Friday, July 12, 2024

Comic Cuts — 12 July 2024

I'm short of news this week as I've had my nose to the grindstone, trying to make sense of a number of mysteries surrounding Scion, the paperback and comic publisher active in 1948-54, during which time they produced 500 novels and over 100 comics.

This is my "between projects" project as I'm still waiting on the arrival of printed copies of HIGH SEAS AND HIGH ADVENTURES and news on my next planned book. I hadn't planned on writing about Scion (in fact, I'd had my eyes on a different publisher entirely), but... you know me... I'm easily distracted. I was simply poking around trying to find the familial connection between two of the company's directors and, before I knew it, I was writing up my notes and delving ever deeper into their history.

I had a broad outline of the company as I'd written about Scion a couple of times, for Golden Fun and for Paperback Parade in 1988 and 1992 respectively. I've learned an awful lot more in the past thirty years, so I'm trying to make this as definitive a history as possible, answering such questions as: why didn't the man in the cellar write enough books? and what was Jim Holdaway doing in those cellars? Which Scion author was an ex-jailbird? What was the company's connection with the London Mystery Magazine? Which editor ran off with his secretary to Canada?

These and many more questions will eventually be answered. I still have a lot of writing to do and I've got to get my hands on many more cover scans if I'm to do the book in a similar style to BEYOND THE VOID. I want to illustrate it as fully as possible, so I'm looking for books and magazines published by Scion, Milestone, Ken Publishing, Gannet Press, Teal Publications. Anything but science fiction as I think I have the great majority of those already as that was where I started collecting these old Fifties paperbacks, back when you could get hold of them at a reasonable price... indeed, back when you could get hold of them full stop.

I thought you might like a look at a trade advert that Scion published in 1951. Unfortunately it came from a bound book, so the two pages don't quite join up. (If they had, I would probably have kept the ad for the book!)

I'm off now to see if I can do some "back of a fag packet" maths and work out how much profit Scion made on Vargo Statten.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Rebellion Releases — 10 July 2024

Comics megastars Simon Bisley, Gail Simone and Kevin Eastman are headlining Rebellion’s panels at San Diego Comic Con this year – just part of its presence at the massive US comics show!

The publisher of the legendary 2000 AD returns to the greatest comics and culture show on Earth with high-profile guests, signings, panels, exclusive collections, freebies and more!

Celebrating 35 years since the debut of his groundbreaking, industry-changing work on Celtic-lore fantasy series Sláine: The Horned God, Simon Bisley will be Rebellion’s guest of honour at San Diego Comic Con, with exclusive signings.

And Bisley will join Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman for an unmissable panel as they discuss the swords, sorcery, and legacy of one of comics’ most rock’n’roll anthologies, 2000 AD!

To celebrate the release of her revival of the classic horror series for young women, the game-changing Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Red Sonja) will be signing copies of the brand new Misty anthology as well as joining Simon Bisley on the official 2000 AD panel, and heading up a panel focusing on the twin worlds of horror and romance comics!

Rebellion and 2000 AD will once again be at the heart of the San Diego show floor, with show-exclusive products, signings, free merch, free comics, and the best comics available anywhere.

This year’s show-exclusive edition is the complete Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley, and features a stunning brand new cover by artist Francesco Francavilla (The Black Beetle, Batman) in a hardcover collection from Garth Ennis (The Boys, Preacher) and Patrick Goddard (Battle Action, Judge Dredd) featuring 2000 AD’s legendary blue-skinned Genetic Infantryman, Rogue Trooper. This edition will be exclusively available at Booth #2121 at San Diego Comic Con and for 2000 AD subscribers to purchase direct through the 2000 AD webshop from 1 July.

The stunning 35th anniversary edition of Pat Mills and Simon Bisley's The Horned God will be available from the Rebellion booth in both over-sized paperback and breathtaking three-volume slipcase editions. This brand new, over-sized collection features art scanned from the original archive film and printed at a size closely matching Bisley’s original artwork – giving readers the opportunity to see the greatest Sláine epic in unparalleled detail.

There will also be limited copies of Misty, the classic horror series for young women revived in a brand new 48-page anthology, featuring megastar writer Gail Simone alongside Carola Borelli (The Deadliest Bouquet, Spider-Woman), Aly Fell (A Trick of the Light) and Marianna Ignazzi (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Letty Wilson (Owl People), with a spectacularly spooky cover from Eisner-winning artist Tula Lotay (Barnstormers)!

The booth will have free collectible tote bags featuring the Judge Dredd art of Robin Smith, free poster tubes sporting an iconic Judge Dredd cover by Brian Bolland, and free copies of Rebellion’s huge range of comic book titles.

Comics fans shouldn’t miss this year’s three incredible Rebellion panels, with times and dates to be announced:

Heavy Metal Comics With Simon Bisley & Kevin Eastman

  • Make some noise for comics’ rock ‘n’ roll superstars – Simon Bisley and Kevin Eastman – as they discuss the swords, sorcery, and legacy of one of comics history's most beloved, and most rock n roll, anthologies, 2000 AD.

Roxy and Misty: Horror and Romance Collide!

  • Horror! Romance! Gail Simone heads up a fantastic panel of creators and critics to explore the worlds of 2000 AD's incredible new genre anthologies Misty and Roxy: from reviving classic scares to kickstarting spicy stories of love and intrigue!

2000 AD: The Galaxy's Greatest Panel!

  • Comics superstars Simon Bisley and Gail Simone headline a panel of top talent to talk about the powerhouse of comics, 2000 AD, and its new and classic comics: from horror and romance to war and fantasy! Featuring exclusive announcements from across Rebellion's exciting comics range!

And to make sure that fans unable to attend don’t succumb to FOMO, the Rebellion webshop will also be celebrating San Diego Comic Con with exclusive Sláine: The Horned God T-shirts featuring Simon Bisley’s unmistakable art in fresh new designs, exclusively available online!

