Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 31 August 2022

Debuting in this week's 2000AD, a new Judge Dredd tale by Rob Williams & Jake Lynch, the return of Jaegir by Gordon Rennie & Simon Coleby, and the first part of the latest Tharg's 3rillers by David Barnett & Lee Milmore.

2000AD Prog 2297
Cover: Jake Lynch.

Judge Dredd: Sentientoid's Big Idea by Rob Williams (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Tharg's 3rillers: The Crawly Man by David Barnett (w) Lee Milmore (a) Quinton Winter (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Skip Tracer: Valhalla by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon  Bowland (l)
Dexter - Bulletopia Chapter Eleven: The End of The Pier Show by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Jaegir: Ferox by Gordon Rennie (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Jim Campbell (l)

The Astounding Jason Hyde by Barrington J. Bayley
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618638-6, 1 September 2022, 208pp, £9.99. Available via Amazon.

From the pages of UK comic Valiant - a series of amazing text stories featuring the strangest hero of all time! Accidental exposure to a form of natural radiation had caused scientist Jason Hyde's eyes to turn colourless and emit blue rays which gave him the power to see through solid objects and to read the thoughts of human beings. Hyde has dedicated his life to investigating strange phenomena and protecting the world from all manner of abnormal threats! From giant sentient spiders to a warlike race of subterranean humanoids, Jason Hyde is the Earth's only hope!

Badtime Bedtime Stories by Leo Baxendale
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618531-0, 1 September 2022, 96pp, £16.99. Available via Amazon.

Once upon a badtime...
In these explosive, hysterical comics, Dr Jeykll and Mr Snide, Little Miss Muffet and Little Red Riding Hood run wild in chaotic retellings of beloved tales. These anarchic, frenzied comics stories from the pen of Leo Baxendale are the arguably the jewel of the British humour comics, beloved by many for their DIY storybook aesthetic when they were originally printed in Monster Fun. Now, in this stunning new collection, the comics are restored to their full glory, while reprinted in a smaller style to retain the intimate feel of the originals. Crammed with gags and hidden details, these Badtime Bedtime Stories are the perfect late night read for kids and grown ups!

Friday, August 26, 2022

Comic Cuts — 26 August 2022

I have to make this super quick this week as I spent the day trying to finish off an article that took a lot longer than expected ... and is still not finished. I also had some artwork that I wanted to have finished, but I managed 5/6ths of the total before being forced to give up and quickly write these words.

Why all the hurry? To give me a chance to have a long weekend. I have family visiting tomorrow and it's a bank holiday on Monday. What are the chances? Not good. I think I'm going to be doing a bit of work on Saturday and I'll have the house to myself for most of Sunday, so it looks like I'll be playing catch-up.

I probably only have myself to blame. I spent a couple of hours looking at computer kit trying to figure out what might be best for me. It has been suggested that, rather than getting a PC, I get a laptop and a docking station, which I'm very tempted by as it means I can move between my office (which has no insulation and is probably going to be freezing cold this winter) and the living room (which will probably be warmer and will certainly retain the heat better). We're waiting on the announcement about the energy price cap, due Friday. If it's too much, I might not even be able to afford any new kit.

No further news on the next book from Bear Alley. I'm hoping to start copy-editing the text  but haven't got very far yet; mind you, I'm not expecting it to take too long—the bit that will take the time will be sorting out pictures and designing the book. Hopefully all will be done this side of Christmas. I'm also thinking of what I call a Christmas project, which in the past has been the Gwyn Evans Hercules books and, last year, the Andrew Forrester books. Generally they're books that I don't have financial expectations of but that's outweighed by the desire to have copies of the book(s) on my shelf. I don't have anything planned, but I will say that something has recently landed in my lap that might fit the bill.

Right, that's me done for the night. I will leave you with this bizarre book cover image. Unbelievably, this is drawn by Robert McGinnis, the brilliant American paperback cover artist, whose work I usually admire. But this? The perspective is all wrong, and you can't tell me that it's a trick of perspective as nothing else (look, for instance, at the wall) is warped or out of proportion.

