DwarfCast 167 - The Smegazine Rack - Issue #10 featured image
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“Magnum Ed Bye”

It’s been far too long, but we are finally back on the Rack to continue our odyssey through the wonderous world of early 90s publishing. Join Cappsy, Danny and Ian as we take a deep dive into the epic Jake Bullet story that graces the cover, welcome another legendary Red Dwarf fan writer to the fold, marvel at the versatility of Chris Barrie’s face, discover an obscure sci-fi writer that none of us have heard of, and attempt to figure out why a parody of Red Dwarf USA bears absolutely no resemblance to Red Dwarf USA. Mostly though, we rip the absolute shit out of everyone who took part in the all-episodes survey. Without looking, see if you can guess what the people of 1992 thought the second worst episode ever was. The 1992 idiots.

It’s best to read along before or during your listen of the podcast. If you don’t have a physical copy of the magazine, simply configure your time drive for December 1992 and head to your nearest newsagent. Failing that, look at a scan of it on archive.org or Stasis Leak.

DwarfCast 167 – The Smegazine Rack – Issue #10 (120 MB)

Show notes

20 comments on “DwarfCast 167 – The Smegazine Rack – Issue #10

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  • Of all the stuff G&T is doing at the moment, these Smegazine Dwarfcasts are my absolute favourite.

    Three minutes in and I’ve already laughed more at just the intro than at anything else in a long while.

  • Oh man, Noble & Kitching’s “Red Dwarf USA” going public is the reaction I’ve been most looking forward to all series.

  • I could never read Carl Flint’s artwork in the Smegazine when I was a kid. My brain just wouldn’t accept it, like trying to interpret a foreign language through the hazy static of a broken TV set. Whenever I did get a foothold, I’d get too distracted wondering about stuff like why Lister has an inflated head to become invested in the story.

    I did like his brutalist take on Kryten/Jake Bullet, all squares and rectangles and bizarrely he was also drawing in a completely different style for Sonic The Comic. Below is an example of the work he was putting out for STC at around the same time.

  • Great Dwarfcast as ever.

    A few comments on this issue:

    The book competition made me twitch with the grammar of “on which radio show did he appear on”.

    The Jake Bullet strip has an over-the-top almost comedically gritty urban vibe that makes me wonder whether it might have been influenced by Frank Miller’s Sin City, which was big in comics at the time – the first Sin City story started coming out in 1991 and finished in mid-’92 (and like this story it was serialised in short instalments, in Dark Horse Presents) so might have been fresh in their minds when they made this strip. It also felt a bit Robocop (especially the TV show segment), which I guess fits for Jake.

    The Linwood Boomer article is OK but feels very much like soundbite-friendly promo quotes rather than anything deeper. And I thought the article about the show’s androids was a little boring, although livened up by the amusing Elita Fell CRT photos.

    I do get the indifference to the Androids strip, but I quite like the silliness and messiness of it. This issue deserves at least some credit for the gag about how the anti-gravity dress went up well at the school prom. Although maybe they need to decide how to spell Brook/Brooke.

    I thought the talking book feature was really interesting, especially in terms of how low-tech and analogue it all was. I’d love to hear some of those Chris Barrie outtakes.

    In Living Memory interestingly features a “Leg It” punchline appearing before the gag in Emohawk, and (as well as all the other stuff mentioned on the Dwarfcast) I thought heroic Rimmer aniticipated the ending of Out Of Time. I wonder if any of this Smegazine stuff genuinely influenced the writing of VI?

    Also, I quite liked bizarre renderings of Starbug’s rear by Ron Smith – presumably it was a case of no decent photo reference existing for those angles for that part of the ship.

    The Goodall interview was nice – I can’t believe he had to work on such a tight turnaround and still do such a good job – and I didn’t mind the Red Dwarf USA strip as a silly exaggerated gag and the expense of studio execs, like the old Lee & Herring sketch. Although some of the language used is unfortunate, particularly by today’s standards.

    As for the Under The Hammer feature, I was almost weeping at these prices – someone picked up some bargains there, even if they were from the “less exciting first two series”.

    Finally, on the question of Kryten’s model and why all Series 4000s don’t look like him (but some of them do), I wonder if we can think of it like the Terminator movies, which refer to Arnie as both a T-800 and a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101. The thinking is that the T-800/Series 4000 would be the mechanical chassis, and then the Model 101/Kryten would be a specific skin you can lay over that, and just one of many. So you can get also an Able or a Butler skin or whatever, but they’re all Series 4000s.

