Friday, September 30, 2022

Comic Cuts — 30 September 2022

Things haven't been quite so exciting this week — I have a generally dull life spent sitting mostly in front of a computer or a TV screen, with the occasional walk to the Co-Op, the Post Office or for exercise. For the most part that's all I need to keep me happy, although it's not the jet-setting lifestyle I had hoped for.  That EuroMillions jackpot is taking longer than I thought.

Talking of things I hoped for... I was very pleased that a copy of Rayguns & Rocketships landed on my doormat this week. A hefty little brick of a book, beautifully produced by Korero Press, it has been in the works for a couple of years — I wrote my Foreword just over two years ago and I have been looking forward to seeing it in print ever since. It's a collection of science fiction book covers from the 1950s and 1960s, although there are a few examples that date back to the 19th century.

These vintage covers are what first attracted me to those old 'mushroom' publishers of the Fifties. I go into this in the Foreword, so I won't repeat myself here. All I'll say is that I tried to capture some of the thrill of discovering science fiction art. For me that was in 1974 and it helped shape my future. I also try to recall some of the hopes that I had as an 11-year-old and look at how some of them panned out. It all makes sense if you know that my original title for the Foreword was "The Future I Was Promised" — which I still prefer to the title that has been used in the book.

Other than that, it's a fantastic book gathering together an astonishing array of artwork, both good and bad, which in a way charts the history of British science fiction. As it concentrates chiefly on painted covers, there is a mainstream of SF that isn't included. Classics by H.G. Wells and the 'cosy' disaster novels of John Wyndham and John Christopher are missing as Penguin Books is covered in a sampling rather than the comprehensive coverage given to John Spencer, Curtis Warren, Hamilton & Co. and others at the cheaper (and artistically more entertaining) end of the market. But even these few paperbacks offer clues as to where science fiction cover art was heading by the early 1960s.

Pan Books is a good example, moving from the pending excitement of space travel in Gordon Davies' covers to more subtle, expressive pieces by W. Francis Phillipps. Panther, to my mind, went too far, with close-up photographic montages that were almost expressionist and utterly meaningless. Thankfully, publishers switched back to painted covers in the 1970s and, while they rarely had anything to do with the contents of the books, they were my gateway into reading writers who were poles apart, from E. E. 'Doc' Smith to Ursula Le Guin. There's a symmetry to my love of science fiction art: the 1950s covers of grand spaceships and  ray-gun toting spacemen giving way to the bristling battleships in space of the 1970s.

The book is officially due out on 24 November, according to the Korero website... just in time for Christmas! With 464 pages colour-packed pages, this is the ultimate gathering of vintage British SF book cover art, and it's better than you can imagine!

Rayguns & Rocketships by Rian Hughes
Korero Press ISBN 978-191274004-8, 2022, 464pp, £32.99. Available to pre-order.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Commando 5579-5582

A feast for the eyes in brand-new Commando issues 5579-5582 out today. Featuring secret weapons in Mount Etna, saboteurs in the Napoleonic Wars, two bitter blokes in the North African desert, and Ramsey's Raiders!

5579: Sharpshooters and Saboteurs

Fresh from the Battle of Sorauren, Wellington’s riflemen Tom Hopper and Samuel Jones join the British forces besieging San Sebastian, while guerrilla leader Maria Vitoria finds herself relegated to washing sheets. But, Maria soon cottons on to there being a traitor in the camp! Can she get to the bottom of it before tensions between the trio rise to a fever pitch?

The readers asked for more Napoleonic war Commandos and Andrew Knighton delivers with Issue 5579 Sharpshooters and Saboteurs, working with Manuel Benet on his next hotly anticipated set in the series!

Story | Andrew Knighton
Art| Manuel Benet
Cover | Manuel Benet

5580: The Mad Major

A secret formula for a weapon that could end the war? And the Nazis want to get their hands on it? AND the formula is inside the crater of Mount Etna? Only one man and his Special Air Service unit were MAD enough for this mission — Mad Major Alec Barber!

