Thursday, January 31, 2013

Commando 4571-4574

Commando releases today

Commando No 4571 – Frenzy Of Fear

With the exception of Private “Jelly” Jakes – the unit’s resident coward – the Convict Commandos were three of the most fearless fighters in the British Forces. So why were they running in terror from a unit of Germans leaving their quaking comrade behind in their haste?

Something was badly awry, something had happened to throw the Convict Commandos into a
Frenzy Of Fear

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Benet
Cover: Benet

Commando No 4572 – Barracuda Attack!

At flying training school, they said Sub-Lieutenant Martin Archer wasn’t good enough to be a fighter pilot. Too steady, they said, not quick enough to react. What they didn’t say was that he lacked nerve. And that was just as well because they gave him a Fairey Barracuda dive-bomber to fly into the teeth of flak and fighters.

That took guts of a different kind altogether.

Story: Bill Styles
Art: Carlos Pino
Cover: Carlos Pino

Commando No 4573 – Torpedoes Away!

They called it the riskiest job in the RAF...

To throw a big Beaufort torpedo bomber around the sky like a fighter-plane; to battle through flak and air attack right up to target, to roar in on your torpedo-run a bare 50 feet above the waves and lay your single “tinfish” right in the belly of a German warship – and then to fight your way back out of the flame and fury you’ve stirred up and bring your bomber and crew safe home. This was the job of a Beaufort pilot – and it took a special breed of hero to do it.

Young Bill Overby was a Beaufort pilot, one of the best. He couldn’t help becoming an ace. You see, it looked as if Bill didn’t care about staying alive…


Just to prove that Ken Barr didn’t do every Commando cover in the early years, here’s one from Graeme Millar, one of the many talented artists who worked on the staff at DC Thomson’s Dundee headquarters at that time.

His efforts are ably backed up by the team of Ford and Maitland, both of whom seem to have had a penchant for air stories. They must have done as this one works very well indeed with some crackerjack fighting and flying scenes.


Calum Laird, Editor

Story: Maitland
Art: Ford
Cover: Millar
Originally Commando No 55 (February 1963)

Commando No 4574 – Dragon-Ship

A Viking longship, its fierce dragon head staring proudly out from the prow, rode the choppy seas as it pulled away from the Norwegian coast. But this was nineteen-forty, and the ship was manned not by Vikings but by the crew of an RAF flying-boat, a couple of British army officers and a Norwegian.

Just what was going on?


Following last fortnight’s Silver Collection wintry wonder ‘Arctic Victory’ (No 4570), here’s another classic Commando with a decidedly chilly Scandinavian setting. Not only that but we also have the astonishing premise of a small group of Allied heroes battling the Germans from the prow of a fearsome Viking longship! Kudos to all the creators involved in this brilliant adventure yarn from a quarter of a century ago – but with a special mention in particular for staff artist Jeff Bevan and his stunning, evocative cover.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Bill Fear
Art: Keith Shone
Cover: Jeff Bevan
Originally Commando No 2178 (April 1988)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Superman vs Nick O'Teen!

Weird how many people remember this campaign. I was asked about it ages ago and eventually stumbled across this advert from January 1981 ... and you know how I hate to have stray pictures sitting around on my hard drive.

Update: When I posted this back on 2 April 2009, I thought that would be the end of it. However, I've just stumbled across this letter in the pages of Look and Learn from 2 January 1982 that directly tackles the question of why Superman was fighting cigarette addiction for the Health Education Council whilst also promoting "sweet cigarettes" for Bassetts:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

Comic Cuts - 25 January 2013

As expected, this week has been a bit of a disaster as far as work is concerned, beginning with a long weekend with Mel, who had taken a couple of days off. Having her home during the day can be distracting ... but when those distractions include, for instance, a trip down to the pub for lunch, you won't find me complaining!

