“Who Will Buy My Biggish Shoes?" COMICS! Sometimes I Suddenly Realise What A Weird Idea Laugh Tracks Are!

This time out it’s The Bojeffries Saga by Steve (RESIDENT ALIEN) Parkhouse and Alan (CROSSED PLUS ONE HUNDRED) Moore. What? Yes, I am still in a mood.  photo RaoulB_zpsfg0xmvxy.png THE BOJEFFRIES SAGA by Steve Parkhouse & Alan Moore

Anyway, this… THE BOJEFFRIES SAGA Art by Steve Parkhouse Written by Alan Moore Top Shelf Productions, £9.99 (paper), £2.50 or something equally paltry (Digital) (2014) The Bojeffries Saga created by Steve Parkhouse and Alan Moore

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Collected herein are all the extant Bojeffries Saga stories drawn by the sublime Steve Parkhouse and written by the astonishing Alan Moore. Having them all in one place is extraordinarily handy as the stories themselves were spread around a number of publications (WARRIOR, DALGODA, A-1, etc?) over a period of several decades and I don’t know about you (I’ve heard tales though) but my days of rooting about in longboxes like a pig hunting truffles are long gone. It’s just unseemly for a man of my age, you know. Also, I don’t live anywhere near my LCS. There’s even a previously unpublished strip to round out the book and further tempt the unconvinced. Anyway, a little clearing of the throat and we’re off. AAAahhhurrruHHHffluGGH-ACK-ACK! Oh, god, what is that! Um, it’s a fact: The Bojeffries Saga started in 1983 within issue 12 of Dez Skinn’s UK based monthly B&W anthology magazine WARRIOR. And, let’s be honest here, most of the appeal went over my then thirteen year old head. Far more appealing to my teeny tastes were Moore’s splashy reinvention of super-heroics (with Garry Leach and Alan Davis) in Miracleman and his (and David Lloyd’s) boldly political reinvention in V For Vendetta of The Abominable Dr Phibes as a stylish gutting of the vigilante trope (V isn’t a hero, just sayin’). In comparison with such lurid company The Bojeffries Saga was a somewhat more sedate proposition with, it turned out, equally lasting if far more subtle pleasures. The Bojeffries Saga didn’t change the course of capes comics forever and nor did it encourage people to protest capitalism en masse while sporting masks depicting a crap traitor purchased from a multi-national corporation. However, it did make me laugh. Which I think is the point of a comedy.

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THE BOJEFFRIES SAGA by Steve Parkhouse & Alan Moore

Yes, The Bojeffries Saga is a comedy; it is essentially a comic book sit-com about a family. But one written by Alan Moore so the situation in question is, mostly, a humble British terraced house, and the family domiciled therein could only be described as a nuclear family because the baby is a sentient China Syndrome. Grandad Podlasp is a rapidly de-evolving Cthulloid mess, Glinda is a walking super-ego unfettered by self-awareness or restraint, uncle Raoul is a werewolf who isn’t the full shilling, uncle Festus is a vampire singularly failing to adapt to modernity, Reth, the son, consciously refuses to age past eleven and in their ridiculous midst paterfamilias Jobremus Bojeffries is just trying to keep the household running. Now the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum, what might be right for you might not be right for some! SHAZBAT! and I think we’ve all learned a valuable lesson, today, and all that, right? No, America, because not all comedy is like your comedy.

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THE BOJEFFRIES SAGA by Steve Parkhouse & Alan Moore

The Bojeffries Saga is nothing like all that business, because The Bojeffries Saga is quintessentially British and very consciously of its time. This does not (Does. Not.) mean it is dated and its humour has faded. It’s still funny and fresh because Parkhouse & Moore’s comic is so beautifully executed I suspect it will prove to have a half-life equal to one of the aforementioned irradiated baby’s motions. Also, by having its nonsensical cast rub up against the actual times in which it was produced like a needy moggy, it produces a kind of satirical static electricity every time the book is opened. You know what I mean. Timeless, innit. On these pages Parkhouse & Moore build up a picture of a Britain that never existed but a picture so informed by authenticity of detail and experience it becomes, satirical excesses aside, a historical document of a Britain which did exist. Remarkable.

