Friday, December 09, 2022

Comic Cuts — 9 December 2022

The big tidy-up continues, although with only 100 magazines shredded there hasn't been much room created. I did, however, sort out most of my old educational magazines — Look and Learn, Treasure, Speed & Power, Bible Story, World of Wonder, etc. — so they now take up a little less space. I don't have complete runs of many titles, but between the above I must have 1,300 issues and that's more than enough to fill eight boxes and all the space under the stairs.

I'm also sorting out some comics, so I have a handful of spares that I will offer through eBay or Facebook. Nothing too special, although some Rangers and a nice little run of the 1990s Thunderbirds will hopefully find a new home.

I also started a slightly frustrating little project to supply someone with a bibliography of my own books. Unlike some authors, I don't have a "vanity shelf" with all my works on display. They're dotted around the house, often still wherever they landed when we moved in a decade ago, or wherever there was a space on a shelf. So I have been hunting around looking for some of the old pamphlets that I wrote and contributed to. I've found most, but there are still a few that are proving elusive.

Some are little more than a set of photocopied sheets, stapled together — I did a dozen or so bibliographies of old paperback companies for Dragonby Press starting in 1984 with the epic 14 page Scion and Dragon Books 1949-1956 published in September 1984. Not a book, but a separate publication. I'm not sure where you draw the lines between a book, a chapbook or a pamphlet. The general consensus is that a chapbook is 20-40 pages, which makes most of my early indexes full-length books.

I have written about these before, but I thought it might be worth offering up this bit of indexing history again about how the first of these indexes came about...

Out of the blue in late 1987 I received a letter from a guy called Gary Armitage. Gary was a fellow member of the ACE and was also interested in lists. He enclosed one with his letter. I think it was a list of stories that had appeared in Lion and various annuals and holiday specials featuring The Spider. I wrote back and included a list of stories featuring The Steel Claw.
    From those two little acorns grew the indexing project that has kept me busy on and off for the last twenty years. Gary sent me a listing of all the characters that had appeared in Lion as a follow-up. Not to be outdone, I gritted my teeth and spent the next few weeks indexing Valiant. Gary put together most of the information for an index to the Power comics published by Odhams. I think I then tried an index to TV Century 21 and its various spin-off titles (I'm not 100% sure, but listings of the latter titles appeared in Comic Cuts in 1988).
    Gary was eventually forced to drop out, the real world and real work getting in the way of a fine hobby, and I was also by then working full-time at R.H.P. But Hoffman's (as it was still known as rather than the fuller Ransom, Hoffman & Pollard) was only around the corner and I was only doing the occasional bit of overtime, leaving lots of free time to contact other fans of British comics and badger them into providing information for other lists.
    David Ashford threw in his lot with this mad scheme, as did John Barber, Chris Street, Colin Rudge and my collecting pal John Allen-Clark. The first fruits of all this activity were various lists for Comic Cuts in 1990. During this period I also had my one and only fling at writing comic strips for Starblazer and was made redundant. In September 1989 I started working for Southwark-based City Sports which put a crimp in my writing career but still left me with evenings free... and by now I had a computer. In October 1990 I was made redundant (again!).   
    In December I produced The Mike Western Story and sent a copy to Bryon Whitworth who was the editor and publisher of The Illustrated Comics Journal, a fanzine about British comics that I was just starting to contribute to. I mentioned the various indexes that the collective group of fans were working on and Bryon expressed an interest in publishing them. We received a nod of approval from Fleetway to use illustrations and set to work on the first book.
    Around March of 1991 we had a proof copy for the first volume of Thriller Picture Library: An Illustrated Guide which, looking back on it now, is a bit of an embarrassment. Although we included every single cover, they were black and white and poorly shrunk down photocopies which didn't come out very well at all. I'm rather more pleased with the introduction (written by David Ashford) which I laid out myself. Ali Cottee, who was one of my flat-mates, did the cover illustration based on a James McConnell cover and we hand-lettered the cover and title page. At the time, Ali was working for the company who did model work for Thomas and Friends TV series (famously narrated by Ringo Starr); she was a damn fine painter and sculptor, too. The photocopying doesn't do the original (long lost, I'm afraid) any justice. She also did the second cover (based on a McConnell Robin Hood) and I did the third, which was based on a blown-up cover image from one of the John Steel stories.
    Later, Bryon bought himself a colour photocopier and put out new copies of the Thriller index with a colour dustjacket (hand-coloured by Bryon himself).
The colour dustjacket is our column header.

Once I have it finished I'll post the bibliography and do my own cover gallery early next month. My first ever article appeared in January 1983, so I'm having a fit of nostalgia inspired by all the old articles and booklets that I have been rediscovering during the great tidying-up of recent weeks. I really can't believe that first piece appeared forty years ago.

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Commando 5599-5602

Commando issues 5599 – 5602 are out today! Featuring a Native American hero, fighting and flying frogmen, alongside two sets of rag-tag groups hellbent on mischief!