This Gold-era Commando comic features the dream team of Allan, Aguilar and R Fuente who cook up all the ingredients to Issue 5580 together into an unmissable comic!

Story | Allan
Art | Aguilar
Cover | R Fuente
Originally Commando No. 477 (1974).

5581: Ramsey’s Raiders: Desert Storm

And they're back! Ramsey's Raiders return on another adventure in the desert! But this time Captain Jimmy Ramsey has his own Mad Major to contend with, as the raiders stumble upon a beleaguered artillery convoy. Thinking it best to lend a hand soon gets out of hand when Ramsey has more than the Afrika Korps to contend with as the commanding officer is barmier than a bag of cats! Can the Raiders get out of this one or will they fall foul of the mad major and the deadly desert storm?!  

Ferg Handley’s series continues with Carlos Pino on interior artwork and cover duty, bringing a fresh coat of paint to the Ramsey’s Raiders.

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

5582: Unwilling Heroes

They were two men, a soldier and a pilot, who had risked their lives once to try to rescue a stranded airman from the merciless desert. Yet far from being awarded any medals they had found themselves being punished for disobeying orders. From then on they vowed never to stick their necks out again —but could that vow stand when the chips were down?

A classic Commando from the 1980s! From the brains of ‘Anglo’, who wrote and drew the interiors, and Philpott with another amazing cover — well, we’d be unwilling to miss it!

Story | Anglo
Art | Anglo
Cover | Philpott
Originally Commando No. 1840 (1984)

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 28 September 2022

It’s the sequel no-one wanted and which authorities did everything they could to prevent – but the corpulent giant alien Bonjo From Beyond The Stars has escaped and is lurching back into the pages of 2000 AD!

Prepare for a brand new tale of bilious chaos and comical carnage written by Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys) and drawn by the legendary artist and original Bonjo creator Kevin O’Neill (Nemesis the Warlock, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) – coming to the bumper Christmas issue of 2000 AD!

Bonjo From Beyond the Stars: Solids in the Bile Tube is a thirteen-page one-off story in 2000 AD Prog 2312, on sale 14 December 2022.

The strip marks O’Neill’s return to 2000 AD since drawing the concluding episode in 2000 of Nemesis the Warlock, his and Pat Mills’ groundbreaking series that began in 1980 and sealed O’Neill’s reputation as an artist of extraordinary skill and imagination.

However, Bonjo is no brave alien freedom fighter but a giant, idiotic alien with a voracious appetite who eats everything he comes into contact with! He now returns – unbidden, unwanted, and unfiltered – to 2000 AD in a gross, madcap and filthy new story that will have readers spraying invective with and at every page!

When Tharg heads to a publishers' conference and leaves the droids in charge, few expect the chaos that ensues when something emerges from the old filing cabinet marked 'Progatory', where old Thrills are supposed to go to die…

Garth Ennis said: 'Bonjo’s been stuck in my head ever since I first read his adventures back in 1978 - the character himself is adorable, his supporting cast is inspired (M.A.C.H. Sponge, M.A.C.H. Elephant and the heroic M.A.C.H. Aardvark), but the dialogue is simply irresistible: “Darn it- solids in the bile tube again! Have to mash it back down!” and the unforgettable “Uuur, what for you stick plunger up hooter?” A question well worth pondering; I find myself remembering that one almost daily.

'The story features Bonjo reappearing at the worst possible time in the worst possible way, as a money-hungry Tharg tries to impress other publishers with crossover possibilities featuring the Galaxy’s Greatest. What’s that stirring in the bottom drawer of the old King’s Reach Tower filing cabinet? Why should you never play poker with the VCs? And will Tharg’s droids save the day, or will they make things catastrophically worse?

'Kev and I had a hoot with Kids Rule OK in the Battle Action special, and I was delighted when he got in touch about doing another short story. Bonjo immediately came to mind- it’s not quite my first exposure to his work, which pops up all over the early progs, but it’s close enough. Bonjo provides a nice opportunity to talk about embarrassing old concepts that emerge right when you don’t want them to- which let's face it, is something that makes everyone laugh.