So stay tuned for dates and times for our fantastic schedule of panels and signings – with so much going on for San Diego Comic Con, it truly will be an unmissable and Thrill-powered year!

Rebellion/2000 AD will be at Booth #2121 in the main show hall at San Diego Comic Con from Previews Night on 24 July until close on Sunday 28 July.

And now, this week's release...

2000AD Prog 2390
Cover: Dave Kendall.

JUDGE DREDD // THE BAM-HUNTERS by Ken Niemand (w) Richard Elson (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
BRINK // CONSUMED by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
ROGUE TROOPER // SOUTHER BELLE by Geoffrey D. Wessel (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Chris Blythe (c) Jim Campbell (l)
FUTURE SHOCKS // STATION MADNESS by Honor Vincent (w) Mike Walters (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SILVER // THE UNEARTHED by Mike Carroll (w) Joe Currie (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Friday, July 05, 2024

Comic Cuts — 5 July 2024

And the good news is... HIGH SEAS AND HIGH ADVENTURES is almost ready. I've had a second proof and it looks good. Now I need to order up some copies so I have them for publication day, which I've set as Monday 29th July. I've had some delays with delivery, so I'm trying to make sure that the release date can actually be met. That said, if the books come in earlier, I'll send 'em out to anyone who has pre-ordered.

I've set up a page for the book, so you can find some more details here at the HIGH SEAS AND HIGH ADVENTURES order page. I can only sort out my Ebay and Amazon shops once the book is in hand and I will work out the price once I can figure out how much Ebay and Amazon are going to sting me for in fees.

With that one in the can, I have been able to concentrate on another book... which is almost done. I'm just waiting on permission from the copyright holder to launch it, so hopefully there will be some news on that front next week.

In the meantime I have been working on my "between projects" essay. I try to write something for myself between jobs and this time I've chosen to tackle another paperback company, Scion Ltd. I'm turning up all sorts of interesting information that I'll eventually put together into a book in the style of the recent Badger Books' book, BEYOND THE VOID.

It may be a while before it appears as I have my eyes on another project that I want to work on before I tackle another book on paperbacks. Maybe I can work on them in parallel as one is a comic strip reprint and I'll want to have some breaks between cleaning-up artwork.

There's also orders to deal with — I've just had my first order for HIGH SEAS AND HIGH ADVENTURES come through.

All these comic strips and books... and all you want to know about is the garden. Well, gardening fans, I'm pleased / amazed to say that there's now a reasonable grass coverage of far end of the back garden, as you can see from the photos below.

When you look a little closer, it is a little patchy, but I want to let the new grass establish itself before I attack any gaps and put down some more seed.

So while I was waiting for the grass to grow in the back garden, I took the opportunity to attack the front garden, which had the same problems with rampant weeds and ivy, and wildly overhanging trees. In order to do something about the weeds in the grass, I'm mowing every couple of weeks, but I had left a patch that needed to be dug out and reseeded.

I've now done the top (the grass is on quite a slope down from the road) and recovered an area between four and five feet deep and fourteen feet wide, so something like sixty square feet. The grass seed is in and I have been watering it regularly when the rain hasn't been doing the job for me, and some grass shoots are just starting to show through. My next job is to cut back the trees to the right of the picture and see what lies beneath.

Thursday, July 04, 2024

Commando 5763-5766

There's war comic action across the globe in Commando this week, with zeppelins in World War I, a cursed trio, race to Dunkirk in World War II, and a foray into the Napoleonic War! On sale from today, Thursday 4th July, 2024!

5763: Zeppelin Raid

In 1915, Germany took The Great War to the British people when mammoth zeppelins rained bombs, fire, and destruction on Great Yarmouth. Seeing the devastation of his hometown, Royal Navy Lieutenant Billy Cavendish couldn’t be stopped from joining the Royal Navy Air Service as a fighter pilot to take down the Kaiser’s deadly airships once and for all!

Our first story is set during World War I, when the Germans brought the war to British shores via their ferocious zeppelin bombing raids. With story by Rossa McPhillips and artwork by Guille Galote!

Story: Rossa McPhillips
Art: Guille Galote
Cover: Guille Galote

5764: Date with Destiny

An old woman looked into the palms of three men — an Englishman, a German and a Frenchman — and foretold what strange and fearful fates lay in store for them. She was probably dead by the time the Second World War engulfed Europe in flames but not one of the three ever forgot their prophecies. They were caught up in the savage fighting — one in the RAF, one in the Wehrmacht, one in the Maquis — and as events moved on it became clearer and clearer to all three that they were powerless to avoid their… Date with Destiny!

Issue 5764 features everything that makes a good Commando comic — a fate being read, that fate coming true, and the work of Gentry, Lucas and Sanfeliz! It is your destiny to read it!

Story: Gentry
Art: LC Lucas
Cover: Sanfeliz
First Published 1971 as Issue 574

5765: Ice-Cold Alex

Corporal Alex Fraser had ice water in his veins. If you touched his heart, you’d freeze stone-cold dead. He was as cold as the Arctic when he walked into a billet in France, balled up his fist, and knocked the block off a British officer. But Ice-Cold Alex had his reasons… and no military policeman was going to stand in his way.

Here comes a corker of a Commando by Ferg Handley. Bitter and jaded by his experience in the war, the last thing Alex Fraser wanted was to be brought in by the MPs for striking an officer — but things weren’t as they seemed as they were forced to retreat to Dunkirk!

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Paolo Ongaro
Cover: Marco Bianchini

5766: Men of War

For over a century, the old naval cutlass had hung in the hall of the French chateau along with many other relics of past wars. But this weapon was different from the rest — it was British, made of British steel, only ever wielded in wartime by British hands. How it had come to be in France was a strange tale...
But even stranger were the events yet to befall it, as the Second World War erupted across Europe and once again British shores were threatened.

CG Walker always delights with an intricately woven story that takes us from ancient war to World War II, with the tales of two family being inexplicably linked! With excellent artwork from Carmona and Jeff Bevan!

