Saturday, 17 November 2018

BACK TO THE BLOG

Hi everyone, apologies for being so quiet on here these past couple of weeks.  I had intended to cover some new comics from some Oink! cartoonists as well as one or two other surprises, but unfortunately a suspected chest infection (in the end an upper respiratory infection) took a hold and basically laid me out for the month so far.  Not only did it drain me physically, mentally I just couldn't concentrate for long on writing anything without developing a massive headache.  I've even been off work, but as I return to the office I'm also returning to the blog at long last.  So with Christmas fast approaching I've decided a little bit of reorganising is in order.


A couple of the surprise posts I'll now leave until the new year, but in the meantime I've already started on the huge selection of posts I've been planning for Christmas for a while now.  So I'm going to leave those four new comics from Lew Stringer and David Leach (yes, two each!) until the first week or so of December, the perfect time to acquaint yourselves with the perfect stocking fillers! Then after that the rest of the month will concentrate on both the Beyond Oink! and the new Further Beyond sections and that most traditional of Christmas presents, the comics annual.  Originally, I hadn't known what else to do with December here beyond the annuals, but now it's all pretty much planned out!

Looking forward, maybe this bout of the man flu was a blessing in disguise?  It's certainly going to be the best Christmas I've ever had and now that should (hopefully) be the case with the blog too!

(Plus, yes, there's a Christmas blog logo ready to go.)

Sunday, 4 November 2018

GOOF! #4: A GAME OF TWO HALVES

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Goof! creator Marc Jackson once again gives over cover duties to another artist, this month Allison Steinfeld whose Scruff and McGuff join in to welcome readers.  Five issues in and as it's developed over the past few months I feel it's becoming a title of two distinct halves.  Both halves have their target audiences but, while the comic's tagline is "Comics For Everyone", I'm beginning to feel like what we have here are two different titles merged together as one.  Reading through this issue's strips I've counted eleven which would appeal to the mass audience, or the "8 to 80" age range Oink! used to proclaim for itself, while there's another nine which could be seen as appealing exclusively for maybe 5 to 10-year-olds, especially those new to comics.

You could say that's a successful ratio and for £1 per issue there's plenty to appeal to "Everyone", especially those reading with younger siblings or children to share their love of comics with.  But there's also the argument that you could be getting at best 50% of a comic for your money, no matter how small that amount of money may be.  It all depends how you personally interpret the tagline.  Should "Comics For Everyone" mean all the strips should appeal to all age groups, or does it mean there should be strips that individually appeal to different ages?  I'd prefer the former like Oink! accomplished, but Goof! seems to be going in the direction of the latter.  I'll get back to this at the bottom of the post after I've taken you through my four favourite strips of this issue, starting with a new addition, KaiJunior.


Named after the official name of the Japanese monster movie genre, Kaiju, this sees a young monster learning his craft, overseen by his Godzilla-esque father.  Dean Rankine's creation is fun and reminds me somewhat of Haldane's Hugo the Hungry Hippo from Oink!, which is a compliment by the way.  This is a perfect fit for the kind of comic Goof! has promised from the beginning.  It's beautifully drawn, full of character and genuinely funny.  It has a proper set up and great gag to end on, meaning it has a proper beginning and end to the strip which is very important when it's only one page per month.  It harks back to the random half-page strips you'd see in Oink! every fortnight which delivered a genuine laugh, each one feeling like a well thought out joke, a complete strip despite their small size.

Not all the strips in Goof! suit their small format as well as KaiJunior does.  This is something a lot of the 'younger' strips don't do so well, but I've been putting this down to the fact such young readers may not necessarily care about these things.  There's other strips such as the ones featured here to provide them with a well-timed gag, while the strips aimed specifically at them provide something different, like a random selection of ongoing stories or little random one-off tales with characters/situations they'd hopefully find interesting rather than necessarily funny.  I personally found some of them lacking because of not having proper endings every month, or that there wasn't a funny joke etc., but I just focussed on the other half of the comic instead and found plenty to entertain myself.

