Friday, March 03, 2017

Comic Cuts - 3 March 2017

There was a very exciting news release earlier this week from Rebellion, who announced that they had bought up the former Egmont-owned comic titles a couple of months ago. One-Eyed Jack had already been revealed as the first title to be released from the huge archive of material they've bought, but this week the company have released more of their plans.

The new line is to be called The Treasury of British Comics and will be led off by One-Eyed Jack in June, reprinting the classic cop-drama from the pages of Valiant.

One-Eyed Jack by John Wagner, Gerry Finley-Day and John Cooper
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08572-1, 15 June 2017, 156pp, £14.99. Pre-order from Amazon.
Part Dirty Harry, part Judge Dredd, all badass – Police Detective Jack McBane is the toughest, meanest law enforcer in 1970s New York City. Having lost his left eye in the line of duty, McBane will stop at nothing to rid the crime-infested streets of scumbags and villains – even if it means having to occasionally break the rules! This first collection in Rebellion’s dedicated Treasury of British Comics line, collecting lost classics from the golden age of British comics, is a key strip in the history of British comics and a dry run for John Wagner’s greatest creation: Judge Dredd. Never before collected, this story from the pages of legendary children’s comic Valiant marks one of the turning points in modern comics history

This will be followed in July by the first collection of The Leopard from Lime Street from the pages of Buster, where it originally ran between 1976 and 1985. The early stories are interesting as they feature an unusual collaboration – certainly unusual in the UK – of two of my favourite artists: Eric Bradbury inking over Mike Western's layouts. The book will contain the first 15 months worth of strips.

In September, Rebellion are reprinting one of John Stokes' most gorgeous strips: Marney the Fox, a Watership Down-style tale of a lone fox's desperate struggle to survive. Stokes had drawn the popular Fishboy in Buster for eight years but, for me, Marney was always an artistic rung above Fishboy. John has produced a new colour cover for the upcoming hardback reprint.

October sees the release of The Dracula Files by Gerry Finley-Day and Eric Bradbury, horror comics at its best! KGB officer Colonel Stakis desperately hunts for Count Dracula, who is spreading terror in 1980s Britain after escaping from behind the Iron Curtain. Blending Cold War paranoia with horror staples, this was the lead story in Scream! throughout its short life.

Then we have  Misty Book 2, containing 'The Sentinels' – the two identical tower blocks, known as ‘The Sentinels’ to the locals, stand tall over the town of Birdwood, but only one is occupied while the other remains mysteriously empty; when Jan Richards' family lose their home they decide to hide out in the abandoned block so they can stay together, only to be sent into a parallel world where the Nazis conquered Britain in 1940 – and in 'End of the Line', Ann's father was one of a group of engineers believed to have been killed whilst working on an extension to the London Underground but when she and her mother are invited to the opening of the new train tunnel, Ann discovers a mysterious time portal through which several workers are being kept as slaves by an evil Victorian called Lord Vicary.

Finally, for December, and the one many of you will be most excited by... Faceache. Yes, Ken Reid's story of the remarkable Ricky Rubberneck, "The boy with the bendable bonce," whose skin can stretch like rubber, allowing him to "scrunge" it into any shape.

And a landmark publication is due next Thursday when Commando reaches issue 5,000. Published continuously since June 1961, the DC Thomson pocket library originally published two titles a month; this increased to four titles a month in the summer of 1962, to six a month in June 1967 and eight titles a month in April 1971. Nowadays, we see four issues every fortnight, four original titles and four reprints of classic isuses.

Commando is the sole survivor of the age of pocket libraries which had, for the most part, come to an end in the mid-1980s. Thomsons kept various libraries going: Starblazer lasted until 1991; various girls' libraries folded in the 1990s; Football Picture Monthly folded in 2003. The last survivor might have been Star Love Story Library which lasted at least 1,204 issues... I'm not sure when it folded.

For comparison, David Roach and I did a book on the Fleetway war libraries, and listed the titles of the whole run, including the 2.103 issues of War Picture Library and 1,706 issues of Battle Picture Library... now far surpassed by Commando as the longest-running pocket library.

This week's random scans are in honour of Marney the Fox...

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