Story: CG Walker
Art: Carmona
Cover: Jeff Bevan
First Published 1982 as Issue 1605

Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Rebellion Releases — 3 July 2024

Rok On! – John Wagner & Dan Cornwell's creator-owned strip coming soon to Judge Dredd Megazine!

Major news has hit the world of football today, with the announcement that highly sought-after free agent Rok of the Reds has been dramatically signed by Judge Dredd Megazine for a run in their 2024/25 Season!

The creator-owned series from legendary writers John Wagner (Judge Dredd), Alan Grant (Batman), and breakout artist Dan Cornwell (Rogue Trooper), Rok of the Reds is a hilarious and chaotic blend of sci-fi and sports that puts the shooting back into the penalty shoot-out!

The first explosive season will launch in the Judge Dredd Megazine later this year – to be followed by the second, and then a much-anticipated brand new third season by Wagner and Cornwell!

Speaking on the surprise signing, co-creator John Wagner said: “Rok fans kept asking for a third series of our alien footie saga, but keen as Dan and I were to do it we couldn’t see a way to make it happen. So when Rebellion stepped in and agreed to run it in the Judge Dredd Megazine we went from ’sick as parrots’ to ‘over the moon’ quicker than you could say ‘Fergie time’!

“We’re more than pleased, too, that books one and two will be reprinted first, helping to bring the story to a wider audience. As regular readers will tell you, you don’t have to love football to enjoy Rok of the Reds.

“As for book three – provisionally titled ‘Rok the World’ – in our alien hero’s hands may lie the fate of the human race…not to mention the more weighty matter of promotion for the Radford Reds!”

2000 AD's intergalactic ‘Manager’ Tharg the Mighty said: “With a proven track record, Rok of the Reds is a zarjaz addition to our back line, and will add even more depth of play to the already stacked roster we have in the Meg”

Originally published in two volumes, Rok of the Reds is a black comedy about revenge, redemption, and relegation. It follows Rok of Arkadi, an alien who seeks refuge on Earth after his homeworld is destroyed by bounty hunters. However, his attempts to hide under the radar are complicated when he has a chance meeting with arrogant young footballer Kyle Dixon, a bad boy who has been causing problems for his struggling team.

Assuming Kyle’s identity, Rok finds himself thrust unexpectedly into the spotlight: not only does he have to keep himself safe from ruthless alien bounty hunters – but he’s got games to win! Rok is going to have to learn to love the beautiful game if he’s going to keep his cover intact, or he’ll risk being captured by his enemies… or worse, relegated!

The first two Rok of the Reds stories will begin to be republished in Judge Dredd Megazine towards the end of 2024 – and will be followed by an all-new run from Wagner and Cornwell in 2025!

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2389
Cover: Toby Willsmer.

JUDGE DREDD // THE BAM-HUNTERS by Ken Niemand (w) Richard Elson (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
BRINK // CONSUMED by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
ROGUE TROOPER // SOUTHER BELLE by Geoffrey D. Wessel (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Chris Blythe (c) Jim Campbell (l)
PROTEUS VEX // DEVIOUS by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

2000AD Sci-Fi Special 2024
Cover: Mike Perkins.

JUDGE ALPHA // PORTRAIT OF A MUTANT by Karl Stock (w) Ben Willsher (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ROBO-SHARKS by Dan Abnett (w) Anthony Williams (a) Jim Campbell (l)
ROGUE/DOG by James Peaty (w) Nicolo Assirelli (a) Jack Davies (c) Simon Bowland (l)
STICKLEBACK // SECRET HISTORIES by Ian Edginton (w) Paul McCaffrey (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
HARLEM ZOMBOS by Al Ewing (w) Boo Cook (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Monster Fun #21 – Beastly Books!
Cover: Matt Baxter.

GUMS by Stacey Whittle (w) Brett Parson (a & l)
KID KONG by Alec Worley (w) Karl Dixon (a & l)
SALLY ASTRO by Roger Langridge
THE FRIGHT-SHIFT by Matt Baxter (w) Andrea Butzbach (a) Leila Jess (l)
CAPTAIN ZOM by Ned Hartley (w) Wayne Thompson (a) Anna Nass (l)
SIR RENDER by Pete Wells (w) Stephen Webster (a & l) Barbara Nosenzo (c)
MARTHA'S MONSTER MAKE-UP by Dave Bulmer (w & l) Abigail Bulmer (a)
WITCH VS WARLOCK by Derek Fridolfs (w) Rebecca Morse (a) Ozwaldo Sanchez (l)
REX POWER by Ramzee (w) Claude TC (a) Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (l)
UNISCORN by Stacey Whittle (w) Jose Ruiz (a) SqakeZz (l)

Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley by Garth Ennis (w) & Patrick Goddard (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-183786195-8, 2 July 2024, 96pp, £18.99. Available via Amazon.

Together with the bio-chipped “ghosts” of his dead comrades, Rogue walks the wasted lands of Nu-Earth in search of their killer, determined to see justice done.

But a war world on the edge of an unstable black hole holds terrors beyond the bounds of sanity, and now the last GI finds himself wrenched away from his bloody quest. Hurled across reality to another world - another war - Rogue is marooned in an ancient conflict no less terrible than his own. With no way home and unknown dangers at every turn, the lone warrior must do what he was bred to do: and fight like hell for his very survival.

Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys) and Patrick Goddard (Judge Dredd, Aquila) present a brand new tale featuring the classic 2000 AD character, blending sci-fi action and historical adventure in unforgettable, action-packed drama.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Comic Cuts — 28 June 2024

As we wave goodbye to the first half of the year, I'm rather frustrated that I failed to get a second book out. Waiting on the second proof of HIGH SEAS AND HIGH ADVENTURES, I received a message from the printer saying that it was running late, along with the rest of my order (I needed a few books for stock). No revised schedule for when it will be dispatched, just "Your order is running late. We apologize that your order has not printed and shipped as quickly as we originally estimated."

