Thursday, September 30, 2021

Commando 5475-5478

Brand new Commando issues are out today! And above we have a fantastic cover by Ian Kennedy, who celebrated his birthday a few days ago. Happy Birthday, Ian! He is still turning out new covers (see 'The Tygrys' below) and is the star of a short (25mins) film made by Phillip Vaughan that can be found on YouTube.

5475: The Tygrys

Colin Maxwell lends his pen to Commando with a tale of the daring escape of a Polish Sub and its crew! During the Nazi invasion of Poland, the ORP Tygrys was told to stay put while the other more modern submarines were sent out to defend Poland. This didn’t sit well with the Tygrys, and it set out to stalk its prey!

This excellent Commando is brought to life with interiors from duo Morhain and Defeo, and topped off with another classic cover by Ian Kennedy!

Story | Colin Maxwell
Art | Morhain & Defeo
Cover | Ian Kennedy

5476: Lair of the Leopards

Squadron Leader Roddy Duffield had an axe to grind. A nasty group of Nazi called the Black Leopards had killed his mate, levelled their airfield and Roddy was out for revenge — whatever the cost! Well, Roddy paid the price for his bloodthirst when he was accused of cracking up and reassigned to a photo-recce outfit. Now how was Roddy supposed to get even if he could only shoot photos and not bullets?!

There’s never a dull moment with this 1960s Commando masterfully crafted by RA Montague and marvellously illustrated by Amador and Mackay!

Story | RA Montague
Art | Amador
Cover | Mackay
Originally Commando No. 426 (1969).

5477: Bug Attack

And now for something a little different — GIANT BUGS! In this sci-fi meets war comic penned by veteran writer Ferg Handley, a fracking operation in Colorado goes wrong — very wrong indeed — when gargantuan insects come crawling out of the cracks and wreak havoc by swarming over everything in their path! Only Commandos in mech-suits can hope to exterminate these mega-creepy crawlies and save the planet!

Commando artist Dan Barnfield tackles this off the wall adventure and Neil Roberts doesn’t disappoint with his bug-tastic cover! This Commando is sure to bug you if you miss it!

Story | Ferg Handley
Art |Dan Barnfield
Cover | Neil Roberts

5478: Desert Showdown

The men who went behind the lines to raid Rommel’s communications and supply routes in the desert were a hard bunch of no-nonsense fighters. Lieutenant Julian Eastwood’s mob were no different, except that three of them had dark secrets in their murky pasts. But not one of those three suspected the terrible fate that was waiting out there for them in the wilderness of sand and rock!

A romp straight out of the 1980s from the mind of the master writer, CG Walker, and stunning artwork from Fleming and the legend Ian Kennedy!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Fleming
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1730 (1983).

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 29 September 2021

Watch out parents - Britain’s newest comic is going to create little monsters everywhere!

Rebellion is proud to announce that Monster Fun will launch next year, the UK’s first all-new on-going humour comic for kids in 30 years.

The first issue will debut in April 2022, with new issues every two months - perfectly designed for holiday entertainment, whether it’s Easter, half term, summer, or Halloween!

The 32-page bi-monthly title is not only Rebellion’s first brand new title since it acquired the legendary 2000 AD in 2000, but also the first to be inspired by its archive of classic comics.

Packed with all new stories, the first regular issue of Monster Fun will be available from all good newsagents and comic book stores in April, but readers can subscribe now at and receive brilliant free gifts!

Every issue, young readers will laugh out loud all new adventures from familiar faces such as Sweeny Toddler, Frankie Stein, The Leopard from Lime Street, and Draculass, while new stories like Tokoloshe, Hell's Angel and Scare Salon will quickly become firm favourites thanks to breakout talents like Juni Ba (Monkey Meat), Robin Etherington (one half of the Etherington Brothers (How to Think When You Draw, the world's most successful crowd-funded art and writing tutorial series), Matt Baxter (The Phoenix), and kids' comics legends like Tom Paterson (The Beano).

And it all kicks off this Halloween, with the 48-page Monster Fun Halloween Spooktacular Special issue! Out on 6 October from newsagents, comic book stores and, Britain’s kookiest anthology returns from the great beyond with plenty of brand new, HELL-arious comic strips that will have you howling with laughter, including Gums, Hire A Horror, Kid Kong, Teddy Scare, Wiz War and a diabolical host of new frights!

Jason Kingsley OBE, CEO of Rebellion, said: ‘They said British comics were dead - but Monster Fun is returning from the beyond to take over! I’m immensely pleased that we are launching the first new kids’ humour comic to hit newsstands for decades. There’s a huge market for all-ages titles out there and I’m proud that Monster Fun continues our commitment to bringing quality comic books back to life.’

Ben Smith, head of book, comic books, film and TV at Rebellion, said: ‘Monster Fun is a legendary and much-loved title from the golden age of British comics, that we’ve revived and reimagined for today’s kids. The team have put together a fantastic Halloween special to whet everyone's appetites for the launch next year.’

