Friday, April 29, 2022

Comic Cuts — 29 April 2022

I don't usually write anything political, and I'm not starting now, but I have to note something to make a point. This from Wednesday's Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs), quoting The Guardian:

"At PMQs Boris Johnson said that there were “500,000 more people in paid employment now than when the pandemic began”. Not only is this untrue, according to Full Fact, the fact checking website, Johnson has now stated this falsehood 10 times in parliament.
    "According to ONS figures, there were 33,073,000 people in work between December 2019 and February 2020 - before the pandemic. The most recent figures, covering December 2021 to February 2022, show 32,485,000 people in paid employment - almost 600,000 people [fewer] than before the pandemic."

According to Full Fact, who covered this when he made the claim for the ninth time, the half a million figure, is for people on payrolls; however, according to Full Fact there are 800,000 fewer people self-employed, which I think gives you an idea of how perilous it is at the moment.

As someone in this perilous state — I have been freelance for most of the past 35 years — I can tell you that the main cause of freelancer going under is late payments. A recent study from Barclays bank said that most small businesses are being impacted by late payments from clients. I can say that I'm definitely in that category. Liz Barclay (no relation), the government's Small Businesses Commissioner was recently quoted as saying: "“Repeated delays and excuses, and extended payment terms of 90/120 and even 360 days are common. Uncertainty kills small and micro businesses as well as freelancers and sole traders."

I have seven invoices outstanding for recent work with two companies, one from January for work done in 2021 for a book that came out in March.

Here are a few more stats: "75% of the self-employed say late payments have caused them concern, with 45% saying it creates significant stress or worry and 65% say that having to chase those late payments causes additional stress.
    "Chasing late payments takes up an average of 20 days a year for freelancers (IPSE, 2019). 26% of SME business owners stress about late payments even when they are not at work (Pay UK 2019) with 21% of freelancers spending time while on holiday chasing late payment (IPSE 2019)."

Last quote: "17% say that payment delays undermine their own confidence in their ability to run a business and 16% worry about the issue every working day. 66% report that late payments make running a business less enjoyable with one in ten business owners considering professional support to help with their anxieties over being paid late. (Pay UK)"

I can say in all honesty that I've lived with the uncertainty for a long time, but for the most part I enjoy what I do. There are disappointments along the way when a book doesn't do as well as I'd hoped, and I do find it frustrating that some projects fall by the wayside or are delayed for ages while I try and sort out my finances. But late payment is the biggest frustration of all. If I have been given a deadline and got the work in on time, why can't the client have the courtesy to make sure that I get paid in a timely fashion.

On Thursday I was told that my January invoice will be paid next week. We shall see.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Commando 5535-5538

An action-packed, high-tension set in this week’s Commandos, visiting the Home Front, North Africa, and the Pacific and European Theatres. Issues 5535-5538 are in shops from today.

5535: The Clockmaker

The SOE have clocked something strange going on in France, as the explosive devices sent to their operatives aren’t quite tickety-boo. A mystery is unfolding and time is against Major Jimmy Ivory as he races to help the resistance and save them from an unknown foe — horologist at the ready!

A timeless classic from former editor Calum Laird, with crisp interiors from DeFeo and an atmospheric cover from Neil Roberts.

Story | Calum Laird
Art| DeFeo
Cover | Neil Roberts

5536: The Cobras’ Nest

A hotch-potch flight of Airacobras is hidden deep behind German lines in the desert, where no arrogant Nazi would think to look. But a good position and hardware isn’t everything, and these passionate pilots will need to learn patience and planning to overcome the German advance and avenge their fallen friends.

A dramatic and high-paced action story from Brunt, with intense interiors from Arias and an explosive, classic cover from Porto.

Story | Brunt
Art | Arias
Cover | Porto
Originally Commando No. 435 (1969)

5537: Tomasz and the Tank Engine

Tomasz Zielinski and his fellow countrymen form a stalwart defence against the German onslaught in Poland, September 1939. As their people escape ahead of the blitzkrieg and the enemy fall upon them, Tomasz and his unit team up with a fearsome dragon — an armoured rail engine with a fiery bite as bad as its occupant’s roar!

A thrilling, high-speed adventure from Colin Maxwell with stunning interiors and a dramatic cover from veteran Commando artist, Manuel Benet.

