Saturday, May 21, 2022

  • 21 May. Garen Ewing has announced that he is working on a new Julius Chancer story, The Brambletye Box. "At the moment I’m just making the first 5 pages (19 web strips) available to read (start here). More will follow as and when I’m able to put them up. I’m not going to promise any consistency just yet as it will be at the mercy of my work schedule – but by publishing them now I am making a commitment to getting this done as best as I can."
  • 18 May. Tripwire magazine has an interview with veteran 2000AD artist Ian Gibson. "I told Alan: “I want a story without thought bubbles or explanatory captions, as I never see signposts proclaiming ‘Little did he know’ or shit like that. I wanted the story to be experienced by the reader the way we go through our daily lives – we figure it out as we go. Alan said fine and he went away, coming back six months later saying: ‘We have a winner! Girls, Rockets and Monsters!’"
  • 18 May. Disney are rebooting The League of Extraordinary Gentleman for Hulu. Based on the series by Alan Moore and Kev O'Neill, the new show will be produced by Don Murphy (producer of the 2003 movie) and Susan Montford, with Jason Haythe scripting. Sources for The Hollywood Reporter say "Haythe and company are returning to the core comic books for their take."
  • 17 May. Garth Ennis previews The Boys series 3 (video, 13m).
  • 13 May. Ed Brubaker discusses the Reckless series of crime noir graphic novels, during which he says of Sean Phillips: “I feel like I would probably write slower if Sean drew slower, but he always needs pages. It’s a great way to stop second-guessing whatever decision I have to make.”
  • 12 May. Interview: Kenneth Niemand.  "[W]hat we hadn't seen, as far as I could tell, was a Judge returning from Titan who wasn't out for revenge, and who was genuinely regretful about what they had done and wanted to rejoin Mega-City society again. And that seemed to me like a much more interesting character than another corrupt or psychotic Judge, especially when you put them up against the hostility they'd face from other Judges."
  • 12 May. Glyn Dillon discusses how the death of his brother Steve Dillon inspired a creative awakening. “At first I thought about doing a comic [about Steve’s death], but the feelings felt too big for that medium. I needed to do something different, more physical, standing up, climbing a ladder.”
  • 12 May. Fran of the Floods vs Disaster 1990. Charles EP Murphy compares Bill Savage to the story of a 12-year-old girl. "At the end of the day, that’s maybe the biggest difference. Boys get to take forceful action and girls do not, but the girls get to have an emotional life and the boys not so much."
  • 5 May. Interview: Brian Bolland (video, 9m) "Interview with Brian Bolland, talking about his future projects, his experience like cover artist for Animal Man, Invisibles, Doom Patrol and his relationship with Italy and more."
  • 4 May. Portland-based journalist Chloe Maveal has announced that NeoText Review will be coming to an end. As editor-in-chief, she penned numerous articles, making NeoText one of the few sites to regularly cover British talent and aspects of British comics' history.
  • 29 Apr. Interview: Neil Gaiman. "I don’t recall there being a time that I ever didn’t want to be a writer, but CS Lewis and his Narnia books definitely made me realise that these stories I loved were being written by a person. Lewis wasn’t pretending to be invisible, he was very happily there in the text, making these lovely friendly asides to the reader."
  • 29 Apr. Downthetubes throws a spotlight on Alan Langford
  • 28 Apr. Interview: Liam Sharp. "What I wanted to do would be considered vulgar, and worthless. Frazetta and his ilk were to art schools in that era what Yes, Rush and Pink Floyd were to punks and music journalists – uncool, bloated, crap. Art schools hated everything I loved."
  • 27 Apr. Interview: Patrick Goddard (video, 58m)
  • 26 Apr. Interview: Brian Bolland talking about his career (video, 1hr 55m). "The legendary Brian Bolland comes to The Cube to talk about his career!"

Friday, May 20, 2022

Comic Cuts — 20 May 2022

Again, pressure of work means this will be kept short. I'm battling a deadline on two books that were both longer than originally anticipated, so they have both involved a lot more work. The good news is that they're both now nearly done. I'm on the last pass of the second book and should be able to crack on with some writing next week. Then it's straight into the next book, which has already been started, and, two weeks after that, a fourth book, which (again) I've already started.

By this time next month I will have scanned and cleaned something like 660 pages in six weeks, and written five or six articles. Even for me that's pretty full on.

I'm relaxing by watching one of the best shows I've seen in ages, Slow Horses, based on the first of the Slough House novels by Mick Herron. It features a bunch of washed up British spies who, for various reasons, have been shunted into a dead end department run by the foul mouthed alcoholic Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman, having a whale of a time).

