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Wednesday, 12 September 2018

GOOF! #2: BACK TO GOOF SCHOOL

<< GO TO ISSUE 1


Goof! editor Marc Jackson comments on social media how the time has simply flown since #1 of his new comic, wondering where the weeks have gone.  Well, here on The Oink! Blog and Beyond it feels like it's only been a couple of weeks too, but that actually is the case since I was so late in covering the last issue!  Starting to get caught up now though so bare with me.  At least this month anyone reading this and deciding to subscribe, to enjoy the 27 pages on offer here, has a decent amount of time before the next issue bursts its way from the interweb.

Before I get to the strips I want to highlight I just have to say the Goof character himself has probably the funniest one of the whole issue but I find myself with quite the dilemma here because of it.  If I show any of it I'll end up ruining the joke for you, yet it's my favourite page of the whole comic, so obviously I want to show it to you!  Argh Marc, look what you're doing to me!  At the end of the day though, you should have the same opportunity to read it without any spoilers just like I did so I'll begrudgingly leave him out.  But he's fast becoming my favourite new comics character, which hopefully is enough of a recommendation to check him out.


There are some really delightful, sweet little strips which make up Goof! alongside the craziness and I'd like to focus on a few of them this month.  One such strip comes from the imagination of Emmeline Pidgen, a freelance illustrator who has worked for such publishers as IDW, Hachette and Egmont.  Her website portfolio shows examples from children's books such as Peter Pan and The No More Bullying Book For Kids, alongside self-published comics titles.  Nona the Ninth is Emmeline's monthly contribution here, telling the tale of a young girl, the youngest of nine siblings in her family, who wants to grow up to be a great scientist of the Victorian era.

Her experiments look like they're going to fascinate the younger readers of Goof! while at the same time exasperating her family members.  This issue we get a little story about a 19th century scientist whose experiments Nona would like to emulate, if it weren't for her mother possibly not being too keen on her setting fire to the surrounding fields.  If her strips continue in this vein, with a little fun fact followed by an innocent giggle at the end for the kiddies (who Emmeline's work seems to connect to in a unique and simply beautiful way when you look at her portfolio) then I hope the readers embrace her with open arms so Nona can stick around for as long as Goof! itself does.


We'll come back to more strips like that further down the post.  But first, as I mentioned last time there appears to be some characters within the digital pages of Goof! who are going to be little one-offs and, just like Oink!, we may not know if they are (or if they're going to return) until we read the next issue.  We've seen some characters already come and go in the previous two issues and here in #2 we get to meet Scruff & McGuff in a little tale called Night Terror!  From  North Carolina-based illustrator Allison Steinfeld, the two protagonists live aboard a small house boat which is tied to a dock in the middle of a midnight storm.  With mention of a lake monster it's clear who is going to pop up, but the ending is a funny little gem, that's for sure.

I really hope Allison is due to return to the comic in the future, in particular I'd love to see Scruff & McGuff come back for more misadventures.  It's rare that such a small strip, with only a little bit of speech (and with one character being a mute dog) can leave such a lasting impression of said characters with the reader.  I believe this is testament to Allison's style.  The friendship between man and dog is lovely, the scenario unique and the story a lovely little thing indeed.  Nothing is forced in order to introduce you to them, it's all very natural and flows off the page/screen.  Fingers crossed for more!


Marc's own double-page strip, Donald Dogsbody Does the Dishes is back again with the ongoing tale of the Space-Cats and the missing coffee.  Last month we found out the mystery of why the Monday morning essential had disappeared was really the most obvious of reasons; the Space-Cats were opening their own coffee shop right next door.  This month we get a lovely full-page first panel (above) and Donald's friend Gertie is having none of it!  Highly animated fun, Donald's attempts to hold his friend back don't exactly go as planned and I'm really enjoying how this story is developing over the issues, I have to say.  I'm actually eager to see where this goes!

The Goof! website has started to add some of its promised extra features with readers' letters and the Goof of the Month sections now accessible.  It's lovely to see children getting into the comic and writing in to express what they loved about the first two issues, it really does take me back to when I was first discovering comics at a young age.  So in that regard it's brilliant to think about how these kids are going through that very same discovery with Goof!  The other section is a page where one of the cartoonists gets asked a few questions about their contribution and this month it's Tor Freeman, creator of the following strip, Spells in the Forest.


Telling the tale of Florence the Witch, Prince Frog and, of course, Elfis the elf simply living their lives in the forest, it's the artwork which really makes this particular page sing.  Tor's work is simply delightful.  An illustrator, author and comics maker, her beautifully coloured panels paint a world full of magic and wonder for the younger audience.  So much so, Tor was the artist on a new The Wind in the Willows book published in 2016 by Alma Books and it really does have to be seen.  Check out her website (the book's cover is in the blog section) for more wonderful illustrations and even a shop where you can purchase everything from flower prints and stickers to dinosaur birthday cards, all with that magical Tor touch.  Having recently joined the ranks of The Phoenix I'm looking forward to getting lost in more of her creative worlds.

It's clear the target audience for this particular strip is a somewhat younger one than this slightly greying blog writer, but that doesn't make it any less loveable as a piece of art with the added benefit of enjoyable characters, that's for sure.  The comic has a handful of strips which are clearly for the children in the audience, while others might be aimed more to the older audience.  But the magic of Goof! is that both groups will still enjoy everything here.  That's the whole point of the comic after all, "Comics for Everyone" and all that.  The next one is another perfect example.


How to be Cool by Andrea Bell has a simple premise; to show kids what it takes to actually be cool.  It takes what us older readers probably thought was cool when we were younger, and what social media might still portray as cool today, and turns it on its head.  Basically, it's about being nice!  It's that simple.  It's not about being aloof, or trying to look cool, or trying to chat people up, or being seen in the coolest places... it's simply about being nice.  In this day and age it can sometimes be a breath of fresh air to come across someone in the street or in a shop etc. who is just genuinely nice, who hasn't got their nose in their phone while ignoring you, or music blasting from their ears while they annoy everyone around them on the bus.  How to be Cool shows kids who are growing up in the modern world how being genuinely nice is the new 'cool'.

Andrea's art is simplistic in nature but is the perfect fit for the scenario here.  Instead of trying hard to be cool, it's so simple to just be yourself and be nice to others to make the biggest impact in this world.  Am I overthinking this?  Maybe, but hopefully that's the impact Andrea's monthly lessons will have on the impressionable youth and maybe even some of the adults reading.  It may not necessarily be what you'd term "goofy", but it's positive outlook and unique sense of fun make it perfect for Goof!

Another particular highlight this issue is (as always) Jim Boswell's Stick Pig in which yet another new team member joins the crime-fighting team.  No actual crime-fighting yet but perhaps that's the point, Stick Pig being all bluster and no action and the last panel is incredibly funny.  Brilliant stuff.

So, another month and another Goof!  This is clearly the best issue yet.  The team all seem to be settling in to their contributions really well and it's all coming together brilliantly into a solid monthly title which deserves to run and run.  I know it's a lot of work for Marc, especially committing to a regular monthly schedule, but here's hoping he's getting the same sense of satisfaction out of it as us readers are.  It's a profit-share product, meaning everyone working on the comic gets a share of the money, so make sure you subscribe (only £12 for 12 issues!) and then just sit back and wait for the first Saturday of each month and that magical email telling you the next issue is ready and waiting for you at goofcomic.co.uk.

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