One of hundreds of classic comic properties now owned by Rebellion, Monster Fun was a weekly British comic strip magazine for children aged seven to twelve. Published by IPC Media, it ran for 73 issues in 1975–1976, before merging with sister title Buster.

Out this week...

Slaine: Dragontamer
by Pat Mills (w), Leonard Manco, Chris Weston & Kyle Hotz (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108953-8, 28 September 2021, 96pp, £18.99. Available via Amazon.

The stunning new adventure of Pat Mills and Angie Kincaid's legendary Celtic warrior, Sláine! Originally serialised in 2000AD, this incredible hardcover sees Sláine lead a rebellion against the tyrannical reign of the Emperor Brutus and his Trojan army and features jaw-dropping art by standout talent Leonardo Manco (Hellblazer, Avengers). As Brutus uses dragons to bolster his despotic reign and spread terror across the land, Sláine takes the fight all the way to New Troy - and discovers the secrets that lie in Brutus's dungeons Dragontamer features multiple pages that have been remastered specifically for this collection by Manco, enhancing his storytelling and critically-acclaimed work, and transforming the original serialised story into a career-defining work of art!

2000AD Prog 2251
Cover: Mark Harrison.

Judge Dredd: The Hard Way by Rob Williams, Arthur Wyatt (w) Jake Lynch (a)
Scarlet Traces: Storm Front by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a)
The Out Book II by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a)
The Diaboliks: Arrivederci Roma by Gordon Rennie (w) Antonio Fuso (a)
Pandora Perfect: Mystery Moon by Roger Langridge (w) Brett Parson (a)

Friday, September 24, 2021

Comic Cuts — 24 September 2021

I'm still motoring through the pages of Action looking for interesting elements that some may have previously missed. I'm uncovering one or two as I read the stories, such as an episode featuring a character named after the uncle of the artist, and another that is set in the home town of the artist. I enjoy ferreting out these little details, especially as the story of Action is fairly well known. I'm working on the theory that if I dive deeper than anyone has previously, I'll be able to uncover facts and offer a few theories that will bring something new to the topic and add to the conversation.

Of course, at the very moment when I could do with as few distractions as possible, lots of distractions land on the doormat. It has been an incredible week for a fan of the history of comics with the release of the latest issues of Eagle Times and Vworp Vworp!, plus two books from the busy typewriter of Alan Clark.

I also had a book arrive on inter-library loan which I wanted to read as part of my research for the wartime comics essays I'm writing. The last of these is a problem fairly easily solved: I've scanned the whole book. I'm not condoning this behaviour, but it took a couple of months to arrive, and I could only borrow the book for a limited time. I don't have time to deal with it now, so spending a couple of hours on the scanner while I have been talking to people on the phone seemed the best option. It can now be returned to Croydon (where it came from) and I have access to it when I finally get back to writing about wartime comics. And if it turns out to be as good a book as it looks on first glance, I'll buy a copy for my shelves.

Between that and the other arrivals, plus the research I'm doing for the Action project, I'll be busy reading for the next few weeks. Hopefully I'll be able to slip in a few reviews, too, but I apologise in advance if it takes a while.

I'm keeping this deliberately short so I can get on with reading the next batch of Action strips. I'll end on a couple of photos that I've taken over the past few days. The reflections of clouds on the river on Tuesday was replaced by strands of mist over the river and fields on Wednesday. Lastly, Mel and Mum having lunch from a couple of weeks ago, just because I like the photo.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 22 September 2021

Sci-fi sagas and supernatural thrillers, nannies gone bad and shocking futures - plus the return of a 2000 AD legend - 2000 AD Prog 2250 is ideal for readers new and old!

Want the perfect issue to jump on board with the groundbreaking British sci-fi action weekly comic? Then we have a super-charged blast of cosmic excitement for you!

Out on 22 September from all good newsagents and comic book stores, as well as the 2000 AD webshop and app, 2000 AD Prog 2250 is a 48-page extravaganza engineered to give the perfect opportunity for readers to pick up the 2000 AD habit with a subscription or regular order.

This issue features the start of FIVE new on-going stories and two scintillating one-offs in a pulse-pounding package of Thrill-power!

And it’s crowned with a brand new cover from master artist Mick McMahon, a bold and evocative image of future hardline lawman Judge Dredd! One of 2000 AD’s most iconic artists, McMahon remains one of the master on Dredd, with an ever-evolving style that has produced some of the series’ greatest moments.

This issue kicks off with a brand new Judge Dredd story, 'The Hard Way’, by Rob Williams (Suicide Squad) and Arthur Wyatt (Samizdat Squad) with art by breakout artist Jake Lynch (HAVN), which sees the world's deadliest killers converge on the under-sea city of Atlantis to take out Mega-City One’s head of accounting… but they hadn’t counted on her having a visitor: Judge Dredd.

