Sunday, November 28, 2021

  • 28 Nov. Life imitates art. A school project about Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V For Vendetta results in armed police tearing down posters. "The students — unhappy that their educational experience about the dangerous censorial powers of racist, sexist, homophobic authoritarians was being censored by authorities — staged a protest. While you would think this was a reasonable course of action — the character of V would have likely just blown something up — the administration responded by shutting down in-person schooling and forcing the students to stay home and attend virtual learning classes."
  • 24 Nov. Interview: Michael Moorcock. Elric of Melnibone is celebrating his 60th birthday. "When I first started writing [fantasy], nobody knew what to call it at all. I mean, the publishers didn't know what to call it. They thought that Tolkien was (writing about) a post-apocalyptic nuclear world."
  • 22 Nov. Interview: Rachael Smith. "It was ten years ago, when my therapist suggested that I start drawing, because I told her it was something I loved to do. She suggested that I draw something every day that was good that happened to me, to try to be more positive about life."
  • 18 Nov. John Freeman reports on a huge slate of comic-based characters that are in development at Emanta Studios based on classic DC Thomson characters ranging from Dennis to The Amazing Mr X, and Bunty to Bananaman. “For those who already know them, and new audiences ready to be entertained, we can’t wait to reintroduce the world to Bunty, ‘The Supercats’, ‘Nick Jolly, The Flying Highway Man’, alongside the incredible Beano IP at our disposal,” says Chief Creative Officer Mark Talbot.
  • 15 Nov. Chloe Maveal on Mick McMahon: "With both Ro-Busters and ABC Warriors, he moved onto something more bold in its use of stark black and white, and also more physically blocky, for want of a better word; the heavy physicality of his art in those strips being something that he’d carry back to Dredd when he returned to that strip."
  • 15 Nov. Jock talks Batman: One Dark Knight. "From high above the sweltering summer streets of Gotham, Batman planned to escort the GCPD as the dangerous metahuman super-villain known as E.M.P. was transferred from a holding cell to his permanent home at Blackgate Prison. E.M.P.’s electrical powers posed a threat, but the situation was in hand—until it wasn’t. Now every light in Gotham is out, the police are in disarrayand a broken, bleeding Batman must fight his way to Blackgate, block by block, dragging E.M.P. behind him." (video, 24 mins)
  • 11 Nov. John Freeman spotlights the work of Spanish artist Jaume Rumeu.
  • 5 Nov. Interview: Andi Watson. "I was reading plays by Beckett and Harold Pinter, reading English author Evelyn Waugh, watching Polanski movies and reading the short stories of Dino Buzzati. I have had a thick book of photos of Paris taken by Atget on my shelf for many many years and promised myself I would use it as reference for a graphic novel one day. With The Book Tour I had an idea that would allow me to use that book."

Friday, November 26, 2021

Comic Cuts — 26 November 2021


Medical professionals have been treating me like a pin-cushion this week. I don't want you to think doctors and nurses have been laying in wait for me and leaping out with surprise vaccinations. This was all planned and I knew it was going to happen.

On Tuesday Mel and I went down to the local surgery for the flu vaccine as we were fortunately scheduled five minutes apart. And then, on Wednesday, I trekked out to a pharmacy in nearby Hythe and had my booster jab, the worst bit of which was how chilly it was walking across the bridge to get the the pharmacy, and then stepping into the waiting room, which was being kept at steam-room levels of heat. My glasses fogged up immediately and stayed that way for almost the whole of my wait. They were handing out an information leaflet that they wanted everyone to read before going in to see the nurse, but I'm blind without my specs, so I only got as far as page two of five before being called in — and they were running half an hour late.

The one very noticeable thing about the leaflet was that it was way out of date. The booster was the Pfizer vaccine, rather than the AstraZeneca I'd previously had, so I was kind of interested to see what the leaflet had to say, since the Pfizer famously had to be stored at low temperatures... and that was about all I knew. But the leaflet was talking about taking two doses three weeks apart, which meant it was printed during the early days of vaccination, before the advice changed to giving doses up to 12 weeks apart back in December 2020. That they're still handing out these leaflets makes me wonder just how many they printed.

