Thomas Wogan Is Dead
by Dave Hughes
Thomas Wogan has had a rather miserable and empty life. He’s a lonely soul whose days seem to consist of working a nothing job at Perriman Plastics in Chudley, perfecting his favourite meal of beans on toast (the perfect combination of sensation and nutrition, butter and Marmite, follow with fruit cocktail, tea and Baywatch before bed) and obsessively editing Delia Smith’s wikipedia entry. It’s not much of a life but it’s the only one he knows.
It starts with Thomas Wogan; butt naked apart from his glasses, he walks through the doors of the impeccably white blank room, takes a seat next to the Cuckoo and asks:
Which, as interesting openers to a comic goes, is pretty promising.
He’s sharing the waiting room with the cuckoo, a toad, an egg, a sea urchin, a bat, a fish and an LCD display with an incredibly large number that’s gradually counting up to the number on Thomas’ ticket. And since the book’s called Thomas Wogan Is Dead, we can assume that we know the answer to Thomas’ question. But the far more interesting question, the one they all spend the rest of this the only question they all want to know is: what happened to you to get you here?
In the pages that follow every animal has their moment to reveal the manner of their demise; be it the bats heroic defence of her young pup against a cat (yes, baby bats are called pups – strange), the futility of the tales of the sea urchin or the fish and the frankly embarrassing frog’s tale where the last thing he remembers is trying to copulate with a beer bottle on a main road.
I was particularly fond of the cuckoo’s tale, where we actually get to sympathise for a while with this normally reviled bird as it rages against the one creature worse than it’s own kind, swooping into a local “Tusco” that had destroyed it’s breeding ground. Beautifully done with shock, anger, despair and death all in a few pages.
And in between it all, we get to find out a little more about Thomas’ life and the manner of his death. Just as pointless, tragic and faintly ridiculous as the rest of the creatures in the waiting room.
Now, so far I may have painted a picture of a dour, morbid tale of death and reflection. But Thomas Wogan Is Dead is far from it. It’s funny as well; darkly, uncomfortably quirky style funny for all 72 very satisfying pages. Hughes’ art works a treat for the tale he’s telling; whilst his humans are all grotesques to one degree or another, with Thomas ranging from somewhat creepy to deeply sympathetic and his characterisations of the animals ranging from realistic to intensely caricatured cartooning depending on the mood he wants to portray. But there’s rarely a misstep throughout.
Yet again, Thomas Wogan Is Dead proves that if your after something thoroughly entertaining, slightly offbeat and interesting you really don’t need all of those big American comics publishers. All you need is self published brilliance. You can get Thomas Wogan Is Dead direct from Dave Hughes via email and get all the latest news updates from his blog. There’s also his first comic: The Immeasurable Adventures Of Gorky Park: “A story of chess and general silliness” from 2004. If it’s anywhere near as good as Thomas Wogan I’d suggest getting both.
Richard Bruton is fairly sure he is alive, but wonders why that pale man with the chess board keeps following him on public beaches…