'Or if not everyone, me and Kev.'

Kevin O'Neill said: 'In space nobody can hear you- laugh! But Mad #215 used it: so BONJO 2: THIS TIME IT'S WARM! Kevin and Garth reboot unwanted, unloved and unburied page filler nobody asked for – took the Galactic Groats and ran.’

Matt Smith, editor of 2000 AD, said: 'For the last forty-four years, Squaxx dek Thargo had thought their progs were safe, that they’d seen the last of the interstellar menace. But he’s back, and not even Tharg can stop him. Bonjo From Beyond the Stars has returned in ‘Solids in the Bile Tube’, a thirteen-page story for the Xmas prog brought to you by Garth Ennis and Kevin O’Neill – and yes, it’s every bit as anarchic, filthy and bowel-looseningly funny as you’d expect. Few Thrills get as moist as this one, Earthlets.’

The original short humour strip, published over ten episodes between 1977 and 1978, was inspired by the humour titles of 2000 AD’s then-owners, IPC – including classic series such as Ken Reid’s ‘Faceache’.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2301
Cover: PJ Holden.

Judge Dredd: Half Smart by Arthur Wyatt (w) Dave Taylor (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Chimpsky’s Law: A Terrifically Disturbing Adventure by Ken Niemand (w) PJ Holden (a) Chris Blythe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Enemy Earth: Book One by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Future Shocks: Echo by Honor Vincent (w) Liana Kangas (a) Adam Cahoon (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Hershey by Rob Williams (w) Simon Fraser (a) Simon Bowland (l)

2000AD Regened Volume 4
by Liam Johnson, Ramzee, David Barnett, David Baillie, Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby, Colin Harvey, Karl Stock, James Peaty, Honor Vincent (w) Duane Redhead, Ben Wilsher, Luke Horsman, Korinna Mei Veropoulou, Nick Roche, Colin Macneil, Neil Googe, Steve Roberts, Tom Newell, V.V. Glass (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618587-7, 27 September 2022, 112pp, £13.99 / $18.99. Available via Amazon.

2000 AD's all ages science fiction anthology series is returns with a fourth thrill-powered collection of epic, action packed stories featuring all of your favourite characters and a brand new, exclusive Harlem Heroes strip! Cadet Dredd goes undercover as a renegade runaway! It's the Harlem Heroes versus the Harlem Hellcats in the most dangerous - and deadly - aeroball game Mega-City One's ever seen! Does Chopper have what it takes to evade the Judges and win the Sky Surfing competition? Travel to other dimensions with Jaina and Jacen in 'Splorers! And Judge Anderson is back with another collection of brainbusting puzzles! It's the Galaxy's best and brightest all-ages comic - it's 2000 AD Regened!

Best of 2000AD Vol. 1
by John Wagner, Dan Abnett, Alan Moore, Alan Grant, Jamie Delano, Alan Davies (w) Kev Walker, INJ Culbard, Ian Gibson, Carlos Ezquerra, Arthur Ranson, Brendan McCarthy, Jamie Hewlett, Alan Davies (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618706-2, 27 September 2022, 192pp, £14.99 / $22.99. Available via Amazon.

Best of 2000 AD is a landmark series from the cult comic, bursting with our greatest stories for a new generation of readers.
    Every Best of 2000 AD contains a mix of modern classics and gems from the vault. In each edition you'll find an explosive new Judge Dredd adventure, fresh essays by prominent popular culture writers, a graphic novel-length feature presentation by global legends and a vintage Dredd case.
    In this volume: Judge Dredd battles Mutie Block anarchy; Halo Jones escapes in Alan Moore’s first masterpiece; humanity is on the Brink in the space murder mystery from Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard; Judge Anderson takes centre stage in the search for Shamballa.
    Boasting brand new covers from an all-star line-up of artists including Jamie McKelvie (The Wicked + The Divine) and Karl Kerschl (Gotham Academy) with designer Tom Muller (X-Men), Best of 2000 AD is the essential gateway into the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Rocket Space Club

