Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

👉 New Judge Dredd epic by Rob Williams, Colin MacNeil, and Henry Flint begins!
👉 Full series of Alex De Campi and Eduardo Ocana's Full Tilt Boogie debuts!
👉 Caballistics Inc. spin-off The Diaboliks by Gordon Rennie and Dom Reardon begins!

All new stories begin in 2000AD Prog 2184 - the ideal issue for new readers and reviewers alike, with FIVE hot Thrills by top creators such as Chris Burnham (Batman), Rob Williams (Suicide Squad), Alex de Campi (Madi), Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy), Dom Reardon (James Bond) and more!

2000AD Prog 2184
Cover: Steven Austin / Quinton Winter (col)

Judge Dredd: End of Days by Rob Williams (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Sinister Dexter: Boys in the HUD by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Jim Campbell (l)
The Order: Land of the Free by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Future Shocks: Journey to the Edge of the Earth by Chris Burnham (w+a) Len O'Grady (c) Simon Bowland (l)
The Diaboliks: La Vita Malvagia by Gordon Rennie (w) Dom Reardon (a) Jim Campbell

Friday, May 29, 2020

Comic Cuts - 29 May 2020

This week we interview Peter Duncan about the Splank! Annual 2020, a free comic that also hopes to raise money for the NHS, plus all the news of what films I'm watching and what Youtube comedy shows you might enjoy.

To download a free copy of Splank! Annual visit Get My Comics. Here's the Get My Comics main page. You can also download the PDF from Google Drive and a CBR version in two parts: part one, part two. Up-to-date links can be found at Peter's Splank website.

To make a donation to NHS Charities Together.

Visit Peter’s website for more information about Splank, Sector 13 and Cthulu Kids.

Splank! Annual has a contributors page with more information on its creators.

Anyone interested in exploring the background of Peter’s “Grumpy Penguin” persona, watch Peter: A Documentary and all will be revealed.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Commando 5335 - 5338

Brand new Commando issues are out today! With dedicated reprints and special twin issues with unique adjoining covers by Keith Burns, commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Dunkirk retreat!

Get global action and adventure delivered right to your door when you subscribe to Commando or subscribe for digital copies

5335: Durand’s Dunkirk

Tank Commander Regis Durand and his crew are the very embodiment of the French’s fighting spirit — at least, he thinks so! At odds with his men about France’s hopes for success, Durand’s chance meeting with errant British privates Dodge and Hutton fuels his rage and determination to beat the Nazis. But fighting alongside Belgian Sergeant Willems makes Durand confront some deep truths, helping him find the real meaning of ‘fighting spirit’ before France is overcome by irrepressible blitzkrieg tactics. Preserving the lives of himself and other honourable men to one day free France is all that keeps Durand from blindly pursuing victory and certain death. A story interwoven with Dodger’s Dunkirk, Morhain and Defeo’s interior art is wonderfully complemented by Keith Burns’ interconnecting cover.

Story: Andrew Knighton
Art: Morhain & Defeo
Cover: Keith Burns

5336: The Circus Went to War

You’ve heard of the Red Baron’s Flying Circus, but what about Frank Selby’s? Bailing out over France, the last thing the Pilot Officer expects is to find himself face-to-muzzle with a lion in the middle of the countryside, but that’s just how things go in this comedic caper, as troop entertainers Fanetti’s Circus try to escape to neutral territory. But when they part ways and think Frank may have been busted by a German patrol, the unlikely heroes go back to rescue him. With a flaming-hot escape plan, staggering stunts of heroism and show-stopping artwork by Ibanez, there’s something for everyone in this ‘circus’ of errors!

Story: E. Hebden
Art: Ibanez
Cover: Penalva
Originally Commando No. 774 (1973).

5337: Dodger’s Dunkirk

“We ain’t gonna be beaten. It’s just a few setbacks, is all.”
    Private Tom ‘Dodger’ Dodge and his mate Ed Hutton arrive in France full of hope, only to swiftly find themselves being told to retreat. Absconding from his unit in defiance of those orders, Dodge soon runs into a French Tank Commander, Regis Durand, with the same fighting spirit as him! Refusing to fall back even in dire straits, a party of Belgians lead by Sergeant Willem convince Tom to return to his unit, learning the hard way what it means to run and fight another day. Told in parallel to Durand’s Dunkirk, these individual stories are connected by far more than Morhain and Defeo’s detailed interiors and Keith Burns’ stunning twin covers.

Story: Andrew Knighton
Art: Morhain & Defeo
Cover: Keith Burns

5338: Proved in Battle

Lieutenant Bob Cullen is in the midst of a baptism of fire — leading a renowned platoon with Jerry hard on their heels. Keeping morale up would have been tricky at the best of times, but Cullen is leaning heavily on his capable Sergeant, Hugh Knight, and the men can see his uncertainty in troubled times. Without strong leadership, troubled Private Simon Morgan eventually gives in to his cowardice and flees, straight into the suspicious sights of farmer, Paul Cartier. But there’s more to Cartier than meets the eye, and a strange tale from the Great War convinces Simon to redeem his honour, helping relieve tensions between the British and French as the retreat gains momentum.

Story: Anglo
Art: Anglo
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1913 (1985).

