Friday, August 28, 2020

Comic Cuts - 28 August 2020

Now, this is the photo that I wanted to have on last week's post. I thought I was being cautious by setting the publication date for the Longbow books as August 21st, but I'd forgotten how slow everything has become during the ongoing Covid crisis—yes, still ongoing, although it's easy to forget that there are still over 1,000 new cases every day the way some politicians talk.

I took my first trip into Colchester last week, as I had an appointment to take an eye test at a surgery the other side of town. As you'll see from the photos, things were quiet, even around mid-day on a Friday. I stopped off at a few of my favourite charity shops for the first time in six months, but I must confess I wasn't in a buying frame of mind and ended up with two DVDs (Dunkirk, which I've seen but which had an extra disc of documentaries, and 1917, which I haven't seen—not a bad pair for two quid!).

The day was a series of firsts in six months—first bus ride, first time out of Wivenhoe, first time visiting a shop that wasn't the local Co-Op... it was quite exhilarating! The trip back wasn't quite so much fun. It wasn't a normal eye test. Rather, I was having my retinas photographed, which meant having eye drops put in (which stung like accidentally putting shampoo in your eyes) to enlarge the pupils. The photos were fine, as was sitting in a darkened room, but although I had been warned that my sight might be blurry for a couple of hours afterwards, nobody had told me to take sunglasses. During the trip in, it was wall-to-wall clouds. When I stepped out of the surgery, the sunlight was blinding. So now I'm blurry-eyed and squinting, trying to find a bus stop in a part of town I've never visited before; I can't read the map on my tablet because it's too bright and the screen too reflective to see anything; and I'm tearing up.

So there I am, this crying, broken, blinded creature approaching two ladies waiting at the nearby bus stop, and the question torn from my heart as I dab at my eyes is: "Do you know where I can catch a bus to the town centre?" Not quite what they were expecting from an emotional wreck, who might be on drugs ("Have you seen the size of his pupils?").

I was quite emotional Monday morning with the latest Windows update, although this was the shouting helplessly at the screen kind of emotion as the blue screen warned me about turning off my computer as it sl-o-o-o-w-ly worked its way towards 100%. Inevitably, it made some unwelcome changes to programmes (nowadays called Apps) and also buggered up my scanner. Every bloody time it updates I have to download new drivers for the scanner.

Tuesday was a considerable improvement as I spent the day looking at brilliant artwork and topped off the day chatting to one of my favourite  artists, John M. Burns, who is our interview for BAM! #1. This was the last large piece of the jigsaw of the the first issue. I now have (or will have when I've written it up) the big interview I wanted, a lengthy historical article, a few shorter pieces, and a comic strip reprint that I'm pretty sure few people will have even heard of. I already have a couple of items in for issues two and one for issue three.

I still need writers, and anyone who wants to put together features on comics from the past seventy years, do interviews or write reviews, please get in touch. I really don't want to have to fill the magazine myself... I'll have nothing to read!

Well, I guess I'd better sign off here and get down to signing those books. I did promise that the first fifty sets of books would be autographed and they're almost sold out. Everyone should receive their copies next week if you're in the UK, a little longer for anyone in America or Australia. I think you'll find they're worth the wait. We've had a couple of excellent reviews so far, and I'm hoping to see a few more as copies are distributed. Oh, and I'll keep the 10% off running for a little longer as I appreciate that some people are only just being paid and it can take a few days for money to reach their accounts.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD) - 26 August 2020

The all-ages issue of 2000 AD is back with a bang—and brand new, Thrill-packed stories designed to appeal to Earthlets everywhere!

Legendary cartoonist Roger Langridge (The Muppet Show) returns to 2000 AD with 'Pandora Perfect'—the tale of the nefarious safe-cracker, armed bandit and all-round career criminal Pandora Perez and her loyal robot assistant Gort, with art by Brett Parson (Tank Girl)!

Plus there's 'Cadet Dredd', more 'Finder & Keeper', 'Future Shocks', and the new Dredd-world 'Department K' by Rory McConville and PJ Holden! This is another all-ages issue that's ideal for younger and YA readers, with a Regened collection coming next year!