A perfect example of how to do an ongoing tale while giving the readers enough with just one page per month is, of course, Lew Stringer's Derek the Troll.


Lew has just released #3 of his Combat Colin comic, collecting together more of the full-page strips from the classic Transformers comics from the late 80s and early 90s.  While we'd have had four or five episodes every month back then, here we're obviously only getting one, but it still works with its own beginning, middle and end and plenty of laughs along the way.  The fact it's part of an ongoing multipart story feels like a great bonus to each individual episode.  This month he's crawling across the desert in his epic quest when up pops a sand demon and Derek's question above opens up a wonderful back and forth between our troll friend and a misunderstood monster.  Ingenious stuff and, believe it or not, the final panel sets things up perfectly for a strip with that proper Christmas-comics feel next time.  Can't wait!


Joe Matthews' Space Dawg is another firm favourite every month, telling the story of a space detective tracking down criminals across the galaxy with the help, or hindrance, of his trigger happy canine partner.  I've said before how the strip reminded me of Warner's Looney Tunes and if you look at these panels above surely you can see what I mean.  You can almost hear the two keys of a piano played in quick succession as they tippy-toe their way across the panel, can't you?  The gung-ho pooch is always the star and, just like the best of those Saturday morning 5-minute cartoons, the set up is similar every time because it's what we love to see.  As you can see above there's another in-depth plan afoot and you can probably guess what it's outcome will be, but it's always great fun so who cares if it's the same gag?  It's delivered in different ways, it always hits home and it's always a winner in my book.  (As kids we all knew exactly how every episode of Inspector Gadget worked and that never stopped us tuning in every week.)

Finally, Jim Boswell's Stick Pig has been adding members to his team every issue so far and is now out patrolling the streets alongside Shovel Rat and Rake Dog.  Well, when I say they're patrolling, all they seem to be doing is walking about and not actually fighting any kind of bad guy.  But that's part of the joke here; it's all for show.  Well one of their friends has had enough of all the tough talk, of the picking up of random objects and wielding them like some kind of super power.  Co-created by a young reader this new character seems like he's going to be yet another member of the team.  Will they ever actually fight crime?  We'll see, but I like the way it's going for now.


I mentioned last month how at such a low price you'd happily pay the entrance fee for the strips you like and indeed this month I'd happily pay the cartoonists of the above 25p each for their work!  I'd obviously happily pay them a lot more, and of course the £1 per issue is split between all contributors, but you get my point.  Unfortunately some of the other highlights of previous issues (others I'd put into the '8 to 80' category of strips) seem rather rushed this time around and don't quite hit the mark.  For example, Dwarf and Duck doesn't feel like a complete episode and I miss its usually spot-on gag, Flot and Zot are a little bit too random this month, so much so that I didn't find it funny and Little Fluffy Foofoo is another which doesn't feel like the writer has grasped the nature of the format required, which is unfortunate as it had potential in previous issues.

Spells in the Forest from Tor Freeman is one which may look like a children's tale but it's a perfect blend of both styles, appealing to children with its fantasy setting but with a sense of humour that appeals to all and I've featured it before in my write-ups.  After its first brilliant little strip, cover stars Scruff & McGuff feels like another which could also cross the divide easily given time to develop further.  On the other side of said divide though are strips such as Box, Nona the NinthThe Other Side, Dick Vincent's page and new Bad Pennie$ by talented 13-year old Marcus Darrington which younger children will love but which may not entertain older kids (actual older kids and adults alike) in the same way.  Personally I'd prefer if we had Goof! and then possibly a Goof! Junior of sorts, as the potential to have a comic full of strips of the calibre of the four chosen above is exciting stuff!  I guess it's a personal choice and how you'd define the phrase "Comics For Everyone".


