Page 45 Review by Stephen
"I fear the jungle is all too quiet, Chompy. Danger hides behind the silence, ready to pounce."
"What are you talking about? What jungle?"
Have you even seen my garden?!
It's like something out of Sleeping Beauty. Apparently there's a canal at the bottom of it, but unless you have a machete then you will probably never know.
Welcome to the garden, dear readers, home to world-renowned, instantly recognised, household name
So much happens there both behind Gary's back and right under his nose. By day there is danger! By night there is bin-raiding derring-do! His kitchen and store-cupboards are subject to daylight robbery. Even Gary's boxer shorts are on the line! The washing line, that is. Or they were.
From the creator of THE TERRIBLE TALES OF THE TEENYTINYSAURS, I gleefully present barrels more buffoonery in which the Cartoon King of bugged-out eyes and shriek-squealing shenanigans sets his sights on suburban denizens of the dank, its tree-top scurriers and worriers, its frond-fond failures and other long-grassed losers: spiders, caterpillars, butterflies; worms, moles and tadpoles; rats, bats and bluebottle flies
all going about their day-to-day, survival of the twittest, ultra-competitive business.
In 'First Legs' you will weep when witnessing the loneliness of being a late developer.
In 'Terrence The Snail' you will slime as fast as you can slither straight back to Mum.
And on page 45 (of all places) you will wonder whether you can love a girl with a poo hanging out of her bum. Can you?
(Clue: guppies in a fish tank: they have strings of poo hanging out of their bums. They really do!)
Once more, it is the innate understanding of what will make a kid cry with laughter and squeal uncontrollably "Ewwww!" that so successfully informs a comic like this: the one-two punchline of 'Noisy Neighbours' is designed specifically to send its readers screaming back to their parents and thrust it in front of their faces. Warning: may prove counter-productive to your parental 5-a-day drive!
There are recurrent jokes you may only spot in the background, I love the slightly outmoded names (Penny the pigeon, Cyril the bumblebee, Rupert the squirrel, Ronald the spider) and the colours
oh, the colours are sublime! I take you back to those tadpoles.
Perspective also plays a vital role: what to this diminutive, ugly-bug ball of buffoons is a Transdimensional Televisor is to us but a toilet roll they're treadmilling through the open French Windows. What to Gary is a delightful bird-twitter of song is a mockery through mimicry of what our bearded baboon really seems and sounds like. Self-deprecation is a superb source of comedy and Gary Whatsisface - here like the Johnny Morris of mismanaged comics - has mastered it.
In the back as a bonus feature is a game of Gary's Garden Top Chumps as in Trumps. I loved Top Trumps! It acts both as a character guide and as a fully playable game. You don't have to cut out your comic but can download and print out then cut out the lot from THE PHOENIX comic website. Brilliant!
Skill sets are: Intelligence, Heroism, Grumpiness, Ickiness, Legs.
Each is scientifically calculated out of ten unless you're a caterpillar. That means molluscs score low on legs (one), but don't bet on them being lowest (no clues).
Outrageously, however, there is a Top Chump for Gary Northfield who scores himself 10, 10, 10, 10 and 10. Now, I will give Gary 10 out of 10 both for Grumpiness and Ickiness, but Intelligence and Heroism is pushing it.
As for the legs