DwarfCast 147 - The Smegazine Rack - Issue #1 featured image
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Ok everyone, put on your baseball caps on backwards, wear clashing colours, like Morrissey, ‘pop’ an ‘e’, sing Barcelona, be surprised at Denmark winning the Euros, experience the same dates on the same days as you will in 2020 and correctly believe Sonic to be superior to Mario because we’re going back to 1992! In the first of what will be… *checks*… a lot of fucking DwarfCasts we’re going through every issue of the Smegazine one by one, until we be done. Ian’s read them all exhaustively over the years, and for whatever reason Danny and Cappsy… haven’t. What’s going to happen??

First up, it’s issue 1! Cast your mind back to a time before Flibble and Dibbley and grab the issue here, to peruse before or while you listen.

DwarfCast 147 – The Smegazine Rack – Issue #1 (99.7MB)

As mentioned we also require your valued input for the next episode. First of all, we ask you to remain in your 1992 mindset and pretend the following image is entirely new to you. In this state of confusion and rage, please submit to us your best caption in the comments.

Not only that, but each episode we’ll be taking your reader letters so please dust off your green pens and mail them to PO BOX The Comments Below.

Show notes

41 comments on “DwarfCast 147 – The Smegazine Rack – Issue #1

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  • Loving the This Is England ’92 context. I didn’t know what Red Dwarf was in March ’92. I bought the first issue of Bucky O’Hare comic that month instead, having got bored of Thunderbirds the Comic.

  • I love the look of the ship in the comic strip. It’s how the big budget comedy drama remake of the novels that I’m planning in my head looks.

    Holly’s facts I didn’t get as much joy out of as everyone on the Dwarfcast. I like the structure of the joke, but the space stuff just had Holly in proper ‘theory you tell your relatives’ VIII style stupid mode, and not being a football fan, it took a while to realise that the Kevin Keegan thing wasn’t actually going anywhere.

    As always, I’m totally anti-previews of any kind, I want to go into watching or reading something with it as a new experience. A well crafted plot should move from one moment to another effortlessly, so if you know what’s coming, it kind of ruins that. I do get the desire to learn as much as possible about a new series, but it’s why I went into XII pretty much blind in terms of plots, and why I’ve done the same with Doctor Who for years (I never watch the ‘next time’ bits). I don’t read blurbs on the backs of books if it’s an author or series I know I’ll definitely read either.

    I’m hoping everyone’s caption competition images are made using the Smegadrive.

    Steve Lyons is the same guy who wrote the Doctor Who novels, right? A lot of his books are pretty meta and deal with the idea of what reality actually is and how it’s perceived, in which case I’d imagine the Better Than Life thing was probably him.

  • I’m trying to envision how exciting this would be back to read back in the day, The adaptation of The End would be gold dust in a time before repeats and an official VHS. The News and Chris Barrie interview I would have read and re-read countless times.

    The rest of it? The Interview with the BTL creator, Holly’s Facts and the “Could You Pilot Red Dwarf”, I’ve never made it through properly in the last 25-ish years.

  • It’s impressive just how creative a lot of the made up nonsense is, when it really didn’t need to be. Like the stuff with Professor Neider-Lewis is clearly written by someone that has at least glanced at the philosophy section of a library, and obviously has the same sort of interest in it and the questions it raises as Rob and Doug when writing these types of episodes.

    All the informative stuff, interviews and that, is really great. I can’t imagine how exciting that would have been for a proper fan in 1992 to have access to that sort of thing. Usually you’d be lucky if their was a piece in the radio times that you’d then read over and over.

    On the subject of that, and the conversation about how much about series 5 is reveal, how much the magazine interviewers got to see and so forth at the studio visit … whilst the internet today is a factor, I think generally we (and productions) viewed spoilers a lot different up until the advent of mass communication.