I'd also forgotten that the Pfizer-BioNTECH vaccine was rolled out under the trade name Comirnaty. A bit of Googling reveals that this was dreamed up by a consultancy group called the Brand Institute and is meant to be a agglomeration of the words "Covid-19 immunity" and "mRNA". "The word is intended to evoke 'community'," a Brand Institute executive was quoted as saying, to which my reply would be... "Too late!" Like Hoover and Xerox, the vaccine is going to be known as Pfizer forever. Just listening in to people in the pharmacy asking about which vaccine they were to be given, everyone just referred to it as Pfizer.

Googling on, it seems that the name Comirnaty was trademarked in June 2020, before the vaccine  even existed. BioNTECH (another name that was dreamed up by consultants, no doubt) registered a bunch of names including Covuity, Kovimerna and RnaxCovi.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca is called Covishield in India, apparently, and they wanted to be known as Vaxzevria in the UK, while Moderna were thinking "You know what? We should call ourselves SPYKEVAX!"

In the future, if we truly have to live with the Vid—as it will inevitably be shortened to—in the years ahead, you might find yourself saying, "I'm just off to get a Vaxzevria at the Jab-U-like," which is the name I've invented to replace pharmacy. Why not... there's money to be had in thinking up dumb names.

We had another Art Trail locally, in which various little studios open up to show off their wares in Wivenhoe. It seemed quieter than the last one, but I suspect that was down to it being November. Everyone is still being incredibly cautious, with some places limiting the number of people in small spaces to two at a time; during the summer, many opened up their gardens and put up display tables, or hung things on fences, which added to the relaxed atmosphere. We spent a happy hour and a half wandering around a handful of homes, saw some very clever and expensive trinkets, plus one or two overpriced pieces that make me think I'm in the wrong job. Fewer landscapes, more expressionism this time. And no photos as I'd left my camera on charge.

The camera usually accompanies me everywhere. I'm still taking photos of sunrises and smoky shots of misty rivers. You get so used to certain sights that change can come as a shock. This morning, for instance, one of the boats was missing (see below). It has starred in dozens of photos over the past few months and suddenly... it's gone. To live on a farm, Mel tells me. A farm with a lovely river.

I'm writing this on Thursday and I'm planning to take tomorrow morning off for a shopping trip into town. As you can guess, I haven't done a lot of work this week, so I'll have a bit to catch up on next week. I have the slightest ache in my arm from the vaccine jab, so that's my excuse for having a lazy couple of days.


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Commando 5491-5494


New Commandos incoming! Covering conflicts from across the globe from Norwegian Commandos in the icy tundra, a singer turned soldier in the Burmese Jungle, a coward in Siberia and thieves during the Invasion of Holland! What a bunch! Issues 5491-5494 are out today!  


5491: Frozen Fallout

When a tough group of Norwegian Commandos' mission goes awry in the tundra, only one man can save the day — except that man happens be Lars Ratvik, who is the most useless soldier in the squad! But when the chips were down and everything laid on his shoulders, he had to take charge and complete the mission or face the fallout!

Issue 5491 is written by Hailey Austin, in her fifth-ever Commando, as she teams up again with the veteran artist Jaume Forns! And that’s not even mentioning the ice-cool cover by Neil Roberts!

Story | Hailey Austin
Art | Jaume Forns
Cover | Neil Roberts


5492: At Dawn You Die

Issue 5492 is on its first outing since 1964! In this gold era Commando, John Hadley is a peacetime singing star turned soldier. But when John is sent to the jungles of Burma to join a small battle-hardened squad that had survived the invasion, things go wrong from the start! And you can imagine what a fighting fool John had to become before the squad would accept him!

A classic Commando from the 1960s penned by Kenner features a traditional storyline of a man trying to prove himself to his compatriots while being deep in the combat zone. With amazing interiors from CT Rigby and cover by Chaco — this is a Commando to die for!

Story | Kenner
Art | CT Rigby
Cover | Chaco
Originally Commando No. 111 (1964).