I remember the fuss that was made about Barbie and her unnatural proportions, and American comic books are a minefield of misshapen women. But I'm surprised that McGinnis could get this so wrong. Here's the original cover, just to show I haven't manipulated it in any way.

Unless, of course, the publisher said "Robert, we want a leggy blonde on the cover, but she's got to have the proportions of a flamingo. Don't ask why. No... not in a lake... put her on a wall at twilight. And she's lost her blouse. And her shoes. But not her gun. Oh, and we need it by Thursday, so don't bother about getting a model in. I'm sure everything will be just fine..."

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 24 August 2022

This September, five legendary 2000 AD classics are being turned into brand new dramatic audio adaptations – and you can pre-order now!

DREDD: ORIGINS, DREDD v DEATH, JUDGE ANDERSON: SHAMBALLA, ROGUE TROOPER: WELCOME TO NU-EARTH, and NEMESIS THE WARLOCK can be pre-ordered via Audible now and will also be available on Apple Books and Google Play.

Following on from last year’s launch of the first star-studded audiobooks, these five new dramatic adaptions are performed by an ensemble cast, and accompanied by an original score and immersive soundscapes, bringing to life some of 2000 AD‘s most critically acclaimed and beloved stories!

‘We have published some of the biggest science fiction audiobooks of the last few years, from Star Wars and Stranger Things to Ready Player One, and this partnership has enabled us to take all of that experience and apply it to these new productions.’ says James Keyte, Senior Commissioning Editor. ‘Working closely with the Rebellion team, our aim has been to create an authentic and immersive listening experience for both long term fans, and new listeners alike.’

With a host of exciting talent attached, these thrilling adventures will include over 750 different voices accompanied by an original score and immersive soundscapes.

Judge Dredd: Origins

John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s incredible journey back to the birth of the Judges, brought alive as a brand new audio adaptation. 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…

Stars: Adam Basil, Colin Salmon, Stuart Milligan, Doug Cockle. Available via Amazon.

Judge Dredd: Dreddd vs Death

The crime is life! The Judgement is death! When Judge Death enters Mega-City One from a parallel dimension, his plan is simple: to sentence every single living citizen – to death! These critically acclaimed stories are a perfect jumping on point for new listeners to John Wagner, Alan Grant and Brian Bolland’s chilling stories!

Stars: Peter Serafinowicz, Amber Rose Revah, Adam Basil, Doug Cockle. Available via Amazon.

Judge Anderson: Shamballa

When a brutal murder is discovered – seemingly of unnatural origin – in Mega-City One, it seems that the world is on the brink of a psychic apocalypse! Psi-Judge Anderson must travel into to find the source of the disturbance. This collection bring together the very best of Alan Grant’s (Lobo) and Arthur Ranson’s (Button Man) work on this iconic comics character.

Stars: Amber Rose Revah, Adam Basil, Doug Cockle. Available via Amazon.

Nemesis The Warlock Books 1-4

Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill’s stunning satirical space opera, brought to life in a brand new audio adaptation! Listen as the diabolically evil human despot Torquemada, intent on purging all alien life from the galaxy and punishing ‘deviants’, is challenged by Nemesis the Warlock, alien freedom fighter and champion of the coming rebellion!

Available via Amazon.

Rogue Trooper: Welcome to Nu Earth

On the battle-ravaged world of Nu-Earth, genetically-engineered war machine, Rogue Trooper, searches for the traitor General responsible for the deaths of his clone brothers. Together with his three ‘dead’ bio-chipped comrades, Gunner, Bagman and Helm, he won’t stop until he has succeeded in his personal mission of revenge! The wartorn worlds of Gerry Finley-Day, Dave Gibbons, and Cam Kennedy come alive in this brand new adaptation!