I don't know why, but I found the story of this bunch of mostly unlikable misfits and their attempts to rescue a kidnapped teenager a breath of fresh air. Maybe I've been watching too much slick TV of late, with characters who know too much and do everything too well, but these felt like real people, trying to muddle through the shambolic fuck-ups that they've made of their lives. I'm one episode away from the end... please, please, Apple, do a second series. [[UPDATE: I can't tell you how happy I am. The final episode has a trailer for a second series, which has already been filmed and will hopefully be out later this year. Fantastic!]]

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 18 May 2022

A gorgeous showcase of the work of one of comics’ greatest artists, Carlos Ezquerra, is out now.

The Art of Carlos Ezquerra give long-time fans and new readers alike the chance to enjoy some of the highlights of the legacy of this comics titan.

An often unsung titan of the industry, Ezquerra’s influence has been as broad as his artwork was inimitable. Co-creator of legendary character Judge Dredd and future mutant bounty hunter series Strontium Dog, as well as the artist behind so many iconic moments, when he passed away unexpectedly in 2018, comics was robbed of one of its most vibrant, dynamic and powerful talents, yet his legacy is almost unparalleled in the industry.

The Art of Carlos Ezquerra is an 240-page hardcover collection spanning half a century of his comic work, beginning with samples from his early art on romance titles as Valentine and Mirabelle. Alongside an extensive interview with the master himself, it will also include never-before-reprinted short war comics from the groundbreaking 1970s war comic, Battle, before showcasing his sumptuous colour work on Strontium Dog, and culminating with a selection of his 2000 AD work and Judge Dredd.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2282
Cover: Tiernan Trevallion.

Judge Dredd: An Honest Man by Kenneth Niemand (w) Tom Foster (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse
Brink: Mercury Retrograde by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland
Hope: In The Shadows by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Dexter: Bulletopia Chapter Nine - The Thing in the Thing by Dan Abnett (w) Tazio Bettin (a) Matt Soffe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Fiends of the Eastern Front: 1963 by Ian Edginton (w) Tiernen Trevallion (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 444
Cover: Andy Clarke.

Judge Dredd: Q-Topia by Arthur Wyatt (w) Ian Richardson (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse
Death Cap by TC Eglington (w)
Boo Cook (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Diamond Dogs III by James Peaty (w) Warren Please (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Lawless: Ballots Over Badrock by Dan Abnett (w), Phil Windslade (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Surfer by John Wagner (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Features: Obituary - Garry Leach by Steven Jewell, Tazio Bettin interview and New Books - 45 Years of 2000 AD art book by Karl Stock
Bagged graphic novel: Hawk the Slayer #5 by Garth Ennis (w) Henry Flint (a) Rob Steen (l)

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Dan J. Marlowe Cover Gallery

Hard-boiled thriller writer Dan J. Marlowe was one of the inspirations for Ed Brubaker's Fatale series, but had a life that could be turned into a pretty harrowing movie. After a writing career that earned him praise from Anthony Boucher and Stephen King, won him the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and saw him compared favourably with contemporaries like Jim Thompson, John D. MacDonald and Brett Halliday, Marlowe's career collapsed.

You can learn more about Marlowe's astonishing career here.

Marlowe doesn't seem to have been a favourite of British paperback publishers. His Drake novels were reprinted by Coronet in 1972-75 and some had hardcover editions, but many titles from Avon and Gold Medal never had UK editions.

Doorway to Death, Avon, 1959.
Digit R318, (Jan) 1960, 160pp, 2/6. Cover (rpts Avon T307)

Killer with a Key, Avon, 1959.
(no UK paperback)

Doom Service, Avon, 1960.
(no UK paperback)

Killer with a Key, Avon, 1959.
(no UK paperback)

The Fatal Frails, Avon, 1960.
(no UK paperback)

Shake a Crooked Town, Avon, 1961.
(no UK paperback)

Backfire, Berkley, Nov. 1961.
(no UK paperback)

The Name of the Game Is Death, Gold Medal, Jan. 1962 (revised as Operation Overkill, Gold Medal, Jan. 1973).
Gold Medal 604, 1963, 155pp.
Coronet 0340-17835-3, 1973, 159pp, 30p.