After her hit debut in 2000 AD’s all-ages 2000 AD Regened issues, Pandora Perfect gets her own series! The Mary-Poppins-gone-bad thief and confidence trickster from Roger Langridge (The Muppets) and Brett Parson (Tank Girl) begins the multi-part story 'Mystery Moon’.

The surprise hit of 2020, The Out by Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Mark Harrison (Durham Red), returns for a new series, with wandering photo-journalist Cyd Finlea still all alone and cut off as she tries to find her way through a dangerous and chaotic universe. This cerebral and emotionally weighty series delighted readers and critics alike when it debuted in June last year.

From its original premise of 'What happened after HG Wells' War of the Worlds?' to a meditation on prejudice and politics - but with huge space battles - Scarlet Traces by Ian Edginton (Hinterkind) and Matt ‘D’Israeli’ Brooker (Lazarus Churchyard) begins its next epic chapter.

Gordon Rennie (Judge Dredd) and Antonio Fuso (WYRD) begin a new series of supernatural thriller series The Diaboliks, their successful spin-off of Rennie and Dom Reardon’s occult team thriller Caballistics Inc. With Ravne dispatched to London to sort out the Diaboliks' new base of operations, the demonic Jenny has final business to sort out in Rome in the Embassy of the Unholy See.

Psychic future cop Judge Cassandra Anderson returns in one-off story 'Be Psi-ing You' by Maura McHugh (Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland) and Lee Carter (Indigo Prime)

And fan favourite artist Chris Weston (The Filth) draws and writes his own one-off Future Shock, ’The Guardian & the Godchild'.

2000AD Prog 2250
Cover: Mick McMahon

Judge Dredd: The Hard Way by Rob Williams, Arthur Wyatt (w) Jake Lynch (a)
Scarlet Traces: Storm Front by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a)
The Out Book II by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a)
The Diaboliks: Arrivederci Roma by Gordon Rennie (w) Antonio Fuso (a)
Pandora Perfect: Mystery Moon by Roger Langridge (w) Brett Parson (a)
Anderson, Psi-Div: Be Psi-ing You by Maura McHugh (w) Lee Carter (a)
Future Shocks: The Guardian & The Godchild by Chris Weston (w+a)

Friday, September 17, 2021

Comic Cuts — 17 September 2021

Finally I've reached the bit of comics' research that I like: reading comics! I've started writing up some of the stories that appeared in Action, some of which I haven't read since they first appeared back in 1976. I dug out my copies — the ones I bought when they appeared in our local newsagents forty-five years ago.

I missed two issues and never got around to filling the gaps; nor was I a big fan of the reboot, so my comics buying pretty much came to an end. I had given up on Valiant in 1975, leaving me with Top Secret Picture Library, which was appearing with two new issues a month, and I started buying Vulcan in September 1975. I was still buying Speed & Power, the kid's transport magazine that was also carrying SF stories until it folded in November; and Top Secret came to an end in February 1976, just as Action was launched. Vulcan merged into Valiant, so I began buying that again in April 1976. I stuck with it for a while, but while I enjoyed 'One-Eyed Jack', I wasn't a big fan of 'Wee Red' or 'Paco', which were the new launches.

I was down to the one comic, Action, when it was pulled from the shelves in October 1976. I picked up some issues of the relaunch, but didn't last long, and it was then a long gap before I started buying Starblazer when that launched in April 1979.

Action was the best comic I had read in years. Battle was something I read some years later but it didn't particularly interest me at the time because I had discovered science fiction and thrillers. Television was showing The Sweeney and movies like Point Blank, Dirty Harry and The French Connection. Even if we couldn't go and see Jaws, we knew about it thanks to reviews and adverts in the papers. As for books, by the age of 11 I was reading crime thrillers by James Hadley Chase (a habit picked up from my Dad, who left his paperbacks laying about) and I wanted my comics to be as tough.

That's what Action provided. Tough thrills. My top three stories were 'Dredger', 'Hook Jaw' and 'The Running Man', although I think 'Death Game 1999' trumped all three when it arrived in May 1976. Maybe I was missing my science fiction fix after Speed & Power folded.

Thankfully there's nothing much else to report. I finally published the three Andrew Forrester Jun. books. I was aiming for the summer, but was somewhat distracted by writing up those old wartime comics and now writing about Action. They're fine examples of the old Victorian casebook collections, all revolving around crime of one kind or another and all early examples of police and criminal procedural work, one book involving female detectives, another about private detectives and the third about the secret service. I've taken one of the essays from the Fifty Forgotten Authors series and reprinted it as an Afterword in all three volumes, which will hopefully tell you all you need to know (and it's certainly everything that I know!) about the real author, J. Redding Ware.

I'm still sorting out the various links that I need between here and Bear Alley Books. You can find out more by following this link. I need to make the links for ordering the books more obvious, but you should be able to find them. Amazon links to follow. Give 'em a try... two of them haven't been in print for over 150 years!

