Friday, May 30, 2014

Wildlife Photographer of the Year - not!

When I was a kid I never had an interest in photography. I did get myself a camera when I was about twenty, but it was stolen when I was on holiday. I remember borrowing my sister's camera, but I don't remember owning another one for ages, maybe decades! Mel had a camera, which I used in the 1990s, and I finally bought myself a digital camera in the mid-noughties.

So my camera technique isn't that great and a lot of the time the results are... well, they're not brilliant. I thought I'd share these with you...


Comic Cuts - 30 May 2014

Today's measure of progress on the Countdown to TV Action is in pictures: I'm currently cleaning up a spread featuring The Persuaders that will be illustration number 145. I'm plodding along steadily, having now passed the point in the history of the paper where Countdown morphed into TV Action, although I still have quite a way to go. The closest to a guide I have is the Boys' World index, which had over 300 illustrations in total.

I haven't done too badly this week given that Monday was a bank holiday and I was with my Mum most of Tuesday (it was her birthday a couple of days earlier). I have also reached the age where conversations often take a turn for the medical, as today's chat with the guy who came around to do a gas safety check on our boiler proved. Poor guy has recently had cameras shoved up his most intimate holes (plural). This is not a conversation that I ever imagined I would be having with a complete stranger. I'm fairly unshockable when it comes to the genital-urinary area (I worked in a hospital for seven years and saw things that would turn most stomachs) but I kind of miss the facile conversations of my youth which tended to involve which films you'd seen recently, who you fancied off the tele or which band you'd been listening to.

It is almost precisely a year since I decided to lose a bit of weight—when I gave up smoking I piled on quite a bit of weight which was causing back problems, and this after twenty years of a fairly sedentary lifestyle. I was already overweight and the extra tummy inches tipped the balance. In the past week the NHS has been issuing new guidelines for the nation suggesting that most of us need to lose 3% of our weight.

Well, I'm here to tell you that I've lost 12 pounds—about 5%—in the last year and, more importantly, I've managed to keep that weight off. And I feel a whole lot better for it. I'm from a family who suffer from high blood pressure and I would certainly have qualified myself last year: I was morbidly overweight and in a stressful job (go write and publish a few books and let me know how your stress-levels are doing if you don't believe me!). Yet my blood pressure was (at the admittedly top-end of) OK when I had a medical in November. My weight loss has stabilised over the past few months but that's to be expected.

I'm aiming to lose at least another 12 pounds over the next year and, more importantly, try to make sure I again keep that weight off. That means eating a bit less and exercising a bit more. I'll let you know how I'm getting on.

It being spring, we've been keeping an eye on the local bird life, mostly on the two pairs of blackbirds that have their nests here—one at the front and one at the back of the house. The tally so far is five chicks (two front, three back). Above is one of the chicks at the rear, still being fed by its parents. I tried to get a shot of all three of the chicks yesterday, but the results were not brilliant. Here's one of daddy and one of the chicks... I'm thinking that the Wildlife Photographer of the Year prize is not yet in the bag!

Next week may be even more broken up than this week as as I have nothing planned beyond our monthly upcoming releases column. We shall just have to wait and see what happens.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Clippings: Sally Heathcote: Suffragette

A clipping I've had sitting around for a few weeks. Here's an interview with Mary Talbot from The Observer, 4 May 2014, about her collaboration with Kate Charlesworth. I've had to shrink this down so that it doesn't completely blow my allocation of free storage at Picasa, so you may find the text hard to read... a problem easily solved because it's still available at the Guardian website. The text on the right hand page about the Cape/Observer/Comica graphic short story prize for 2014 is also available.

(* © Guardian News and Media Ltd.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


You wait for years for a movie based on a British comic strip character and then three turn up almost at once. Following Judge Dredd (2012) and Frank* (2014), the official poster reveals that Elstree Studio Productions plan to release Bananaman in 2015.

Bananaman was created by David Donaldson and Steve Bright and first appeared in Nutty issue 1 on 16 February 1980. This parody of Batman and Superman was drawn by John Geering who took the strip into the pages of The Dandy in 1985 and continued to draw the strip until his death in 1999. Barrie Appleby, Tom Paterson and co-creator Steve Bright drew the strips before it switched to reprints in 2007-10, bar a number of new strips by Appleby and Chris McGhie in 2008.

The strip was revamped by Wayne Thompson in 2010, who continues to draw the strip today in the pages of The Beano.