5599: The Last War Chief

Paul Yellowtail had to complete four ‘coups’ if he was to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become a war chief:

1. Lead a war party into battle.
2. Sneak into an enemy camp and steal a horse.
3. Take away an enemy’s weapon.
4. Touch an enemy without being harmed.

These are no easy feats — but to do them in the Rhineland, while Jerry is fighting tooth and nail to protect his homeland? Well, let’s say Paul has a long way to go before he can call himself a war chief!
Inspired by the experiences of Joe Medicine Crow during World War Two, this is one of – if not Commando’s first Native American hero, written by Hailey Austin. Not only that, Salvatore Pezone makes his Commando debut on interior art, with a stunning blue cover by Mark Eastbrook.

Story | Hailey Austin
Art| Salvatore Pezone
Cover | Mark Eastbrook

5600: Flying Frogman

Frogman? FLYING?! That's right! These blokes were experts in underwater sabotage but were given training —as parachutists. Now they can fly in at the dead of night, release their ‘chutes as they hit the water, and then go about their silent deeds of destruction!

This is a rip-roaring classic Commando from 1970, featuring Finley-Day’s fighting men and their underwater battles brought to life by V Fuente. Topped off with a moody cover by Jordi Penalva, well – you’d fly off the handle if you missed this one!

Story | Finley-Day
Art | V Fuente
Cover | Penalva
Originally Commando No. 482 (1970).

5601: Monty’s Marauders

Before there was Ramsey’s Raiders, there was Monty’s Marauders —a gang of rough, tough, fighting men in the trenches of the First World War! This special raiding group was handpicked by Aubrey Monteith, uncle of Ramsey’s driver, Monty — and together they went marauding wherever they could! The Kaiser’s men better keep one eye open when this lot is about!

From the writer of Ramsey’s Raiders, Ferg Handley, comes this brand-new series of rough-and-ready men who’ll do anything to win! Carlos Pino does what he does best on interior and cover art, proving he is and always will be a master of the medium!

Story | Ferg Handley
Art | Carlos Pino
Cover | Carlos Pino

5602: Barmy’s Private Army

Madder than a box of frogs or a bag of cats, this one is! Major “Barmy” Brooke had an uncanny knack for living up to his nickname. His strike force was a bit of a joke and to be transferred to it was a fate worse than death. Anyone actually volunteering was thought to be as crazy as its CO. But that’s just what Lieutenant Doug Bradley did. The young officer’s ambition was to command a desert group, and even the sight of Barmy’s scruffy crew couldn’t put him off!

This charming romp of a comic is written by prolific Commando writer, RA Montague, with art from Ruiz and Ian Kennedy! What’s not to like?!

Story | RA Montague
Art | Ruiz
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1360 (1979)

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 7 December 2022

Set in an alternate 1940s USA where magic is commonplace and WWII was won through occult means, Hope follows Mallory Hope, former New York cop turned Hollywood PI and magician who returned from the nightmares of war just to find that the nightmares came back with him.

With a demon attached to his soul and his wife seduced by magic while he was gone, vanishing and taking their young son with her, Hope knows the heavy cost being a practitioner of the dark arts can exact.

That was then. This is now. Reel One of Hope… In The Shadows saw Mallory called in to investigate a cursed film. Now, in Reel Two, Hope’s wife Alice is back. This is not the reunion Mallory was hoping for…

Guy Adams: The idea with this series was always to expand, not just in pure comics real estate (we’re twice the size, a conservatory extension of bonus horror). Ongoing series need to unfurl I think, to keep changing the stakes, the shape of the world.

Read the full interview at the 2000AD website.

And now, this weeks releases...

2000AD Prog 2311
Cover: Steven Austin / Jim Boswell (col)

In this issue:
Judge Dredd: Rematch
 by Ken Niemand (w) Steven Austin (a) Jim Boswell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Terror Tales: In The Wood by John Tomlinson (w) Lee Milmore (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Enemy Earth: Book One by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hope by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Finn: Origins by Pat Mills & Tony Skinner, Jim Elston, Kevin Wicks and Liam Sharp
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618674-4, 7 December 2022, 160pp, £18.99 / $25.00. Available via Amazon.

Finn is a cab driver by day, and a witch by night, part of a coven dedicated to protecting humanity from the agents of the old 'Great Ones', the ancient intergalactic beings who separated humanity from their beastly nature, and have maintained control ever since. These arcane and anarchic adventures from Pat Mills, Tony Skinner, Jim Elston, Kevin Wicks, and Liam Sharp are collected for the first time.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Eagle Times v35 no3, Autumn 2022 [November 2022]

The sad truth that comics' fans face is that we're all getting older and what we loved as children is becoming ancient history. It also means that we lose friends and colleagues, which has been very noticeable with Eagle Times in recent years with the passing of names from the comic like Don Harley and Greta Tomlinson, but also of those fans who kept the comic alive like Keith Howard, Tony Cowley and, in August this year, Adrian Perkins.

A couple of tributes mark the passing of Adrian, who was key to setting up the first Eagle Convention back in 1980 and published the Astral Group Newsletter as well as writing The SF World of Dan Dare (1991), a comprehensive handbook, with David Ampleford.

