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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 16-17 October 2018.

2000AD Prog 2103
Cover: Adam Brown
JUDGE DREDD: THE SMALL HOUSE by Rob Williams (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
BRINK: HIGH SOCIETY by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: 1812 by Ian Edginton (w) Dave Taylor (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SKIP TRACER: LEGION by James Peaty (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Dylan Teague (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
KINGDOM: ALPHA AND OMEGA by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

Dark Justice: Dominion by John Wagner & Nick Percival
Rebellion 978-1781-08654-4, 16 October 2018, 101pp, £19.99 / $24.99. Available via Amazon.
The crime is life, their sentence is death - welcome to the dominion of the Dark Judges!
    The next chilling installment in the grotesque body horror story from the legendary writer John Wagner and fan favourite artist Nick Percival sees the Dark Judges, previously marooned in space after the events of Dark Justice, recovered and restored to their mission of mass murder!
    The cargo ship Solips, en-route to a colony on a remote planet, finds three figures drifting through space.  But these might prove to be the last passengers the ship ever pick up! Judges Death, Fire, and Mortis soon find they have an entire colony where they can administer their twisted justice to the living. Can the colonists survive their dominion?

The Thirteenth Floor Vol.01 by John Wagner, Alan Grant & Jose Ortiz
Rebellion 978-1781-08653-7, 17 October 2018, 178pp, £14.99 / $22.99. Available via Amazon.
Maxwell Tower is a state-of-the art tower block: a bold, experimental council tenement, run by an A.I. called Max. As building superintendent, Max’s primary function is the welfare of his tenants, a duty which he takes very very seriously. If anyone threatens his precious residents or the building itself, they can expect a visit to the thirteenth floor… A place where nightmare and reality become one!
    The iconic series from classic British weeklies Scream! and Eagle returns in this terrifying collection!
    The book is also available in a limited (to 250 copies) hardcover, available via the 2000AD web shop.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Thirteenth Floor Volume One

While my own Golden Age of comics was the late Sixties and early Seventies, I kept in touch with comics and was still reading the likes of Eagle in the mid- to late-1980s, meaning that I had the pleasure of reading 'The Thirteenth Floor' each week as it appeared. Something odd happened in 1984 when Eagle was merged with Scream!, a comic I hadn't seen in the newsagents for months.

Normally a comic that did not find an audience when it was launched would be allowed around 22 weeks, giving it the opportunity to re-jig its contents with some new stories before the axe fell and the dying comic was prepared for merging. Scream! had been yanked off sale so quickly that it didn't go through the usual dying spasms and a couple of strips ('Monster', 'The Thirteenth Floor') were eventually moved to Eagle after a brief delay (most of that down to the six-week lead time required for printing and distribution). While 'Monster' lasted only seven months, 'The Thirteenth Floor' had a long and successful run in its new home until losing its place in March 1987 during one of the regular revamps that comics would go through.

What made 'The Thirteenth Floor' so memorable? The set-up for the strip was that Max, an AI that controlled the Maxwell Tower residential towerblock, went to any length to serve and protect his tenants. This included creating a thirteenth floor – the number usually missing from towerblocks for superstitious reasons – to which anyone threatening the peace and tranquility of the building or its residents was taken. A little like the Next Generation holodeck, Max was able to create scenarios to torment, torture or otherwise warn off his captives.

I think Ian Rimmer nails it in his introduction. While the basic premise would have carried the story for quite a few months, writers Alan Grant and John Wagner (using the pen-name Ian Holland) were concerned about repeating the "wrong-doer scare witless into reforming" story too often, and instead "set about devising a far-reaching narrative arc to drive the story forward."

Max is the narrator of these stories, so we are able to delve into his motivations; we see how much he cares for his residents, monitoring their every action to make sure they are safe and secure. Kemp, a debt collector owed money by a new tenant, is the first victim of Max's thirteenth floor, the door's opening up so that Kemp is faced by the Grim Reaper and forced to play a computer game where losing lives proves fatal. And it does prove fatal: Kemp is found dead in the lift, apparently of a heart attack, although his face betrays that he was frightened to death.

Bullies, a crooked family of tenants, bailiffs, a hit-and-run driver, vandals, extortionists... all receive the thirteenth floor treatment while the police, in the shape of Detective Sergeant Ingram, begin to suspect that the number of incidents they are called out to at Maxwell Tower tell a story that they need to investigate. And when Jerry Knight, the building supervisor, begins to suspect that something's wrong with Max, things get even messier.

While the stories rattle along and take some imaginative and delightfully surreal turns, it is the artwork by Jose Ortiz that makes this volume a must-have. Grant & Wagner threw everything into the mix, victims of the thirteenth floor emerging into the Arctic one week and Hell the next, with everything intricately delineated by Ortiz.

With Halloween fast approaching, this is the perfect book for any child in your life, even if it's just your own inner-child. It has scares, laughs, intrigue, and it's hugely entertaining.

The Thirteenth Floor Vol.01 by John Wagner, Alan Grant & Jose Ortiz. Rebellion ISBN 9781781086537, 18 October 2018, 175pp, £14.99. Available via Amazon.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Eagle Times v.31 no.3 (Autumn 2018)

As I have a fascination with the inner workings of British comics, my favourite article in this, the Autumn issue of Eagle Times, is David Britton's 'A Glimpse Inside the Inner Workings of Eagle'. This is part 2, the first part having looked at Marcus Morris's instructions to artists about what colours artists were allowed to use for the Infra Red process used to reproduce pages of artwork.

In this second episode, Britton reproduces some invoices and correspondence between Morris and artist Walkden Fisher about his model-making for the Frank Hampson studio. One invoice breaks down in remarkable detail the costs he incurred for the Dan Dare Space Ship built by Fisher in 1952, including the £3 1s. 8d. it cost for Fisher to take a 3rd class return from Southport to London to deliver the finished model.

Fisher, a designer with a toy firm, was taken on the Eagle staff in 1950 and was almost given the push in 1955 when Hulton's bean counters tried to tighten up the costs associated with Hampson's studio. He did eventually leave and his non-Eagle work included pin-ups (I'll post an example below).

David Britton has a second excellent feature on the realism of Charles Chilton's Jeff Arnold strips, and I'm looking forward to the next few episodes which will cover the Battle of Little Big Horn.

My other favourite from this issue is Joe Hoole's reassessment of 'Seth and Shorty', which debuted in the first issue of Eagle and was, therefore, Eagle's first Western strip – to be overshadowed by 'Riders of the Range', which only appeared eight months later. It was not an especially good strip and lasted only 16 weeks, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be studied.

Jeremy Briggs (occasionally of this parish) looks at the Eagle's extended family, the later incarnations of Eagle, Girl and Robin and also reviews A Concise Guide to Eagle Plastic Kits by David Welsh; Andrew Coffey looks at the Dan Dare story 'The Big City Caper'; and Steve Winders has the first of a two-part study of the Chad Varah & Norman Williams back page biography of Alfred the Great.

Wrapping up the issue, we have Will Grenham's look of SF movies from 1966-67, and the first episode of a new PC-49 short story. It's a busy, fun issue covering a lot of ground and even after three decades, there's still plenty of new discoveries to be made about the famous old 'National Strip Cartoon Weekly'.

Anyone who has fond memories of the Eagle might want to give the magazine a try. 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.

"Pin up Girl, indeed! Really Flight Lieutenant! I always use Elastic!"