Bananaman starred in his own annual and was also a popular TV cartoon character (voiced by Graeme Garden of The Goodies) with his own show on the BBC in 1983 to 1986.

Further details—the name of the scriptwriter, the director, actors, etc.—have yet to be revealed, so I'm guessing that it won't be early 2015.

* Frank Sidebottom may have been a real person but he was also a comic strip character, drawn by Frank in the pages of Oink!.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Three from the Evening News

I picked up some old newspapers recently, including a couple of copies of the Evening News, the London evening daily which featured Paul Temple amongst others. I'll come to Paul at some point, but I thought I'd post examples of a few other strips that appeared.

The first is 'Little Panda', created by the famous Dutch artist Marten Toonder. It ran from 1946 until 1991 in several Dutch newspapers and was written and drawn by members of Toonder's studio, which included the British artist Harry Hargreaves. An obituary claims that Hargreaves was the artist of the strips that were reprinted in the Evening News but I'm not convinced that is the case as it would depend on when the strip began appearing in the UK and whether it began by reprinting older stories. Hargreaves didn't join the studio until 1953. This example is from June 1953.

Next up, an episode of Matt Marriott by Tony Weare from September 1956. We have attempted to cover this series back in 2006 so I can do no better than to direct you to that post.

The third and final strip is the classic Moomin strip by Tove Jansson. What surprised me, when I went to research this little note (i.e. looked her up on Wikipedia) was that the stories were original to the Evening News, for which Jansson wrote and drew 21 serials between 1954 and 1959. Some of the stories were co-written with her brother, Lars Jansson, who took over the artwork on the strip, which continued until 1975. Eight volumes of comic strip reprints have been published by Drawn & Quarterly (more details about the original serial titles and which strips have been reprinted can be found here)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ronald Niebour (Neb)

"Mr. Midge" was unknown to me until last week when I picked up a 1950s issue of the Evening News daily newspaper. Nor had I heard of "Neb", but a little digging turned up a bit of background on the artist, although I have to confess that the above strip looks... unusual. "That white paper on the tensile properties of fungus"? Who was Mr. Midge that his visit might be inconvenient to Mr. Slipstone? The strip dates from 1956 and Google turns up an original art board from 1957 (below), so the strip lasted at least some months.

Ronald Niebour was born in Streatham, London, on 4 April 1903, the son of Herbert Henry Niebour (1875-1943), who worked in his father's family business as a musical dealer in Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey. Herbert was married to Ada Mary Williams from Wachet, Somerset, in London in 1902. However, the couple separated, with Herbert listing himself as single in the 1911 census. Ada and their son Ronald were by then living in Llanishen, Glamorgan, just north of Cardiff.

Niebour was a childhood friend of Leslie Illingworth, the two attending grammar school Barry County School (also attended by another cartoonist, David Gwilym John, creator of 'Dai Lossin'). Illingworth went on to join the Western Mail, published in Cardifff, and attended Cardiff School of Art. Niebour instead joined the Merchant Navy and in 1920-21 served as a Laundry Boy aboard the Ormonde.

Ronald Niebour, circa 1920

He was persuaded by his family to become a teacher and, encouraged by his uncle, a superintendent of handicraft teaching, he studied metalwork and woodwork, and then spent three years teaching handicrafts at schools in Birmingham, Weymouth and Kendal.

He was self-taught as an artist and began selling caertoons, producing football cartoons for the Barry Dock News and Cardiff Evening Express. He also worked for the Oxford Mail, drawing local sporting cartoons, caricatures and a daily children's strip, before moving onto the staff of the Birmingham Gazette and Birmingham Evening Despatch. Here he tackled numerous jobs from retouching photographs to sketching any illustrations required.

He submitted sketches to the Daily Mail and, in 1938, was offered the opportunity to illustrated the paper's woman's page and gardening notes. He joined the staff in September 1938, moving from his home in King's Heath (199 May Lane, King's Heath 14) to London. After the outbreak of war he switched to drawing pocket cartoons, which proved to be his metier, and he was named by London Opinion in 1942, as one of the most popular pocket cartoonists in the national press. In 1945, a cutting of a "Neb" cartoon from the Daily Mail was found in the ruins of Hitler's Chancellery.

Sh! Gremlins by H.W. [Ernest Leslie Howard Williams] was illustrated with humorous drawings by "Neb" and published (by Bognor Regis-based John Crowther) in 1942, some months before Roald Dahl popularised the creatures in his book The Gremlins (1943).