Onto the meat of this issue, which leads with a feature on 'Dan Dare's Lesser Known Rivals', a whistle-stop tour of Fifties spacemen in the pages of Space Comics, Space Commander Kerry, Spaceman, Space Commando—I'm sensing a theme here—and other now obscure titles. It touches briefly on Ace Hart, Hal Starr, Swift Morgan and Captain Valiant, and leaves you wanting more. (At this point I should note that I love this kind of stuff and reprinted Norman Light's Captain Future a few years ago... which is still available.)

Despite my love for those old sci-fi heroes, the best article in this issue comes from David Britton who has a feature on how girls were treated as fans of Eagle. The paper, although dominated by male heroes, had a strong following amongst girls, who made up perhaps a fifth of the readership. Editor Marcus Morris was well aware of this and included articles suitable for his female audience. Trying to achieve some sort of balance and the reaction to it may have provided the impetus to create Girl. Certainly listening to the audience caused the editorial staff to look again at the content of the paper, which appeared at its launch to be a boys' idea of what a girls' paper should be.

Britton also pens the next episode of a railway story concerning the Canadian Pacific Railway, relevant to Eagle fans as it was visited by Macdonald Hastings.

The Eagle Society gathering at Greenwich in June takes up some of this issue, with Reg Hoare offering a comprehensive report on the event, and the text of Steve Winders' address.

Steve Winders has two other pieces this issue, part two of his look through Geoffrey Bond's foreign legion novels about Sergeant Luck, and a new story featuring P.C. 49, this one set at the Royal Variety Performance.

The quarterly Eagle Times is the journal of the Eagle Society, with membership costing £29 in the UK, £40 (in sterling) overseas. You can send subscriptions to Bob Corn, Wellcroft Cottage, Wellcroft, Ivinghoe, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 9EF; subs can also be submitted via PayPal to Back issues are available for newcomers to the magazine and they have even issued binders to keep those issues nice and neat.

Friday, December 02, 2022

Comic Cuts — 2 December 2022

Although I post these columns early on a Friday morning, they're usually written on Thursday evening and I set a timer to launch them into the world. Quite why that time is 5:03 am I'm not sure, although I think it has to do with my old cover gallery posts where there might be more than one part. Normally the latest post appears at the head of the blog, but if you set the posting time and label the posts correctly, you can get a multi-part post to load in the right order, so you read part 1 first.

Once posted, the columns are out in the wild for ever, or until Blogger goes under. You will still be able to find my ramblings because they're gathered up by the British Library as part of a collection of supposedly interesting blogs, although where they're stored and how they can be accessed I don't know. I was just flattered to be asked. My point, if I can ever get to it, is that you won't necessarily be reading this the day it is posted, or even the year it was posted.

All this just to say that "As you read this, I'm heading out to get my booster jab." To make it easier for future readers to pinpoint the moment, the day is Friday, 2 December 2022 and the time is coming up for 9 in the morning. Oh, and a "booster jab" was something we had to take to protect us against a virus called Covid 19 [named after 2019, the year; it was not the 19th Covid outbreak]. And while I'm here, sorry about the heat and the pollution. The people we put in charge turned out to be worse than useless.

Although we've made a lot of progress on sorting out the living room, we've not hit the end of November deadline. There has simply been too much to do, on top of which we're both in full-time jobs. Mine is admittedly a little more flexible, but it still takes up 48 hours a week. More when you spend half a day searching for something you know you have but it isn't in the place it should be. "Tidying up" can do that to you!

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for a letter I had from Solano Lopez. Yes, that Solano Lopez. Damned if I could find it. I was working out how many volumes a complete run of 'Kelly's Eye' would run to — nine, as it happens — which got me thinking about how I would fill nine afterwords. That reminded me of my brief correspondence with Solano Lopez, then living in Rio De Janeiro. At the time, 1990, I had recently published The Mike Western Story and was planning further little pamphlets. Geoff Campion would be one, and I fired off a number of letters to artists around the world, thinking that it would be nice to get some first hand thoughts on their work for the UK, which led to  some exciting months waiting to hear back from the likes of Gino D'Antonio and Ferdinando Tacconi. (Yes, they both replied!)

Anyway, long story short, I was looking for something else entirely and stumbled upon Solano's letter, which begins "Thank you for your letter and your kind words. I can read English and pretend to write it also! I hope you will excuse the mistakes. On the other hand, I hope you could read Spanish. The enclosed dossier talks a lot about me and was intended for a report on my work at Lucca 90, led by Juan Sasturain, a nice chap, former editor of "Fierro" and now living in Barcelona. The report did not take place, but here are the writings. I hope they are useful to you."

He also answered some specific questions that I had asked about his connections with the UK and his studio.

Of course, I didn't read Spanish. I still don't, although I can get the gist of interviews with Spanish artists because I recognise the names of strips, magazines, other artists, and I can, broadly speaking, join the dots between the names. Nowadays there's Google Translate... which is why I spent Wednesday typing up Solano's "dossier" in order to translate it. I now have plenty of material to discuss in upcoming collections of 'Kelly's Eye' and no doubt I'll be writing a piece about Lopez at some point for the UK where I can dip into this pool of information.