5493: Comrade Coward

Yegor Dobrynin was not afraid of anything, even standing up to his corrupt superiors. But when they decided that he should disappear to Siberia and be branded a coward, Yegor's hatred burned hot enough to warm him as he plotted his revenge! Can Yegor survive the war in order to get even? Well, you’ll have to read to find out!

With Heath Ackley on script duty, alongside Khato on interiors, and with a Mark Harris cover — don’t miss it!

Story | Heath Ackley
Art | Khato
Cover | Mark Harris


5494: Dead Man’s Diamonds

What would you do with a handful of contraband diamonds? Pilot Peter Lawrie and Dutch army officer Bart van Hanegen asked themselves that question —and it didn’t take long to answer it. With Holland being overrun, they chose to keep the gems — now all that had to do was survive the German invasion and their own guilty consciences!

A rip-roaring yarn from McDevitt, alongside masterful art from Ruiz, and topped off with a cover from legend, Ian Kennedy, this Commando is a steal!

Story | McDevitt
Art | Ruiz
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1696 (1983).


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 24 November 2021


2000AD will be popping the champagne corks when the comic turns 45 and Rebellion will be publishing a slew of celebratory titles during the birthday month of February 2022. Four and a half decades old, and there's still plenty of thrill-power left in the old girl yet.

February will see the release of a bumper 2000AD Prog 2270 with the start of two new stories – Judge Dredd: The Citadel, a searing return to the Apocalypse War, and Brink: Mercury Retrograde, the stunning new chapter in the SF-horror drama. Plus bonus Indigo Prime and Tharg stories, and more!

During the same month, the contents will include Proteus Vex, taking on the alliance in ‘Desire Paths’; the Shadow Creatures infiltrate The Order in ‘Fantastic Voyage’; the world’s only hope lies with an Orc in Kingmaker: ‘Falls the Shadow’; and nineteenth-century Paris comes under attack by an interdimensional menace in Saphir: Liaisons Dangereuses.

There's more action and adventure in the future-shocked world of Judge Dredd Megazine. The stony-faced lawman leads a team to the Pan-African enclave of Profundia but there are factions that want them dead in Praise Zort!; something inhuman lurks beneath Badrock in Lawless: ‘Ballots Over; Goya faces a race against time to find her family’s killers in Death Cap; Armitage gets closer to the corruption at the heart of Brit-Cit Justice Dept in Diamond Dogs III; and Zane has no choice but to get involved in the skysurfer movie in ‘Surfer’. Plus there’s the usual interviews, features, and in the bagged GN Hawk’s epic adventure continues from Garth Ennis & Henry Flint!

From A.B.C. Warriors to Zenith! Meticulously researched and compiled for comics fans everywhere, the 2000AD Encyclopedia by Scott Montgomery is the essential fact compendium to the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic! What are the essential Judge Dredd stories? In which progs did The Ballad of Halo Jones run? What year was the first appearance of Nemesis the Warlock? Just who are the Thrillsuckers? Look no further, Earthlets! Every strip and major character from 2000AD’s trailblazing 45 year history is catalogued and detailed, accompanied by stunning artwork and illustrations. With this show-stopping hardcover collection, must-read characters and storylines from across the cosmos are at your fingertips!

The Judge Dredd art of Brian Bolland is regarded as some of the greatest comic art of the Eighties, and helped catapult both the series and Brian Bolland himself to international acclaim, leading him to work on such titles as Camelot 3000 and Batman: The Killing Joke. His incredible black & white art is showcased in Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition, a deluxe, over-sized facsimile edition featuring new high-resolution scans of his original art from 2000 AD showing Bolland’s delicate inking brushwork in unprecedented detail, as well as the titles and word balloons placed over it at the time by IPC’s art team. It promises to be an unmissable collection for fans of comics and of fine art.

And now, out this week...


2000AD Prog 2259
Cover by Tazio Bettin.

