Friday, May 28, 2021

Comic Cuts — 28 May 2021

I have been noodling around this week trying to finish off four books that I'll be publishing through Bear Alley Books. These are, for the most part, lockdown projects that I should have had out months ago, but which drifted in the same fashion that other projects have drifted during the past 14 months. My 2020 projects all ran late, with the four Gwyn Evans books arriving in January of this year and the launch of BAM! pushed back due to a mixture of eye strain, the need to earn a bit of money, and work on some other projects getting in the way.

Now that I'm vaccinated and can see what I'm doing (thanks, science!) I'm trying to pick up the threads. A promised French language edition of And The Wheels Went Round — to be titled Les Roues de la Fortune — is now almost finished, with co-author Tony Davis proofing the text as I write this. As some of you will know, the subject of the book is the motorcycle racing career of John Chisnall, or Uncle John as I like to call him.

The other three books are reprints in trade paperback format of a trio of Victorian short story collections. Credited to Andrew Forrester, Jun., the author was, in fact, J. Redding Ware, his identity only revealed in 2008. Only one of the books he wrote as Andrew Forrester, Jun., has been reprinted — The Female Detective, which was one of the early British Library Classic Crime titles, which described its heroine as "the first female detective". Was she? The Bear Alley edition of the book will include a biographical essay on Ware which I believe proves that she wasn't.

There were two earlier Forrester titles, Revelations of a Private Detective and The Secret Service, which will be published in the same format at the same time. If you're reading this on Friday, I'll hopefully be uploading the texts and covers so that I can get proof copies of the three books printed. And they should be available in a few weeks.

After that I'm back onto the comics. There is another little project I want to finish involving some wartime comics, after which I'm going to be working on the magazine. Now that I've had a little time off from it, I can see some faults, so I'm having a rethink about my approach to it. The end results will be better than my original plan, so the delay is for the good.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Commando 5439-5442

Brand new Commando issues are out today. Featuring tenacious tank destroyers, nail-biting navigation through enemy-infested jungle, favourable flak crews, and familial failings — don’t forget to pick up your set!

5439: Thor’s Hammers

Captain Grant Thor has seen his team through the disaster at Kasserine Pass and onto success on the beachhead at Anzio — but as the terrain changes and he finds himself pinned down in a tiny Italian village, the stalwart hero crumbles in the wake of the Nazi Panthers lying in wait.

Imprisoned and replaced by a man with more ego than sense, only Lieutenant Rick Kelly sees that Thor can help them hammer through to victory in their new M18 Hellcats — that is, if he can convince the Colonel to give Thor a second chance!

With gritty heroes aplenty from Brent Towns, the interior and cover art give credence to the smoky tank battles and grim fates that often became of their wielders.

Story | Brent Towns
Art | Muller and Klacik
Cover | Neil Roberts

5440: The Long Trek

His name was Mike Stone. He was a British Army sergeant who’d been stranded in the jungle with four British prisoners — deserters and troublemakers on their way to a military prison in Rangoon.

Normally it would have been just a routine job — but this time their route ran through Japanese territory. And Mike knew that not one of the prisoners was likely to lift a hand to help if the going got rough…

A classic Golden Era issues, with unlikely alliances and very complex characters. This issue will make you question your own morals when faced with the horrors of the war in the east.

Story | Evison
Art | V Fuente
Cover | Penalva
Originally Commando No. 407 (1969).

5441: Flak Crew

For the crew of an 88mm Flak gun on the Eastern Front, life was tough. Not only did they have blistering‑cold Russian winters to contend with — but also wet and muddy autumns, meagre supplies, thin watery soups, deadly Jabos attacks, brutish enemy tanks, along with the endless waves of determined Soviet soldiers. 

What started as a push into the Red Army’s homeland, soon became a retreat back into the Fatherland, losing friends and crew members along the way. For driver turned ammunition carrier Jurgen Stark, all he could do was try to survive his time in the Flak crew.

Another tour-de-force cover from Graeme Neil Reid as he and Jaume Forns bring Ferg Handey’s deep tale to life of Axis soldiers who risk everything questioning the regime they have been made part of.

Story | Ferg Handley
Art | Jaume Forns
Cover | Graeme Neil Reid

5438: Heroes are Human

When the German war machine rolled into France, it was the first taste of action for many British troops. Most fought bravely, but some wanted to turn and run, scared by the onslaught of bullets and bombs.

Such a man was Second Lieutenant Hugh Standerline. He had two fears — the fear of battle and the fear that he could not live up to the heroic exploits of his father. Little did he know that things are not always what they seem…

A time old tale of expectations and reality as CG Walker’s heroes learn that war is not the playing board they thought it would be, and as the pieces they must do whatever they can to ensure they don’t lose.

Story | CG Walker
Art | Bevia
Cover | Jeff Bevan
Originally Commando No. 185 (1983).