I never did find the "something else entirely" that I was looking for. Obviously I need to look for something that isn't the thing I'm looking for if I'm to find it.

The running count for books out of the house increased by one. However, that was on top of the removal of some furniture and a couple of filing cabinets that needed to go down to the dump, which we did on Saturday. It made quite a difference to the room (see our column header), although the gap soon started to fill up again as I dragged out a few more boxes that had been living under the stairs. These include three boxes of Fortean Times, a box of Starlogs and two boxes of SFX, all of which need to go. I'll probably post something on Facebook when I've sorted through them to figure out exactly what I've got.

The slightly frustrating thing about all this is that I'm writing tomorrow's column while I'm waiting on the arrival of another box of books. I'm restocking some of my Bear Alley Books titles, hoping for a bit of a Christmas rush, so I have two dozen books due... not so great when I've only got rid of one this week. That gap where you can see my shelves isn't going to last very long.

[[UPDATE: Apparently, according to UPS who are supposed to be delivering my restock of books, we don't exist. I checked the tracking because the books hadn't arrived and this was their excuse: "The street number is incorrect. This may delay delivery. We're attempting to update the address." This is, of course, bull. When I phoned UPS, they were able to not only access the full details of our address (house number, post code) but they had my phone number and had made no attempt whatsoever to check the address. Instead, the parcel is back in Bury St Edmunds and I'm still waiting to hear whether they're going to try to deliver today (probably while I'm out getting my Covid booster jab) or whether it will now be next week. Grrrrrr! Also note that, when it says "address has been updated" that's because I phoned them, and no, the address was not updated because they already had it. Grrrrrr x 2!]]


Thursday, December 01, 2022

Commando Presents… The Weekes’ War

One war. Five Stories.

Heritage Comics’ latest digital offering is Commando presents… ‘The Weekes’ War’, a special five-part series depicting the end of the First World War. This edition collects five issues of Commando comics released in 2018 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.

Never had a Commando series tackled the shared experiences of one family with five different interwoven narratives. In this one-of-a-kind, one-off series, Commando brings together a collaboration of eight different artists and writers, working as one to show the final days before the Armistice of 11 November 1918 from five different perspectives.

Follow the story of the five Weekes siblings’ survival on the front line, behind enemy lines, aboard a battleship, in the skies above the trenches, and right down in the mud. Five issues about five siblings struggling to survive the conflict. But will they all make it back home?

On the Commando team, we feel it’s important to honour the men and women involved in the First World War by telling their stories and so have crafted an innovative Commando comics experience. We hope that the readers will enjoy each self-contained story and the series as a whole.

Also included in the digital edition is a cover gallery, featuring the original artwork for each issue, and a special behind-the-scenes look at the making of this innovative series.

Get yours on Kindle and ComiXology today.

Look out for new Heritage Comics and Commando Presents digital releases on the final Wednesday of every month!

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 30 November 2022

London really is going to hell. And there’s only one man that can sort it out – the miserable old bastard, Harry Absalom!

With the launch of the Absalom animated pilot on Mashed’s YouTube channel, now’s the ideal time to dive into the world of occult coppering with the three Absalom graphic novels, written by Gordon Rennie (Warhammer 40k) and illustrated by Tiernen Trevallion (Judge Dredd).

Inspector Absalom polices The Accord, the centuries-old agreement between the crown of England and the forces of Hell. He makes sure that whatever crawls out of the demonic pit, goes back – preferably with his boot up their backside! However, there are darker and more sinister forces at play that Satan’s minions, and Harry carries a secret burden that will soon bring everything into the light – but time is running out for the cantankerous old sod!

Begin reading with the Absalom: Ghosts of London collection, to which the animation is a handy prequel, then pick up Under A Flase Flag and Terminal Diagnosis – all available in print and digital collections from the 2000 AD webshop and app!

And now, this week's release...

2000AD Prog 2310

Cover: Tom Foster.

Judge Dredd: Rematch by Ken Niemand (w) Steven Austin (a) Jim Boswell (c) Annie Parkhouse
Terror Tales: The Vision Thing by John Tomlinson (w) Nick Dyer (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Enemy Earth: Book One by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hope... In The Shadows: Reel Two by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Fiends of the Eastern Front: Wilde West Prologue by Ian Edginton (w) Warren Pleece (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Friday, November 25, 2022

Comic Cuts — 25 November 2022

Oh shit... only one month until Christmas. Where did the year go?

I know where most of this week went. A bit of a change of pace, as I was asked to write an obituary for The Guardian about the late Greg Bear. I was a big fan of his novels, especially the trilogy that made up The Way saga: Eon, Eternity and Legend. Moving Mars was another superb book.

Here I'll quote John Clute: "Between 1985 and 1990, however, Bear published six novels whose importance to the realm of Hard SF – and to the world of sf in general – it would be hard to overrate." Everything from Blood Music and The Forge of God to Queen of Angels and its sequel, the weirdly entitled / (a.k.a. Slant) I loved. My reading pace slowed down in the 1980s and has been slow ever since (too much of my reading time is spent on research), but I didn't stop picking up books that I'll read in the future, including Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children, a few technothrillers and his War Dogs trilogy.