Niebour continued to draw for the Daily Mail until 1960. He also contributed to Punch and produced advertisements for Winsor & Newton.

He was married to Evelyn Mary Ursula Kavanagh in 1942 in Glamorgan, Wales. He died at his home in Benajarafe, near Malaga, Spain, on 19 July 1972, aged 69.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Commando issues 4707-4710

Commando issues on sale 22 May 2014

Commando No 4707 – Target America

Corporal “Spider” Mackay, the Convict Commandos’ replacement safe-cracker could be a handy man in a fight. Fearless and with a ruthless streak that struck fear into his enemies, he had yet to be bested.
   This time, though, he’d been too hasty in his pursuit of a scrap and had got himself trapped in an intercontinental rocket with a monster high-explosive warhead under his seat. And in case you hadn’t guessed, the rocket’s target was America.
   Was there any way out for Spider?

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

Commando No 4708 – Killer Gun

Sergeant Gareth Owen’s sniper’s rifle was a short magazine Lee-Enfield No. 3 Mark 1(T), fitted with a Pattern 18 telescopic sight of X3 magnification.
   He carefully set the wind scale and made a lateral adjustment to the telescope’s range drum. A Nazi head came into the sights, and Gareth’s crooked finger took the first gentle but deadly pressure on the trigger…

If I told you the original working title of this story, you'll realise just how far ahead of the game the early Commando scriptwriters, like Eric Hebden, actually were. Lurking underneath Ken Barr's fantastic two-for-the-price-of-one cover (a full-colour illustration and a two-tone red and black one) is a tale of a man with the stain of shame on his character. An unjustified mark, perhaps, but it's there all the same.
   The story follows him and some of the disparate characters who make up a Commando team, beautifully rendered by Senor Cortes whose black and white work verges on the "film noir" with his fantastic shadow lighting.
   What was the working title, you ask? Band Of Brothers!

Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Story: Eric Hebden
Art: Cortes
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No 121 (June 1964), re-issued as No 659 (July 1972)

Commando No 4709 – Viking Warriors

Was that really a marauding Viking longship cutting through the waves alongside a sleek German E-Boat? Had some strange time machine brought them together?
   No. It was all for a propaganda film being made in Nazi-Occupied Denmark in 1942. The Nazis wished to emphasise that their creed was akin to the wild Viking spirit shown by the legendary Berserker, Ragnar The Red.
   However, all was not well — strange accidents started to happen all around as the film’s premiere approached. But it couldn’t have anything to do with Ragnar, could it?

Story: George Low
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4710 – Two Minutes to Zero

The French village church lay bathed in the rays of a watery moon. The pale light threw black, gloomy shadows which hid the stealthy forms of two British soldiers grimly inching their way up to the roof. One slip meant disaster — not only because of the height but because the church was full of Nazis!


Two minutes? I’d better get a move on…
   Here our main character — Bombardier Ted Marchmont — goes on an interesting dramatic journey; one that most fictional characters should go on in some shape or form.
    Apart from looking out for his mate, Gunner Tug Wilson, Ted seems to have few redeeming qualities — being arrogant, cynical, war-weary and clashing with his father, a high-ranking (and despairing) military career man.
   So, when embroiled in a siege against the attacking Germans, will our anti-hero become a true Commando hero?
    Join Ted on his journey and find out. But you’d better be quick. The clock is still ticking.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Alan Lomas
Art: Pat Wright
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No 937 (May 1975), re-issued as No 2267 (April 1989)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

David Torrie (1941-2014)

David Torrie, who died on Friday 16 May 2014 at the age of 73, spent much of his working life in the juvenile publications department of D. C. Thomson, joining the Dundee-based company in 1961 as a junior sub-editor. He joined the staff of The Dandy, working under its founding-editor Albert Barnes until the latter retired in April 1982. Torrie then became editor until handing on the reins in November 1986 to Morris Heggie. During his 25 years on the title he regularly scripted Korky the Cat, Desperate Dan and Black Bob, the sheepdog, although his favourite character was Brassneck.

Torrie also worked on Beezer, the Dandy Comic Library, Classics from the Comics and the Funsize Beano series, scripting stories featuring Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx as well as writing reports on Scottish League football matches for The Sunday Post.

For fifteen years he was the editor of Thomson's staff journal, The Argus, until he retired from the firm in 2006.