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 26 May 2021

From the high seas of 1770 to the Western Front in 1916, follow Adam Eterno’s earliest adventures from the pages of Thunder!

The new collection of the tragic, action-filled saga of the eternal man, Adam Eterno, is now available in standard paperback from all good retailers, and as a limited edition hardcover exclusively from the Treasury of British Comics and 2000 AD webshops.

In a cellar beneath Tudor London, Adam watches as his master, the great alchemist Erasmus Hemlock, achieves his life’s goal – creating the ‘Elixir of Life’!

Resentful for his years of slavish devotion, Adam swallows the legendary potion – and with his dying breath Hemlock curses him with immortality! Unless Adam is struck with a solid gold object, he is “doomed to wander through the labyrinths of time…!”.

Created by Chris Lowder (Judge Dredd) and editor Jack LeGrand with artist Tom Kerr, Adam Eterno is one of the legendary characters of mid-20th Century British comics. Written by Tom Tully (Roy of the Rovers), the stories in this collection are beautifully illustrated with black and white art by Solano Lopez (Janus Stark), Colin Page (Billy’s Boots) and Tom Kerr.

Collecting the original stories from Thunder 17 October 1970-13 March 1971 and the Thunder Annual from 1972, 1973 and 1974, this is a unique collection of a unique character from the golden age of British comics!

2000 AD Prog 2233
Cover: Neil Googe / Gary Caldwell (col)

Cadet Dredd: Lawbreaker by Liam Johnson (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Future Shocks: Space Expectations by Colin Harvey (w) Tom Newell (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Anderson, Psi-division: Deep Burn by Cavan Scott (w) Paul Davidson (a) Matt Soffe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Pandora Perfect: Night Of The Guffwarbler by Roger Langridge (w) Brett Parson (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Department K: Stranded by Rory Mcconville (w) PJ Holden (a) Len O’Grady (c) Jim Campbell (l)

Adam Eterno: A Hero For All Time by Tom Tully, Tom Kerr, Colin Page, Francisco Solano Lopez, Eric Dadswell, Rex Archer, Ted Kearon and Eric Bradbury
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108869-2, 27 May 2021, 128pp, £12.99. Available via Amazon.

From the high seas of 1770 to the Western Front in 1916, follow Adam Eterno’s earliest adventures from the pages of Thunder. 1580, London – Adam Eterno was working as an assistant to the great alchemist Erasmus Hemlock who had just achieved his life’s goal – creating the ‘Elixir of Life’! Adam swallowed the potion, defying his masters orders. With his last breath, Erasmus placed a curse upon Adam, wishing him immortality. Unless Adam is struck over the head with a solid gold object, he is, “doomed to wander through the labyrinths of time…!”

Monday, May 24, 2021

A Life With Comics by G. M. Wilson

Alan Clark is one of the few writers who continues to tackle the subject of British comics prior to the Second World War. His previous books on Edwardian comics and (chiefly) pre-War artists and editors have been welcome additions to reference shelves in recent years, and now he has published a third which fits in very nicely alongside them. Keeping his output diverse, his latest title is the memoir of G. M. Wilson—Gertrude Mary Wilson, the wife of comic artist Roy Wilson.

Compact, at 153 double-spaced pages it is not as dense as an autobiography tends to be. Rather, it is written in an entertaining and breezy manner, detailed enough for the avid comics’ fan who wants to know more about the era covered, beginning with husband Roy’s work in the 1920s and covering her own parallel career writing comic serials, and later novels and radio plays, from 1932.

Wilson paints a detailed picture of the life she shared with her husband. Roy Wilson began his career in Norwich as an assistant to Don Newhouse, who was already established as a busy artist with Amalgamated Press. Before long, Wilson began to outshine his master and was drawing not only backgrounds, but the main characters, while Newhouse continued to letter the pages. Norwich, at that time, was home to a number of artists, and Wilson was soon invited to submit his own sets to supplement his income working with Newhouse.

This was necessary as he was married in 1924 and he was soon drawing the likes of ‘Pitch and Toss’ and ‘Basil and Bert’ against a background of house hunting and other family commitments.  Overworked and overstressed, Wilson came near to having a breakdown in 1931. His wife, at the suggestion of editor Len Stroud, tried her had at a detective tale and, before long, she was writing complete stories and serials for the same papers her husband was contributing to.

Her memoir mixes family exploits, from fun holidays to the worry of their daughter’s operation for a congenital dislocation of the hip. There are many more worries to face, especially during the War when Wilson, whose work ethic meant long nights making sure every set, every cover and every frontispiece met his high expectations, was drafted into the Home Guard, and together, from their house in Surrey, they could watch doodle bugs passing overhead.