    I distinctly remember knowing a lot more about what was going to happen in a series before it did back in the 90s. big storylines were used in interviews and cover pieces as a way of enticing an audience in. There wasn’t secrecy around a character being killed off in a show as you know which episode it was going to happen in.

    And you can still see some of that today. Just have a look over any of the magazine that cover the soap operas and you’ll see storylines being signposted weeks ahead on the front cover. Anyone seriously into soaps doesn’t even grasp the concept of spoilers in my experience as they treat it like gossip and like to know what’s going on before anyone else and will spread the rumours as it were.

    I think society as a whole has moved more toward being spoiler adverse, just because more shows and films tend to do a lot more to try and surprise people, so you don’t want things like that ruined … even if generally its shown that you enjoy things more if you have an idea of what’s coming (though I think context needs to be applied there)

    Either way, rouge fans watching dress rehearsals aside, the whole idea of the magazine guys being left with scripts to pour over – whilst perhaps a little hyperbolic – probably isn’t far from the trust as detailed episode synopsis would be used to draw people in in a way that we try to avoid these days and go for broader less detail specific trailers and such (unless you’re the radio times of course in which case just print the entire episode in your magazine a week before broadcast)

    Moving on, really enjoyed the magazine overall. I usually struggle with comics as I end up just reading the text and ignoring the pictures so what’s the point? But knowing The End as well as I do I found myself looking at the detail the artist had put into the art of it more, and enjoying their interpretation of it. Glad I wasn’t the only one to pick up on the 159 /182 thing – I read that as a little visual gag too, in that in was showing Rimmer’s incompetence. Though it does suggest he can’t read.

    The fun page was a wasted opportunity. Sort of feels like they intended to put some puzzles in so ran out of time and turned it into a gag.

    Caption competition …

    “Arlene Rimmer, played by Barry Christopher, eyes up Pingu in a new episode of Red Dwarf V”

  • I distinctly remember knowing a lot more about what was going to happen in a series before it did back in the 90s. big storylines were used in interviews and cover pieces as a way of enticing an audience in. There wasn’t secrecy around a character being killed off in a show as you know which episode it was going to happen in.

    My only experience of following TV spoilers in a magazine was late ’90s Treks. The official UK magazine, so the same as this Smegazine in briefly covering what was being broadcast that month (in the US), filling in more details over the next months, controlling the information and not spreading gossip and rumours.

    Also like the Smegazine it was prone to errors, like referring to Sisko as an admiral half a year after that had ended up not happening in a redraft.

    I’d also assumed Lanstrom was male when Holly referred to her as a “scientist” in Back in the Red, which I saw a bit before Quarantine. If they’d read Hildegard, maybe they thought it was unisex like Hilary.

    Stasis Leak is a bit of an off episode for me, but I wouldn’t single it out as a bad one, or even the most ‘off’ from that run.

  • It’s interesting to me (thought not surprising) that your first thought about the Villa-Leeds game was to read up on the score, whereas mine was to look up the date.

    Something about knowing the set visit was 24th November 1991 for a magazine that came out in March 1992 just added a wee bit of extra contextualisation for me, as someone who typically remembers the 90s against a backdrop of what was happening in the WWF.

    That date might also offer some clues as to the mysterious Rob Grant meeting, if anyone knows what the shooting dates were for Series V, and therefore which episodes had still to be shot. Presumably there wasn’t too much left, given they were just a few weeks out from Christmas.

    As far as the magazine, I think me aged eight would have poured over the thing multiple times and loved the lot of it (I started to get the Smegazine years later when it was a lot more polished but the comics were a lot weirder), but I’m not so keen on some of the in-character material now that, like bad (i.e. most) fan fiction, doesn’t actually read like the characters in question, more like a one-dimensional caricature of them as regurgitated by a rent-a-talking head Garry Bushell.