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

This week's releases from Rebellion Publishing include the long-awaited Smash! Special 2020, featuring seven new adventures starring some of the most popular of British superheroes. This 64 page special includes new adventures for The Spider, Thunderbolt the Avenger, Johnny Future, The Steel Claw, Mytek the Mighty, Cursitor Doom, Jason Hyde and the puppets of The House of Dolmann.

These fantastic action-packed tales come from the pens of some of the UK's finest creators, including artists Charlie Adlard, Chris Weston and John McCrea, with stories by Rob Williams, Simon Furman and newcomer (at least to comics) Charlie Higson.

Also out this week is 2000AD’s second all-ages “Regened” special is set to return with a brand new collection of strips for readers old and new.

This bumper 52-page issue features the all new adventures of Cadet Dredd, Finder & Keeper, Anderson, Psi Division, Future Shocks and Strontium Dog from creators such as Davide Tinto (Marvel Action: Spider-Man), Cavan Scott (Doctor Who), Laura Bailey (Demarco), Andrea Mutti (Port of Earth) and many more!

Behind a brand-new Cadet Dredd cover by the legendary 2000 AD cover veteran Cliff Robinson, with colours by Dylan Teague, the all-new self-contained strips introduce readers old and new to some quality quarantine comics featuring some of 2000 AD’s greatest characters.

This is the second of four issues of 2000 AD Regened scheduled for 2020. 2000 AD remains committed to encouraging readers of all ages to dive into the legendary British weekly, and “Regened” acts as a gateway into both 2000 AD and comics in general, with readers of all ages enjoying the heady mix of 2000 AD action, humour, and fun.

Priced at £2.99, 2000 AD Prog 2183 will be available from all good retailers, as well as digitally from 2000 AD’s webshop and apps.

2000AD Prog 2183
Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (col)

Cadet Dredd: Combat Ready by Matt Smith (w) Nicolo Assirelli (a) Chris Clythe (c) Annie Parkhoue (l)
Finder & Keeper: Nuisance Neighbours by John Reppion (w) Davide Tinto (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bolland (l)
Anderson, Psi Division: First-Class Citizen by Cavan Scott (w) Paul Davidson (a) Len O'Grady (c) Simon Bolland (l)
Future Shocks: The Queen of Mean by Laura Bailey (w) Andrea Mutti (a) Barbara Nosenzo (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Strontium Dog: Acceptable Losses by Michael Carroll (w) Nick Brokenshire (a) John Charles (c) Jim Campbell (l)

Smash! Special 2020
Cover: Chris Weston

The Spider by Rob Williams (w) John McCrea (a) Mike Spicer (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Thunderbolt the Avenger by Helen O’Hara (w) Valentina Pinti (a) Jim Boswell (c) Ozvaldo Sanchez (l)
Johnny Future by Anita Break (w) Tom Raney (a) Gary Caldwell (c) SG (l)
The Steel Claw by Charlie Higson (w) Charlie Adlard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Mytek the Mighty by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (w) Anand Radhakrishnan (a+c) Deeganto Joardar (c) SG (l)
Cursitor Doom/Jason Hyde by Maura McHugh (w) Andreas Butzbach (a) A. Cult (l)
The House of Dolmann by Simon Furman (w) Chris Weston (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The 77 - An interview with Ben Cullis

Here is the longer version of the interview I did with The 77 editor Ben Cullis, part of which was included in Friday's Comic Cuts column. I've re-edited that section slightly to incorporate a few images, which was my plan all along.

My thanks to Ben for taking the time to chat. Technology – or in my case the limits of the technology available to me – got the better of us on a couple of occasions, but I think this has worked out OK.. Enough for me to consider doing another video interview in the future.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Comic Cuts - 22 May 2020

This week's comic cuts video is a bit different – we have our first video interview with The 77 editor and publisher Ben Cullis, in which he discusses the Kickstarter campaign that launched the comic and what plans he has for the future of the title.

There will be a longer version of the interview posted over the weekend in which Ben discusses his plans for a second title – Blaze – based on the fictional comic created by Steve (Tharg) MacManus in his novel The Sheerglam Conspiracy.

For more on The 77 visit the website or you can find the latest news on Twitter (@77Comic) or Instagram (@the77comic). You can order a copy from Get My Comics.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Charley Lippincott (1939-2020)