With the workmen due on Wednesday and Thursday, I thought I'd work on something relatively easy. So I scanned and cleaned-up a strip that will be appearing in one of the Bear Alley books later this year. It was a nice change of pace. I've had some metadata work in, so there has been a short pause in the production of the next book. I should be back on it next week.

At eight o'clock Wednesday morning, the water went off as the workmen came in to remove the old boiler and replace it with a nice new one. A combination boiler, far more efficient than the old boiler, is now installed where we once had a hot water tank. I'm hoping that it will also save us on our water bill, as the old tank used to overflow if the hot water wasn't used immediately. This might not sound a huge problem, but it increased our water "consumption" by quite a bit and added at least £30-40 to our water bill.

Now, if we can just get the insulation done, that will be the cherry on the cake.

Pure coincidence, but on the same day I published some random scans relating to Lion's Epic summer special, Matt Emery blogged about some of the original boards for the strip Tobruk, which was the lead strip in that very issue.

You can read my review of Illustrators issue 2 at the Book Palace Books blog. It is a thing of beauty.

Talking of which, Ron Turner's Space Ace has made a colourful return to print thanks to John Lawrence. John has long championed Turner's work and, rather than wait for someone else to reprint it, has decided to publish a volume himself. Space Ace Vol. 1 is a 40-page A4 book with full-colour contents. Full-colour? Yes indeed! Turner's black & white originals have been coloured up by John Ridgway and they look superb. John's colouring has the quality of classic air-brushed comic strip artwork rather than modern-day computer-generated imagery and sits beautifully with Turners' artwork, which relied of chiaroscuro to create shape and texture.

The book costs £8.95 including p&p. I can vouch for the fact that John is pretty much selling at cost. "I'm doing it for the love of it and for keeping Ron's work alive," he says. Hopefully some readers of Bear Alley will play their part and send John a cheque (John Lawrence, 39 Carterweys, Dunstable, Beds. LU5 4RB) or pay via PayPal (larryjohn.21 AT

In celebration of the recent series of Father Brown yarns that appeared on the BBC, here's a selection of books by G. K. Chesterton for this week's random scans.

Next week will see the conclusion of our Treasure Island strip on Monday. I'll also be running our usual monthly upcoming and recent releases columns, plus whatever else I can squeeze in.

Treasure Island part 12

(* artwork © Look and Learn Ltd. Reprinted by permission.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Comic Cuts - 18 January 2013

Shortly after writing last week's column, I almost produced an update as quite a lot had changed. The proof copy arrived on Friday and I was able to go through it over the weekend, so orders were processed fairly promptly on Saturday evening and I started to hear from people receiving their copies on Wednesday.

The first review appeared on Thursday ... thankfully very complimentary! UPDATE: The book has also become the most heavily pre-ordered of any title Bear Alley has done, just slipping past Pages From History for that coveted role.

The party I mentioned had to be delayed a week because of various folks going down with colds. Which meant – trying to put a silver lining on that particular cloud – that we were able to catch up on quite a bit of unwatched TV. We're now a couple of episodes into Borgen, a couple into Africa, watched the first full storyline of Lewis, watched one episode of Death in Paradise and the whole of Stargazine Live.

I've also kept up a reasonably busy work schedule without driving myself into the ground. My office is freezing cold – a side-effect of working in a converted garage with a single skin thickness of brick for walls and a roof with no insulation. Until now I have been able to work through it as you get used to it being chilly. But the temperature drop this week, with snow laying on the ground (albeit not quite the frozen hell promised by the newspapers), has meant extra layers: I'm now up to four and on Wednesday I was wearing gloves – fingerless, admittedly, or I can't type. But it still slows everything down.

Cold aside, I managed to get the last little bits written for the next book due out, namely the long-time-coming H. Rider Haggard book from Book Palace. I'm not sure of the schedule but I think this will be a softcover and, with luck, should be out pretty promptly.

Due to trying to earn a crust, I haven't got much further with the next planned release for Bear Alley Books, although I should be back to work on it today (Friday). I'm also having a good think about the one after that, for which I'm thinking that I may include a couple of comic strips and perhaps some additional text material. I'm still mulling it over. You have to do something to keep your brain warm on these chilly days.

