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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Eagle Times v.33 no.2 (Summer 2020)

It'll take more than a pandemic to keep Eagle Times out of your letterbox. Now in its thirty-third year, the magazine continues to delight and entertain, with features and stories centred around the famous Eagle comic of the 1950s and 1960s.

This issue launches into a nostalgic look at the (New) Eagle Annual, with a rundown of the highlights from the ten colourful annuals that appeared in the Eighties and early Nineties. I remember buying most of these as they came out, so happy memories of the contents are somewhat dampened by the reminder that a lot of them were printed in such a way that the pages perforated at the binding and fell out.

Jeremy Briggs' articles on obscure contributors are always welcome, and this time he looks at the career of Kenneth McDonough, artist on the 'Heroes of the Clouds' feature but more widely known as a painter of aviation scenes, a scale modeller and box artist for Airfix. If you didn't know anything about McDonough before beginning this article, you'll know plenty by the end of it and enjoyed a lot of good art along the way.

David Britton's 'The Story of a Train that Went Nowhere' picks up steam with part two, based on an unused outline for an article on the Canadian Pacific Railway by Christopher Mayer submitted to Eagle in 1958. Introduced last issue, the outline forms the bulk of the text here, with additional background and detail by Britton, who has a second piece in this issue describing the White Funnel Fleet, the subject of a promotional offer in Eagle. His third continues the story of Charles Chilton and the Indian Wars, studying how Chilton treated real-life incidents in his 'Riders of the Range' strip. Well researched and well illustrated with artwork by Frank Humphris, the series here reaches the war with Geronimo.

Shorter features include another look into the lost sketch books of the Dan Dare Studio, an episode of 'In and Out of the Eagle' which seems to have suffered a loss of signal (you'll get the joke if you buy the issue!), a reminiscence of visiting W. H. Smith's by Kevin O'Donnell, an episode of the magazines' regular P.C. 49 short stories, plus a look at the career of pop musician Donovan. Oh, and (full disclosure) a rather nice review of my Rocket: The First Space-Age Weekly book.

The issue is 25% bigger than normal, clocking in at 52 pages, plus covers, and includes two prints featuring Dan Dare by Bryan Talbot.

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

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Comic Cuts - 10 July 2020

Here's the latest video chat with news of how the Longbow books are progressing, plus what you can expect to see from the next Bear Alley Books project.

A quick note to say that the Rocket book got a very nice review in the latest issue of Eagle Times which I think I'm going to pull a quote from: "Great value for money ... an entertaining and informative read, which should appeal to any enthusiast of 1950s British comics." What can I say... of you don't yet have a copy and you're an enthusiast of British comics, you can buy a copy of this great value for money title at the Bear Alley Books website.

Commando 5347-5350

High flying aerial adventures as Commando commemorates the 80-year anniversary of the Battle of Britain in issues 5347-5350 — out today!

5347: Flying Fever

With a terrific cover by aircraft enthusiast Ian Kennedy, this Commando tackles the toll of the constant fights and flights the pilots of the RAF endured during the Battle of Britain. The brave men were sometimes sent on up on several sorties a day with very little to no sleep, something writer Andrew Knighton plays upon in this nerve-wracking yarn.

Story | Andrew Knighton
Art | Muller & Klacik
Cover | Ian Kennedy
5348: Spitfire Spirit

Harry ‘Handlebar’ Hanley of the RAF found himself alone against six Black Eagles. They blasted his Spitfire full of holes, and Luftwaffe ace Kurt Krantz was sure his enemy would trouble him no more. But he was going to find out that the Spitfire spirit doesn’t die so easily! This classic Commando is a memorable issue to say the least and is the first of our Battle of Britain reprints!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Medrano
Cover | Phillips
Originally Commando No. 1128 (1977).
5349: The Rejects

Jim and David Turner’s ‘The Rejects’ is a story that shows not every flyer fit neatly into the RAF. All manner of men took to the perilous skies in 1940, determined to defend the tiny British Isles from Goering’s fearsome aircraft armada. Different nationalities; British, Polish, Czech, French, and Irish pilots, like Michael O’Connor, banded together and lunged headfirst at the mass of Luftwaffe bombers and fighters — pilots who were equally determined to crush the Allies under their boots!