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THE BOJEFFRIES SAGA by Steve Parkhouse & Alan Moore

And it is, yes, that’s right, it is the little things. (No, see, I’m not making a joke about my penis here, because I have standards (but mostly because you expected one)) If The Devil is in the details then on the evidence of The Bojeffries Saga he’s got quite the sense of humour. (He’s still The Devil though; shun him!) Details, then. Christ, it’s like being back at school this. Okay, details it is. One chapter is written as a libretto by Moore and, logically enough, visually choreographed by Parkhouse as a dance number, and while the lightly comical way this captures and satirises the various gender and class divisions of the average British street of the time is remarkable in its efficiency and precision, being older than your pubes I was most struck by the reminder that car alarms were once as alien as having a werewolf as an Uncle. When the Bojeffries go on holiday the accumulation of only ever-so-slightly embellished detail made it feel like a recovered memory of all the tepid yet in retrospect deeply odd holidays I had endured as a child. Bloodbaths in Little Chefs initiated by PTSD riddled children’s toys (“Action Ears”!) aside, obviously. And industry? Remember when Britain had industries? When the majority of people worked in factories. Making stuff. And things. We used to be the best in the world at that! Making stuff and, er, things. Stanchions and that. Grommets. Instead today half the populace is employed in ringing up the other half of the populace to see if they have had an accident at work (not your fault!) or have purchased PPI recently. And the other half (yes, the third half. Glad to see you’re awake.) of the population have made a lifestyle choice to be poor and are getting fat on my taxes, isn’t that right David Cameron. Ey, David Cameron? Poverty is a “lifestyle choice” alright, you utter ****. (It’s okay, Brian, no need to get Legal involved, nobody reads this shit.)

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THE BOJEFFRIES SAGA by Steve Parkhouse & Alan Moore

So, yeah, cough, uh, in one of the summers between terms working hard to piss away my parent’s dreams by failing to get a decent degree I worked for about three seconds in a pet food factory. In a very Bojeffries Saga touch I filled and assembled big cardboard Christmas crackers meant for dogs. They had dog biscuits in ‘em, rather than a very poor joke, a vinyl fish that can tell how sexy you are and a paper crown, obviously; what are you, nuts? The knack was in the folding; skills for life there. Now, limited as my horny handed experience was I can attest that Moore and Parkhouse’s chapter on Raoul’s workplace and their hilariously incendiary night out captures perfectly the bizarrely banal behaviour which passes for normalcy on the factory floor. Yes, in a dismayingly hilarious way Parkhouse and Moore convey all the fun and magic of the now mostly extinct manufacturing environment; with all its tedium, casual racism, cheeky misogyny and ever present threat that unspoken grudges will suddenly flare into violence. Good times, no, but the dog crackers got through. The later chapters might betray a slackening of the satirical noose as the targets seem slightly more obvious, the battles already lost. Mocking Reality TV probably only means something to people who still bear a grudge over the national shock when the light entertainer and Tory (natch) Leslie Crowther exhorted the British public in 1984 (game, set and natch) to “Cuhmm Ahhn DAWHN!”, and they did. It wasn’t Reality TV, but it was the thin end of the wedge. After Leslie Crowther, the deluge. So it’s 2015 and Reality TV has become as accepted as car alarms, but once both were new and both were funny and The Bojeffries Saga is a record of that time. History moves quicker now but The Bojeffries Saga just about kept up.

