Here's where I pretend I'm a "proper journalist" that gets things sent to him all the time for reviewing purposes, but the truth is just that a certain Mr. Adam Smith is an all-round nice person. Back when I first started "doing" things about the various Viz-like comics that've been and gone over the years, he sent me a near-complete run of Northern Lightz, for absolutely nothing. And this week, what's he send me? He sends me this:
It's one of those small-press things which are always interesting, if not always good. This one would've been "in the shops" now, except Mr. Smith got the cover the wrong way around before sending it to the printers, the silly bugger. So we'll call this the dodgy BETA-version, yes? Some stuff about Northern Lightz when I find the time, but for now a bit of plugging - my way of saying "Thanks" for the undeserved freebies.
Those familiar with the Scottish comics-scene - as in, not the DC Thomson stuff, but the other stuff - Wasted, Khaki Shorts, that sort of thing, will probably recognise Mr. Smith's work, perhaps. Maude-A-Go-Go is a compilation of his comics with the theme of semi-obscure British pop groups of the 1960s. Some of them have appeared in programmes for festivals and tribute nights, some of them are new, but at least there's a theme here, which is always nice.
There's a couple of pun/name-based strips in there - The Pearls of Spencer Davis has Spencer Davis (of the Spencer Davis Group, no less) nicking some pearls and running away, and Mick's Aviary has the Kinks' drummer taking us through his bird collection:
Stolen from Smith's own site - my scanner just wasn't playing ball with this one!
Cheap puns will never stop being funny, ever. Have a chuckle at this lot:
That's part of the second epic adventure that The Move go through in Maude-A-Go-Go, and it's a cunningly disguised educational piece. Prior to reading this, I knew of The Move for singing Flowers In The Rain and Blackberry Way - now I know that Roy Wood was their "leader", Jeff Lynne was involved at some point, and the Electric Light Orchestra was somehow formed from the collapse of The Move - at least that's what I took away from it all.
"It's beautiful!" "Yes, really well drawn" - that bit gave me a good chortle.
The OTHER big long story starring The Move is a Scooby-Doo sort of thing, in the vein of Davey Jones' mad displaced popstar strips he does for Viz - The Human League in Space, The Adventures of Radiohead, Slipknot and the Doorway in Time, that sort of thing. The setup? Jeff Lynne challenges The Move to spend the night in a haunted hotel without screaming:
Mr. Smith gets a nice amount of detail into his interiors - I did a genuine "Ooh" when I saw this page:
And look out for the Simpsons reference on this page, which nearly made me fall off the bed laughing:
In case you don't like squinting, it says "This story is set in 1968, 25 years before the Simpsons episode Cape Feare".
And just as the chase sequence is the "highlight" of any Scooby-Doo episode (oh how I hate Scooby-Doo!), this chase sequence right here is the highlight of Maude-A-Go-Go:
"Look out, it's a trompe l'oell!"
Obviously I'm not going to be showing the climatic unmasking scene - as that would make this a synopsis and not a review - but feel free to take guesses at "who did it". Overall, Maude-A-Go-Go is exactly the kind of small-press thing I'd be all over if I found it in a shop - it's scratchy, it's silly, it's unique, it's consistent and it's bloody hilarious. If Mr. Smith ever gets the printers sorted out, be sure to pick this up if ever you see it. I'd recommend places to look out for it, but all my usual "haunts" seem to've abandoned the small-press books for some reason. Ah well.