Story | Jim & David Turner
Art | Carlos Pino
Cover | Carlos Pino
5350: Cards of Fate

A seemingly supernatural threat intervenes as six ordinary playing cards are given to six ordinary pilots, marking them as good as dead! Just what was the terrifying power of darkness that cut this Hurricane squadron to pieces during those few weeks of the Battle of Britain? Another exciting — yet offbeat Commando from classic writer CG Walker, who gives the reader a story they are seldom likely to forget!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Phillips
Originally Commando No. 1230 (1982).

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD) - 8 July 2020

Rebellion have a quiet week this week, with Wednesday seeing only the publication on the newsstands. Despite the slow down in the number of physical copies that are appearing over the next few months, there are titles still due in the shops to keep things interesting. We have the Tammy & Jinty Special at the end of July, a Battle Special and the third Misty & Scream Special in September.

Rebellion have also given a bit of an advance look at November's The John Steel Files, which contains two newly-coloured reprints of John Steel adventures. I've been pushing for this series to be reprinted for years -- it was one that I tried to champion fifteen years ago when Carlton were doing their reprints. Now we will have had two reprints in a year: the collection from Book Palace and now a collection from Rebellion. My cup runneth over!

I've seen some complaints about the need for colouring, but... well, I'm not sure where I stand on this. Normally I'd say that if Rebellion are selling this as some kind of Sixties chic ("Sharper than Bond, cooler than The Saint," according to their press release), then black & white is part of that chic. The artwork by Luis Bermejo lends itself to the kind of crime noir stories that John Steel featured in. That said, while I was first attracted to the stories by the artwork, it was the writing that really sold me on the series. It's the closest to Raymond Chandler's lyrical hard-boiled style that British comics ever came.

Here are some samples of the newly coloured versions -- colouring by 2000AD's Pippa Bowland. Purists look away now. Everyone else... read the examples below and I think you'll be persuaded that you need to buy this book!

2000AD Prog 2189
Cover: Neil Roberts

Judge Dredd: End of Days by Rob Williams (writer) Colin MacNeil (artist) Chris Blythe (colourist) Simon Bowland (letterer)
Full Tilt Boogie by Alex de Campi (writer) Eduardo Ocana (artist) Simon Bowland (letterer)
The Diaboliks: Profundo Rosso by Gordon Rennie (writer) Dom Reardon (artist) Jim Campbell (letterer)
The Order: Land of the Free by Kek-W (writer) John Burns (artist) Simon Bowland (letterer)
The Out by Dan Abnett (writer) Mark Harrison (artist) Annie Parkhouse (letterer)

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Comic Cuts - 3 July 2020

The latest Comic Cuts video has the latest news on our two-volume Longbow reprint and a look at who might have been writing the stories.

I'm pleased to reveal the covers to our latest books, which will be released within the next few weeks.

A quick update on a couple of kickstarter projects we've previously mentioned.

The Kickstarter for the ComicScene The History of Comics volumes can be found here. As I write this, the target has just been reached -- £5,309 pledged and the target was £5,280. There's still 27 days to go, but don't leave it to the last minute.

And another that has shot past its target is Ben Cullis' Kickstarter for the second issue of The 77. With ten days to go, the total pledged is almost two and a half times the goal. You can see how well the magazine is doing by following this link, where you, too, can not only put in a pledge for issue two but pick one of the dozens of rewards on offer, from scripts to sketches.

Congratulations to both of these projects.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD) - 1 July 2020

Rebellion have a fairly quiet week this week, with only one release -- the regular weekly 2000AD, so this is a good excuse to cover some other Rebellion news.

A thrill-powered new attraction will be opening in Spring 2021 in London: Judge Dredd Uprising: The LIVE Experience!Little Lion Entertainment revolutionised the immersive experiential concept with the Crystal Maze LIVE experiences, when they launched back in 2016.

Now they teleport urban adventurers into a surreal, high-action future with Judge Dredd Uprising: The LIVE Experience – a brand new multi-level team attraction based on the satirical and darkly funny world of Britain’s foremost science-fiction comic book character, Judge Dredd.

Judge Dredd Uprising: The LIVE Experience  takes Little Lion’s cutting-edge mix of immersive live theatre, fiendish mental and physical challenges, multi-level problem-solving and stunning world-building to a whole new level.

With incredible set design, groundbreaking interactive technology and a real-life cast of crooks, robots & convicts, it’s a new dimension in excitement for friends, colleagues, rivals, gamers and fun-seekers alike.