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THE BOJEFFRIES SAGA by Steve Parkhouse & Alan Moore

I mean no disrespect to Steve Parkhouse when I say that Alan Moore’s the draw here because Moore’s the writer and that’s how comics, a primarily visual medium, works. Also, public awareness-wise Steve Parkhouse has missed a trick or two by not dressing like a Victorian dandy or worshipping a sock. Those being actual “lifestyle choices”, David Cameron, as opposed to poverty - which is not. Cowardly one sided baiting of our majority emboldened leader aside, the success of The Bojeffries Saga is down to Steve Parkhouse as much as Alan Moore, but it needs both to succeed, as anyone who has ever read the repellent and woeful Big Dave (which Parkhouse drew for 2000AD) will back me up. That piece of **** has never been reprinted, which is a mercy; for while there was nothing wrong with Parkhouse’s art the, ahem, script by Grant "Rebel, Rebel" Morrison (MBE) and Mark "The Socialist"Millar (MBE) is everything The Bojeffries Saga is not. And I mean that in a really bad way. A really bad way indeed. Posterity got it right by having The Bojeffries Saga survive and so we can still appreciate the lively and joyous art of Steve Parkhouse. Sure, the art on the part of Steve Parkhouse is a delight here, but then when is Steve Parkhouse’s art not a delight. (That’s rhetorical.) Right from the very first episode Parkhouse uses his deft draughtsmanship to conflate the scruffy fun of Leo (Bash Street Kids) Baxendale with the fidgety detail of Robert (Oh, come on now, really? Fritz The Cat, then.) Crumb while also providing facial cartooning the equal of Naoki (Monster) Urasawa. Parkhouse’s art develops, during the volume, from a fastidious approach with a slightly surreal filigree to a looser, and thus, more sprightly approach. Both styles are great but seeing the development flow through his work over the course of these pages is greater still. And Alan, Oor Alan, what of Alan Moore? Alan Moore seems to be having a ball here. Stylistically he shimmies about all over the shop, which is always a sign he’s enjoying his mystical self. There’s a libretto here, a story in the style of a (really) old Brit comic, plenty of fucking about with phonetics, and it’s all pretty ticklish round the funnybone region. Mind you, he still has a tendency to take a running joke and push it so hard that whether or not it passes through The Wall and breaks the tape like Seb Coe (a Tory) depends entirely on the reader. Other than that slight criticism, I’d have to say that The Bojeffries Saga by Steve Parkhouse and Alan Moore was very, very funny, which in real terms equates to VERY GOOD!

Sure, I could have saved us all a lot of grief and just said it was Eastenders by Monty Python directed by Mike Hodges, but where in that lot is there anything about - COMICS!!!

Shop Update: Double Barrel Achievement Unlocked!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App Hey, everybody.  Jeff here with a double reminder that:

(a) Double Barrel #5 is out today; and (even better)

(b) all issues of Double Barrel are available for purchase from the Savage Critic store!

As regular listeners to the Wait, What? podcast know, Graeme and I are huge fans of this two-talent monthly anthology from Top Shelf.  Each new issue is $1.99 and usually features approx. 1oo+ pages of great comics and enjoyable comics crafting essays.  (Issue #4 is only 81 pages.)  But since Top Shelf drops the price on the previous issues, you can get issues #1-4 for at $0.99 a pop.  There are two main recurring serials: Zander Cannon's Heck, about a modern-day adventurer who uses his house's portal for Hell as a business opportunity, and Kevin Cannon's Crater XV, a sequel to his Far Arden graphic novel, about a washed-up cantankerous sea dog who gets immersed in arctic high seas adventure.  (Don't worry, I hadn't read Far Arden when I started in with issue #1 of Double Barrel and it didn't trip me up at all.)

So my quick notice here is sort of a two-fold plea:  for those of you who've picked up Double Barrel on our recommendation, I hope you'll consider purchasing the latest issue through our digital store. I know it's a bit of a hassle to flip between two different comics apps (Comixology and iVerse's Comics Plus viewer) but it would throw a small bit of change in our pockets.  And if you still haven't picked up Double Barrel--take the time, energy and the dollar and get the 122 page first issue.  It's great stuff, and both Cannons, Zander and Kevin, are more than just brave and daring adventurers in this digital wilderness: they're also top-notch cartoonists and storytellers.

