Friday, June 09, 2023

Comic Cuts — 9 June 2023

A nice change of pace this week. I was writing introductions last week and have four to hand, although there is one that I want to revisit once I've had a chance to read an abridged version of the book. Once the text is finished, I need to sort out some covers and once I have a clue as to when the books will be out I'll reveal all. About the books.

I've switched over to designing the next publication from Bear Alley, which is a second motorcycling book following on from And the Wheels Went Round, published back in 2019. That came about because the author, John Chisnall, is my uncle and when he was looking for a way to publish the book, he went through a few online options. When he mentioned the price that these vanity publishers wanted to charge, I (perhaps stupidly) said that I could do it for half the price. And, in fact, I did it for a third of the price.

The book has sold reasonably well for what is essentially a self-published autobiography — John and his co-author Tony are responsible for selling the book, although it is available via Amazon, which I supply — and it inspired a friend of John's  to write his own book.

Back in the 1970s, George took a trip around the world by motorcycle, snapping photos along the way and keeping a daily diary. George began writing up his adventure during the pandemic and had a first draft finished last year. The final version was finished last month and we had a nice lunch to celebrate. In the photo, taken about three weeks ago, you can see John, Mel, George and I and Dillon the dog.

Since then I have put together about 100 pages, with probably another 60 or so to go. I've no idea what the eventual price will be as we are printing in colour rather than the black & white of the previous volume, but it won't be outrageous as I don't think George is motivated by profit as long as he can cover his costs.

In another life, I occasionally collect old 1940s and 1950s gangster paperbacks and recently filled one of the big holes in my collection, the almost impossible to find Deep South Slave by Darcy Glinto. I had to pay quite a bit for it, given that it does not have an illustrated cover — by far what most collectors of those old books are after and by far the main reason why some books now go for three figures, which is way out of my league.

It puts me one step closer to getting back to a project I've long wanted to do, which is to thoroughly overhaul The Mushroom Jungle. That said, I'm not in a position to do it financially at the moment as it would involve quite a bit of time and probably some travel and it would take years to recoup its costs. Let's hope that, by the time I get around to it, books aren't a thing of the past because the nature of the covers means I would probably be arrested if I was to try uploading those old Heade covers directly to your brain!

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Commando 5651-5654

Tally-ho, chaps! Commando takes to the dank jungles of Vietnam, black skies over Britain, the terrifying and tropical Philippines, and dark forests of Europe in this action-packed quartet. Get your copies on sale from 8th June!

5651: LURPS!

Davie Chandler has successfully led his Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol in Vietnam for five long years. But now his professionalism — and loyalty — is put to the test when he must rescue the man responsible for the death of his younger brother. Deep in the boonies, the Viet Cong are closing in fast, and Davie has only minutes to make the right decision. Should he rescue the colonel, or leave him to his fate?

A gritty and psychological story from Richard Davis, which perfectly lends itself to the Vietnam war setting, complemented by Muller and Klacik’s packed interiors and Neil Roberts’ blood-red cover, this Commando captures the mettle of a Golden age issue with modern storytelling.

Story | Richard Davis
Art | Muller and Klacik
Cover | Neil Roberts

5652: Demons of Darkness

Twenty thousand feet up in the black void of the night over England. Nerves tense, mouth dry, hand clutching the control column, thumb hovering over the firing button, eyes straining out into the dark as the thundering engines pull you into the nothingness ahead of you. That’s what it’s like to be a night-fighter pilot… to be one of the Demons of Darkness!

With a cover like that, it’s easy to see why the Commando Team picked the piece to feature in The Art of Ian Kennedy — showcasing the master of aerial art at the height of his powers!

Story | Lomas
Art | Wright
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 964 (1975).

5653: Walk, Talk… and Fight!

Ever since he was a kid, Gene Yorke had been obsessed with radios. Then, in 1942, when he found out his brother had been killed in action, Gene enlisted to do his part and honour his memory. However, instead of the combat role he yearned for, Gene got booted to a desk job working on the radios at HQ.

But everything changed when the US advanced in Luzon in the Philippines and finally Gene was posted to the front lines. It was nothing like what he had expected — things were far tougher, and the enemy was way meaner! If he was going to survive, Gene had no choice but to walk, talk and fight!

This is Guillermo Galeote’s first Commando and his art takes centre stage, with crisp details on the jungle backgrounds and clearly defined and focused characters. This, plus his dynamic action scenes mark the young Spanish artist as someone to watch out for!

Story | Ferg Handley
Art | Guillermo Galeote
Cover | Neil Roberts

5654: Roar of the Tiger

The German King Tiger tank rolled out from the cover of the trees and a shell screamed from the menacing barrel of its 88mm gun. Not many of these heavy, well-armoured tanks were ever to see action but the ones which did were very formidable indeed.