Charting their friendship with artists and editors, and the passing of an era when the War devastated the publishing of comics, A Life With Comics is a fascinating look at those lost times by someone who was intimately involved in them. It is also a warm, welcoming invitation into the Wilson household, where Roy would be busily drawing on the dining room table while his wife tapped out the latest adventure of ‘Roy Keen’ or ‘Tilly of the Tuck Shop’ nearby.

Privately published, it can be purchased via Ebay:

A Life With Comics… A Personal Memoir by G. M. Wilson
Alan Clark, April 2021, 154pp (A5), £12.00.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Comic Cuts - 21 May 2021

As some of you will have seen, Saturday's Lawless appearance continued my war with technology — the only difference to my day-to-day life was that this was being broadcast to the nation via livestream on YouTube!

With the country still in lockdown to one degree or another, a live convention has been impossible for over a year. The Lawless Comic Convention has been running in Bristol for seven or so years maybe, originally known as Lawgiver when it debuted back in 2014, but this year was held online, with a number of pre-recorded interviews appearing on Friday/Saturday and a day of live broadcasts on Saturday.

I spent Friday morning making sure that a new set of headphones was working properly. They had a built-in microphone and that, too, worked. Unfortunately, I realised there was an annoying underlying buzz that I couldn't get rid of. So on Saturday morning I rearranged everything, using another microphone and taking the headphone mic out of the loop. I also played around with the lighting, arranged some books behind me and beside me, should I need to reference anything, and had the whole thing set up how I wanted it by ten o'clock.

We signed in to Zoom at 11:50, ten minutes ahead of the broadcast, and I hit a snag immediately. I could hear other people talking, but the screen only showed one person at a time, and would freeze after a few seconds. As we went live, I still hadn't resolved the issue and, as anyone who tuned in could see, my image on the livestream was mysteriously split in two. While I was playing around with the settings, I could listen in to some of the conversation, but after five or six minutes, I realised that this was all I could do.

The solution was to decamp to one of Mel's computers upstairs, which we've used regularly for playing boardgames online with friends. It isn't perfect, but at least it had been tried and tested and I knew it would work. On the livesteam video, I disappeared at the 2hr 8m 28s mark, and spent the next two minutes shutting down, unplugging lights and recovering the camera. I then reappeared at 2hr 14m 35s, in time to answer a question about creators of colour, which led to the panel discussing the work of Maori artist Peter Ford.

Once I was able to participate, I settled in fairly quickly and we had quite a freewheeling discussion, chiefly centred around David Roach's Masters of British Comic Art book — always worth discussing, of course. Everyone was able to pull out their copies of the book except me, as mine was downstairs. If I'd had  time (and hadn't been in a bit of a panic), I would have brought some of my Bear Alley Books upstairs.

We crashed through the 1 1/2 hour barrier and were still going strong until we had to make way for the next panel. Hopefully we will get another chance to do a similar thing again in the future. Or maybe do something pre-recorded. I now have a slightly better set-up than I was operating with when I did a few lockdown videos last year, so it might be worth experimenting with and seeing what's possible.

What I haven't solved is why my computer fell apart the moment we went live. All I can think of is that my computer is ancient and the video card probably wasn't designed to cope with Zoom. Unfortunately, I don't have the money to replace the computer or even to get a new laptop. My laptop is even older than my computer! I think the laptop dates from about 2003 and nowadays I only use it to play films on as it has a large screen. I do have a tablet, but that was what I used to film my previous videos on, and was only a cheap little thing I bought because I wanted it for reading and playing a bit of music when I was working out of the office.

Talking of reading, I have been wearing my new glasses for a week and a half now and my eyes quickly settled in. My eyesight isn't brilliant (I've worn glasses all my life) but I'm no longer getting eyestrain at the end of the day. I'm still taking quite a long break mid-day, but I usually make up my time later in the evening or at night.

And more good news to end on. I got my second jab on Tuesday and am now fizzing with antibodies. Unlike the first jab, I haven't had any flu-like symptoms. Just a slight ache in the arm, not even as bad as last time. Give it a week or two and I'll be rampaging around the charity shops of Colchester once again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 19 May 2021

The 2000 AD Thrill-Cast Lockdown Tapes has been appearing regularly since March 2020, and there area now over sixty episodes for you to enjoy. The award-winning podcast, beamed direct from the Nerve Centre of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic appears every fortnight, publicity droid Molch-R bringing you the lowdown on the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, interviewing some of the world’s greatest comics creators, welcoming special guests, giving you exclusive announcements and the chance to win zarjaz prizes – plus so much more!

You can find the Thrill-Cast at all your regular podcast outlets and at the 2000 AD website.

2000 AD Prog 2232
Cover: Simon Davis.

Judge Dredd: Easy Money by Michael Carroll (w) Simon Fraser (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Thistlebone: Poisoned Roots by TC Eglington (w) Simon Davies (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Tharg's 3rillers: Intestinauts - Symbiotic Love Triangle by Arthur Wyatt (w) Pye Parr (a+l)
Terror Tales: Dry Spell by John Tomlinson (w) Steven Austin (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Feral & Foe II by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 432
Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (cols).

