Thursday, 4 August 2011

Smash! Annual 1975

Don't think i ever got this when it came out, and have just picked up a really nice condition copy off the 'Bay dirt cheap.
Far too cheap, as its a cracking read.
As usual, the factual features are horribly dated - being here all about the Wankel engine and Bisley rifle range "the mecca of marksmen".
The humour strips that i didn't care too much for - Consternation Street, Ghost Ship etc - are quite passable but, of course, top of the tree is the Swots And The Blots and we're treated to multiple helpings of their genius.

I was always prefered them to their Bash Street cousins, as even though they and their teach are almost identical clones, the strip always seemed to have a more anarchic edge over the other school. Best one here is them having Bad Penny paying a visit, with both sides trying to win her over. Can never decide what's best: the humour of the art or the humour of the sound effects and descriptive prose. Cyril Swot looks funny on his own, but being described as " a cross between Dracula and a school dinner pudding" is the icing on the,er, pudding. Ditto Cutherbert. He's funny covered in perfume, but even better with "nice niff" and "flowery fumes" coming off him.

ar opposite with Cursitor Doom, with some INCREDIBLY moody art by Eric Bradbury. The tale starts with our hero(?) looking out his window up to the next door "Devil's Wood on Haunted Hill" which "looks more SINISTER than usual tonight!". I mean, really, why's no-one ever thought to put a wall round such a place? Sure would've stopped the brilliantly named "Hezekiah Moore" wandering in looking for the long hidden Book Of Evil, only to snuff it at the hands/branches of the trees he's accidently brought to life. Its down to Doom and his aide McCraggan to get the plants under control, in the end only being able to do so with the aid of "Thor The Hammerer, Lord Of The Nordic Deities". Brilliant, moody stuff, with Eric being able to draw trees with faces and make them scary and not silly.

He's back on the Simon Test adventure and saves it with yet more moody art, as the story's not up to much, it being the tale of "Jabez Coppenger" (who thought these up?), trying to come with a potion to control birds, directing them from his island that sits atop the "Geyser Of Doom". Pretty forgettable stuff, if not for Mr Bradbury.

Last highlight is Janus Stark and its odd to see regular artist Lopez being coloured. It doesn't work, even though he's away from his grim London and in the sunnier clime of Brighton. Doesn't help either that the page sides are bright yellow as well. The tales not bad - he's arrested for burgularies that have started since he arrived, thefts that only one with his abilities could perform. He solves the mystery with some Holmes-like deductions, although the capper of "All the robberies involved agility..." seems fair enough, but then "...and the hard skin on your hands told me you once worked in a circus. A trapeze artist perhaps" would have even the great detective balking.

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