Unfortunately, Double Barrel wasn't available in our shop from day one, and it took some emails and communication with the hard-working staff at Top Shelf (Thank you, Chris Ross!) and the people at Diamond Digital to make sure we had access to us.  Making this available was important to everyone involved--it certainly was important to me because I think Double Barrel is a great, affordable read (even more so now that previous issues are less than a buck!) and a possible outlier of the future of digital comics that can work in tandem with direct marketplace shops.  I hope it's an experiment you will be enough of a daring adventurer yourself to investigate...and I hope you consider investigating it through our shop.

Wait, What? Ep. 89: Accidents Will Happen

Photobucket Oh, I just don't know where to begin: last episode was held up on account of spinal aggravation and this episode starts with a SNAFU of the kind that had me tearing my rich abundant hair out of my head. (Hmmm, now that I think about it? I think...maybe that was neither my hair nor head?)

But that's the kind of episode this is--the one where our minds are made up but our mouths are undone. Nonetheless, Graeme McMillan and I were committed to *finally* finishing up answering your questions (seeing as we didn't answer them in the same month you asked them...or technically the same season) and talking stuff like Action Comics #10; superhero movies and the geek comfort zone; Spawn and Glamourpuss #25; the superlative Zombo; Jennifer Blood; and Sonic Disruptors.

Also, don't miss our discussion of Minutemen #1, which manages to mention The Dooce, Abhay, Brandon Graham, Internet communication, and put Graeme and I on opposite sides of the Elvis Costello lyrics (see? You weren't just imagining them!) with Graeme being: "It's the damage that we do we never know" and me being: "It's the words that we don't say that scare me so."

Oh, plus the tremendous Double Barrel #1; the best reviewed comic in the world; James Ellroy and comics; American Flagg; Zenith; Detective Comics and much more, including exciting news for Wait, What? and a request (at least one!) for listener assistance. In less than two hours? Yessir. You may say, "I don't want to hear it cuz I know what I've done." (I know, I know.)

So many podcasts to catch up on and add to your collection, but iTunes can keep you hangin' on (until you're well hung). Your mind is made up but you can listen to us below:

Wait, What? Ep. 89: Accidents Will Happen

As always, we hope you enjoy and thank you for listening. (Now, if you excuse me, I'm off to cue up Oliver's Army.)

“There’s Buses Along Watling Street To London…” Comics! Sometimes they don't half muck you about a bit.

Nah, don’t get up my account, see I want a word in your shell-like. Don’t flinch, son, I just want to talk to you. Talk to you about this thing what Alan Moore wrote and Kevin O’Neill drew. Won’t take long. We've all got homes to go to. Don’t cry, be  a brave soldier. Be over before you know it… Photobucket

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN CENTURY #2 “1969” By Alan Moore(w), Kevin O’Neill(a), Todd Klein(l) and Ben Dimagmaliw(c) Top Shelf/Knockabout Comics $9.95/£7.99  Crikey, mate! Things look proper rum as the psychedelic ‘60s spiral towards a massive downer! Can our enduring chums make everything groovy again!? Don’t freakout, Grandad, the future is sure to be far out!


It's pretty much business as usual in the world of LOEG with the latest installment. A slender plot groaning under an ungainly agglomeration of references and in-jokes, comedy, nastiness and an overriding suspicion that Alan Moore thinks popular culture is going down the crapper. If you liked the last installment you'll like this but if you've been liking them less and less since THE BLACK DOSSIER you're going to like this even less. I'm okay with them myself what with them being well clever and as visually attractive as Valerie Leon in go-go boots.

Alright then, first things first: Is it fan fiction? Yes, I think it is. But I also think you’d be hard pressed to find any genre comic that isn't these days. YMMV. Also, I've never actually looked up a definition of “fan fiction” but we’ll persevere. Crucially what it is is fan fiction of the very highest order. How can it not be fan fiction filled as it is with fictions pulled from other sources and made to dance and warble at the behest of The Magus? At least he has a purpose in mind, at least Alan Moore is using them to some narrative end intended to educate, illuminate and entertain. But then again I could read about the seedy adventures of characters who greatly resemble Jack Carter and Vic Dakin all day.