2000AD Prog 2196
Cover: Neil Roberts.

Cadet Dredd: Bad Seeds by Mike Carroll (w) Luke Horsman (a) Matt Soffe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Pandora Perfect by Roger Langridge (w) Brett Parson (a) Simon Bolland (l)
Finder & Keeper: The Curse of Kreepindeth by John Reppion (w) Davide Tinto (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bolland (l)
Future Shocks: Boss Level by Karl Stock (w) Tom Newell (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Department K by Rory McConville (w) PJ Holden (a) Len O'Grady (c) Jim Campbell (l)

Friday, August 21, 2020

Comic Cuts - 21 August 2020

Some highs and lows this week. I thought I would put together a video for last week, thinking that I could show off the proof copies of the two volumes of Longbow during the record. Which I did... unfortunately, at the same time as the telephone rang. A spam caller warning me about something or other. I couldn't hear what because I was too busy slamming down the phone.

When I came to edit the video together, I hadn't retaken that little section of video, so it ended up on the (digital) cutting room floor, and I had to insert a little bit into the middle of the video to show off the covers. Hey, ho. If I was professional, I'd have a script, a shot list... a plan!

It took until two in the morning to post the video and I crawled off to bed still full of adrenaline, watching a video until I dozed off about an hour later. Up again slightly later than usual at six-thirty ready for our walk. I think we got back about eight and I turned on the computer and a couple of messages telling me that the buttons set up for payment for the books were not working. After some fruitless efforts to re-do the buttons, I had to admit defeat and put up a notice saying that advance orders were on hold.

I cannot describe how frustrating this was. I wasn't doing anything different to how I had set these things up for the past decade. The problem, as far as I can see, is Google trying to make things impossible for third-party links. They're redesigning the Blogger interface and have been moving things around willy-nilly. Things that used to be easy -- such as uploading multiple pictures -- aren't so easy any more. I spend more time nowadays trying to disentangle the HTML code to make things look the way I want to. Even getting something as simple as a single line gap between this paragraph and the next can't be done by simple hitting the return key. I now have to hit shift+return.


John Freeman gets my no-prize award for the first review of the Longbow books: "Offering intense, fast-paced action adventure throughout, this strip is surely classic British weekly comics at its best"-- Down the Tubes.


What this meant, in practical terms last Friday, was that any attempt to cut and paste in new buttons generated by PayPal only resulted in being taken to a screen that said "This page does not exist". Let me reassure you that all the old buttons are still working fine. I did find a note in the depths of Blogger help that mentioned that old code works fine until you try to make changes. Then the new code kicks in and things stop working. Cutting and pasting old code into new posts doesn't work (I've tried it).

After spending all of Friday fretting and waiting for PayPal and Blogger to get back to me about this, I had to bite the bullet and posted alternative arrangements on Saturday morning. Thankfully, orders started to come in almost immediately and there has been a steady trickle of pre-orders over the past week. I'm waiting on a couple of boxes of books to arrive at Chez Bear Alley and hopefully orders will pick up once the books are actually in and working folk get paid at the end of the month.

That was the week's low point. I spent a large chunk of the weekend scanning and indexing old 1940s comics from obscure little publishers that will become illustrations for a series of articles I'm planning to run through the pages of BAM! The history of the pirate publishers who thrived in the post-war decade is an under-explored area of British comics' history that I want to put under the microscope. There are a lot -- a LOT -- of these little comics and they had some fascinating people behind them and drawing for them.

I'm not sure when that series will run, although issue four looks likely at the moment. Mind you, plans change from one minute to the next. Issue one is starting to take shape, and I have one interview sorted and a second interview under way. There will be a long article on the history of British pocket libraries with some astonishing statistics, some shorter articles, including one on how Frank Bellamy found himself in trouble with Eagle, and we will be running a science fiction strip that has never previously been reprinted (I'm taking a break from writing about it in order to write this!) and some rarely seen work from a well-known artist.