Judge Dredd: Don't Drokk With Bob by Kenneth Niemand (w) Ian Richardson (a) Jim Boswell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Returners by Si Spencer (w) Nicolo Assirelli (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Devlin Waugh: The Reckoning by Aleš Kot (w) Mike Dowling Simon Bowland (l)
Diamond Dogs II by James Peaty (w) Warren Pleece (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Deliverance by David Hine (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Features: Interview: Cavan Scott, History of Valiant
Bagged collection: 2000 AD Encyclopedia

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Comic Cuts — 14 May 2021

I feel like it has been a long time coming, but we've had a good week here at Bear Alley Towers. Niggling problems can grind down even the most upbeat of people and the ongoing saga of my new glasses was starting to drag on. Well, dear reader, they finally arrived and, on Tuesday, I headed into town, over a month after phoning for an eye test and three weeks after paying for them, for a fitting of the new spectacles.

Very much like the old spectacles but with stronger lenses—or should that be thicker? It's the depth of the meniscus, or the radii of the curves of the lens that focus the light. They're "stronger" in the sense that they make reading easier. It will take a couple of days for my eyes to settle into the new norm, but hopefully the eyestrain and headaches will become a thing of the past. I'll still take precautions—short breaks every once in a while, a longer break at lunch time (I'm a big fan of siestas!) and no more working into the wee hours of the morning if I can avoid it.

I used the "buy one, get one free" offer (just buy one half price wasn't an option!) to get a pair of prescription sunglasses and, lo and behold, we had the most glorious two days on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I was actually able to wear them on our walks; Mel, too, has some new shades so we're feeling like the coolest couple in town. Winter togs are heading for the cupboard, I've got my shorts out and washed and ready to wear. Of course, it has been showers on and off all day today!

On Tuesday I checked in with the local surgery and was able to book my second vaccination jab for next week. So, by the end of the month I'll be fizzing with antibodies and might even be able to share a seat on a bus with someone.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's Lawless convention, a.k.a. The Bunker, where me, David Roach, Paul Gravett, John Freeman and host Tony Foster will be talking about the history of British comics. We will be going live at midday and will be on your screens for 90 minutes or so. The Zoom-style panel will be broadcast live on YouTube, so you will be able to watch live, and there might be a chatroom function that will allow you to ask questions — I'm not absolutely sure about the set up as we will be doing our tech check at 11:50 am, ten minutes before we go live.

I have no idea whether my camera, headphones or microphone will work as it is all brand new to me. I spent an hour on Thursday morning trying to get the microphone to work. Well, not to work, exactly, but the volume output was so low it was almost impossible to hear. I tried recording myself and had to whack the speakers up on full to hear myself at a whisper even tho' I had been talking at normal volume. After watching a bunch of YouTube videos that were meant to help, but didn't, I stumbled onto the solution via a Google search of Microsoft's own website.

Then the alterations I'd made caused my speakers to stop working, and I could only hear through the headphones. So I turned everything off and on again, and that seemed to fix things. By lunchtime I was fairly confident that everything was working OK.

But, just in case, keep your fingers crossed that I don't blow everyone's eardrums out!

Just to keep me down to Earth about this sudden rush of fame, the folk at Lawless managed to spell my name wrong on the website and found the worst photo of me to put on their poster — taken by my old Aceville pal Sue Cook in Castle House nearly thirty years ago. Look at how learned and smart everyone else on the poster looks... then look at me gurning for the camera.

Hopefully not a foretaste of how things will go tomorrow. See you in cyberspace!

Commando 5435-5438

Commando issues 5435-5438 are out today! With two issues commemorating 80 years since the Battle of Crete, using ANZAC, British and local Resistance perspectives, as well as Catalina bombers defending downed airmen, and a very suspect situation in Operation Husky…

5435: A Soldier’s Honour

Many of those who fought on the shores of Greece were evacuated to Crete when the mainland fell to the Nazis. It was a bitter loss and one that would be echoed on the island too. And so, it became another race to escape the deadly fallschirmjägers as the Nazis took Crete in their iron grasp. But with escape, you are always leaving someone behind.

Honouring 80 years since the Battle of Crete, Brent Towns’ follow up to #5423 ‘Tassie Devil’ focuses on bitter corporal Ted Olsen, who’s just as stubborn as the Tasmanian sergeant before him. Will they all make it out of Crete or is something else more important?

Story | Brent Towns
Art | Morhain & DeFeo
Cover | Ian Kennedy

5436: Death Patrol

The night sky over the central Mediterranean erupted into flaming death. The Allied invasion of Sicily, codename “Operation Husky”, had begun. But for Lieutenant Bob Hanson and Brigadier Mullen, the airborne attack was to pose a terrifying problem. They didn’t know it yet, but soon they were to meet up with the death patrol!

