DwarfCast 153 - The Smegazine Rack - Issue #4 featured image
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It seems a lot has happened since our last episode of The Smegazine Rack. We’ve launched and re-launched our incredibly original game Smegle and… well, that’s about all that has happened, hasn’t it? Yes, yes, definitely. Anyway please join your incompetent (by design) hosts, Ian, Danny and Cappsy as they climb up into the cab, fire up the slumbering beast and crack on… with the job of reading through every episode of the Smegazine.

Grab your complementary copy of the mag here.

DwarfCast 153 – The Smegazine Rack – Issue #4 (105MB)

Next up on the DwarfCasts slate will be our commentary and discussion of the Red Dwarf USA pilots, which was a great deal of fun to finally get round to doing. While you’re waiting for that, though, please do submit your letters with your thoughts on Issue #4 below and don’t forget we’re still accepting submissions for the caption competition from Issue #3 – all of which will be addressed in Issue #5. Until then, stay safe, stay sane and stay naturally healthy(?!)

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33 comments on “DwarfCast 153 – The Smegazine Rack – Issue #4

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  • Good stuff, enjoyed that as ever.

    I really enjoyed the original strip this time around, and it has me looking forward to more of them in future.

    Also, the Future Echoes strip is nicely done – I like the addition of locations like the gym, and the general increased dynamism of the whole thing.

    And Danny’s interview is maybe their best yet, in terms of providing some interesting and original insights.

    The cover is obviously objectively awful though. And I could have done without the continuing creepy sex-pest vibe of some of the stuff in the personality quiz and letters page.

  • Also, I would love to hear some Cat quotes done in the style of Cliff Richard. Next time please.

  • Pre-Dwarfcast thoughts on the mag:

    Just spotted in the inside cover that, apparently, the magazine is copyrighted to Rob and Doug. Bit unfair on the actual writers, that. 

    Holly Calling – well of course it was going to open with a Kevin Keegan gag. Still a touch too ditzy for my liking, and it’s basically just a couple of repeated gags from the show. Eh.

    Series V Survey – Demons and Angels ahead of Terrorform and Holoship? Lack of jokes in Holoship? Demons and Angels ‘pleasant’?

    Mutinous Pursuits – Ah! Here I was expecting a Future Echoes comic, and instead it’s into new stuff. “Writer: Howarth/Lyons” doesn’t fill me with a huge amount of confidence based on their patchy Smegazine material so far, mind you. 
    I suppose the reason I’m not keen on repeated gags from the show is that the show itself didn’t really do it until Doug solo stuff. In fact, there are barely any back-references at all, so to suddenly have a comic strip where the Junior Encyclopaedia of Space and Football it’s a Funny Old Game mentioned in same sentence feels very “look we remember the gags!” I know I’ve just said I’m worried about original material followed by disliking them using existing material, but hey. 
    “Mr David, sir” – after series V??
    I wonder if Howarth and Lyons watched Mechocracy, and if they demanded royalties.
    Ok, the Cat having a collar with mirrors on it is a pretty funny daft gag.
    Well, that was… not utterly terrible.

    Wrestling Ringside. No thanks.

    Danny interview – what is going on in that picture? Other than Danny looking nothing like Danny. The cat is obviously there to remind us that he’s a cat. Then there’s a Cat kind of… floating? And a mini Starbug. Weird.
    “Do you think the Cat’s role has been diminished since the introduction of Kryten?” What a weird question. What answer were they expecting? “Yes, the Cat has far less exposition and fewer best guesses”?
    I like Danny’s point about cliques within comedy at the time, that’s not something you would expect to read from an actor at that point

    Are You a Red Dwarf Fan? Yes, I am.
    Enjoyed the ‘nerds should kill themselves immediately’ undercurrent to that. Lovely.