One thing before I finish though.  Both of these above are definitely in the latter category, with How to be Cool being a strip without any form of gag but rather it's a little friendly lesson every month on how being a nice person is the modern day way of standing out from the crowd and being cool.  For youngsters it could be a lovely thing for them to read with their parents and to learn the kind of life lessons which can be forgotten in the world today.  But then only two pages later we've got That Little Devil, about a creature who picks on others, who cruelly pranks innocent creatures, who essentially could be seen as a little bully.  But unlike Oink!'s Tom Thug where the title character always got his comeuppance, here the 'gag' seems to be the Little Devil laughing at how he successfully plays cruel jokes on others.  These two strips are basically teaching kids two completely different lessons and after the former I can't fathom why the latter would be included.

I do question how much editorial control there is on the comic when some contents appear rushed, others don't appear to suit the format by not having enough content, or when strips such as Life Jacket (see last issue's write-up as it's not present this time) just don't make any sense.  Do the scripts pass some form of editorial look over first?  Are strips checked before publication?  Or are all contributions simply welcome?  If it's the last of those options then it does explain a little more about why Goof! has become this Comic Of Two Halves.

SUBSCRIBE TO GOOF! (& GOOF! JUNIOR)

Both target audiences are still getting some superb content for their £1, as I said above I'm happy with my money being spent on those four strips alone this month but if it is to survive and, just as importantly, build its audience I feel it needs to decide what it wants to be.  After a few issues I can see what it's trying to be and what it means by its tagline.  But will others?  Two separate comics, even with fewer pages each, say 15 or 16, with cover-to-cover like-minded strips would be fantastic and with a stronger focus each could be very successful.  However, on the other hand if you can think of Goof! as a combination of both such titles you should find plenty to enjoy for this small price.  Especially if you've kids of your own that you can read the other half of the comic with after enjoying your own strips.

So get yourselves over to the website and subscribe now so you don't miss out on what promises to be a festive folly of fun and frolics next month!

Friday, 2 November 2018

PSYCHO GRAN: SERVING UP ANOTHER ACES WEEKLY


Watch out, she's back!  First appearing in #15 of our very own Oink!, she became an instant favourite among pig pals everywhere.  A lovable little old dear on the outside, inside Psycho Gran completely lived up to her strip's name and proved even more lovable to the roguish nature of the new comic's young readers.  She remained with the comic throughout its life and, despite her apparent age, far outlived all the other characters, still starring in her own occasional comic series and in the pages of digital title Aces Weekly, which is where she's popping up this time.

The cartoonist who is probably too afraid to stop creating new strips for her to appear in out of fear of what she'd do to him, David Leach has crafted another perfect tale that starts out innocently enough.  Well, as far as Psycho herself is concerned anyway.  The same can't be said for our three guest stars.


Three con artists who target pensioners with tales of being nice, friendly council workers are actually taking advantage of the vulnerable to scope out their belongings and steal whatever they can get away with.  Pretending to fix things that don't actually need fixed, they've chosen an elderly lady who is in no way vulnerable.  In fact they're about to be the ones taken advantage of in the most bizarre way imaginable.

My favourite 'Gran strips in Oink! were always the ones which would start off innocently enough but over the course of the page (or even half a page) they'd slowly develop into something a lot more bizarre.  You could never accuse David of being unoriginal!  The same applies here.  As the men make their way around the house helping themselves to whatever they find, be it jewellery, money or hidden trinkets, you're left thinking why on Earth is she letting them get away with this.  Then you suddenly realise she isn't there, and soon the thieves find themselves looking for her.  Big mistake.


The story is split over three issues of the weekly anthology comic and it's compulsive stuff.  When you see just how it develops in part two, you'll instantly want to know what the hell could part three bring!  You won't believe it when you see it!  In equal parts hilarious, weird, out there, even a bit shocking and kind of gross in one little part (which works perfectly and just heightens the aforementioned hilarity) this is probably my very favourite Psycho Gran I've ever read.