David Lindsay Torrie was born in Forfar in 1941, and was educated at East Primary School; when his family moved to Kirriemuir he attended Webster's High School before earning a place at Edinburgh University.

Outside of comics, Dave Torrie spent almost 40 years as an all-rounder with the Kirriemuir Cricket Club, "batting with vigour and bowling with skill and guile." He shared in the club's many successes, which included winning the Second Division in 1971 and 1972 and winning the Two Counties Cup in 1972, 1973 and 1977. Torrie was awarded the TWL Bell prize for fastest century of the year in 1975 and won the Second Division leading bowling prize in 1979 and 1985.

He was elected to the management committee of the Strathmore & Perthshire Cricket Union in 1969 and held the office of Vice-President in 1980-81 and President in 1982-83. After returning to the role of committee member, he was made Honorary President in 1988, regularly attending meetings until the last few years when ill-health and other commitments made attendance difficult.

Torrie was also a member and one-time President of the Kirriemuir Curling Club and, in 1968, achieved a small measure of fame as a member of the winning team in Grampian TV's Bothy Nichts, entertaining and playing accordion. Other hobbies included stamp and postcard collecting—he was President of the Arbroath Philatelic Society and Tayside Postcard Club—and travelling as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. On one occasion he booked for a tour of the Pictish world which departed from Perth. After a long drive he boarded the bus, only to find that the first stop was Kirriemuir.

He was an active member of the Kirriemuir and Arbroath communities, as chairman of the Kirriemuir Round Table and 41 Club. He was inducted as a member of the Arbroath Guildry in November 2013.

He was recognised as a humorous raconteur and was much in demand as an after-dinner speaker, often giving talks about comics.

Since 1971, Torrie had lived with his brother Graeme at Tarriebank Home Farm, Marywell, near Arbroath. He is survived by his brothers Graeme and Stewart, his sister Hazel and a large extended family.

(* Much of the above information was derived from The Courier (22 May 2014),  Arbroath Herald (20 April 2006) and the Strathmore & Perthshire Cricket Union website; photos are from The Courier and the Dundee Stroke Recovery Club website)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Comic Cuts - 23 May 2014

Another week, another Comic Cuts column and not much to say. I'm still working on the Countdown to TV Action index and I still have no idea when it will be finished. I'm laying out pages 50 and 51and reports are coming in that, based on a poll of one person (me), it's a fine-looking book so far.

I'm very pleased with the way it is going. I wish I was faster, but if you've seen any of my previous books you'll know that I try and make these indexes look as good as possible. That means spending an extraordinary amount of time trying to clean up illustrations and, in the case of Countdown and TV Action, we're talking about taking scans from badly printed comics of predominantly line and wash art and Photoshopping the hell out of the scans to make them presentable once they've been through yet another printing process.

But when the latest page is from a beautiful and dramatic story by Keith Watson of bat-people attacking a spaceship, I feel that my time is being well spent.

Due to the pressure of trying to get this book out, there may be a break in transmission next week. I have a couple of galleries that I might be able to post and I have an idea for some posts that I want to do about old newspaper strips from the 1950s, but I must get this book out. That must be my first priority.

I do, however, have some random scans for you. I picked up three books by Neil Asher on Saturday. One I knew I had, but in a different edition [7th impression] which had a huge printed yellow sticker defacing the cover. But I got back home and discovered that I had one of the other two, too. Bah!

Lastly, I finally managed to dig out my copy of the late Lucius Shepard's The Golden, with its double cover—open the first cover to reveal the second cover underneath. Gorgeous artwork by Melvyn Grant.

Next week: see above. There might be something, there might not. Probably will be.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


The last of our mystery Commando artists for this week is Ruiz, who first contributed in 1978. He produced 67 issues before departing in 1990, usually at the rate of five or six issues a year. The examples below are from 1980 (The Blades of War) and 1987 (And Now... Strike Back!).

Update - 18 October 2014: Thanks to Jose we can put a name to the artist: Alejandro Martinez Ruiz, son of Luis Martinez Mira, who was a regular on Air Ace Picture Library. Ruiz was born in 1961, so began his career on Commando at the age of 17. He also drew romances, possibly for Star Love Stories, which was a long-running Thomson romance pocket library. Nowadays he is a painter and illustrator, contributing to the Spanish Air Museum.