In my book Rocket: The First Space-Age Weekly, I wrote:

The debut issue contained a coupon for the [Rocket Space Club], with the instruction to “Keep this coupon for special founder membership of Rocket Space Club.” The club was designed to appeal to both sexes. “Space Observer and Space Nurse Badges, especially designed will be available to members. They can later qualify for the double-winged Space Pilot and Space Hostess Badge.”
    The “further details next week” revealed that by cutting out the coupons, readers would be given priority in obtaining membership, but it was only with issue three that a membership application form appeared. Four coupons were required, along with a Postal Order for 1/9d. and a stamped addressed envelope (2½d. stamp).
    The membership rank of Space Nurse was aimed at any young girls reading the paper. The question of women’s roles on spacecraft had been tackled in the ‘Editor’s Observatory’ in a response to a letter from 15-year-old readers Mary W. and Amy R. (Liverpool), who were advised that “Space Ships will certainly need nurses and hostesses.” (Rena Burrows, in ‘Captain Falcon’, holds the rank of Flight Nurse.)
    In issue 9 (16 June 1956) readers were assured that “The Rocket Space Club is growing to such an extent that it will soon be possible for members to start their own local Rocket Space Clubs. If you have started one do let me know about it, what you are doing and what your programme is.” However, while many members “now proudly wear the Space Pilot Wings—Senior Members of the most modern of clubs,” there was little else in the magazine for the membership beyond mentions in the editor’s letter and the inevitable application form and coupon.
    This changed with issue 11 (30 June 1956), where the Rocket Club became a more active part of the editorial page and, three issues later, the ‘Editor’s Observatory’ became ‘Rocket Space Club News’.
A reader who recently picked up a copy of the book mentioned that they had been a member of the Rocket Space Club and very kindly sent me a scan of the Space Observer Certificate, signed (well, a printed signature) by Douglas Bader, the supposed editor of Rocket. My thanks to Brian, who admits to being disappointed that he was not named, but given only a number.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Comic Cuts — 23 September 2022

A slightly chaotic week comes to an end with a trip to have my eyes checked. As I write this, that's still to happen, but will have happened by the time you read this. I may be able to add an update, but I might not as this kind of eye screening involves putting drops into the eye to expand the iris. It means you have blurry vision for a while; I made sure I had sunglasses last time as it was a bright, sunny day and I knew the walk back was not going to be comfortable. They insist you do not drive after the examination (not that I drive) and they like you to take someone with you to the appointment. It takes a few hours to wear off, so I'll have to see whether I can comfortably use the computer this evening.

I'll know the results in a week or two [UPDATE: apparently the wait is 4-6 weeks at the moment], although I'm not expecting to hear any bad news. My eyesight is getting worse and I'll probably need new glasses next year, but I haven't had any problems in the past few years. I've had poor eyesight since childhood and had corrective surgery at the age of seven. My Mum—from whom I get my inability to throw anything away—recently dug out two cards charting my out-patient appointments for my eye tests between 20 August 1969 and 8 May 1978; in all that time I had the same two doctors, Mark Smith and Miss Rivers (I don't think I ever knew her first name... you don't ask that kind of thing when you're seven).

The Big Move—shifting my office into the house from the garage—is still underway. We're still trying to clear some space, but we've now had ten boxes of books, DVDs and CDs exit the house and already have another couple of boxes filled for eventual removal. I still have some corners that I need to clear out and there's another company that we've never used before that I might try. The problem on the horizon is: What to do with the stuff that hasn't sold? I have 150-200 DVDs, many of which are likely  to fail to sell for cash. Thankfully, in this instance, there's a guy who lives not too far away who sells all sorts of stuff for charity that I've donated to in the past, so he might be getting a few boxes. I think Emmaus collects and maybe some of the other charity shops do, too.