Available via Amazon.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2296
Cover: Nick Roche / Jim Boswell (cols)

Cadet Dredd: Two Tribes by James Peaty (w) Luke Horsman (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Renk by Paul Starkey (w) Anna Readman (a) Matt Soffe (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Future Shocks: Levelling Up by David Barnett (w) Steve Roberts (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Department K: Crisis of Infinite Estobans by Rory McMconville (w) Nick Dyer (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Letters: Simon Bowland (l)
'Splorers: The Big Splash by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Illustrators: The Illustrated Story of Warren Magazines

Here's a confession for you. For most of my life, my only exposure to the Warren magazines was a single issue of Vampirella that I had picked up years ago (the circumstances lost in the mists of time), which has lived in various boxes over the years. Eventually the cover came loose, but I still have it—somewhere—because... well, who knows when it might turn out to be of some use. (The collecting bit of my brain insists that, one bought, you keep everything. That way you have it and never need to seek it out again.)

I came to Warren later in life, my obsessive chronicling of British comics not allowing much time to look elsewhere despite the recommendations of friends and fellow fans. It was only in the early Nineties, while I was editing Comic World that I was able to dedicate more time to researching American comics and started to look more closely at Warren, whose comics not only contained the works of some of America's top comics' talent, but were in black & white, which, growing up on British weeklies, was the way comics should be.

I probably didn't know much about their background until The Warren Companion, a must-have book co-authored by my pal David Roach and Jon B. Cooke, who edited Comic Book Artist, which was full of fascinating history and illustrations, including a long interview with Russ Jones (issue 14, a Wally Wood special) that filled in many details of the early history of the Warren magazine Creepy and how it came to be. A biography of James Warren, Bill Schelly's James Warren: Empire of Monsters (2019), swiftly joined the others in going out of print...

... which makes the latest Illustrators Special (#14 for those counting) all the more welcome. Heavily illustrated with covers and other artwork, in many cases taken from the original boards, Peter Richardson, tells the complex and engaging tale of how James Warren's magazine empire rose and fell — or more accurately ebbed and flowed like a tidal basin, sometimes filled with richly inventive and well-paid creators and earning a fortune for its publisher, and at other times barely more than a trickle of unpaid printers, distributors, artists and writers.

The creative well was constantly emptied and refilled, with Warren's fortunes often rescued by good fortune, often the arrival of a creative editorial talent. Built on the success of Famous Monsters in Filmland, the Warren magazines had patchy start, adapting B-movies into fumetto-style photo strips. There was a high as Creepy and its companion Eerie came under the editorial hand of Archie Goodwin, who was able to attract the likes of Frank Frazetta as a cover artist. Sales fell, as they did periodically. Goodwin was out, Bill Parente was in, working on a budget a fraction of the size of his predecessors. Then he was out and Goodwin was back, launching Vampirella, which helped stabilize Warren's finances, as did the arrival of Josep Toutain and his stable (no pun intended) of Spanish artists.

Warren didn't help matters by being fractious and argumentative with his writers, artists and editors. 18-year-old Bill DuBay was hired as editor in 1971, coinciding with a relatively successful period for Warren, despite heavy competition from Marvel and Skywald. DuBay burned out, Louise Jones filled the post, at first for little reward while she proved she could handle the job. Science fiction became popular in the wake of Star Wars, leading to another revival in fortunes, but it could not be sustained, even with later titles like The Rook and 1984 publishing some fine artists.

The artists are nowadays the main focus of fan attention, and pretty much every major talent worked for Warren in his two decades: Wally Wood, Will Eisner (there was even as Spirit magazine), Steve Ditko, Bernie Wrightson, Pepe Gonzalez, Alex Toth, Neal Adams, Richard Corben, and too many etceteras to list here.

Every page of this book could have been used to illustrate this review. I picked one — an astonishing splash panel by Reed Crandell for an early Creepy story — and the other was a random opening at some Frazetta covers (top of column)... and I couldn't resist putting in some Vampirella! Fans of the magazines will relish the artwork on display, while anyone with a passing interest, myself included, will want to know more on the strength of this history. Richardson weaves a fascinating story around many fascinating characters (I particularly like the description of rival Myron Fass as being "like a squirrel on crack"), all beautifully illustrated by some of comics' greatest talents.

Illustrators Special: The Illustrated History of Warren Comics by Peter Richardson
Book Palace Books ISBN 978-191354820-9, 19 August 2022, 143pp, £30.00. Available via Amazon.

