Review: Ends 'n' Means by Barry Hoare

My years from eighteen to twenty three years old were spent exclusively in the pub and at house parties with my friends. We were loud, immature, na├»ve and often full of beer. Some of us thought we were good with the ladies, and some of us struck out more than Leisure Suit Larry. It is because of my experience as a silly and drunken teen that I really appreciate Barry Hoare’s webcomic Ends ‘n’ Means.

Ends ‘n’ Means is about a group of friends and the ups and downs of their lives. The characters are people you will probably know from your own life. These include Sean, a socially awkward loner who is desperate for a girlfriend (or at least someone he can comfortably hate), and Jack, Sean's best friend who is a bit more ‘with it’ socially, but has a moral compass on a par with Jay from the Inbetweeners. A lot of the comic is grounded in reality, but with a supporting cast of a cynical rabbit and angry iguana Hoare shows that he also has a leaning toward the surreal.

The comic is full of adult language and makes fun of subjects that not even some crude stand-up comedians will touch; topics ranging from aids all the way down to domestic violence. It might be a little much if you like your humour more Big Bang Theory than Family Guy, but for me most of it hit the mark and had me laughing. Before you approach Ends ‘n’ Means I’ll just issue one piece of advice: no subject is safe from Barry Hoare's jokes.

It’s packed full of British humour and slang, so if you're not from Britain some of the jokes will pass over your head. Many of the things Baz writes about will still hit home because they are universal truths and have happened to all of us; things like getting bad chat-up advice from a friend and moaning about your significant other to your mates. It is the sort of comic where you read a strip, think "yeah, that's true!" and share it with your friends.

Ends ‘n’ Means launched in black and white and switched to colour in 2010, and this move proved to be a good one. The artwork is understated and effective, and the facial expressions of the characters carry the jokes off well. Hoare loves to hide details in his strips that have you searching each panel a few times to spot, and one set in a hotel provoked some discussion amongst readers who tried to decide if there nine or ten geckos hidden in the room. There were ten.

This isn't an epic saga and it definitely isn't a plot-focussed comic (although there is a narrative), but it has interesting characters and is great for a belly laugh. It will take you back to times when you lived with your mates, had crazy nights out and kept a psychotic lizard as a pet. Check out Barry’s' comic below and let him know what you think.

By the way, Barry claims he once drank ten pints of Guinness in one sitting without throwing up. Do we believe him?