Yet there were four of these monsters that found themselves in big trouble, up against something they had never reckoned on. For a dying man had laid a curse on them, and for all their massive strength there was not the slightest doubt that from that moment they were doomed.

A classic tale with a supernatural twist, as expected of the great CW Walker, this Tiger is cursed by the dead skin of its namesake animal, as more forces than the warring Allies and Nazis are at play.

Story | CG Walker
Art | Carmona
Cover | Cox
Originally Commando No. 1447 (1980).

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 7 June 2023

For over a century, the comic book annual has been an essential Christmas stocking filler for British children and Rebellion is delighted to announce its newest edition to this proud tradition – The Treasury of British Comics Annual 2024.

Arriving on 8 November in a gorgeous hardcover, the Treasury of British Comics Annual will arrive just in time for the festive period and feature both lovingly restored classic comics and brand new high-octane stories!

Available from comic book stores, the Treasury of British Comics Annual 2024 will come in a retail edition with cover by Henry Flint (Judge Dredd) and an edition exclusive to the Treasury of British Comics webshop featuring a cover by David Roach (Anderson, Psi Division).

The team behind the Treasury of British Comics imprint have dived deep into the archives of IPC, one of the world’s biggest publishers of comic books, to select slick and exciting stories from such legendary British comic book titles as Lion, Starlord, Misty, Action, Wham!, Scream!, Smash!, Battle and Valiant!

Featuring the best of British talent such Brian Bolland (Batman: The Killing Joke), Joe Colquhoun (Charley’s War), Steve Dillon (Preacher), Pat Mills (Nemesis the Warlock), Leo Baxendale (Bash Street Kids) and many more, the Treasury of British Comics Annual will bring the magic back to this great British tradition with a veritable newsagents’ shelf full of classic stories from annuals, specials and titles of the past, lovingly restored and reprinted comics will sit alongside three brand new strips.

Famed Transformers writer Simon Furman pitches two of Britain’s greatest characters – The Leopard from Lime Street and The Spider – against each other. Artists David Roach and Mike Collins (Doctor Who) bring to life the titanic head-to-head between the feline powers of young Billy Farmer against the inventive but ruthless master criminal and anti-hero!

There is the thunderous return of the wandering warrior, Black Beth, with writer Alec Worley (Durham Red) once again teaming up with breakout artist DaNi (Coffin Bound) to deliver another tale of Beth’s quest to punish evildoers, with stunning pages evoking the work of master artist Sergio Toppi but with a dynamic, gothic edge and startling colour.

And, on the Eastern Front in the dying days of World War Two, Sergeant Holstein and his battle-hardened unit of men (and one mighty beast) face off against cutthroat Cossacks in Gustav of the Bearmacht by Kek-W (The Order) and Staz Johnson (Dark Legacies).

With something for all ages, the Treasury of British Comics Annual 2024 is the perfect Christmas gift for fans of classic British comics and a perfect introduction to a world of action and adventure for the next generation.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2335
Cover: Luke Horsman.

Judge Dredd: In The Event of My Untimely Demise by Mike Carroll (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dlan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Void Runners by David Hine (w) Boo Cook (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Durham Red: Mad Dogs by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Enemy Earth: Book Two by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley by Garth Ennis (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Rob Steen (l)

Monster Fun Dino-Scare Special
Cover: Matt Baxter.

Gums by The Feek (w) Brett Parson (a+l)
Kid Kong by Alec Worley (w) Karl Dixon (a+l)
Hell's Angel by Chris Garbutt (w+a+l)
Space Invaded! by John Lucas (w+a) Barbara Nosenzo (c) H.A. O'Millar (l)
Steel Commando by Ned Hartley (w) Dan boultwood (a) Leila Jess (L)
Witch vs Warlock by Derek Fridolfs (w) Rebecca Morse (a) Hadrien Yannou (c) Ozwaldo Sanchez (l)
The Leopard from Lime Street by Simon Furman (w) PJ Holden (a) John Paul-Bove (c) SquakeZz (l)
Martha's Monster Make-Up by Dave Bulmer (w) Abigail Bulmer (a+l)