Also available as a limited edition (100 copies) hardcover

Book Palace Books ISBN 978-191354829-2, August 2022, 143pp, £95.00. Available from Book Palace.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

The A to Z of British Newspaper Strips

Because newspapers are more likely to have an adult audience, the comic strips that appear in their pages are also more likely to be aimed at an older age group, whether that's adventure strips with smarter and more complex plots (Modesty Blaise, Jeff Hawke, etc.), satirical strips taking on politics (If, Maggie's Farm, No.10, etc.), or strips that put the 'strip' in strips (Jane, George and Lynne, Ben & Katie, etc.). They tend to be taken a little more seriously, have sometimes been collected in book form, and (thanks to syndication) might be well known beyond these shores, while the vast majority of strips in comics are lost to history.

It is surprising therefore that so little research has been put into cataloguing their existence. The story of British newspaper strips has previously been covered only in limited depth by Denis Gifford, who wrote Stap Me! The British Newspaper Strip back in 1971, and Denis continued to be deeply interested in collecting examples of newspaper strips for the next three decades. But, with Mark Bryant an admirable exception, nobody has made any effort beyond a few half-hearted lists that can be found on the internet, all woefully inadequate.

Paul Hudson should be congratulated for tackling a subject that not even I have been mad enough to contemplate. Comic strips have been a feature of newspapers since before the First World War, with the 16 episodes of W. K. Haselden's 'Mr Simkins on his Holidays' appearing in 1908, and the book covers a broad cross-section of newspapers and magazines from the last century, from Haselden's 'Big and Little Willie' — about the Kaiser and his son — dating from 1914 to strips still running.

Along the way you'll find the famous — since we were a Daily Mirror household I grew up on Andy Capp, Garth and The Perishers — to more obscure strips like The Big Yin, co-written by Billy Connolly in the 1970s, and Summer of Love by Pete Milligan & Brendan McCarthy in the short-lived News on Sunday. For every Rupert that you've heard of there's a Rex Ascot or a Rick Martin for you to discover.

This is not an encyclopedia, so don't expect to discover the dates a strip ran or the number of episodes. Information is usually brief, listing artist and writer where known, where and roughly when a strip appeared, and a short description, occasionally a longer description, the aforementioned Rupert getting two pages. All but a small handful are illustrated with an example or two, in colour if that was how they appeared.

It has been fifty years since the last book celebrating homegrown newspaper strips. Hopefully it won't be another fifty years before the next... but in the meantime Paul Hudson's A to Z is an enjoyable, alphabetical romp through a century of strips that don't deserve to be forgotten. Some you'll recall with half-remembered nostalgia, but, if you're like me, you'll spend half the book wishing that there were collections of many, many more of these strips than there are.*

The A to Z of British Newspaper Strips by Paul Hudson
Book Palace Books ISBN 978-191354824-7, July 2022, 316pp, £55.00. Available via Amazon.

* I've done my bit, reprinting London Is Stranger Than Fiction by Peter Jackson a few years ago. It's still available.

The Paperback Fantastic v.3: Horror

Justin Marriott is a machine. I can't explain how he manages to get so many magazines published every year that doesn't involve some kind of Heath Robinson set up with mechanical writing arms and conveyor belts feeding typed pages through to design and printing mechanisms.

His latest publication is the third volume of The Paperback Fantastic, a collection of reviews concentrating on horror novels from the 1970s and 1980s, but not restricted to those decades (The Beetle dates from 1897). There are plenty of paperback covers on display, many of which I remember seeing in Clarke's bookshop, Smith's and at the Thursday market where a very nice lady sold me second hand copies of Richard Allan's Skinhead novels for 10p. Ah, those were the days!

I preferred SF to horror, but I still have a few from those days by the likes of Guy N. Smith, Errol Lecale and Robert Lory.

I can answer one question Justin raises... what happened to Cyril Donson, author of Draco the Dragon Man? After writing westerns in the 1980s, the trail goes cold because Donson died in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, in November 1986.

I should also point out that another one of Justin's 1-star reviews (The Homunculus by Kenneth Rayner Johnson) led me to this article on Johnson which confirms that the book is "pure shit". Weirdly, that makes me want to look out for it all the more to see if there really are "several passages which if quoted in isolation might give the impression that this book is some uber-sleazy and outrageously bad-taste classic." But, adds Justin, they are few and far between.