Judge Dredd: The Musical! by Rob Williams (w) Chris Weston (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Diaboliks: London Calling by Gordon Rennie (w) Dom Reardon (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Dexter: Lordy Jordy, King of Everything by Dan Abnett (w) Tazio Bettin (a) Matt Soffe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Scarlet Traces: Storm Front by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Simon Bowland
The Out Book 2 by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)


Brink Book 4 by Dan Abnett & INJ Culbard
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108939-2, 23 November 2021, 112pp, £12.99. Available via Amazon.

The entire planet of Mercury seems to have vanished and a video clip is implicated in what looks like a mass-kill ... as always on the brink of existence, truth may be stranger than fiction.
    In the late 21st century, after humanity has left the Earth it poisoned and now huddles in deep-space Habitats, life on these cramped, overcrowded stations is tense, with many spilling over into madness
    HSD cop Bridget Kurtis has investigated cults and murders that have driven her to the very edge, but now she must stop the spread of a viral video clip which sends viewers insane...


The Tom Paterson Collection
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108940-8, 25 November 2021, 192pp, £19.99. Available via Amazon.

Scottish artist Tom Paterson is one of the most inventive and influential cartoonists British comics have produced. Inspired by the work of George Martin, Leo Baxendale and Ken Reid, Tom became a comic artist at a young age, working for Fleetway and DC Thomsons on such classic strips as Sweeny Toddler, Calamity James, Buster, Grimly Feendish, The Numskulls, Bananaman and Dennis the Menace.
    At the beginning of his career Tom was ghosting artists like Baxendale, but his own style and sense of humour quickly developed and Tom’s work soon became unmistakable. His trademark stinky, striped sock often appeared in the panels of his work – a useful identifier born out of an age where publishers frowned upon artists signing their work. Along with the sock came the additional, visual comedic gags scattered throughout the strips, giving each one that instant re-readability.
    This collection features some of Tom’s outstanding colour and black & white strip work for IPC/Fleetway from titles like Buster, Whoopee!, Jackpot, Whizzer & Chips and Oink! amongst others. With quotes from the man himself and some extra, added treasures, this is a must have for fans of British humour comics both young and old!

Friday, November 19, 2021

Comic Cuts — 19 November 2021


I've been keeping myself busy over the past two weeks writing about the artists who contributed some of the most popular strips to Action, based on my little poll last week. Since many of them were Argentinean and Spanish, I've spent an awful lot of time on Google Translate and digging around the far corners of the www for information and interviews.

I'm now starting to get somewhere, having finished sketches on Horacio Altuna, Horacio Lalia, Ramon Sola and Felix Carrion. Only one to go, and that's Mike Dorey, who is not only British but, I'm glad to say, still around and still active. Then it's back to the main narrative. Oh, and I'll probably be putting up another little poll on Facebook to measure the popularity of later strips.

With the addition of the biographical sketches, I'm now 500 words shy of hitting 30,000 words. And there's still a long way to go, so this will definitely now be a two-parter. Until I finish the main narrative, I don't know where the break will occur, but probably around the point where the first issue was released, which is four chapters and a prologue into the main narrative; add the sketches and we're looking at over 20,000 words, so there will be a good chunk of reading material.

I'm also hoping to have some great-looking artwork, with scans taken from original art boards. A fine collection has found its way to south-central France and has yet to emerge from packing cases, but I'm hoping to see some scans shortly. I guess this would be a good place to put out a call to anyone else who might have original artwork... get in touch. You'll find my e-mail address top left, under the photo of a remarkably young-looking me. I really should update it.

It has been a remarkably quiet week, with no major hiccups. I'm taking a couple of trips out next week to get punctured. On Tuesday I'm getting a flu jab at the local surgery and on Wednesday it's off to a pharmacy a few miles away to get a Covid booster. I might also take a day off to head into Colchester for some early Christmas shopping. So if next week's column is short of news, you'll know why.

Mind you, I don't have much to add here today. Now that I know I'm going to be dosed up with vaccines I'm looking forward to Christmas, especially after the let-down last year. I'm still not sure how long it will take to hustle BAM! into the shape I want it to be in. The Action history is a huge step in the right direction. I think I will now have something that will be of interest to a broader audience rather than when I had to hand  when I did my colour test a year ago, which was very much a magazine aimed at an audience of one — me! Hopefully now it will be you and me. That's doubled the audience already!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 17 November 2021


The epic quest of the cult classic movie Hawk the Slayer is set to continue — with Preacher and The Boys writer Garth Ennis at the helm!