Sunday, June 04, 2023

  • 8 Jun. Who wants to be the next UK Comics Laureate? asks Rich Johnson. "The next incumbent will be selected from nominations received from the comics community by a panel of experts who include comic creator and publisher Yomi Ayeni, journalist Rachel Cooke and Chairman of the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival, Peter Kessler ... Please send your nominations for Comics Laureate to Carole Tait by email at, to be received no later than Friday 30th June 2023."
  • 4 Jun. The post-Brexit trade deals signed with Australia and New Zealand have recently come into effect, and to celebrate, the UK has sent a shipment of British goods, including copies of The Beano signed by editor John Anderson, signed cricket and rugby tops, malt whisky, gin and other goodies.
  • 4 Jun. John Wagner was interviewed by Scottish newspaper The Herald about the upcoming re-release of Bogie Man omnibus and mentioned the TV adaptation, saying: "It’s on YouTube if you want to see it but I would recommend you don’t. The writer twisted the plot around so that nothing made sense, and he did put all our jokes in but in the wrong place.
  • 30 May. The Essential Neil Gaiman: a guide to Gaiman's best books. "Gaiman’s run as the writer of “The Sandman” from 1989 to 1996 shows off his storytelling chops as he reboots a mostly forgettable character from the DC Comics universe into the ethereal Dream (also known as Morpheus), a brooding godlike being who rules the somnolent realm of fantasies and fears."
  • 26 May. Regular Commando cover artist Keith Burns has illustrated a history of World War 2 written by historian James Holland. They are interviewed at the History First website. "I had found myself in a strange niche where I specialised in World War Two aviation stories so I could do all the aircraft, no problem, and most of the other hardware."
  • 26 May. Emanata Studios launches a short film today based on the Beano character Calamity James. The comedy stars Mark Bonnar and is being hosted by the BBC iPlayer before being shown on BBC3. According to John Freeman, "We’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak peek – and while it’s very different to reading the strip in Beano, it’s very funny, as poor Calamity’s woes get ever worse!"
  • 19 May, ComicScene Magazine is returning—with your support on Kickstarter! You can now join the pre-launch page to register your interest. The Kickstarter starts Tuesday 23rd May at 4pm (BST) and ends 9pm on Thursday 29th June."
  • 14 May. The late Carlos Ezquerra is to have a street named after him in his home town of Zaragoza, Spain. His wife, Sandra, posted on Facebook: "This recognition means a lot to my family, friends and fans and I am sure I speak for all of them when I say that we are deeply touched and grateful for this very special tribute. It is a fitting finale to his entire career in the world of comics."
  • 14 May.  Chloe Maveal interviews Glenn Fabry over at The Gutter Review. "So Garth said ... “I don’t like this cover artist. You should use Glenn Fabry.” And Karen Berger said, “Glenn Fabry is a terrible drunk! You can’t use Glenn Fabry! He won’t be able to get anything done on time! He’ll be just pissed out of his head and rolling around on the floor vomiting!”
  • 11 May. The Cartoon Museum won the Museums & Heritage Award for Community Engagement - specifically, the work they have been doing with autistic kids and their families. Steve Marchant made the announcement on Facebook.

Friday, June 02, 2023

Comic Cuts — 2 June 2023

Just after finishing last week's column, we headed out to a local comedy club, which this month was being held at the back of the Horse & Groom pub. We haven't been for a few years, but this was one we jumped at as the headline act was Ria Lina, one of a number of comedians that we have wanted to see live.

The evening's three comedians
The Funny Farm is a ramshackle club night, consisting of a backdrop, a couple of lights, a couple of speakers and a microphone. The audience were sat under a wooden structure known as "the stables", with a marquee tent on one side and the pub garden on the other. Much was made of newcomers in the garden eventually graduating to regulars, when they would be offered the "posher" seating.

Hazel, who runs the show, was on the ball, making a joke about the car that had crashed into the gates at the end of Downing Street two hours before the gig started. There were two very good support acts: Daman Bamrah, who makes much of his Sikh heritage to bring something new to his comedy; and Alexis Roy, who is from Southend. Both gave solid, confident performances that we both enjoyed.

Ria Lina was excellent. Lots of interaction with the audience and even some interaction with a couple of magpies that began heckling nearby—the downside to an outdoor gig: noisy birds and the rumble of traffic. This was WIP gig, a work in progress, so there was some new material being tested on the audience, although delivered with such confidence that it didn't break the flow of her set. (I've seen comedians with clipboards putting ticks and crosses against jokes as they try out new stuff... here it was done more subtly as we spotted Ria setting up a camera ahead of her performance.)

It was our first gig in some while—I don't think I've been to one since seeing Nish Kumar last year. We already have another lined up, as we will be seeing Urzila Carlson in September. She's a South African comedian living in New Zealand, and we know her thanks to the wonderful network of people who sneakily post Oz and NZ comedy shows at various places online. With the British topical panel show now decimated and the writer's strike taking American late night shows off the air, thank whatever god you worship for 7 Days, Have You Been Paying Attention and The Cheap Seats. We've had a tough couple of months and need a good laugh. I'm hoping that Urzila will get a fantastic reception in Colchester and let all her panel show pals know that it's worth coming to the UK.