Strongarm, Gold Medal, Sep. 1963.
(no UK paperback)

Never Live Twice, Gold Medal, 1964.
(no UK paperback)

Death Deep Down, Gold Medal, 1965.
(no UK paperback)

The Vengeance Man, Gold Medal, 1966.
(no UK paperback)

Nobody Laughs at Me, Gold Medal, 1966.
(no UK paperback)

Four for the Money, Gold Medal, 1966.
(no UK paperback)

The Raven Is a Blood Red Bird, with William Odell, Gold Medal, 1967.
(no UK paperback)

Route of the Red Gold, Gold Medal, 1967.
(no UK paperback)

One Endless Hour, Gold Medal, 1969 (as Operation Endless Hour, Coronet, 1975).
Coronet 0340-19476-6, 1975, 35p.

Operation Fireball, [with William Odell. uncredited], Gold Medal, 1969.
Coronet 0340-16474-3, 1972, 175pp, 30p.

Flashpoint, Gold Medal, Aug 1970, as Operation Flashpoint, Gold Medal, 1972.
Coronet 0340-16475-1, 1972, 175pp, 30p.

Reluctant Wives (as Mande Woljar), Dansk Blue Book (101), Feb. 1971.
(no UK paperback)

The Young Librarian (as Rod Waleman), Dansk Blue Book (103), Feb. 1971.
(no UK paperback)

The Orphan Girls (as Major D. Lawn), Dansk Blue Book (105), Mar. 1971.
(no UK paperback)

The Stepdaughters (as Rod Waleman). Dansk Blue Book (107), Mar. 1971.
(no UK paperback)

The Innocent Schoolteacher (as Rod Waleman). Dansk Blue Book (113), May 19071.
(no UK paperback)

The Unwilling Mistress (as Alma Wedon), Dansk Blue Book (119), Jun. 1971.
(no UK paperback)

Operation Breakthrough, [with William Odell, uncredited], Gold Medal, Oct. 1971.
Coronet 0340-16473-5, 1972, 192pp, 30p.

Operation Drumfire, Gold Medal, Apr 1972.
Coronet 0340-16467-0, 1972, 176pp, 30p.

Operation Checkmate, Gold Medal, Oct 1972.
Coronet 0340-17418-8, 1973, 175pp, 30p.

Operation Stranglehold, Gold Medal, May 1973.
Coronet 0340-18286-5, 1974, 159pp, 30p.

Operation Whiplash, Gold Medal, Oct. 1973.
Coronet 0340-18601-1, 1974, 176pp, 30p.

Operation Hammerlock, Gold Medal, Jun. 1974.
Coronet 0340-19670-x, 1975, 174pp, 35p.

Operation Deathmaker, Gold Medal, Jan. 1975.
Coronet 0340-20150-9, 1977, 175pp, 50p.

Operation Counterpunch, Gold Medal, 1976.Feb.
(no UK paperback)

Phoenix Force #2: Guerilla Games (as Gar Wilson), Gold Eagle, Jun. 1982.
(no UK paperback)

(* My thanks to Jules Elvins, who recently sent over a collection of scans, without which this gallery would be rather patchy. Note: the evidence that Marlowe penned a number of adult books is presented here. Charles Kelly, who wrote a biography of Marlowe, says that he collaborated with William C. (Bill) Odell on "about a dozen books", but was credited on only one. I don't have Kelly's book (A Gunshot in Another Room), so I don't know if he identifies all the collaborations, but they include Operation Fireball and Operation Breakthrough.)

Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Laughs of a Nation by Alan Clark

Alan Clark's latest (eighth!) book in his series about British comics' history is subtitled "the publications of Gerald G. Swan" and that's just what you get—294 pages dedicated to one of the most amazing publishers to have ever published comics... and magazines... and annuals... and books ranging from hardboiled crime fiction to books on sex education and learning to dance.

After a brief look at Swan and his background, the bulk of the book is dedicated to images, mostly colour covers with chapters dedicated to various genres of magazines, from Weird Story Magazine to Detective Shorts (as in short stories, but the abbreviation does give us entertaining and puerile titles like Occult Shorts and Yankee Shorts, although Swan avoided any "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" by publishing Schoolboys Short Stories and Schoolgirls Short Stories.

Swan's annuals were his best sellers for many years, and the book dedicates fifty pages to them before giving some coverage to novels and Swan's authors (amongst them my favourite, William J. Elliott, and the most famous, Elleston Trevor). The book includes a handful of brief biographies of artists before concluding with a reprint of David Ashford's long out-of-print Golden Fun article, 'Funnies and Thrills'.

There is a lot more to be said about Swan, and readers with long memories will recall that Swan was one of the wartime publishers I was writing about during last year's lockdown for an upcoming project. In the meantime, The Laughs of a Nation is a fantastic introduction to Swan and his fascinating and occasionally bizarre output.

