A Collection of the misjudged, the ill-conceived and the downright appalling in book, video, DVD, posters and anything else…
Here, we take well-intentioned artwork and take the piss out of it… Now isn’t that big and clever of us…
Despite her final, desperate efforts to evoke a response from her husband Mitch, he was, sadly for his love-starved wife Edna, far from being enticed by her display of sexual provocation, much more concerned at what she had done to their bedroom curtains. “Pfffff… £15.99 these were,” he muttered. “Cost more than this Safari fancy-dress costume. Bloody wastin’ money as usual. I’m off out…”
Mitch just hadn’t been the same since he had started messing about in the shed with that barrel of green stuff that he’d found round the side of the rendering plant.
Everyone said that Ralf was wasting his time and money down at the pier every afternoon on the penny grabber, but he’d proven them dead-wrong: this was the best prize he had won yet by a mile: It had tits and everything! Now all he had to do was figure out how to get his latest trophy up to his bedroom without his mum seeing it. She’d do her nut if she found out he’d been on those arcade machines again!
Leaning back in his stained armchair, Barry turned his computer monitor off and sat quietly, reflecting on what he had just seen. Even by his own robust standards, some of this pornography he was finding on the internet was getting downright strange quite frankly. Turning toward the window, the man, who when asked, listed his profession as ‘part-time television game-show contestant’ wondered if it might be time to get outside a bit more and meet some real people – an actual human woman even. Glancing around at the empty tins of Heinz spaghetti hoops and crumpled tabloid newspapers from the late 90s that littered the floor of his bedsit, he sensed it was probably the right time for a change.
The tourist board’s latest marketing effort to improve visitor numbers to the unfortunately-named ‘Dwangle Valley Swamp Nature Reserve’ was unorthodox and ambitious if nothing else. As yet, there hadn’t been the huge spike in holiday-makers to the remote, stagnant marshlands that had been hoped for, but on the other hand, massive, fatal road-traffic accidents on the busy A254 which ran past their prominent forty-feet-high new advertising hoarding had seen a significant upturn, which was something at least.
Reviewing the end-of-year accounts was a depressing affair, and Bill wondered if his taxi company’s “We’ll collect you from Anywhere” pledge to its customers was costing him dearly. It was typically, he grumbled to himself, for some smart-arse to take the piss right out him:
‘Pick up from Vygon? – third planet of the Legaro Star System?’ Sure – that was a 50 light-year round trip, and in rush hour too. It would take forever, especially as faster-than-light travel wouldn’t even exist for another two hundred years!
And when you finally do make the pick-up, they’re wearing these bloody robes: How many times can you politely ask someone to keep their bare arse and sweaty bollocks off the leather seats?
…The nerve of some people; they’d ruin an honest man trying to make a living given half the chance…
Never heeding his late-mother’s advice throughout his childhood that he should make some “real friends” and “play outside with other children more”, Franky ‘The Iron Fist’ Stranzi had taken his wild imagination and coterie of make-believe chums with him as he transitioned from errant-minded youth to dangerous, unhinged felon. Through a string of needless violent crimes, Franky would cement himself as the vicious crime-lord who would run the sleepy Cornish seaside village of Stanton-on-Sea with total autonomy for more than thirty years, led exclusively by the advice and guidance of entities which existed only inside the confines of his destroyed mind.
That enema had really done the business: Agnes felt so much lighter and less bunged-up – but Christ Almighty, her back passage wasn’t half sore from it all. She could really be doing without all this at three in the morning, what with her trial due to get underway in a few hours. Still, it beat her husband Garry trying to have his wicked way with her at all hours. At least that was all over with now: he was safely buried under the patio slabs next to the barbeque these days. Dirty old bugger.
Absolutely thrilled by what he had just witnessed, Henry was keen to put into practice the new skills and manoeuvres he had seen exhibited so masterfully right before his own eyes. Unfortunately, Henry – rather than being the 9 year-old boy he often saw himself as – was, in actuality, a 39 year-old married architect and father of two who had just been watching a ‘Super Pro’ Wrestling match between Captain Clout and the World Champion Dr Pain on cable television.