    Holly-grams – Congrats to the person who couldn’t tell the difference between David Ross and Robert Llewellyn. 
    The first pervy letter regarding Hattie. Great.
    Alex Scroggie’s letter filling the ‘Jesus Christ, what is wrong with these people?’ quota for this issue

    Future Echoes – Ah, here it is. 
    That red thing Holly’s on is weird.
    ‘Writer: G.N.B.”??
    I like the move to the gym in many respects, although wouldn’t Rimmer be too knackered to actually do anything in there now?
    Lister’s photo collection here is evidence that the artist definitely had access to the actual episode.
    Interesting that there’s been no attempt to make subtle changes to the script based on later revelations (‘unfortunate suicide business’, ‘nine times’, etc.)
    The imaginary doctor’s surgery bit is fucking brilliant, and justifies the existence of this comic alone. I love that in Rimmer’s mind, the nurse is obviously wearing a ‘sexy nurse’ outfit.
    Interesting choice to have a clearly V-era strip alongside a I-era one in the same issue. I doubt there were many followers of the magazine who hadn’t seen the current incarnation of the show so I suppose it’s not too confusing, but I wasn’t expecting it. It also means that more than half of the issue was comic strip. I suppose it means there were fewer cringey articles.

    I see “Kryton” is still present in the merch form.

  • Writer: G.N.B.”??

    Either a misprint for GNP or short for Grant/Naylor/Bye, I presume

  • Either a misprint for GNP or short for Grant/Naylor/Bye, I presume

    It’s G.N.B. on the ‘The End’ strip as well. B could be Butcher as in Mike, the magazine’s editor. 

  • – Carl Flint’s R@nd0M! cover feels more Hitchhiker’s Guide, or maybe foreign language Red Dwarf novel.

    – Growing up insecure, I definitely considered Red Dwarf more socially acceptable than other sci-fi I loved, because it had mild swearing and a laugh track. That security was threatened when a poster showed up in the background of a Doctor Who Night skit featuring the same sort of 90s fan caricatures, right down to being pervy sex pests. I was gutted.

    – In that binary letter, ‘11001001’ is a Star Trek: TNG episode title. I may have known that without looking it up. Pass the Cadmium II already.

  • Going to write a nice long series of notes {or ‘comment’} as I listen/read along. Let’s see how that turns out.

    Okay, so:

    The cover – as I’ve mentioned on numerous previous occasions, this is the first issue I bought, and so, as it was the first Smegazine cover that attracted my attention, it’ll always have a special place in my heart.

    p2. I *was* reading that in the shop, so that freaked me out.

    p3. I love that Kryten.

    p4. The Survey. The physical copy of the Smegazine I have in front of me is, sadly, not the one I bought back when I was but a youngster. Nearly all of my original Smegazine purchases, along with a load of Red Dwarf drawings, were put safely in a bag, put safely in a cupboard, and safely vanished. I’ve still no idea what happened to it.

    The point I was attempting to meander towards, however, is that I know that I filled the survey in. I remember looking, years later, at the page scrawled with purple felt tip, wondering what the fuck thirteen year old me thought he was doing. If only I could remember what I thought of Series V back then.

    Mutinous Pursuits – p9. That drawing of Rimmer in the bottom right is *excellent*.
    I would think that the reason that the story feels more series IV than V is simply because they were yet to see series V when they were writing..

    DJJ Interview – p14, artwork – The Cat’s right ‘fang’ is closer to his front teeth than his left one is. Offputting.

    Are You  A Red Dwarf Fan? – p19. This was a odd thing for a 13 year old to see. It’s still an odd thing for a 43 year old to see. Also, that guy… shaved or waxed?

    Episode Guide – I loved these episode guides as a kid, thought they were as good as some kind of an official programme guide… Used that Camille piece to memorise that Kryten ‘Droid meets Droid’ speech and quote it endlessly through my early teens.

    HollyGrams – p23. How do you think Lindsay Rowe’s best friend’s little sister Kim feels about Danny John-Jules these days? Is she out there in G&T land lurking under a pseudonym?