As usual, the book is available directly from its author, now based in Italy, via Ebay as are a couple of Alan's earlier books which can be found on his seller's page.

The Laughs of a Nation by Alan Clark.
Alan Clark, no ISBN, [May] 2022, 294pp, £23.00. Available via Ebay.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Comic Cuts — 13 May 2022

Again, this is going to be short as I'm writing this with a deadline hanging around my neck — it's my turn to cook dinner! That's true of most Thursdays, but I'll usually have at least started writing my Friday post in the morning, leaving the hour before dinner to wrap things up, or sort out images. Tonight I'm starting from scratch as I have been cleaning up artwork all day to the exclusion of all else.

It has been a very busy week. The tail end of last week and Saturday was spent on one strip, and I started on another on Sunday. A call from an editor at The Guardian meant that I had to pull an all-nighter, researching and writing an obituary for George Perez, started at 11 o'clock in the evening and 1,800 words later, emailed in at 9 o'clock Monday morning so that it was there when the staff came in. I crashed about an hour later.

Surprisingly, I was back up by 2 o'clock, after four hours sleep, and that was all I needed to get me back onto a proper sleep pattern. In fact, I've probably been sleeping sounder these past few nights than I normally do. Maybe I need to do that every week.

For entertainment we have been watching Moon Knight and enjoying Oscar Isaac's performance greatly. I feel we're getting more out of TV shows than movies these days. I've only seen a couple of really satisfying movies in the past few months, one of them a rewatch of Dune. Most have been at best OK and one was utterly insane (Moonfall) but not to the point where it was compelling... it was just stupid.

TV shows, on the other hand, have been really entertaining, from murder mysteries (Magpie Murders, Murder in Provence, Van Der Valk) to science fiction (Resident Alien, Peacemaker, Raised by Wolves), comedies (mostly panel shows, but also Our Flag Means Death), documentary films (Who Killed the KLF, The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe) and documentaries (Dinosaurs: The Final Day, Dynasties II, Earth's Great Rivers). Just thoroughly entertaining, sometimes thought provoking, and for the most part relaxing after what has been a really busy couple of months.

I wouldn't call my viewing habits challenging. Certainly with films I want to be entertained, but the modern blockbuster is often written to death and even the latest Marvel movies (The Eternals, Morbius) haven't filled me with the joy I was getting from the Captain America, Iron Man and Avengers movies. I'm still looking forward to the new Doctor Strange, although I might have to wait if I'm to hit the next few deadlines.

Talking of which... I'd better finish up or it'll  be a sandwich for dinner.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Commando 5539-5542

Brand-new Commando issues are in shops from today. Featuring three very different kinds of airmen — from spies to rookies to the plain stupid — alongside a Royal Navy destroyer trying to box clever with a Japanese Battleship!

5539: Jungle Wings

Flying Officer Joe Blake and his mates felt like the cocks of the walk back in Malaya in 1941. But, when push came to shove, their first-ever dogfight against the Japanese saw their feathers being well and truly plucked! The Aussie’s Brewster Buffalos stood no chance against the Mitsubishi A6M Zeros and the rookie Australian pilots paid a heavy price indeed.

Joe, now the only survivor of his squadron, was tasked with training a new one. But could he put the past behind him — or would the faces of the dead overwhelm him?

Resident Aussie writer Brent Towns weaves a story of angst, grief, and turmoil in ‘Jungle Wings’ with outstanding art from the veteran Vicente Alcazar and new fan-favourite Mark Harris!

Story | Brent Towns
Art| Vicente Alcazar
Cover | Mark Harris

5540: Pacific Pirates

HMS Samson was Lieutenant Commander Roland Bream’s destroyer —small, fast and deadly, the pride of her crew and a credit to the Royal Navy. But when this destroyer crossed the path of a giant Japanese Yamato class battleship she had to turn tail! For this was one of the world’s largest battleships —one shell from its 18 inch guns could blow the Samson out of the water. Yet as the destroyer fled before her colossal opponent, Bream was racking his brains for an opportunity to hit back —even though it seemed pure suicide!

Issue 5540 is a reprint 'By Special Request' and therefore chosen by one of our readers! And what an issue it is!

Story | Alan Hebden
Art | Maidagan
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1049 (1979)

5541: Two Men in a Boat

May 1940 is a time that has gone down in history, and there are many stories of daring escapes from Dunkirk, and bravery while fleeing from the German forces overrunning France. But this is not one of those stories, for there are none quite like this tale of two RAF men in one boat!

Calum Laird is back, back, back again and he’s here to delight and amuse us with his two diabolically dim airmen – but not only this – there’s Jaume Forns delivering hilarious art and a Carlos Pino cover masterpiece to boot!