Oh, It's a grand life with The Magus but it wouldn't be half so grand without his aiders and abettors. Herein Kevin O’Neill is his usual majestically unusual self. Considering the fact that his art already resembles a bad trip the fact that he can actually go further and depict a bad trip is pretty incredible.  Kevin O'Neill heroically packs his (mostly) constricted panels with detail and incident that really gives the book a sense of place and it's a place populated by a hectic bustle of humanity. The panels of streets where the shiny future invasively looms over and creeps into the grotty present is done brilliantly. It’s a smart way to convey the way the future arrives. Not in a sudden jump but rather like a tide lapping in and around the present, eroding the shabby terraces and backstreets of now until it was like they were never there. You get a real sense that in ten minutes the future will be all around and it will be as though the future was here all the time.

Todd Klein and Ben Digimagmaliw are afforded a chance to shine and really rise to the challenge. Usually letterers and colourists are just required not to make any mistakes and generally just not get under anyone's feet but given the gift of the psychedelic showdown climax they really go to town. It's lovely, lovely stuff indeed. It's worth buying purely for the visual wizardry on display. Corporate comics aren't ever going to let your eyes graze on such delights as Kevin O'Neill and Co. at full tilt pedal to the mental like this. All the visual artistes do an absolutely smashing job at keeping this thing from sliding into incoherence.


While the whole is unquestionably successful in conveying the shabby reality the '6os briefly disguised and the fact that it may have been a Sexual Revolution but, still, all revolutions have casualties there remains something off about the whole thing. In the early pages in particular Moore’s dialogue reads like raw exposition, which is surprising considering how neatly he captures the “voices” of the supporting cast in the parallel plot. In fact those parts are a far more satisfying read than the adventures of our three primaries. I could have read a lot more about Vic and Jack and a lot less about Mina, ‘Lando and Allan. The gangster stuff had drive and purpose while the League stuff just seemed aimless and repetitive. Maybe the contrast was intentional after all it isn’t the heroes who “save” the day in the end. So caught up are they in their own problems they can barely get it together to be in the right place at the right time. They muck it up good and proper and no mistake.


I get that what Moore’s going for is the whole immortality has its price thing, I get that loud and clear because he never stops bloody banging on about it. Moore makes some good points, some interesting points but he keeps making them without developing them. This doesn't result in a terribly satisfying reading experience but it does at least explain the almost hilarious ineptitude The League displays. Immortality is sure doing a number on our three chums and no mistake. Orlando has his sexual organs growing and receding like a tide of biological confusion, Allan has to carry a monkey around on his back forever and Mina has to cope with the the wounds of her past.

It’s no wonder that at this point they are acting like a bunch of blockheads. Blimey, this lot can’t even save the world properly. Who in their right mind would drop drugs on the cusp of a climactic confrontation upon which they believe the fate of the world to hang? No one. But then these people aren’t in their right mind, so I guess that works. There’s a nice comic pay-off when even the villain appears baffled by their stupidity (“You cretinous CHIT!”) and his plan, which isn't even the plan The League think it is, is only derailed by the actions of a background thug who has no real notion of the events in which he is so pivotal. Which can’t be accidental. I mean, let’s face it, Alan Moore runs a tight ship narratively, if it’s in there it probably means something. What it means is that his is a pretty bleak experience both for the characters and the reader. Photobucket

Oh, there’s humour in here but not enough to lift it far out of the doldrums. In fact the jokiest joke is the worst joke here. There’s a whole panel wasted here on a Jumping Jack Flash joke that is so leaden I actually resented its hogging of an entire panel. Even the best joke, the one about body swapping (“I’m perplexed.”), is so delightfully nasty it just serves to reinforce the desolation of the book rather than relieve it. Look, the last image in the book is of a sad old man assaulted by the music of the young and angry while slumped on a chair dripping with his own piss. Not exactly Benny Hill is it?