Listening to a podcast interview, Bear mentioned he was writing a memoir. I hope he managed to finish it, or it is in a state where it can be reasonably finished by his family.

The tidying up continues, with another 46 books no longer in the house. Things have slowed down while I have been writing, but I have dug out a couple of boxes of stuff that I can chuck and I found a pile of magazines that are in such a state that they, too, can be turfed out. We're still dealing with the empty boxes that were left over from putting all my DVDs into cases — we've had two fortnightly collections already and we still have a bin bag full of them to dispose of.

Part of the problem is that we're waiting to get rid of some furniture, which we should be able to do this weekend. We're sending an armchair and a couple of old (and slightly rusty) filing cabinets to the dump. Once we have that extra space, we might be able to speed up again... and, yes, I know we cleared some space by getting rid of all those boxes of books the other week, but we can't fill that up quite yet because we need it so we can move the furniture around.

I've managed to lose a box of World of Wonder magazines. No idea where they've gone. On the other hand, I found my bound volumes of Modern Wonder. Swings and roundabouts.

The other thing that's fogging up my brain is what kind of computer I should be getting. I spotted something that was nice and cheap and seemed OK, but when I checked with someone who actually knows what they're talking about, I was told that my choice had all the oomph of a three-legged tortoise in a greyhound race. (I'm paraphrasing.)

A list of suggestions all had eyewatering prices in the £1,200-1,300 region, and I would need additional kit on top. I'm toying with the idea of a dock, as it would save me plugging in and unplugging all the various external hard drives I use. Scanning and storing comic strips takes up huge amounts of space.

So I'm still searching for the right computer or laptop. The constant thrashing of the fan on my PC reminds me every day that it could conk out any minute, so I've got to make a decision sooner rather than later. Talk about First World Problems!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Commando 5595-5598

Spying subterfuges in Italy, expert hunters-turned-soldiers, vicious vendettas in the trenches and a murderer hiding in the RAF — all in a week for our Commandos! Get yours today.

5595: The Spy in The Mirror

Central Italy, 1944. Corporal Arthur ‘Art’ Gunn limped into a British camp holding vital coded information. You see, Art was the sole survivor of a recent mission behind enemy lines but something was not right… for, while only one Corporal Art Gunn had embarked on the mission, two Arts had returned — each carrying a different coded message containing crucial intel! But who is the real Art and who is the spy?

Known for his work on ‘Cadman: The Fighting Coward’ in Victor, this issue marks Dorey’s first-ever interior art for Commando. On cover duty as well, Dorey's illustrations perfectly lend themselves to Dominic Teague’s twisting tale of doppelgangers and deceit!

Story | Dominic Teague
Art | Mike Dorey
Cover | Mike Dorey

5596: Dead-Eye Donovan

Before the war, Burt Donovan had been a famous big-game hunter in Africa. Very few men could put a bullet smack in the centre of a moving target the way Burt did — every time.

Then came the war and Burt found himself a tank commander with a different kind of prey to hunt. It stood six feet tall, had close-cropped fair hair and was more dangerous than any cornered lion. Its name was Erich Stahler, a man dreaded by German and British alike, a rogue Nazi who had to be destroyed.

A signature gritty story from Major Eric Hebden, who famously used his own experiences from the Second World War for inspiration when writing — and it shows!

Story | E Hebden
Art | Bielsa
Cover | Chicharro
Originally Commando No. 481 (1970).

5597: Dante’s War

As bullets flew in the deserts of North Africa, Dante Adriaanse had a long-awaited opportunity to even a score that occupied his every waking moment. But it was not to be that day, and his commanding officer, Captain Bekker, survived to continue the fight. Months later, as shells bombard Bazentin, another chance presents itself. Can Dante’s childhood friend Christaan Pietersen save him from himself as hellfire rains down on this terrible quest for vengeance?

November's newest World War One commemoration story is all about revenge and R Tate delivers it in spades as bitter loss from the Boer War surfaces in white-hot hate when two Afrikaners serve the empire their fathers fought so hard against.

Story | R Tate
Art | Manuel Benet
Cover | Manuel Benet

5598: Who Killed Cooper

Squadron Leader ‘Flash’ Cooper was an excellent pilot, but he had one big failing — he was a glory hunter, and glory for him often meant danger for other pilots. So Flash made many enemies, and when he finally met a sticky end, the only question was… which one bumped him off?

A delightful whodunit from RA Montague, where classically the most unlikable character is killed off by someone in his own squadron and so begins a mystery to be solved!