Now... back to reading comics!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Commando 5471-5474

Brand new Commando issues are out today! With two issues spanning the World Wars, from the Siege of Tsingtao, aerial dogfights over Europe, to the sweltering heat of the Burmese jungle, flooded fields of Holland and even the frosty fjords of Norway — this is one globetrotting set of Commandos not to be missed!

5471: Churchill’s Commandos: Alt For Norge!

They’re back! Commandos James McKay and Jack Ambrose were ice‑cold under pressure, almost nothing could crack their cool determination and highly‑trained nerves. But they never expected a frosty reception from none other than the Norwegian Resistance! All is not what it seems, however, as the pair make a discovery that could shatter even the thickest of glaciers. Can they keep their tempers— or will they be put on ice?
    A follow up Commando focusing on the comic’s namesake, this time our heroes are taking on a U-boat base in Heath Ackley’s fraternal romp, with charming art from Khato and a chilling cover from Neil Roberts.

Story | Heath Ackley
Art | Khato
Cover | Neil Roberts

5472: One Man Mission

Corporal Matt Brady was sent out alone. All around him were icy floods and German patrols who would show him no mercy. Yet he was the only man who could save his battalion. He had to get through… Then he found an ally, a strange ally — a German soldier!
    A tight, tense tale from Allan with nothing less than masterful art by Gordon C Livingstone — from the blue and orange contrast of the cover to the inky depths of the interiors, Livingstone proves why he is so beloved with this issue.

Story | Allan
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Gordon C Livingstone
Originally Commando No. 425 (1969).

5473: Divergent Empires

A friendship forged in battle, Corporals Christopher Green and Ryu Fujiwara met through the haze of bullets and smoke as both their nations faced the Germans during the Siege of Tsingtao. Theirs was a kinship that lasted the rest of the war and well into the decades to come. For Green and Fujiwara, Japan and Britain were not so different. That is until the Anglo-Japanese alliance ended and the world was thrown into a another war in which these nations and men found themselves no longer as allies — but enemies!
    Brand-new Commando artist Alberto Saichann brings life to Dominic Teague’s sombre tale of friends forced on opposite sides of war. His detailed spreads and expressionistic art cements him as one to watch out for in Commando’s impressive artist ranks.

Story | Dominic Teague
Art | Alberto Saichann
Cover | Neil Roberts

5474: The Warbirds

A quiet Burmese village, remote from the savages of battles of the First World War… yet on the wall in one of the huts hung a collection of photographs showing the men and machines which had fought in the skies over Europe during that wasteful war. Out of place though they might have seemed, they were also to be a grim prophecy of greater changes which lay in the unsettled future.
    A striking cover by Ian kennedy, the juxtaposition of the yellow on blue Sopwith camel from WWI above the blue-green on yellow of a WWII Hurricane perfectly sets up the reader for the duality versus similarities of war within!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1728 (1983).

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 15 September 2021

The epic horror comic concludes with this third terrifying tome!

The Thirteenth Floor is one of the best remembered series of the 1980s, a cornucopia of chilling comics from the pages of Scream! and Eagle by writers John Wagner (Judge Dredd) and Alan Grant (Batman), and artist Jose Ortiz (Creepy).

In this third and final volume, Max the maniacal computer is back in Maxwell Tower, dishing out his twisted form of retribution on anyone who dares to cross his beloved residents! From a conniving milkman to thuggish street urchins, anyone who enters Max’s territory looking for trouble is going for a one-way trip to the thirteenth floor!

However, Max’s past exploits have not gone unnoticed. The K.G.B. have sent their own super-powered computer called Boris to make Max an offer – help them conquer the world or face obliteration!

Don’t miss the thrilling conclusion to this classic strip, beautifully rendered by Ortiz in his atmospheric black and white art!

2000AD Prog 2249
Cover: Paul Marshall / Dylan Teague (cols)

Judge Dredd: The House on Bleaker Street by Kenneth Niemand (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Skip Tracer: Eden by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Tharg's 3rillers present The Mask of Laverna by Robert Murphy (w) Steven Austin (a) Matt Soffe (c) Simon Bowlan (l)
Jaegir: The Path of Kali by Gordon Rennie (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Terror Tales: The Thing in Cell 4 by John Tomlinson (w) Silvia Califano (a)

Judge Dredd Megazine 436
Cover: Paul Williams / Chris Blythe (cols)

Judge Dredd: How Do you Solve a Problem like Francisco by Rory McConville (w) Nick Dyer (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Returners: Amazonia by Si Spencer (w) Niccolo Assirelli (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Diamond Dogs II by James Peaty (w) Warren Pleece (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Devlin Waugh: The Reckoning by Aleš Kot (w) Mike Dowling (a) Quinton Winter (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Angelic: Restitution by Gordon Rennie (w) Lee Carter (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

The Dark Judges: Fall of Deadworld Book III by Kek-W & Dave Kendall
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108933-0, 14 September 2021, 144pp, £19.99. Available via Amazon.