Story | Colin Maxwell
Art | Manuel Benet
Cover | Manuel Benet

5538: A Whole Lot of Trouble!

Bob Knowles is being packed off to what he thinks might be the most boring pilot’s gig in the whole war, until he lands on a remote island being evacuated ahead of the Japanese advance. As he helps relocate the island’s people, he finds himself in a battle of wills with corrupt officials and sinister pirates — all after a treasure they’d give their own lives to hold…

An unusual setup in this action-adventure from Sanderson, with detailed interiors by McLoughlin and a bold cover from Ron Brown.

Story | Roger Sanderson
Art | Denis McLoughlin
Cover | Ron Brown
Originally Commando No. 1775 (1984)

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 27 April 2022

Rebellion is pleased to announce that the much-anticipated Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition will arrive with customers by 11 May.

Originally due to ship in February, this landmark over-sized ‘artist’s edition’ book has been delayed due to worldwide supply chain problems and international paper shortages.

However, copies will begin arriving with customers who ordered direct from and at comic book stores from the beginning of May.

Ben Smith, the Head of Books, Comic Books, Film, and TV at Rebellion, said: ”It has been a fraught few months for the team as they have worked tirelessly to overcome the paper shortages and shipping delays that have dogged not just this project but the whole publishing industry.

“It was with great reluctance that we were forced to delay the publishing date for this eagerly anticipated book, but we’re delighted that copies of the Apex Edition will soon start arriving with our customers. We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience and look forward to seeing the reaction to the book, and to the next Apex Edition, which features the Judge Dredd work of Mick McMahon and is out at the end of October.”

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2279
Cover: Dan Cornwell

Judge Dredd: The Citadel by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse
Hope: In The Shadows by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Brink: Mercury Retrograde by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland
Future Shocks: Relict by Honor Vincent (w) Lee Milmore (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Fiends of the Eastern Front: 1963 by Ian Edginton (w) Tiernen Trevallion (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 39
by Alan Grant, Gordon Rennie, Ian Edginton, John Wagner, Alan Barnes, Si Spurrier, Pat Mills (w) David Roach, John McCrea, D’Israeli, Ian Gibson, Colin MacNeil, Cam Kennedy, Ben Willsher, Shaun Thomas, Duke Mighten, Simon Coleby, John Ridgway, Chris Weston, Dave Taylor, Henry Flint, and Simon Davis (a).
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618463-4, 28 April 2022, 304pp, £19.99 / $24.99. Available via Amazon.

In the nightmare metropolis of the future he is judge, jury and executioner - he is Judge Dredd!
    The best-selling Complete Case Files series continues with Judge Dredd taking on terrorist organisations, hunting down PJ Maybe who has taken on a new disguise, and Pat Mills returns with Blood of Satanus II: Dark Matters.
    Drawn by a roster of the greatest artists working on Judge Dredd in the 21st Century - Chris Weston (The Filth), Cam Kennedy (Star Wars), Henry Flint (Zombo), and Ian Gibson (Halo Jones) - the Judge Dredd Case Files series has sold over half a million copies.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Comic Cuts — 22 April 2022

I have been trying to get a parcel delivered for a week now. I received one of those annoying cards that said "We stopped by to deliver your parcel" last Thursday and it must have been one of those stealth deliveries, because I was home at the time.

I chucked the card in frustration and forgot all about it. I had a delivery on Saturday and thought that it must be the one I missed on Thursday. So come Tuesday, I nipped out to meet Mel off the bus. Now, she gets off work at 5 o'clock, so I leave the house then and we rendezvous across town. Four minutes later, they tried to deliver the parcel again. I know this because this time I checked and it was tracked. So I know precisely when they turned up. And I missed 'em by four minutes!

So on Wednesday I checked the tracking and it said the parcel was again out for delivery. I checked again at lunch-time and there was no further information. A couple of hours later and the parcel is now expected to be delivered on Thursday.

I also have two other parcels due, so it could be a day full of interruptions, which is why I'm starting this early. (Later: the couriered parcel arrived. Still waiting on others.)