Story | Calum Laird
Art | Jaume Forns
Cover | Carlos Pino

5542: The Hunt is on!

Imagine you’re a British pilot, shot down over enemy-occupied France. There’s only one thought in your mind —escape! But it's not going to be easy, with German patrols out hunting for you, so you’re very glad when you find a group of loyal, dedicated Frenchmen who are doing their best to see that someone like you gets home safely. But if you’re a Gestapo agent, what better way to smash such a lifeline than to pose as a stranded British airman...

A powerhouse trio on board for this Commando with CG Walker and CT Rigby working together yet again (they would do over 40 issues together) and Philpot on cover duty!

Story | CG Walker
Art | CT Rigby
Cover | Philpott
Originally Commando No. 1769 (1984)

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 11 May 2022

The hunt is on for original art pages by artist Mick McMahon from his work on the iconic 2000 AD series Sláine.

Rebellion is appealing for owners of original Sláine art by McMahon to come forward and assist with the next in its Apex Edition line of deluxe, over-sized facsimile art books.

With the Apex Edition of McMahon’s Judge Dredd work available for pre-order and out in October, this second volume, slated for publication in 2023, will feature his other work for 2000 AD on series such as ABC Warriors, Ro-Busters, and Sláine. Created by Pat Mills and Angie Kincaid, Sláine is one of 2000 AD’s most popular and enduring characters, and McMahon is acclaimed as one of the greatest artists on the series.

The missing pages represent some of his boldest and most memorable work, including the story ‘Sky Chariots’ and the stunning cover for the 1986 Titan Books reprint of Sláine.

Lovingly put together by Rebellion’s reprographics and editorial team with the help of artist, writer and comics historian David Roach, The Apex Editions feature high-resolution scans of art, reproduced as close to their original size as possible. Owners of individual original Sláine pages are being asked to come forward to make this Apex Edition as comprehensive as possible.

If anyone has any of the following pages, please contact Rebellion on

‘Warrior’s Dawn’ (2000 AD Prog 335)

  • Pages 1, 2, 6

‘The Beltain Giant’ (2000 AD Prog 336)

‘Heroes Blood’ (2000 AD Progs 345 – 347)

  • Part 1 Pages 1, 3 – 6
  • Part 2 Pages 1 – 6
  • Part 3 Pages 4 and 5

‘The Shoggey Beast’ (2000 AD Progs 348 – 351)

‘Sky Chariots’ (2000 AD Progs 352 – 360)

  • Parts 1 and 2 all pages missing
  • Part 3 (Prog 354) Pages 2, 4, 5, 6
  • Part 4 (Prog 355) Pages 1, 2
  • Part 5 (Prog 356) Pages 2, 4, 5
  • Part 6 (Prog 357) Pages 1, 4, 5, 6
  • Part 7 (Prog 358) Pages 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Part 8 (Prog 359) Pages 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  • Part 9 (Prog 360) Pages 1 – 6

Cover of Sláine Book 1 (Titan reprint, 1986)

All artwork will be securely returned to its owners after being carefully scanned and appropriate credit will be given in the collection. They will also receive a copy of the book when it is published.

Graphic novel editor Oliver Pickles said: “It’s no exaggeration to call McMahon’s work on Sláine legendary. When we announced that we were putting together an Apex Edition of his work the question we immediately got back was “Will it include Sláine?” – while this year’s Apex Edition will just focus on Mick’s amazing art on Judge Dredd, we want to showcase his other work for 2000 AD which is just as enthralling and influential.”

David Roach said: “The Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition has been a huge hit and we’re hoping that now it is out there we’ll get an even better response to our appeal as people can see how the Apex Editions showcase such remarkable art.

“Part of the allure of his work on Sláine is how different and evocative it is – both in terms of his own style and with regards to previous artists on the series. His scratchy inking evokes ancient woodcuts while his work on ‘Sky Chariots’ in particular is simultaneously imbued with great solidity and a remarkable weightlessness.”

After delays caused by international paper shortages and shipping issues, the Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition collection is now arriving with customers and at comic book stores, to universally positive acclaim. This book brings together pages by Bolland from private collections in the US, UK, France, and further afield.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2280
Cover: Tom Foster.

Judge Dredd: An Honest Man by Kenneth Niemand (w) Tom Foster (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse
Brink: Mercury Retrograde by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland
Hope: In The Shadows by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Dexter: Bulletopia Chapter Nine - The Thing in the Thing by Dan Abnett (w) Tazio Bettin (a) Matt Soffe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Fiends of the Eastern Front: 1963 by Ian Edginton (w) Tiernen Trevallion (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Hawk the Slayer #2 (of 5) by Garth Ennis & Henry Flint
Cover: Greg Staples.