    I think also that some of the interviews won’t really hold up in places too. I found the interview with Chris a bit of a chore for the same points that were made in the podcast – At the time, everything he said would have a revelation, but there’s so much of it now that is accepted knowledge that seeing a question like “So, did you meet Rob and Doug on Spitting Image?” is immediately met in my brain with a resigned “Oh, here we go, a meaty paragraph explaining what Son of Cliche was… “. None of which is the fault of a magazine aimed at someone in 1992, of course.

    As an aside about one of the adverts, namely the surprise about Batman and Superman being on Fleetway in the UK rather than a DC imprint, it reminded me of a couple of years ago when I was up in the attic and found a bunch of old Real Ghostbusters comics imprinted to Marvel, and then under that, another pile of comics I had no memory of, called Bumper, from about 1988.

    Bumper was like the comics equivalent of a mixtape (“Now That’s What I Call Comics”?), made by Marvel, but with a heavy (and a times surprising) dose of licensed material from multiple sources – The Real Ghostbsuters, A.L.F., Flash Gordon/Defenders of the Earth, Count Duckula, Tom and Jerry, Star Wars/Droids, Scooby Doo, Phantom, Transformers, Doctor Who, Thundercats, Popeye, Inspector Gadget and Galaxy Rangers, amongst others, as well as movies special with Roger Rabbit, Willow and…erm, Bros. In fact, the only evidence I could find of actual Marvel characters were for Spider-Man, and a contest to draw The Hulk.

    Given how prominent DC and Marvel are now in most forms of media, it’s pretty funny to think back to a time where one needed Fleetway to get UK distribution for them, and the other had to be propped up by leftovers and re-prints from cash-in comics of, at the time, much more popular franchises then their own.

    Look, here’s one:

  • Marvel UK reprinted DC’s Star Trek comics too, work that one out. A lot of my childhood comics were arbitrarily Marvel (Ghostbusters, Duckula, Ren & Stimpy, Beavis & Butthead, Rugrats) or Fleetway/Egmont (Turtles, Toxic Crusaders, Sonic, Buster, Smegazine back issues). I didn’t read any proper Marvel or DC until I was a student and got into Alan Moore and the like.

    Caption: “You want some seed?”

  • Should definitely get on to Stu Munro about my Dandy appearance. It’s been nine years.
    Comic strip – Cappsy mentioned the fact that Starbug appears in the background. I have never noticed this before now, and I’ve owned this particular issue for 20 years now (I didn’t originally start buying the mag until issue 4, and got issues 1-3 in a near-complete set which was an auction lot at DJ 2002).
    Something that genuinely shocked/amused me as I was rereading the mag this evening was Cat’s reply to question 24 of the Command Suitability Test.

    24. The alien turns out to be a six-eyed, man-eating swamp beast, intent on the destruction of the ship and the devouring of all life upon it.
    What do you do?

    The Cat answers ‘Yes’ to option C, “let it gobble you”, before crossing it out and explaining, ‘sorry, mis-understood the question!’
    Very cheeky. That may well have gone over my head when I was Thirteen.
    Something else that genuinely shocked me, of course, was turning to the second page and seeing that there was a third as well.

    Nice work, guys. Great to find a proper excuse to re-examine these time capsules. Now that’s been read, I’ll return it to its protective sheath, for future enjoyment.

    Also, we need a Danny Blessed cameo in every ‘cast from here on in.

  • Superlative! I got onboard from issue 3 and it was very exciting to find out what happened in series 1. Spoiler for future episodes but the VHS release date for The End is constantly put back!

  • I finally got a full set of Smegazines only about a year ago having missed it at the time by not being a fan yet, and previously only read a handful of the comic strips online. I’ve still only perused about half of them so I’m looking forward to new thirty-year-old Red Dwarf media, and more of this series of DwarfCasts. I definitely prefer the more stylised artwork of later strips to ‘The End’.

    Caption: The role of Rimmer’s new sidekick was hotly contested by the likes of Gordon the Gopher and Edd the Duck, but ultimately went to an unknown.