The magazine also covers plenty of books that are worth reading by the likes of Stephen King and Clive Barker, but I have to confess that it's the take-downs of the worst books that often make the most fun when reading reviews. At the same time, I'm inspired to  look out for recommended books by Charles Birkin and  Simon Raven, which  is just what you want from a collection of reviews.

The Paperback Fantastic, ed. Justin Marriott.
Justin Marriott ISBN 979-884365436-8, 9 August 2022, 72pp, £7.50. Available via Amazon.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Comic Cuts — 19 August 2022

After last week's holiday (Clacton got a 5-star review!), I'm back at work, slogging through the last few chores on another book (doing the final bits of tidying up the artwork) before settling in to write an introduction (which is much more fun!). I'm hoping to have the whole thing finished Friday.

I'm then copy-editing a book that will be the next release from Bear Alley Books, a memoir by George Coates about his trip around the world by motorbike. It won't be out for a few months, but I'm getting started on it between other jobs. I have a fourth book due for the publishers in Spain, but I'm waiting on some scans. So George's book will keep me busy... no rest for the wicked... except, of course, the week off I've just had proves definitively that I'm not wicked whatever you hear to the contrary.

I mentioned Jon Peaty as being an artist who contributed to Swift Annual way back in 2007 and was subsequently contacted by David Peaty. I heard from David again when an exhibition of his father's work was planned for 2020... which was, of course, cancelled due to the pandemic.

The good news is that the exhibition, a retrospective of paintings, drawings and designs, is back on and will run between the 10th and 30th of September at The Skyway Gallery in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex.

David also tells me that he will be launching a website dedicated to his father's work in the near future. Details to follow.

Betty Larom is another artist I wrote about briefly in 2007, and I was pleased to hear from Carol, her daughter, about an exhibition that is running now at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books in Newcastle upon Tyne, which celebrates the work of both Betty Larom and Neville Main.

Carol says, “My brother and I are delighted that Seven Stories are exhibiting our mother and stepfather's books and artwork. The exhibition showcases a brilliant era for the development of children's books and comics, in which they both had a major involvement."

The exhibition includes original and facsimile items from both Betty Larom and Neville Main’s archive which is in the Seven Stories Collection, a commentary from Molly Goddard, as well as interactive elements for children.

"I have made sure that a good part of the exhibition is about the children's comic era. i.e. T.V. Comic, Pippin, Playland etc.," Carol tells me. "I have sent Seven Stories a lot of Mum and Neville's archive material i.e. storyboards, scripts, comic, annuals etc." The plan is to rotate the exhibition and Carol hopes that will allow her to also promote the Gordon Murray era.

Molly Goddard, incidentally, is a fashion designer, who has used images by Betty Larom to create a t-shirt, top and dress as part of her autumn/winter '22 collection. The t-shirt has become incredibly popular, thanks to Harry Styles, who appeared in one while singing 'Boyfriends' on the YouTube channel The First Take, which has had over 6 million views.

Seven Stories has its own range of merchandise based on Betty Larom's artwork.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Commando 5567-5570

This quad are bang on target, as we join out-of-the-ordinary squads on land and sea in this unusual action-adventure set, featuring a story in conjunction with Merseyside RAFAC! Commando Issues 5567-5570 are in shops and online from today.

5567: Target of Vengeance

They call him the Sahara Sniper, ruthlessly picking off Americans in North Africa and using dum dum bullets — deliberately designed to cause as much damage as possible and banned by the Hague Convention. As LRDG Sergeant Jeff Nicholson tracks the elusive killer, he loses his best friend and colleague in the worst way imaginable. Perhaps another theatre of war and a green American rookie can clear his mind long enough to reach his target of vengeance.

A dark, high-tension tale from Colin Maxwell with gritty interiors from Vicente Alcazar, featuring a dynamic cover from Mark Eastbrook.