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Victor Prout

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Victor Prout had a lengthy career – around 45 years – as an illustrator of both children’s and other books and for some of the leading periodicals of his time – yet he is very much forgotten today. If anything, he is best-known as having been an active supporter of the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900s. His upbringing was not without a certain degree of trauma.

Given the full name of Victor William Prout, he came from an artistic family. His paternal grandfather was John Skinner Prout (1805-1876), an artist born in Plymouth, Devon, who emigrated to Australia in 1840 along with his family of eight children. (John Skinner Prout’s father John was the elder brother of the artist Samuel Prout, (1783-1852) who was a noted watercolour architectural artist, who became Painter in Water-Colours in Ordinary to King George IV and later to Queen Victoria). John Skinner set up a lithographic printing company in Sydney, and at the same time tried to establish himself as an artist in oils and watercolours (prior to emigrating he had been elected a member of the New Society of Painters in Water Colours in 1838.) Financial constraints led him to move to Tasmania (as it is now) in 1844. He returned to England in June 1848, where he continued his career as an artist and illustrator.

One of his sons, Victor Albert (born in Bristol on 9 December 1835) became an engraver and photographer. In 1852 he spent some time in Boston, America, learning how to use the daguerreotype process, which had been invented in 1839. After his return, in 1855 his family moved from 12 Camden Terrace, St. Pancras, to 38 St. Augustine’s Road, Camden. Victor Albert became very active as a photographer, exhibiting regularly with the London Photographic Society. In 1858, he went into partnership with Thomas Bolton, a wood engraver, bookseller and publisher, who lived nearby, although this partnership floundered when Victor was declared bankrupt in 1858.

This did not stop Victor from marrying Bolton’s step-daughter, Amy Barber, on 10 February 1860. Amy was the daughter of William Thomas Barber and his wife Jane – William Thomas had died in 1842 and Jane had married Thomas Bolton in 1845. Victor and Amy went on to have five children: Victor William (1862), Violet Amy (1864), Lilian Kate (1866), Mary Agnes (1867) and Ernest Sydney (1869). (Violet Amy went on to marry the illustrator Harold Copping, who was actually her cousin, in 1888 – he and Victor William Prout became close friends and remained so all their lives.)

Later in 1860 Victor Albert’s book Stereoscopic Views of the Interior of Westminster Abbey was published by J. Elliot. Two years later, Virtue & Co. published his The Thames from London to Oxford in Forty Photographs, a groundbreaking collection of panoramic photographs.

At the time of the 1861 census Victor Albert and his wife were living at 6 Camden Street, Camden.  Victor William Prout was born on 25 August 1862 and baptized on 2 November 1862 at St. Mary’s Church, St. Marylebone. The family subsequently moved to 15 Baker Street, and then to East Molesey, Surrey, from where Victor Albert was again declared bankrupt in 1865. At the end of the following year, he took his family to Australia, where he established a reputation as a photographer, and becoming a partner in a studio in Sydney. The partnership, with William Freeman, was dissolved by mutual consent in March 1868, and two years later, following a severe recession, Victor Albert was again declare insolvent. To make matters worse, Victor’s wife Amy was committed to an asylum in June 1874, diagnosed with “religious melancholia.” (She was eventually discharged in August 1876, and returned to England the following year.)

Victor and his children returned to England in 1875, and Victor was immediately taken by his brother Edgar to the St. Pancras Workhouse, where he was certified “of unsound mind,” and described as a pauper. He was subsequently admitted to the Sussex Lunatic Asylum in September 1875. His children were sent to live with John Skinner Prout at 4 Leighton Crescent, Kentish Town. Victor William then began spending time with Thomas Bolton at his home at 7 Danes Inn, Westminster, and in October 1875 he was enrolled in the nearby St. Clement Danes Grammar School, leaving in March 1878.

John Skinner Prout died in August 1876, and Victor Albert Prout died on 17 April 1877 at the Sussex Lunatic Asylum. The cause of Victor’s death was given as “progressive paralysis of the insane,” now known to have been caused by syphilis. Amy Prout returned to England in 1877 and went to live with Jane Bolton, her mother, at 2 Ember Villas, East Molesey.

After leaving school Victor William Prout became an assistant to Thomas Bolton, and in the 1881 census they were both recorded working as wood engravers and living at 7 Danes Inn. But Prout had ambitions to be an artist, and presumably developed his skills from what he had learned as an engraver. His first illustrations appear to have been published in two books in 1885. In 1888 he began contributing to The Leisure Hour, and over the following 12 years he contributed to The Infants’ Magazine, The Friendly Visitor, Cassell’s Family Magazine, The Royal Magazine and The Windsor Magazine (for which he worked particularly actively between 1903 and 1916).

At the time of the 1891 census he was living at Ember Villas, East Molesey, Surrey, with Janet Bolton (recorded as his step-mother) and his mother Amy Prout. On 15 October 1896, at St. Pancras Church, he married Isabel Knaggs (born in St. Pancras in 1867 and the daughter of Henry Knaggs, a G.P. in Kentish Town). She had been educated at the London Collegiate School, Camden Road, and was working as a clerk in an insurance office at the time. They immediately settled at “Glencoe”, 6 Stonard Road, Palmers Green, north London, where Prout built a studio in the back garden. They went on to have two children: Eleanor on 8 December 1898 and Hazel on 14 May 1902.

In the meantime Victor Prout had illustrated around seven books between 1890 and 1900, including two for the Religious Tract Society, for whom he continued to work until around 1916, illustrating just over 30 books for them. These included books by Hesba Stretton, Annie S. Swan, Mrs Horne de Vaizey, Amy Whipple, Evelyn Everett Green and Florence Bone. He went on to illustrate re-issues of several of R.M. Ballantyne’s boys’ adventure stories for Ward, Lock & Co., as well as a number of story collections for George G. Harrap & Co. He also occasionally worked for S.W. Partridge & Co., Collins, and Blackie & Son.

Most of the books he illustrated were stories for girls, but his work did appear in the occasional boys’ story, such as re-issues of two novels by W.H.G. Kingston, and stories by F.M. Holmes and M.B. Manwell. He also illustrated novels by Harold Bindloss, Guy Boothby and the American novelist Archibald Clavering Gunter.

From 1900 onwards he contributed to a further range of periodicals, including The Harmsworth Magazine, Cassell’s Magazine, The Sphere, The Sketch, The Girl’s Own Paper, The Graphic, The Quiver, The Sunday Magazine, Good Words, Pearson’s Magazine, Gunter’s Magazine, The Sunday at Home, The Church Monthly, The Strand Magazine, The Wide World Magazine and The Illustrated London News.

He became particularly associated with The Sphere. While most of his early illustrations were of national and international events, some of his illustrations portrayed social issues, such as poverty, homelessness and drug addiction. In January 1902 he produced a sympathetic drawing of women chainmakers in Cradley Heath, in the Black Country. The following month, he drew a picture of women cleaning coal at the top of a coal mine pit shaft, and in November 1905 he illustrated the 6,000-strong women’s march down Whitehall to protest against unemployment.