The first ever official comic book spin off from the 1980 sword-and-sorcery Brit flick features art by Judge Dredd artist Henry Flint and covers by Magic the Gathering artist Greg Staples.

The six-issue mini-series is a direct continuation of the movie, which saw Hawk, who—with his flying 'mindsword' and mismatched allies—sets out to rescue a nun from his own deformed brother Vultan, played by Jack Palance at his scenery-chewing worst! Now, it seems that their victory was not all it seemed and greater battles lay ahead...

The series starts with a bumper 32-page issue that hits comic book stores in April 2022 and will be available to order through Diamond Distribution's Previews magazine. From January, the series will also run as the bagged supplement with issues of Judge Dredd Megazine.

It's one of those legendary '80s movies that has had an influence far beyond the screen—Garth has been a massive Hawk fan since he was a child, as has the head of Rebellion, Jason Kingsley, who cites its influence as one of the reasons he ended up becoming a knight in shining armour (no, really!).

Meanwhile, out this week...


2000AD Prog 2258
Cover by Toby Willsmer.

Judge Dredd: Tread Softly by Michael Carroll (w) Simon Coleby (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Diaboliks: London Calling by Gordon Rennie (w) Antonio Fuso (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Dexter: Bulletopia Chapter Seven - Lordy Jordy, King of Everything by Dan Abnett (w) Tazio Bettin (a) Matt Soffe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Scarlet Traces: Storm Front by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Simon Bowland
The Out Book 2 by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)


Judge Dredd Megazine #438
Cover by Dave Taylor.

Judge Dredd: Dez Rez by Ian Edginton (w) Dave Taylor (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Tales From The Black Museum: Double Jeopardy by Paul Starkey (w) Nick Dyer (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Angelic: Restitution by Gordon Rennie (w) Lee Carter (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Returners: Amazonia by Si Spencer (w) Niccolo Assirelli (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Devlin Waugh: The Reckoning by AleŇ° Kot (w) Mike Dowling (a) Quinton Winter (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Bagged supplement: The Alienist.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Comic Cuts — 12 November 2021


The hunt is on! I'm not the first to embark on this trail, I'm sure, but I'm trying to track down the infamous appearance by John Sanders on Nationwide. The daily news show was a mix of news, interviews, and pre-filmed inserts, not unlike today's One Show, although not as relaxed. Nationwide had desks, presenters wore jackets and ties, and they were straight-laced and humorless as they tackled the day's talking points.

The specific episode I'm after featured John Sanders interviewed alongside Brian Glanville by Frank Bough. I've read people's recollections or had it described to me and no two accounts match. Did one of the presenters tear up a copy of the comic? Did Sanders walk out? What was said by Bough that might have different implications, given his later downfall?

Nationwide was broadcast live, and no off-air recordings were made by the BBC. Inserts, such as shots of the National Liberal Club, may still exist as they were shot on 16mm film, but the in-studio interviews with politicians, newsmakers and film stars were all live to air and dissipated into the atmosphere forty-five years ago — unless someone recorded it on video at home. Looking around various websites and forums I couldn't help but think this was unlikely. One poster noted that a run of Nationwide would fill 2,000 video tapes... and who would buy, record and store that many videos?

But wait... I've since discovered that some tapes exist in the archives of the BFI. I've no idea how many, or whether they can be viewed by the public even if they do hold the episode I want to see, but it's another step along the trail to find out what actually went on that night. I have an enquiry in with the BFI to see if they can help, but no word yet. Mind you, thanks to Covid and the volume of enquiries, it took the BBC a month to get back to me. Firing enquiries into the void of website contact forms is like throwing messages in bottles into the sea. I do so with few expectations, but it feels so good when one comes back with a reply.