Can humanity escape the icy clutches of Death? The psychotic Chief Judge Casey Tweed has dethroned and killed Judge Death and taken over Death's mission to murder every living creature on the planet. The neighbouring Soviets have seen the chaos as an ideal time to launch an attack on their American enemies. As numerous battles rage a small group of rebels led by Judge Fairfax - some living, some already turned into the undead - launch a desperate effort to save their city from being converted into a necropolis, but it all seems too little too late. The Dark Judges are already spreading their contagion across the globe and in the depths of space, exterminating all life under the orders of Chief Judge Tweed. However, both the forces of death and the forces of life about to learn, just because Judge Death is dead, doesn’t mean that he is gone… The acclaimed series from Kek-W (The Order) and Dave Kendall (Dreams of Deadworld) continues in this lavish hardback collection, including never seen before concept art and sketches.

The Thirteenth Floor Vol. 03 by John Wagner, Alan Grant & Jose Ortiz
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108934-7, 16 September 2021, 176pp, £14.99. Available via Amazon.

Max the maniacal computer is back in Maxwell Tower, dishing out his twisted form of retribution on anyone who dares to cross his beloved residents! From a conniving milkman to thuggish street urchins, anyone who enters Max’s territory looking for trouble is going for a one-way trip to the thirteenth floor!
     However, Max's past exploits have not gone unnoticed. The K.G.B. have sent their own super-powered computer called Boris to make Max an offer – help them conquer the world or face obliteration!
     This book includes the thrilling conclusion to the classic 80s run of the strip all beautifully rendered by Jose Ortiz (Creepy) in his atmospheric black and white art.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Battling Britons vol.2 no.1 (September 2021)

Spinning off from a book of reviews published by Justin Marriott earlier this year, Battling Britons was intended to be a slim digest publication that suffered from what you might call "enthusiasm expansion", which causes project to expand and burst through all the planned boundaries.

What we have  to hand is a 96-page magazine with further issues already on the horizon (Justin is planning issues for February and June 2022). This debut issue has 21 features, many of them brief, with some of the most interesting (or just plain entertaining) being Jim O'Brien's look at the "—Or Die!" motif in pocket library titles, a review of Cam Kennedy's contribution to war strips and a look back at True War; Justin Marriott's look back at historical adventure strips, at some of the more eccentric strips to have appeared in the UK, Suicide Squads, and at elephants as weapons of war; Paul Trimble's review of Titan's Johnny Red reboot; Steve Myall's interview with Brent Towns; plus a ton of quickfire reviews.

The whole thing is entertainingly written, heavily illustrated and I'm amazed that Justin can put this package together for a fiver, half the price I would expect, even for a black & white publication. This is well worth the price.

Battling Britons vol.2 no.1
Justin Marriott ISBN 979-845271775-1, 96pp, £5.00. Available via Amazon.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Comic Cuts — 10 September 2021

If life was a computer game, I think I would have had the klaxons honking and the lights flashing for "Expert Level Achieved" a few times this week.

A few hours after last week's Comic Cuts was posted, I had an appointment with the doctor for my regular check up. This was delayed because my original blood test date was cancelled and moved by a fortnight, so it came a week after my diabetic eye screening. Then came the face to face with Claire, who I've now known for some years. After the usual prodding and poking the verdict is that I'm now recovered from my diabetes. My liver and kidney functions are top notch, cholesterol levels OK, blood pressure where it should be, and weight... well, we won't go into that. I'm a lot slimmer than I was three years ago,  but being sat in front of a computer all day doesn't keep me fit. The walks we take in the morning and the evening are enough to keep my weight level, but the poor weather this summer has meant that I haven't lost the four pounds that I put on during the winter. I have an idea for a solution... we shall just have to see how it goes.

My eye screening results showed no sign of any diabetic eye disease, so that won't be causing me any problems in the near term. I had already had a letter to that effect, but it was brought up by Claire and set up a joke I'd thought of beautifully:

Claire: There's no sign of diabetic eye disease from your eye screening.
Me: That's great news. I was a bit worried when they sent me my letter in Braile.

You had to be there...

On Saturday we took to the streets as part of a local march on behalf of Extinction Rebellion. There were 150 or so people peacefully wandering up the High Street and crossing the road at the crossing and not even stopping the traffic. It didn't feel particularly rebellious, what with the little kids dressed up in costumes and a guy beating a drum as we followed a little group carrying a model of the burning Earth on a wooden frame. If it wasn't for the latter, you might have thought it was a scene from The Whicker Man and we were just off to burn a few strangers.

We gathered on a little green used chiefly by dogs to do their business for a short rallying call and there was meant to be a guest speaker, local writer A. L. Kennedy, but she hadn't shown up, so the question was raised, did anyone else want to talk. All 150 of us shrank about three inches and broke eye contact. So we all wandered off.