Story | RA Montague
Art | Jose Maria Jorge
Cover | CG Walker
Originally Commando No. 1358 (1979)

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

  • 24 Nov. Seamas O'Reilly interviews Alan Moore. [L]eaving comics is one thing — and I’d done that, which seemed like a massive relief — but stopping thinking about comics is another. Especially when you’ve been working at them for forty years, which is a fairly long career by anyone’s standards. So, I tend to find these annoying, often negative, thoughts about comics swirling up in my mind when I didn’t want them there."
  • 24 Nov. David Roach has penned a fine tribute to Kevin O'Neill. "In the early years of the '80s there was this sense that 2000 AD's two great maverick artists—Mike McMahon and Kevin O’Neill—were spurring each other on to ever more abstracted, gritty, imaginative work, to be reflected in their masterpieces; McMahon's run on Sláine and Book Three of Nemesis ran concurrently in 2000 AD in late 1983."
  • 16 Nov. Johnny Red and Commando artist Keith Burns shows off some of his models to James Bacon. "I use models to help me get the angle and pose the ships,” he says of his working process, “just like I do with World War Two aircraft, vehicles and ships, trying to capture the physics and kinetic energy of flight."
  • 16 Nov. Grant Morrison looks back at some of his older comic strips. "For three decades we of the working class got to express ourselves, and then they shut us down again. But in those three decades, tons of really cool stuff happened. You got the Beatles, you got psychedelia, you got punk rock and it was all because of the working class drive to talk until we’re shut up again."
  • 16 Nov. Neil Gaiman takes on the haters of The Sandman TV show. "Occasionally, you get people shouting at us for having made up all of these gay characters who weren’t in the comics, and then we’d go ‘Have you read the comics?’ And they’d go ‘No.’ And we’d go, ‘They were gay in the comics.’ And they’d go ‘You’re just woke and nobody is going to watch your horrible show.’"
  • 12 Nov. There have been a number of tributes paid to Kevin O'Neill. As always, John Freeman's Down the Tubes carries a comprehensive "In Memorium" piece. John Siuntres has released a 2009 interview with Kev in which he discusses the third League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume (1hr 3m, audio on YouTube).
  • 7 Nov. John Freeman at Down the Tubes takes a look back over the career of Angus McKie.
  • 3 Nov. Interview: Alan Moore. "We had a local market called Sid’s Market Stall. It sold magazines—men’s magazines, ones with sweating GIs being whipped by Nazi women wearing swastika armbands in their underwear, which made me think the American experience of the war seemed to have been very different from what my dad told me about."
  • 3 Nov. Netflix has confirmed that there is to be a second season of The Sandman, based on the Neil Gaiman comic book series. "There are some astonishing stories waiting for Morpheus and the rest of them (not to mention more members of the Endless Family to meet)," says Gaiman. "Nobody is going to be happier about this than the Sandman cast and crew: they are the biggest Sandman fans there are.
  • 31 Oct. Interview: Mark Millar. "Nemesis was just a wee four issue series I did over a decade ago with co-creator Steve McNiven and it’s probably the series I’m most asked about returning." Millar has also launched a Youtube channel, Millar Time, for interviews, the first with Gerry Conway (video, 1h 9m)
  • 31 Oct. Interview: Woodrow Phoenix. "The thing that fascinated me about comics as a child is the thing that still fascinates me, and that is the way a strip exists inside and outside time."
  • 31 Oct. The New York Times has a Neil Gaiman quiz.
  • 31 Oct. Matt Pritchett, the Telegraph's gifted cartoonist sketches Britain's tragicomedy.
  • 31 Oct. Britain's political cartoons, speaking truth to power for 200 years.

Rebellion Releases — 23 November 2022

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a super dose of Thrill-power to take you into the new year – so let's take a look ahead to the bumper Xmas issue of 2000 AD!

Featuring a new cover by Andy Clarke (Batman), 2000 AD Prog 2312 celebrates the festive period with the traditional 100-page end of year special, featuring a brand-new line-up of stories!

Judge Dredd faces off against an old enemy that’s bust out of containment in “The Last Temptation of Joe” by Ken Niemand & Lee Carter; Proteus Vex must negotiate a full-blown interstellar war in “Crawlspace” by Mike Carroll & Jake Lynch; Cyd learns more about her state of being in “The Out” Book Three by Dan Abnett & Mark Harrison; ABC Warrior Joe Pineapples reveals his past in “Tin Man” by Pat Mills, Simon Bisley & Clint Langley; Rogue Trooper encounters Nort genetic experiments in “Brothers” by Kek-W & Warwick Fraser-Coombe.

Plus, with the unexpected return of the anarchic alien, Bonjo From Beyond The Stars, by Garth Ennis and the late Kevin O’Neill and a special Judge Dredd tribute to the much-missed Alan Grant, this is a Christmas issue not to be missed!

Full contents:

  •                Judge Dredd: The Last Temptation of Joe by Ken Niemand & Lee Carter
  •                Proteus Vex: Crawlspace by Mike Carroll & Jake Lynch
  •                Joe Pineapples: Tin Man by Pat Mills, Simon Bisley & Clint Langley
  •                The Out, Book Three by Dan Abnett & Mark Harrison
  •                Bonjo From Beyond the Stars by Garth Ennis & Kev O’Neill
  •                Rogue Trooper: Brothers by Kek-W & Warwick Fraser-Coombe
  •                Hope: In the Shadows Reel Two by Guy Adams & Jimmy Broxton
  •                Judge Dredd: Troublemaker by Gordon Rennie & Robin Smith

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2309
Cover: Simon Fraser.