Henry’s wife wasn’t nearly as keen as Henry to see the magical moves of Pro Wrestling brought to life in their living room, especially as she still had all the washing up to do and had to tamper with the brakes in Henry’s car before his morning commute tomorrow.
When Harry’s girlfriend ran off with another boy, Harry was utterly heartbroken. Harry’s dad, consoling his weeping lad, said he should ‘fight for her’, ‘win her back’ and ‘keep hold of her forever’ if she meant so much to him. Harry’s dad, upon witnessing his son’s interpretation of his advice in the police photographs, regretted getting involved in the first place. Harry had always been a bit behind at school and, sat at the darkened kitchen table with his head in his hands, his dad lamented that he had said anything to the youngster in the first place. “Fuck the lot of it”, he said to himself quietly.
Elaine was determined to get that proper San Tropez look, even if those bitchy nurses did keep going on about ‘catastrophic, irreparable skin damage’. They were just jealous that all the boys at Grimshaw Village Sports and Social Club would want to be in her knickers come Friday night and not theirs.
The crucial work of the trusty British postman was becoming more and more treacherous all the time: after this latest travesty, Ken would spend nine weeks with a machine breathing for him after attempting to deliver a package from a website called ‘Love Things’ to old Mrs Williams at number 55. As it would transpire, the collection of films received by the septuagenarian didn’t even work in her Betamax player, no matter how hard she tried to force the DVD discs in. Devastated at not being able to watch ‘Lesbian Sex Witches 3’ or ‘Bum Love’ as she had planned, Mrs Williams settled for a lovely nap in her favourite armchair, followed by a scone.
Jim ‘Jockey’ Jenkins could have been the finest footballer of his generation had he not been plagued by a single but crippling and incontrovertible weakness: namely, him being permanently trapped inside the imagination of a feeble eleven year-old child who couldn’t draw anatomically accurate people or even properly proportioned pictures of any kind.
Sadly, instead of dazzling packed stadiums, lifting trophies and appearing in defendants’ boxes in crown courts up and down the country, Jenkins would spend his short, scrap-paper-based career being forced to strike the ball with the sole of his boot whilst tragically existing in a world where backgrounds were vague, inanimate canvases and where his team-mates were shapeless, streaky silhouettes who would never be able to work with him to forge an effective title-winning team, nor would they be able to stand together with him as they smashed up shitty nightclubs and set upon tattooed-doormen in working-class English towns.
Jenkins’ horribly undefined and expressionless playing days would end shortly before one p.m. when his creator Harry had finished his lunch and afterward his mum Tracy elected to chuck Jenkins in the kitchen bin along with two egg shells, an empty tin can and Harry’s one year-old sister’s soiled nappy. Harry, for the record, had chicken soup, which he wasn’t overly keen on.
After this latest vivid experience Archie decided it was definitely time to stop swigging that grey stuff that he had found in an old ketchup bottle round the back of Baz’s Fish Bar & Grill. This was all starting to get a bit intense, he thought. Also, he was growing fed up of losing three days at a time and waking up in shitted trousers, sometimes as far away as Leeds.
It didn’t matter how he rationalised things as he staggered down the hard shoulder of the M6 with the morning sun baking his damp trousers dry, missing his daughter’s wedding last weekend had not gone down well with the missus, and additionally, them now missing their flight to Benidorm this morning was unlikely to have helped stabilise their crumbling marriage. Still, the honour of meeting Zarek, High Lord of the exulted Vapetine Clan of Olympus Mons had been a thrilling moment for him… Shame about all the shit in his shoes though…
Try as he might, Todd just couldn’t get the hang of this ‘tango’ thing that seemed to be all the rage.
Barry had had an absolute fucking titful: This was the final straw! It wasn’t enough that his partner Mick wouldn’t pay for proper walls or electric lights, but this just topped it all off! How could he have been so stupid?! Buying a bloody great otter from Liberian Tim in the pub and then coming home pissed and demanding Barry’s last 27p from him. The toy gun he was pointing at him didn’t even look real for fuck’s sake! It was pitiful from a man of his age – especially one who frequently claimed to be an expert ‘woodsman’ and explorer.