Charley Lippincott, who will be remembered for his activities as the publicist on the original Star Wars movie whose marketing acumen helped make it a phenomena, was hospitalized on Thursday, 14 May and was placed on a ventilator. He suffered a heart attack two days later and passed away on Tuesday, 19 May. His wife, Bumpy, when announcing his death, wrote “Charley had some kind of Covid-19 premonition that if he went into hospital, he would probably die. At first, it frightened him, but then he became reconciled because he felt he had lived a full and rich life. Charley thought he had been blessed. He lived a good life, a full life, and was luckier than most. Oh, he wanted to keep on living – there were things he still wanted to do – but he realized many of his peers were dying, and if the end came, it would be alright because he had had a full, rich life.”
    Lippincott was responsible for securing deals with various companies, including Kenner (toys), Marvel (comics) and Del Rey (the novelisation), and was a pioneer in promoting films at comic conventions, taking the cast—including Mark Hamill—to San Diego Comic Con and WorldCon in 1976 to talk about the following year’s release of Star Wars.
    Lippincott was also the publicist for Alien (1979) and Flash Gordon (1980), before becoming the producer of zombie horror-comedy Night Life (1989) and Judge Dredd, the 1995 Stallone movie. He had discovered Dredd in the pages of 2000AD while working in London on Alien and bought the film rights, although he had to wait until the mid-1990s to see the film in cinemas.
    His vision of the film can be seen in the The Making of Judge Dredd (1995), co-written with David Chute and Jane Killick.
    Lippincott was a long-time fan of comic books and had earlier produced and co-wrote (with director Ron Mann) Comic Book Confidential (1988), a history of the birth and development of comic book, using interviews with Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Frank Miller, Harvey Kurtzman, Charles Burns, Al Feldstein, Jaime Hernandez, Harvey Pekar, Art Spiegelman and others.
    Born on 28 October 1939, Lippincott attended USC Film School at the same time as George Lucas. He became a publicist, working first at MGM where his films included Michael Crichton’s Westworld (1973), Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot (1976) and Jonathan Demme’s Fighting Mad (1976). He then joined 20th Century Fox to work on Star Wars with George Lucas. Lippicott became Senior Vice President, Advertising, Publicity, Promotion and Merchandising for Star Wars Corporation.
    Craig Miller, author of Star Wars Memories, posted on Facebook: “Charley was smart. He was funny. And, admittedly, in recent years he could get a little cranky. But he was a great guy. He hasn’t been in the best of health these last few years but I didn’t think he’d be leaving us so soon.” In his book, he says “Charley was responsible for a lot. He made sure every character, every name, every image was properly copyrighted and trademarked. He made the licensing deals (along with Marc Pevers, an attorney who was Vice President of Licensing at 20th Century Fox) for the merchandise that, despite the enormous box office gross, was the real profit center for Lucasfilm … And he masterminded the campaign that truly changed the way movies were publicized.”
    Lippincott left Lucasfilm in around 1978, continuing to work for Fox and for Dino De Laurentiis on Flash Gordon and Conan the Barbarian (1982).
    Lippincott was highly active on Facebook and for a year (2015-16), he recompiled material for his blog ( in which he revealed many aspects of the original Star Wars movie.
    He and his wife, Bumpy, who survives him, lived in Vermont.

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

This week's releases from Rebellion Publishing include the latest issues of 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine. Rebellion's weekly and monthly titles, alongside specials (which are printed here in the UK) are appearing on newsstands as normal. Print editions of graphic novels and collections that are produced abroad are being delayed, although digital editions are appearing on schedule. The revised schedule for releases can be found here.

2000AD Prog 2182
Cover: Neil Googe / Gary Caldwell (col)

JUDGE DREDD: CHIMPSKY'S LAW by Kenneth Niemand (w) PJ Holden (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE ORDER: INBETWEEN DAYS by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Simon Bowland (l)
FUTURE SHOCK: A.I. ♥ YOU by Liam Johnson (w) Robin Henley (a) Jim Campbell (l)
HERSHEY: DISEASE by Rob Williams (w) Simon Fraser (c) Simon Bowland (l)
SURVIVAL GEEKS: CRISIS OF INFINITE NERDS by Emma Beeby, Gordon Rennie (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 420
Cover: PJ Holden

JUDGE DREDD: BAD SECTOR by Arthur Wyatt (w) PJ Holden (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
DEVLIN WAUGH: A VERY LARGE SPLASH by Ales Kot (w) Mike Dowling (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
BLUNT III by TC Eglington (w) Boo Cook (a) Simon Bowland (l)
ZOMBIE ARMY: LAST RITES by Chris Roberson (w) Andrea Mutti (a) Matt Soffe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
LAWLESS: BOOM TOWN by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Features: New Comics: Smash! 2020, Old Haunts; Interview: Jake Lynch
Bagged reprint: Orlok, Agent of East Meg One

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Commando 5331 - 5334

Brand new Commando issues are out today! With special issues commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Dunkirk retreat and 80 years since the formation of the Home Guard!

Get global action and adventure delivered right to your door when you subscribe to Commando or subscribe for digital copies.

With so many celebratory issues coming this year (VE Day recently, and upcoming celebrations for the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the formation of the British Commandos), Commando hopes to celebrate in style and to draw in new readers (or return old ones to the fold) they have released 'Red Snow' (Commando 5309) from their back catalog as a free digital edition that you can download from here.

Alexandria Turner, Editor-in-Chief of Children’s’ Magazines and Comics at DC Thomson Media, said, ‘In true Commando spirit, the team and contributors have responded well to current circumstances. The special digital edition offers Commando readers, and comic fans, an opportunity to enjoy our stories in a different medium, ensuring we continue to entertain during these uncertain times.’

With all of the team and artists working from home, it has taken extra effort to publish and distribute the comic each fortnight. Some of Commando’s illustrators are from overseas, including Spain and Italy. Although these areas have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, the artists are in good spirits, and have met every deadline for their work.

Paolo Ongaro, a Commando artist from Italy, said, ‘I don't want to complain too much, I'm one of the lucky ones - I get to spend the days in my studio and continue my work of Commando which is a passion for me.’ You can check out his work on the first of this week's releases.

5331: Flight from Tomorrow

Forget Dungeons and Dragons – try Dunkirk and Dragons! From Arthur C. Clarke Award winning writer Adrian Tchaikovsky comes a Commando like never before! To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the events leading up to Dunkirk, “Flight from Tomorrow” not only tells the story of Captain Dougal McKerr and his men caught up in the retreat, but the strange tale of the mysterious Mary and a group of orphans trying to escape not just from the Nazis – but from another time entirely!