We've had some major gardening fun this week. We'd managed to tame quite a bit of the lower level explosion of growth that comes with Spring, but mentioned to our landlady that one of the trees was overshadowing everything and starting to encroach on next door's garden. (For us, the chief problem was that birds would sit in its overhanging branches and poop on the washing underneath. That and the catkins—it is a silver birch—which get everywhere.)

You'll see from the photographs what a difference it has made. Chopping down and carting the branches around to the front of the house took two guys seven hours; one guy has been back and taken one load of cuttings to the dump, but will probably have to come back a couple of extra times—I think he might have underestimated quite how big the tree had grown!

I'm taking some time off from cleaning up artwork and have been writing a few introductions. One is for an upcoming reprint of Billy the Kid comic strips and I've completed another intro for one of the thrillers that will be coming out from Bear Alley Books in the not-too-distant future. That's two of the books finished—all but the cover art—and I have a third introduction on the go. So we're getting there... slowly but surely. I still have number four introduction to write, and two others relating to another author, plus another comic reprint intro., although I'm waiting on the artwork for that one.

That should keep me busy.

(* The odd juxtaposition of the two pictures at the head of the column is deliberate so I can make a joke on Facebook. But don't look, because it's terrible . You'll understand why Mel likes to go out and watch professionals at work rather than put up with my awful puns.)

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 31 May 2023

Following the success of last year's hardcover special, this new series brings classic series from the legendary British comics Battle Picture Weekly and Action such as ‘Johnny Red’, ‘Crazy Keller’, ‘D-Day Dawson’, ‘Dredger’, ‘Major Eazy’, and ‘Hellman of Hammer Force’ back to life, courtesy of John Wagner (Judge Dredd), Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy), Torunn Grønbekk (Thor), Rob Williams (Suicide Squad), John Higgins (Watchmen) and Chris Burnham (Batman Incorporated)!

Available through comic book stores and the 2000 AD and Treasury of British Comics webshops, this first issue features the return of fan favourite World War Two flying ace ‘Johnny Red’ by Ennis and Burns, as well as the return of Battle Picture Weekly’s co-creator John Wagner to ‘HMS Nightshade’, the series he co-created with artist Mike Western in 1979, which tells the story of a Royal Navy warship protecting Allied shipping from the U-Boat menace!

Each issue comes wrapped in a stunning cover by award-winning artist Keith Burns. A special exclusive edition of issue one, available only from the 2000 AD and Treasury webshops, features a breathtaking wrap-around cover of HMS Nightshade in action, while a Diamond retailer exclusive cover edition drawn the John Higgins is available only through comic book stores.

Battle Picture Weekly was where the 1970s revolution in British comics began. Created in 1975 by writers and editors Pat Mills and John Wagner, it introduced new grittiness into comics with its cast of anti-heroes and misfits. Its bombast and energy sparked a sea-change in what comics could do, leading to Mills’ creation of the controversial Action and the globally influential 2000 AD.

The new Battle Action mini-series celebrates the merging of this landmark title with its controversial stablemate, Action, a combination that took the two comics to even greater heights. Now, more than forty years after the original, some of the cream of British comics talent are bringing these classic characters back to life.

2000AD Prog 2334
Cover: Boo Cook.

Judge Dredd: In The Event of My Untimely Demise Part 3 by Mike Carroll (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dlan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Void Runners Part 1 by David Hine (w) Boo Cook (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Enemy Earth: Book Two Part 9 by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Durham Red: Mad Dogs Part 9 by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley Part 9 by Garth Ennis (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Rob Steen (l)

Battle Action #1
Cover: Keith Burns.

In this issue:
Johnny Red: The Falcon 
by Garth Ennis (w) Keith Burns (a) Jason Wordie (c) Rob Steen (l)
HMS Nightshade by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Len O'Grady (c) Rob Steen (l)

Friday, May 26, 2023

Comic Cuts — 26 May 2023

Somehow all our days out in May have been condensed into the last week. Also, I have drunk more this week than the rest of the year combined.

On Saturday night, ACE Comics celebrated its 40th anniversary with a bash in one of the upstairs bars at a local brewery and pub, the Three Wise Monkeys, which has been quite a success since it opened... er... at least six years ago, since when it has expanded into what used to be Jack's, a general store where you could buy everything from nails and washers to four candles (that's one for us oldies!). There was a charity shop there, briefly, before the whole place was emptied and renovations began that took over three years to complete. Partly that was because it was discovered that the building was sitting on an ancient Roman baths and the Colchester Archaeological Trust excavated a deep pit where the floor had once been so they could

We were in the bar above the former shop which opened (I think) in 2021. A lot of the old timber roof has been preserved along with other original features, although the exterior has been overhauled completely. It's still a cosy bar on two levels and a good choice for a crowd to get together.