Prepare for Action (Commando 1234, Jun 1978)
Into Battle (Commando 1238, Jul 1978)
The Fighter (Commando 1262, Oct 1978)
Deadly Cargo (Commando 1285, Jan 1979)
A Time of Terror (Commando 1300, Mar 1979)
Tempest! (Commando 1316, May 1979)
Hunting Trouble (Commando 1333, Jul 1979)
Ten Years After (Commando 1348, Sep 1979)
Barmy's Private Army (Commando 1359, Oct 1979)
Death-Ray (Commando 1378, Dec 1979)
The Blades of War (Commando 1400, Mar 1980)
Last Man Out (Commando 1421, Jun 1980)
Witch Doctor (Commando 1439, Aug 1980)
Crossed Swords (Commando 1457, Oct 1980)
Boy's War (Commando 1472, Dec 1980)
Always a Prisoner (Commando 1502, Apr 1981)
U-Boat Menace (Commando 1519, Jun 1981)
The Hollow Island (Commando 1535, Aug 1981)
Behind Enemy Lines (Commando 1552, Oct 1981)
The Secret Heroes (Commando 1569, Dec 1981)
Code of Honour (Commando 1590, Mar 1982)
In the Enemy Camp (Commando 1606, May 1982)
Combined Operation (Commando 1617, Jun 1982)
Guerilla War (Commando 1633, Aug 1982)
To Catch a Spy (Commando 1647, Oct 1982)
Drive into Danger (Commando 1663, Dec 1982)
The Fiord Fighters (Commando 1678, Feb 1983)
Dead Man's Diamonds (Commando 1696, Apr 1983)
The Enemy Within (Commando 1713, Jun 1983)
Flying Circus (Commando 1736, Sep 1983)
Pop's Army (Commando 1752, Nov 1983)
Tiger in the Sun (Commando 1774, Feb 1984)
Flames of Fear (Commando 1792, Apr 1984)
Bridge of Fate (Commando 1810, Jun 1984)
Cook-House Heroes (Commando 1826, Aug 1984)
Firing Zone (Commando 1839, Oct 1984)
Escape from France (Commando 1856, Dec 1984)
Heroes and Cowards (Commando 1885, Apr 1985)
Keep Running! (Commando 1898, May 1985)
Man with a Million Secrets (Commando 1920, Aug 1985)
Desert of Danger (Commando 1937, Oct 1985)
Risky Business (Commando 1952, Dec 1985)
The Fight Against Fear (Commando 1977, Mar 1986)
Deadly Danger! (Commando 1993, May 1986)
Sam's Secret War (Commando 2009, Jul 1986)
High Treason (Commando 2021, Sep 1986)
Here We Go Again! (Commando 2039, Nov 1986)
The Tigers Are Coming (Commando 2057, Jan 1987)
Team Spirit (Commando 2079, Apr 1987)
With All Guns Blazing! (Commando 2093, Jun 1987)
And Now... Strike Back! (Commando 2106, Jul 1987)
The Army at Sea (Commando 2121, Sep 1987)
"Attacking Now!" (Commando 2137, Nov 1987)
Air War, Ground War (Commando 2153, Jan 1988)
Rupert the Terrible (Commando 2174, Apr 1988)
A Desperate Time (Commando 2189, Jun 1988)
One Raid Too Many (Commando 2208, Aug 1988)
Red Army Raiders (Commando 2221, Oct 1988)
Cargo of Fear (Commando 2241, Dec 1988)
The Last Big Gun (Commando 2256, Feb 1989)
Top-Secret Cargo (Commando 2273, Apr 1989)
His Worship Goes to War (Commando 2296, Jul 1989)
Left to Die! (Commando 2318, Oct 1989)
Sergeant Sinclair's War (Commando 2335, Dec 1989)
Jumbo and the Tracker (Commando 2361, Mar 1990)
Andy's Army (Commando 2405, Sep 1990)
Operation Dragon (Commando 2425, Nov 1990)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Blasco... no, not that one.

Blasco is a credit that has appeared in a number of Commando reprints in the 21st century... but the artist is not the famous Jesus Blasco or his brothers. In fact there might have been two Blascos who have worked for Commando as there was an early—1964—issue, which is long before a run of strips that began in 1979. Blasco drew a new issue roughly every two months until 1990—a total of 58 issues.

I believe this is Jamie Blasco Romero, although he would have already have been 50 when he started working for Commando. The earlier strip may be someone else but I don't have any scans from this issue.

While I'm thinking about Blascos, does anyone know anything about Leopoldo Blasco, who drew a strip for Roy of the Rovers and, perhaps, elsewhere?