Story | Colin Maxwell
Art| Vicente Alcazar
Cover | Mark Eastbrook

5568: Jungle Drop

Private Jason Jones is brave and determined and has been chosen for parachute training alongside his good pal, Watty Watkins. But there is a mystery around Jason that his sergeant, Rusty Miller, is determined to uncover as they set their sights on a mission in the deep jungles of Burma. Faced with plummeting from an aeroplane into the canopy, Jason falters… but is it the drop that gives him pause, or something else?

An action-packed story with twists and turns in this classic from Powell, as well as detailed interiors from R Fuente and a classic Ian Kennedy cover.

Story | Powell
Art | R Fuente
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 464 (1970).

5569: U-boat Gold

The fishing boat Serenity sets out from Trinidad in the autumn of 1944, never to return to the paradisical waters of home. Taken hostage, the brave and stalwart crew find themselves mixed up with errant Kriegsmarine and Royal Navy sailors — set on retrieving their hidden stolen gold and escaping to Venezuela! In a fight to the finish, liberty is everything. But the cost of freedom could be worth its weight in U-boat gold!

Inspired by an original story idea by the Cadets and Staff at 1128 Crosby Squadron, Merseyside Wing, RAFAC, this high-adventure tale is scripted by Ferg Handley, with action-packed interiors by Jaume Forns and an exciting cover from Neil Roberts.

Story | Ferg Handley, *based on an original story idea by 1128 Crosby Squadron, Merseyside, RAFAC.
Art | Jaume Forns
Cover | Neil Roberts

5570: The Special Squad

The Special Squad is everything you’d expect from the elite British Forces of WW2 — tough, capable and ready for anything. But this team has something extra special in their new recruit, Mark Butcher. He’s got a knack for photography that’s so good, he’s saved lives, from a whole family to an officer and his squad!

An eagle-eyed classic adventure from the staff at Commando, with dynamic interiors from Carrion and a painterly cover from Jeff Bevan.

Story | Staff
Art | Carrion
Cover | Jeff Bevan
Originally Commando No. 1822 (1984)

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 17 August 2022

There’s less than a month to pre-order the stunning Judge Dredd by Mick McMahon Apex Edition!

Due for release at the end of October, this unmissable over-sized book features high-resolution scans of original Judge Dredd artwork by one of 2000 AD‘s biggest talents, presented in a deluxe, over-sized facsimile edition that reproduces McMahon’s stunning art at its actual size.

Webshop pre-orders for the standard edition will close on 12pm BST Friday 2 September. The standard edition will also be available to pre-order from comic book stores through Diamond Distribution’s Previews magazine.

From the first published Judge Dredd story to his iconic work on serials such as ‘The Cursed Earth’ and ‘The Judge Child’, McMahon’s constantly evolving style has helped make him one of the greatest Dredd artists of all time. Famed for his ‘big boots’ design and vivid imagination, McMahon’s work helped define Dredd’s world and won him legions of fans.

From his dynamic early work influenced by Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra to his later utterly unique style, this Apex Edition showcases the evolution of his career in unprecedented detail and demonstrates how McMahon came to influence generations of comic book artists.

Complete stories such as ‘Judge Whitey’, ‘Frankenstein II’, ‘The Wreath Murders’, and ‘Dream Palace’ are published alongside pages from ‘The Cursed Earth’, ‘The Day the Law Died’, ‘The Judge Child’, and ‘The Fink’.  As well as his brush and pen work, the reproduced pages include many of their original titles and word balloons, as well as printer’s marks and other ephemera, giving fans the chance to see these pages in all their glory.

The standard edition is available to pre-order from the 2000 AD webshop and will also be available for comic book stores to order through Diamond Distribution’s Previews magazine this summer. The limited edition slipcase is available to order only through the 2000 AD webshop.

This collection follows the successful Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition, which is being published this year. Further volumes of original art by other 2000 AD artists are planned.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2295
Cover: INJ Culbard.

Judge Dredd: Naked Lunch by Kenneth Niemand (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Jim Boswell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Skip Tracer: Valhalla by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon  Bowland (l)
Brink: Mercury Retrograde by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Jaegir: Ferox by Gordon Rennie (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Jim Campbell (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine #447
Cover: Phil Winslade.