This was the 40th anniversary of ACE Comics, and I started going there in 1986, first visiting the shop when it was located in a narrow road that led up to the gates of Colchester Castle. I had been picked up by a comic-collecting pal of mine, John Clark, who had suggested a trip to visit the shop. John drove over from Maldon, picked me up in Chelmsford, and we headed for Colchester.

I remember it looking like it should be a dingy little place from the outside, but it wasn't. If I remember correctly, there was a copy of The Dark Knight Returns on the wall behind the counter. Although I didn't find any British comics, I had been reading 2000AD regularly at that point and knew that some of the creators had made their way across the pond, most notably Brian Bolland (Camelot 3000) and Alan Moore. I definitely bout back issues of Swamp Thing during that first trip, and filled in most of the gaps on a subsequent trip. #20 proved a bit elusive, although I did eventually find a copy. I think I picked up a Superman Annual drawn by Dave Gibbons on that second trip ('For the Man Who Has Everything'), which might have been the first superhero comic I ever bought, as I was never a fan of American comics when I was growing up.

From there on I followed most British creators as the invasion took hold in the wake of Watchmen, which had me taking regular trips over to Colchester by train so that I could pick up copies the day they arrived. I remember Cam Kennedy drawing the Wagner/Grant series The Outcasts, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's beautiful Black Orchid, the launch of Hellblazer by Jamie Delano and John Ridgway and then the mad rush of Vertigo.

In 1987 I began writing for the ACE-backed fanzine After Image, and in 1989 I was involved in putting together the Comic Book Price Guide, which was co-edited by one of ACE Comics' staff, Lance Rickman (and which almost didn't happen due to a last-minute computer crash!), by which time the shop had moved from Museum Street to a much larger premises in St. John's Road. In 1992 I moved  to Colchester to make editing Comic World easier (I had been commuting for five months) and was in the shop most days for the next three years. Mel and I wrote news columns for the ACE Comics mail-order magazine Illuminations between 1996 and 2002.

I still think it's unbelievable that I have been visiting ACE Comics for 37 of its 40 years. Something definitely worth celebrating... and we certainly did! I was definitely a bit wobbly on my feet by the end of the evening. I don't drink much these days, so I'm a cheap date. Thankfully, Mel was my designated sober person and we got home safely.

We swapped roles on Tuesday and I was offering moral rather than physical support for a trip to the Job Centre and to an interview. As that's not my story to tell, I'll just say that both went well, although we don't know the results of either, yet.

And it was my Mum's birthday this week, so she came over on Wednesday and we had a very nice meal down at the Rose & Crown on the river front. Sunny, slightly breezy but no swarms of insects which can sometimes be the bane of eating outside. We sat in the park afterwards before heading back home for cake. All in all a lovely day.

We're out again tonight (I'm writing this Thursday afternoon), but I'll leave that for next week. One weird thing we did see when we were in town on Tuesday was this huge statue of a dog. Just standing there outside Elms Home Decor ("Your local, independent carpet and flooring specialist"). The significance of this giant gold Bulldog escapes us, but it is rather magnificent.

(Thanks to Biff, Tina and Kerry for organising the party — that's Martin 'Biff' Beeson and his daughter Kerry in the photo at our column head. Here's to another 40 years of ACE Comics!)

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Commando 5647-5650

Red-hot action in outer-space, the desert and Italy! Commando issues 5647-5650 hit the shelves today, Thursday 25th May, 2023!

5647: Zero-Sum

In the distant future of the 23rd century, humankind is fighting a war for survival, locked in a struggle against a new kind of enemy — machines. Controlled by an artificial intelligence known as Zero-Sum, these war machines are dedicated to one purpose — the annihilation of the human race!
The only thing that can stop Zero-Sum is a weapon capable of defeating its impenetrable energy shielding. To find it, a group of space marines has travelled across the galaxy to an abandoned weapons facility on a hostile alien planet. But what they find there may be more dangerous than Zero Sum itself!

Issue 5647 is an out-of-this-world Commando — literally! Dominic Teague’s interstellar storyline is sent to the stars by the excellent work of Starblazer alumni Carlos Pino! Set your ray guns to stun for this issue is stunning!

Story | Dominic Teague
Art| Carlos Pino
Cover | Carlos Pino

5648: Death in the Desert

“This ain’t no Boy Scout troop. There’s just one way to get out of Portland's Pirates, and that’s feet first!” Yes, being one of Portland’s Pirates could be as good as a death sentence! And when Lieutenant Neil Andrews found himself press-ganged into that bunch of ruffians, his welcome wasn’t a happy one. But Lieutenant Neil Andrews wasn’t ready to die yet!

