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We're now at the halfway point of Goof!'s first year and after a very promising start the last couple of months have seen some strips disappear and the overall feel of the comic shift somewhat towards a younger audience. I have to say I do enjoy the idea of the first comic of the year having the cover it does though, as if arriving into 2019 has meant we're all time travellers. Unfortunately, only the Goof strip itself follows this idea. There's definitely some enjoyable, funny content here, but it's no longer the comic promised us at the beginning, which we'll get to below.
First up, once again two particular strips are from the ever-reliable Lew Stringer and Dean Rankine.
After last month's snowy delight of a strip, Derek the Troll from Lew finds himself all at sea, adrift upon the oceans in search of rescue. Rescue does indeed come but unfortunately this is in the shape of a pirate ship. Obviously this won't go exactly as Derek might have hoped, after all nothing ever does for him, the end result being probably even worse than the situation he started in. Lew even manages to get in a comical shark which always raises a smile with me.
Dean's KaiJunior continues to produce some great laugh-out-loud moments and is by far the best new addition to the comic in recent months. Here he's under attack from the Air Force, but as always father is on hand to aid his son's development into a fully fledged monster. He's a lovable character even though he obviously destroys everything around him and I just wish we could get more from him than one page a month. Another new strip joins Goof! for January and gets two pages, but I wish the extra space had been given over to KaiJjunior instead!
Let's look at that new addition. Agents of W.E.I.R.D. from Rick Eades has a couple of funny moments and could be a highlight in future issues. It's got a couple of jokes in particular which are nicely timed and the reveal of the U.F.O. is so blatant it's just the perfect gag. I like the style of the character drawings too, very original and fun in themselves. However, spelling errors do detract from it somewhat, as you can see below. For a comic to be read by people of all ages it's important to make sure there's no such errors for the kids reading, but unfortunately this appears to have slipped through both creator Rick and editor Marc.
It seems most months there's also some spelling or grammar errors on the welcome page too, this month being no exception and it can leave the reader with the feeling, whether true or not, of Goof! being a rushed comic.
Tor Freeman's page, Spells in the Forest has definitely been a highlight since the beginning, with a lovely look and feel to it. After the first couple of issues the individual stories and light-hearted humour came to the forefront and ever since we've been enjoying nice little episodes with endearing and fun characters.
Unfortunately, this was where the laughs ended for me. Overall, for a title marketed as a "funny comic", it seems more stock is put into having lots of different art styles, rather than entities that work as comic strips. This has been an ongoing issue for me which is very disappointing after those first few editions showed such promise. Style over substance perhaps? That style is lovely, it must be said. There are some beautiful art styles here from some very talented illustrators, rather than cartoonists (for the most part). But for something to be a comic strip, particularly a funny one, you need more than just the art, you need jokes, story, character etc.
I probably shouldn't do this, but below is the final panel from Andrea Bell's How to be Cool, a strip I originally put in the 'Good For The Kids' category when it became clear the "Comics for Everyone" byline of Goof! meant there were different strips for different age groups, rather than everything appealing to everyone. But even this strip, after starting off as a nice counterbalance to the world today for young readers, has now turned into something completely patronising.
I have no doubt Bell's illustration work is appealing in other formats and I'm not in any way criticising any of the contributors' art styles. Yes, there's some lovely art in Goof! and looking at the websites of the contributors their illustrations are fantastic, that's no exaggeration. For example, an early favourite was Dwarf and Duck and the cartoon-style characters, especially Duck, are hilarious. However, now it's struggling to come up with satisfying individual episodes and I think the strip itself is doing the fantastic art style a disservice. Another perfect example of this is a strip I simply don't like, That Little Devil, which to me is teaching kids the exact opposite of How to be Cool and revels in the main character's bullying of others. But one look at artist Mari Ahokoivu's website shows a multitude of simply gorgeous children's books and stunningly beautiful illustration work.
Donald in particular was meant to be taking a break for one issue but still hasn't returned. In fact, even though his story wasn't finished he seems to have been replaced by Marc's Ro-Bert now, which is actually a reprint strip! Yes, a reprint strip already. Last month I didn't catch on, but when I saw this month's page was obviously two smaller strips pasted together I did a little research. Both month's appearances are reprints of strips previously published in Local People magazine and were even shown on Marc's own Instagram months ago. Couple this with the reduction in pages, down to 18 with only 15 of those containing strips and it doesn't seem to bode well.
I'm not trying to be critical. I'm not trying to be a negative person here. I'm not, really. Neither is this blog. The idea was always to cover the comics I love, the blog is all about the fun of rediscovering classics and, in this case, of discovering a new title inspired by a classic. I was a fan to begin with but, with the disappearance of many strips older readers could enjoy more and the lack of content in many others, I feel now the comic has gone off in a different direction than what was promised at the beginning. As such, this will be the last full write-up of the comic on the blog (there's going to be a bigger focus on Oink!, its team and other classics anyway this year) but I'll still be plugging some of the highlights.
I don't believe I'm the target audience for the majority of the strips anymore and as such it's not fair that I be the one to review them. However, don't let me put you off!
TO GOOF! OR NOT TO GOOF!
Looking at the majority of the content they look absolutely beautiful, the illustrators should be incredibly proud and if you've got younger children or siblings I'm sure they'd love Goof! as their first foray into the world of humour comics.
By subscribing you'll instantly get access to all of the existing issues and each new one until you have 12 altogether, so every subscription will renew at the same time. This of course means if subscriptions do renew at #12 then the comic will have to commit to at least a further 12 issues. Whether it does continue or not I don't know, but right now for £12 you could have access to a large array of characters and drawings I'm sure the little ones will love, and a handful of very funny strips you can giggle along to as well. Just click on the link below to head on over to the website.