Thankfully I have had a good run at the latest scanning job, despite the long weekend, during which I didn't get a lot done. To make up some time I have been getting up at five in the morning and putting in an hour before Mel gets up. Each page takes an hour or more to clean up and there's a lot of additional work to do thanks to the lousy printing. Well, the lousy paper, actually. Photogravure printing is great on glossy paper, but not the pulp used for some comics. I'm sounding like a stuck record complaining about this, but this is worse still because the latest job is colour and the ink showing through from the reverse of the page changes the colour of the strip I'm working on. You can see the lettering and frames of the strip on the other side in reverse.

I've put an example as our header. Not the worst frame by a long chalk, but an example from the latest page that I was working on. There's a little fun feature on the back of that page entitled 'Build Your Own "Flying Wing"' with an illustration and instructions. It took me a good half hour to sort out that one frame!

A common 'fix' for this kind of thing is to put dark paper behind the scanned page, but that doesn't work on these old comics because the ink has seeped through the page. It makes no difference. There are a few Photoshop tricks I can do to improve things... and that's why I'm having to get up an hour earlier because it all takes time.

While this is a reasonably quick job (only 44 pages), I may be incommunicado over the coming six weeks as I have a lot of work on. Good for the bank balance, but I'll be an even worse correspondent and any questions you have may take longer than usual to get around to.

Back to work...

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 20 April 2022

Writer Garth Ennis will head up two special signing events in the UK to mark the direct market release of the Battle Action Special from Rebellion Publishing.

The 96-page hardcover special lands in comic book stores in June in the UK and July in North America. It features seven brand new stories - all written by Ennis, the mind behind The BoysPreacher, and war comics such as The Stringbags and Sara  - reviving some of the most popular strips from the groundbreaking and highly influential Battle and Action comics from the 1970s.

Ennis will be joined by just some of his collaborators on this landmark hardcover, which captures the spirit and action of the originals that helped change the comic book industry forever.

Ennis, veteran artist Mike Dorey (Hellman of Hammer Force, Ro-Busters), artist John Higgins (Watchmen), and colourist Sally Jane Hurst (Judge Dredd) will be signing copies at Gosh Comics on Saturday 11 June. Taking place from 1pm to 2pm, the signing will be held at the central London store (1 Berwick Street, London, W1F 0DR).

Ennis will then be a guest at the Enniskillen Comicfest in Northern Ireland on Saturday 18 June. Taking place at St Macartin's Cathedral Hall, Halls Lane, Enniskillen from 10.30am until 5pm, Ennis will be joined by Mike Dorey, and artists Keith Burns, PJ Holden (The Stringbags) and Patrick Goddard (Judge Dredd).

Battle Picture
Weekly was where the revolution in British comics began. Created in 1975 by writers and editors Pat Mills and John Wagner, it introduced new grittiness into comics with its cast of anti-heroes and misfits. Its bombast and energy sparked a sea-change in what comics could do, leading to Mills creation of the controversial Action and the globally influential 2000 AD.

The Battle Action Special celebrates the merging of this landmark title with its controversial stablemate, Action, a combination that took the two comics to even greater heights. Now, forty years after the original, some of the cream of British comics talent are bringing these classic characters back to life.

Behind a brand new cover by Andy Clarke (Batman and Robin) and Dylan Teague (Madi), artist Kevin O’Neill revisits Kids Rule O.K., the highly controversial strip by writer Tom Tully and artist Mike White that saw Action ripped from newsstands and pulped in 1976, then heavily censored for its all too brief return. Fresh from the end of his acclaimed League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series with Alan Moore, O’Neill brings his visceral and intense style to this tale of kids gone wild in a post-apocalyptic landscape, while wryly commenting on the political storm that erupted during its original run.

Meanwhile, take to the skies with artist Keith Burns and colourist Jason Wordie, and witness the air duel of the century as ace fighter pilot Johnny Red faces off against Nazi airman Skreamer of the Stukas.

Infamous German tank commander Hellman of Hammer Force bears down on American Major Jeb Rider of Glory Rider in Tunisia, drawn by the legendary Mike Dorey (Ro-Busters).

Blunt instrument of British Intelligence Dredger returns and doles out justice - of a kind - on the mean streets of 1980s London, courtesy of John Higgins, with co-colours by Sally Jane Hurst.