Judge Dredd: Little Shop of Terrors by Kenneth Niemand (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Judge Anderson: Dissolution by Maura McHugh (w) Lee Carter (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Lawless: Ballots Over Badrock by Dan Abnett (w), Phil Windslade (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Bagged graphic novel: Feral & Foe by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Richard & Joe Elson (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire Vol. 4 by Mike Butterworth, Don Lawrence, Miguel Quesada & Philip Corke
Rebellion Publishing ISBN 978-178618784-0, 18 August 2022 26 October 2022 [delayed from 24 May 2022], 240pp, £23.99. Available via Amazon.

The fourth omnibus of the science-fiction classic, The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, collects the stories published from 1973 through to 1976. Don Lawrence's painted art continues to be a highlight of the series, and as he takes a sabbatical from the strip Miguel Quesada and Philip Corke match his impressive work with their own style. The Trigan Empire remains resilient against enemies on all fronts, from treacherous politicians, murderous Zith assassins, and alien invaders, Trigo and Janno protect the citizens of Elekton.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

The Great Cooper Books / Barrington Gray Hunt

Following on from my notes on Vawser & Wiles and Cresta Books, here's a checklist of Cooper Books (The Cooper Book Company) and a list of early Barrington Gray titles that might have been reprinted under the Vawser and Cresta imprints. If you have any of them, let me know the first line and who the main character is and we'll try to work out where they were reprinted and under which title and what byline.

Please note that I have updated the Barrington Gray section a couple of times and for this I have to thank Morgan Wallace and Tom Lesser for their hard work.


Begins with a numbered series which had differently coloured striped covers, then continues as an unnumbered series with illustrated covers.

1 Brede, Arnold • The Climbing Corpse • (Jan 1952) [red].
Opening line: "Tyres screamed. Machine guns rattled. Police sirens howled"

2 Howard, Kent • Small Time Crooks • (Jan 1952) [blue].
Opening line: "Micky Donovan stepped up alongside the little Greek and slugged him hard in the ribs."

3 Holt, Denis (Dennis Holt on cover) • Prince of the West • (Jan 1952) [green].
Opening line:

4 Brede, Arnold • An Outside Job • (Mar 1952) [yellow].
Opening line:

5 Howard, Kent • Go South - Go Crazy • (Mar 1952) [purple].
Opening line: Ask almost anyone in the United States of America which is the screwiest place in the whole forty-eight States and it;s a hundred to one that the answer will come pat, 'Los Angeles.'"

6 McCoy, Trent • I’ll Come Quietly • (Mar 1952) [blue].
Opening line: "Sue was my favourite dame. I was really wild about Sue."

7 Brede, Arnold • Vintage Stuff • (May 1952) [mauve].
Opening line: "Logan looked at the thing with interest and even wonder in his eyes."

8 Howard, Kent • Shooting Made Easy • (May 1952) [orange].
Opening line:

9 M’Cracken, Mike • Brand of the Big L • (May 1952) [pink].
Opening line:

10 Howard, Kent • Kearny Died Twice • (Nov 1952) [green].
Opening line: "Me, I never did trust that guy Corn Kearny all the way."

11 Barres, Jack • Last Gun Home • (Nov 1952).
Opening line:

12 Grey, Christopher • Heavy Sugar • (Nov 1952) [red].
Opening line: "You're liable to meet some very tough characters in Bronson's Bar and it was not the sort of place I do my drinking in from choice."

Barres, Jack • Double Cross Trail • (Apr 1953)
Opening line:

Howard, Kent • Dead for Pleasure • (May 1953) [Pollack].
Opening line:

Howard, Kent • A Private Killing • (May 1953) [Pollack].
Opening line:

Grey, Chris • Wake Up and Die • (May 1953)
Opening line: "The heat rose in sickening waves from the rough sidewalk and made the autos on the other side of the road quiver like as if they were made of jelly."

McCoy, Trent • Lady, What Now! • (May 1953).
Opening line: "Delman Frane didn't look good dead. He had a kind of resentful expression on his face."