Personally I also think it's the best artwork David has ever produced and that's saying something given his incredible back catalogue.  It's beautifully intricate and the colours pop off the screen, highlighting every little detail, of which there are many to pore over and enjoy.  Altogether the story is told over 9 pages and would be worth the price of entry (just £1!) alone for each issue, never mind all the other treasures Aces Weekly brings.  Each volume of the comic lasts for seven issues, previous ones are all available to buy as a complete package, but if you subscribe to a new volume for only £7 you'll get a new issue every single week.  Bargain.

Head on over to the website now and don't miss out on Psycho's latest offering, but keep an eye on the blog here too as there's another Psycho Gran release, a physical one, to talk about real soon!


Thursday, 1 November 2018

TRANSFORMERS INSTAGRAM: MONTH #14 of 77

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I'm writing this roundup a couple of days before it's due to be posted and I can't believe it's already been nearly eight weeks since I read the prologue chapter to the epic Target:2006.  As we head into November the last few chapters await and I find myself asking where has the time gone?  I'm not complaining obviously, I've enjoyed every single panel of this story of gargantuan scale and as I said right back at its beginning, "With eleven parts this will take me right through to mid-November this year, when I'll be in full on pre-Christmas excitement mode!" and here we are about to enter that very month.  But first, we've got to recap October, obviously.


That collection of covers is certainly a way of introducing a new era of the comic's story, isn't it?  Anyone who has read these will know just how much this story changed everything that was to follow for roughly another 250 issues.  What was almost as incredible as these British stories was the way they were seamlessly integrated with the American ones, despite the US comic having nothing to do with ours across the pond.  Our tales were originally meant as simple stopgaps between theirs.  Oh little did they know what they were missing out on!

Anyway, while being engrossed in the storyline I'm very happy to say the artwork took my breath away this month.  This is an Instagram project after all, so the whole point is to show you how these classic comics look and you simply won't believe what the month of October 1986 brought to the young Transformers fans.  Not just stunning line art either, but the colouring is second-to-none.  This is just amazing stuff and I'm excited to see what's to come!  For now, here's the latest four issues and don't forget the next one, November's first, is already up on the aforementioned 'gram.

ISSUE 82
4th October 1986


#82: Thirty-two years ago we met the Wreckers and what a team they were.  Target:2006 continues in the most cruel of ways, Marvel UK ignoring last week's cliffhanger and opening with that editorial!  But we had all the fun of this issue's strip and the likes of Twin Twist, Roadbuster and Whirl, whose robotic designs I think are among the best of the whole run.

Ron Smith's artwork is simply lovely, I love every single panel and Ultra Magnus is quickly becoming a favourite character, even though he's only in one panel here.  Just look at him, he rocks!  I remember being awed by a friend's toy of him, so kudos to Hasbro.  A brilliant episode and I even forgive Marvel for their cruelty.


A new Hercules adventure name checks Galactus and we've the arrival of one of his Heralds.  This is all new to me and I'm enjoying it so far I must say.  Will I be converted to superhero comics?  Nah, but I might just track down more of the Prince of Power.

Cover by Phil Gascoine
Target:2006 Part 4 - Wreck and Rule! art by Ron Smith, colour by John Burns
Hercules: Not Just Another Galactus Story! art by (writer) Bob Layton, art assist by Sam De La Rosa and colours by Christie Scheele

ISSUE 83
11th October 1986


#83: Over three decades ago this didn't have the cover tears I'm sure, sorry about that, but them's the breaks on eBay at times.  Tagert:2006 continues apace with legendary Transformers artist Geoff Senior's solid, jagged line work the perfect fit.  The strip starts and ends with similar pages from Starscream's and Jazz's perspectives (a photo I forgot to upload to Instagram!), but what really stands out for me are Gina Hart's gorgeous colours!

Just look at those double page spreads.  They really jump out at you!  Bold, dramatic, bright, it's just stunning to look at and I couldn't help staring at theses pages for lengthy periods of time while reading this.  Gina and Geoff are just the best match.  I can't remember Gina's name from my original time with the comic (#192 onwards) so she must leave at some point, but I do hope she gets to team up with Geoff plenty before then.