Take on the 100mph madness of Crazy Keller by Chris Burnham (Batman) and colours by Len O’Grady, before meeting Captain Nina Petrova, whose all-woman bomber squadron wreak havoc on the Eastern Front, with art by Patrick Goddard and colours by Jason Wordie.

And roll out into Italy in the heat of 1944 with The Sarge as Ennis reunites with The Stringbags artist PJ Holden.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2278
Cover: INJ Culbard.

Judge Dredd: The Citadel by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse
Hope: In The Shadows by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Intestinauts: The Bowel Impactors by Arthur Wyatt (w) Pye Parr (a+l)
Fiends of the Eastern Front: 1963 by Ian Edginton (w) Tiernen Trevallion (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Brink: Mercury Retrograde by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland

Judge Dredd Megazine 443
Cover: Pye Parr.

Judge Dredd: Praise Zort by Rory McConville (w) Staz Johnson (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse
Death Cap by TC Eglington (w)
Boo Cook (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Diamond Dogs III by James Peaty (w) Warren Please (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Lawless: Ballots Over Badrock by Dan Abnett (w), Phil Windslade (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Surfer by John Wagner (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Features: New Comics - Monster Fun and Comicana: Simon Davis by Karl Stock, Trevor Metcalffe interview and New Comics - Step by Bloody Step by Steven Jewell
Bagged graphic novel: Hawk the Slayer #4 by Garth Ennis (w) Henry Flint (a) Rob Steen (l)

Friday, April 15, 2022

Comic Cuts — 15 April 2022

I guess the main thing of note to happen this week is that I feel I've eaten enough food to sink a battleship. Like the Queen, I celebrated my birthday twice, with a meal down the pub and, later, a second back at home; add a huge chocolate gateau to the mix and I probably added half a stone to my weight in one day.

We started celebrating birthweek early with a trip out on Saturday night to see Nish Kumar, whose latest tour reached a packed Charter Hall for a couple of laugh-packed hours. Just what we needed after a busy few weeks. The whole evening went off smoothly thanks to the discovery that it's easier to catch the train to get across town than it is to take the bus. And quicker. And cheaper.

Kumar was at has shouty, ranty best. It seems unfair to call him a divisive comic, but as the show is about how people have reacted to him over the past few years, it is true to say that there are those who like him and those who wish him dead and will pile onto his social media to let him know. Let's be clear: those latter people are wrong. I've been a fan since his appearances on Josh Widdicombe's XFM show back in 2013, and we've seen the majority of his appearances on TV (yes, even the shows he did with his comedy husband, Joel Dommett).

There were a lot of laughs to be had in the show, but sometimes it's funniest when something unique happens that will never be repeated at any other gig. This particular evening, it was a guy who'd had a few beers returning from having a pee — Kumar noted the cluster of empty bottles around his feet, to which the response was "I've only had five, you c*nt!" (the expletive used as punctuation rather than insultingly) delivered with such drunken indignity that even Nish keeled over with laughter. You definitely had to be there... and if you get a chance to see him, I'd suggest you "be there" too.

The earlier part of this week can be described as scanning (Monday), admin (Tuesday), day off (Wednesday) and scanning (Thursday). Next week I'll be spending the week cleaning up scans for a colour strip reprint from a German publisher. (An earlier job for the same people should be coming out some time this year, but I often don't hear about them appearing.)

One of my scanning jobs is about to appear here in the UK: Captain Condor from Hibernia. David McDonald has put out some fine books over the years and is definitely doing some great titles at the moment, the latest being The Indestructible Man by Scott Goodall and Jesus Blasco from the pages of Jag. The new Captain Condor reprints the run of three stories drawn by Brian Lewis in the early Sixties Lion. The 120-page book also includes an introduction from Kelvin Gosnell, an interview with writer Frank S. Pepper.

It's available from Comicsy: for £12.49 + various different postage costs around the world.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Commando 5531 – 5534

Brand-new Commando issues 5531-5534 are on the horizon – and what a line-up! Commemorating 40 years since the Falklands War issues 5531, 5533 and 5534 tackle the conflict while issue 5532 features a supernatural tale from the 1970s!

It is a great sadness that Issue 5531 ‘Old Dogs’ features Ian Kennedy’s final completed Commando cover. All four issues include a tribute to Ian Kennedy, who will be greatly missed.