Allan’s high-tension tale twists through Cortes’s detailed depictions of the Sicilian countryside, which is anything but serene when you cannot trust the men around you but need them to survive!

Story | Allan
Art | Cortes
Cover | Lopez Espi
Originally Commando No. 404 (1969).

5437: The Amazons of Crete

Inspired by the Amazon legends her grandmother tells her, when the Germans come to claim her island, Cretan Demi Karas is ready for the fight. She is strong, she is brave, and her aim is true, ready to send an arrow into the heart of any Nazi!

Ferg Handley’s story offers a refreshing perspective on the action in Crete and Carlos Pino’s stunning interior and cover art is as fluid and expressive as always.

Story | Ferg Handley
Art | Carlos Pino
Cover | Carlos Pino

5438: Hunters of the Night

After the flak and searchlights of Nazi-occupied Europe, the North Sea was the one remaining obstacle for the returning crews of bomber command — and a grim obstacle at that. They seldom relaxed until they sighted the English coast, for they knew that there was little hope of survival if they ditched into the icy water… Their only solace was that RAF Coastal Command’s flying Catalinas were ready to defend and rescue any ally in those deadly waters.  

Millar’s stunning cover teases the grey-painted wing of the  Catalina, like the fin of a shark — a sight that struck fear in the heart of any prowling Nazi vessel as the aircraft swooped out of the night sky to rain destruction!

Story | RA Montague
Art | Carmona
Cover | Millar
Originally Commando No. 1679 (1983).

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 12 May 2021

Written by by Alex De Campi (Madi) and drawn by Eduardo Ocaña (Messiah Complex), Full Tilt Boogie is a brand new all-ages series from the powerhouse of British comics, 2000 AD!

A planet-conquering, prince-rescuing, and ramen-eating new space opera, described by The Hollywood Reporter as “Saga meets The Last Airbender”. 

Tee, along with her grandmother and cat, is a wannabe bounty hunter, odd-jobbing across the galaxy in her ship the Full Tilt Boogie, constantly on the lookout for the bigger, better payday. Some days, though, it’s less bounty-hunting and more baby-sitting, especially when they rescue the narcissistic Prince Ifan from Debtor’s Prison. Accidentally sparking an intergalactic war, suddenly Tee finds herself chased across the universe by sacred knights and unstoppable undead warriors. Planet conquering, prince rescuing, and ramen eating – it’s all in a day’s work for the crew of the Full Tilt Boogie!

As well as the paperback edition (listed below), there is a limited edition hardcover available from the 2000 AD Web Shop, priced £19.99. Here's the link.

2000 AD Prog 2231
Cover: Cliff Robertson / Dylan Teague (cols).

Judge Dredd: Easy Money by Michael Carroll (w) Simon Fraser (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Thistlebone: Poisoned Roots by TC Eglington (w) Simon Davies (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Tharg's 3rillers: Intestinauts - Symbiotic Love Triangle by Arthur Wyatt (w) Pye Parr (a+l)
Future Shocks: Goodbye to Zane by John Tomlinson (w) Anna Morozova (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Feral & Foe II by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Full Tilt Boogie by Alex De Campi & Eduardo Ocaña.
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108907-1, 13 May 2021, 64pp, £9.99. Available via Amazon.

Pedal to the metal! Tee, along with her grandmother and cat, is a wannabe bounty hunter, odd-jobbing across the galaxy in her ship the Full Tilt Boogie, constantly on the lookout for the bigger, better payday. Some days, though, it’s less bounty-hunting and more baby-sitting, especially when they rescue the narcissistic Prince Ifan from Debtor’s Prison. Accidentally sparking an intergalactic war, suddenly Tee finds herself chased across the universe by sacred knights and unstoppable undead warriors. Planet conquering, prince rescuing, and ramen eating – it’s all in a day’s work for the crew of the Full Tilt Boogie!

Devlin Waugh: Blood Debt by Rory McConville, Aleš Kot & Mike Dowling.
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108767-1, 13 May 2021, 176pp, £16.99. Available via Amazon.

Vatican exorcist, freelance paranormal investigator and altogether dashing rogue, Devlin Waugh is in the business of getting up close and extremely personal with the occult! This time he'll have to rescue his debtor brother Freddy from a casino suspended over an unending interdimensional void, save Brit-Cit from a plague of mutagenic nightmare spores, and befriend a possessed demonic dildo, all while negotiating boyfriends ex- and current...

Friday, May 07, 2021

Comic Cuts — 7 May 2021

Not that this is going to have any impact on their sales, but Specsavers really are crap. It has now been 18 days since my eye test and there's still no news on when I will be getting my new glasses through — paid for in full up front, let's not forget.