We made the local paper but you can't see Mel or I in the photos.

I should add that we're not particularly political and we don't always agree with the way protests are conducted. But at the same time we have friends with kids and it's up to us to hand over the planet in as good a condition as we can.

I finally got all my accounts and various other bits of admin sorted out. I know it's irrational but I go through this every year... a crushing fear that I'm going to add up something wrong and end up with a tax bill I can't pay. I've managed to fill out the forms correctly for thirty or so years, so I know it's as daft as being afraid of common house spiders here in the UK, or phasmophobia (fear of ghosts). I suffer from neither, but I am convinced I'll balls things up with my accounts.

It's called atelophobia, apparently. I don't quite fit the definition, because I don't obsess about mistakes per se, but I do imagine mistakes I might make in certain situations. And it definitely causes  overwhelming anxiety and a lot of avoidance.

y, it's all done now, and I can now get away with not doing my accounts until January 2023 if I want to.

Then it was back to writing about Action, although I don't seem to have written much about the comic, more about children's education and trying to dig out biographical information on a number of Argentinean artists.

Which brings me to a pair of delightful books that landed on my doormat a couple of weeks ago, the 2-volume Las historietasw de Patoru Zito: Una Guia Ilustrada by Carlos A. Altgelt. What, you may ask, is Patoru Zito and why does it deserve an illustrated guide? The answer is "Es una neuva publicatcion de la Editorial Dante Quinterno para los ninos y para los grandes que sean amantes de las aventuras."—"It is a new publication from Editorial Dante Quinterno for children and for grown-ups who are adventure lovers."

Dante Quinterno was an Argentinean artist who in 1928 created the hugely popular character Patoruzu, a tribal prince with superhuman strength. Patoru Zito was an adventure comic launched in 1945.

Now, my ability to read Spanish is zero, but that doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed the books. It's a delight to turn a page and find a strip by Alberto Breccia or Leandro Sesarego or Jose Luis Salinas or Carlos Freixas. And tucked away in volume two are notes on a number of British comic strips that were translated, including Tug Transom, James Bond, Rick Random, Ace O'Hara, Wells Fargo (as drawn by Don Lawrence) and various pocket libraries. Fascinating just to look at, I imagine it is exponentially better if you can also read it!

It was good to see names like Sesarego and Breccia turning up as these were the self-same artists I was looking for information on. My attempts to contact some surviving artists hasn't achieved much so far, but I'm ever hopeful. The people I would really like to contact are Geoff Kemp, Stewart Wales and John Smith, but no luck so far. Kemp is thought to have moved to France, but isn't in the French phone book.

Ah, well, I'll keep digging.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 8 September 2021

2000AD Prog 2248

Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (col)

Judge Dredd: The House on Bleaker Street by Kenneth Niemand (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Skip Tracer: Eden by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Dexter: Somewhere, Beyond The Sea by Dan Abnett (w) Tazio Bettin (a) John Charles (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Tharg's 3rillers present The Mask of Laverna by Robert Murphy (w) Steven Austin (a) Matt Soffe (c) Simon Bowlan (l)
Jaegir: The Path of Kali by Gordon Rennie (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Badminton Magazine: A History, Index and Bibliography

The Badminton Magazine had its origins in a series of books that began appearing in 1885, named after Badminton House, the grand estate of the Duke of Beaufort. The Duke was a noted sportsman and expert in many rural sports (riding, shooting, fishing, etc.) as well as being Master of the hunt. As general editor of the series, the Duke appointed Alfred E. T. Watson as his chief writer, a well known sports writer and correspondent. The series was a success, but — according to Watson — exhausted all possible subjects after a few years.

It was suggested by Harry McCalmont that he use his contacts to put out a magazine using the Badminton name, and the first issue of The Badminton Magazine of Sports and Pastimes appeared in August 1895. The magazine covered every sporting topic, even introducing new sports (especially from America), and also occasionally published fiction. When original publisher Longman & Green sold it to William Heinemann, they also introduced then-popular competitions and prizes, and colour plates. This proved too expensive, and the magazine was thereafter published by The Sphere, which dropped the colour plates and some of the other content.

Watson was now being asked to contribute upwards of fifty pages a month, some of which were slapdash and inaccurate, meaning that apologies had to be issued; articles were published from unsolicited contributions and full-page photographs helped keep costs down. The magazine again changed hands, taken on by Edward Hulton, whose wife suggested a regular section on ladies' sporting fashions, which was duly introduced, along with the magazine's first regular female journalist.

The Badminton Magazine struggled during the war and Hulton planned its closure. Managing editor John Chandler purchased it in 1916, although the time-consuming circumstances of publishing meant that Chandler and Watson quickly passed it on to Herbert Reiach, a publisher and former contributor who also became co-editor with Watson.