  • – Is the Jake Bullet story the first time [a version of] Kryten screens things other than Holly on his monitor? I’ve never understood why the Smegazine version of Jake Bullet disregards the traffic control reveal, but maybe it would have been addressed eventually. Steve Noble just wanted to write future noir.

    – Chris Barrie reading the novel basically is the novel for me, so I found all the dull details really interesting, and a nice change from reading about the usual TV things.

    – There were loads of books on cassette for young children whose parents couldn’t be bothered to read to them, but those were economical single tapes. Batman: Funhouse of Fear was my favourite.

    – It was surprising to learn how long Norman’s show took to come out. Not that I’ve ever got around to watching it.

    – The reverse recency bias of the survey is really interesting, and I see where some of the freaks are coming from. V is less cosy than the earlier series (though III and IV also have episodes with little to no Red Dwarf in them), and while I appreciate Kryten’s more independent and cocky characterisation in V, the show itself didn’t seem to, as he starts to revert thereafter. On last year’s rewatch, the series started to feel excessively Rimmer-heavy by the time of Holoship, but that was probably more about how IV ended up being sequenced. The “Rimmer” episodes of series V give plenty for the others to do, sometimes more than Rimmer.

    – Like the similarly unpopular and problematic Mr. Flibble strip before it, I always found “Red Dwarf USA” a hoot in its ridiculous excess. Disrespectfully juxtaposing it with the Linwood Boomer interview is the icing on the cake. It’s hard to believe it was allowed, but they’ve got to fill the pages.

    – By contrast, I find Androids a complete waste of space, but I like the suggestion that, as a non-electronic life form, it’s just not aimed at me. The relentlessness of the joke might ultimately be worth it, but they would have to keep it up for the entirety of the run.

  • Contents! Or semi-contents.

    Editor: Mike Butcher. When did Howarth & Lyons step down from this job? Still writers, though.

    Jake Bullet. Part 1? They’re really going with this eh? And it’s a comic this time!

    Is “Twenty Million Watts My Line” a specific pun? Because I’m not getting it at all. 

    Well, that was a thing. 

    Linwood Boomer interview. 

    Yeah ok, this is pretty cool, going for an interesting choice of interviewee here. 

    Funky Groovy Channel 28. 

    I was hoping to do an “ok Boomer” joke there, but he came across as thoughtful and intelligent. 

    Everybody Needs Good Androids

    A perfectly serviceable in-universe article which would probably have provided a lot more entertainment back in 92 than it does now. It does feel a little like a proto-TOS article.


    No, this is just a load of noise again.

    The Making of Red Dwarf The Talking Book

    Talking book, what an unusual phrase that is. Audiobook works much better. 

    Nice stuff, another of those things I hadn’t really imagined would be covered and a nice insight, with interesting responses from Chris. Well written and easy reading. 


    More inane ramblings by unfunny readers, great.

    News from the Dwarf 

    “Four years later, the show’s finally been made” is an enjoyably snarky comment about I, Lovett.

    In Living Memory

    Oh yeah, I forgot there was an ongoing comic here. 

    First page really reminds me of the start of Pete Part 2. 

    Melting pen gag is decent. 

    Double Polaroid is a mix of VIII-style over explaining and Dave-style unnecessary callback. Lyons pre-empting Doug Dwarf by a few years here. 

    A story that starts with a plot about the cat race and ends with Rimmer becoming bigger, better and braver than we know him? Where have I heard that before. 

    Yeah, that was alright. 

    Survey results 

    Amazing to see V being so unpopular at the time. It’s always been my favourite, but I can also understand all of the criticisms of it. For me it’s the perfect balance of the earlier style and the more actiony stories that came later, but I get why the changes didn’t go down so well. Interesting that it breaks the idea that the newest series always does well, though. 

    “Group factor five.” Nice one. 

    As for the final list, it’s quite strikingly different to what we see these days, with one major exception. 

    Howard Goodall interview 

    No specific comments, but I always enjoy Howard talking about music and this is no exception. Lovely stuff. 

    Red Dwarf USA


    Slightly underwhelming issue this time, although another that would probably have been more exciting back in the day.

  • Big Finish releases aren’t £20 for an hour, they’re normally around £25 for three hours plus interviews.

    Interesting stuff about dates – there were plenty of shows, especially before the ‘90s, that started broadcast before the last episode was even filmed, which I find absolutely bonkers for British sitcom.

    Just realised what the Red Dwarf USA strip reminds me of – When the Whistle Blows from Extras series 2 being Ricky Gervais’s “this is what The Office would be like if it was a studio sitcom”.