I spent yesterday (Wednesday) playing around with some layouts on a couple of shorter articles to see what the magazine might look like. I've still got some 'furniture' to put in (logos, page numbers) but I'm happy with the results. There's still a long way to go, but getting those first few articles together has really lifted my spirits. Every low is followed by a high.

I'm still on the lookout for contributions, reviews and suggestions. All ideas will be treated sympathetically and nothing dismissed out of hand.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Commando 5359-5362

Commando touches down through several ages of war in this striking set, full of mystery and intrigue. Commando issues — out today!

5359: War Crime

Kurt Silverton has landed with the British taskforce on East Falkland where his cousin, Steven, arrived earlier — but all is not well when the pair finally catch up. Amidst the chaos of conflict there are other, darker whispers around Kurt, which if true could bring the whole of the Royal Navy into disrepute! Can Kurt discover the truth before it is burie

d in the fog of war?

‘War Crimes’ features a stunning cover by Ian Kennedy and dynamic interiors from Paolo Ongaro with thrilling panoramic double-page spreads.

Story | Dominic Teague
Art | Paolo Ongaro
Cover | Ian Kennedy

5360: Trail of a Hero

Boasting one of Ken Barr’s greatest covers — recently featured in Illustrator’s Quarterly, ‘Trail of a Hero’ is a throwback from the Golden era of British comics. Action-packed from the very outset, this issue has everything from Chindits to stolen identities in the jungles of East Asia!
As the Luftwaffe lay bombs across the British landscape, Pinto Miller and his family are caught up in the destruction. As his fellow Roma are patched up, Pinto sets out for revenge against the Nazi onslaught, but soon finds himself in the thick of the Burmese jungle, wreaking havoc on the Japanese! Pinto’s techniques are definitely out of the ordinary, but his skills are just the ticket in this fast-paced story of heroism against the odds.

Story | Fitzsimmons
Art | Ortiz
Cover | Ken Barr

Originally Commando No. 138 (1964).

5361: Curse of the Condor

In a small Cornish village, there is a curse upon the name Jago — and all who live there know it. Any who venture out to sea with that name will be dashed against Trevelyan’s Rock, doomed to die… or so goes the tale of a curse made by a drowning man hundreds of year

s ago. But it’s 1944 and the time for superstition is over on this RAF Rescue Launch… until a Jago once again steps aboard!

Written by past Editor Calum Laird, and illustrated by renowned horror artist Vicente Alcazar, this supernatural Commando is full of eerie intrigue.

Story | Calum Laird
Art | Vicente Alcazar
Cover | Neil Roberts

5362: Nowhere to Hide

A Silver age reprint from 1981, ‘Nowhere to Hide’ is another great cover from the master, Ian Kennedy, as Bernard Gregg’s story follows Lancaster rear gunner Jack Schofield, who is looking forward to some well-earned leave. But when he finds himself forced to bail out over occupied France, he never expects to wind up entangled in a murder investigation between the Nazis and the French Resistance! With the Mayor dead, Jack is on borrowed time to unveil the dastardly plot of the evil Krantz and Von Kluger, but there is so much more than just one man’s life at stake.

Story | Bernard Gregg
Art | Salmeron
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1557 (1981).

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD) - 19 August 2020

 Just 2000AD from Rebellion Publishing this week, but there's plenty coming up, including the next "Regened" issue of 2000AD, out next week. Rebellion have also released some information about the upcoming Scream and Misty Special.

Just in time for Hallowe'en, Misty & Scream returns with another 48-page anthology stuffed with scares to create a new generation from British horror fans!

The Prince of Darkness comes face to face with an old foe in 'The Dracula Files' from Cavan Scott and Vincenzo Riccardi; Black Beth's quest for vengeance continues thanks to the fevered minds of Alec Worley and DaNi; and Kek-W and Simon Coleby reveal the ghoulish World War I air ace, Black Max, attempting to cross back over into the world of the living!

Plus there's three frightfully fresh stories to shock your socks off - 'Thief of Senses' by Maura Mchugh and Robin Henley; 'Bumps in the Night' by Olivia Hicks and John Lucas, and 'The Aegis' by Kristyna Baczynski and Mary Safro!