In the sprawling megalopolis Brit-Cit, the post-nuclear London of the future, all manner of characters roam the streets. But Judge Dredd, has discovered a terrible plot and you and your merry gang of chancers are the city’s only hope!

“This new show is insanely exciting!” says Tom Lionetti-Maguire, Founder and CEO of Little Lion. “The experience is part comic book, part sci-fi film, part immersive theatre, part escape room, part action adventure and part indoor theme park… all wrapped into one.

“This is our second show and I really wanted us to push the boundaries of what audiences can expect, to explore the space between theatre, film and reality. With Uprising we have really achieved that.

“Judge Dredd’s mega-cities are a wild, prophetic and very funny world of future crime, surreal action and crazed citizens… and now you can experience that world for yourself. It’s time to choose your side.”

CEO of Rebellion, Jason Kingsley OBE, owners and publishers of Judge Dredd says “The world of Judge Dredd is the greatest imaginative universe to come out of British comics and we’re proud to bring it to ever wider audiences. Every reader has dreamed of setting foot in a Mega-City, and with Judge Dredd Uprising: The LIVE Experience they can do just that...”

An epic new concept in competitive entertainment, Judge Dredd Uprising: The LIVE Experience is set to be the Capital’s ultimate attraction for fun, parties, get-togethers, corporate team-building, big nights out and even dating (what’s a better way to get to know your latest Swipe Right than breaking out of jail with them?).

A new adventure is coming in 2021. Be ready, Citizen.

2000AD Prog 2188
Cover: Boo Cook

Judge Dredd: End of Days by Rob Williams (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
The Out by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Full Tilt Boogie by Alex de Campi (w) Eduardo Ocana (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Order: Land of the Free by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Diaboliks: Profundo Rosso by Gordon Rennie (w) Dom Reardon (a) Jim Campbell

Friday, June 26, 2020

Comic Cuts - 26 June 2020

News on the pagination, price and contents of the new Longbow books from Bear Alley, plus details of some of our future publications. As always you can find more information on our books at the Bear Alley Books web page, but watch the video to find out the name of my favourite artist.

The book mentioned in the video is The Don Lawrence Westerns, which contains reprints of Tales of Wells Fargo and Pony Express and is still available, although in limited numbers. The book also had a quite attractive German edition. Don is, of course, one of twelve artists of Longbow, the others being Geoff Campion, Keith Shone, Jesus Blasco, Juan Gonzalez Alacreu, R. Charles Roylance, Francisco Cueto, Gerry Haylock, Frank Humphris, Cesar Lopez, Rodney Sutton and Martin Salvador... hopefully something to everyone's tastes!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Commando 5343 – 5346

Brand new Commando issues are out today, with special issues commemorating the formation of the British Commandos, 80 years ago!

Get global action and adventure delivered right to your door when you subscribe to Commando or subscribe for digital copies

5343: The Lone Wolf

Kommandant Josef Jewinski smells trouble aboard U-1215 — a wolf in sheep’s clothing. With a traitor amongst the men in whose hands he must place his life each day, the tension is hull shattering as the iron coffin starts to live up to its name! Friendships fray and trust is left in tatters in this thrilling U-boat journey by writer Kate Dewar, with a remarkable cover from renowned artist Ian Kennedy.

Story: Kate Dewar
Art: Morhain & Defeo
Cover: Ian Kennedy

5344: Night Ace

Ken Barr’s interiors really sing in this classic Commando from 1967, as a new pilot finds himself plagued by vertigo! But the insufferable spinning fades away in the blackness of the night, and pilot Nick Kirby soon proves himself as a formidable flyer. For every night, there is a dawn but at 30,000 feet, will Nick be able to overcome his challenges and a CO who doesn’t believe a word he says?

Story: Newark
Art: Ken Barr
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No. 304 (1967).

5345: Churchill’s Commandos

80 years ago, Churchill gave orders for a ‘hunter class’ to fight back against the Nazi onslaught, and so the British Commandos were born. In this new adventure from Heath Ackley, it isn’t all smooth sailing as the fiery Ambrose struggles to contain his rage… but with the capable instruction of the endlessly patient Sergeant MacKay, the trials he faces to defeat the Nazis will help him forge the bonds that made Commando units such a formidable fighting force. Featuring a Commando-celebratory wraparound cover by Neil Roberts.