There's also a one-page roundup of the previous four million years on Cybertron, which is no small feat and, faced with Galactus' Herald who is literally a burning woman, Hercules comes to the rescue again in his typical style.

Cover by Robin Smith
Target:2006 Part 5 - The Devil You Know art by Geoff Senior and colours by Gina Hart
Hercules: Not Just Another Galactus Story! art by (writer) Bob Layton, art assist by Sam De La Rosa and colours by Christie Scheele

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@regulon_four - "Beautiful issue.  I need to read Target 2006 again!!  Opening page looks stunning with the green and purple behind Megs :)"

ISSUE 84
18th October 1986


#84: A certain awesome beast-of-a-planet(!) made his debut in Transformers comics in this issue (indeed, in any part of the franchise for us UK readers as the movie hadn't been released here yet).  Showing snippets from the forthcoming The Transformers: The Movie, drawn in Geoff Senior's dramatic style, this must've had kids excited beyond belief.  I was worried this was going to contain spoilers but it really doesn't.  It's all entertainingly insane and Galvatron is certainly making an impact... especially on poor Jazz!


More new characters turn up too.  Hot Rod, Kup and Blurr make an entrance-and-a-half, but why are there Decepticon badges on Springer, Broadside and Sandstorm?  All is revealed in a great story, I don't know how it'll be topped to be honest but there's more episodes to go.  One thing is for sure, with art and colours (by Gina Hart) like this at #84, the next several years are going to be brilliant!

Finally, having worked with two huge fans of the games and heard many a tale about their nights around a shared table, this advertisement from the back page kind of makes me wish I'd got into this whole Dungeons and Dragons thing as a kid now!

Cover by Phil Gascoine
Target:2006 Part 6 - Trios art by Geoff Senior and colours by Gina Hart

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@the_inevitable_k - "This was amazing, especially in the run up to watching Transformers the Movie.  Geoff Senior was the only TF artist at the time for me, though I've more appreciation for Lee Sullivan's work on it these days.  But back then it was Geoff or nothing for me."

ISSUE 85
25th October 1986


#85: Thirty-two 25th Octobers ago, Target:2006 casually told us the Decepticon starship from #1 had been circling Earth for four million years, undetected, before even more casually blowing it up and that's only page 1.  Will Simpson's art is perfect for this part of the epic, with loads of action, huge explosions, a zombie-esque Jazz and an increasingly demented Galvatron.

The cliffhanger is heightened further with a well-placed Hasbro advertisement, just to ram it home for the kids writing their lists to Santa Claus back in 1986 that the awesome robots from this story could be theirs!


The brilliant Hercules backup comes to its (rather disappointing) conclusion and it looks like there was a "Oh crap, we're a page short" moment, with a so-called "pin-up" of him slotted in before the Next Issue page.  That image of Galvatron and Ultra Magnus is strangely coloured probably due to a printing error, but it signals a very famous Geoff Senior page next week and an unforgettable chapter of not just this epic, but of the comic as a whole.  I can't wait to read it again for the first time in over a decade.  Seven days is just too much!

Plus, had anyone else completely forgotten about these Weetabix characters from the 80s?

Cover by Robin Smith
Target:2006 - Part 7 pencils by Will Simpson, inks by Tim Perkins and colours by Tony Jozwiak
Hercules art by Bob Layton


Incredible, right?

As I said above I just don't know how these can be topped, but I know they will be.  The comic was consistently getting better and better all the time, I adored every single issue when I collected it originally and again when I had my previous full read through over ten or so years ago.  I remember back then thinking the same thing and being stunned the team was able to pull it off, time and again.

I also think reading these at the pace originally intended instead of bingeing has added even more to my enjoyment, though I do know I'll go back and reread all of Target:2006 when I get to the final chapter!  If you'd like to join me you can either read these posts on the first Thursday of every month on the blog, or you can also join in by following The Oink! Blog and Beyond on Instagram or Twitter (where a few photos and a link to the full Instagram post goes up every week).  In fact, why not do it all?  There's even a post up on the blog, written just last night, to give you a little bit of an insight into what you can expect from the blog's social media accounts.  During November the first Transformers Special of the season will also be getting covered, a huge deal back in the day and something the comic has been building to.