CG Walker is on top form in this classic Commando. With intrigue and mystery in buckets, Issue 5648 drives you through the desert, with Galindo’s artwork holding onto you by the neck the whole way! What’s more, this issue has a Jeff Bevan special on cover duty — cracking stuff indeed!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Galindo
Cover | Jeff Bevan
Originally Commando No. 962 (1975).

5649: See Naples — or Die!

When Sergeant Gennaro Ricci returned to Naples, the city had been overrun by Germans who shot first and asked questions later. Plus, his sister had been kidnapped by the German major running the whole shebang! Well, with a little help Gennaro was going to show the Nazis four days in Naples they’d never forget!

Colin Maxwell’s story is inspired by the events of the famous ‘Four Days of Naples’, with Italian artist Paolo Ongaro lending authenticity to his tale. And that’s not even mentioning Mark Eastbrook’s amazing cover artwork that catapults you into the action!

Story | Colin Maxwell
Art | Paolo Ongaro
Cover | Mark Eastbrook

5650: The Camera Never Lies

His Tommy gun spitting a deadly hail of lead, Major Sam Fowler fought a glorious action through the shell-torn battlefields of France to the retreat at Dunkirk, earning himself a Victoria Cross for his acts of bravery.
Hailed as a credit to his regiment and his country, Fowler settled down to a life as a hero. But all good things must come to an end. It was not a German bullet that brought about his downfall, however — it was a movie camera!

Issue 5450 is a Commando selected ‘By Special Request’ by Commando readers themselves — and it’s a good job they did because this issue deserves another outing. With the masters-three CG Walker, Gordon C Livingstone and Ian Kennedy gracing this issue — it’s picture perfect!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1334 (1979).

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 24 May 2023

Not even hiding behind the sofa will protect you this Halloween – pre-order The Best of Tharg’s Terror Tales now!

From the deepest, darkest recesses of the Nerve Centre vaults, the eerie alien editor of 2000 AD known as Tharg the Mighty presents the creepiest tales to ever grace the pages of the galaxy’s greatest Comic!

This fear-filled anthology introduces one-off stories full of ghosts, demons, mutants and killers and is thick with atmosphere, dark humour and mind-blowing twists.

Written and illustrated by some of the biggest names in the comic book industry, this collection features strips by Mark Millar, Al Ewing, Simon Spurrier, Chris Weston, Richard Elson and Eric Bradbury amongst others.

Out on 12 October, pre-order now in time for spooky season this October – but make sure all your doors and windows are locked before unleashing the multiple faces of horror!

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2333
Cover: Mark Harrison.

Judge Dredd: In The Event of My Untimely Demise Part 2 by Mike Carroll (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dlan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Durham Red: Mad Dogs Part 8 by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Enemy Earth: Book Two Part 8 by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Out: Book Three Part 15 by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley Part 8 by Garth Ennis (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Rob Steen (l)

The Complete Diceman by Pat Mills, John Wagner, Alan Grant, Simon Geller (w) Bryan Talbot, David Lloyd, Glenn Fabry, Garry Leach, Nik Williams, Una Fricker, Mike Collins, Mark Farmer, Kevin O'Neill, Steve Dillon, Graham Manley, John Ridgeway, Hunt Emerson (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618941-7, 23 May 2023, 336pp, £39.99 / $49.99. Available via Amazon.

Originally published during the adventure gamebook boom of the 1980s, Dice Man has never been reprinted in its entirety before, but now the complete run of comic/game magazine is presented in this massive collection.
    Using dice and a pencil, you will become Judge Dredd as he faces off against the Dark Judges, or guide Nemesis the Warlock as they race through the Torture Tube, or help Sláine steal the Cauldron of Blood from the Tower of Glass.
    With the stories and games created by Pat Mills and Simon Geller, and art from some of 2000 AD’s finest artists such as Kevin O’Neill (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Steve Dillon (Preacher), and Bryan Talbot (The Adventures of Luther Arkwright), this is an unmissable collection for any 2000 AD reader.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Comic Cuts — 19 May 2023

I think I might be close to figuring out when I started reading Valiant. I know it was some time in 1969 but I haven't nailed down a date. I can tell you the date of the first copy I ever saw, which I remember seeing at the home of a schoolfriend.

The last time I started thinking about this, I thought I must have started buying copies for myself in November or December of that year, but I have been working on scans of Mytek the Mighty and I'm now convinced that I remember reading the story which begins with Professor and Dirk going in search of a missing submarine, and there are panels that feature Mytek walking underwater and being tangled in writhing tendrils of seaweed.

Those episodes date from September 1969, so it might be around that time that I started buying Valiant. I've probably mentioned this before, but the way I came to read Valiant was due to reading James Bond. I had an eye operation when I was 7 and, with my eyesight corrected, I began reading everything I could lay my hands on, which meant my dad's paperback novels. He read John Creasey, Dennis Wheatley, James Hadley Chase and Ian Fleming, thrillers by Alistair MacLean, lots of westerns... bar the westerns, I was reading what he was reading.