So lock your doors and hide under the duvet as this is the spookiest read you've encounter this Hallowe'en!

2000AD Prog 2195
Cover: David Hitchcock / Matt Soffe (col).

Judge Dredd: End of Days by Rob Williams (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Out by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Terror Tales: Quillivision by Laura Bailey (w) David Hitchcock (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Order: Land of the Free by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Sinister Dexter: Stay Brave by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Jim Campbell (l)

Friday, August 14, 2020

Comic Cuts - 14 August 2020

Yes, it's another one of those pesky videos with some news of our latest releases. Check out the covers in our sidebar to the right, click on the links and get your books at the special offer price of 10% off.

After a few weeks off, Comic Cuts returns. Same old presenter, same old dodgy quality, but some actual news of our newly released Longbow volumes and about future Bear Alley publications.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD) - 12 August 2020

Rebellion have a busy week, with two regular releases and a summer special, the delightful Tammy & Jinty Special 2020, hitting the newsstands.

2000AD Prog 2194 
Cover: John Burns.

Judge Dredd: End of Days by Rob Williams (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Out by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Full Tilt Boogie by Alex de Campi (w) Eduardo Ocana (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Order: Land of the Free by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Sinister Dexter: Stay Brave by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Jim Campbell (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 423

Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (cols).

Judge Dredd: Grand Theft Royale by Arthur Wyatt (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Tales from the Black Museum: The Obsidian Ingress by David Baillie (w) Anna Morozova (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Devlin Waugh: When I Was A Young Demon (I Did A Bad, Bad, Thing) by AleŇ° Kot (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Pippa Bowland (c) Annie Parkhouse (l) 
Lawless: Boom Town by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Jim Cambell (l)
Features: Jimmy Broxton interview, Rok of the Reds
Bagged collection: HAVN by Si Spencer (w) Jake Lynch, Henry Flint (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Tammy & Jinty Special 2020

Following the gloom and despair of a spring spent in lockdown, summer is here again and with it a brand new Tammy & Jinty Special! These two spectacular tales of courage and awe are guaranteed to chase the blues away, with work by Rachael Smith (Wired Up Wrong), RAMZEE (Zorse), Yishan Li (Hellboy & The B.P.R.D.), and Elkys Nova (Roy of the Rovers), and a cover by Marguerite Sauvage (DC Bombshells).
    In Boarding School, Tabatha and her little brother Richard are the only pupils in a mysterious old building. The only other people they have ever seen are the Governesses - four teachers who fawn over the younger sibling but treat Tabatha very badly. Does it have something to do with Richard’s special power? When Tabatha finds a new friend in the outside world, her old life quickly starts to unravel.
    An old favourite from the pages of the Sally returns as fourteen-year-old Claire finds an old cat costume in her mother’s wardrobe and wears it to a social media star’s party, unaware that she has just donned the magical mantle of the super-sleek crime fighter, Cat-Girl!
    Finally, we get an inside scoop on what it was like to write for girl’s comics in their heyday, as Alison Fitt (known then as Alison Christie) talks about her experiences working for Jinty and Tammy on such strips as Heart of Stone, Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Ping Pong Paula.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Comic Cuts - 7 August 2020

I had a bit of a late night last night, so I'm going to keep this a little shorter than last week's podcast chatter. I've had some good feedback on the upcoming magazine, which I think I'm definitely going to have to call BAM! as that's how I and others have been referring to it... and I now can't get my head around calling it anything else. It was tempting to try and bring back the Comic World title, but as I'm hoping to focus on British comics, that would probably require a title change to British Comic World

Now, old folks like me will know that there has already been a magazine with that title. It was written and published by two young lads (back in the day when I was also a young lad, I might add) called Alan and David Coates. Alan I remember as a regular at the Westminster Comic Marts back in the 1980s. He was part of a group of us who would wander back towards the station and go into Granny Lee's, which had a fairly expansive seating area where we could sit around, drink tea, eat cakes, and show off what we'd been buying.