It was possibly these illustrations that prompted his interest in women’s suffrage. He began speaking out in support of enfranchisement, writing to the periodical Votes for Women in 1909 and hosting, chairing and addressing meetings. At the same time, his wife was also active, for example visiting suffragettes who had been imprisoned in Holloway Prison. His support for women’s suffrage was elegantly expressed when it came to the 1911 census. He sheltered several women in his studio so that they could boycott the census, and instead of filling in the census form as legally required he wrote an albeit apologetic statement across it:

I wish to protest against the terrible treatment women have recently been subjected to as the result of the Liberal Government’s method of repressing the agitation in favour of Women’s Enfranchisement and I refuse to fill this census form because women are claiming that until they are given the rights of Citizenship they should not be counted and I leave out the men as an act of sympathy with that claim. All the withheld information will be freely given as soon as a Women’s Enfranchisement Bill becomes law.
Prout continued to refuse to co-operate even after the local Registrar had written to him, emphasising that his protest was aimed at the Government and not at him. The census enumerator for the district eventually filled in a form himself, based on the best information available.

Prout became more and more active in the women’s movement, promoting meetings and in 1912 becoming the Honorary Secretary of the Men’s Federation for Women’s Suffrage. In July 1912 he was ejected from Kennington Theatre during a disturbance prompted by an assault on David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (after which a fellow protester was jailed for two months).

By 1918 Prout had moved to 14 Pembroke Road, Kensington, where he again built himself a studio in the back garden. His work as an illustrator had almost dried up – quite why is not known – and he and his family became increasingly reliant on financial help from his wife’s family. At around this time he began working for Hepworth Studios, a film company founded by Cecil Hepworth, working as a scene painter and actor – he appeared in five films between 1918 and 1921.

He is also credited with writing one book, Great Leaders; A Book of Little Biographies of Famous Men, published by Cassell & Co. in 1921.

In the early 1920s he moved to 187 Camden Road, St. Pancras. His wife died, unexpectedly of cancer, at the Homeopathic Hospital in Great Ormond Street, on 20 November 1935, leaving an estate valued at £3,324. He himself remained at Camden Road, and died while visiting his daughter Eleanor at her home at 19 Manwood Avenue, Canterbury, Kent, on 30 April 1950, leaving £1,081.

For someone who was comparatively prolific, as both a book illustrator – he illustrated around 100 books – and as an illustrator for influential periodicals like The Sphere, it is very strange that he has been almost wholly airbrushed from history. He was mentioned briefly, and without comment, in James Thorpe’s English Illustration: The Nineties (1935), and in Simon Houfe’s The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 1800-1914  (1978) he is simply, and quite erroneously, referred to as a “Watercolour painter.”

Further reading:  Victor Albert Prout: A Mid-Victorian Photographer (1835-1877) by Joan Osmond, J. & J. Osmond, 2013.


Great Leaders; A Book of Little Biographies of Famous Men by Victor Prout, Cassell & Co., 1921

Books illustrated by Victor Prout
The Birds of Lancashire by F.S. Mitchell, J. Van Voorst, 1885 (with J.G. Keulemans)
English Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil, Religious Tract Society, 1885 (with other artists)
Inez: A Tale of the Alamo by Augusta Jane Evans, Ward, Lock & Co., 1890
Vashti, or “Until Death Do Us Part” by Augusta J. Evans Wilson, Walter Scott Pub. Co., 1890 (re-issue)
Little Meg’s Children and Alone in London by Hesba Stretton, Religious Tract Society, 1892 (with Harold Copping)
Crime and Punishment by F. Dostoevsky, trans. by Frederick Whishaw, Walter Scott Pub. Co., 1893
Icelandic Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil by Frederick Howells, Religious Tract Society, 1893 (with other artists)
Two Knapsacks in the Channel Islands by Jasper Branthwaite & Frank Maclean, Jarrold & Sons, 1897
Our Gracious Queen: Pictures and Stories from Her Majesty’s Life by Catherine Augusta Walton, Religious Tract Society, 1897
The Bairn’s Bible: Introduction of the Study of the Old Book by W.T. Stead, “Review of Reviews” Office, 1900 (with Brinsley Le Fanu)
The Dog Crusoe and His Master: A Story of Adventure in the Western Prairies by R.M. Ballantyne, Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1900(?) (re-issue)
The Wind that Shakes the Barley by M.B. Manwell, Religious Tract Society, 1901
Pictures and Stories from Queen Victoria’s Life by O.F. Walton, Religious Tract Society, 1901
Tales by Douglas Jerrold, Walter Scott Publishing Co., 1891
The Woman of Death by Guy Boothby, C. Arthur Pearson, 1900
A Tale of Two Stowaways by C. Ellis, Religious Tract Society, 1901
A Houseful of Girls by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, Religious Tract Society, 1902 (re-issue)
The Red Eric, or The Whaler’s Last Cruise by R.M. Ballantyne, Ward, Lock & Co., 1903 (re-issue)
The Making of Teddy by Eva Jameson, The Religious Tract Society, 1903
Cousin Olga, or A Summer in Germany by Kate Thompson Sizer, Religious Tract Society, 1903
Martin Rattler by R.M. Ballantyne, Ward, Lock & Co., 1903 (re-issue)
El Dorado by Robert Cromie, Langton & Hall, 1904
When Daddie’s Ship Comes In by Beatrice M. Purser, Religious Tract Society, 1904
From the Cliffs of Croaghaun by Robert Cromie, Saalfield Pub. Co., (USA), 1904
Sunshine Within by J.R. Miller, Hodder & Stoughton, 1904 (with Hilda Gargett)
The Gorilla Hunters by R.M. Ballantyne, Ward, Lock & Co., 1904 (re-issue)
Jessica’s Mother by Hesba Stretton, Religious Tract Society, 1904 (re-issue)
It Is Never Too Late to Mend: A Matter-of-Fact Romance by Charles Reade, Ward, Lock & Co., 1904 (re-issue)
The Crimson Blind by Fred M. White, Ward, Lock & Co., 1905
Phil Conway: A Novel by Archibald Clavering Gunter, Ward, Lock & Co., 1905
How the Plot Answered and other stories by A.M.C., Drummond’s Tract Depot, 1905
Stories from Greek History: Retold from Herodotus by H.L. Havell, George G. Harrap & Co., 1905
Stories of Robin Hood and His Merry Outlaws Retold from Old Ballads by Joseph Walter McSpadden, George G. Harrap & Co., 1905
Stories from Wagner by Joseph Walker McSpadden, George G. Harrap & Co., 1905 (with other artists)
Pictures of Poverty: Being Studies of Distress in West Ham by Arthur E. Copping, “The Daily News”, 1905 (with Harold Copping)
Kenelm Chillingly: His Adventures and Opinions by Edward Bulwer Lytton, Collins, 1905(?) (re-issue)
Night and Morning by Edward Bulwer Lytton, Collins, 1905(?) (re-issue)
My Japanese Prince by Archibald Clavering Gunter, Ward, Lock & Co., 1906
Twixt Sword and Glove by Archibald Clavering Gunter, Ward, Lock & Co., 1906
Stories from Dickens by Joseph Walter McSpadden, George G. Harraap & Co., 1906 (with other artists)
Stories from Scottish History By Madalen Edgar, George G. Harrap & Co., 1906 (with other artists)
Stories from Chaucer, Retold from the Canterbury Tales by Joseph Walter McSpadden, George G. Harrap & Co., 1907 (with other artists)
The Chateau by the Lake by Amy Le Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1907
The Holy War: Made by King Shaddai upon Diabolus etc etc. by John Bunyan, Religious Tract Society, 1907
The Imposter by Harold Bindloss, Ward, Lock & Co., 1908
The Fighting Line by Annie S. Swan, Religious Tract Society, 1908
The Liberationist by Harold Bindloss, Ward, Lock & Co., 1908
Cassy by Hesba Stretton, Religious Tract Society, 1908 (re-issue)
The Lighthouse: The Story of a Great Fight Between Man and Sea by R.M. Ballantyne, Ward, Lock & Co., 1908 (re-issue)
The Fighting Line by Annie S. Swan, Religious Tract Society, 1909
A Girl’s Stronghold by Eliza Fanny Pollard, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1909
Love the Intruder by Helen A. Watson, Religious Tract Society, 1909
Harry Escombe: A Tale of Adventure in Peru by Harry Collingwood, Blackie & Son, 1910
The Fitzgerald Family by M.S. Madden, Religious Tract Society, 1910
Kiddie, or The Shining Way by Amy Whipple, Religious Tract Society, 1910
Margaret, or The Hidden Treasure by N.F.P.K., Religious Tract Society, 1910
Ursula Tempest by Evelyn Everett Green, Religious Tract Society, 1910
Far Above Rubies by Constance E. Weigall, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1910
A Thorny Path by Hesba Stretton, Religious Tract Society, 1910
True Blue by W.H.G. Kingston, Ward, Lock & Co., 1910 (re-issue)
The Three Midshipmen by W.H.G. Kingston, Ward, Lock & Co., 1910 (re-issue)
The Red Eric, or The Whaler’s Last Cruise by R.M. Ballantyne, E.W. Cole, 1910 (re-issue)
A Thorny Path by Hesba Stretton, Religious Tract Society, 1910 (re-issue)
A Book of Golden Deeds by Charlotte M. Yonge, Collins, 1910 (re-issue)
Brave Sidney Somers, or The Voyage of the Eastern Adventurer by F.M. Holmes, Blackie & Son, 1911
The Wonderful Gate by Florence Bone, Religious Tract Society, 1911
A Girl from Canada by Edith C. Kenyon, Religious Tract Society, 1911
“Where the Cross Roads Meet” by Mary E. Kendrew, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1911
Betty Martindale’s Secret by Lena Tyack, Religious Tract Society, 1911
Deep Down: A Tale of the Cornish Mines by R.M. Ballantyne, Ward, Lock & Co., 1911 (re-issue)
The Crew of the Rectory by M.B. Manwell, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1912
Branan the Pict: A Story of the Days of St. Columba by Mary Frances Outram, Religious Tract Society, 1912
The Sail of the Silver Barge by Florence Bone, Religious Tract Society, 1912
Aunt Patience: A Story for Girls by Evelyn Everett Green, Religious Tract Spciety, 1912
Barney Boy by Laura A. Barter, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1912
Heart o’ Gold, or The Little Princess: A Story for Girls by Katharine Tynan, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1912
With Beating Wings: An Australian Story by Vera G. Dwyer, Ward, Lock & Co., 1913
Rupert’s Resolve by Laura A. Barter, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1913
Night and Morning by Edward Bulwer Lytton, Collins, 1913 (re-issue)
The Way of Transgressors by L.S.D., Arthur H. Stockwell, 1914(?)
Ben Hur by Lew Wallace, Collins, 1914 (re-issue)
Dear Miss Meg and other stories by Ruth Lamb, Religious Tract Society, 1915
A Madcap Family, or Sybil’s Home by Amy Le Feuvre, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1916
Pickles: A Red Cross Heroine by Edith C. Kenyon, Collins, 1916
The Taming of Winifred by Phyllis Mord, Religious Tract Society, 1916
Bunty’s Book of Heroes by Herbert Hayens, Collins, 1917(?) (with other artists)
Expelled from School by Elsie J. Oxenham, Collins, 1919
Infelice: A Novel by Augusta J. Evans Wilson, Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1920(?) (re-issue)
My Picture Book of Animals by Harry Golding, Ward, Lock & Co., 1923 (with other artists)
The Golf Grounds of the South-West by Charles Eyre Pascoe, British Transport Commission, (1920s) (with Holland Tringham)
The Little Admiral by T.C. Bridges, Collins, 1930
Sylvia’s Lovers by Mrs Gaskell, Collins , (1930?) (re-issue)