Story: Heath Ackley
Art: Khato
Cover: Neil Roberts

5346: Find the Treasure

A strange tale from the archives where pre-war sporting rivals, Sandy and Otto, are brought together to hunt down a legendary treasure. But with only half the details each from their mysterious benefactor, they must work together to find it — and survive! Reunited during the Second World War, they reminisce over their failed attempt to retrieve the Kellenburg Collection, something Otto cannot let go…. Soon the search is on again and only Sandy’s Commando training can help him escape Otto’s greed!

Story: Bernard Gregg
Art: Enriquez
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1542 (1981).

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD) -- 24 June 2020

This week's releases from Rebellion include the latest 2000AD Sci-Fi Special, which this year marks 20 years since the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic joined games developer Rebellion, with a massive 100-page celebration of the last two decades! Inside, you’ll find brand new stories with classic Rebellion-era archive strips – with some special guests cropping up to really make this a true 2000 AD birthday celebration!

The special features brand new work from superstar comics talent⁠—including Jock (Batman), Al Ewing (Immortal Hulk), Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy) and more⁠—and, as well as classic cuts from the archives, the special pits some of the biggest characters and series from past and present against each other in explosive, thrilling, humorous, and brand new adventures! It also dives into the archives to explore Rebellion's tenure as the publisher of 2000 AD.

Originally launched by publishing giant IPC in 1977, 2000 AD’s unique blend of innovative and hard-hitting sci-fi, fantasy and action saw it survive and thrive, despite the declining fortunes of the UK comic publishing industry. After being moved to IPC’s Fleetway comics subsidiary, it was sold to Robert Maxwell in 1987 and then to Danish publisher Egmont in 1991.

In 2000, the title, its characters, and its legacy were purchased by brothers Jason Kingsley and Chris Kingsley, the owners of games developer Rebellion. In post as ‘Tharg the Mighty’ since 2002, editor Matt Smith is now the longest-serving editor in 2000 AD’s history and the title has gone on to win multiple domestic awards, as well as being nominated for an Eisner Award in 2013.

2000AD Prog 2187
Cover: Mark Harrison

Judge Dredd: End of Days by Rob Williams (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
The Out by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Full Tilt Boogie by Alex de Campi (w) Eduardo Ocana (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Order: Land of the Free by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Diaboliks: La Vita Malvagia by Gordon Rennie (w) Dom Reardon (a) Jim Campbell

2000AD Sci-Fi Special
Cover: Jock / Chris Blythe (col)

Judge Dredd: The Immigrant by Al Ewing (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Terror Tales: Scene of the Crime by Al Ewing (w) Dom Reardon (a) Tom Frame (l)
Kingdom: Shako's Kingdom by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Simon Bowland (l) 
Sinister Dexter: Bullet Time by Dan Abnett (w) Andy Clarke (a) Chris Blythe (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
Storm Warning: Black Storm by John Reppion (w) Clint Langley (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Nikolai Dante: A Farewell to Arms by Robbie Morrison (w) Simon Fraser (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Red Seas vs Ant Wars by Ian Edginton (w) Steve Yeowell (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Dreams of Deadworld: Fear by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Judge Dredd: Leaving Rowdy by John Wagner (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Tom Frame (l)
Features: Jason Kingsley interview, Twenty Thrills For Twenty Years

Concrete Surfer by Pat Mills & Christine Ellingham
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08763-3, 25 June 2020, 80pp, £9.99 / $19.99. [DIGITAL RELEASE ONLY]
Note: Standard print edition will be released 17 September 2020. Pre-order via Amazon.
A Skateboarding rivalry, timed to coincide with skateboarding's 2020 Olympic debut! Sent home to Britain after her parents fail to establish a new life in Australia, Jean Everidge is forced to rely on family charity, moving in with her Aunt, Uncle and cousin Carol, successful gymnast, beloved of teachers and pupils alike, and all round charming "top girl". Jean has one solace left to her - skateboarding, surfing the concrete pavement, while forgetting all her troubles, and feel free. But Jean's freestyling talent soon attracts attention, and if there's one thing Carol can't stand, it's being out of the spotlight. With the new skatepark freestyle contest coming up, just how far will Carol go to stay number one?

Friday, June 19, 2020

Comic Cuts - 19 June 2020

Computer woes, a short history of my thirty years trying to put together a Who's Who of British Comics, and why the letter 'S' is so important to the upcoming Longbow books.