The magazine recovered only briefly after the war ended and by 1920 was expanding its coverage to gardening and natural history, emphasising the changes by becoming The Badminton Magazine of the Open Air. Soon after, Reiach sold the magazine to newspaper publisher Henry Dalziel. Watson died in November 1922 and the opportunity was taken to close the magazine after 330 issues with the January 1923 issue. The New Badminton Magazine of Sport was a very brief revival in 1927.

Chris Harte's introduction touches on every aspect of the magazine's history over 25 or so pages, showing how the magazine covered all the important stories of the day: Birmingham's gunmakers (shoddy or not?) and women cyclists (glowing with health or glowering with disappointment?). There was also the occasional controversy, including a highly biased essay on the Rome Hunt accompanied by a faked photo that led Watson to make a grovelling apology.

The bibliography, listing the contents of all issues, covers over 200 pages; nearly 150 pages are dedicated to thumbnails of every cover of the magazine, books by contributors and an astonishing number of photographs and caricatures of contributors, over 800 in total.

If you have seen Harte's book on The Captain, you will know what to expect. This is the definitive look at this important sporting magazine.

Badminton Magazine. A History, Index and Bibliography by Chris Harte.
Sports History Publishing ISBN 978-189801014-2, August 2021, 406pp, £19.95. Available via Amazon.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Comic Cuts — 3 September 2021

A frustrating week, with the frustration mostly aimed at myself. It happens every year when I have to do my accounts. You'd think I was being asked to pull my own teeth out or chew through a limb. I have been self-employed for over thirty years, and have done over thirty sets of accounts, but rather than getting easier — because I know I can do the whole lot in a day, especially now that everything can be submitted online — I seem to struggle with it more and more each year.

Just the thought of trying to work out how many phone calls I've made that can legitimately be called "work" and making sure I have all the necessary phone bills; sorting out postage receipts and making sure that they were books being sent out to Bear Alley customers, not birthday cards of eBay sales... I hate it!

So rather than just getting on with it and working through until I was finished, I have been mixing in bits of work to distract me from the job at hand — sorting through more transcripts and reading interviews and bits of books, and doing a bit of writing just to soften the blow. I'm close to having all the necessary numbers added up and the paperwork all tidied away in folders and envelopes, but, as you can see, I'm writing this rather than filling out the online form and submitting it.

Not that there's much to write about. The patchwork that will eventually be the history of Action that I'm writing has grown from around 11,000 words to around 16,000 words, although that includes quite a few quotes that cover the same ground. I'm reaching the point where I have the broad story in place and then I'll begin editing it all down, and doing the deeper dive I need to into hooliganism and violence and looking at the fall-out. There are things I don't know that I'm trying to explore further (e.g. when precisely did John Sanders appear on Nationwide?) and I'm hoping to put a few questions to some of the folk involved shortly.

After a wait of sixteen months, we finally got to see Lou Sanders appear at the Colchester Arts Centre. She was originally due to appear in April 2020, pushed back to late summer, then again to spring 2021 and finally to last Sunday. We slightly screwed up because we still had our tickets and didn't bother to print out the new electronic ones that were offered (we don't have a printer in the house!). We should have, because then we would have realised that the show was on half-an-hour earlier than the usual 8 o'clock start. We got to the venue for 7:30pm — which is when the doors usually open — to find that everyone was already inside. Spotting a couple of seats in the otherwise packed venue, we headed towards them just as the lights went down and the announcer introduced Lou to the audience.

What can you say about Lou Sanders? She's a force of nature. The show was called 'Say Hello, To Your New Step-Mummy', but this refers to "old" Lou, the squiffy one who got off with (or at least threatened to get off with) a lot of dads. Sober Lou is well aware that this wasn't the best way to conduct her life, so she has gone on a man-ban on the advice of her healer, Jill, her relationship with whom is almost like a long-distance hostage situation conducted over Zoom. As she herself has described the show, "I’ll be oversharing, wanging on about spirituality and giving everyone some much unwanted advice."

Maybe we were giddy about getting out for the first time in eighteen months, but it was a fantastic gig. Lou is chaotic, dizzy, delightful and likeable. Even when she's confessing to something (cheating on boyfriends, a dream about sleeping with her stepfather) that you think might scar her for life, she is only seconds away from some silliness that assures you she's OK.

The second half of the show was a preview of her new show, so I'll shut up and say no more than I hope she brings it back to the Arts Centre once it's finished.

Some while back we saw a dead jellyfish in the river. This week we've seen dozens of live ones. The Colne is a tidal river and we're not far from where it exits into the North Sea, so it's a salt water river. Apparently, these moon jellyfish like estuaries and harbours, so maybe they're fairly common around here and we've simply not spotted them. Trying to get a photo of a blob of protoplasm swimming below the surface of a silty river is as easy as you'd expect. Hence the manky photo. But it's the best of about twenty that I took.