Dates not known
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain, Ward, Lock & Co., (re-issue)
Novels by Eminent Hands by W.M. Thackeray, Collins, (re-issue)
Eugenie Grandet by Honoré de Balzac, Collins, (re-issue)
Betty Trevor by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, Religious Tract Society, (?) (re-issue)

Friday, October 12, 2018

Comic Cuts - 12 October 2018

We had some sad family news on Wednesday which has been dominating my thoughts for the past couple of days. A death can lay you low, and there's no shame in that, but it can also lift you up.

That's how I feel about Maureen, known to us as Auntie Maureen but, thanks to a family tree tangled by divorces and re-marriages, actually my step-grandmother. She was one of life's good people. Generous of spirit and time, she cared for her family, friends and community without asking for reward. Hers is a life to be celebrated rather than a death to be mourned.

That wasn't the intro. I had planned. The intro. I had planned was lighter on sentimentality and heavier on Nazis. I've been doing some final checking and revising of the fourth Forgotten Authors book, which means slogging through 70,000 words that I've already discussed in mind-numbing detail. As that's all I've done apart from watch the TV, I need to fall back on what I've been watching to fill this column. And what I've been watching is the third series of The Man In The High Castle, the Amazon Prime adaptation of Philip K. Dick's 1962 novel.

I've mentioned before how much I like the series. It was not a straight adaptation of the novel, but in keeping with the tone as it told the story of an alternative world in which the Germans successfully bombed Washington with a hydrogen bomb, which ended the war in their favour. By 1962, the USA is split in two, the Japanese controlling the Pacific states while the East Coast has been integrated into the Reich; a Neutral Zone acts as a buffer stretching from Mexico, through the Rocky Mountain states to Canada.

As the season opens, in the East, Obergruppenführer John Smith is dealing with the shock that his son, Thomas, suffering from muscular dystrophy, has handed himself in to be killed. In the West, trade minister to the Pacific States of America, Nobusuke Tagomi, has discovered that our reality is just one of many. The rebel Juliana Craine, who seems to be at the nexus of these worlds, is trying to unravel the meaning of a film in which she sees herself killed.

Twenty-two months we've been waiting for season three and it is well worth the wait. It is one of the best science fiction shows currently being screened, at a time when we have some very good SF shows (e.g. Humans, Black Mirror, Westworld, Stranger Things, The Expanse, The Handmaid's Tale) being broadcast. You need to start at the beginning if you've not caught it before, but The Man in the High Castle is well worth the effort... you might even be able to get a free pass to Prime and then cancel it before you have to pay the subscription.

Amazon have produced a couple of other shows I've watched, including The Tick (great) and the recent Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan (OK), but they have lots more in the pipeline, including Good Omens, based on the Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman novel due out next year and a trio of shows in development that I'm very excited about: Iain M. Banks' Consider Phlebus, Larry Niven's Ringworld and Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. If those three go to series I will be a very happy bunny. (With the caveat that they're good, of course.)

Random scans are a mix of happy and sad...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 10 October 2018.