Insulation news: long-time readers will know that wherever we live, we seem to go through periods of crap while the house needs improvement or is in the process of being improved. Well, we've still not had any news about the new boiler and nobody has heard a dicky bird from the insulation company. However, that could all change next week, so stay tuned! In fact, if you don't hear from me next Friday, you'll know that things are finally moving.

Random scans. No time for book covers this week, so I have here some adverts for the appearance of the very first Lion holiday special, a rather unique magazine that billed itself as the "Lion Summer Spectacular EPIC".

Next week, we'll continue the adventures of Jim 'Awkins on 'is pirates quest for treasure. Difficult to talk like a pirate via a keyboard. Not that my talents extend too far in the realms of impersonating accents ... after a few sentences they all turn goodness gracious me.

Treasure Island part 5

(* artwork © Look and Learn Ltd. Reprinted by permission.)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Commando 4567-4570

Commando releases today.

Commando No 4567 – Collision Course

So how did Flight Lieutenant Kerrie Matheson, in his unarmed DH 86 transport, end up hurtling straight towards an enemy Bloch 220 Auvergne aircraft?

Well, it had all started off as a routine secondment from his posting at Coastal Command. He became part of a mission to build a long distance air bridge, ferrying Allied planes from French-held Africa to Egypt.

Then his routine flying duties took a deadly turn – with mystery, espionage and murder setting him on a Collision Course.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

Commando No 4568 – Eighty-Eight!

It’s not every day you see a German 88mm gun being operated by a group of “Fighting Kiwis” – New Zealanders from a British and Commonwealth Expeditionary Force battling in Greece, determined to hold back the German onslaught.

But this was not an everyday story.

Thanks to a bungling SS officer, the Kiwis were able to help themselves to the enemy artillery’s pride and joy. Having been relentlessly pounded by the very same guns, they decided to give the Jerries a taste of their own medicine!

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Commando No 4569 – Beach-Head!

Johnny Malloy was a little guy – five foot zero or thereabouts, but he wore the coveted Commando flash on his shoulders.

He seemed lazy, good-for-nothing, a coward – yet every man in his platoon was ready to die for him when it came to the bit.

Who was he then – this odd little Commando? Just about the most important guy in the British army, that’s all!


All the ingredients for a classic Commando story are here – a dicey but vital mission, a group of soldiers who don’t trust a comrade…and Gordon Livingstone’s inimitable artwork. I say inimitable with confidence as many have tried and none has succeeded.

Flipping open the Ken Barr cover in 1963, you’d be met with a script and art which neatly capture all the fine details of service life, thanks to a generation that lived through a world war and National Service. There’s a priceless authenticity about this. And you can have it for only £1.50. What a bargain!

Calum Laird, Editor

Beach-Head originally Commando No 54 (January 1963)

Story: Parsons
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Ken Barr

Commando 4570 – Arctic Victory

After a few weeks in a certain squadron of the RAF Regiment, Phil Adamson was beginning to wonder if this unit really was just for the defence of airfields. What with unarmed combat instruction, learning about explosives and a mock-raid on a local flying school, it was more like training for a crack Commando squad.

He didn’t know how right he was!


Although it first appeared in the Spring of 1988, it somehow seems fitting to republish author David Heptonstall’s icy tale in mid-January, the chill of winter still in the air.

Artist Terry Patrick’s rendering of Arctic Scandinavia – especially on pages 26 and 27 – is very effective and, as always, cover legend Ian Kennedy does Commando proud.

The story seemingly starts as an air yarn but then changes gear, morphing into a “men-on-a-mission” adventure with a hint of espionage. It’s a little bit different.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Arctic Victory, originally Commando No 2177 (April 1988)

Story: David Heptonstall
Art: Terry Patrick
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Treasure Island part 4

(* artwork © Look and Learn Ltd. Reprinted by permission.)


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