    Future Echoes – p24. You know, the Hitleresque shading had honestly had never registered with me before now. So thanks for RUINING THAT.; p26. Sorry, but I don’t think Rimmer *is* giving Lister the finger there. I think it’s his index finger, he’s pointing up as if telling Lister off. His thumb’s bent to its left and you just can’t see the line separating his third and little fingers to the right. If that’s supposed to be his middle finger, then the outer shape of his hand looks a bit off. To me, at least.; The strip in general – looks great, and, like you, I like the little bits, background detail, additional bits to make it fit the medium. Always thought there were some great likenesses in this strip (and the rest of the story), too – Rimmer {the ‘Dr Rimmer’ in the middle panel} on p27 and Cat on p30 a couple of favourites in this instalment. One more thing – when I watched Future Echoes on video, the mumbled “git” used in the episode really threw me after a couple of years of reading the screamed cliffhanger.

    That’s it. I’m going to click on ‘Post Comment’ now, then go back to see how many of other peoples’ opinions I’ve just repeated.

  • As far as unpleasant colour combinations go (the red and green text on the cover), some combinations of red, grey and/or ‘skin’ tones never sat well with me.

    Oddly doesn’t affect series I, but I’ve never liked Rimmer’s series V outfit. Fluorescent red vans/vests and Shooting Stars series 4 being some of the worst offenders (I can’t get html links to work).

  • Great stuff! I’m looking forward to issue 5 already. Given the atrocious standard of the letters page, and the convoluted winning entry of the first caption competition, I can only assume we’re in for something very special with the results of caption competition 2.

    Overall, the comics continue to be the highlight, so the fact that we’re now getting more of them, and they include original stories, is great (even if ‘Mutinous Pursuits’ is only so-so). Honestly I’d take a magazine that was just 100% comics, if you can imagine such a thing.

    The Danny John-Jules interview was really good too, and I think I agree it’s the best one yet. Everything else in the magazine I’d happily get rid of (because of how mean-spirited and offensive so much of it is). Although for the episode guide, that’s just because it’s obsolete in modern times.

    – I know you can’t make this kind of magazine without getting a sense of the writers’ opinions about Red Dwarf, but the survey feels like a huge missed opportunity to get people’s opinions about Series V without first influencing them. They hadn’t reviewed Series V yet, so they could have done it, but instead they blew it and gave their rankings and comments up front instead of just including them with the survey results. Though I’m not sure if readers would be more inclined to agree with them as authoritve voices, or disagree with them because the magazine keeps calling them losers.

    – “Are you a Red Dwarf fan?” is horrid, but I did enjoy “1. You’re standing in your local newsagent’s, reading this magazine. Is this because: A. You’d rather read one of the shop’s copies, so that your own six remain in mint condition.” On the other side, the worst thing in the feature is obviously the suggestion that only the most hardcore Dwarfer would choose to watch Meltdown. Meltdown is great, how dare you.

    – It is actually quite funny just how relentless they’re being with the Kevin Keegan lore, but for ‘Mutinous Pursuits’ in particular it’s weird, because it’s such a specific reference, yet they’ve completely disregarded the context of the joke. The whole point was that Holly could confidently say “Football: It’s A Funny Old Game” was the worst book ever written because he’d read all of them, so saying it’s just one of only 2 books she’s read makes no sense. On top of that, “Holly gets all his space facts from The Junior Encyclopedia of Space” was part of the Queeg prank, it wasn’t true. Making deep cut references but fudging the details is such a strange niche. I guess that “Holly has an astronomically huge quantity of knowledge, but her senility makes her unreliable or unpredictable when it comes to accessing or relaying that knowledge” is harder to write than “Holly stupid, haha”.

    – Another ‘Mutinous Pursuits’ plot hole: how did Holly guarantee that only she got her easy replacement questions, given Rimmer, Lister and Kryten would have also not had any problems answering them?

    – “Queeg says trans rights”. Hear, hear! Though I think Alex Scroggie was actually just agreeing with Queeg that Holly had an IQ of 6 in general, and applied his own transphobic reasoning to it. Guess he and Howarth and Lyons have “conveniently forgetting the final scene of Queeg happened” in common.

    – Missed opportunity in the Future Echoes comic: not correcting Rimmer’s “why should I spend three hundred thousand millennia alone” to either “three thousand millennia” or “three hundred thousand decades”.

