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Brookes, Gareth – The Manly Boys Annual

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The Manly Boys Annual (with Steven Tillotson)

Ladies, leave the room for this one.  Granted, you could probably read this and get quite a few laughs out of it, but this is really for the guys who read Boys Life (or the U.K. equivalent) when they were growing up.   From that fantastic front cover to the fake ads in the middle all the way to the airplanes on the back cover, this thing rings all kinds of memory bells for me.  The fact that it’s often hilarious doesn’t hurt a bit.  Some of this, frankly, will be lost on the American audience, but there’s more than enough to make up for it.  Case in point: the introduction by Major General Sir Henry George Gordon Neville Balfour II.   From there you go to a poem about Englishmen (and I, never a fan of poems, think this is the weak part of the comic), a word search (that actually looks legit), a fake ad trying to get young boys to enlist, a comic about a young boy who accidentally kills a tramp, a fake ad proclaiming that “Self-Touching is Bad!”, how to skin a rabbit narrated by… Phillip the Rabbit (one of the creepier/funnier things in the book), a comic about fishing and the language that fishermen use with their kids, how to tattoo yourself, a story that answers the question “What the devil do women want?” (“attack a fellow” being something that is always a good idea), a fake ad about how to hypnotize women (a requirement in these magazines as a kid), a maze guarded by Chinamen, a text piece about an escape from a jungle (with much more going on at home), and an A to Z of useless knowledge.  There are also the Stupid Boy! strips that punctuate the comic, always ending the same way and yet somehow always funny, and a vision of your future involving your head being grafted onto a giant robot body.   In short (although it’s too late for that), this comic is loaded.  You’ve already seen plenty of Gareth’s work on this site, and if you ‘ve enjoyed it chances are you’ve clicked through and read even more of his work.   This, as a whole, ranks right up there among his best.  No price, but it’s probably somewhere in the neighborhood of $5.