2000AD Prog 2102
Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (col)
JUDGE DREDD: THE SMALL HOUSE by Rob Williams (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
BRINK: HIGH SOCIETY by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: 1812 by Ian Edginton (w) Dave Taylor (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SKIP TRACER: LEGION by James Peaty (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Dylan Teague (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
KINGDOM: ALPHA AND OMEGA by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

Monday, October 08, 2018

Good Omens teaser trailer


After being convicted of murder, Adam Cadman becomes the first person to be hung in the UK for thirty years after the reinstatement of the death penalty. But instead of death, Cadman, still wearing a hood, now bonded to his skin, and with the noose around his neck, wakes up in Mazeworld, a land of fantastic architecture with ziggurats and giant totems to unrecognizable Gods.

Cadman finds himself in what appears to be a feudal society that recognizes him as "The Hooded One" of legend. Attacked by guards, he is rescued by a crossbow-wielding woman who leads him through the maze of streets and buildings. When their escape is thwarted – she is following a fake map, disinformation put out by the Maze-Lords – Cadman throws her to the guards... but the noose tightens around his neck, and he cannot breath until he aids his rescuer.

Word that the Hooded One has been seen with rebels reaches Lord Maskul, who sends out his skyriders to capture Cadman. Cadman, meanwhile, has learned that he is in Mazeworld. The first maze – a link between the heavens and the earth – was built by an emperor who killed those who built it so no-one would know the secret of the Terra Infernalis at its centre, and then led his entire court into the maze on his 100th birthday. They were never seen again and, since then, only the legendary Mad Emperor and his warrior, the Hooded One, have ever risked entering the maze.

Two thousand years later, "Our Emperor, fearful of his savage Maze-Lords, has entered the God-Maze in search of enlightenment," Cadman is told. "Tyranny has descended as the Lords vie for power and position." Almost a year has elapsed and alliances are being prepared to take over Mazeworld.

Cadman is captured by Maskul and learns about the horrors the rebels face, their flesh boiled off so their bones can be used for building material. He also learns about the foul Lord Raven and The Dark Man, and about the prison maze, full of traps and punishments, that he falls into.

So begins Mazeworld, one of the most memorable strips to ever appear in 2000AD. Originally serialised in three books ('The Hanged Man', 1996, 'The Dark Man', 1998, and 'The Hell Maze, 1999), the strip has been previously reprinted (2011) but is here published in an oversized (27.6 x 21 cm) format that really shows off the strip at its best.

The strip is a tour de force by artist Arthur Ranson, who was asked by writer Alan Grant to come up with some ideas for a loosely conceived computer game that Grant had thought up. After a few weeks, Ranson had produced reams of sketches and ideas and, computer games forgotten, Grant set about writing a story that was the equal of Ranson's wildly imaginative drawings.

The result was a fantasy unlike anything that 2000AD had previously published, one that many would argue has yet to be matched. Using Aztec and Egyptian architecture as a starting point, Ranson created a world of astonishing detail and beauty. The maze theme is explored in various ways, from depictions of labyrinths through which the characters move and mazes as metaphors and modes of transition, to having mazes inform the layout of pages.

Politics and religious ritual have rarely had a place in British boys' comics. Here they add layers to what might otherwise be another planetary romance in the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs of a man cast adrift in an alien land. Although he is the narrator of the story, Adam Cadman is no hero, and only aids the rebels to avoid the noose tightening. It is not clear, even as the second book begins, whether Cadman will survive, as a prediction given to his nemesis The Dark Man states that one will die, yet still live, while the other will live yet be dead. Either way, it sounds terminal.

This is a thrill-packed adventure story with more depth than one might expect and artwork so richly detailed that you will want to go back to the book again and again to explore every panel. It deserves to be on every shelf.

Mazeworld (Collectors Edition) by Alan Grant & Arthur Ranson. Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08656-8, 4 October 2018, 194pp, £19.99 / $29.99. Available via Amazon.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Balliol Salmon

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Balliol Salmon is best-known today for being the illustrator of seven of Angela Brazil’s early girls’ school stories. In his day, however, he was a highly-regarded artist and illustrator particularly noted for his work for The Pall Mall Magazine, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and, most importantly, The Graphic. He was respected enough to warrant inclusion in Percy V. Bradshaw’s The Art of the Illustrator, published by the Press Art School in 1918, a portfolio of 20 essays on artists and illustrators complete with a series of illustrations showing the development of a single picture.

Salmon was born in Manchester on 1 June 1868, and christened Arthur John Balliol Salmon. (Some sources erroneously give his initials as “J.M.”) His father, Henry Curwen Salmon, was a civil engineer (and not a surgeon and barrister as some sources suggest) born in London in 1829. He had quite a chequered past, originally studying law, but after apparently successfully investing in the mining industry he moved to Devon, where he became a geological surveyor, mining agent, speculator in mining shares, and writer. He was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society and a Fellow of the Chemical Society. However, he was declared bankrupt in 1858, and spent some time in a debtors prison. Two years after his discharge from bankruptcy, he founded and edited The Mining and Smelting Magazine, which survived for three years.

He had married Ellen Jane Fennell in St. Pancras in 1857, and Arthur John Balliol was the fourth of their six children. At the time of the 1871 census the family was living at 49 Adelaide Street, Southport, Lancashire. Henry died on 27 May 1873, and his widow subsequently moved to London – in 1881, she was working as a copyist and living with four of her children at 10 Colchester Terrace, Islington.

Balliol Salmon was initially taught by a private tutor, but his interest in art was such that, in 1882, aged 14, he enrolled at the Camden School of Art in Camden Road, Camden. He quickly became so proficient that, at the school’s request, he began spending half his time teaching, and by the age of 16 he was taking four large classes, many of the students being old enough to be his father. He then moved to the West London School of Art in Great Titchfield Street, Westminster, where he qualified as an Art Teacher. But instead of becoming a teacher he joined the British Museum, with the aim of producing the kind of drawings which would enable him to enter the Royal Academy Schools. Having subsequently been rejected, he entered the Westminster School of Art in Tufton Street, Westminster, where he was taught by Frederick Brown. After a year, he and a few fellow-students spent six months studying in Paris, including at the Académie Julian.

At the time of the 1891 census he was living at 4 Bloomsbury Place, Bloomsbury, described as an “Artist Portrait Painter.” He was living with his widowed mother and three of his siblings, along with four servants, suggesting a degree of financial comfort.

Despite the advice of his art teachers to take up portraiture, Salmon decided on a career in illustration. His first commission, in 1893, came from Charles Morley, the editor of The Pall Mall Budget. After Lewis Hind was appointed editor, Salmon was offered a post on the staff, where he specialized in news illustrations in wash and pen and ink. In 1895 he began working for The Pall Mall Magazine, again providing news illustrations and contributing for the following 18 years. He also occasionally worked for Cassell’s Family Magazine. In 1898 he was invited to contribute to The Graphic, and he went on to work there for the following 25 years or so.

In 1897 he illustrated his first books, two overseas adventure stories by Charles Hannan and Herbert Hayens, published by Jarrold & Sons and Thomas Nelson & Sons respectively. A year later he illustrated a girls’ school story, The Girls of St. Bede’s, written by Geraldine Mockler. His schoolgirls were, perhaps, prototypes of what became a Salmon trademark – “the Young Lady of Fifteen.”  Percy Bradshaw noted that:
No other illustrator has drawn such subjects quite in the Balliol Salmon way. Strangely few illustrators have dealt with his “young girl” types at all. His well-groomed youths, and girls of all ages from ten to twenty, have been exceeding pleasant to encounter, and very attractive reminders that all girls in their “teens” are not “Flappers and that that their attendant swains are not necessarily sportsmen, impossibly beautiful heroes, or “Knuts.”
While most of his work was signed “Balliol Salmon,” he signed some of his early illustrations “A J B Salmon.”