The next monthly roundup will be here on Thursday 6th December (woohoo, the festive season will be upon us!) and between now and the end of the year you can look forward to not only the Special mentioned, but the annual, the Christmas issue and an additional Boxing Day treat too.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

SUPERNATURAL(S) SOCIAL MEDIA

Well Happy Halloween everyone, not that I'm doing anything in particular.  Growing up I never really did anything for the holiday until my early 20s when there was the occasional year of going out dressed up, which I didn't do again until last year (about two decades later!), a couple of photos of which were posted up here on the write-up for 2017's Scream and Misty Special.  Tomorrow, 1st November, is always a bigger day for me because the Christmas decorations appear in the shops and the countdown to December begins!  But I know a lot of people love Halloween and I'd never begrudge anyone a reason to be happy, so I thought I'd mark the night with a quick glimpse of a classic comics series to come at a future point on the blog.


Now I say at some future point because these are notoriously difficult to track down, I've only just added issues 2, 3, 4 and 7 after a year of having the preview and premiere issues.  The comic itself was like a new Scream! comic and having read the first issue it was a lot better than last year's revival of that older title.  Super Naturals was a licensed comic edited by Barrie Tomlinson based on the Tonka holographic toys, but it also contained a few original stories which were exceedingly creepy and downright scary for us kids, which we obviously lapped up.  Especially The Doll!  Criminally it only lasted nine issues, two specials appearing later and auctions for them can go to silly kinds of money, so they're obviously highly sought after.

Today on the blog's Instagram account you can see all the covers of the issues I have so far, showing off the gorgeous work of artists Sandy James and Ian Kennedy, alongside a glimpse at a few of the chilling strips inside.  The blog's two new social media accounts have ended up being used for quite different reasons, including showing off my purchases for future blog posts such as these, so I thought this was the perfect excuse to lay out for you what you can expect on both accounts, and to encourage you to give them both a follow and join in the conversations.


Instagram is probably my favourite social media outlet, full of great photos from all corners of the globe and all walks of life.  Originally the blog's account was nothing but things taken from the blog but it's taken on a bit of a life of its own, so here's what you can expect from it:

  • Each issue of Oink! marked with photos and scans from that issue's blog post to mark the time each was on sale originally
  • Every Thursday on their original release dates, several photos of the next Transformers from Marvel UK, accompanied by a few paragraphs forming a mini write-up
  • Photos of any modern day comics purchases I'm making with a mini write-up talking about the contents inside
  • Any classic comics I buy to add to my collection of titles to be covered here, giving you an insight into future blog content long before you'd find out here!
  • Behind-the-scenes photos showing how this blog is put together in all its random glory
  • Never miss a post on the blog with images of each new post's contents popping up when published
  • Previews of upcoming blog content


Twitter is a very different beast, focussing on words rather than images, but also limiting the amount of words unlike Instagram.  So it requires a different outlook and at the start I'll admit this left the Twitter account a bit confused and lacking in content, but that's changing, I promise!  Expect this little lot:

  • Each Oink! issue marked during its original shelf life with different scans from the blog than those used on the Instagram account
  • Retweets from Oink! contributors on Twitter, keeping you up to date with their careers and new creations
  • Alerts for every new post published on the blog with direct links
  • Follow the account and join in the conversations with the comic's creators and fellow pig pals!  It's like an interactive Grunts page.
  • Photos of any new/classic comics purchases, with links to any mini write-ups on Instagram which you can read without having to sign up to it
  • The same goes for the weekly Transformers series.  You can see a few photos and read the Instagram post which will open within your Twitter app
  • You can also 'like' any random comments I post to help make me feel like I'm actually witty

As time goes on I really do want to integrate these more into the life of the blog but I think these lists are a good start and I hope you feel there's enough content to follow them both.  Both are public accounts so you don't need to sign up to either service to read them, but of course if you do it's much easier to follow along and you won't miss a thing.  I've also got personal accounts, just search for PhilEdBoyce on either one or click the link in either of the The Oink! Blog's profiles.