In between scanning bar-codes, we managed to get out of the house on Saturday to see Mitch Benn at the Colchester Arts Centre. You can guarantee that something will happen at a Mitch Benn gig. This time he arrived on stage to announce in a low growl that he had all but lost his voice. Colchester was the second date of his tour... Dog knows what happened in Milton Keynes last Friday, but it left the singer/comedian with an interesting dilemma the following night.

Thankfully it was easily solved. Being a one-man band, he records backing tracks for himself that he can play during the gig, all run from a smart phone. He also records a full version, with lead vocals and lead guitar, so that he can sell albums of each tour as he tours. So this latest set of tracks—the It's About Time album—was already on his phone.

Popping throat lozenges and taking sips from a water bottle meant that Mitch could get through the interstitial talkie bits of the show, and he mimed all the songs, Top of the Pops-style. It worked remarkably well, with the occasional glitch as a song started half-way through or at the end because it hadn't been queued up properly. But it added to the laughs.

The latest album, incidentally, is sold on a key-chain as a little circular USB stick (I found a company that makes them here). It's a fantastic idea and an ideal way of selling music... far better than flogging cassettes out of the back of a car, which I remember bands doing in ye olde days. Mitch Benn has also included three full-length novels (the Terra trilogy) on his. Text in ebook formats only, of course, but I wonder whether any of my books could be sold that way? The minimum quantity looks like 25, so doing a limited edition might be a possibility. Something to think about!

What else has been happening? Dolmen, who are publishing a range of British strips in Spanish, have sent me a few books, including two volumes of Esther, reprinting 'Patty's World' from Girl. These have been coloured by Jose Arnau, who has done a beautiful job of turning black & white originals into rich, vibrant colour. There will be six volumes of these books reprinting the strip from Girl and I rather wish someone was publishing them in the UK.

There's to be a German collection of Don Lawrence artwork similar to the 'Scrapbook' that I compiled some years ago that was published as an Illustrators Special by Book Palace. Book Palace, incidentally, have some terrific books on their schedule, including a biography of Brian Bolland. What with Dave Gibbons and Bryan Talbot also publishing autobiographies, people like myself, with a fascination for the nuts and bolts of British comics, are living in interesting times.

Oh, and we got a new (old) table that someone was chucking out. Now residing in our living room.

I think that's all the news that's fit to print...

[UPDATE: Eyesight has been a bit blurry, but otherwise I haven't had any trouble. The eye screening involves photographing the back of the eye to check for any damage; they also compare the latest photos with past photos, this being my third time attending this kind of thing. Apparently it might take 4-6 weeks before I get the results, but I don't think there were any immediately visible problems. Phew!]

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 21 September 2022

The undead are taking over 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine in an epic crossover event – and it hits UK newsagent and comic book shelves today.

2000 AD Prog 2300 and Judge Dredd Megazine #448 combine into one storyline from a host of top and new talent.

Riffing off Garth Ennis’ 1990s Judge Dredd mega-epic ‘Judgement Day’, the myriad of worlds from 45 years of 2000 AD collide in multiple stories featuring legendary characters, all brought to (un)life by Ken Niemand, Henry Flint, Mike Carroll, Gary Erskine, Emma Beeby, Neil Googe, Karl Stock, Kieran McKeown, Dan Abnett, Russell M. Olson, Ian Edginton, D’Israeli, Arthur Wyatt, Toby Willsmer, Rob Williams, Staz Johnson, Leigh Gallagher, Kei Zama, Honor Vincent, Boo Cook, Gordon Rennie, Dan Cornwell, James Peaty, Nicolo Assirelli, Liam Johnson, Conor Boyle, and Steve Yeowell.

From Judge Dredd to Robo-Hunter, from Rogue Trooper to Strontium Dog, characters past and present come together in an undead event like no other – will the contagion of ‘Judgement Day’ consume the whole of the worlds of 2000 AD?