    Great first DwarfCast of the year. 👍

  • Wonderful chat, this series is already amazing. I was not expecting this to go so deep into the Series V production turmoil of the time, but I’m glad it did.

    Things that jumped out at me:

    – Did anyone else have difficulty reading the archived PDF version? (Besides Cat’s assessment answers I mean.) It seemed like e’s and a’s were mixed up constantly, as well as i’s and l’s and some other combinations. Very weird. Hope that’s not the case in all of these.

    – Naturally I hate the idea of Kryten being directly responsible for the deaths of the Nova 5 just as much here as I did in IWCD, but I wonder, did Howarth and Lyons realise they were canon welding when they wrote that? With it not being so easy to rewatch all the episodes with Kryten in to check, they might have just assumed that the book explanation had already been referenced in the show.

    – I’ll second International Debris in not really vibing with “Holly’s Facts”. The comparison to Philomena Cunk is perfect, but that’s why it’s not good. Holly isn’t meant to be THAT stupid. I did enjoy the Kevin Keegan punchline (and was grateful it wasn’t Joe Klumpp), but I don’t think it salvaged the feature.

    – Chris Barrie said in his interview that he found Rimmer to be the nicest character. Say what? Rimmer isn’t nice, he’s a prat, so I’m not sure how he justified that in his mind. Rimmer is nicer than The Cat probably but he’s clearly not as nice as Lister or Kryten.

    – The comic strip is definitely my favourite part of the issue. It’s such a striking art style.

    – In the Terrorform preview they say “Psy-moon” rather than “Psi-moon”. That spelling actually makes more sense to be honest.

    – The content wasn’t great, but in hindsight it’s funny that they did a feature with the premise “who in the crew would take charge if there was no Holly?” during Series V. Little did they know!

    – Just a bit creepy to lament in the set report how disappointed you are that you didn’t get to see the bit with scantily clad ladies filmed live, isn’t it? Also “the lovely but mysterious Kathleen” is a slightly odd tone. Like it’s not wrong per se, but can you imagine if it had been a man that had showed them in, would they have said “the lovely but mysterious Greg”?

    – I am now disappointed we never got Nirvanah Crane as played by Brian Blessed.

    Caption: “Bad news: the film projector in the cinema is still broken. Good news: I’ve had more time to rehearse this week.”

    (I’d use Smega-Drive as per International Debris’ suggestion, but I don’t believe that image is actually from the episode itself?)

  • Also “the lovely but mysterious Kathleen” is a slightly odd tone. Like it’s not wrong per se, but can you imagine if it had been a man that had showed them in, would they have said “the lovely but mysterious Greg”?

    Perhaps the fact that her name was Kathleen was all they’d got on her, and she was lovely to them? If someone they only knew was called Greg was lovely to them – a nice, friendly manner or a cup of tea – then yes, I imagine he would have been lovely but mysterious.
    I do wonder who Kathleen was though…?

  • Did anyone else have difficulty reading the archived PDF version? (Besides Cat’s assessment answers I mean.) It seemed like e’s and a’s were mixed up constantly, as well as i’s and l’s and some other combinations. Very weird. Hope that’s not the case in all of these.

    I downloaded it (like all comics) as a .cbz / .cbr file, you just have to download a free CBR reader. Full screen and easy scrolling/flipping. I would give a name and link, but then this’ll look even more like promotional spam.

  • I downloaded it (like all comics) as a .cbz / .cbr file, you just have to download a free CBR reader. Full screen and easy scrolling/flipping. I would give a name and link, but then this’ll look even more like promotional spam.

    Ahhh, that’s so much better! Not only does the text look right now, but the photographs no longer look like they’ve been brightened and smudged either. Thanks Warbodog.

    No idea how the different file formats made such a huge difference, but I guess now I’ve learnt not to make that kind of assumption.

    On the downside I made my read-through of issue 1 significantly harder than it needed to be, but on the upside The Cat’s handwriting now looks crystal clear by comparison.