Friday, 26 October 2018

JURASSIC PARK #5: END OF THE BEGINNING

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Welcome (back) to Jurassic Park, the UK version of Topps Comics' US title, released over here by the now defunct Dark Horse International and it's exciting times for this reader!  While previously I've mentioned how I wished the competition and editorial pages had been merged to give a bit of excitement to the introduction to each issue, I can see now that actually the competition page, being on page 2 and right beside the contents, was acting as an extension of the welcome to each issue.  To show you what I mean, here's the wording of the introduction to the competition from this issue (where the graphic novel was up for grabs):

"This issue sees the thrilling final instalment of the official comic book adaptation of what has probably by now overtaken E.T. as the most successful movie of all time (it had - Phil).  However, even though our movie adaptation is over, we'll be back next month with the first all-new Jurassic Park story to be seen in comics (or any other medium for that matter...).  Full details of our exciting new stories are on the back page of this very issue."

Those details are down at the bottom of this post, but first we've got to get there via two strips.  The concluding part of Jurassic Park itself takes up 14 pages this month, the backup Xenozoic Tales actually being the bigger story this time with 18 pages.  The final chapter of the movie was a 32-page monster, which would've meant a whole comic with just the cover wrapped around it, but Dark Horse wanted more from each issue, so it was split in two, the scene of a velociraptor chasing Ellie Satler out of the maintenance shed the perfect cut off point for a month.


This month the final 14 pages cram in Ellie's escape, all the surviving characters being reunited (minus one, I'll get to that below), the visitor centre, the kitchen scene, door scenes, the escape from the raptors and the final climactic battle.  That's a lot for writer Walter Simonson and story editor Jim Salicrup to squeeze in and while it's not to the same degree as last time, it still suffers from having to cut too much out to fit it all in.  But what is here is good.  Case in point is the kitchen scene with Lex and Tim, which you can see above.  Looking a bit too much like mini Tyrannosaurus rex creatures last month, here penciller Gil Kane's and inker George Perez's raptors looks suitably different and scary.

The idea behind the scene is there and the images are captured perfectly, but it's all trimmed down too much.  Look at the scene of the kids in the dining hall, it all happens so quickly it would be easy to miss that shadow alerting them to the fact they're not alone.  But at least the kitchen is one of two scenes given a few pages, the rest really are cut down to their bare bones.  Speaking of which, the climax amongst the fossilised dinosaurs is the other one which is given a bit more room to breath.  Well, they couldn't cut the ending down!


That dramatic angle of the Tyrannosaurus rex is so good it's used twice over two pages, but then again one is the animal lifting another up off the ground to bite it, the other appears to be a triumphant winning pose.  They both look so good we'll forgive the repeating.  Great use of lots of red by colourist Tom Smith gives the impression of a gory fight to the death, even if there is a strange choice of green for the actual blood!  But it still somehow works and it's the powerful, dramatic scene that's been missing from so much of the final chapter (these past two months only) of the comic.


"And behind them, receding into the distance Jurassic Park and the past are swallowed up in the gathering dark.  The End."  So ends the movie adaptation.  So what's my final impression?  Personally I loved the first three issue's worth of strip which just made the rushed finale all the more disappointing, despite its high points.  One thing though.  Where's Ray?  As I mentioned last time Samuel L. Jackson's character never left the control room, so never died, yet has just disappeared!  More proof of the rush to fit too much into the final chapter?  Was the plan originally to move slower over more parts?  Who knows.  But it's a massive oversight.

