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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Comic Cuts

I had a bit of a "Comicy Saturday" (TM Crikey!) with the arrival of the latest issues of Eagle Times and Crikey! I've also had the latest copy of Fumetto through the post, too, and it's interesting to compare the three now I've had a chance to read them.

Fumetto is one of the leading Italian comics magazines. As you can count the number of Italian words I recognise on the fingers of one hand (one, usefully, being the Italian for "comics"), it's something of a visual feast only, but feast it inevitably is. They cover Italian comics as far back as the 1940s and there's usually a wide range of articles of varying length, reprints of comics (Italian with some American thrown in, often newspaper strips which were reprinted in Italian papers), one or two longer features, plus news and reviews. The new issue (#67, November 2008) can boast news from 47 different Italian publishers, so it's no mystery how the Italian fan scene can support a beautifully produced, oversized (24 x 34 cm) fanzine, although there's little intrusive advertising (it's limited to three of the four colour cover spots). At least 13 contributors have helped put this issue's 25 features together.

72 pages, including a special 20-page section looking at the work of Libico Maraja, whose work ranges from fairy tales to cover illustrations to giallo novels (another word I recognise... it means 'yellow' but describes crime novels which traditionally had yellow covers).

What immediately strikes you about Fumetto is the breadth of coverage. I know a little about the history of Italian comics because so many Italian artists worked here in the UK. Nothing seems off limits to Fumetto—they cover newspaper strips, comics and albums of every genre. The special sections usually concentrate on a single artist with interviews, essays and checklists. It adds up to a superb package that's likely to satisfy anyone with a broad interest in Italian comics. Subscriptions outside Italy cost 110 Euros from ANAFI, via Emilia Ospizio, 102 - 42100 Reggio Emilia, Italia.

The latest issue of Crikey! (#8, December 2008) actually compares reasonably well. This is the first issue under the editorship of (designer) Glenn B. Fleming and the first in full colour. Since the issue has been sponsored by Blasé Books (Peter Hansen, Phil Clarke and Mike Higgs) it's no big surprise that five of the nine features are by Peter Hansen, Phil Clarke and Mike Higgs and six pages (plus the back-cover advert) are dedicated to The Phantom (once published by Phil Clarke and Mike Higgs). Advertorial material aside, there's a rather more diverse line-up of material this issue, ranging from the 1930s (Mickey Mouse Weekly) to the new millennium (Spaceship Away!), taking in "Charley's War" and "The Avengers" along the way. The latter is probably Crikey!'s finest moment to date the article is accompanied by a number of pages from the DC Thomson archive in colour (see the image at the top of the page).

Crikey! is still a very quick read, even at 48 pages (52 with covers). The next issue won't be out until the end of February while Glenn gets used to doing the magazine without the aid of former associates Brian Clarke and Tom Sweetman, so that's plenty of time for people to get some articles written and sent in. Subscription details can be found at the Crikey! website.

Eagle Times comes to the end of its 21st year with another fine issue. I said last time that this year's issues had been an improvement over the last couple of years and this is certainly true of the latest (vol.21 no.4, Winter 2008). Alan Vince provides some nice reminiscences of various artists, Jeremy Briggs has part two of a look at Ian Kennedy's career, there's more on the second Eagle dummy, with comments from Joan Porter, a reminiscence by Frank Hampson of a trip to Angouleme, and the first part of Steve Winders' essay on Heros the Spartan.

Recently there has been talk in the air of whether Eagle Times can continue for much longer, which editor Howard Corn responds to in his editorial by promising that "The Team intend to continue to publish Eagle Times while there is still a demand and while we continue to receive good quality articles for publication." If this year's showing is an example of the quality, there should be no problem on that front so it's down to demand—and one would hope that good quality features will help create that continued demand.

Subscriptions to Eagle Times are available from Keith Howard, 25A Station Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 2UA. £22 UK, £34 overseas. Further information about the magazine can be found at the Eagle Times blog.

Good as these two issues are, I still think there's room for a third magazine with a more historical brief and longer articles. Whether we shall ever see a British version of Fumetto is in the lap of the gods.

(* The Avengers original artwork from Diana by Emilio Frejo © D. C. Thomson.)

6 comments:

ARCHAVIST said...

I've never heard of these mags. GOT TO GET THEM. Thanks

Stephen Gallagher said...

THE AVENGERS in DIANA -- I'd heard of this strip (gets a brief mention in Dave Rogers' COMPLETE AVENGERS) but this is the first time I've ever seen anything of it. What a class job.

Reuben said...

That Avengers page is indeed lovely. Makes you wonder why no one has collected them into a book. I also wonder why The Avengers aren't currently available on DVD in this country.
Anyway I think I'll be giving Crikey! a try at any rate.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the book-related definition of "giallo". Wasn't aware of it. There are also giallo films. For example Mario Bava's TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (AKA: BLOODBATH, CARNAGE etc.) as well as his KILL BABY KILL.

--
Bruce

Steve said...

Bruce,

Yellow became the predominant colour used on cheap, pulp-style novels in Italy, hence the use of the term "giallo" to describe them. In the UK we had a similar tradition years before when the cheap literature available on railway book stands was called "yellowback" fiction. Must be something about the colour that somehow equates it with the cheap and tawdry... the yellow press, for instance.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your informative comment, Steve. I have, in fact, encountered recently a reference to "yellowback" fiction in the UK. It was in a Sherlock Holmes story, in which his friend, Watson, has to kill some time and does so while reading a yellowbacked book.

--
Bruce