Nursing the wound in his arm and staring down at the bloodied and battered animal he had been forced to punch to death, Barry realised he should have listened to his mother in the first place and taken that scholarship to Oxford University. This was no life to be proud of, and even Mick the stupid cunt could see that as he wept in a pool of his own sick by the flimsy tarpaulin ‘door’ to their makeshift home.
Rupert’s wife didn’t care whose bloody birthday it was; she wanted everyone out of her living room that instant. She didn’t give a hoot what these other chartered accountants got up to in their own homes on Wednesday evenings, but she wouldn’t stand for this queer nonsense in hers. Dressing up in silly costumes and such at their age, really; it was just ridiculous! And it would take ages to round up all them rats and all…
After the great massacre of Glabhorn had left 250,000 of their soldiers dead from chest and abdominal wounds, the military council convened for a long and considered period of discussions to debate the merits of more ‘robust’ body armour for their foot-soldiers. During the debates, one Councillor from the snowy Vankrist Mountain region motioned for fewer hours to be allocated within military preparations toward ‘hair care and styling’, although this was quickly dismissed out-of-hand as utterly preposterous and irrational.
It would be to their enduring regret that no-one in the art department had stood back and looked at that month’s finished cover-art for longer than three seconds before it was sent to the printers. Had they, the uproar that it later provoked could surely have been avoided and many careers would not have ended prematurely in a whirlwind of sackings that was simply unprecedented in the world of obscure, low-circulation science-fiction monthlies.
Testifying before the tribunal several weeks later, the magazine’s editor defended his team’s work stoically: “Look, as I said before, we were just happy to be finished and all anyone wanted to do that evening was to get down the pub and get legless. I don’t know how many times I have to repeat it – we were categorically not trying to get away with publishing a massive picture of an erect cock and bollocks. I’d never do something like that. Honest”.
It was improbable and reckless. It was lunacy! But it had been a whirlwind that had swept them both into the hazy realms of euphoria… People stopped and stared as they walked by gazing at one-another tenderly. People laughed and said they were crazy: it would never work out; it couldn’t work out! But what did they know? What did the gossips and the naysayers know of true love?! They were the foolish ones – the crazy ones! The love between a giant skeleton-faced creature in a bronze deep-sea-diving suit and an almost comatose go-go dancer was a wondrous, magical thing – and as far as they were concerned, logic, plausibility, artistic merit and even sanity could go to hell and stay there!
Despite it definitely appearing to impress Audrey off reception, Gareth was somewhat regretting his decision to climb into the ‘Dangerous Exotic Snake’ enclosure at the Safari Park. The boots he had hired from ‘Lizzie’s Party Emporium’ were rubbing him quite badly now, and his cardboard sword was proving thoroughly inadequate as a means of protection against the enthusiastic residents of the exhibit. And anyway, rumour was that Audrey had Chlamydia, so that was that buggered sideways as well.
Misinterpreting the word ‘danger’ with ‘vaguely grandiose and epic with strong hints of romantic whimsy like a 90s aftershave advert’, the hapless robot assigned to produce the novel’s cover artwork was unfortunately dragged from its workstation shortly before 5pm and placed under the heavy-duty industrial compactor for its error; crying in its sad mechanical voice and weeping oil as it was transformed into unusable scrap metal.
“Please note: in-game graphics may differ to images shown and may be substantially less life-like, erotic and generally seductive in a ‘come over here big boy I want you’ sort of a way. The publishers accept no liability for the unfulfilled sexual fantasies of teenage boys and/or lonely men who may be left flaccid and massively disappointed by this rudimentary and unashamed marketing ploy.”
In a desperate attempt to cut overhead expenditure, “Charlie’s Boob Bar” had plunged into dangerous territory. Here, a patron refusing to pay the reasonable £23 fee for a glass of tap water is escorted quietly from the building by the newly-installed ‘Estate Management’ team:
“Damn you doctor; I don’t give a crap about any of your so-called professional ‘ethics’ – and I don’t care about any indecent assault lawsuits! This is ‘pulp’ era Science Fiction; we’re contractually obliged to have a scantily-clad woman in peril, and by God that’s what I’m going to deliver!”