5531: Old Dogs

Sneaking behind enemy lines has never quite been like this! During the Falklands War, the Air Ministry knew they had to box clever if they wanted to beat the invading Argentinians out of the Falkland Islands. So they disguised a Canberra using Chilean colours to recon the enemy without arousing suspicion. But the pair operating the aircraft has more than the Argentinians to worry about as there’s a ruthless killer willing to do anything for the bounty on their heads!

James Swallow returns to Commando in stellar form, writing in his forte for aircraft which has been masterfully brought to life with artwork by Paolo Ongaro and Ian Kennedy.

Story | James Swallow
Art| Paolo Ongaro
Cover | Ian Kennedy

5532: Son of the Viking

Something strange is happening in this Commando! As the spirit of the Vikings lives on through bloodlines and a blooming great battle-axe too big to swing! Legend says that only those who are brave enough in times of crisis can find the strength to wield it — so everything is doomed when a pipsqueak with a yellow belly steps up to the plate — or will magic cast its spell once again!

Eric Hebden enchants us once again with an amazing classic Commando, with bewitching interiors from Gordon C Livingstone and a vivid cover by Ian Kennedy.

Story | E Hebden
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 828 (1974)

5533: Cold Conflict

April 1982 saw Britain enter a new conflict half the world away. But three Royal Marines were stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time – behind enemy lines during the invasion! Sent on a recce mission miles from their base at Port Stanley before the war started, the trio saw the Argentinian forces invading the Falklands first-hand! Now they’ve been left with an impossible mission that could change the tide of the conflict, as the three marines must battle both the climate and the Argentinians if they are to save the day.

Colin Maxwell grabs the bull by the horns in his script for Cold Conflict, with a characteristic Commando yarn! Klacik and Neil Roberts are on artwork duties making this trio as good as the one in the issue!

Story | Colin Maxwell
Art | Klacik
Cover | Neil Roberts

5534: The Deadly Trade

April 1982 —Argentine troops poured onto the Falkland Islands and Britain stood on the brink of war.
For Garry Mullen of the elite Special Boat Squadron, it meant at last the chance to put the deadly skills acquired over years of training to the ultimate test!

This Commando was originally released on the 10 year anniversary of the Falklands War, and now it returns for the 40 year Anniversary, showing how timeless it was then and remains today!

Story | Ian Clark
Art | Carlos Pino
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 2621 (1992)

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 13 April 2022

Monsters, mischief, and mayhem galore!
Nostalgia to hit UK parents as classic comic Monster Fun is reimagined for a new generation of young readers.

With nostalgia for comic book characters from the past at an all-time high, and children’s graphic novels, Manga and US comics selling in record numbers in the UK and beyond, it is fitting that MONSTER FUN – Britain’s kookiest, legendary comic anthology – RETURNS after more than 30 years since its last issue, with BRAND NEW characters and stories to thrill a new generation of readers!

Monsters, mischief, and mayhem galore! Nostalgia to hit UK parents as classic comic Monster Fun is reimagined for a new generation of young readers.

With nostalgia for comic book characters from the past at an all-time high, and children’s graphic novels, Manga and US comics selling in record numbers in the UK and beyond, it is fitting that MONSTER FUN – Britain’s kookiest, legendary comic anthology – RETURNS after more than 30 years since its last issue, with BRAND NEW characters and stories to thrill a new generation of readers!

Combining original monsters and creatures that have been brought to life for the very first time, alongside classic characters from the past that have been modernised for young readers, this hilarious comic reflects what children of today absolutely love; from spooky social media antics, to pop culture references, and even an internet-inspired love for cats. The result? This new, modern Monster Fun is now ready to excite, delight, and fright readers of all ages in fang-tastic fashion, whilst pulling at the nostalgic heartstrings of parents who grew up reading the same titled comic decades before.

“Our talented team have created a comic that’s just right for children aged 8-13; filled with the characters they’ll love!” says Rebellion CEO and Publisher Jason Kingsley O.B.E. “This includes new characters, as well as classic ones from the past reinvented for today’s young readers. Some parents will have been fans of these characters many years ago, so it’s exciting that families can share their nostalgia and these reinvented characters alongside the new ones, in completely new stories that they can read and love together. Reading should be fun for all, and comics help build and improve reading skills.”