Judge Dredd: Buratino Must Die by Rob Williams (w) Henry Flint (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Chimpsky’s Law: A Terrifically Disturbing Adventure by Ken Niemand (w) PJ Holden (a) Chris Blythe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Enemy Earth: Book One by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hershey by Rob Williams (w) Simon Fraser (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Brink Book 5
by Dan Abnett & INJ Culbard
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618569-3, 22 November 2022, 128pp, £16.99 / $24.00. Available via Amazon.

The year is 2096 and Earth has been reduced to an uninhabited wasteland. What was left of humanity was evacuated into overpopulated space stations, or 'Habitats'. Nolan Maslow, a journalist working for The Herald, is investigating the death of HSD agent Brinkmann and the sect that has infiltrated the maintenance workers of Ludmilla Habitat. He will find out that even his most outrageous theories cannot encompass what is actually happening behind the scenes of the habitat. Taking place during the events of Brink Book One, this graphic novel adds extra layers to the story of Bridget Kurtis and her ongoing fight against the forces which are haunting the remains of humanity and driving them to madness.

Strontium Dog: The Son
by John Wagner, Rob Williams, Alan Grant, Michael Carroll, Matt Smith (w) Carlos Ezquerra, Laurence Campbell, Patrick Goddard, Chris Weston (a)
Rebellion 978-178618676-8, 24 November 2022, 128pp, £16.99 / $24.00. Available via Amazon.

In The Son Johnny Alpha is assigned to mentor Kenton Sternhammer, one of the new recruits to the ranks of the Strontium Dogs. Johnny knows that Kenton Sternhammer is his old partner Wulf’s offspring and while Kenton understandably wants to follow in his father's footsteps, Johnny is reluctant to allow it, knowing the fate that has befallen many a Strontium Dog, including Wulf, a death which still eats away at Johnny's conscience. This brand-new collection showcases all-time comics legend Carlos Ezquerra's final work on the character he co-created for Starlord in 1978, drawn before his death in 2018.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Comic Cuts — 18 November 2022

Last week's column ended in a bit of a cliffhanger, as it was written in breaks taken from packing books into boxes. On Facebook I had put out a call to anyone who wanted some free books... let's rewind that a bit... a call to anyone who wanted a lot of free books. I posted a photo of a couple of hundred, but the photo was less than half of what I needed to get rid of.

A collector got in touch and headed over to chez Holland on Friday. "Bring a van," I said. "We're in an estate car," was the reply. I'll confess that I was a bit worried at that point that it might require two visits, because I was still packing and I already had ten quite large boxes filled, and while an estate car might have the space, would it be able to take the weight.

By the time I finished packing there were 18 boxes and 10 trays — the kind that supermarkets have their tomatoes delivered in. I've had dozens of them for years because they're big and stackable. but not so big that you can't carry them when they're full. You'll have seen them in photos I've posted, because we have them littered around the living room. Why? Well, I used them to store things in the attic at the house we previously rented, and they would go in the attic here if it wasn't for the fact that we had thick insulation installed soon after we moved in to try and cut our heating bills. Everything that would have gone into the attic had to be relocated, which is why the living room ended up looking like a charity shop's back room — trays and bags and boxes everywhere!

Back to the story... our intrepid collectors arrived at mid-day. We hit it off straight away, and spent the next hour chatting about collecting, chiefly paperbacks. One guy was fifties and sixties (Pan and Corgi all the way down the quality scale to Badger), the other a James Bond fan with a serious collection of Pan editions.

I was still convinced this was not going to be a one-off trip, but I was wrong. The car had an amazing capacity to swallow up box and box, and although one or two boxes were opened and their contents stuffed into gaps, everything was loaded up. Then it was "Good-bye!" as over a thousand  books disappeared down the road towards their new home in Billericay.

We did a quick tot-up at the weekend and we think that the average box that we've packed up over the last two months has contained 35 books. One way or another, we've got rid of 34 boxes. The trays probably contain roughly the same... call it 30 books. Then there were a couple of bags of books, so maybe another 40 there and a couple of sales that amounted to another 40 books. I reckon — and this is a back of a fag packet guess — that we've disposed of 1500 books, with maybe 70 DVDs also gone. On top of that we've disposed of 300 magazines to the recycling.

Not a bad start!

Next step is to dismantle the mountain of boxes at the back of the living room and get rid of a few bits of furniture, including an unused chair, a pouffe that we used to use as a table, since replaced by an actual table, and a couple of old filing cabinets that I haven't used since we moved twelve years ago. So there will be plenty more of this kind of rambling in the foreseeable future.

Otherwise I have been writing introductions, entertaining guests (one guest, my Mum) and generally catching up with things. My research into the Fleetway Super Library series turned up a couple of interesting things. I've often described them as Britain's first original graphic novels, running to over 120 pages per issue, although it could be argued that the complete stories in early issues of Thriller Comics might also be called graphic novels. Length might preclude them, but these, the Super Libraries, undoubtedly are.