My eye strain is getting worse, some days developing into headaches. As a life-long wearer of glasses, I've always taken a break mid-day to give my eyes a rest from computer screens, but Monday was almost entirely lost after I dozed off at about 1:30 in the afternoon, after lunch, and didn't wake up until 6:30 in the evening. I'm a firm believer in letting your body tell you what it needs, and I must have needed sleep, although I don't remember having a rough night. I think it must have been the eye strain.

My sight for mid and distant objects hasn't changed much, so I'm still enjoying our walks and I can watch TV without any problems; but I have been dragging my heels about work for over a month... not just the time I have been waiting since my eye test appointment but the two weeks wait I had after booking it. Mind you, I began noticing the strain months ago, and should have done something about it in January rather than waiting until I'd had my first dose of the vaccine.

Hopefully there will be happier news by next week.

Talking of which, on Saturday week — the 15th of May — I will be on a panel as part of this year's Lawless comic convention, streaming live on Youtube. I'm part of the History of British Comics panel alongside David Roach, Paul Gravett and John Freeman, with Tony Foster of ComicScene fame and the recently launched History of Comics series as host.

You will be able to watch Lawless: The Bunker on Youtube and Twitch; there will be supporting podcasts. There isn't a schedule yet (I'm writing this Thursday evening), but you can find the full guest list here. To give you a taste... guests will include John Wagner, Pat Mills, Ian Kennedy, Mike Collins, Glen Fabry, Greg Staples, Ian Gibson, Steve MacManus and Simon Furman.

I think this will be the first virtual British comic convention of the year, but I'm guessing it won't be the last. There have been a few in the US (including the San Diego Comic Con) where pre-recorded panels have been streamed. It will be interesting to see if this works. It'll be just as interesting to see if my set-up works, as I'm hoping to broadcast from my office so that I have access to my own computer and files, should anyone want to ask any tricky questions.

If you have any, we should be on for 90 minutes from mid-day.

I'll try to include various links next week.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 5 May 2021

Tummy trouble? Bowel bother? Alimentary anxiety? You need The Intestinauts… micro-bots designed to get right to the bottom of the problem… before heading out the bottom of the problem.
And in 2000 AD Prog 2230, the micro-bots made for all your medical maladies return in the new series Intestinauts: Symbiotic Love Triangle, by gross-out merchants extraordinaire, Arthur Wyatt and Pye Parr.
    Carefully wiping down all surfaces and keeping a good social distance, because the last thing anyone wanted was to need to get the Intestinauts exploring us internally… we chatted to Arthur and Pye…

Arthur, Pye, we’re getting a new Intestinauts in Prog 2230. Is it another Tharg’s 3Riller or a longer series this time around?

AW: Symbiotic Love Triangle is a 3Riller, so three parts. I’m hoping the next one we do may go bigger – all the way up to six! There’s a couple of one part thrills I’ll pitch some time as well, maybe we’ll get to do a one-pager again just to keep people on their toes. Intestinauts can be effective at any scale!

For those who didn’t have the pleasure of these heroic micro-bots fighting intestinal injury, digestive distress, and alimentary ailments, can you give us an idea of both what’s gone before and what to expect here in the new series?

AW: We all love spaceports, and their boundless opportunities for unfettered commerce and exciting new culinary opportunities, but what about when exotic cuisine and/or alien gastric parasites cause intestinal distress? That’s when Intestolab Biotech’s Intesinauts come in…

(For more from this interview, visit the 2000AD website.)

2000 AD Prog 2230
Cover: Pye Parr.

Judge Dredd: The Penitent Man by Kenneth Niemand (w) Tom Foster (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Thistlebone: Poisoned Roots by TC Eglington (w) Simon Davies (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Visions of Deadworld: Transpolar by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Tharg's 3rillers: Intestinauts - Symbiotic Love Triangle by Arthur Wyatt (w) Pye Parr (a+l)
Feral & Foe II by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Time Flies
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108987-3, 5 May 2021, 118pp, £7.99. [DIGITAL ONLY]

In the midst of an air raid over Nazi Germany in World War II, Squadron Leader Bertie Sharp is given a new mission by time travelling agent Trace Bullet; to locate Hermann Goring, who has been kidnapped by time pirates, and take him back to 1945 before millions die in the resulting time disruption. As Bertie and Trace set off in their time travelling JCB, their interdimensional adventures take them to heaven, hell, and beyond… Collected digitally for the first time, Time Flies is an outrageous time travelling comedy from comics superstar writer Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys), with art by Philip Bond (Tank Girl), Jon Beeston (Judge Dredd Megazine) and Roger Langridge (Snarked!).

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Golden Age Masterworks

The Golden Age Masterworks series was launched in January 2019, with a programme of titles that ran through to June, since when only a couple of new titles have appeared. Whether this is a sign of low sales or the influence of the pandemic reducing the number of releases in 2020-21 I don't know. Hopefully there will be more.