  • Embarrassing admission. Haven’t listened to the podcast yet. BUT, wanted to take a second to thank Jason for uploading these to The Archive. I go there every week or so and had no idea they were there. So, THANKS man :D

    Read every word and can only say I wish I’d known about them before a few years ago. (Though being from the U.S. finding them would have been problematic at best.) This being the first time I’ve had a chance to actually SEE an issue I’m impressed. Very much so in fact. Some parts worked for me better than others but at no time was I disappointed or bored. The “Interview” by Holly to see who felt qualified to “run” the ship was hilarious and a high point to me.

  • I think the Red Dwarf Fun Page would have been improved no end by some kind of maths-based brainteaser.

  • I think I finally worked out where the absurdly common misspelling “scutter” comes from, which always confused me given I’d never ONCE seen it spelled that way in official media.

  • I think I finally worked out where the absurdly common misspelling “scutter” comes from, which always confused me given I’d never ONCE seen it spelled that way in official media.

    It’s absurdly common and annoying to us because we’re annoying, all-knowing nerds.
    These robots scuttle about, of course people want to call them ‘scutters’. Actually, they’d probably want to call them ‘scuttlers’, but that would be stupid.

  • By the by: The reason why there was a contestant in the third series of Robot Wars called “Scutter’s Revenge” (and its Series 4 follow-up “Spawn of Scutter”) is because whilst the team knew what the correct spelling was, and it was originally entered with the correctly spelled name, the production team asked them to change it to “avoid copyright issues”.

  • Caption – Oh No-ot noot: Chris has second thoughts about his Spitting Image return, after seeing what budget cuts have done to his new role voicing their pastiche of Pingu. (But he liked the new dress code).

  • I can’t wait for more stuff to be accidentially revealed in these set reports “We heard a lot of shouting from Rob and Doug’s office. I guess they couldn’t hear each other over the sound of the air conditioning”

  • I came to this as someone who’s a fan of comics but has somehow never read the Smegazine before, so I found the adaptation of The End particularly interesting.

    The best aspect of it is obviously the “infinite budget” approach that comics allow – so this is immediately the most fully-realised version of a ship the size and scale of Red Dwarf that we’ve ever seen, and all the long shots that show you more of the ship and its architecture are great.

    I’m not convinced that just taking the script of The End and translating it faithfully to the page always works though. The nature of early Red Dwarf means that there are quite a few static scenes of characters standing around talking, which isn’t the most thrilling thing to depict in a comic.

    It also feels like the structure of the strip is a bit odd. This first chapter just stops when it’s filled its page allocation – there’s no sense of a natural cliffhanger or endpoint here.

    Ultimately I think it’s most interesting when it departs from the show a bit. I really liked that chilling panel of McIntyre as it gives us a new perspective on material we already know well. I’d like to see more stuff like that.

    But in the context of the era it makes sense that they’d stick to a close adaptation, and it would have been pretty exciting to see these pre-accident scenes for anyone who didn’t catch Series I on original transmission.

    As for the rest of the Smegazine, it’s a mixed bag for me. The Holly stuff is pretty funny, the set report and Chris interview are alright (if amusingly fanzine-ish in places – particularly the descriptions of bumbling around the studios and forgetting the tape recorder etc.), but the in-character multiple choice thing and fictional interview are a bit weak, and gave me flashbacks to the Survival Manual.

    As for the quiz, I think it’s probably a lot easier today than it would have been then. A lot of those details would have been pretty obscure in 1992 compared to today.

    Overall it’s a nice snapshot of Dwarf fandom at that point in time, and I’m looking forward to more.

  • Just a bit creepy to lament in the set report how disappointed you are that you didn’t get to see the bit with scantily clad ladies filmed live, isn’t it?

    Yeah this stood out for me too. The ’90s, eh?

  • Also, we need a Danny Blessed cameo in every ‘cast from here on in.

    Definitely. I was almost crying with laughter at this.