Which, not entirely smoothly, brings me to the most likely cause of upset regarding this here periodical: there’s far too much slapping of little bald men’s heads to the accompaniment of a jaunty tune. No, of course not, but there is quite a lot of sexual violence on these pages. I’d really like to just breeze past that one but sometimes you just have to grasp that nettle. Remember when I used to just make terrible Dad Jokes about bad super hero comics? And Kurt Busiek would patiently correct my blunders? Such happy times! What? I’m not avoiding anything!

Oh, okay…  Fair disclosure here, I’m about to give Alan Moore the benefit of the doubt. I have read and enjoyed his work since he poked his young head up in the pages of 2000AD. I guess I am a fan? I’m not uncritical though I try not to be that kind of fan. I mean I love Howard Victor Chaykin to bits but I’m never going to recommend FOREVER MAELSTROM to anyone, okay? Similarly with Alan Moore I didn't buy LOST GIRLS because the page I saw in TCJ had a woman talking about the texture of a bull’s pizzle. Maybe it was a horse, anyway the point is I don’t want to read about beloved children’s characters achieving sexual satisfaction by touching animal’s privates. I’m funny like that. Call me old-fashioned. So while I’m not a hater I guess I’m not a lover but I am a fan. Caveat ends.


So, having thought about it a bit more than I feel I should have had to the nearest I can come to some kind of explanation, some kind of reason for this approach is that Alan Moore is trying to explore some of the connections between sex and violence. I think Alan Moore sees the genre comic’s reliance on violence as unhealthy because it isn't real violence. The power of violence has gone and only empty shock remains. Alan Moore’s work has demonstrated, to me at least, that he understands violence. He knows that violence happens and then keeps right on happening. Violence isn't just the act it’s also the effects of the act. Violence is the original gift that keeps on giving. Any honest depiction of violence should upset you, I think. I could be biased about that. Genre comics don’t deal in honest violence they deal in pantomime violence: safe violence and, thus, fake violence. There are 7o some years of gelding behind every act of violence in genre comics. If you want the violence in your comic to hurt, to be real what to do? It’s this dilemma that leads me to believe Alan Moore is attempting to make violence violent again. And the way I think Alan Moore is attempting to do that is by introducing sex into the equation. Because that's really going to touch a nerve.


That’s what I think and I think that because I know this: practically every act of on-page sex in LOEG:1969 is accompanied, contains or is contrasted with an act of violence. Where conventionally there would only be violence here there is also a sexual element. This is disturbing and upsetting, at least to me. Now, I can only assume (that most dangerous of critical acts) that this is intentional. As I've said the big thing that strikes me about Alan Moore comics is that they have very little room in them for the accidental (or the unintentional). Something as obvious and persistent as the sex/violence link in LOEG:1969 being happenstance seems pretty unlikely. It must have a purpose, it must be intentional. To dismiss it as being merely some kind of accidental twitch of an aged libido or the unconscious seepage of suppressed desires would, I think, be fundamentally wrong at worst and ungenerous at best.

But that leaves me with the puzzle of why Alan Moore goes to such great pains to ensure the reasons for this, the most striking aspect of the work, remain so occluded. Really, I have no recourse but to send comics into the kitchen to help Mother do the dishes while I lean forward to Alan Moore, with his hair brushed and parted, and ask: "But what are your intentions?" And I don't like doing that. If the work has failed to communicate its intentions with regard to an element as pervasive as the sexual violence is in LOEG:C 1969 then the work has failed and failed badly. But not totally.

I have no doubt this is the comic Alan Moore wanted to write but as I'm unsure why that is I have to go with OKAY! Everybody else involved in the visual stuff gets an EXCELLENT!

Now be off with you, I've got to take me Mum her cuppa. What's up with a boy loving his Mum? Tell me that whydoncha? Gwan. Hoppit.