These things happen, I guess, but that doesn't make me any happier about it.

With that aside, it has been a fun week, starting last Thursday with a trip down the pub for an open-air comedy gig at the Wivenhoe Funny Farm. There's a big, wooden gazebo at the back of the pub, open-sided so that people can also see the acts if they're sitting in the large tent on side or the pub garden on the other. It's a great venue if the weather is kind.

This month's acts were Jake Baker, Hazel Donovan and Robin Ince, compared by Hazel Humphreys. It might have been the longest day of the year, but the gig still managed to clash with the football as England drew against Denmark on their way to becoming one of the most disappointing success stories of the Euros — they're through to the next round but nobody seems to be happy about it. Come on, this is England we're talking about! (That's my football bants for this year.)

The gig started half an hour later, but as it was originally scheduled for six-thirty, that actually worked in our favour, as it gave Mel a chance to get home and to eat something before we had to rush out. All acts were very good and Robin Ince now has a copy of BEYOND THE VOID. Robin mentioned lending a John E. Muller to Frank Skinner, so the number of secret Badger fans is increased by one (I already knew Robin was a fan!).

Our attempt to visit the pram race on Friday was a resounding failure as we started out late, weren't sure where it started from or where it ended. We figured both out, but only in the aftermath of people milling around. And it was more of a wheelbarrow race than a pram race.

Still, we took the opportunity to go and look at the gallery opening of a new exhibition featuring watercolouro art by Emma Wren and Hanna Buck, plus some ceramic by Frankie Atkinson, at The Old Grocery. I wrote about the building ten years ago – scroll down and you'll see a couple of pictures. For some years the place was empty, but it's now a little gallery and has had some very nice exhibitions over the past couple of years.

This one was dominated by watercolours of flowers, colourful, vibrant and calming after our disappointing dash around the lower end of town (and not even a drink to show for it!).

After fourteen years living in Wivenhoe, we finally managed to see the annual Regatta, with its swarm of sailing boats and a lot of stalls set up along the quays. As the nearest I've ever got to sailing is reading Swallows and Amazons, I was prepared for a disappointing hour of boating types clogging up the roads, but it turned out to be a delightful hour of everyone just having a good time in the sunshine.

There were bands, food stalls, arts and crafts stalls, drinks, clubs, a charity tombola, a first responders training class, various stalls promoting everything from the local youth football team to the Freemasons, lots of food stalls, drinks stalls, expensive ice creams (£5 for a 99!) and—the first thing I spotted—a secondhand book stall. Drawn like an object into a black hole, I promptly spent my pocket money on a few books, including a couple of British Library Crime Classics that I didn't have, and two books by Alan Villiers, whose name I recognised as a contributor to Look and Learn.

The book-sellers were raising money for the Nottage Maritime Institute, which is a small museum dedicated to maritime history and the history of Wivenhoe's shipyards, boat building by hand, models, paintings and—useful to me—an extensive library. I was there on Tuesday trying to find a photo of a building, now demolished, called Wivenhoe Hall to use as an illustration for a forthcoming article.

In between, I have been filling in my time doing a little write-up on a guy called Philip Shoosmith and getting to grips with the history of an old paperback publisher called Scion. I'm hoping (fingers crossed) that I can put together another paperback history along the lines of the Badger one, although it will depend on what cover scans I have and what I can get. I have a feeling it might take a while as I have only a couple of handfuls rather than the 500 I had for Badger.

No time for gardener's corner... let's just say that there are now two corners and one is filling up nicely with new grass. More on that next week.


Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Rebellion Releases — 26 June 2024

War Has Been Declared!

This September, the Nort Army are setting out to conquer the 2000 AD Multiverse - and it's going to take some unlikely allies to stop them!

The massive crossover event story Nordland Rising will see Rogue Trooper's oldest enemies invade multiple different storylines from across 2000 AD's history, as they take on Judge Dredd, Bad Company, Fiends of the Eastern Front, The VCs and more. Spread across 2000 AD Prog 2400 and Judge Dredd Megazine 472, this is an all-out action assault - and The Norts aren't taking any prisoners!

Featuring stories from Ken Niemand, John McCrea, Peter Milligan, Ian Edginton, Nick Percival, Dan Abnett, Gordon Rennie, Simon Coleby, and more, Nordland Rising will see the return of familiar faces including Jaegir and Major Eazy as the War begins in 2000 AD and then crosses over for the epic climax in Judge Dredd Megazine. With both issues out on the 18th September, readers will be able to read the whole saga in one go - a veritable overdose of Thrill-power!

This is a great way to jump onboard 2000 AD for the first time and get a blast of action from some of The Galaxy's Greatest writers and artists. Easily accessible for new readers - but packed with surprises for long-term fans - the crossover will then be followed by 2000 AD Prog 2401: a jump-on issue featuring the return of Garth Ennis and Patrick Goddard on Rogue Trooper; the follow up to Judge Dredd: A Better World from Rob Williams, Arthur Wyatt and Jake Lynch, and the return of fan-favourite series The Out for an all-new run!
It's never been a better time to become a regular reader of 2000 AD - or as we call it, a "Squaxx dek Thargo"! That is... assuming we escape The Norts in one piece...

Nordland Rising will begin in 2000 AD 2400 on the 18th September, and conclude the same day in Judge Dredd Megazine 472. Make sure to grab both halves of the story, Earthlets!

And now, this week's release...

2000AD Prog 2388
Cover: Andy Clarke.