Story: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Art: Paolo Ongaro
Cover: Ian Kennedy

5332: Zero Feet

Some pilots were born brave, fearless flyers who chased Nazi pilots like a hawk would a pigeon — these pilots were the hunters. Other pilots, like Jimmy Daiken, were the hunted. They were like foals taking their first steps — if their first step happened to be flying high up in the clouds! Jimmy’s squadron leader didn’t think he had it in him to be a hunter, but Jimmy was about to prove him wrong, even if it meant he had to fly at zero feet!

Story: Kellie
Art: Gordon C Livingstone
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No. 82 (1963).

5333: The Midnight Mob

80 years ago, after the ruckus at Dunkirk, a new outfit was formed in Britain. This bunch took the men who didn’t make it into the army and turned them into a mob designed to protect Blighty’s shores. At first, they were called the “Local Defence Volunteers”, until old Churchill told them to change it to what we now know them as — The Home Guard! But what happens when the Home Guard have to deal with a Nazi rocket man and a bunch of crack German troops? Well, you’d get the events of our Home Guard special “The Midnight Mob”!

Story: Stephen Walsh
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Neil Roberts
5334: Traitor Planes
“One of our own kites is shooting at us!”
That’s what Dave Roberts heard his tail gunner yell before their Lancaster was hit badly. Forced to bail out over enemy territory, Dave would have to wait a while to report what he heard — if he could escape from a prisoner camp and find his way back to Britain first! Another classic silver reprint Commando tale from Bill Fear with spectacular interior artwork from fan favourite Jose Maria Jorge!

Story: Bill Fear
Art: Jose Maria Jorge
Cover: K Walker
Originally Commando No. 1537 (1981).

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

This week's Rebellion releases includes the digital release of the latest Judge Dredd: Complete Casefiles volume. The print edition has been delayed until October by the current pandemic, and we will be seeing more disruption to the schedule relating to graphic novels over the next few months. However, the regular weekly (2000AD) and monthly (Judge Dredd Megazine) releases carry on as normal, so there's still plenty to enjoy in print, too.

2000AD Prog 2181
Cover: Jake Lynch

JUDGE DREDD: CHIMPSKY'S LAW by Kenneth Niemand (w) PJ Holden (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SURVIVAL GEEKS: CRISIS OF INFINITE NERDS by Emma Beeby, Gordon Rennie (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
FUTURE SHOCK: SCAVENGERS by Rory McConville (w) Andrea Mutti (a) Simon Bowland (l)
AQUILA: THE BURNING FIELDS by Gordon Rennie (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Pippa Bowland (c) Jim Campbell (l)
HERSHEY: DISEASE by Rob Williams (w) Simon Fraser (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Judge Dredd: The Complete Casefiles Volume 35 by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Gordon Rennie, Richard Elson, John Higgins, Ian Gibson, Siku, Ben Willsher, Colin MacNeil, Kevin Walker, Paul Marshall, Cam Kennedy & Carlos Ezquerra.
Rebellion, 14 May 2020, 304pp, £9.99 [DIGITAL EDITION ONLY].  Print edition available to pre-order via Amazon.

The latest in the smash-hit, best-selling graphic novel series! Almost half a million copies sold! The floating multi-story metropolis of illegal delights known as “Sin City” has anchored outside Mega-City one, and Dredd has seemingly been sent aboard to keep what order can be kept on a lawless floating city. His real task? Locate Ula Danser, the De-Megification terrorist determined to destroy the Mega-Cities at any cost! But Danser isn’t working alone – Dredd’s old enemy Orlok is coming to meet her, and he’s carrying a cargo intended to pay back everything Dredd did to East-Meg one – with interest! The latest in the world-wide best-selling, flagship 2000 AD graphic novel series which has become a perennial classic.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

This week's releases from Rebellion Publishing.

2000AD Prog 2180
Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (cols)

JUDGE DREDD: CHIMPSKY'S LAW by Kenneth Niemand (w) PJ Holden (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SURVIVAL GEEKS: CRISIS OF INFINITE NERDS by Emma Beeby, Gordon Rennie (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SKIP TRACER: NIMROD by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
AQUILA: THE BURNING FIELDS by Gordon Rennie (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Pippa Bowland (c) Jim Campbell (l)
HERSHEY: DISEASE by Rob Williams (w) Simon Fraser (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Illustrators #29 (Spring 2020)

Issue 29 is Illustrators in a lighter mood than usual. From its cover illustrations – Charles Addams on the front and Lawson Wood on the back – through most of its 96 pages, the latest outing offers a bit of comic relief from the daily stresses of the lockdown.

"Chas" Addams was a master of the darker side of humour, which he depicted with ghoulish delight. His most famous creation, The Addams Family, and his macabre sense of humour made Addams the subject of several odd rumours and he could not live up the expectations of what he was like in real life. Tall and well-dressed, Addams was thin-lipped and had a bulbous nose and small eyes – nothing like Gomez or Morticia or even Uncle Fester, although they shared the large nose and prominent ears.

