Foxtrot (the comic) is the ultimate comic strip for teenage geeks and gamers like me. It has a meddlesome little kid who constantly has fights with his iMac (called the iFruit for copyright purposes) and plays tricks on his family by means of technology.

It also frequently makes references to Linux (I've got my Linuxmon cards! I'll open with /dev/null...), games (I'm stuck with a computer that can't play Half-life! / I told you there would be consequences for not letting me play Diablo II / Great job asking for a PlayStation2 for Christmas! Which state are Mom and Dad checking now?!) and various other computer topics.

To the casual reading, Foxtrot might seem weird and cryptic, but for people like me, it's always humorous and worth a read. My praise to Bill Amend!

A great comic strip, but – let’s be honest – not a particularly innovative one in terms of plot or characterization. What sets it apart is its wit, charm, and attention to detail. The jokes go beyond simple themes like "What a bad cook mom is" or "Look how dad likes golf". Andy doesn’t burn the pot roast, she cooks with tofu. Jason doesn’t just like math, actual calculus appears in the strip instead of random numbers and squiggles. When Peter gets a girlfriend, she is a blind girl, and their courtship is handled with an astonishing amount of charm and sensitivity for a daily comic strip.

Bill Amend has a clean, uncluttered drawing style that I enjoy. Some critics attack it for being too simple, however. I have only one complain – sometimes it is difficult to tell some of the characters, such as Andy and Paige, apart.

The cast:

Andrea "Andy" Fox – a housewife with a love of high art and vegetarian cooking, and she likes to inflict those things on her family.

Roger Fox – typical bumbling computer illiterate father and mid-level executive

Peter Fox – typical teenager who is always wearing a baseball cap with the letter "A" on it. He eats constantly and loves sports, but is very bad at them.

Paige Fox – typical fashion obsessed teenage girl

Jason Fox – pint sized computer genius, with a love of all things geek and a loathing of his older sister

Quincy – Jason’s pet iguana

Denise Russo – Peter’s blind girlfriend

Marcus Jones – Jason’s best friend and partner in crime. He has a hamster but is jealous of Jason’s iguana.

Can't you feel our souls ignite?
Shedding ever-changing colours, in the darkness of a fading night.
Like the river joins the Ocean, as the germ in a seed grows.
We have finally being freed to get back home.

- Supper's Ready

Foxtrot was released in 1972 by Genesis under Virgin Records, and a remaster dated 1994 is available. It was the third Genesis album and considered by many to be the pinnacle of the "old line-up" (that is, Peter Gabriel on vocals, Tony Banks on piano, Steve Hackett on electric guitar, Phil Collins on drums and Michael Rutherford on bass, to name only their primary roles). The cover shows a fox in a red dress (Gabriel sometimes adopted this attire to perform Supper's Ready standing on a rock out to sea, while fox hunters and their dogs sniff around the shore.

If someone were to ask me to point them to an album that was the epitome of progressive, or "art rock", this would be the album I would tell them to buy. There are only six songs on the album, and they are mostly either longer or shorter than your traditional rock or pop song. While the album's centerpiece is undoubtley the 23 minute long Supper's Ready, the other songs are worth holding just as high in your esteem.

With the possible exception of Get 'Em Out By Friday, you won't find grand political messages or morals in this album. As is typical of the genre the songs tell strange, bizzare abstract stories that range from medieval to sci-fi-esque. The musical style ranges from the fairly fast, upbeat piano of Watcher of the Skies to the sedate, relaxing guitar picking of Horizons. The range of instruments on display is dazzling - flute, tambourine, oboe, cello and six and twelve string guitars.

The first track, Watcher of the Skies (7:23), is hard to interpret. It tells the story of a creature abandoned on Earth by man, who have left to journey the stars after destroying the life on their planet. The song sets the musical style well for the album, and it is the fastest track on the album (with the exception of some parts of Supper's Ready, but it's difficult to find a musical style that isn't in that song somewhere!)

Track two is Time Table (4:46), possibly the most non-descript of the songs on the album. This isn't to say it's weak - it's just not as memorable compared to the highly-distinctive other tracks. The lyrics of this track speak about culture, specifically the old feudal one. It seems to reflect a positive light on the Lords and Ladies of feudal culture, and speaks in a sad tone of their forgotten relics and castles, in which "now only the rats hold sway".

Get 'Em Out By Friday (8:38) is track three, and it tells a story as well as having a message. The song is about a company that buy an entire road of houses, and send an individual named "The Winkler" to coerce the residents out of their dwellings so the company can use them for their own purposes. The residents are tricked and deceived by the company, and eventually evicted once again from their new dwellings as the company rises in power and influence among the government. The lyrics take the form of various statements from the people in the story (the company Chairman, Joe Ordinary, the residents, and even the Devil at one point).

Can-Utility and the Coastliners (5:46) tells the story of an individual that tries the old trick of trying to prove he is fit for Kingship by placing his throne on the beach at low tide, then attempting to stop the tide by ordering it back. His plan fails, but "The waves surround the sinking throne, singing crown him, crown him". The tempo and style of the song changes quick a lot throughout, and it's very pleasing to the ear.

The next track is a musical piece called Horizons (1:41), and it's an absolute joy to listen to. It stands in the shadow of the next track and is often forgotten, but this composition on its own is magical. I find many of Genesis' musical compositions hard to describe in words, all I can say is that it's a slow, gentle guitar track that despite its brevity is at least as worthwhile as any other song on the album.

The album ends with the grandest finale imaginable: Supper's Ready (22:54). Now this is art rock. The music spans countless genres - light rock, heavy rock and insanely "trippy" melodies. The lyrics speak of lovers, of the Book of Revelation, of Jesus and of war. The song is split into six indexed and named parts (check out the lyrics), with the style changes usually occuring at these boundaries.

When you finish listening to an album and realise that the last song could well constitute an album in itself, and that what came before was pretty damn good as well, you realise it was £12.99 well spent. If you're looking for more art rock along the same vein, check out Wind and Wuthering and Selling England by the Pound by the same artist, and Brain Salad Surgery and Tarkus by Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.