Hawk’s deepest fears have been confirmed - dark forces have returned to plague the land and only he stands any chance of stopping them! Reunited with the warrior giant, Gort and the skilled Elfin Bowman Crow, as well as some new comrades, Hawk must venture into the Forest of Weir to learn the true identity of his enemy.

The Art of Carlos Ezquerra
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618567-9, 10 May 2022, 240pp, £24.99 / $34.99. Available via Amazon.

An often unsung titan of the industry, Carlos Ezquerra's influence has been as broad as his artwork was inimitable. His co-creation of Judge Dredd and powerful work on Strontium Dog alone helped establish 2000 AD as a powerhouse and him as a comics master. When he passed away unexpectedly in 2018, comics was robbed of one of its most vibrant, dynamic and powerful talents, yet his legacy is almost unparalleled in the industry. Publishing as part of 2000 AD's 45th anniversary celebrations, this 240-page hardcover collection spans half a century of his comic work and is ideal for both long-time fans and those looking to discover his work for themselves. Beginning with samples from his early art on romance titles as Valentine and Mirabelle, this book also collects never-before-reprinted short war comics from the groundbreaking 1970s war comic, Battle. It also showcases his sumptuous colour work on Strontium Dog, and culminates with selection of his 2000 AD work and his greatest creation, Judge Dredd.

The Sarge by Gerry Finley-Day & Mike Western
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618633-1, 12 May 2022, 144pp, £19.99. Available via Amazon.

They depended on The Sarge. And the world depended on them. British Sergeant Jim Masters, a veteran of WW1, has to protect and lead his inexperienced platoon during the Second World War. From Dunkirk to North Africa, the might of the German Army face the ultimate adversaries when Masters and his boys spring into action - Nothing can substitute experience!

Thistlebone Book Two by TC Eglington & Simon Davis
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618565-5, 10 May 2022, 80pp, £14.99 / $19.99. Available via Amazon.

It has been over a year since journalist Seema Chaudry accompanied cult survivor Avril Eason back to the village of Harrowvale, the site of her terrifying experiences at the hands of Jasper Hillman’s Thistlebone worshippers, a crazed occult group that believed in an ancient woodland deity. Intended as a cathartic experience, both women were changed forever by what they were confronted with. Now, in the process of researching a book on the Thistlebone legend, Seema believes much of it centres around one man — Malcolm Kinniburgh.

Friday, May 06, 2022

Comic Cuts — 6 May 2022

This will be a super short post because I have been busy and have done nothing other than scanning and clean-up of scans for the past week.

It really has been a solid wall of work; we had a long weekend, but apart from a visit from a friend on Saturday and a little gardening on Sunday the longest break I've had was the three hour running time of The Batman, which was not bad. Not the best Batman movie ever, but pretty good. I enjoyed Riddler being the bad guy for a change, although the TV series Gotham had brilliant takes on Riddler and Penguin; Paul Dano as a Zodiac-style killer is at least new (if you ignore the Zodiac), although his supposedly cryptic riddles were solved in a matter of seconds, reminding me of the tortured but instantaneous logic of Adam West in the 1966 Batman movie.

Hopefuly Robert Pattinson will be given better directions and more to do in the sequel. "You're a miserable goth," won't carry a second movie. And can I point out that when two people are in a room and not hiding from a killer, they speak in normal tones and use their voice to convey emotion. This modern practice of having everyone whisper at each other is as annoying as it is ridiculous.

I'm going to use the rest of my time here to promote two things. One is DHL, the courier. I had to borrow some comics for the latest job and was very kindly offered a loan by David McDonald of Hibernia Books fame. This meant getting a courier, as I needed to get them from Ireland to England safely and securely.

I had to fill out a couple of forms and arrange a pick-up. Last Friday was out because David was on a half day at work, so we agreed on this Tuesday, the 3rd. However, DHL had a van in the area and contacted David on Thursday, offering an early pick-up, which he arranged and the parcel arrived here on Monday, a day before it was due to be picked up! How's that for time-bending efficiency.

So this is my chance to say a public thanks to both David and to DHL. I had a little involvement with David's latest offering, collecting the Brian Lewis episodes of 'Captain Condor' from the pages of Lion. It's a fantastic little book, the third of his collections based on Rebellion material. There are two more in the works: 'Sergeant Strong', which ran between March and December 1975 in Valiant, and then 'Timequake' from the first 13 issues of Starlord, plus various special and annuals.