His cartoons appeared in The New Yorker, Collier's and TV Guide, but it was the two seasons of The Addams Family (1964-66) that made him a household name. The TV series was dropped after only two seasons; a similar fate befell another family of monsters, The Munsters, at the same time, both black & white shows losing out to the popularity (and colour) of Batman. His editor felt that the TV series was too low brow for The New Yorker and wanted no more of the family in his pages.

While Addams died in 1988, his characters survived, through syndication and in animation, feature films and a recent (2019) CGI animated movie.

The work of Lawson Wood couldn't be more different. His fame rests on the shoulders of monkeys, chiefly those of Gran'pop, an elderly monkey, and his family who became the star of The Sketch and, in America, Collier's, appearing in colour and quickly establishing an audience that went out and bought Gran'pop postcards, posters, calendars and Gran'pop Annuals.

Wood was trained at a specialist school of animal painting in London where he followed in the footsteps of Alfred Munnings, Cecil Aldin and George Studdy. From illustrating popular magazine stories in the pages of Pearson's, The Strand, Boy's Own Paper and The Captain, Wood turned to illustrating books and leading illustrated magazines The Graphic and The London Illustrated News. His talents were recognised by galleries and even the Royal Academy.

Another change of pace brings us to Roy Wilson, although Wilson, too, had the talent to bring animals to life in his watercolour covers for annuals. Wilson's ability to depict motion and movement was unequaled in comics in the 1930s. He began his career in comics as an assistant, but had surpassed the abilities of Don Newhouse by the time he went solo in 1933. Wilson was often tasked with producing the front covers of Amalgamated Press's comics – Butterfly, Merry and Bright, Sparkler, Puck, Golden and, most notably, 'At Chimpo's Circus' for the beautifully gravure printed Happy Days.

Post War, he brought life to the adventures of Morecambe and Wise and Terry-Thomas and other celebrities, never skimping on the detail and always including little visual extras ‐ a cat clutching its sides at the antics of the star of the strip, a rat sniffing a flower, a startled dog peering around a fence, etc., etc.

One of the earliest creators of bizarre caricatures was the French illustrator J. J. Grandville, who was one of the most influential fantasy and science fiction artists, drawing whimsical images of animals in human clothing and remarkable futuristic cityscapes. His series Les Metaphorphosis du Jour brought him fame and ran to 70 prints and led to a new law censoring cartoons and caricatures in France.

Grandville's Un Autre Monde (1844) explored social and scientific advances combined with surreal dreamscapes. The artist continued his depictions of human-animal and flower-human hybrids until his death in 1847.

Another darkly comic cartoonist wraps up the issue. Ersin Karabulut is a Turkish digital illustrator and graphic designer who co-founded the prestigious satirical weekly magazine Uykusuz in 2007, although he now lives in Los Angeles.

For more information on Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website, where you can also find details of their online editions, and news of upcoming issues. Issue 30 will have features on Mort Kunstler, Earl Norem, Norman Saunders and men's adventure magazines. There are two specials also due shortly: a Crime Comics special, featuring the works of Sean Phillips, Jordi Bernet and Charles Biro, and The Art of John M. Burns.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Illustrators #28 (Winter 2019)

Issue 28 of Illustrators is an international delight, with artist from America, England, Belgium and Germany.

Frank Kelly Freas has been a favourite cover artist of mine for years as he was very active in the 1970s when I began exclusively reading science fiction. The W. H. Smiths shop at Chelmsford railway station stocked American SF magazines and I was picking up Analog and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction regularly. This was long before Amazon, so you had to visit Fantasy Centre and Dark They Were and Golden Eyed if you wanted to see American paperbacks and other monthly US magazines, of which there were plenty, even in the 1980s and 1990s.

Frank Kelly Freas was one of the few artists whose work was reprinted in book form. The cover of Illustrators shows the same Martian as Frank Kelly Freas: The Art of Science Fiction (1977), originally painted for Astounding Science Fiction to illustrate Fredric Brown's 'Martians Go Home' and subsequently used by Ballantine on the collection that featured that story.

It exemplifies Freas's whimsical approach to his work, the Martian squinting (perhaps winking) at the reader, resting his chin in his hand. It is a commonplace, nonthreatening pose and typical of Freas, whose strength was somehow to make the alien everyday. Another famous Astounding cover featured an elderly man, sharpening a knife while wearing a pink bonnet.

This is not to say that his work was always intended as droll. His work had power, too, as seen in his Astounding cover for 'The Gulf Between' by Tom Godwin of a robot holding up the body of a bloody human. Freas recreated the image for Queen on their album News of the World, the single human replaced by the band members falling from the robot's hand.

Raised in the US and Canada, Kelly Freas studied art on the GI Bill and had his first illustration accepted in 1950 by Dorothy McIlwraith of Weird Tales, an image of Pan painted as an experiment in two colours which a friend suggested he try to sell. Thereon, Freas became a prolific contributor to magazines, MAD Magazine, and book publishers until his death in 2005.

Yvonne Gilbert's colour pencil art is astonishing in its detail. Her most famous picture, originally drawn for a men's magazine, was used on the cover of 'Relax', the single by Frankie Goes to Hollywood which was banned by the BBC, thus guaranteeing its success. Gilbert has also produced illustrations for the Daily Telegraph Magazine, children's books and stamps over the years and here, in a Q&A, offers some useful advice for people wanting to go into illustration as a career.