    Auction pricing, £440 in 1992 is £927 today after inflation, so saying it would cost a grand now is no different. 

  • The Linwood Boomer interview. Not terribly interesting overall but he comes across well and it sounds like he had a pretty good handle on what made Red Dwarf work to be fair, especially when he talks about how they used sci-fi concepts to mine comedy from the characters, examine their personalities and so on. 

    Androids continues to do nothing for me. What’s with the tea references in this one? There’s the lame ‘Brook Bond’ gag next to the top right panel, and Brook’s car’s number plate is PG Tips for some reason. 

    The Jake Bullet strip, although very short, is easily my favourite of the strips in this issue. The unusual art style really suits this kind of dystopian hardboiled fiction pastiche. I like the circuit board buildings and other, less subtle examples of Carl Flint doing that kind of thing in previous issues. A bit like Neil Buchanan doing a big Art Attack, only, er, small.

    Brilliant DwarfCast, laying into the survey participants being the highlight. Fucking wish I hadn’t looked at Hoggle though. Oh and Danny’s right, it is Hot Shots that has the milk bottle gag he’s thinking of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no_KQizdljw

  • Although maybe they need to decide how to spell Brook/Brooke.

    For a while after the third instalment they’re consistent in calling the father Brook and his son Brooke Jr, which makes it feel like an intentional running gag. But I’ve just read ahead and they revert to Brooke for the father later on down the line, oops.

  • I’ve never understood why the Smegazine version of Jake Bullet disregards the traffic control reveal, but maybe it would have been addressed eventually.

    Spoilers but this is addressed with a throwaway comment in the next issue. What gets me is the Smegazine characterising Bullet as a robot and ignoring him being “half human” as stated in the episode. Unless they paper over that in a future instalment as well.

  • Excellent episode as always by the way, a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Minor correction: Lister’s wife in the USA strip is Holly, not Kochanski.

  • Editor: Mike Butcher. When did Howarth & Lyons step down from this job? Still writers, though.

    Mike Butcher was always the editor, from the first edition to the last!

  • A great episode and a great Smegazine issue. With so many comics and no crap prose pieces, we’re getting pretty close to an “all killer, no filler” magazine here. Let down by Androids continuing to be more weird than funny, and the Linwood Boomer interview being like managed marketing copy, but even that was interesting. I wasn’t aware he’d been interviewed about Red Dwarf at all.

    – Sadly I seem to have jinxed the increasing episode length trend by pointing it out, as this one is shorter than the last 3. So no pressure on making the 3 Hour Smegazine Rack Extravaganza happen.

    – The Jake Bullet strip showed promise and had the most unique art style, but as it was so short, I have to give the accolade for Best Issue 10 Comic to In Living Memory Part 2. Just a fun idea executed well.

    – I think you were too harsh about the Red Dwarf USA strip (inexcusable homophobia aside). I didn’t see it as a take down of the actual US Red Dwarf pilot, more just them having fun with the most extreme idea of what an American remake of Red Dwarf could have been. It was almost making fun of fan perceptions more than any actual TV show.

    – Echoing MiloScat, it was quite funny to hear the time you dedicated to puzzling over how Kochanski doesn’t look like Kochanski, when the strip directly says it’s Holly (although she looks pretty weird for Holly too, let’s not kid ourselves).

    – The Last Temptation of Kryten discussion reminds me of the DwarfCast commentary for The Inquisitor, where Seb was singing TLTOK’s praises, but realised that the premise made no sense in real time. Classic.

    – “It’s the (second) longest Red Dwarf episode” is exactly what I would say if someone held a gun to my head and told me to justify naming Stasis Leak as a top 5 episode.

    – The Talking Book feature is fascinating, and generally these opportunities to go behind the scenes of Red Dwarf projects that aren’t just the TV show itself is a major USP of the Smegazine, even after all the DVD documentaries that have come out since. The analogue recording process makes it much clearer how a mistake like the “And raspberry… on a record?” moment can happen.

    – “They decide to throw caution to the wind, ignore correct grammar and say it as it was written to avoid sack fulls of complaining letters.

  • I think you were too harsh about the Red Dwarf USA strip (inexcusable homophobia aside). I didn’t see it as a take down of the actual US Red Dwarf pilot, more just them having fun with the most extreme idea of what an American remake of Red Dwarf could have been. It was almost making fun of fan perceptions more than any actual TV show.

    Pretty much agree with this and tbf, Joe Nazarro is at pains to point this out at the end of the Linwood Boomer interview. They should have put the strip straight after that. 

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