Flaming Skies (Commando 102, Jan 1964)

Private Schultz's War (Commando 1350, Sep 1979)
Jungle Magic (Commando 1369, Nov 1979)
Breakout! (Commando 1386, Jan 1980)
Paratrooper (Commando 1402, Mar 1980)
Game of Bluff (Commando 1414, May 1980)
A Soldier's Duty (Commando 1430, Jul 1980)
Fire in the Forest (Commando 1440, Aug 1980)
The Long Way Back (Commando 1458, Oct 1980)
Ghost Rider (Commando 1474, Dec 1980)
Act of Courage (Commando 1482, Jan 1981)
Desert Ordeal (Commando 1501, Apr 1981)
The Snow Wolves (Commando 1513, May 1981)
Death Before Dishonour (Commando 1533, Aug 1981)
On Target! (Commando 1544, Sep 1981)
Castle in the Jungle (Commando 1560, Nov 1981)
Danger in the Jungle (Commando 1574, Jan 1982)
Renegade Sergeant (Commando 1591, Mar 1982)
The Two Deserters (Commando 1607, May 1982)
Some Kind of Hero (Commando 1616, Jun 1982)
Winners Losers (Commando 1634, Aug 1982)
Count-Down to Danger (Commando 1705, May 1983)
Stop the Panzers! (Commando 1720, Jul 1983)
Hour of Reckoning (Commando 1743, Oct 1983)
The Spoils of War (Commando 1759, Dec 1983)
Secret Enemy (Commando 1776, Feb 1984)
Law of the Jungle (Commando 1790, Apr 1984)
The Strongpoint (Commando 1807, Jun 1984)
Lionheart (Commando 1823, Aug 1984)
The Aces (Commando 1842, Oct 1984)
Mission Accomplished (Commando 1861, Jan 1985)
The Last Raiders (Commando 1882, Mar 1985)
Death in the Jungle (Commando 1901, Jun 1985)
Hunted! (Commando 1928, Sep 1985)
When Luck Runs Out (Commando 1949, Dec 1985)
The Fighting Coward (Commando 1965, Feb 1986)
Shadow of the Vulture (Commando 1983, Apr 1986)
Take Your Chance! (Commando 2000, Jun 1986)
The Deadly Boats (Commando 2015, Aug 1986)
A Date With Death (Commando 2031, Oct 1986)
A Test of Nerves (Commando 2048, Dec 1986)
Operation Poison (Commando 2065, Feb 1987)
Very Important Prisoner (Commando 2080, Apr 1987)
Honour of the Regiment (Commando 2097, Jun 1987)
Destroyer Squadron (Commando 2113, Aug 1987)
Death from the Sky (Commando 2129, Oct 1987)
Lucky Pilot! (Commando 2146, Dec 1987)
Win or Lose (Commando 2165, Mar 1988)
Special Strike Force (Commando 2175, Apr 1988)
The Final Target (Commando 2190, Jun 1988)
Right on Target (Commando 2213, Sep 1988)
Down in the Desert (Commando 2225, Oct 1988)
Target—China! (Commando 2245, Jan 1989)
War in the Wilds (Commando 2261, Mar 1989)
Greedy for Glory (Commando 2277, May 1989)
Circus at War (Commando 2303, Aug 1989)
The Final Showdown (Commando 2322, Oct 1989)
Renegade Squad (Commando 2350, Feb 1990)
The Lost Cross (Commando 2374, May 1990)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


The briefly named Savi was an early Commando artist who drew one single issue—They Came by Night (Commando 5, Aug 1961)—and then vanished into the night himself. He was probably Spanish, represented by Selecciones Ilustradas or maybe by A.L.I., both of whom supplied some of the other early artists. Can anyone identify this mysterious artist?


Monday, May 19, 2014


Galindo was the artist of 26 issues of Commando in the 1970s. I'm guessing Spanish, but if anyone can tell me anything about the artist, I'd be very grateful.