Doomsday Morning by C. L. Moore
ISBN 978-147322326-4, 10 January 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
Comus, the communications network/police force, has spread its web of power all across an America paralyzed by the after-effects of limited nuclear war. But in California, resistance is building against the dictatorship of Comus and Andrew Raleigh, president for life. For now Raleigh is dying and the powers of Comus are fading. It's the perfect time for the Californian revolutionaries to activate the secret weapon that alone can destroy America's totalitarian system and re-establish democracy.
    Yet Comus too has powers at its disposal, chief among them Howard Rohan. A washed-up actor until Comus offers him a second chance, Rohan will head a troupe of players touring in the heart of rebel territory.
    Howard Rohan, double agent, caught between the orders of Comus and rebels demands. Which side will he choose? Who will he play false - himself, or the entire country?

Galactic Patrol by E. E. 'Doc' Smith
ISBN 978-147322470-4, 10 January 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
The space-pirates of Boskone raided at will, menacing the whole structure of interstellar civilization. Master-minded by a super-scientist, their conquering fleets outgunned even the mighty space cruisers of the Galactic Patrol.
    When Lensman Kim Kinnison of the Patrol discovered the secret Boskonian base, it was invulnerable to outside attack. But where a battle-fleet would meet insuperable resistance, a single infiltrator might penetrate the Boskonian defenses - if he had the guts to take on million-to-one odds. Kinnison had guts enough to take on the odds - even with the future of the civilized Universe riding on his shoulders . . .
    Galactic Patrol is the first self-contained novel in E. E. 'Doc' Smith's epic Lensman series, one of the all-time classics of adventurous, galaxy-spanning science fiction.

Fury by Henry Kuttner
ISBN 978-147322255-7, 10 January 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
The Earth is long dead, blasted apart, and the human survivors who settled on Venus live in huge citadels beneath the Venusian seas in an atrophying, class-ridden society ruled by the Immortals - genetic mutations who live a thousand years or more. Sam Reed was born an immortal, born to rule those with a normal life-span, but his deranged father had him mutilated as a baby so that he wouldn't know of his heritage. And Sam grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and the law, thinking of the Immortals as his enemies. Then he reached the age of eighty, understood what had happened to him and went looking for revenge - and changed his decaying world forever.
    Fury is a powerful, dark and compelling novel that explores the sensual, bloody and urgent nature of humankind's striving.

The Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clarke
ISBN 978-147322236-6, 10 January 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
It is the twenty-first century. On Mars a dedicated group of pioneers - among them some of Earth's finest brains - struggle to change the face of the planet . . .
    Science fiction writer Martin Gibson finally gets a chance to visit the research colony on the Red Planet. It's a dream come true - until he discovers the difficulties and perils of survival on another world . . . and the very real terror it holds

Earthlight by Arthur C. Clarke
ISBN 978-147322237-3, 7 February 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
The time: 200 years after man's first landing on the Moon. There are permanent populations established on the Moon, Venus and Mars. Outer space inhabitants have formed a new political entity, the Federation, and between the Federation and Earth a growing rivalry has developed. EARTHLIGHT is the story of this emerging conflict.
    Two centuries from now there may be men who do not owe allegiance to any nation on Earth, or even to Earth itself. This brilliant story tells of a time when man stands upon the moon and the planets, tells of men now divided by the vast stretches of the Solar System but once again torn by jealousy and fear. With vaulting imagination Arthur C. Clarke describes life on the strange, awe-inspiring surface of the moon, scene of a most fantastic and exciting contest of arms.

Grey Lensman by E. E. 'Doc' Smith
ISBN 978-147322471-1, 7 February 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
Somewhere among the galaxies is the stronghold of Boskone - a network of brilliant space-criminals whose hunger for conquest threatens the continued existence of all known civilisation.
    But where is this stronghold? Boskonian bases are scattered across the universe - hidden by gigantic thought-screens that defy penetration. The best minds in the Galactic Patrol have tried. And failed. Now it is up to Lensman Kim Kinnison, using his fantastic powers, to infiltrate the Boskonian strongholds, find the location of the enemy's Grand Base - and smash it forever.
    But Kinnison doesn't know that the power of Boskone reaches further than anyone dreamed - into the Galactic Patrol itself . . .
    Grey Lensman is the fourth self-contained novel in E. E. 'Doc' Smith's Lensman series, one of the all-time classics of adventurous, galaxy-spanning science fiction.

Second Stage Lensman by E. E. 'Doc' Smith
ISBN 978-147322472-8, 7 March 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
Kim Kinnison, Number One man of his time, had faced challenges before - but rarely one as daunting as this. To him fell the perilous task of infiltrating the inner circle of Boskone, stronghold of galactic civilization's most deadly foe. Kinnison had to become a loyal Boskonian in every gesture, deed and thought. He had to work his way up through the ranks of an alien enemy organization, right into the highest echelons of power. Then it would be he who issued the orders - orders that would destroy his own civilization . . .
    Second Stage Lensmen is the fifth self-contained novel in E. E. 'Doc' Smith's epic Lensman series, one of the all-time classics of adventurous, galaxy-spanning science fiction.