2000 AD Prog 2300 and Judge Dredd Megazine #448 will be available in North American comic book stores in October.

2000AD Prog 2300

Judge Dredd: Judgement Days
Writer: Ken Niemand; Art: Henry Flint; Letters: Annie Parkhouse
Rogue Trooper: Mortal Remains
Writer: Mike Carroll; Art: Gary Erskine; Colours: Yel Zamor; Letters: Simon Bowland
Survival Geeks
Writer: Emma Beeby; Art: Neil Googe; Colours: Gary Caldwell; Letters: Jim Campbell
The Meat Arena
Writer: Karl Stock; Art: Kieran McKeown; Colours: Matt Soffe; Letters: Simon Bowland
Sinister Dexter: Zed Zone
Writer: Dan Abnett; Art: Russell M. Olson; Letters: Annie Parkhouse
Ampney Crucis Investigates…: Setting Sons
Writer: Ian Edginton; Art: D’Israeli; Letters: Jim Campbell
Robo-Hunter: Z-Inf
Writer: Arthur Wyatt; Art: Toby Willsmer; Letters: Simon Bowland
Strontium Dog: In the (Dead) Doghouse
Writer: Rob Williams; Art: Staz Johnson; Colours: Chris Blythe; Letters: Jim Campbell

Judge Dredd Megazine #448

Judge Dredd: The Darkest Judge
Writer: Ken Niemand; Art: Leigh Gallagher; Colours: Chris Blythe; Letters: Annie Parkhouse
Shimura: Hope Lies Buried
Writer: Karl Stock; Art: Kei Zama; Colours: Gary Caldwell; Letters: Jim Campbell
Anderson, Psi-Div: Allied Forces
Writer: Honor Vincent; Art: Boo Cook; Letters: Simon Bowland
Missionary Man: The Lonesome Undeath of the Widow McCall
Writer: Gordon Rennie; Art: Dan Cornwell; Colours: Dylan Teague; Letters: Jim Campbell
Cadet Giant: ‘I am…’
Writer: James Peaty; Art: Nicolo Assirelli; Colours: Peter Doherty; Letters: Simon Bowland
Devlin Waugh: How I Lost the Waugh
Writer: Liam Johnson; Art: Conor Boyle; Colours: Barbara Nosenzo; Letters: Jim Campbell
Armitage: An Underlying Fear
Writer: Mike Carroll; Art: Steve Yeowell; Colours: John Charles; Letters: Simon Bowland

Friday, September 16, 2022

Comic Cuts — 16 September 2022

I'd have to say that this hasn't been a great week. It started on Thursday with some bad news that was unrelated to what was happening in Scotland involving the volume of books and magazines currently residing in the living room.

We've always had a space problem. Back in the previous property we rented, I had a lot of stuff stored in the attic, which I haven't got access to here because I had to move everything out in order to have the house insulated. The house is smaller and.... well, when all's said and done, I have collected way too much over the years and stuff has come into the house faster than it has left the house. During lulls when my income has trailed off from freelance work, I have always been able to fall back on eBay and selling odds and ends in order to stop my savings from hemorrhaging, but that takes time and a lot of effort—photographing or scanning images; uploading them to eBay; writing descriptions; weighing/measuring items to get the correct postage—and, of course, there's no guarantee that the item will sell.

I'm also (as I've mentioned here a couple of times) thinking of moving myself out of my office (an ex-garage, thin, flat roof, no wall insulation) and into the living room ahead of the winter in the hope that we will be able to shave a bit off the cost of our energy bills over the winter.

I'm thinking of tucking myself away at the back of the living room near the French windows. Hopefully that means light during the day and it also benefits from any heat generated in the kitchen of an evening.

Unfortunately there's what's technically known as a fuck-ton of boxes that I need to sort through and for the most part dispose of the contents between now and the end of October. Some can be moved into the garage once my desk, computer and my shelf of reference books has been moved out. But to do that, I have other boxes of books and magazines that need to be removed, like a sliding squares puzzle game.

