Titan Books have added a new title to their autumn schedule that should have fans of Battle Picture Weekly drooling. In September they'll be publishing Johnny Red: Falcon's First Flight reprinting the early episodes of Tom Tully & Joe Colquhoun's epic story from 1977.
Johnny Red was introduced to the paper on 29 January 1977 in Battle's 100th issue. When we first meet 19-year-old Johnny 'Red' Redburn it is September 1941 and Johnny, dishonourably discharged from the R.A.F., is serving in the Merchant Navy in the deadly convoys on course for the Russian port of Murmansk. Before long, Johnny finds himself helping a Russian fighter-bomber squadron, the Falcons.
One of the most popular strips to appear in Battle, the strip ran for 10 years, drawn initially by Colquhoun until 1979 when the artwork was taken over by John Cooper and, in 1984, by Carlos Pino.
Before that, in July—the book is currently being finished off—Titan publish The Best of Battle, a smorgasbord of some of the best strips the weekly paper had to offer, including Rat Pack, D-Day Dawson, The Sarge, Darkie's Mob, Hellman, Bootneck Boy and the aforementioned Johnny Red.
Checking in with Titan earlier today, David Leach told me that, as well as The Best of Roy of the Rovers: The 1970s, due out next month, there will another Bumper Book of Roy of the Rovers later in the year, following up the successful first book published last October. The Best of... will be in more of a Bumper Book... style, with period adverts and features as well as a lengthy run of stories from the earlier issues of Roy of the Rovers weekly.
That's not the only Battle news. Egmont have their second Souvenir Special lined up for publication on 24 June and I'm pleased to be able to offer a sneak peak at the covers.
(* Johnny Red / Roy of the Rovers © Egmont UK Ltd.)