“Right then, listen up everybody. We’ve been asked to bring this one home pronto – so I need your ‘A1’ ideas: New game called Phalanx is set for launch and it needs cover art.”
“What sort of a game is it boss?”
“Uh, let me see; says here it’s a “hyper speed shoot-out in space”, so I guess its spaceships and all that kind of crap.”
“Excuse me, but if I may offer a suggestion: seeing as the game’s title is derived from Ancient Greek warfare, perhaps we should focus on some sort of imagery that conveys a sense of epic conflict?”
“Christ no! We don’t want your Ivy League bookworm ideas in here! This is a game for kids – they don’t want to see a bunch of shit about dead Greeks! C’mon people, we need energy, excitement – we need to shout “future”!
“What about this then boss: some sort of spaceship on the cover, with fire or whatever shooting out of it. You know, to show it’s moving really fast and that?”
“I like where you’re going with this… But it feels a bit, I don’t know… empty. We need something to really hook these kids in. Suggestions?”
“Well, uh, I’ve an idea.”
“Okay you, sissy boy in the corner, get on with it.”
“Now, uh, don’t shoot me down here… It’s a little far out but, uh, I was thinking just then, when you said that we need to grab these kids and show them the future… I just, uh, had a sort of vision in my mind…”
“Get on with it then, I’m turning to stone over here kid!”
“Okay; so, we’ve got this spaceship thingy or whatever that’s racing through space – yeah? Well what about if, in the foreground, there’s this huge image of, um, well, an elderly hillbilly in a Stetson playing a banjo and staring toward the camera like he’s just shit his trousers. I know, it’s crazy and it’s just a thought but – “
“No, wait. Don’t say anything else. People, listen up: this right here is what happens when you’re passionate about what you do; when you truly believe in your work: Pure inspiration! That’s a wrap – I want you to get started on sketches straight away.”
“Save it. I don’t want to discuss this any further. We’re going with the sitting-in-space shit-trousered hillbilly concept, now get on with it. You, Mr Creative Genius, hold up a second; I want to get your thoughts on few other things before you rush off…”
“180 – the world’s most realistic darts video-game! Experience the fast-encroaching triple heart bypasses, negligent stereotypes and casual misogyny of the real thing – right in your own empty-pizza-box-littered living-room!”
Ah, playing video-games as a child: What sweet memories! The escapism into magical worlds and fantasy realms; the seemingly endless adventures into colourful, make-believe universes where you could leave behind your, oh, erm…
Spicy indeed. Damn you beast and your conveniently-directed claw swipes!
I suddenly have a craving for something… Can’t put my finger on it though… Some appalling product-placement and artwork from this 80s abomination. Ol’ Ronald hanging over from the back looks practically menacing
“Right, let’s get this photo-shoot over with quickly, my abs are starting to ache,this oil is really burning my skin and I’m fairly sure my hair is losing its volume. Damn this sword is heavy.”
“Okay then, everyone in position. Hey, dwarf-man, this isn’t a pre-season squad photo! Get up off your knees; and lift that ax that’s bigger than your head higher whilst you’re at it! You, lady, you’re not working at Beavers Men’s Club anymore, dial it down; this is a kids game for fucks sake! Mr Dragon! Yeah, you, at the back: could you try and look at least slightly menacing please? Pull your claws up a bit as if your going to grab someone – that’ll do it…
Jesus wept, this is a fucking nightmare. how long ’til lunch?”
“Halt! I demand you look at my massive, depth-less face and giant hands!”
Nothing conveys a sense of cutting-edge, action video-gaming better than shitty, weird neon characters scowling at each-other like someone’s pint has been spilled, with missiles going off in the background and Dalek-rip-off-looking robots whizzing around in the corner.
First up, a short-story collection from Science Fiction mainstay Arthur C Clarke. Make of this what you will. Seriously.