These books sell out pretty quickly, so visit the Hibernia shop at Comicsy, where you can also still find The Indestructible Man by Scott Goodall and Jesus Blasco. But quickly... the Captain Condor was almost sold out, last I heard.

If you recall my rant last week, I have had payment from one company, another should pay one invoice this week, and a third will pay all outstanding invoices within a fortnight. I thought you deserved to be kept up to date after the outpouring of sympathy. Thank you... and goodnight.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 4 May 2022

With things a little hectic in the 2000 AD Nerve Centre, the galaxy’s greatest podcast – The 2000 AD Thrill-Cast – brings you three of the panels from 2000 AD's 45th birthday online convention last month.

The second wave of the ‘British Invasion’ no less an impact on American comics than the first. Host Torunn Grønbekk talks to Garth Ennis, Sean Phillips and John McCrea, all of whom graduated from the ‘mature comics’ boom of the late ’80s and early ’90s and went on to have a huge impact on the industry.

Comedian and broadcaster Robin Ince talks to best-selling crime writer Ian Rankin, award-winning sci-fi author Lauren Beukes, and popular children’s writer Louie Stowell about comics, prose, and the influence of 2000 AD.

And in 2000 AD: Beyond Borders, host Kelly Kanayama talks to 2000 AD writers Arthur Wyatt and Michael Carroll (Judge Dredd) and artist Chris Burnham (Judge Dredd, Batman) about their perspectives on this quintessentially British comic book export.

And, exclusive to the 2000 AD Youtube Channel, there’s a sneak peek of the incredible Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition, which will soon be reaching Earthlets who pre-ordered it last year!

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2280
Cover: Chris Wildgoose.

Cadet Dredd: Red Medicine by James Peaty (w) luke Horsman (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Lowborn High by David Barnett (w) Anna Morozova (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Future Shocks: Smart Home by Honor Vincent (w) VV Glass (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Unteachables by Karl Stock (w) Xulia Vicente (a) Matt Soffe (C) Simon Bowland (l)
Chopper: What Goes Up by David Barnett (w) Nick Roche (a) John Charles (C) Simon Bowland (l)

Skip Tracer by James Peaty, Paul Marshall & Colin MacNeil
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618669-0, 4 May 2022, 100pp, £7.99. [Digital only]

The Cube, the twenty-seventh century. This vast city floating in the depths of space was once a monitoring station, but has been refitted by the Earth-led Consociation as a solution to a universal housing problem. It’s now home to every kind of undesirable, and an easy refuge for wanted criminals and fugitives. That’s where Skip Tracer Nolan Blake comes in, a former soldier turned tracker-for-hire... Written by James Peaty (Doctor Who) and with art by Paul Marshall (Firekind), this action packed science fiction adventure is available in a digital exclusive graphic novel for the first time!

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

The 77 #7 (April 2022)

I try to avoid reviewing new comics here as it usually takes me so long that they're often already two or three issues ago or (worse) sold out. But for once I'm going to break the rules.

The 77 has come a long way since its first issue in 2020. Evolved, I should say, as the magazine set the bar high for quality from the start. Now, strips that launched with the debut issue ('Division 77'. 'V', 'enny Pentagram', 'The Screaming Hand') have disappeared and a whole new line-up has evolved over seven issues. If memory serves, only 'Sgt. Shouty', Lew Stringers' Moon Force maniac has the muscles of a Desperate Dan and the temper tantrums of a Captain Hurricane.

The new paper has been kept in the public eye by a rolling programme of Kickstarters, the latest for Pandora, a companion comic that is due out this summer, and the tireless efforts of editor Ben Cullis (aka Benksy) and his talented team on social media and at conventions. But that effort would be wasted if the product wasn't good, and it is the quality of the comic itself that means it continues to survive and thrive.

The 64-pages (plus covers) are full colour, way beyond the abilities of the "small press" back in the days of Fast Fiction, Harrier, et al, but at the same time the anthology format does mean that stories lurch along at five or six pages every three months. I haven't decided which is best: the pleasure of having a lot of different stories/styles or the satisfaction of a longer story with a beginning, middle and end—anthologies risk having a lot of middle and few intriguing openings or satisfying conclusions.

Debuting this issue, 'Black Dog Lane' (Kit Bodhi / Mac [Ben McLeod]) starts off in lighthearted mode as, one by one, an old rocker's band mates die and he finds himself working as a security guard at a laboratory. A year later, what should have been his happiest day is disrupted by the opening of a portal.