Here are the two pages from 1992 that were written for inclusion in The Comic Book Price Guide For Great Britain. Plans were afoot to greatly expand the fourth (1992/93) edition but even with 600 pages compared to the previous edition's 386, there was enough room to include artist bios.

The Blasco piece was recycled from an article written for a fanzine follow-up to to my Mike Western Story (1990) while the other entries were written especially. I think this illustrates one of the problems of doing a Who's Whoa single title like Commando has 140 artists and 180 writers, plus 100 artists who painted covers (although there will be some overlap with artists of internal pages), but that's probably 380 entries required for that title alone. There's almost no overlap with any pre-war titles and most humour titles, and little overlap with Eagle or 2000AD. You can begin to see why I believe a comprehensive record of the creators of British comics and story papers is a multi-volume project.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD) - 17 June 2020

They’ve battled the greatest threat to the universe and now the story of The Vigilant comes to an end with an explosive grand finale in the pages of the Judge Dredd Megazine #421, on sale today.

After two spellbinding special issues, these home-grown superheroes – Dr. Sin, Blake Edmonds, Thunderbolt the Avenger, The Steel Commando, Dr. Sin, Pete’s Pocket Army, Death-Man, Yāo and The Leopard from Lime Street – leap forth once again from the Rebellion archive of more than a century of classic comics.
Writer Simon Furman (Transformers), artist Simon Coleby (Judge Dredd), colourist Len O’Grady (Jaegir), and letterer Simon Bowland (The Boys) reunite for this explosive climax to The Vigilant saga – Nightcomer Beth Rogan has had a vague vision that one of the team will betray his or her comrades, and that’ll allow the evil Doktor Von Hoffman to usher in a Hell on Earth. Can Dr Sin’s crew stop the demon Mazoul’s terrifying Blood Rapture from becoming a reality?

Readers will once again get the chance to enjoy the return of these iconic British characters as they face their deadliest threat – one that may destroy them for good!

This issue of the Judge Dredd Megazine will also come bagged with a 64-page collection featuring stories from the original incarnations of these legendary comic book heroes⁠—Doctor Sin, the Leopard from Lime Street, Blake Edmonds (Death Wish), Steel Commando, Dr. Mesmer's Revenge, Von Hoffman's Invasion⁠—giving readers fascinating context to The Vigilant’s final mission!

The complete story of The Vigilant, featuring work by Simon Furman, Simon Coleby, DaNi, Henrik Sahlstrom, Warwick Fraser-Combe, Staz Johnson, Will Sliney, and Jake Lynch, will be collected in a 128-page paperback graphic novel this September.

Editor Keith Richardson said: “It has been an honour to usher in the new era of exciting stories featuring some of the greatest adventure characters in British comics, created by the best of British talent. Stay Vigilant!”

2000AD Prog 2186
Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (col)

Judge Dredd: End of Days by Rob Williams (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Sinister Dexter: Boys in the HUD by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Full Tilt Boogie by Alex de Campi (w) Eduardo Ocana (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Order: Land of the Free by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Diaboliks: La Vita Malvagia by Gordon Rennie (w) Dom Reardon (a) Jim Campbell

Judge Dredd Megazine 421
Cover: Simon Coleby / Len O'Grady (col)

Judge Dredd: The Fugitive by Rory McConville (w) Staz Johnson (a) Jim Boswell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Vigilant: Rapture by Simon Furman (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Blunt III by TC Eglington (w) Boo Cook (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Lawless: Boom Town by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Jim Cambell (l)
Features: The Vigilant, Lion
Bagged reprint: The Vigilant: Origins

Friday, June 12, 2020

Comic Cuts - 12 June 2020

This week we reveal the cover to volume two of Longbow, the forthcoming book from Bear Alley and take a brief look at a couple of Kickstarter projects that have just launched, or are just about to be launched.

From Saturday the 13th you can help Ben Cullis put together the second issue of The 77. I don't have full details at the time of writing, but you can find out more by following this link to where the kickstarter will launch [UPDATE: Now launched and open until 12 July].

Tony Foster's The State of Independents Yearbook 2020 is also issue 14 of his ComicScene magazine. Issue 13 (celebrating the 70th anniversary of Eagle and Dan Dare) will be available in comic shops from June 15th, but distribution into newsagents is being delayed until at least August 13th. All upcoming titles and back issues can be obtained from the ComicScene online store.

The Kickstarter for the ComicScene The History of Comics volumes can be found here.