I took a day off the main article to write something about one of the artists I especially liked when I started buying Action: Horacio Altuna. He had the right stuff for Dredger — an exceptional figure artist who could handle the action of fist-fights, crashing vehicles and running gunfights. He helped establish the mysterious spy as Action's second most popular character. If I'm honest, Dredger was my favourite character in the paper, followed by 'The Running Man' and 'Hellman'. This was forty-five years ago, don't forget, but certainly that was how I remember it as I was re-reading the strips recently. I'd be interested in hearing what others remember from when they were kids, or maybe what they found to be best as older collectors of the comic.
POLL RESULTS
OK, so I set up a poll on Facebook on Wednesday to find out which strips from the first issue were the favourites — I specified the first issue for a reason, and I'll try holding a second poll that will bring in some of the later strips.

And the winners are:

1) Hook Jaw (39.6%)
2) Dredger (25%)
3) Hellman of Hammer Force (18,8%)
4) The Running Man (10%)
5)= Blackjack, Play Till You Drop!, Look Out For Lefty
8)= Sports Not For Losers!, The Coffin Sub
More Action thoughts shortly. But first it's "gas safety check news update" (the news you've all been waiting to hear... ). The gas safety inspector was back on Saturday morning with a small part for our gas boiler which means we can now set the timer to turn the boiler on and off automatically rather than setting the temperature on the thermostat and walking all the way upstairs to the boiler and switching it on manually. The problem — which we've had to put up with for seven or so years because nobody could identify what it was — turned out to be a safety feature!

The digital clock was flashing "0.0" and has done for seven years. Nobody could figure why. Well, it was a microchip telling us that there was no gas pressure... but there clearly was and the actual sensor could sense that there was, so it didn't shut down the boiler, which would be the proper procedure if there really was no gas pressure. However, the flashing warning "message" overrode the clock, which meant that, while everything was working perfectly OK, the clock was inaccessible.

Finally, we've got the clock working and I can set the timer to turn the heating on and off correctly.

Now, the oven... that's another matter entirely. That has a small metal spur close to each gas ring which is meant to heat up to show that the flame is lit. You have to hold the gas knob down for ten seconds to give it time to warm up before releasing the knob. If it hasn't warmed sufficiently, it shuts off the gas flow to that ring.

Unfortunately, it is taking far too long to warm and sometimes we're stood there holding the knob down for 30-40 seconds and, when you let go, the flame goes out as the hob cuts the gas flow. It's touch and go which rings will work and sometimes we're trying to heat the smallest saucepan on the biggest ring and I've had to make a big pan of stew on a smaller ring. Not the most efficient way to do it. And the grill is burning off... well, something... each time we try making toast it sets off the fire alarm even before the toast has fully toasted.

We spotted the first fault when the gas was connected and we're now ten days on and still no news of when the fault will be repaired. The gas inspector has given them a nudge, so hopefully we'll hear something soon.

And just to add to our woes, we had a power cut on Tuesday, so we had to light the gas with a match... got through a dozen of them before we got the hob to work!


Writing about Action got me thinking about why I read Action and I think I was the perfect petri-dish for Pat Mills' experiments in trying to revive British boys' comics — a reader who was unhappy with the then current state of boys' comics. I had not long given up reading Valiant as I was not pleased with the new strips that had taken over from my long-running favourites (Steel Claw, Wild Wonders, etc.). But I was still a comic reader, keeping up my weekly fix by reading Vulcan, which had a lot of my favourites in reprints of adventures I hadn't read. But when Action came along it filled another gap, namely for the characters we heard about that appeared in movies but weren't allowed to see as 13-year-old kids.

The classic case is Jaws. Although it was 'A' rated, I didn't have an older brother to take me to the cinema, but I knew all about the movie through newspapers, advertising and TV. Similarly, we got to hear about films like Magnum Force with Clint Eastwood and Death Race 2000 with David Carradine from the same sources but with no hope of seeing them because they were 'X' rated. Action gave us those tough heroes that we wanted but weren't getting in Valiant or Victor, or even Battle or Warlord as they concentrated wholly on war stories.