We got off to what I thought was a good start using a couple of companies that buy books. We sorted through about 400 and the two companies bought just over half, which I boxed up and arranged collections for. The first, on Monday, went off without a hitch. The second, on Tuesday, didn't. I had five boxes, which DPD came to collect. Annoyingly, the driver's instructions said that he was collecting three boxes and he refused to take the other two, leaving behind two-fifths of what they had agreed to take—about 60 books. They're still sitting in the living room while we wait to see if we'll hear anything back from the company and whether it is worth dealing with them again. [UPDATE: We have finally heard back and arranged for the last two boxes to be picked up next week.]

I'm also planning to slim down the vast number of DVDs I've got sitting around, some of them unwatched for years, but I have dealt with a company that takes them before and hopefully they'll take some more.

Bizarrely, my best day was Wednesday, which started off nervously as I had a visit to the dentist lined up. Just a check-up, but I defy anyone to tell me that they honestly don't feel a deep sense of foreboding as their dental appointment approaches. I don't know why... I've not had any trouble with my teeth for years, and my previous check-up went fine. In fact, I commented in that week's Comic Cuts about how he was earning the equivalent of £150 an hour. Well, things are even better for him now—I was in the chair for 2½ minutes and most of that time was the chair being lowered to horizontal and then back up again. I figure he earned the equivalent of £714 an hour from my visit.

My problems don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world (to quote Humphrey Bogart). The news has been dominated by the death of Queen Elizabeth and the accession to the throne of King Charles III. I'm not the most loyal royalist, but if I was to Marie Kondo the monarchy, the same way as I'm doing to my DVD collection, I think they spark enough joy for me to want to keep them. I like a good pageant and nobody does pageantry like the royals.

I dug back into the collection of The Children's Newspaper to see how the last "changing of the guard" was covered by the paper, which also had a changing of the guard between the King's death in 1952 (editor Hugo Tyerman retired soon after) and the Coronation in 1953 (covered by his replacement, Sydney Warner). It was interesting to see that the editors commissioned pieces from authors Edward Lanchbery, Henry Treece and Malcolm Saville, who could give the readers a sense of both wonder and historical perspective.

Charles, of course, featured on the front cover of the very first issue of Look and Learn, so his credentials as a star of juvenile magazines dates back to at least sixty years. I have no doubt that his Coronation will be alluded to in The Beano at the appropriate time and he will be menaced in an appropriate way by Dennis.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Commando 5575—5578

Commemorating what would have been the legendary Ian Kennedy’s 90th birthday, Commando releases four classic issues from the 1970s and 1990s with cover and interior art by the master himself. Issues 5575-5578 are available to purchase in shops and online from Thursday 15th September, 2022.

For subscribers, accompanying the celebratory set are four exclusive art cards with stunning cover art on the front and a detailed montage from the interiors on the reverse.

5575: Jack’s Private War

The RAF was throwing everything they had into the air battles that raged daily over the burning, ancient sands of the North African Desert. And in the thick of it was Flight Lieutenant Jack Hammond, DFC. As he banked his hurricane, keen to blow another victim from the sky, little did he know that within hours he’d be sentenced to death! But Jack made a pact within himself, if he truly was dying then he’d go out fighting the Nazis!

While Ian Kennedy began his career at DC Thomson in 1949, his first gig famously filling in the black squares of The Sunday Post crossword, by 1974, Ian was working freelance but providing numerous covers for Commando. ‘Jack’s Private War’ was the first issue for which Ian drew interiors for the title — and what an absolute treat it is. Ian would go on to do four more interior issues of Commando, three of them included in this memorial set.

Story | Ken Gentry
Art| Ian Kennedy
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 813 (1974).

5576: The Sand-Devils

They said Sammy Hamilton was stretching his luck when he volunteered for an extra tour of desert ops… especially when his new squadron tangled with the fanatical pilots of The Black Wolf Squadron who had sworn a terrible oath of vengeance on them! But they had messed with the wrong blokes, as the crack pilots of Bomber Command’s Sand-Devils were on their way too!