JUDGE DREDD // RADICALISED by Ken Niemand (w) John McCrea (a) Mike Spicer (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THARG'S TERROR TALES // THE ESSENCE OF THE PIECE by Ed Whiting (w) Sinu Senan (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
BRINK // CONSUMED by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
ROGUE TROOPER // SOUTHER BELLE by Geoffrey D. Wessel (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Chris Blythe (c) Jim Campbell (l)
PROTEUS VEX // DEVIOUS by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

  • 26 Jun. The latest 2000AD Thrill-Cast is a lengthy interview with John Higgins. "From drawing dead bodies to colouring two of the biggest graphic novels of all time, the artistic career of John Higgins can only be described as unique. Even after decades in the industry, the 2000 AD great is still hard at work – with the second book of Judge Dredd prequel series 'Dreadnoughts' underway, John talks to the 2000 AD Thrill-Cast about his work, from his thoughts on 'Watchmen' and 'Batman: The Killing Joke' to 'Judge Dredd' and beyond..." Available as a podcast and also as a video (2h).
  • 19 Jun. Tom Shapira reviews Rebellion's Hugo Pratt collection The Iron Fist. "Other than Corto Maltese, a series that was fully translated by IDW / EuroComics in one of the noblest efforts for bettering the world of English-speaking comics, and the single-volume graphic novel The Man from the Great North, most of Pratt’s work remains untranslated. I’ll take the scraps offered by War Picture Library over staying hungry."
  • 18 Jun. Due to appear perhaps as early as August, Watchmen a two-movie adaptation of the Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons series, with the second part due in 2025.
  • ... and if you want to hear what Alan Moore sounds like playing Rorschach, you only have to look here. (video, 2m)
  • 13 Jun. Garth Ennis talks Battle Action with Nick Fausti of Previews. "What I always liked about the classic Rogue Trooper was the sense of tragedy hanging in the background - the godawful massacre of his entire regiment that drove his quest for revenge, his only comrades now dead men encoded on microchips in his equipment. You always knew that Gunnar, Bagman and Helm were that bit more determined to find the Traitor General than Rogue."
  • ... Talking of Garth, Eric Kripke has announced that Prime Video's adaptation of The Boys will end with season five, tweeting "Seaon 4 Premiere Week is a good time to announce: Season 5 will be the Final Season. Always my plan. I just had to be cagey till I got the final OK from Vought."

Friday, June 21, 2024

Comic Cuts — 21 June 2024

I mentioned last week that I was juggling a couple of projects. Well, I'm pleased to say that the problems I was facing with one were fairly quickly resolved and the second is completed.

The latter is something I want to keep close to my chest for the moment as it involves licensing some material, but I'm very excited about it.

The other is by a collector friend and is about female detectives in early crime fiction (1841-1920) and my involvement has been glancing, just shepherding the book through from 460 or so pages of heavily researched text, to printed copy. Whether I have been successful or not is still up in the air as I've arranged for a proof to be sent to the author. Whether the book becomes generally or privately available will be up to him, but I will say that it's an amazing bit of research.

Because I wanted to spread my costs, I was waiting for the other book to be finished before I put in a print order for some restocks and the second print proof of HIGH SEAS AND HIGH ADVENTURES. Proofs can take a while to come through, so I have been pottering around doing some research into old paperback publishers, or, more specifically, the backgrounds of some of the people who ran the publishing houses. Sounds easier than it proved to be as I spent the whole of Tuesday afternoon and into the evening trying to find the family connection between the founder of Scion Ltd. (B Z Immanuel) and its later manager (Lou Benjamin). I always thought they were brothers-in-law, but that isn't the case. (What a place to bring this astonishing anecdote to an end! All I can say is that the familial link will be revealed one day.)

I've had a couple of books arrive from overseas. The first is a collection of a delightful animal/nature strip by Eduardo Teixeira Coelho — who drew a few strips in the UK in the late 1950s — entitled A Lei da Selva [The Law of the Jungle]. This is a recent (2016) reprint by Libri Impressi from the Portuguese children's magazine O Mosquito in 1948. I have to confess that my Portuguese is limited pretty much to recognising Coelho's name, the magazine the strip appeared in and the date it appeared. But it's one of those stories with a block of text under the pictures, so I can get the gist of what looks like the story of an orphaned lion cub that grows up to join a pride. I think.

I'm on safer ground with ¡Combate! by Aitor Marcet. It's in Spanish and I'm as lost with Spanish as I am with Portuguese, but I had a small part in the book, so I know that it is about Spanish artists who worked for British war comics. There have been 100+ Spanish artists who worked for War, Battle, Air Ace and Commando — with artists like Vicente Alcazar, Carlos Pino and Manuel Benet still drawing regularly for the latter.

The fact that I recognise a lot of the names makes looking through the text interesting. So Air Ace artist Juan Abellan gets a mention, an artist I knew nothing about, but I can understand some of his career, his education interrupted by the Civil War, working in the 1950s for titles like Chicos and for the UK via Seleciones Illustradas. There's information on dozens of artists, which makes me wish that there was an English-language version of the book.

The book ends with a series of interviews carried out in 2023, the artists including Alcazar, Pino, Benet, Amador Garcia, Josep Nebot, Lopez Espi, Luis Collado Coch, Isidre Mones, plus some bloke called Steve Holland.

There are a couple of hundred pictures over the book's 130 pages, which amply illustrate the artists under discussion and more. We need more books like this... preferably in a language I can read!

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Commando 5759-5762

Commando's latest issues are on sale today, Thursday 20th June, 2024! Featuring mysterious desert tanks, air battles over Korea, a British officer turned coward, and the return of Warlord's Kampfgruppe Falken to comics pages!

5759: Kampfgruppe Falken: The Point Of No Return

The Original Warlord character storms back into comics! In 1940, Major Heinz Falken was a panzer commander court martialled for refusing to massacre refugees in the Blitzkrieg of France. As punishment, Falken was sentenced to serve in a penal battalion on the brutal Eastern Front, under the cruel command of General Heiss.
    Between Heiss’ cruelty, the fearsome resistance, and the extreme weather, Falken has it cut out for him and his men. But when an unexpected person from Falken’s past crops up, he’ll have to choose between survival or leaving his humanity behind!
    We are excited to announce the return of Kampfgruppe Falken to comics, as the original Warlord character is back in the pages of Commando! Join Major Heinz Falken as he fights for survival after his exile to the Eastern Front! Penned by Dominic Teague with indomitable artwork by the legendary Manuel Benet.