Holding court would be Denis Gifford, with Ray Norton and his son, and Dave Giacardi. Then there would be John Allen Clark, Sue (his wife), myself and Alan Coates—I think that was the hard-core of regulars, although we were often joined by others who might have only been able to attend Westminster irregularly.

I wish I had a TARDIS so I could go back in time and record those conversations. Or, at the very least, a camera so I had some photographs of that merry bunch as we munched through teacakes and pulled out new purchases from bulging carrier bags.

Happy Days!

I'm trying to keep a lot of balls in the air at the moment, writing, proofing, subbing and trying to keep up with e-mail and trying to get in touch with a number of people to ask for articles, assistance with scans, opinions on specialist subjects and generally trying to draw them into my web of insanity. There are already people trapped in it... I can see legs kicking feebly... In fact, I already have a couple of articles in and others due. The first couple of issues are likely to be a real mix, but further down the line there should be some themed issues. I'm looking at reprinting some comic strips in the mag and wondering just how obscure I should go! I have feelers out for possible interviews, but nothing confirmed as yet.

I want to give a quick tip of the hat to Jacques Gauthier, who responded to my plea last week and... well, I'll just say we could have our BAM! logo. Thanks, Jacques.

Keeping the weekend clear for writing meant that I didn't get far with the Longbow proofs. However, I'm now well into the second volume with not too many corrections to make to the first. I will have the payment pages up and running next week and, unless something goes horribly wrong, a firm release date.

Ideas and thoughts are always welcome, by the way, but I can't always respond immediately. If I'm trying to finish something off I might not look at my e-mail or my Facebook page for 24 hours. Don't panic, I will get back to you.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Commando 5355-5358

Action-packed issues 5355-5358 are out today! We've got Crusader tanks in North Africa, a Luftwaffe Judas in a Junkers 88, a coward with a twenty-five pounder gun, and paratroopers versus a Panzer in Algeria!

5355: Bullseye Bruno

There was something wrong with Bruno Neumann — something his nemesis Matthias Schenk couldn’t put his finger on. No matter how easy the shot was, or how neatly his ducks were in a row, Bruno couldn’t hit anything — not one single Allied aircraft. Even his ironic nickname “Bullseye Bruno” did nothing to stir the Jerry airman into finding his target and shooting it down. Fool me once, thought Schenk, fool me twice, but fool me three times and I smell a rat — or worse a TRAITOR!

Story: Steve Taylor
Art: Vicente Alcazar
Cover: Keith Burns
5356: The White Feather

“NO GUTS!” That’s what they said about young Harry Bishop when he froze in action. And if that wasn’t bad enough, to add insult to injury, Bishop was then demoted from being in charge of his own twenty-five pounder crew to being a driver in another crew! But don’t give him the white feather yet, because when Bishop’s back is against the wall you’ll soon see this coward has bite!

Story: Brunt
Art: Martin
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No. 142 (1964).
5357: Raging Metal

Written by Commando’s resident Aussie writer, Brent Towns, ‘Raging Metal’ is a brilliant romp for fans of Desert War issues. Towns creates tension under the hot rays of the burning sun between two Aussie Sergeants, Bob Andrews and Simon Meredith. A misunderstanding in the heat of a battle soon leads to Bob getting hot under the collar — and inside a boiling tank it’s hard for tempers to cool off!

Story: Brent Towns
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Neil Roberts

5358: Hold the Bridge!

It’s a race against time in this Silver era reprint as Captain Robert Sutton and his men parachute into enemy‑held territory in Algeria to destroy a Nazi-held bridge! Written by the Commando team in the 1980s, with a cover by British comic artist legend Ian Kennedy, this isn’t one to miss!

Story: Staff
Art: Carrion
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1553 (1981).

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Rebellion Releases (2000AD) - 5 August 2020

A quiet week for Rebellion with just the one release this week.

2000AD Prog 2193
Cover: Mark Harrison.

Judge Dredd: End of Days by Rob Williams (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Out by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Full Tilt Boogie by Alex de Campi (w) Eduardo Ocana (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Order: Land of the Free by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Diaboliks: Profundo Rosso by Gordon Rennie (w) Antonio Fuso (a) Jim Campbell


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