A friend and I had been to see a James Bond double-bill at the cinema, so I was keen on James Bond and wanted to read Goldfinger, which my dad didn't have—he would regularly take the books he had read into work and hand them out to anyone who wanted them. Maybe it was seeing books that I wanted to read being disposed of that turned me into a hoarder.

The quest to find that Bond led me to visit another schoolfriend whose brother was said to maybe have a copy. I don't remember whether he did or not, but he did have some old Valiants, which I borrowed and read from cover to cover in short order. The first issue I read was dated 8 February 1969... and this is the Steel Claw story from that issue that I remember so clearly...

My choice of what I read hasn't changed much since I was seven! I'm reading Mytek the Mighty as I clean up the artwork, and I have just started reading an old hardboiled paperback, One Is A Lonely Number by Bruce Elliott that was reprinted a few years ago by Stark House. How tough is this book? "Even Cornell Woolrich and David Goodis would find this book a downer," says Ed Gorman in his introduction. That's a book that I need to read.

The reason I managed to get hold of a copy is because I have just written an introduction for an upcoming Stark House reprint. It is for Sinister House by Charles G. Booth, who was one of the pioneers of hardboiled crime writing. I did some research into Booth a few years ago when I was thinking about updating The Mushroom Jungle, an ongoing project that won't be happening any time soon, but which I would love to get to at some point. What interested me was that Booth was English, but made it in America writing stories for the likes of Black Mask.

You'll have to wait until February next year to find out what I discovered about him. That's when the book is due. In the meantime, I might look into Bruce Elliott, who turns out to have been a friend of magician Walter B. Gibson (of The Shadow fame) and spiritualist skeptic Bill Gresham (of Nightmare Alley fame). He certainly kept good company.

The grass we sowed a couple of weeks ago has grown in patches, so I'm planning to sow some more. I knew this wasn't going to be easy and I'm very pleased by the fact that any grass has grown at all, but by following the instructions on the last box, I may have spread the seeds too thinly on the ground. I have another box, and we can, apparently, sow seeds all the way up to September. Hopefully by then the bald areas of former grass will be lush with new growth!

With Mel working from home, we have dropped back into our old ways. I'm making more stews and I even baked a banana bread... it feels uncomfortably like lockdown again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 17 May 2023

It’s one of the most iconic panels in comic history – and now“Gaze into the fist of Dredd!” is being brought to life as an action figure set from HIYA Toys!

The two-figure 1/18 scale PVC action figure set of Judge Dredd and Judge Fear will be coming to stores in early 2024.

Judge Fear is the terror-inducing member of the Dark Judges, the alien superfiends from a dimension where all life has been declared a crime – and a single look behind the gothic windows of his helmet visor reveals his victim’s worst fear, scaring them to death!

But in the 1981 Judge Dredd story ‘Judge Death Lives’, drawn by the legendary artist Brian Bolland, when Judge Fear invites Dredd to “Gaze into the face of Fear!” rather than succumb to terror Dredd instead smashes his fist straight through Fear’s head and declares “Gaze into the fist of Dredd!”.

Regularly cited by fans as one of Dredd’s greatest ever moments, the Exquisite Mini Series 1/18 Scale 4 Inch Judge Dredd: Gaze Into The Fist of Dredd Action Figure set will retail at $39.99 (USD) and will be available to pre-order from retailers from 10 May.

The Judge Fear figure comes with 13 points of articulation and Dredd with 16 points, plus shoulder and joint pads, and chains and badges of office. Judge Fear’s helmet has been remodelled to allow you to set up the classic pose, with a fist-sized hole for Dredd to punch through!

And now, this week's release...

2000AD Prog 2332
Cover: Toby Willsmer.

Judge Dredd: In The Event of My Untimely Demise by Mike Carroll (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dlan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Durham Red: Mad Dogs by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Out: Book Three by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Enemy Earth: Book Two by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley by Garth Ennis (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Rob Steen (l)

Friday, May 12, 2023

Comic Cuts — 12 May 2023

I have spent most of the week scanning episodes of various comic strips from Valiant this week and buying up copies that I'm going to need for future volumes. The biggest of the three volumes I'm working on is the fourth and final volume of 'Mytek the Mighty', which wraps up the story of the giant robot ape. I think this will be the first time that I have been able to read the whole story in order, because it was already well underway when I started reading Valiant as a youngster.

I came to Valiant in 1969; I can't remember the precise issue, but it was during the story where Mytek travels to the Planet Umbra. I also remember The Scarecrow appearing in the Steel Claw story and reading The Shrinker and The Secret Champion, so it must have been the latter half of that year, when I was seven years old.