Laurent Durieux was a Belgian graphic designer and teacher before achieving success as a silkscreen poster artist specialising in creating posters for classic 20th century movies from Metropolis to The Godfather. Durieux acknowledges the influence of comics, especially the work of Moebius and François Schuiten, with whom Durieux has subsequently collaborated.

Wrapping up the issue is Heinrich Kley, a highly influential artist who was active before the First World War. His pen and ink drawings for the satirical magazine Simplicissimus brought him to a wide audience in Germany and beyond. Collections of his sketchbook work made their way to America where they were discovered by animators working for Walt Disney. His influence can be seen particularly in Fantasia.

For more information on Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website, where you can also find details of their online editions, and news of upcoming issues.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Commando 5327-5330

Commando specials aare coming your way as Commando commemorates VE day’s 75th anniversary  and 80 years since the German Blitzkrieg! All in brand-new issues — out today!

Get global action and adventure delivered right to your door when you subscribe to Commando OR subscribe for digital copies here

5327: Rats in the Rubble

The first of our VE Day 75th Anniversary specials ‘Rats in the Rubble’, with story by Andrew Knighton, is an instant classic Commando! Topped off with a fiery Neil Roberts cover which is emblematic of the chaos of the final days of the Second World War and eventual Allied Victory in Europe.

When the Red Army entered Berlin in 1945, what awaited them there were desperate men and hastily armed teens fighting to protect their city. Snipers, Volkssturm, and Hitler Youth scurried over the rubble of their city as the end of the war loomed over them like a rat exterminator. Sergeant Nikolai Kulikov hated Germans for what they had done to his proud country — and now he was paying them back with interest! But, as he entered a derelict orphanage to remove a threat to the Soviet advance, he would soon question who the real rats in the city were.

Story: Andrew Knighton
Art: Klacik & Muller
Cover: Neil Roberts

5328: The Man Who Died Twice

The second of our VE 75th Anniversary specials is ‘The Man Who Died Twice’, a classic tale with a twist — as was writer Eric Hebden’s speciality!

When your father has pride of place on The Great War memorial in your village, you know it’s going to be hard to measure up, but Hugh Nesbitt was determined to try! However, as the Second World War drew towards its conclusion, he knew he would never live up to his father’s memory. Time and time again Nesbitt proved he was a coward, but could a coward become  a war hero — or would there be victory in Europe and an end to the war before he found his courage?

Story: E Hebden
Art: Ibanez
Cover: Penalva
Originally Commando No. 797 (1973).

5329: Blitzkrieg West

It’s been 80 years since May 1940, when the Germans put an end to the so-called Phoney War — changing the course of the Second World War for ever. The Allied armies were caught flat-footed, and crushed under the tyres of the German’s “Thunder and Lightning” tactics known to them as the Blitzkrieg!

To commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of France, Ferg Handley writes ‘Blitzkrieg West’  to give readers the chance to experience the panic and disorganisation from the perspective of a World War One veteran, Lance Corporal Bill Lowry. While the Germans thundered triumphantly west across France and towards victory, Lowry is forced to retreat with a bunch of rookies who barely know which end of the gun to aim with.

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Khato
Cover: Keith Burns
5330: Intruders Beware

‘Intruders Beware’ is a classic  supernatural Commando from RA Montague which asks you; what happens when some RAF bods upset a ghostly monk in Scotland? Fires, jinxed aircraft and pilots with hoodoos — that’s what!

With amazing interior art from fan favourite Jose Maria Jorge doing what he did best — illustrating beautiful aerial aircraft action — and a few ghouls thrown in for good measure, all is not what it seems on the airfield, and this is one mystery you’ll have to read to read to believe!

Story: RA Montague
Art: Jose Maria Jorge
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1520 (1981).

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

This week's releases from Rebellion includes the latest release from The Treasury of British Comics. The Complete Johnny Future gathers together the full run of one of UK comics' lost gems from the pages of Fantastic!. Heavily influenced by that paper's reprinting of Marvel superheroes, Johnny's adventures began under the title 'The Missing Link', sparsely and strikingly drawn by Luis Bermejo.

This was one of the strips I planned to publish under the Bear Alley Books banner back in 2009, but it was not to be. Eleven years later, I'm pleased that everyone will at last get a chance to see why I wanted to bring Johnny back into the spotlight. I did have a little involvement in the new version, writing the introduction. Here's a little taste of what I wrote:
In many ways, ‘The Missing Link’ lives  up to its title as a now-forgotten bridge between old-style British comics and the American comic book. Written by Alf Wallace, the managing editor of the Odhams group of titles known as the Power Comics, the story was a child of its time and circumstances. Wallace’s influences are obvious: King Kong meets The Incredible Hulk with a big dose of Marvel Comics’ patented Superhero Angst. The villains, however, and the way Johnny Future deals with them, are far more in the British style—the limited weekly space allowance ruled out page after page of costumed punch-ups; instead, a more science-fiction approach was required, where conflicts are between heroes and villains of considerable (and, frankly, sometimes impossible) intelligence. 

