging out weird old British comics in order to poke fun like we're SO superior.

Today, the odd trope that is "Magic Lollipops".
The Magic Lollipops ("Suck 'em and see") was a strip from the early days of The Beano, created by Allan Morley (he of Keyhole Kate and Hungry Horace) about a kid with... well, a jar full of magic lollipops.

These lollipops had unpredictable results, sometimes giving the licker superpowers, sometimes turning the licker into something else or even turning the lollipop itself into something else, as in this strip from 1943. We start in typical fashion with a bully stealing a stick-sweet.
 Then, the magic starts with the first lick (ladies....)
 In this case the boy in question uses this unexpected twist to his advantage like a good free-market capitalist, immediately selling it to the first tobacco-junky he finds. However the magic effects are only ever temporary...
Now, you might think that would be it as far as magic lollipops go but you would be quite wrong. There seems to be an alarming amount of them in popular culture.

There's the lollipops infused with North Pole magic in Santa Claus the Movie, for example.
Or there's beloved American comics character Herbie, who, among so much besides, wields his own magic lollipops. Here he is turning Merlin into Jimmy Durante with one:And if you don't know anything about Herbie Popnecker.... Hoo boy, that is definitely a story for another time.
Also there is the utterly appalling cartoon special "The Magic Lollipop Adventure".
All this brings us to Mr Licko.
Mr Licko and his Lollipops was a strip that ran in The Beezer from 1978 to 1981, drawn by Ken Hunter. It adds a post-Star Wars sci-fi twist to the Beano original by have the conjuring confectionary belong to an alien who requires a boy called Billy to help him retrieve his lost cargo.

Typically, a story starts with somebody (usually an adult man) finding a lollipop ON THE FLOOR and deciding to lick it.
And this was in the time before dog-fouling laws.

 Then, the magic would kick in exactly as before. In this case (from The Beezer Book 1979) the licker gains super-strength.
This (of course) leads to clumsy kerfuffles that Billy needs to put right.
And a cameo from the British Cleveland Brown...


An inevitable jewellery shop robbery is thwarted and all is put right.
The 1980 annual starts off with  a much better introductory illustration.
You'd think those lollipops would burn up, but let's not concern ourselves with real-world physics.
On the way into the sauna, Bert finds a lollipop (again, ON THE FLOOR) and decides to take it in with him. Whereupon...

He becomes a snowman! Panicked, he dashes outside, leaving even his towel behind. No hoopy frood he.
Angered by strangers taunts he starts to TEAR OFF LUMPS OF HIS OWN FLESH and throw it at them.
"I am not an animal!" Billy, a child of the video nasty generation, simply laughs at this scene of grotesque body horror.

Mr Brown is melting and, while they wait for the effects to wear off, Billy and Mr Licko sneak him into a butcher's cold storage.
Which leads to this, frankly amazing panel.
After being chased out of the butchers and an ill-fated attempt to use an ice-cream van, some passing children waft him with their Beezers.
The oversized tabloid format making it ideal for such a job. He's lucky they weren't mere Sparky readers. Or Nipper, which was even smaller (and, admittedly not published until 1987).

And still he melts. He needs to get to somewhere cold fast before he turns into this nightmare fuel:
KILL IT WITH FIRE! Wait... This time we actually can kill it with fire!

An attempt to get him to the skating rink leads to a fun Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em style scene of carnage.
Until Bert returns to humanity.
Wait... Shouldn't he be naked? I mean... I'm not exactly complaining but.... I feel slightly cheated.

So it all works out that Mr Brown has melted off his fat and not lost any vital organs. So far as we can tell. Maybe it will take a couple days before he realises his kidneys no longer work.

Billy and Mr Licko go back to the Browns for a slap-up feast, which even Bert can tuck into now!
Ha ha ha! He has learnt nothing. NOTHING!

Sorry for the delay...

Been very busy here at Slipper Towers, so been a while since posting anything. I promise new stuff is coming, but in the meantime here is a picture of Dredd punching Batman in the face.