This is an ad: the kind chaps at The Phoenix sent us a free subscription to review. But what we think of it is entirely up to us.
Something terrible happened this week. We opened our weekly edition of The Phoenix and there was no Doug Slugman in it.
Let me rewind (God, I’m so 1980s).
A month ago, some nice people from The Phoenix got in touch and asked if my 10yo daughter and I would like to try it out and review it. It’s a comic, specifically designed for the – frankly hard-to-please – tween market. It’s a weekly which arrives, touchingly, in an envelope addressed to the kid – with an added whizz-bang adjective. Which certainly pleased her nerdy mum (and her).
Inside is a beautifully designed magazine packed with all sorts of episodic comics and short strips: the more traditional robots and explosions, the brilliantly weird like Bunny & Monkey (think humour on an Amazing World of Gumball level), and non-fiction explainers on science and history.
There’s also a good chunk of traditional activity magazine stuff, like learning to draw. My personal favourite is the sort of ‘bits-and-pieces’ bit at the end where you’d usually find horoscopes and the like. I mean, how else could I find out that my real star sign is actually Cake That No-one Wants?
But of course, it’s not my opinion of it you really want; grown ups are far too easily charmed by, you know, creativity and wit and great storytelling. But from the day the first magazine arrived, and now once a week, this is the only view I get for a solid half-hour:
Occasionally she will surface to show me bits or explain why she’s laughing. And she absolutely tears into the envelope every week when it arrives, which I’d say is a bit of a winning formula.
But, just in case, as a parent, you really do like to steal their reading material, I have to give a big call out to Doug Slugman, which absolutely tickled me to death. With a different explanation every week as to how this slug became a PI, it’s gloriously bonkers. It hasn’t appeared in the last couple of issues, but fingers crossed it’ll be back soon.
If you’re not sure if it’ll ring the right bells for your own tween or one you’re thinking of buying a present for – they reckon the right age range is 7-14 – you can try out 6 issues for £1 with the lowest-tier subscription (it changes to £9.99 after that). Or you can go the whole hog, and the best value, for £99.99 a year.
(There’s an in-between half-year offer, but do many people do that? Maybe you do. If so, they’ve thought of you too.)
I plan on waving some copies under the nose of my niece and nephew in the New Post-Pandemic Times when I’m allowed to be in the same room as them again, cos I reckon it might make a very cool gift-that-keeps-on-giving from their mum’s favourite sister (I’m her only sister, but I don’t see why that matters). I don’t know about you, but I’ve really struggled to read as much as I usually do during The Year of Lockdowns, and I’ve really loved the idea of a weekly dose of joy, delivered through the letterbox just to create a little bubble of entertainment and creativity. I’m kind of wishing they’d do a grown up edition.
As long as they still include Doug Slugman.
(All the links in this piece are trackable, so The Phoenix can see where you came from, but I don’t get anything out of it; this is not a sneaky sell.)