By 1901 Salmon and his mother, now working as a copyist at the British Museum, had moved to 56 Bloomsbury Street, Bloomsbury. He had, a year or so previously, began contributing to a number of other periodicals, including The Sphere, The Quiver, The New Budget and The Illustrated London News. In the years up to 1910 he also contributed to Cassell’s Magazine, The London Magazine, Pearson’s Magazine, The Windsor Magazine, The Strand Magazine and The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News.

He finally moved out of his mother’s home in around 1903, settling at 48 Grove End Road, Marylebone, whilst working out of a studio at 21 Euston Square and then at 6 Gainsbourough Road, Chiswick.  On 1 June 1909, at St. Leonard’s Parish Church in Hastings, he married Dorothy Elizabeth Rodham, born in South Norwood, Surrey, in 1884, and the daughter of Edward Walter Rodham, a bank manager, and his wife Annie Sarah. They moved to 45 Fairfax Road, Bedford Park, and went on to have two children: Geoffrey Curwen, born on 20 March 1910, and Christopher Russell, born on 19 April 1915, by which time Salmon and his wife had moved to 3 Bath Road, Bedford Park, where they remained until 1926.

Between 1911 and 1916 he worked for a few more periodicals – The Bystander, The Lady’s Pictorial, The Woman at Home and The Queen, while continuing to contribute to The Pall Mall Magazine, The Graphic, The Illustrated London News, The Windsor Magazine and The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News. For The Graphic he specialized in society subjects, weddings, the Royal family etc., and for The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News he focused largely on theatrical drawings.

He had also illustrated a handful of books for Constable & Co., including a 1909 re-issue of Robert Chambers’s collection of supernatural stories The King in Yellow, first published in 1895, and in 1915 he illustrated the first of seven of Angela Brazil’s girls’ school stories for Blackie & Son. (At around the same time, he began the providing the coloured illustrations for dustwrappers for some early reprints of Brazil’s novels).

His work dramatically tailed-off after the First World War. He did a few illustrations for Cassell’s Magazine of Fiction and The New Magazine, and, in the early 1930s, Miss Modern, while continuing to work for The Graphic (until 1924) and The London Magazine. His last book illustrations seem to have been in 1922. He also did some advertising work in the 1920s, for example posters for Crossley Motors Ltd.

In 1926, he moved to “Long Cot,” 16 Newton Grove, Acton, and three years later he moved to 9 South Parade, Acton. He apparently continued working, although nothing by him has been traced after 1931. In the 1939 Register he was recorded (and described as an artist) at the Passfield Oak Hotel, Petersfield, Hampshire, presumably on holiday, while his wife was at “Sparks”, Northiam, Sussex, living with her mother.

He died from bronchopneumonia on 3 January 1953 at Northiam, apparently without leaving a will. His wife died on 1 November 1974 at St. Paul’s House, Albany Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, leaving an estate valued at £7,977.  His son Geoffrey Curwen died on 15 March 1984 in Keston, Kent, leaving £66,033. His other son, Christopher Russell, died in Toronto, Canada, in 2005.

As well as popularizing the images of what Bradshaw called “the Young lady of fifteen,” Salmon also pioneered the use of Russian charcoal as a drawing medium. As Bradshaw explained:
Compressed Russian Charcoal… a solid stick of chalk having none of the brittle or fragile characteristics of ordinary “twig” charcoal. It may be applied in broad masses – in which case the whole length of the chalk is used – and subsequently rubbed into the paper in a similar manner to the powdered stumping-chalk of Art Schools, while its point is equally useful for detailed drawing.
Bradshaw also pointed out that “it needs a very special touch, and such physical subtleties as the warmth and dryness of the artist’s hand affect its use.” Salmon used this medium to particularly striking effect in The Graphic, and Simon Houfe, in his Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 1800-1914, wrote that Salmon “was one of the best pencil and chalk artists to work for the press in the Edwardian period.”


Books illustrated by Balliol Salmon
The Captive of Pekin, or A Swallow’s Wing by Charles Hannan, Jarrold & Sons, 1897
An Emperor’s Doom, or The Patriots of Mexico by Herbet Hayens, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1897
The Girls of St. Bede’s by Geraldine Mockler, Jarrold & Sons, 1898
Sketches in Verse by H.R. Richardson, privately published, 1904 (with other artists)
The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, Constable & Co., 1909 (re-issue)
The Professional Aunt by Mary C.E. Wemyss, Constable & Co., 1910
People of Popham by Mary E.C. Wemyss, Constable & Co., 1911
The Little Green Gate by Stella Callaghan, Constable & Co., 1911
A Lost Interest by Mary E.C. Wemyss, Constable & Co., 1912
The Heart of Life by Pierre de Coulevain, trans. by Alys Hallard, Cassell & Co., 1912
Priscilla by Mary E.C. Wemyss, Constable & Co., 1912
Daisy’s Aunt by E.F. Benson, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1912
Conquest by Olive Wadsley, Cassell & Co., 1915
The Jolliest Term on Record by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1915
The Luckiest Girl in the School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1916
Jim and Wally by Mary Grant Bruce, Ward, Lock & Co., 1916
The Madcap of the School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1917
For the School Colours by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1918
A Patriotic Schoolgirl by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1918
The Head Girl at the Gables by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1919
Songs in Sunshine and Shadow by Marshall Roberts, A.L. Humphreys, 1919 (re-issue)
A Popular Schoolgirl by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1920
A Daughter in Revolt by Sidney Gowing, Herbert Jenkins, 1922

Friday, October 05, 2018

Comic Cuts - 5 October 2018

We started out with good intentions to get lots of walks in during Mel's week off from work. After a birthday get-together on Saturday we needed some exercise to walk off the lamb tikka blow-out.

After a good start with a bunch of nice long walks on Sunday and Monday, taking in the Quay and nearby woodlands, we headed into town on Tuesday. Mel's dental appointment was cancelled due to staff illness (it would have been nice for them to let her know) and I had a trip to the job centre to see if there was anything worth applying for and left greatly disappointed that they had a card board advertising only eight jobs. The various agencies around town are fine for anyone who wants to do farm picking or drive a forklift in Frating. Maybe next week...

By Wednesday we were both feeling utterly knackered and Mel has now gone down with a cold – I might have sidestepped the worst of it, but it has meant that our nice week together has been spent waking up ridiculously early, half-sleeping-in late, dozing off in the afternoon and going to bed early.

As Mel was home we started watching a series that both of us had heard of and thought, "Yes, sounds like our kind of thing." I now find myself in the odd situation of being half-way through three different programmes at the same time. Four if you count Taskmaster, although that's not the kind of serial series I'm talking about.

Firstly, I'm watching The First, about a manned mission to Mars. Except, of course (at least "of course" to anyone who has watched it), it soon became obvious that it's the build up to the mission that's the focus, the politics surrounding it and the stories and actions of the potential flight crew. I kept watching and for the most part the show is interesting as a human drama.

However, I'm still finding it a little disappointing. I think the problem I'm having isn't what's on the screen, but what isn't. I signed up for a mission to and landing on Mars; instead, there are hearings and political wrangling and family drama where I wanted space drama. The trailer was all cicadas and sunsets, and while it's an exaggeration to say that if you stretched the trailer out to 45 minutes you'd have an episode of The First, take-off for Mars feels like it's an awful long way away.