Story: Dominic Teague
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

5760: Desert Fox

“The Ghost” — that was the British soldiers’ nickname for the solitary German tank which would appear mysteriously out of the desert wastes to create havoc, and then just as strangely disappear. Its tracks could never be seen, and everybody reckoned it was unstoppable — everybody, that is, except Sergeant Greg Fox. Greg decided to hunt it down — armed with only a tommy gun and two grenades!
    Classic Commando from 1970 incoming! With the powerhouse trio of contributors on board, Eric Hebden on script, Galindo on interior artwork and the great Ian Kennedy on cover!

Story: E Hebden
Art: Galindo
Cover: Ian Kennedy
First Published 1970 as Issue 514

5761: Fallen Sabre

Inspired by true events...
    During the ferocious fighting of the air war in Korea, both Allied and Communist forces were desperate to gain any edge in battle. Soviet-built MiG-15s dueled with American F-86 Sabres in the skies known as “MiG Alley” — and they would stop at nothing to capture an enemy aircraft intact!
    Commando Issue 5761 is hot stuff from masterful writer James Swallow. With stunning interiors by Italian artist Paolo Ongaro and a vibrant and exciting cover by the amazing Neil Roberts!

Story: James Swallow
Art: Paolo Ongaro
Cover: Neil Roberts

5762: Don’t Shoot!

The sergeant couldn’t believe his ears when Lieutenant Ron Deal ordered the men to lay down their arms. This was the brave officer who led them from the battlefields of France to the scorching sands of the North African desert. He’d never been known to give in without a fight, so what was he up to now? Surely he hadn’t turned coward?
    Issue 5762 is a dynamic Commando reprint with another dream team of Commando contributors on board. With prolific writer CG Walker on the script, CT Rigby on the interior artwork and Jeff Bevan’s artwork on the cover!

Story: CG Walker
Art: CT Rigby
Cover: Jeff Bevan
First Published 1982 as Issue 1600

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Rebellion Releases — 19 June 2024

Christmas just got Thrill-powered again – Rebellion is proud to announce the return of the 2000 AD Annual!

After an absence of three decades, the first 2000 AD Annual of the 21st Century arrives in November – in plenty of time to make it under the tree – from all good comic book stores, as well as the 2000 AD webshop!

This gorgeous hardcover collection will feature a mix of brand new and classic stories from top creators – including John Wagner (A History of Violence), Alan Grant (Batman), Simon Spurrier (Hellblazer, Coda), Dan Abnett (Warhammer 40k), Phil Winslade (Lawless), Fernando Blanco (Detective Comics), Ian Gibson (Halo Jones), Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), Mick McMahon (The Last American), and Emma Vieceli (Life Is Strange).

It will come in two editions with stunning new covers bringing a fresh twist to the annuals of yesteryear – the standard edition will feature a bold, contemporary ensemble of 2000 AD’s greatest heroes by breakout Judge Dredd and Rok of the Reds artist Jake Lynch (Judge Dredd), while the 2000 AD webshop-exclusive edition will have a special retro cover by the legendary Brian Bolland (Batman: The Killing Joke), drawing his first 2000 AD Annual cover since 1983!

And, due to popular demand, the 2000 AD Annual will be joined by a brand new Treasury of British Comics Annual!

Last year’s sold out hardcover returns this November with three brand new stories from industry superstars, including Simon Furman (Transformers) and Mike Collins (Doctor Who) on Kelly's Eye, Alec Worley (Hook-Jaw) and Anna Morozova (Lowborn High) on Black Beth, and Paul Grist (Jack Staff) and Simon Williams (The HOFF: Heroes of Fearless Freedom) on Robot Archie.

Rebellion has delved in its vast archive to craft a selection of some of the greatest strips ever to appear in British comics – including Adam Eterno, Cursitor Doom, Stryker, and Major Eazy from such esteemed titles as, Scream!, Battle, Tiger, Valiant and Lion!

It too will come in two editions – the standard edition will feature a new cover by David Roach (Judge Anderson), while the Treasury of British Comics webshop-exclusive edition will be by Andreas Butzbach (The Thirteenth Floor).

After the runaway success of last year’s Treasury of British Comics Annual, these new hardcovers are bringing the proud tradition of annuals back with a vengeance for 2025 – guaranteeing maximum enjoyment this Christmas!

Matt Smith, editor of 2000 AD, said: “The 2000 AD Annual was the highlight of many a reader’s year, and often a staple Christmas present. In the past they’ve showcased some of the best stories to emerge from the House of Tharg, and I’m delighted to see the annual return, containing a mix of classic Thrills and bold new strips. I’m sure the 2025 edition will be top of every Earthlet’s list to Santa!”

Both weighing in at 112 pages, the 2000 AD Annual and Treasury of British Comics Annual for 2025 will be available from all good comic book stores in November, with order details appearing in August’s editions of Previews magazine.

They will also be available to pre-order from the 2000 AD and Treasury of British Comics webshops from Wednesday 19 June, with the standard editions alongside special webshop-exclusive editions featuring brand new covers from Brian Bolland and Andreas Butzbach.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2387
Cover: Nick Percival.

JUDGE DREDD // IRON TEETH by Ken Niemand (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
INTESTINAUTS // BUSTED FLUSH by Arthur Wyatt (w) Pye Parr (a & l)
BRINK // CONSUMED by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
ROGUE TROOPER // SOUTHER BELLE by Geoffrey D. Wessel (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Chris Blythe (c) Jim Campbell (l)
PROTEUS VEX // DEVIOUS by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine #469
Cover: Alex Ronald.