    – Not a comic specific observation, but it is funny to be reminded of the fact that Future Echoes had a bit about how silly it would be to assume that they cured death shortly after they left Earth, when 7 years later Doug would make it canon that they did do that.

  • I didn’t have access to the Smegazines when I was younger, but I recognize the same sort of tone in the editorial voice you’re struggling with in these Dwarfcasts from my own upbringing reading the American comics magazine Wizard. That same sort of mindset where a nerd calls another nerd a nerd to make themselves feel like less of a nerd; whatever keeps you from being the absolute bottom of the pecking order.

    There is a way to do this kind of thing where it feels inclusive (“We’re all nerds here, let’s affectionately poke fun at our niche interests”) and a way to do this kind of thing where it feels exclusive (“At least we’re not as sad as these OTHER fans, right?”). This is a magazine that would frequently have Witchblade or Gen 13 or other very sexualized comics heroines on the cover and then affect a position inside of, “Man, it’s really pathetic the way fanboys drool over Witchblade or Gen 13, huh?”

  • I tweeted this, but I should probably add it here too, as a follow up to the “Sting was sort-of in Red Dwarf” trivia, here’s the distressed poster in the low bunkroom, and the same publicity picture on the card back of the 1990 action figure: 

    And here’s Sting with Sting: 

  • In terms of the tone of the Smegazine, I look at it slightly differently. The first 6 series of Dwarf feature the crew members insulting each other fairly relentlessly and the characters exhibit some dubious attitudes towards the opposite sex (the show softened a lot in later years). I can understand Howarth and Lyons trying to adopt some of that tone with their writing and I presume that when they ‘insult’ the reader, that’s what they are going for. It’s a tricky thing to pull off, though, and they miss the mark in one or two places.

    I will be generous to them and say that when they talk about forcing Hilary Bevan Jones into a corner, what they probably meant to say was something along the lines of, “You corner the producer at a party.” Still not great, but not quite so threatening.

    Everything has to be judged in the time period that it was written and I view these Smegazines as interesting little insights into that era. Plus, I’m sure people from 1992 would be appalled at some of the things that are happening to women in the present day. We’ve progressed in some ways and regressed in others…

  • an announcer plugged carmen jones every week over the credits back in the day.  by the time of the carmen moans joke it just sounded like a clever referency joke.  kind of hypnotic long term set up

  • if you videoed it off the telly and watched it over and over you really had the name carmen jones entrenched

  • it’s a shit joke but i like how you lot didn’t even get it.  you lot will never get it.  cb gets it.  you don’t know.

  • the Cat having a collar with mirrors on it is a pretty funny daft gag

    I found this really amusing too. Definitely feels like a comic gag that would’ve been rubbish had they tried it on TV.

  • *groans at ‘Carmen Moans’*  I knew about the opera (and so got why that image was used for Epideme in the Pearl Poll results video) but not Carmen Jones.

    I definitely prefer the zippier, more cartoonish Future Echoes artwork to The End and appreciate the little background details generally, but that wind-up blimp thing is over-egging the pudding. Distracting and confusing whether you’re familiar with the episode or not.

    This is a weird, very obscure thing to ask about but Danny, when you were talking about how red this issue is, was ‘They like red’ a reference to an old advert for Sun Maid raisins, where they ask a little lad what colour he thinks the box should be?

    Yeah, white t-shirts never last as long do they, whereas faded black ones mostly still look alright. I regret not buying a spare official Mugs Murphy t-shirt.

  • Nothing to contribute other than that these Smegazine Dwarfcasts are fantastic. Full on week at work and now sitting down to a night of paging through the Smegazine (original of course, bought off ebay, none of that electronic version crap), the Dwarfcast and a glass of wine. Much appreciated as always. 

  • Definitely soon. We have two waiting to be edited but we’re having a little break to stop any burnout. Also it’s me that’s supposed to edit the next one and we all know how it took me to add an edit button to forum posts.

    Hope the long COVID gets fucked off.

  • Since Red Dwarf is trending here’s a picture of my Red Dwarf pants, please like and retweet

  • It is quite nice that Red Dwarf can trend with such little provocation. People still love the show… :’)

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