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May 3, 2013

FFGtGR: The Beano and The Phoenix!

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Written by: Drew
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From Friendly Ghosts to Gamma Rays

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.145!

Welcome back to another edition of From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! I’m your comics-from-across-the-globe smitten columnist, Drew McCabe! This week we take a look across the pond to see what the British have to been up to with two awesome all-ages titles – The Beano and The Phoenix! Both are weekly comic titles that you can find in a small handful of shops across North America, but recently more and more of us have become able to find and read them thanks to the iPad! The iTunes news stand has both comics in it, and not only can you buy and read, but you can also get subscriptions (something I wish digital North American comics would do). The fact that you can get these the same day-and-date digitally that the U.K. gets them is frankly amazing and a blessing that even four years ago no one would have thought of. Let’s get down to it!

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beanocoveraprilThe Beano #3682
Publisher: D.C. Thomson & Co.
Story and Art: A small army of folks

We have looked at The Beano a few times in this column, going in the U.K. for almost 75 years now, and every week it serves up hysterical humor comics for its readers of all ages. It has become a highlight every week to read, and the characters are charming and just grow on you (I myself enjoy it so much I even bought some of the animated adventures of the comic’s characters to watch, since I have a region-free DVD player and could fully indulge in it all).

The line-up this issue has its key stories, “Dennis and Gnasher” (as seen on the cover and getting into all sorts of trouble making fun for our enjoyment), The “Bash Street Kids,” “Bananaman,” and “Roger the Dodger.” We also get one-page funnies “Meebo & Zuky” (possibly the best dog versus cat comic ever), “Billy Whizz,” “The Numskulls,” “Minnie the Minx,” “Gnasher’s Bite,” and “Ball Boy.” New this week to the one-pagers is “Big Time Charlie,” a gigantic kid with super strength who has just moved to Beanotown, and much to our enjoyment, unintentionally wrecks everything! We also have several “Funsize Funnies” which are single strips, which this week gets new strips of “BSK CCTV,” “Bam Beanos” (your favorite Beano characters as farting babies), and the best out of the three to premiere: “Stunt Gran.” “Stunt Gran” is exactly how it sounds, and to explain would give the whole thing away being it’s just a strip, however, in its shear ridiculousness it is side-splitting funny and lives up to some of the best two to three page tales that the magazine has done this year. If there is surely one that will make anybody laugh, it is “Stunt Gran,” and I hope the strip has a long life in the weekly.

The Beano is great for a laugh and worth the cash you spend on it. For those who saw Dennis and Gnasher air here on The Hub network for a little bit and wondered where it came from, it’s from here! It’s a title that is sure to put a smile on your face!

Available now in print (although very hard to find in North America) and digital!

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phoenixcoveraprilThe Phoenix #68
Publisher: The Phoenix Comic
Story and Art: A small army of folks

The Phoenix has been getting a lot of critical praise both in the U.K. and surprisingly here in North America! Writers like me have been pushing folks to read it, but I assure you it is not part of some vast conspiracy in which all of us comic columnists and reviewers got together and decided the masses should read it (not that I would complain if everyone here did start reading it)! We are all praising The Phoenix because it is one of the most quality all-age comics publications in the English language, and possibly one the best weeklies out there running neck-n-neck with Shonen Jump in terms of variety and coolness.

This issue of The Phoenix presents several great stories! We get the dinosaurs-meet-pirates adventure comic “The Pirates of Pangaea,” the hysterical antics of “Bunny Vs. Monkey,” the very cool “Long Gone Don,” another hysterical “Star Cat” (as seen on the front cover there and one of the reasons to read this book), a cool adventure with “Haggis & Quail” (which features a giant squid and who doesn’t love those), and finally rounding out the issue is another great chapter of “Cora’s Breakfast,” which has been a delightful science fiction adventure tale that has grown quite a bit on me between its artwork and character development over the past few weeks.

The Phoenix never lets one down. There is always something not just entertaining, but funny and exciting in this weekly anthology. The art on each title is truly individual from each other, making it appealing to look at while embodying a nice sense of artistic freedom for the creative teams behind the stories. Another nice thing to note is that the digital-app for The Phoenix has never given me a problem. Here and there I’ll run into a little trouble with comic-apps (the MAD Magazine one has given plenty of folks, myself included, nightmares), but never here, which always is peace of mind, not to mention its presentation digitally is excellent.

So do you know if The Phoenix is your cup of tea? I say just download and try it out, but even if that is not enough to sell you, if you like one of the following it’s probably for you: quality art and writing, laughing-out-loud, dinosaurs, pirates, space aliens, talking animals!

The Phoenix is available in print (really-really hard to find in North America) and digital (super easy to download in North America).

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That’s it for now. I know this column was a little off because of some site issues, but we will see you again on Friday at our normal time!

Drew McCabe
drew@comicattack.net

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