Another programme about family, but which has drama by the bucket-load, is Keeping Faith. The show rests firmly on the shoulders of Eve Myles as lawyer and mother Faith Howells, whose husband Evan goes off to work one morning but never arrives. There are discoveries in each episode that just add to the mystery and I have to admit that we're happily in the dark over what to expect from one episode to the next. Some shows you know how the whole thing is going to unfold from scene one... that's definitely not the case here.

This has none of the flash and bang of Bodyguard, but I'm finding it just as compelling to watch.

Which brings us to Miss Sherlock, a Japanese, all-female take on Conan Doyle's Sherlock stories, starring Yūko Takeuchi as thoughtless, science obsessed consulting detective Sara Futaba, nicknamed Sherlock, and her housemate Wato Tachibana (in Japanese "san" is added as a title (as we would add Mr. Mrs. Ms., etc.) so she becomes Wato-san... geddit?), a doctor recovering from her experiences in Syria.

It's still recognizably Sherlock Holmes, and an enjoyable take on that thoroughly mutable character, although the centre of the show is Wato-san – as it should be, because she guides us through the stories and to a degree humanizes an alien creature who lacks empathy. If Wato-san likes Sherlock, we can like Sherlock because we like Wato-san.

Random scans are, this week, on the theme of "first"...

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Comic Scene #2 (November 2018)

Now available, the latest issue of Comic Scene is a humour special with 64 pages of fun and frolics ranging from the Beano to The BoJeffries Saga, taking in The Broons, Oink, Asterix and Ken Reid along the way.

There are two dozen short 'n' sweet features in this issue, which gets off to a brisk start with John Freeman wanting to see more investment of money in comics and ends on Pat Mills' desire to see a more subversive edge to humour comics. In between we have an eclectic choice of humour comics from Richard Bruton, Luke Williams dissecting 2000AD's Big Dave, a look back at 80 years of The Beano by Prof. Chris Murray and an interview with Beano artist Emily McGorman-Bruce. (Pause for breath.)

After a brief history of The Broons and Oor Wullie, there's a more modern take on humour in the shape of online subscription comics Goof!, which launched this summer, and Splank!, which started as a April Fool's joke that took on a life of its own. Following that, Richard Bruton looks at The Phoenix, Ian Wheeler takes a (decently lengthy) look at humour strips in the Doctor Who comics, while David Moloney has less than fond memories of IPC's merging of various humour titles. (Pause for breath.)

Pete Doree and David Crookes have happier memories of Cheeky Weekly and Oink! respectively; meanwhile, Chris McAuley opens up the cover of The Bojeffries Saga cautiously and Fred McNamara embraces Asterix with enthusiasm. Rachael Smith continues talking to Richard Bruton, having presumably held her breath since the release of issue one, and Dr. Nicola Streeten looks at why there have been so few female political cartoonists, based on her research for The Inking Woman: 250 Years of Women Cartoon and Comic Artists in Britain (2018). (Pause for breath.)

Frank Quitely briefly explains how he began his comics career in the pages of Electric Soup, and Stephen Jewell celebrates the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine animated movie as well as taking a look at the new Sniper Elite series from Rebellion. A couple of independent comics come under the spotlight as Tim Hayes uncovers the story of Paul Grist's Jack Staff, and David Robertson discusses his Wow! Retracted one-man anthology. (Pause for breath.)

And finally, there's just enough puff left to read Irmantas Povilaika introduction to Ken Reid's Odhams strips, recently reprinted in two glorious volumes, before Pat Mills wraps up the issue.

Comic Scene can be purchased in various different formats, as a print mag (which has recently been added to Diamond UK's order forms, so you should be able to order it through your local comic shop), and as a digital download or print edition via the magazine's website. There are a few offers you might want to take advantage of, such as the ComicScene UK Digi Pack, which includes the first four issues, plus a couple of bonus items for half price.

You can also pre-order the Great Big ComicScene Christmas Annual 2019, which is a 300-page, perfect bound book that will feature several strips from a variety of creators, including Simon Furman & Geoff Senior.

Commando issues 5163-5166

Brand new Commando issues are out today! Dodge Jerry at Dunkirk, harpoon a U-boat in the Antarctic, liberate a prince with the Long Range Desert Group, and impersonate a solider in the BEF!

5163: The Last Men at Dunkirk
Sergeant Ronnie Malloy stood alone on the French pier looking out towards the sea. The beach was deserted bar the smoking husks of discarded British trucks. The lines of men desperate to clamber aboard the ships bound for Blighty were all gone and the place was silent except for the quiet ebb of the tide. In the distance, Ronnie watched the armada of little ships, chock-full of men, sail away to Britain, leaving him behind. He had been abandoned… one of the last men in Dunkirk.

Story: Iain McLaughlin
Art: Muller
Cover: Janek Matysiak

5164: Death of a U-boat
To the tough rowdies of the whaling fleets from Greenland to the South Pole, he was just ‘Big Olaf’. Star harpoon-gunner of them all, the ship that had Olaf aboard broke records for whales caught and bonuses paid. Six feet four inches of blonde Norwegian with eyes as icy green as the seas he roved, and muscles to suit his tough trade.
    He sailed along with British skipper, Danny Parker, and here was a fighting twosome to make the Nazi raiders think twice about their takeover bid for the Antarctic – and whalers.

Story: McOwan
Art: Gordon C Livingstone
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No. 262 (May 1967).

5165: Desert Rescue!
Lieutenant Guy Lewis was desperate for action. Fresh out of officer’s training, he was bored of playing squash in Cairo to pass the time.
    Then Guy got the news he had been waiting for – a posting in the North African desert with one of the most notorious Allied regiments – the Long Range Desert Group!

Story: Jim & David Turner
Art: Paolo Ongaro
Cover: Neil Roberts

5166: Fighting Civvy
Bill Carpenter was a civilian, a top salesman for farming machinery who wanted nothing to do with the war. But no-one had told the Germans that, and he found himself caught up in the retreat to Dunkirk.
    Civvy or not, Bill was forced to fight to survive. And if the Jerries had known how good he was going to be, they would have left him alone!

Story: Mike Knowles
Art: Gordon C Livingstone
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 2873 (July 1995).

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Carlos Ezquerra (1947-2018)

Carlos Ezquerra, one of the co-creators of Judge Dredd and a leading artist in British comics, albeit remotely from Spain for most of his career, died on Monday, 1 October 2018 at the age of 70. He had recently undergone surgery for cancer of the lung and had posted a very positive message on 14 September about the outcome. Complications following his operation prevented him from attending the ICE Convention in Birmingham. He was to have been a special guest at the Heroes Comic Convention in Madrid where he was to have received the Jesus Blasco Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame nominee in 2018.

Carlos was a lynch-pin of 2000AD from the beginning. When the comic was in development, writer John Wagner had suggested it needed a futuristic cop and pitched a violent, Dirty Harry clad in black leather in near future New York. Carlos took the image of a helmeted David Carradine in Death Race 2000, and adorned him with chains, a huge badge, knee pads, oversized boots and an eagle shoulder pad to create the original look of Judge Dredd – the name borrowed from a rejected occult character Pat Mills had been developing.