JUDGE DREDD: HARD COPY by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ARMITAGE: BULLETS FOR AN OLD MAN by Liam Johnson (w) Warren Pleece (a) Jim Campbell (l)
New! MEGA-CITY 2099: THE CUCKOOS by Ken Niemand (w) Conor Boyle (a) Simon Bowland (l)
JUDGE DREDD: TOXIC by Paul Jenkins (w) Marco Castiello (a) Jason Millet (c) Shawn Lee (l)
New! PANDORA PERFECT: PERFECT SOUNDS by Roger Langridge (w) Gary Welsh (a) John Charles (c) Simon Bowland (l)
New! DEPARTMENT K: MECHA-CITY ONE by Ned Hartley (w) Mike Walters (a) Jim Campbell (l)
HARROWER SQUAD: URBAN ROTATION by David Baillie (w) Steve Yeowell (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
DREADNOUGHTS: NOTHING TO FEAR by Mike Carroll (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Kelpie the Boy Wizard by Ken Mennell & John Burns
Rebellion ISBN 978-183786170-5, 19 June 2024, 96pp, £16.99. Available via Amazon.

In days of old, when King Arthur reigned over Britain, there was at royal Camelot an apprentice sorcerer by the name of Kelpie.

Together with his venerable master, the great and powerful Merlin, Kelpie uses his magic to protect the kingdom from evil doers including The Raven and the Weird Sisters of Doon!

First published sixty years ago by Odhams press in Wham!, the complete saga of Kelpie the Boy Wizard channels Arthurian legend through a Harry Potter filter, presented through the gorgeous black and white artwork of John Burns.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Comic Cuts — 14 June 2024

I'm trying to juggle two projects at the moment but ran into a slight problem with one that I'm working on for another researcher/collector. What was meant to be a little help with printing ran into the buffers, just as I thought I had everything organized to print off a handful of books in order to spread the cost of postage (mentioned in last week's column).

So I'm back onto the other book which is tantalizingly close to being finished. Three introductory features written, of which two are designed, plus the artwork pages are all in place with just the page numbers to sort out. One of the sticking points was the title of the third feature and I woke up this (Thursday) morning and thought: "Pastmaster".  The perfect title. Amazing how the mind works.

I should have it finished by the end of the weekend: there's some PDF proofing to do before it goes to the printers to get a printed proof. Believe it or not, given the occasional typo that creeps in, I do try to keep errors out of my books. Sometimes I'm responsible for perpetuating mistakes, despite doing my best to double-check everything (this is why I'm so darn slow these days). Spelling is my curse and spell-checkers are only so good; worse, I'm a constant tinkerer, and shift things around as I write, so an explanation can sometimes end up appearing long after the thing that needs explaining. You hope to pick these things up when you read through, but the occasional brain glitch means that you see what you meant to write rather than what you've actually written.

I'm also prone to rambling off the topic.

The new book, HIGH SEAS AND HIGH ADVENTURES, features three stories drawn by Jesus Blasco, who has been my favourite artist since childhood. My first experience of Blasco was an episode of 'The Steel Claw' from 1968, but the artist had changed by the time I began buying Valiant regularly in the Boulderman era of the strip in late 1969. Blasco drew the last of the original run of the Claw strip, a little 3-parter, in May 1970 before switching over to 'Slave of the Screamer', which was the first full-length strip drawn by Blasco that I experienced. (Worth noting that it will shortly be released by Hibernia with an introduction by yours truly.)

Fans of Valiant from that time will remember the horror... not just of the strip but the fact that industrial action took the comic off the shelves for almost three months between November 1970 and February 1971. A number of strips, including 'Screamer' were wrapped up rather too quickly.

However, it did mean that Blasco went on to draw one of my favourite strips of all time: 'The Return of the Claw'. This had the right mix of science fiction and nightmare that (I guess) the nine-year-old me wanted. It was during this period (1971-73) that the infamous incident of the forgotten dog occurred, where, between the counter and the door of the newsagent, I was already so engrossed in the latest episode that I had walked half-way home before a passing neighbour asked about our dog, and I realised he was still tied to a post outside the newsagent.

My next Blasco sighting would have been probably in Action and 2000 AD before he headed off into the sunset as far as British comics were concerned. During that period he had a sideline in nursery comics (in fact, had drawn fairy tale stories for the UK as early as 1957); it was only when I started collecting comics and seeing the collections of friends that I became aware of all the westerns he had drawn in the 1950s, and  1960s adventure strips like Val Venture, Danger Man (based on the TV series) and The Indestructible Man.

Every time I found something new, it just reaffirmed my belief that Blasco – and one must include his family, who all worked together – was the finest comic strip artist ever. And shortly there's going to be a collection of three of of his strips, although I suspect that next week's column will begin with "I'm still waiting on proofs." See you back here in a week to see whether Mystic Steve has the power of prediction or his printers have pulled out all the stops just to prove him wrong.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Rebellion Releases — 12 June 2024

One minute he’s driving a bus, the next he’s getting an email from Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner – on this episode we talk to artist Dan Cornwell!

From self-published sci-fi sports strip Rok of the Reds (coming to the Judge Dredd Megazine soon!) to Judge Dredd and Spector, Dan has quickly cemented his reputation as a fan favourite at 2000 AD. Molch-R chats to him about his career so far, his craft, and what happened when his mum threatened to phone Tharg…

The 2000 AD Thrill-Cast is the award-winning podcast that takes you behind-the-scenes at the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic with creator interviews, panels, and more! You can subscribe to the Thrill-Cast on your favourite podcast app, whether that is Apple, Google, Stitcher, or Spotify. You can also listen now at or you can watch at

And now, this week's bumper-sized release...

2000AD Prog 2386
Cover: John McCrea & Jack Davies.

JUDGE DREDD // IRON TEETH by Ken Niemand (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
INTESTINAUTS // BUSTED FLUSH by Arthur Wyatt (w) Pye Parr (a & l)
New! THE LORD PROVIDES by Gemma Sheldrake (w) Petite Creme (a) Jim Campbell (l)
BRINK // CONSUMED by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
New! ROGUE TROOPER // SOUTHER BELLE by Geoffrey D. Wessel (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Chris Blythe (c) Jim Campbell (l)
New! FUTURE SHOCKS // HAPPY WIFE by Laura Bailey (w) Stewart K. Moore (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
PROTEUS VEX // DEVIOUS by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Charles T. Podmore — Writer and Decorator


By Robert J. Kirkpatrick

The name of Charles T. Podmore (or C.T. Podmore) may be familiar to some students of 19th century boy’s story papers – he contributed several stories to papers published by Samuel Dacre Clarke, alias Guy Rayner). He also wrote at least four novels, three stage plays, and was a local journalist for several years. Yet he spent his entire life living in Manchester and working full-time as a painter and decorator.