Across 32 pages in each issue, children will read comic strip adventures featuring Frankie Stein, Kid Kong, Draculass, Steel Commando, the Hire A Horror crew and more – including The Leopard from Lime Street, one of Britain’s best loved Super Heroes! Reinventing these characters for a modern audience has been no easy task, with Monster Fun assembling an incredible list of contributors in each issue; from stalwarts of the UK comic industry Simon Furman (Transformers) and Ned Hartley (Bananaman, Spider-Man), to incredible talent and rising stars, such as Chris Garbutt (Netflix’s Pinky Malinky) and Juni Ba (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

“We’re thrilled to be launching Monster Fun this April – and now is absolutely the right time to do it!” says Monster Fun Editor Keith Richardson, “The last few years have been really tough for everyone, but especially children who have had to leave the classroom, not mix with friends, and for the younger ones not really understanding why. Monster Fun is here to hopefully mark the end to that. Perfect to pack in a school bag and share with a friend in the playground, we’re hoping Monster Fun spreads some joy, some laughter, and puts a smile on every reader’s face!”

Starting with an Easter-themed issue, and running bi-monthly after that, Monster Fun will celebrate all the exciting moments in children’s lives throughout the year, including Summer Holidays, Back to School, and, of course, Halloween! Providing spooky thrills all year round, Monster Fun will help to foster a love for reading in children, even those more reluctant to read, whether they are at home, at school, or on the go.

The first issue of Monster Fun is on newsstands now, with annual subscriptions available online which also include exclusive free gifts.

More information on the comic can be found at:

And now, for this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2277
Cover: Dan Cornwell

Judge Dredd: The Citadel by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse
Brink: Mercury Retrograde by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland
Hope: In The Shadows by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Intestinauts: The Bowel Impactors by Arthur Wyatt (w) Pye Parr (a+l)
Fiends of the Eastern Front: 1963 by Ian Edginton (w) Tiernen Trevallion (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Hawk the Slayer #I (of V)
by Garth Ennis & Henry Flint.
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618679-9, 13 April 2022, £4.99.
Cover: Greg Staples.
A few years have passed since Hawk and his trusty band of warriors defeated the evil wizard Voltan, but Hawk is still uneasy, fearing that the Dark wizards have only temporarily disappeared and are due to return. Once again, Hawk must assemble a team of warriors to confront the returning evil. The Mind Sword may be the key to saving the world, but is it also responsible for the resurgence of these ungodly forces?

Proteus Vex: Another Dawn by Michael Carroll, Henry Flint & Jake Lynch
Rebellion 978-178618485-6, 13 April 2022, £14.99. Available via Amazon.
For fourteen brutal centuries, the Imperium Ascendant and the Obdurate have clashed in an intergalactic war that spanned planets and peoples. Then the war – and the Obdurate – came to a dramatic end. Now, the galaxies are picking up the pieces. In the midst of this sprawling, dazzling system of galaxies, is Proteus Vex, ex-soldier for the Imperium Ascendant turned super-agent. He’s fast, brutal, and he always gets his prey. But when he is sent to find his former superior officer, Vex finds himself caught up in a deadly conspiracy.
    Hit comics team Michael Carroll (The New Heroes, Dreadnoughts, Judge Dredd), Henry Flint (Judge Dredd, Zombo) and Jake Lynch (Judge Dredd) bring you a mind-expanding, colourful story that will plunge you into a series of strange new worlds.

The House of Dolmann
by Tom Tully, Eric Bradbury, Carlos Crus, etc.
Rebellion 978-178618491-7, 14 April 2022, 144pp, £14.99 / $19.99. Available via Amazon.
Genius creator and expert ventriloquist, Eric Dolmann has created a small army of robotic puppets to help the forces of law and order fight back against crime. Whatever the situation, Dolman has a mechanical warrior perfectly suited to get the job done! From the safety of his flying ‘Dolmobile’, he directs Raider, Elasto, Mole, Togo and Giggler into action! Occasionally they will question his judgement and bicker amongst one another – even though they aren’t capable of independent thought!
    The 2000AD Web Shop is releasing a limited edition hardback edition with a cover by Chris Weston.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Comic Cuts — 8 April 2022

This was meant to be a relaxing week after the mad rush of hitting a deadline last week (which I did hit, incidentally). The plan was to catch up on a few things that had been left hanging while I began writing the Action book and were further punted down the road when some work came my way.