It was Carlos who first envisaged the huge futuristic skyscrapers and high-rise roadways that became the architectural look of Mega-City One and, while other artists helped develop the look of the strip (notably Mick McMahon and Brian Bolland), Carlos's template was the foundation on which was built a world that has lasted for over forty years.

Carlos drew only a couple of early episodes – he was kept busy elsewhere – but returned to Dredd with 'The Apocalypse War' in 1982 and thereafter was integral to the strip, drawing many of the key storylines, including 'Necropolis', 'Judgement Day', 'Inferno', 'The Pit' and 'Origins'.

A statement from 2000AD said: "He has been one of the pillars, producing the same dynamic, enthralling and arresting art we always loved him for. We thought we had many more adventures to come from the master, so we are devastated to discover we were wrong."

Carlos Sánchez Ezquerra was born in the small Spanish municipality of Ibdes in the province of Zarazoga, 200km north east of Madrid, on 12 November 1947. Carlos was a regular reader of comics from an early age in a country where youngsters without the money to buy comics could hire them cheaply in shops, to be read quickly and returned. In this way Carlos was able to read a great many syndicated American strips – Rip Kirby, Prince Valiant, Juliet Jones, Mandrake the Magician, etc. – although many were censored.

During his military service he met an artist who explained how comics were put together and, on completing his conscription, he moved to Barcelona, where, around 1969, he was employed drawing westerns, war and horror stories for Spanish comics published by Ediciones Boixher, Vilmar Ediciones and Editorial Presidente, which he signed Sanchez Ezquerra. He quickly found work in the UK through Bardon Art, initially on IPC's teenage girls' comics Valentine and Mirabelle and then adventure strips such as 'Chained To His Sword' and 'Strongbow' for D C Thomson's Wizard. Newly married, Ezquerra decided to move to England for a few months, settling in Croydon  where he stayed for nine and a half years.

His work was spotted by John Wagner, who was involved in the development of a new weekly war comic, Battle Picture Weekly, and Carlos was taken on as the chief artist on the Dirty Dozen-inspired 'Rat Pack', which debuted in the first issue. It was with this strip that he began experimenting with more dynamic layouts following the rigid confines of the work he was expected to draw for Wizard. This new dynamic style was visible in 'Major Eazy', a laid-back, laconic commander of British troops  during the invasion of Sicily. The ice-cool Major borrowed his looks from James Coburn and his attitude from Clint Eastwood, and it was here that Carlos's style began to emerge. "He was my kind of character, an anti-hero" Carlos later said. "It also suited me that he was scruffy. My art has never been very clean. Everything looks dirty with me, so Eazy fitted perfectly."

It was his commitment to a team-up between Major Eazy and Rat Pack in the pages of Battle that meant Carlos was unavailable to draw Dredd from the beginning. Still with Battle, he drew another Alan Hebden story, this one set during the American Civil War featuring a black gun for hire named 'El Mestizo'.

During his time on Battle, Carlos also drew one of the most controversial covers to appear on a British comic. The issue of Action dated 18 September 1976 featured an Ezquerra-drawn image based on the strip 'Kids Rule OK' showing a violent youth swinging a chain at a prostrate man. Because of the nearby policeman's helmet and the choice of the colourist (not Carlos) to give the man a blue jacket, shirt and trousers, it was mistakenly seen as a thug attacking a police constable. This was the view of the Daily Mail, who condemned the cover in an article headlined "Comic Strip Hooligans".

The arrival of Starlord, the second science fiction launch from IPC in the wake of the success of 2000AD, brought with it another iconic Ezquerra character, 'Strontium Dog'. Written by John Wagner, the strip made a star of Johnny Alpha, a bounty hunter seeking out mutants in a post-Nuclear War Britain for the Search/Destroy Agency whose operatives are nicknamed Strontium Dogs. When Johnny Alpha died in the 1989-90 story 'The Final Solution', written by Alan Grant, Carlos refused to draw it, believing that killing off the character was a mistake, a viewpoint Wagner later came to agree upon, later calling it "one of the big regrets of my career, probably the biggest." The characters were revived by Wagner/Ezquerra in 1999 and the latest Johnny Alpha serial ran as recently as May 2018.

In between series, Carlos drew numerous one off stories featuring Tharg, 2000AD's alien editor, and episodes of 'Rick Random' and 'The ABC Warriors' under the pseudonym L. J. Silver, used when a job had to rushed. A more substantial strip was his adaptation of three novels featuring Harry Harrison's famous Stainless Steel Rat character and a short horror story, 'Fiends of the Eastern Front' by Gerry Finley-Day, which has resonated with readers since its original appearance in 1980.

Outside of 2000AD, Carlos drew 'Comrade Bronski' for Eagle. 'Third World War' in Crisis and 'Al's Baby' in Judge Dredd Megazine, the latter another fan favourite which spawned two sequels.

In 1995, Carlos drew the 4-issue series Bob, the Galactic Bum for DC Comics. Written by 2000AD stalwarts John Wagner and Alan Grant, it opened up a new market for his work, where he was championed by Garth Ennis, the two working together on Bloody Mary (2 x 4-issues), Hitman, Preacher, Adventures of the Rifle Brigade (2 x 3-issues), Just a Pilgrim (2 x series), The Magnificent Kevin (2 x 5-issues) and Battlefields (2 x 3-issues). He also contributed to the Star Wars universe with the 6-issues series Mara Jade: By the Emperor's Hand by Timothy Zahn and Michael A. Stackpole.

Despite these diversions, Carlos remained a key artist with 2000AD, chiefly on 'Judge Dredd' – a unique collection of his work, Judge Dredd: The Carlos Ezquerra Collection, was published in 2007 – and 'Strontium Dog' but also with new characters such as 'Cursed Earth Koburn' by Gordon Rennie, who debuted in Judge Dredd Megazine in 2004. He had recently been working on 'Spectre', a new series with John Wagner about an android detective.

Carlos's strips have been widely reprinted and, here in the UK, a number of his older strips were in the process of being collected. Appearances in Rebellion's recent output have included the volumes Cadet Anderson: Teenage Kyx (2017), Strontium Dog: Repo Men (2018) and the upcoming El Mestizo (2018). IDW published two volumes of Judge Dredd: The Complete Carlos Ezquerra in 2013. In September 2017 Millsverse published Carlos Ezquerra's 2000AD & Judge Dredd Colouring Book  featuring 50 images to colour.

Ever friendly, Carlos was a welcome visitor to UK and international conventions where he was a hugely popular figure in artists' alley. Not only was a fan favourite, but a favourite amongst the professionals he worked with. When it was announced in 2010 that he was suffering from lung cancer, a secret project was launched to create a one-copy get-well-soon comic, Supersquirrel Undefeated, with contributions from fans and professionals. The single printed copy was given to Carlos, who survived the cancer but at the cost of a lung.

He was not so fortunate when cancer struck again.

Carlos is survived by his wife Conchita and two sons.

Tributes are appearing widely, but here are links to Down the Tubes and to Lew Stringer's Blimey! to get you started. The Organización del Cómic de Zaragoza have announced that they will be publishing a special edition of the Tebeíco del Salón dedicated to Carlos, to be published in time for the 17th Salón del Cómic Zaragoza, an annual convention celebrating Aragonese comics and creators. Carlos was the guest of honour at the convention in 2013 and received their Gran Premio de cómic aragonés award in 2014 in recognition of his career.

A JustGiving page to raise £2,000 to assist Carlos's family reached its target in one day and reached over £3,000 after two days.