  • Caption competition.

    “Well I can’t hang around here, I’d better go and take the penguin for a walk.”

  • Series IV was recorded at basically the same time a year earlier (Nov-Dec), so what would their misleading Series IV preview have looked like at the same point, before last-minute scheduling oversensitivity? Something like Meltdown, Dimension Jump, [Justice, Camille, White Hole], DNA?

    I know they cover Series VI intensively, but can’t remember how the broadcast gap affected things there, we shall see.

  • what would their misleading Series IV preview have looked like at the same point,

    Presumably a tease that Kryten is permanently changed into a human for Series V onwards.

  • Presumably a tease that Kryten is permanently changed into a human for Series V onwards.

    ‘An ingenious way to explain away Robert’s problems with the Kryten make-up, and move the character forward into the next chapter of the show.’

  • Really looking forward to this series. While episodes and books are great dwarfcasts, this series is something I’ve not heard discussed at this length ever. Really enjoyed the context and it’s delight that Jonathan and Danny are newly discovering this as we all rediscover them. I think I bought these as they came out, but my memory is playing tricks a little as I don’t remember being unfamiliar with the episodes the comic strip adapt. Even though I never saw the first episode on broadcast. Literally can’t wait now to see what Jonathan and Danny make of all the other issues.

  • Slight spoiler, but as Meltdown and Holoship would both perform poorly in the later Smegazine episode poll, morale might have been low in some quarters when the magazine debuted, and risen considerably as the run went on.

    The barmy notion of people only liking Red Dwarf up to a variable early-90s point makes more sense when you put yourself in their shoes*, when there was considerably less to obsess over (usually not including series 1 – I don’t know if series 2 had even been released yet or repeated recently for latecomers) and before they’d had any genuinely bad ones, so any differences in tone from the specific episodes they’d overwatched on video could be magnified and not feel like Red Dwarf.

    * Of course, anyone who formed that opinion later on when they had all Grant Naylor Red Dwarf available on tap is just a bellend.

  • I think that’s a great point, my uncle had recorded III and IV off the TV, and I’d seen a bit of V go out, so it was well established to me that Kryten existed and Holly was female by the time I saw I and II.

    I remember being really taken aback at how visually different it all was. I do remember taking to Norman very quickly, although it took me a very long time to warm up to David Ross as Kryten because of how “wrong” it felt.

    Having said that, I did a watch-through with a friend who had never heard of Red Dwarf a few years ago, starting from The End, and she was furious when it all changed at the start of III, although she came round to it very quickly.

    (Aside – If you’re introducing a newbie to Red Dwarf, even though The End is the obvious starting point for multiple reasons, it’s achingly slow going if you’re hoping to get them laughing out loud as quickly as possible, and you might be better off with the zany sci-fi concept and silly sight gags of Backwards.)

  • Yeah, introducing my girlfriend to the show from the start was weird because she really struggled with III in general due to the dramatic change in style. I think Robert’s dramatically improved grasp of Kryten’s character in IV really helped her get to grips with the new version of the show.

  • Late to the party on this one but finally got around to listening and reading along – great stuff as always guys. Missed the cut off point for the caption contest though – spin my nipple nuts and send me to Alaska!

    Great tip from Warbodog regarding the PDF/CBR version as well – that helped immensely!

    Looking forward to future issues, we had quite a few copies of the Smegazines in our house growing up but pretty sure we didn’t get on board until late ’92 so these early ones are going to be all new to me!

  • You’re alright, the caption competition isn’t resolved until #3, which we haven’t recorded yet!

  • Oh crap, now I need to think of one!

    “That’s right Pengy, one more squeak out of Sweep and he’s smegging toast!”

  • I could imagine if someone started out with Series 1 and 2, and got attached to that template that they might be abit conflicted with Series 3 onwards. Since there is quite a big change going forward. I think that may be an obstacle in getting new people into the show. That adjustment to change.

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