Desert Fox (Commando 514, Nov 1970)
Navy Blue Hero (Commando 537, Mar 1971)
Marked Man (Commando 570, Jul 1971)
One Man War (Commando 598, Nov 1971)
Swamp of Terror (Commando 617, Jan 1972)
Cowboy in Khaki (Commando 641, Apr 1972)
Bill the Bowman (Commando 660, Jul 1972)
Wall of Death (Commando 684, Oct 1972)
The Winning Streak (Commando 717, Feb 1973)
Oasis of Fury (Commando 740, May 1973)
The Cage (Commando 758, Jul 1973)
The Man Who Would Not Kill (Commando 792, Nov 1973)
Brand of Hate (Commando 809, Jan 1974)
One Moment of Panic (Commando 833, Apr 1974)
The Horse Soldiers (Commando 841, May 1974)
Suicide Island (Commando 862, Aug 1974)
Secret Mission (Commando 884, Nov 1974)
Valley of Ghosts (Commando 902, Jan 1975)
Project "Doomsday" (Commando 920, Mar 1975)
Undercover Agent (Commando 936, May 1975)
Death in the Desert (Commando 962, Aug 1975)
Riley's Rifle (Commando 994, Dec 1975)
Vanishing Trick (Commando 1016, Mar 1976)
The Bait in the Trap (Commando 1040, Jun 1976)
Battle of the Snows (Commando 1070, Oct 1976)
Whispering Death (Commando 1094, Jan 1977)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Martin Cruz Smith Cover Gallery

I've been a fan of Arkady Renko since reading Gorky Park many, many years ago (and re-read about eight years ago) and try to keep up with any new novels as they come out. In 2013, 13 of Smith's major novels were reprinted alongside his latest novel, Tatiana—the paperback of which is due out

I say 'major' because there was a period when he was churning out westerns under a pen-name, none of which I've read. In fact, Smith has had quite a few books out under pen-names, including action adventure stories as Nick Carter and Simon Quinn.

There's a little more on Smith at Wikipedia and he has an official website, the latter launched in 2010, replacing an earlier website. Neither site offers much in the way of biographical inforamtion, but a search around the web turns up quite a few interviews if you want to know more.

I should add that Martin Cruz Smith was not the name he was born with. That was Martin William Smith and he wrote a number of novels as Martin Smith in his early career. To avoid confusion with other writers with the same name, he added the middle name Cruz and, following the success of Gorky Park, a number of his earlier novels were reprinted as Martin Cruz Smith. I've appended as complete a list of Smith's work as I've been able to compile below. There are still a couple of gaps, but I now have most of his books that have appeared in a UK paperback.

The Indians Won
Star 0352-31071-5, 1982, 221pp.

Gypsy in Amber
Pan 0330-26904-6, 1983, 157pp.
---- [?2nd imp.] 1997.
Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Canto for a Gypsy
Pan 0330-26903-8, 1983, 159pp.
---- [2nd imp.] 1997, 198pp, £5.99. Cover by Tim Gill
Simon & Schuster, 2013.

The Analog Bullet
Star 0352-31072-3, 1982, 192pp.

Futura 0708-81384-4, 1978, 254pp, 95p.
---- [2nd imp.] 1978
HarperCollins 0006-47908-1, 1994, 254pp, £4.99. Cover by Richard Duckett
Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Gorky Park
Pan 0330-36673-X, 1982
---- [12th imp.] 1983, 334pp.
---- [25th imp.] n.d., 334pp, £2.95.
Pan 0330-44888-9, 2007, 581pp.
Simon & Schuster 978-1471-13108-0, 2013, 559pp.

Stallion Gate
Pan 0330-29357-5, 1987, 287pp.
---- [2nd imp.] n.d., 287pp, £2.95.
Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Polar Square
Fontana 0006-17848-0, 1990, 437pp, £3.99.
Pan 0330-34656-3, 1996, 469pp.
Pan 0330-44925-7, 2007, 470pp.
Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Red Square
Harvill 0002-71334-3, 1992, 431pp, £8.99. Cover photo by Vladimir Pcholkin
Fontana 0006-47257-5, 1993, 473pp.
Pan 0330-34655-5, 1996, 581pp.
Pan 0330-44936-5, 2007, 582pp.
Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Pan 0330-34768-3, 1997, 488pp.
Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Havana Bay
Macmillan 0333-76629-6, 1999, 329pp.
Pan 0330-34002-6, 2000, 453pp.
---- [14th imp.] n.d., 453pp, £6.99. Cover by Christos Magganes
Simon & Schuster, 2013.

December 6 (a.k.a. Tokyo Station)
Pan 0330-48881-3, 2002, 446pp.
---- [4th imp.] n.d., 446pp, £6.99. Cover photo Powerstock/design by blacksheep

Wolves Eat Dogs
Pan 0330-43386-8, 2005, 400pp, £6.99. Cover photos by Corbis/design by blacksheep
Simon & Schuster 978-1471-13113-4, 2013.