He was born on 3 April 1870 and baptised, as Thomas Podmore, at St. Jude’s, Ancoates, Manchester, on 26 February 1871. His father, Joseph Podmore (1818-1894) was a paper hanger and decorator, who had married Eliza Pickford (1834-1890) in Macclesfield, Cheshire, in 1858. Charles was the last of five children.

In the 1871 census the Podmore family was recorded at 11 Grosvenor Street, Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester; ten years later, they were living at 26 Legh Grove, Ardwick, Manchester; and in 1891 they were living as boarders at 32 Clifford Street, Chorlton on Medlock, when Joseph was described as a decorator and Thomas was described as a journalist and author.

His first venture as a writer appears to have been the short-lived The Young Author’s Journal, edited in partnership (as C.T. Podmore) with W.J.R. Carey, which was launched in Manchester on 1 May 1887 when Podmore was only 17. A year later he began contributing to some of the story papers published by Samuel Dacre Clarke (under his pen-name of Guy Rayner). Amongst his contributions to The Young Briton’s Journal were The Golden Dragoon; The Story of an Outcast; Dick Arden’s Quest; and Sylvester Strood. For The Boys’ Popular Weekly he wrote St. Bartholomew; and for Guy Rayner’s Boy’s Novelette he contributed A Man of Mystery – A Tale of the Pressgang Days; and Porlock the Jew, or The Spectre of the Abbey. His stories appeared under the names of Chas. T. Podmore and C.T. Podmore. Why he added “Charles” to his name is a mystery.

He appears to have published nothing in the years immediately following 1890. He went on to marry Blanche Sarah Roberts, born on 29 April 1874 in Tipton, Staffordshire, at St. Thomas’s Church, Ardwick, on 20 April 1898. Blanche was the daughter of Edward Roberts, a railway station master, and his wife Sarah. The marriage certificate gave Podmore’s name as Charles Thomas Podmore, and his profession that of a decorator, having belatedly, perhaps, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. They went on to have three children: Cecilia Florence (1900-1987), Thomas Edward (1901-1972), and Charles Arthur (1904-1923).

His first novel, A Cynic’s Conscience, which portrayed the tragic consequences of an affair between a married man who has left his wife and another woman, was published by Edward Arnold in 1900, under the name of C.T. Podmore. This was followed by A Trombone and a Star, also issued by Edward Arnold, in 1905; and The Fault, published by John Long in 1909. A review of The Fault in the London-based newspaper The Era described Podmore as “a well-known Manchester journalist,” although what publications he wrote for has yet to be determined.

At the time of the 1901 census, he was living at 22 Albert Place, Ardwick. He was recorded as Charles T. Podmore, and was described as house decorator. By 1909, he had moved his family to 14 Meade Grove, Longsight, Manchester (where he was listed in a local trade directory as a decorator), and where he remained for the rest of his life.

In the 1921 census, he was described as a house decorator, with his sons Thomas Edward working as a house painter (continuing the family tradition), and Charles as an apprentice fitter.

As was the case before, there was a long gap between his last novel and his next work, which was a stage play, The Real Jeff Carbury, performed in Manchester in 1926, along with Labour on Top, also first performed in 1926. A year later came Put It There.

In 1932 he began writing for The Era, mainly contributing pieces on the theatre, music, and reviews. Another novel, Three Strange Men, was subsequently serialised, in 1938, in several local newspapers in the UK and in Australia. But he continued in his trade as a decorator, being recorded in the 1939 Register as a “grainer painting trade”. (A grainer was a painter who painted imitation of wood or marble grain).

Charles T. Podmore died on 27 March 1952, aged 82, at his home in Meade Grove, and was buried in the Southern Cemetery, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, on 1 April 1952. He did not leave a will. His wife died just five weeks later, on 8 June 1952, being buried four days later alongside her husband, leaving an estate valued at £223 1s. 5d. (just over £7,000 in today’s terms), with administration granted to her daughter Cecilia.

It is widely known that writing can be a very precarious occupation, and many authors supplement their income from writing by working in other jobs. This is as true today as it was in the 19th and early 20th century, although many writers were so wedded to their craft, and spent so long on it, even if for very little reward, that a second job was out of the question, and they were content to live in poverty. Podmore clearly had ambitions to be a writer even at the early age of 18 – witness his boys’ stories. Why he stopped writing them can only guessed at. Was he disappointed with the fees he received, or did he run out of ideas, or were his stories not well-received?

His novels received mixed reviews. The Leeds Mercury, while praising Podmore’s style, said “A Cynic’s Conscience is a disagreeable and entirely unattractive book,” and The St. James’s Gazette found it “loosely constructed and slovenly written; while The Athanaeum called it “a remarkable piece of writing,” with The Sphere declaring it “an excellent story, full of truth and insight, full of beautiful human touches…..thoroughly convincing.”

A Trombone and a Star, the story of a musician and his only daughter, was described by The Daily Telegraph as “a distinctly clever book without being remarkable,” and by The East Anglian Daily Times as “an extremely clever and unconventional novel, marred only be certain affectations of style which prevent entire enjoyment.” And The Fault, a novel about the romantic entanglements of two young men, was either “a forcible and dramatic one” (The Bookseller), or “rather pompous, and lacks verisimilitude in some of its details.”

Perhaps these assorted opinions convinced Podmore that he could never become a major novelist, and, after his brief foray into writing for the stage, he focused on local journalism, while relying largely on his income from his job as a painter and decorator.


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