2000AD Prog 2179
Cover: Stewart K. Moore

JUDGE DREDD: CHIMPSKY'S LAW by Kenneth Niemand (w) PJ Holden (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SURVIVAL GEEKS: CRISIS OF INFINITE NERDS by Emma Beeby, Gordon Rennie (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SKIP TRACER: NIMROD by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
AQUILA: THE BURNING FIELDS by Gordon Rennie (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Pippa Bowland (c) Jim Campbell (l)
HERSHEY: DISEASE by Rob Williams (w) Simon Fraser (c) Simon Bowland (l)

The Complete Johnny Future by Alf Wallace & Luis Bermejo
Rebellion ISBN 9781781087589, 30 Apr 2020, 208pp, £19.99 / US $24.99. Available via Amazon.

One of the most memorable comic strips of the 1960s, which asks the question “What if King Kong became Superman”? This is the complete hardcover collection of breathtaking Pulp adventure comics – beloved by fans and the creators it inspired – Alan Moore among them! ‘The Missing Link’ – a creature of limitless strength, is drawn to Britain in pursuit of an expedition party he encountered in his homeland. The man-ape causes havoc until he accidentally stumbles into an experimental nuclear research facility and is bombarded by radiation. Instead of killing him, the creature evolves into an advanced human. Now possessing a genius mind, super-strength, enhanced senses and the ability to fly, as Johnny Future he protects mankind from such sinister beings as The Master, Disastro, Animal Man and the Secret Society of Scientists. Perfect for fans of Rebellion’s only other superhero property – ‘Zenith’, the first superhero saga penned by comics legend, Grant Morrison!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Comic Cuts - 24 April 2020

A. E. Callam

Albert Edward Callam was born in Great Kimble, Buckinghamshire, on 11 August 1904, the son of Arthur William Callam, a straw hat stiffener (1870-1947) and Kate Callam, a straw hat machinist (née Parsons, 1874?-1955), married in 1892 at Christ Church, Luton. Albert had two older siblings, Bernard Arthur (1893-1960) and Lilian May (later Parsons, 1895-1975), who also worked in the straw hat factory, as clerk and machinist respectively.

The family lived in Luton (during the 1911 census, their address was 11 Newcombe Road), which was the centre for the manufacture of straw hats, said to have been introduced from France by Mary I of Scotland, whose craftsmen were brought south when her son, James 6 of Scotland, ascended to the throne of England (as James I) in 1603. The craftsmen were left in the care of Napier family, who owned the grand estate of Luton Hoo. (If you want to explore this further, English Heritage have published The Hat Industry of Luton and its Buildings (2013), which explains the clever art of straw plaiting amongst many other things.)

Albert was educated at Luton Grammar School  and first studied drawing under his old schoolmaster, Frederick F(enton) May (1876-1952).

He was only 14 when the Great War ended, so did not serve, and the next sign of him is in 1930, when he married Gertrude Marion Norwood. The couple lived at "Dingley Dell," Argyll Avenue, Luton.

In 1933, Callam, already a member of the Society of Industrial Artists, successfully passed the British Typographers’ Guild test in layout draughtsmanship. According to a report in a local newspaper, “It is a rule of the Guild that only those who can produce an attractive and technically correct layout from copy supplied to them can be admitted to membership. Mr. Callam’s layout was of exceptional merit. A certificate of proficiency is awarded to successful applicants.” (Beds & Herts Pictorial, 26 September 1933) Callam was one of the first members of the Guild, who counted Eric Gill, the sculptor, and Sir Francis Maynell, Master of the Faculty of Royal Designers in Industry, amongst its early members.

In the 1930s, Callam was employed as the studio director of Askew Younge, a creative advertising company owned by Victor Antony Askew and his wife Margaret Mitchell Askew. A deed of assignment was issued for the benefit of creditors against the Askews and James Philip Edgar in November 1934, although the company continued to trade, and Callam is still listed as a director in the Advertising Art Annual for 1939. (Askew Younge was eventually struck off the register of companies in September 1968, but had probably ceased trading years, if not decades, earlier.)

In 1938, Callam teamed up with Ronald Brett, who was in charge of the studio at lithographic print company Baynard Press, to form Brett Callam Designers, taking over the studio of Baynard Press as their nucleus and still working with and for the printing company. Unfortunately, the war devastated the printing industry, and Brett left to join Service Advertising in 1940. Callam and his wife continued to trade under the name of Brett Callam Designers from its office in Blackwell Street, London S.W.9. and was still active until at least 1942.

At this time [fl. 1939], the Callams were living at 94 Station Road, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, but later moved to 66 Apsley House, St. John's Wood, London N.W.8. [fl. 1952].

Callam continued to work as a designer and painter, one of his designs – for a  perfume casket – being chosen for exhibition at the Festival of Britain on the South Bank. Six of his paintings were exhibited at the Imperial Institute in South Kensington in 1954. One, entitled "Buildings in Washington, D.C.," was almost certainly inspired by a trip to America, as Albert and Gertrude had set sail for New York in March 1952. The painting was hung in the 1954 Paris Salon.

Callam, who had been awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts, was also a member of the Council of The Army Art Society at that time [fl.1954]. Founded as the Army Officers' Art Society in 1925, the Society was only opened up to all ranks in 1946. They held an annual exhibition at the Imperial Institute in October.

At the same time, Callam became the publisher of various books, beginning with Letters to Lisette by Rosemary Cobham in 1950. A steady stream of new titles appeared throughout the 1950s, including poems by Elizabeth Stanton Lay, K. M. Westaway, Marion Alice Bowers, J. A. R. Stevenson, Florence Gubbins, Alexander Simpson and Kathleen Periton. His publications included the first short (75-page) novel, Peace in Rapallo, by Alexander Reissner.