I always wondered why they came to such a sudden, crashing halt in January 1968. There was a general downturn in sales in the late 1960s and the market was fairly swamped with pocket libraries at the time, although quite a few had disappeared when Thorpe & Porter went bankrupt in 1966. So what happened in late 1967 that might have proved fatal? As usual, I suspect it all came down to costs and bottom lines. In mid-November 1967, the pound was devalued and the cost of printing the books — they were printed in Italy — suddenly jumped 14%. And since the artwork was sourced from Italy, Spain and Argentina, the wages for many artists also slumped, since they were paid in sterling.

I'm still looking at the full impact of what was happening around that period, as it is an interesting one in British comics history, although writing it all up will have to wait until I'm rich or retired. Not that I'm complaining too loudly at the moment, as my next task is to sit down and read some old Spider comics. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it...!

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 16 November 2022

It was a great shock to hear that Kevin O'Neill had died at the age of 69. Many tributes have been paid, including this from 2000AD, where Kev made a huge impact as both art editor and as an artist.

Everyone at 2000 AD is devastated to learn of the death of artist Kevin O’Neill.

Words like ‘unique’ and ‘genius’ are not uncommon in the pantheon of 2000 AD creators, but no-one deserves them more than O’Neill, whose innovative, iconoclastic, idiosyncratic, inventive, visionary, and provocative work still has the ability to shock and dazzle, even decades after its first publication.

The co-creator of Ro-Busters, A.B.C. Warriors, Nemesis the Warlock, Metalzoic and Marshal Law with Pat Mills, and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with Alan Moore, O’Neill was one of the most important and unique artists British comics ever produced. From the towering, Gothic bacchanals of Nemesis to the anarchic, razor-sharp and emotionally-brutal work on League, O’Neill’s art was the scourge of conservative editors and was blacklisted by the Comics Code Authority in the US for being ‘objectionable’. There are so few artists – even at 2000 AD – that have been so uncompromising in their style, a style so visceral, so extreme, so individual. And, even now, you simply still cannot mistake O’Neill’s work for anyone else’s.

You can read the rest of the tribute here.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2308
Cover: PJ Holden

Judge Dredd: Buratino Must Die by Rob Williams (w) Henry Flint (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Chimpsky’s Law: A Terrifically Disturbing Adventure by Ken Niemand (w) PJ Holden (a) Chris Blythe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Hope... In The Shadows: Reel Two by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Enemy Earth: Book One by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hershey by Rob Williams (w) Simon Fraser (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 450
Cover: Tom Foster

Judge Dredd: Babel by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Storm Warning: Dead & Gone by John Reppion (w) Clint Langley (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Devlin Waugh: Karma Police by Aleš Kot (w) Rob Richardson (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Death Metal Planet by David Hine (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Surfer: Two by John Wagner (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Bagged supplement: Judge Dredd: The Long Game by Michael Carroll (w) Mark Sexton (a) Len O'Grady, John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Friday, November 11, 2022

Comic Cuts — 11 November 2022

I've had a couple of busy days trying to research some artists who worked on The Spider and lost track of time, so I will have to keep this short.

I have been writing introductions for a series of Spanish reprints of the infamous Lion strip and we're on volume five (of six), so I have covered a lot of what was interesting about the strip and stories. I thought for this one I would look at the Fleetway Super Library and the thirteen issues that appeared in the Stupendous Series in 1967-68.

Of the five artists, I had written up only one — Francisco Cueto. I did a little essay about his work when I put together the two Longbow volumes as he was one of the contributors to that series in the pages of Swift. That leaves four other artists about whom I had a passing knowledge of two. Back on Monday, I thought that, if I was to research the four artists, I might as well write them up properly. Now, on Friday, I'm still writing, because I'd forgotten how long these things can take. I'm looking for information online about artists who are Italian, Spanish and Argentinean, so there's almost nothing extensive written in English. Everything has to be translated.

In the case of one artist, Giorgio Trevisan, I had a lengthy interview published in an Italian magazine that I have, so that meant typing the whole interview into Google Translate so I could get some direct information and quotes. It took quite some time, as I was also Google translating a couple of other pieces... and that was what I was doing rather than writing this column last night.

I also need to remember that writing up these little essays isn't actually getting the Introduction written. All it means is that I'm properly aware of the highlights of the various artists' careers when I come to mention them. Here's the thing: I have been enjoying the whole process enormously. I'm delving into artists I know little about and trying to make sense of how their contributions to UK comics fits in with their wider careers; I'm also looking at a ton of fantastic comic strips, most of which I've never heard of.

What could be better than that? Certainly the rest of my week hasn't been nearly as exciting. I finished transferring DVDs to carry cases and have been left with six bin bags of empty DVD cases. And I've defrosted the fridge because the ice box was getting a bit 'snowy'.

Anyway, I'm going back to packing up books, hopefully with some good news due about getting rid of them. I'm hoping that we'll shortly have some space to manoeuvre and that there will then be a small chance that I'll have my desk moved by the end of the month. Fingers crossed.


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