I have been thinking about why Mel and I have been watching a lot of Antipodean panel shows recently and why I write about trivial things, like our problems with gas boilers and overs, in such detail yet still manage to retain an audience for these columns. I think it's the same reason. For Mel and I we're watching topical comedies that touch on the same problems — chiefly the global pandemic — but the humour comes from them ripping into their governments and home grown idiots flaunting safety laws. We can laugh longer and harder at 7 Days or Patriot Brains (hosted by Bill Bailey) because they don't carry the same weight of despair that Have I Got News For You or Mock the Week has discussing the deadly ineptitude of our government which might kill me and my loved ones. (Keep it light, Steve!)

And I think you can apply that to this column. You and I may face similar minor problems on the rocky path of life, but because they're not happening to you and I'm choosing to air them, that gives you permission to have a laugh, sympathise, tut or react in any way your want. Think of it as a public service. (Just don't ask how we're managing to watch TV in New Zealand. That's for me to know and for you to find your own VPN.)

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Commando 5487-5490


Tally-ho! Exciting reads in this week’s Commando comics. From the scorching heat of the North African desert, to blistery snowy mountains in the Alps, and the treacherous trenches of the western front, this is one whirlwind set sure to have you on the edge of your seat — get yours soon!


5487: Crusader Clash

By November 1941, the vital port of Tobruk in Libya was under constant attack by the Axis forces. The Allied response was Operation Crusader — a major offensive by British and Commonwealth troops aimed at breaking the siege. The only problem was that, under that hot desert sun, not all the Allied troops were going to get along, least of all a group of British tankies and the South African unit they were sent to reinforce!

Commemorating 80 years since the Operation, Handley masterfully crafts an exciting issue that captures the tensions of the desert battles, expertly captured in another superb Mark Harris cover.

Story | Ferg Handley
Art | Muller and Klacik
Cover | Mark Harris


5488: Mystery Mountain

They were a tough breed, the pilots who flew the giant Lancaster bombers deep into enemy territory with their lethal loads of bombs. And they had to be to face the flak and fighters that followed their course. One pilot, Steve Markham, had made his name as the toughest of the tough — in the air. But he was also a man to reckon with on the ground. That’s how he survived to tell this amazing tale!

Featuring a quintessentially glorious aviation cover from the legend Ian Kennedy, this issue shows why he truly is a master artist.

Story | Blandford
Art | Amador
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 606  (1971).


5489: Beware The Phantom

Gather round then and listen to what the old Sarge has to say… There’s a figure who haunts the trenches and no-one is safe from him. Armed with a Luger and a Webley, it doesn’t matter which side you’re on —you’re already his enemy. Some folk think he’s just a ghost story, a myth used to frighten green lads, but they’re wrong. He’s real all right, and if you ever find yourself in those deserted mazes in no man’s land then you had better… Beware The Phantom!

A World War I issue to honour Remembrance weekend, Sheath’s thrilling romp is steeped in Boys’ Adventure, harking back to classic comics from the Golden Age.

Story | Russell Sheath
Art | Khato
Cover | Ian Kennedy


5490: Revenge of the Ghost

Ghosts?! Sergeant Derek Bett did not believe in them. What sane person would, after all? So, when Private Ian Brodick tried to tell him that a man killed in England in the eighteenth century was aiding them both now in 1943, high in the snow-capped Italian mountains, well, he thought Ian had finally gone right off his rocker!

With a hilarious story from Sanderson, featuring a ghost with a wicked sense of humour — and side-tickling art from Fleming to bring it to life, this Commando will brighten any mood.

Story | Roger Sanderson
Art | Fleming
Cover | Jeff Bevan
Originally Commando No. 1680 (1983).

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 10 November 2021


Acclaimed as one of the best comics of 2020, the first collection of DreadnoughtsBreaking Ground – is available now. 

Written by Michael Carroll (JudgesProteus Vex) with art by John Higgins (Before WatchmenBatman: The Killing Joke) and colour by Sally Jane Hurst (Before Watchmen), the first collection of this new series is available now as a paperback or limited edition hardcover with brand new cover by Higgins, available exclusively from the 2000 AD webshop.

Dreadnoughts explores the origins of Judge Dredd’s dystopian police state and, in doing so, provides chilling insight into our own historical moment.