The earliest copy I have which was definitely mine is the first issue from 1971, which has "Holland calls" written on it. That means I had it on order at our local newsagent, who had the annoying habit of calling me Mr. Netherlands when I went to pick up our papers on a Saturday morning. Most annoying when you're eight years old.

Most of those earlier issues that I bought in 1969/70 have gone, as the copies I have I bought in the 1980s and 1990s, when I was able to build up a nearly complete run of the paper from the 1960s. I then have quite a few issues bought at the time with my name penciled on the cover. I gave up in 1974 when most of the stories that I liked disappeared: The Steel Claw and Star Trek in 1973, and The Wild Wonders, Kelly's Eye, Raven on the Wing, Janus Stark, Yellowknife of the Yard all disappearing in a night of the long knives when Valiant merged with Lion in May 1974. It gave me an excuse to cut my ties to Valiant and switch my regular Saturday order to Speed & Power, which had just started.

I did keep up with comics, buying Top Secret Picture Library when it launched in July 1974, and Vulcan when it came out nationally in March 1975, which meant I found myself buying Valiant again in 1976 when Vulcan was merged. That same year, I discovered copies of Analog and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for sale at the Chelmsford railway station Smith's, and was buying those regularly for the next few years.

Happy days!

Thanks to the patchy rain we've had all week, we haven't managed to do much in the garden. But there is good news: in the areas where we cleared the weeds, we now have tiny grass shoots showing. I fully expect it will take a couple of goes to reseed the whole area, but we are off to a good start, and (fingers crossed) it might mean it doesn't take quite so much effort to keep on top of the gardening in the future. Being a non-driver, we have to rely on the council removing green waste at a rate of four bags every two weeks and that means the garden can look a bit untidy at times during the summer when every job we do fills up out green waste quota for another fortnight.

We're making progress on the upcoming thriller books. We have proofed text for five now and I'm on the second introduction... in other words, I'm the one holding things up. We have potentially another five titles that we can do, which will all depend on how much time Mel can devote to the text. I have no idea when I will have time to do my part, but hopefully it won't take forever and I can write the introductions between the comic collections.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Commando 5643-5646

issues 5643-5646 go on sale today, Thursday 11th May, 2023, featuring World War One hi-jinks, RAF backstabbers, Werewolves, and the Battle of Britain!

5643: Warr and Pease

What happens when a frail, young “school swot” becomes a British officer in the trenches of the First World War? Well, he has to learn hard and fast if he wants to keep his head free from bullet holes! But don’t judge this book by the cover, he shares his wacky ideas on strategy while his loyal sergeant and Gurkha comrades show him a thing or two about brawn. In the end, they might just make a soldier out of that officer.

This rip-roaring World War One story from writer Suresh, with gritty interiors by veteran artist Jaume Forns, is topped up with an explosive cover by Neil Roberts!

Story | Suresh
Art| Jaime Forns
Cover | Neil Roberts

5644: Beware Your Friends!

It’s a dicey business attacking Nazi armoured columns. When you’re flying at 400 mph, hurtling over hedges and trees and dodging the flak, your reactions have to be lightning fast, your decisions made in split seconds. Danger is ever present, but there’s double danger when rockets and cannon shells start coming at you — fired from behind!

A classic Commando from 1975! With an amazing story by RA Montague which has twists and turns brought to life by Ibanez’s interior artwork! And with Ian Kennedy on cover duty — what more could you want?!

Story | RA Montague
Art | Ibanez
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 961 (1975).

5645: The Lab Rat Club

Jim Cope was an excellent pilot — but a reckless one. He charged into dogfights headfirst without stopping to think about the consequences. This was doubly dangerous considering it was 1940, during the peak of the Battle of Britain! It was inevitable that Jim’s luck would run out. After a disastrous sortie, he became trapped in a blazing Hurricane, flames licking at his flesh, burning him badly and putting him out of action. But all was not lost as this is the story of how Jim Cope became a member of The Lab Rat Club!

Stephen Hume’s poignant tale is inspired by the true stories of the men of ‘The Guinea Pig Club’ and Manuel Benet’s masterful art lends itself beautifully to this excellent issue!

Story | Stephen Hume
Art | Manuel Benet
Cover | Manuel Benet

5646: Fire in the Forest

They called themselves Werewolves. They dressed all in black and operated only at night, in the forests of southern Germany. Riding powerful motorcycles, they swept into British camps and fuel dumps, killing, wrecking and burning, then vanished. Where did these devils of the dark come from and where would they start the next fire in the forest?

This is one of CG Walker's best-ever issues and an often-cited fan-favourite. But not only that — this hotly anticipated reprint features artwork by Blasco and a fiery Ian Kennedy classic!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Blasco
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1440 (1980).


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