Northwest of Earth by C. L. Moore
ISBN 978-147322254-0, 7 March 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
Among the best-written and most emotionally complex stories of the Pulp Era, the tales of intergalactic bootlegger Northwest Smith still resonate strongly more than 75 years after their first publication.
    From the crumbling temples of forgotten gods on Venus to the seedy pleasure halls of old Mars, the thirteen stories in Northwest of Earth blaze a trail through the underbelly of the solar system. The quick-drawing smuggler of the spaceways who would become the model for countless science fiction heroes, Northwest Smith is SF's original outlaw.

Jirel of Joiry by C. L. Moore
ISBN 978-147322252-6, 4 April 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
These are the classic tales of blood and honor that catapulted C.L. Moore into the legendary ranks of such acclaimed writers as Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs in the golden age of sword and sorcery. First published in the magazine Weird Tales in the 1930s, Moore's fantastic medieval adventures are heightened by a savage, romantic vision that helped define the genre, earning her recognition as a Grand Master for lifetime achievement by the World Fantasy Convention.

Children of the Lens by E. E. 'Doc' Smith
ISBN 978-147322473-5, 4 April 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
It was beginning to look as though no one could prevent the annihilation of the civilized Universe. For a weird intelligence was directing the destruction of all civilization from the icy depths of outer space.
    Kim Kinnison of the Galactic Patrol was one of the few men who knew how near the end was. And in the last desperate stratagem to save the Universe from total destruction, he knew he had to use his children as bait for the evil powers of the hell-planet Ploor . . .
    Children of the Lens is the sixth self-contained novel in E. E. 'Doc' Smith's epic Lensman series, one of the all-time classics of adventurous, galaxy-spanning science fiction.

Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke
ISBN 978-147322234-2, 2 May 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
In the year ten billion A.D., Diaspar is the last city on Earth. Agelss and unchanging, the inhabitants see no reason to be curious about the outside world. But one child, Alvin - only seventeen and the last person to be born in Diaspar - finds that he is increasingly drawn to what lies outside the city walls. Even though he knows the Invaders, who devastated the world, may still be out there...
    Later rewritten, expanded and republished as The City and the Stars, this early novella by one of the greats of science fiction remains a powerful and evocative depiction of the future of humanity...

Judgment Night by C. L. Moore
ISBN 978-147322253-3, 13 June 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
Released in 1952, Judgment Night collects five Moore novellas from the pages of editor John W. Campbell, Jr.'s Astounding Science Fiction magazine:
    "Judgment Night'' (first published in August and September, 1943) balances a lush rendering of a future galactic empire with a sober meditation on the nature of power and its inevitable loss;
    ''The Code'' (July, 1945) pays homage to the classic Faust with modern theories and Lovecraftian dread;
    ''Promised Land'' (February, 1950) and ''Heir Apparent'' (July, 1950) both document the grim twisting that mankind must undergo in order to spread into the solar system;
    ''Paradise Street'' (September, 1950) shows a futuristic take on the old western conflict between lone hunter and wilderness-taming settlers.
    Chosen by the author herself as the best of her longer-form writing, these stories show a gifted wordsmith working at the height of her talents.

The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
ISBN 978-147322768-2, 19 September 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
In the vastness of space, the crimes just get bigger and Slippery Jim diGriz, the Stainless Steel Rat, is the biggest criminal of them all. He can con humans, aliens and any number of robots time after time. Jim is so slippery that all the inter-galactic cops can do is make him one of their own.

The Deathworld Omnibus by Harry Harrison
ISBN 978-147322837-5, 14 November 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
The planet was called Pyrrus, a strange place where all the beasts, plants and natural elements were designed for one specific purpose: to destroy man.
     The settlers there were supermen, twice as strong as ordinary men and with milli-second reflexes. They had to be. For their business was murder.
     It was up to Jason dinAlt, interplanetary gambler, to discover why Pyrrus had become so hostile during man's brief habitation.
    This omnibus contains all three novels in the Deathworld trilogy!

Sidewise in Time by Murray Leinster
ISBN 978-147322739-2, 3 September 2020, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
Ten selected short stories from the master of pulp, Murray Leinster - pen name of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, who's prolific career spanned the first six decades of the 20th Century. The Golden Age Masterwork of Sidewise in Time includes the Hugo Award-winning novella "Exploration Team".
    Full contents include: Sidewise in Time; The Runaway Skyscraper; The Mad Planet; Politics; Proxima Centauri; First Contact; A Logic Names Joe; De Profundis; If You Was a Moklin; Exploration Team.


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