Monday started off nicely relaxing and doing a bit of an overhaul of one of my old checklists for future reprinting. While I was working on that another little job came in, which I was able to get out of the way on Tuesday. I also needed to sort out some other images relating to a couple of introductions I had written. I did a bunch of other scans while I had the scanner on because... well, because I have too much stuff. The annual for the scan I needed was tucked away under a pile of other annuals and that was under and behind a stack of DVDs. So after dismantling the various piles to get to one annual, I thought I'd get a few related stories scanned to save myself dismantling and rebuilding these stacks every time I needed an annual.

Another little job came in on Tuesday—writing a couple of short essays about comics—which I said "Yes" to. I thought I'd start the first one on Wednesday, but had only written a couple of paragraphs when a reminder came in about another job. The job was already done but I hadn't sent it off... so I sent it off and spent the next couple of hours sorting out invoices, and updating my accounts because I'd had to spend a bit of money buying in comics which I can offset against my tax bill.

Another little job came in Wednesday afternoon, the sort of nice little bit of detective work that I enjoy. It related to a photographer who had some books published in the 1950s and what the copyright situation might be on his work, which involved trying to trace whether he had any heirs.

Thursday: I so nearly got back to the comic essay, but I frittered away much of the day catching up on email, ordering some more stock of various Bear Alley Books titles and having a bit of a spring clean because dismantling that tower of DVDs made me realise that things were getting a bit dusty and cobwebby. I'm hoping to get back to my essay on Friday.

To most people that wouldn't seem like a relaxing week at all, but I don't mind lots of little jobs turning up. So much of what I've written over the past decade has been long essays and introductions that can take months. The Action book I was working on solidly for five months and it's still not finished! Having a job that I can finish in a day or two, or even a job that takes a week or two is a cakewalk by comparison.

I also cakewalked my doctor's appointment. Aced the blood pressure test, got away with putting on a couple of pounds, which I'll hopefully lose over the summer, and my HbA1c is where it should be. No, a cat didn't just walk across the keyboard – it's how they measure glucose control, which should ideally be between 48-53 mmol/mol. These things matter when you get to my age, which used to be old enough for a bus pass but isn't any more. I hate to say it, but it was a Labour government under Gordon Brown who made that little decision back in March 2010. It came into effect in April and he was booted out of No.10 in May, allowing the current shambles to get into power.

I can, however, apply for a senior railcard; if I used the trains it might be worth it, but I'll be taking my first train trip for a couple of years this weekend, and that will be to travel one stop down the line! Welcome to my wild life!

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 6 April 2022

Can you beat Judge Dredd before the tower of liberty crumbles? Prepare to fight for democracy with the Dread: Dredd tabletop role-playing game!

A brand new version of the award-winning TTRPG game Dread will plunge you and your friends into a thrilling race against time in Mega-City One - with a unique game mechanic that will leave you on the edge of your seat!

Designed specifically for 2000 AD’s 45th anniversary by original Dread writer Epidiah Ravachol, Dread: Dredd brings the ENNIE award-winning game to the iconic world of 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd.

Written by Ravachol and produced by Rebellion Unplugged, this fantastic tabletop role-playing game for 4-6  players uses tottering towers of Jenga® blocks to create an exciting dynamic as democracy activists race to reveal dark secrets about the Judges before Justice Department catches up with them!

The game received its public debut as part of The Galaxy’s Greatest, the free online convention that took place 26-27 March celebrating 45 years of 2000 AD. Gamesmaster and RPG designer Grant Howitt was joined by Judge Dredd and Immortal Hulk writer Al Ewing, Judge Dredd artist PJ Holden, and cartoonist, narrative designer, TTRPG maker and D20 Dames host Jen Vaughn. The playthough can still be found on YouTube.

Dread: Dredd is now available to pre-order as a downloadable PDF from the Rebellion Unplugged online shop, as is the game itself.

Epidiah Ravachol said: “When I first met Dredd he was hidden on the "Mature Audiences Only" shelf at my local comic book store. Forbidden fruit for a young teen in the ‘80s! A Dredd setting for a Dread game has come up more times than I can count over the past couple decades. Never something official. Never something beyond a little adventure for between friends. Never something I got around to doing. And then this hit, a now or never chance to score big in Mega City - the opportunity of a lifetime!