The year is 2035 and American society is crumbling. State brutality in response to public protests sparks even greater restrictions on what American citizens are free to do. The police force are being replaced by Judges, paramilitary cops who can dispense summary justice on the streets.

This is the horror story of a descent into fascism and the beginnings of the world of Judge Dredd.

Out this week...


2000AD Prog 2257
Cover: Mike Dowling.

Judge Dredd: Tread Softly by Michael Carroll (w) Simon Coleby (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Diaboliks: London Calling by Gordon Rennie (w) Antonio Fuso (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Scarlet Traces: Storm Front by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Simon Bowland
Future Shocks: Keyboard Warriors by Karl Stock (w) Bob Richardson (a) Simon Bowland
The Out Book 2 by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)


Dreadnoughts Book 1: Breaking Ground by Michael Carroll & John Higgins
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08938-5, 10 November 2021, 112pp, £12.99. Available via Amazon.

The year is 2035 and American society is crumbling, the police force become judge and jury, dispensing justice on the streets. Police brutality in response to public protests sparks even greater restrictions on what American citizens are free to do. This is the horror story of a descent into fascism and the beginnings of the world of Judge Dredd.


Misty Presents: The Jaume Rumeu Collection
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08937-8, 11 November 2021, 128pp, £14.99. Available via Amazon.

Fall into a web of terror! The Jaume Rumeu Collection is packed with four terrifying tales from the pages of Misty, which showcase the stunning art of Jaume Rumeu Perera, also known as Homero! Black widows, femmes fatale, mad scientists and giant spiders abound in this nightmarish volume of classic Misty tales. This collection celebrates one of the most iconic villains in British girls' comics: the lethal Mrs. Webb, a raging femme fatale with killer style and a bone to pick with the British Establishment. Determined to take over the country with her army of giant arachnids, only two schoolgirls stand between her and global domination! Full of stunning artwork, terrifying twists, beautiful - but deadly - women, and, of course - giant spiders, this is an essential comic for any horror connoisseur.

Friday, November 05, 2021

Comic Cuts — 5 November 2021


Things are progressing well on Action. I hit 20,000 words on Wednesday despite some noisy interruptions in the room next door. We rent a house here in Wivenhoe and our landlady must have a valid certificate each year from a gas safety inspector. For a couple of years, the guy who was checking the property was concerned about the oven and last year said that it would not pass another inspection.

Nothing dangerous per se, just old and knackered. The seals around the over door were not the best and most of our cooking, whatever the suggested temperature, was done at full blast; we couldn't get the gas to light under the grill without using a match... that kind of thing.

Last Friday we had a new cooker arrive, which was installed over Tuesday and Wednesday and, while I've yet to try it out myself, it looks great. One minor glitch in that one of the safety features keeps shutting off the gas to one of the rings on the hob, but hopefully that will be sorted soon. Otherwise, being new, it should be a lot more efficient compared to the old oven. Mind you, it will take a little while to adjust, and I'm thinking that my next banana bread is going to be carbon before I remember that it won't take as look to cook. The oven capacity is smaller, too, as the grill is separate to the oven, which is going to make cooking at Christmas interesting — and not in a good way.

The clocks going back an hour has meant we're once again getting some spectacular sunrises during our morning walks. I'll try to put a little selection together to run below. I often say that the little camera I take out with me can't do justice to the delicate colours, but looking at some of the shots I've taken over the past couple of weeks... I may owe my little digital camera an apology.

I've chosen two groups of photos showing roughly the same view but taken on different days. This is why we never get bored of walking along the river — it changes daily and you can stand in the same spot and look in the same direction day after day and you will always see something different.

It was Hallowe'en on Sunday, and while we don't get involved with the trick or treating, we do like to see some of the pumpkin displays that people put together. There were nowhere near as many as last year, but I photographed a few favourites, which I'll post below. I'll do it as a separate post, so if you've reached this post via Twitter or Facebook, you'll want to click on this link, which will show all the recent posts.


Hallowe'en 2021


BEAR ALLEY BOOKS

BEAR ALLEY BOOKS
Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books