There are plenty of excellent strips amongst the other eleven on display here. A couple stand out: 'Extinction 2040' (Paul Goodenough / Ian Stopforth) is a futuristic thriller with spies captured by climate activists after a bungled operation; 'Division 77: Terra' (Dave Heeley / Hal Laren) reaches an explosive conclusion; 'Galactic Geographic' (Noel K. Hannan / Warwick Fraser-Coombe) sees TV journalist Ryan Quark fall pregnant on the planet Phallux, opening up an opportunity for a new Reality show;  and 'Mister Meeker, Monster Maker' (Bambos Georgiou / Andy Meanock) visits Vladimir Valkarian, the renowned occultist to obtain a grimoire that will aid his quest to create artificial life.

Other stories in the anthology are just as good, but I've picked these out to show the diversity of the stories and the artwork ranges from the colourful, chaotic dynamism of Ian Stopforth's 'Extinction 2040' to the Hunt Emerson-inspired packed panels of Andy Meanock.

Those of you who weren't involved in the Kickstarter can still buy copies of the latest issue and back issues (with a reissue of #1 available this summer), and the recent The 77 Annual, from Get My Comics. 77 Publications also publish Blazer, a throw-back to the old days of Action from the pen of ex-Tharg Steve MacManus.

Monday, May 02, 2022

Illustrators #37 (Spring 2022) [April 2022]

The latest issue of Illustrators spans the American continent, from Canada to South America.

The issue kicks off with an interview with Cuban (but now living in Montreal) artist Antonio Javier Caparo. Kaparo (as he signs his work) has worked widely as an illustrator of children's novels, as well as working in animation and film as a concept and background artist. Inspired by local and Russian artists, he studied at the Institute of Design in Havana when he discovered the works of Boris Vallejo, Chris Foss, Syd Mead and others in the pages of Masters of Fantasy Art in the Institute's library. After spending most of the Nineties doing graphic design, he moved into digital illustration and book covers, specialising in fantasy and science fiction, but has also illustrated history projects and retellings of Shakespeare.

Kaparo makes an interesting point when he says that digital art is still in its early stages, with things changing greatly over the past thirty years. "[W]e frequently see people who lost their files due to changes, but I visualise a future where digital supports are going to be so good that continuous change won't be necessary so frequently and transferring files from a previous format to a new one will be easier with time." I was thinking the other day about NFTs and how many older digital images are trapped on a floppy disc that nobody can access. (This was prompted by a problem I had translating a very old file from Word Star to Word. I had a programme to do it, but had completely forgotten how to use it. It took half an hour of Googling to find some instructions!)

Russ Heath was a master of realism. Growing up in New Jersey, he read the four colour funny pages, and began drawing his own comic strips at school. By the age of 16 he was already working professionally on Captain Aero Comics during summer breaks before being drafted. Finding work after the War in advertising agencies, he began drawing comics again during lulls and, in 1947, joined the Timely Bullpen, drawing western, war and romance comics.

In 1954 he began working for DC, drawing mainly war comics. He didn't like superhero comics, but some of his work had fantastic elements (e.g 'Sea Devils') and he later assisted Harvey Kurtzman with 'Little Annie Fanny' for Playboy. His work also encompassed humour (for Cracked, Frantic!, National Lampoon, etc.) and horror (for Warren Magazines).

George Gross began painting for pulp magazines and made his name with images of muscular men in ripped shirts and leggy blondes in danger. His earliest work ranged through westerns and detective pulps but settled famously on Jungle Stories, featuring the Ki-Gor, although the covers tended to feature Ki-Gor's shapely companion, Helene.

With the demise of the pulps, Gross turned to men's magazines and paperback covers, chiefly westerns, but returning to his pulp roots in 1972 with a series of covers for 'The Avenger', reprinting stories from the 1940s. For these he used Steve Holland (not that one) as a model, who was also James Bama's model for Doc Savage. Gross also produced covers for more men's adventure paperbacks, including Don Pendleton's The Executioner and the Nick Carter series.

The issue concludes with a look at the work of Arturo Del Castillo, the Argentinian best known here in the UK for 'The Three Musketeers' and various westerns. It is a measure of his talent that his fame in the UK is out of proportion with the number of stories that appeared, dotted around the pages of Top Spot, Film Fun, Knockout, Lion, Ranger, Look and Learn, etc. Using some original art pages adds greatly to this all-too-brief feature.

For more information on Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website, where you can also find details of their online editions, and news of upcoming issues. Issue 38 will be a John Watkiss special, comic and film concept artist. The issue will be introduced by Neil Gaiman.


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