“There are games you toil over for years, and there are games that blast their way out of your head, unwilling to wait. It's been a few decades, but I still feel like that little perp that slipped through old Joe's icy grip. Exhilarating.”

Duncan Molloy from Rebellion Unplugged said: “We were delighted when Epidiah said he was interested in adapting Dread for our 45th anniversary. It’s such a unique game and the way it’s been adapted to Dredd’s world is brilliant. The playthrough by Grant, Al, PJ, and Jen as part of this weekend’s online convention is hilarious and well worth checking out, if only to see how fun this game is for 2000 AD fans and newbies alike!”

As the iron fist of Justice Department tightens its grip on the people of Mega-City One, there stirs once again movement towards democracy. As pro-democracy agitators, now is the time to take a stand for self-governance!

Because now you have Walter, a former Justice Department droid and somewhat reluctant co-conspirator who has damaging information about the Judges. Information the public must hear. And you will deliver it to them, today, at the opening game of the first Aeroball season in decades.

All of Mega-City One will be watching. The Judges will be unable to pre-emptively shutdown the broadcast for fear of citywide riots. It is the perfect opportunity. Never has democracy stood a better chance.

One player takes on the role of the Host, tasked with representing the mayhem and magnificence of Mega-City One and its inhabitants. The other players act as characters living in the shadow of the Statue of Judgement, doing whatever it takes to thrive and survive.

Of course, surviving isn’t always so easy. When the players are faced with difficult or dangerous actions, they must pull wooden blocks from a tower to discover whether they succeed. If the tower comes crashing down, their character dies. The stakes are high when you take on the Judges but there is some hope in your new character abilities, reflecting the city’s wide range of inhabitants.

Available for download from from 30 March, the Dread: Dredd PDF will contain everything you need to run this standalone adventure – adapted Dread rules, pre-created character sheets, the Adventure booklet, and an Encounter list for the Host to refer to throughout the game. Just add a block tower and your gaming group and you’re good to go!

And now, this week's release...

2000AD Prog 2276
Cover: Tiernen Trevallion.

Judge Dredd: The Citadel by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse
Hope: In The Shadows by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Intestinauts: The Bowel Impactors by Arthur Wyatt (w) Pye Parr (a+l)
Fiends of the Eastern Front: 1963 by Ian Edginton (w) Tiernen Trevallion (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Brink: Mercury Retrograde by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon BowlandJudge Dredd: The Citadel by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse
Hope: In The Shadows by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Intestinauts: The Bowel Impactors by Arthur Wyatt (w) Pye Parr (a+l)
Fiends of the Eastern Front: 1963 by Ian Edginton (w) Tiernen Trevallion (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Brink: Mercury Retrograde by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland

Friday, April 01, 2022

Comic Cuts — 1 April 2022

A very quick column this week as it is already Friday morning and we're heading out of the house shortly so that Mel can get to work. The Comic Cuts column would normally be written on Thursday, but I've had a deadline looming to complete the latest book I have been working on. The deadline is today and I've had a week to scan and clean artwork and write all the introductory material.

I started on Friday last week and had the scans finished over the weekend. Clean-up took until Wednesday, and I also managed to write a piece of the introduction that will be paneled out. The main introduction I started yesterday and I'll have it completed today.

By mid-afternoon on Thursday I was confident enough to head off into town where there was a leaving do for some old colleagues from Aceville Publications, home of Comic World back in the Nineties and where I've also edited a couple of other titles over the years. This was a party I didn't want to miss: the guy in the photo is Matt, who has been the publisher at Aceville for forty-odd years and was also the guy who interviewed me back in 1991 about writing for a new title they were planning. By the end of the interview I had blagged the editorial seat... the first step on a long and winding road that led to where I am today.

Helen (left photo, on the left) employed me back in 2017-18 to help put together a batch of essays for a website launch and Lynn (on the right) has been Mel's boss for some while. All three have been a lot of fun to work with and will be sorely missed.

And, of course, the chance of getting a few free drinks on DC Thomson's bar tab was an opportunity not to be missed. Now... back to writing that introduction...


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