We mentioned the jellyfish to a friend and she trumped us by saying she had seen a seal in the river on Tuesday morning. There is a colony of seals further around the coast apparently, and Mel saw one in the river some years ago, but I'll have to add it to my wish list (along with otters, which other folk tell me can be seen in nearby Ferry Marsh). But we've done pretty well this year, with moorhens, coots, water rats, voles and the tiniest frog, no bigger than a thumbnail, seen during various walks.

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Commando 5467-5470

Brand-new Commando Issues are out today! Taking you across the globe from the besieged city of Leningrad to D-Day France, to Stirling bombers and phoney German Generals! All this and more out soon!

5467: Survive Leningrad!

Issue 5467 is a story of survival against all odds in the shattered city of Leningrad for the 80th anniversary of the Siege. Andrew Knighton’s tale focuses on surgeon Sergei Zaitsev who has gone rogue, shirking his duties at the main hospital to help those in need on the streets of the beleaguered city. Along the way, he picks up help from a babushka with an attitude and a shotgun — who is equally determined to help people survive Leningrad!

Rich and immersive interior artwork from collaborating duo Muller and Klacik pulls you into the atmosphere of the Siege of Leningrad, and with a dramatic cover by the master Carlos Pino, you don’t want to miss it!
Story | Andrew Knighton
Art | Muller & Klacik
Cover | Carlos Pino

5468: “I Was a Nazi General!”

One day, Rusty Gibson was a Lance Corporal in the British Army, fighting doggedly up through Italy. The next day, Rusty was a general.. .a general in the German Army!

Allan weaves a classic Commando tale of mistaken identity — but on purpose — in issue 5468, when some British Army Intelligence officers notice that little old Rusty Gibson resembles a famous Jerry General! Rusty and General Franz Muller are both red heads and the spit of each other, so the top brass hash out a plan that lands poor Rusty in the thick of it amongst the German Army — with him unable to speak a word of the lingo! What an issue!

Story | Allan
Art | Aldoma
Cover | Aldoma
Originally Commando No. 424 (1969).

5469: The Red Beret

Major John Bell’s team wondered why the Major wore the tattered red beret. They were a crack team of paratroopers on a suicide mission to destroy a bridge to clear the way for D-Day operations. They all knew the risks, they all knew that they might not come back… So why did Bell wear a tattered red beret when his men donned their helmets? As a symbol of survival and luck he hoped would take them to victory!

New cover artist Mark Harris lends his hand to a moody Commando cover with the highlight bold on the namesake of the issue!

Story | Gary Dobbs
Art | Jaume Forns
Cover | Mark Harris

5470: Flying High

Aircraft are only as good as the men who fly them. So, were the crews of these Stirling bombers the right men for the job? Were they brave, calm, determined, as good aircrews ought to be... or were they really cowards, dangerous fools, deserving heavy punishment? The RAF was soon going to find out — and the enemy too!
Issue 5470 is a good example of classic Commando irony, for the Stirling Bomber is known for not performing well at flying at high altitudes — but RA Montague’s title is about the spirit of the brave men piloting these machines flying high above their worries, making this well worth a read!

Story | RA Montague
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Staff
Originally Commando No. 1717 (1983).

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 1 September 2021

2000AD Prog 2247

NEW! Judge Dredd: The House on Bleaker Street by Kenneth Niemand (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Skip Tracer: Eden by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Dexter: Somewhere, Beyond The Sea by Dan Abnett (w) Tazio Bettin (a) John Charles (c) Simon Bowland (l)
NEW! Tharg's 3rillers present The Mask of Laverna by Robert Murphy (w) Steven Austin (a) Matt Soffe (c) Simon Bowlan (l)
NEW! Jaegir: The Path of Kali by Gordon Rennie (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Essential Judge Dredd: Origins by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra & Kev Walker.
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108863-0, 31 August 2021, 192pp, £19.99. Available via Amazon.

An unusual delivery is made to the Grand Hall of Justice, a package that will force Dredd to lead a mission into the Cursed Earth and into the darkest recesses of the history of the Judges and Mega-City One.
    History is written by Dredd co-creators John Wagner (A History of Violence) and Carlos Ezquerra (Strontium Dog) with a special introductory tale featuring the art of Kev Walker (ABC Warriors: Khronicles of Khaos).

Firekind by John Smith & Paul Marshall
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108971-2, 1 September 2021, 86pp, £7.99. [DIGITAL] Kindle edition.

Hendrick Larsen is a xeno-botanist, sent to an alien planet with a toxic hallucinogenic atmosphere... and dragons! The aliens of the planet live in harmony with their environment and Larsen is accepted into their community. But then a group of vicious human poachers arrive, looking to exploit the planet, and Larsen learns that the planet has defences of its own. This classic 2000 AD story features gorgeous artwork by Paul Marshall and is collected in a digital-only graphic novel for the first time.


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