Morelli, Al • It’s Easy Money • (May 1953)
Opening line:

Channing, Brent • Here Comes Trouble • (1953).
Opening line:

Conway, Whit • Death Row • (1953)
Opening line:

Advertised but not published:
Channing, Brent • Midnight Minx
M’Cracken, Mike • Big L Canyon


The following list is of gangster novels that might have been reprinted. It is not a definitive list of Gray's output.

Commorde, Ricky • A Dame is Snatched • (Sep 1952) [Pollack].
Opening line:

Connor, Skid • My Grave is for the Living • Grayling, (Jul 1950).
Opening line: "Standing under the shadowy trees well away from street lights, Felicity Gray looked a replica of the dozen or more young women slowly perambulating each sided of that quiet stretch of Bayswater Road between Lancaster Gate and the Marble Arch."

Death, Johnny • Death Dates a Dame • (Feb 1952). [features PI Johnny Death]
Opening line:

Death, Johnny • Deep is My Grave • (Aug 1951).
Opening line:

Duggan, Floyd • Pay-Off for a Dumb Dame • (Oct 1952).
Opening line: "Wilbur teetered just inside the door and, because he was nervous, he was swearing."

Foden, Frederick • Denver Lil • (Oct 1952).
Opening line: "The dame sure has some nice underwear, but don’t get me wrong, she isn’t in it."

Foden, Frederick • Dolls are Dynamite • (Jan 1954)
Opening line: "I couldn’t look at the dame without losing my senses."

Foden, Frederick • Frisco Doll • (Sep 1953)
Opening line: "I never killed the Dollar Dame, but I guess the only way I can prove that is to find out who did, and why, or else I’ll fry, which is why I’m waiting in the dame’s room."

Foden, Frederick • Hick Town Dame • nd (Nov 1952), 128pp, 1/6, [anon].
Opening line: "Have you ever watched a dame change her clothes?"

Gallico, Paul • Dames Spell Trouble • (Nov 1951), 128pp, 1/6.
Opening line: "You know your part, Paula, what will happen if you try to double-cross."

O’Hanna, Roy • Pacific Hideout • (Mar 1951),
Opening line: "The exotic perfume drifting from beneath the cream door of my hotel apartment should have warned me of the shape of things to come."

Saxon, Dirk • Sadie Plays Rough • (Feb 1956)
Opening line:

Wheatley, Chris • Baby, Don’t Get Rough •  (Mar 1953)
Opening line:

Wheatley, Chris • Dames, Diamonds and Death! • Grayling, (Jan 1951) [Pollack].
Opening line: "Leo put the car out full stretch, but Vic cursed, his dark handsome face twitching as he gripped the leather case."

Wheatley, Chris • Date for a Dame • Grayling, (Feb 1951) [features detective Nickie Howard]
Opening line: "In my experience it requires careful timing to successfully prime a dame with likker."

Wheatley, Chris • Dead Dames Can’t Cheat • (Sep 1951)
Opening line: "Nick Casswell pushed the girl away and stretched his hefty length up fro the settee in the lavishly furnished room behind the main floor of the Scarlet Slipper night-club."

Wheatley, Chris • Dizzy Dames Die Fast • (May 1951) [Pollack].
Opening line: "The Guy was dead!"

Wheatley, Chris • Hot Dames - Cold Lead • Grayling, (Jun 1951).
Opening line: "Yeah, she’s some dame, decided Rick Renfern."

Wheatley, Chris • Murder at the Blue Garter • (Jun 1951).
Opening line: "“It’s a razor, girlie, and not the safety sort,” said the dapper little man wearing the down-tilted soft hat and neat pin-striped suit."

Wheatley, Chris • Never Trust a Dame • (Jan 1956).
Opening line:

Wheatley, Chris • Red Ice • (Sep 1952) [Pollack?]. [features newspaperman Ken Gallis]
Opening line: "We're finished, Louie. The rackets only pay off with bullets from the police or a trip to the penitentiary, maybe the chair."

Wheatley, Chris • This Dame Spells Death • Grayling, (Sep 1950).
Opening line: "Nicolas Hilton, boss of the Nonpareil Night Club scowled with a mouthful of curses which would have stiffened the hair of his select patrons out on the main floor."

Wolfe, Hammond • Smart Dames Play Dumb • (1953?).
Opening line:


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