One other thing missing from this issue is a behind-the-scenes written feature, but with the addition of a backup strip it was only a matter of time, then from next month we've more content too, which more than makes up for it.  For now though we head straight from a natural island off the coast of Costa Rica to a manmade island group off the coast of North America.  This month's Xenozoic Tales comes from #2 of the semi-regular comic from Mark Schultz.  Reading up online it appears that out of the three stories per issue not all were in colour (contrary to what I thought last month), so it seems Jurassic Park was missing out the black and white tales.  By this time Marvel Comics had started, but would never finish, a series of fully coloured reprints, but the ones presented here are from the original series from Kitchen Sink.

This of course does mean that character development is going to be pretty much all over the place, as the few stories between the colour ones simply aren't here.  For example, last month Jack Tenrec and Hannah Dundee had just met, but here they've been friends for a while and it's clear they've got their own shorthand and quirks with each other.  Such a shame we can't appreciate them on the same level as Mark originally intended, but then again it's only thanks to Jurassic Park we got to read them at all!


Mammoth Pitfall! sees Hannah wanting to try to capture and domesticate a mammoth, a plan Jack is clearly against in his own calm, dead pan way.  He knows for sure nature has rules and a mammoth will always be a dangerous animal to humans and should be respected, but left alone.  He couldn't know the reason it'd fail would be because of another human though, as someone is watching them and tries to kill them both at exactly the most inconvenient of times!

A brother of one of the people killed in last month's story, he and the mammoth both end up as subplots to the friendship between Jack and Hannah, who take shelter from all the trouble in Jack's garage which is full of classic automobiles.  Seeing the juxtaposition between dinosaurs and cars so effortlessly presented here not only makes for a unique story, but it's just a perfect choice of backup strip for this particular comic.


I have noticed online some references to the reasons behind Earth's predicament being kept a mystery, that Mark never explicitly said it was climate change, but I think the panel below makes it pretty clear!


Wanting to see what all the fuss is about with these ancient contraptions Hannah convinces Jack to take her for a ride, first discovering the dead body of the mammoth she'd tried to capture, which had become the subject of a predator ("He should never have died here", Jack scorns) then coming up against a huge storm.  Rather than head straight to safety, the previously uptight and professional Hannah (forced to be this way as a leader of her own tribe) has found a new lease of life in Jack's new world and encourages him to wait and race the storm.  It naturally ends in disaster, they crash and Tenrec carries an unconscious Hannah through the storm's wind and driving rain.  He bumps into a shelter of sorts, not knowing what it is but uses it to ride out the storm.

When it all calms down they both see the shelter is actually the half eaten body of the mammoth, its huge bones the 'cave' that saved their lives.  The story ends with, "It wasn't till the clearing at dawn that Jack saw that despite all his expectations, sometimes it seems nature bends the rules".  A brilliantly written tale, I'm really enjoying this series so far and I just wish we weren't missing some in between.


The inside back page has adverts for other Dark Horse comics, the one that stands out the most being the Aliens title.  I remember buying one issue of it some time before Jurassic came along (I remember because the Dark Horse side banner on the cover was familiar when I bought my first 'Park) and I really enjoyed it, but never did get any more.  I have a collection of them in hardback form and am looking forward to covering it here and you can spot it in the blog's title banner, but I'm also tempted to hunt down the comics.  As you can see they had a very UK comics setup with a few different strips running side-by-side.  So you never know what will pop up on the blog in the future.

But the back page is what really stands out to me here:


Ooooh yes!  That T-rex image is from the cover of my first ever issue of this superb comic and I really can't wait until next month to start reading the new adventures!  I remember being thrilled by them all, they made this one of my two favourite non-Oink! comics from my youth (the other one is here) and I'm hugely impatient for Friday 30th November, but patient I must be!  Everything on the page above is giving me goosebumps, from the brilliant tagline for the new adventures and that detailed drawing, to the mention of both backup strips and even that competition.  The memories are flooding back and I'm so excited to finally be able to show you the precise issue which brought me back to the comics fold after I'd left it completely for the world of computer magazines as a teen.  Yes, it was that good!

You can check it out in five weeks!