He published the Collected Poems of Robert E. Kay and Edgar Newgass in 1961. Newgass was also the author of two books on biblical subjects published in 1964.

Two books published in the early 1960s charted the history and genealogy of the Norwood family back as far as the 13th century. The Norwoods: An Introduction to Their History and The Norwoods: Heraldry and Brasses, were written by Gertrude Callam (formerly Norwood), and a third volume, A Chronological History, was self-published  by Mrs. Callam in a limited edition of 400 copies in 1997.

By then, her husband Albert was long gone. The couple lived at The Studio, Collington La West, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, where Albert Callam died on 9 September 1980. His birth was erroneously given on death records as 11 August 1906. He was survived by his wife, Gertrude, who continued  to live in Bexhill-on-Sea, until her death on 13 October 2003. They had no children.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for Wednesday, 22 April.

2000AD Prog 2178
Cover: PJ Holden

JUDGE DREDD: CHIMPSKY'S LAW by Kenneth Niemand (w) PJ Holden (a)  Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SURVIVAL GEEKS: CRISIS OF INFINITE NERDS by Emma Beeby, Gordon Rennie (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SKIP TRACER: NIMROD by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
AQUILA: THE BURNING FIELDS by Gordon Rennie (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Pippa Bowland (c) Jim Campbell (l)
HERSHEY: DISEASE by Rob Williams (w) Simon Fraser (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Masters of British Comic Art by David Roach

Masters of British Comic Art

Steve Winders reviews David Roach’s new book about the history of British comics.

With a specially commissioned cover by Brian Bolland showing four of Britain’s most iconic characters, Dan Dare, Judge Dredd, Rupert Bear and Tank Girl responsibly crossing Abbey Road using the Zebra crossing in the finest tradition of the Beatles and with Kolvorok from Jeff Hawke, slipped discreetly into the picture behind them, this epic tome which runs to 384 pages, tells the history of British comics and in my view leaves no stone unturned. The artist and comics authority David Roach makes the bold claim that comics started in Britain and proceeds to prove it. Referring back to the work of Hogarth in the eighteenth century, he concludes that one of his successors, Thomas Rowlandson was really the first cartoon strip artist and provides an example. Taking readers through examples in the next century, he reaches Ally Sloper who first appeared in 1867 and then on to Chips in 1896, which featured Weary Waddles and Tired Tim, immediately recognisable as a comic strip which predated America’s main claim to the first comic strip The Yellow Kid by several months. Although created earlier, The Yellow Kid originally featured in single illustrations.

David Roach moves on from the Victorian era to first explore the humorous comics as they predate those of other genres. Despite the vast range, he manages to include every significant publication and his engaging and informative text is accompanied by examples of pages from many weeklies. Later chapters cover pre-school comics, adventure comics, the influence of artists’ agencies, girls’ comics, newspaper strips, the influence of American comics, underground comics, 2000AD comic and its stable, comic developments from the 1980s, the British invasion of American comics and comics in the 21st century. All of these include many reprinted pages and pictures, in colour and black and white. There is also a large gallery of full page examples of quality artwork, often reprinted from originals and covering the whole range of British comic strip art. Included in the gallery is work by such diverse talents as Bryan Talbot, Mary Tourtel, Leo Baxendale, Reg Bunn, Jamie Hewlett, Frank Bellamy, Sydney Jordan, Shirley Bellwood and Rufus Dayglo, among many others. The book is so thorough that I tested it by listing a group of random significant artists to see if they were mentioned. Only two of my random fifteen were missing, which is remarkable in a publication which covers such a vast area.

I have few criticisms and they are minor. I picked up small errors in my own particular area of interest. Frank Hampson’s strip for Eagle about the life of Christ, is called 'The Road of Courage', not 'The Road to Courage'. The Dan Dare strip moved from the cover to the inside pages of Eagle in March 1962 and not October 1961 as stated and the artists Richard Jennings and Martin Aitchison did not "move on elsewhere" from Eagle in March 1962. Aitchison drew 'The Lost World' and then 'Hornblower', finally leaving in 1963. Jennings scripted 'The Lost World' and then drew 'Earthquake Island' before leaving. However, the very fact that these details are even mentioned in such a broad work is an indication of the depth that David Roach has gone to in his narrative. Most works which cover such a huge area tend to skate over the finer details or make broad misleading statements. This book does not.

A small number of names are spelled incorrectly: Oswald Mosely should read Mosley; Ian Flemming should have just one ‘m’, like his Secret Intelligence Service does; Steven Hawkins is Stephen Hawking; and Alberto Gilolotti is Giolotti. One or two dates given for artists are also wrong. Reg Bunn, for instance, died in 1971, not 1970. Finally such a detailed work would have benefited from an index.

This is a well researched and ambitious book which succeeds admirably in its bold aim of exploring the long and varied history of British comics. Any fan of Britain’s comics will derive great pleasure and learn much from it. It has been written by someone who really knows the comic industry and his knowledge and enthusiasm are evident on every page.

Masters of British Comic Art by David Roach
Rebellion ISBN978-1781-08759-6, 2 April 2020, 384pp, £39.99 / $50 (hardcover, cover by Brian Bolland) Available via Amazon.