Stalin's Ghost
Macmillan 978-0230-01394-0, 2007, 333pp.
Pan 978-0330-44857-4, 2008, 387pp. Cover by Debra Lill
Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Three Stations
Mantle 978-0230-71138-9, 2011, 241pp.
Pan 978-0330-44494-1, 2011, 277pp.
Simon & Schuster 978-1471-13116-5, 2013, 348pp, £7.99. Cover photo by David Clapp/Arcaid/Corbis / design by Lewis Csizmazia

Simon & Schuster 978-1849-83811-5, 2013.
Simon & Schuster 978-1471-13254-4, Jun 2014, 336pp.

The Girl from Venice
Simon & Schuster 978-1849-83815-3, 2016 [tpb]
Simon & Schuster 978-1849-83816-0, 2017, 308pp, £8.99. Cover photo by Getty Images


The Inca Death Squad
Tandem 0426-07202-2, 1973, 169pp, 30p. Cover photo

Code Name: Werewolf
Tandem 0426-12802-8, 1973, 167pp, 30p. Cover photo

The Devil's Dozen
Tandem 0426-14357-4, 1974. Cover photo


The Human Factor
Futura 0860-07311-4, 1975, 156pp, 50p. Cover photo (still)

Novels (series: Arkady Renko)
Nightwing. New York, Norton, 1977; London, Deutsch, 1977.
Gorky Park (Renko). New York, Random House, 1981; London, Collins, 1981.
Stallion Gate. New York, Random House, 1986; London, Harvill, 1986.
Polar Star (Renko). New York, Random House, 1989; London, Harvill, 1989.
Red Square (Renko). New York, Random House, 1992; London, Harvill, 1992.
Rose. New York, Random House, 1996; London, Macmillan, 1996.
Havana Bay (Renko). New York, Simon & Schuster, 1999; London, Macmillan, 1999..
December 6. New York, Simon & Schuster, 2002; as Tokyo Station, London, Macmillan, 2002.
Wolves Eat Dogs (Renko). New York, Simon & Schuster, 2004.
Stalin’s Ghost (Renko). New York, Simon & Schuster, 2007.
Three Stations (Renko). New York, Simon & Schuster, 2010. [[originally announced as The Golden Mile]]
Tatiana (Renko). New York, Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Novels as Nick Carter (series: Nick Carter in all)
The Inca Death Squad. New York, Award, 1972; London, Tandem, 1973.
Code Name: Werewolf. New York, Award, 1973; London, Tandem, 1973.
The Devil’s Dozen. New York, Award, 1973; London, Tandem, 1974.

Novels as Martin Quinn
The Adventures of the Wilderness Factory (novelisation of the screenplay). New York, Ballantine, 1976.

Novels as Simon Quinn (series: The Inquisitor)
The Inquisitor #1: The Devil in Kansas. New York, Dell, 1974.
The Inquistor #2: The Last Time I Saw Hell. New York, Dell, 1974.
The Inquisitor #3: Nuplex Red. New York, Dell, 1974.
The Inquisitor #4: His Eminence, Death. New York, Dell, 1974.
The Inquisitor #5: The Midas Coffin. New York, Dell, 1975.
The Inquisitor #6: Last Rites for the Vulture. New York, Dell, 1975.
The Human Factor (novelisation of the screenplay). New York, Dell, 1975; London, Futura, 1975.

Novels as Martin Smith (series: Roman Grey)
The Indians Won. New York, Belmont-Tower, 1970; reprinted as by Martin Cruz Smith, London, Severn House, 1982; New York, Ballantine, 1983.
Gypsy in Amber (Grey). New York, Putnam, 1971; London, Barker, 1975; reprinted as by Martin Cruz Smith, New York, Ballantine, 1982; London, Collins, 1982.
Canto for a Gypsy (Grey). New York, Putnam, 1972; London, Barker, 1975; reprinted as by Martin Cruz Smith, New York, Ballantine, 1983; London, Collins, 1983.
The Analog Bullet. New York, Belmont-Tower, 1972; London, Severn House, 1982.

Novels as Jake Logan (house name; series: Slocum)
#8 North to Dakota. New York, Playboy Press, 1976.
#11 Ride for Revenge. New York, Playboy Press, 1977.

Editor, Death By Espionage. Intriguing Stories of Betrayal and Deception. Cumberland House, 1999.
(* Originally published 25 October 2009; photo of Martin Cruz Smith by Mark Coggins.)


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