While the original cover in 1974 was done by Jacono, this was only on a single-use basis and so when it was reprinted in 2013 the gaffer stepped up to recreate the fabulous cover, which we have reissued now — and what a spectacular job he did!

Story | RA Montague
Art | Ian Kennedy
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 832 (1974).

5577: Cougar Squadron

In the skies over Vietnam, the American and North Vietnamese fought for supremacy day after day. When expert tactician Major John Gardener was given command of the crack Cougar Squadron, he thought his great planning skills would make all the difference. But he found out quickly that tactics on the ground did not always work in the air. Especially when you are up against an enemy who is every bit as cunning and able as you are!
Proving he was the master of all aircraft, Ian Kennedy’s classic dogfight cover shifts from the usual skies of the Second World War to the Vietnam War. And with insets of the two rival pilots’ heads, this cover is a bingo card of what we love about an Ian Kennedy cover.

Story | Ian Clark
Art | Ian Kennedy
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 2967 (1996).

5578: Fury Strike

On the Yellow Sea off the west coast of Korea, June 1951, Hawker Sea Fury fighter-bomber aircraft were launched from a Royal Navy carrier as part of the United Nations force locked in the bitter war between North and South Korea. Leading them was Lieutenant Commander Tommy Kane and Sub-Lieutenant Jacko Jackson — and, even though the MiG15s outclassed them, they weren’t going to let that stop them!

A stunning wraparound cover, it’s easy to see why Ian Kennedy is so synonymous with Commando, his aircraft covers, in particular, were fan-favourites. Like ‘Cougar Squadron’ and ‘Jack’s Private War’, you can see details of the original cover in ‘The Art of Ian Kennedy’, released in 2019 by DC Thomson.

Story | Alan Hemus
Art | Ian Kennedy
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 3024 (1997)

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Rebellion Releases — 14 September 2022

This September, five legendary 2000 AD classics are being turned into brand new dramatic audio adaptations – and they're available now!

Featuring the voices of Peter Serafinowicz (Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars), Amber Rose Revah (The Punisher), Adam Basil (Venom 2), Chuku Modu (Game of Thrones), Colin Salmon (James Bond, Resident Evil) and Keith Allen (Trainspotting, Kingsman), 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. 2hrs 56m. Available via Amazon.

Judge Dredd: Dredd 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. 1hr 49m. 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. 2hrs 35m. 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!

Stars: Natalie Simpson, Roy McMillan, Keith Allen, Patrick Warner. 5hrs 15m. 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!

Stars: Ako Mitchell, Rupert Degas, Vaughn Joseph, Mitchell Mullan, Chuku Modo, 2hrs 46m. Available via Amazon.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2299
Cover: Toby Willsmer.

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)

Judge Dredd: Legends of the Law Book One by John Wagner, Alan Grant, etc.
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618685-0, 13 September 2022, 176pp, £19.99 / $24.99. Available via Amazon.

DC Comics take on Mega-City One’s toughest lawman! Launched in late 1994 to coincide with the release of the 1995 Judge Dredd movie, Legends of The Law was a 13-issue series published by DC comics and initially written by Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner and his (then) writing partner, Alan Grant. This book collects the first seven issues for the first time since their original publication. The madness and majesty of Mega-City One are perfectly captured in these full-colour, all new stories, Judge Dredd is presented with a host of colourful villains, including the organ-harvesting, musical-obsessed Dr. Bliss!

Friday, September 09, 2022

Comic Cuts — 9 September 2022

We've had a lively week, with some work on two books and a day trip out to Walton to see the sea for the second time in a matter of weeks. I'm taking advantage of Mel's holidays to get out of the house, and I haven't been to Walton since I was a kid. Its full name is Walton-on-the-Naze, but the Naze isn't a river, as you might expect, but a headland sticking out into the North Sea. There's a famous tower (Naze Tower) that was at one time a light-house, although we didn't walk up the coast quite that far.

We did, however, walk quite a distance in weather that was hot but blustery, which kept it feeling too hot. There had been rain in the morning, but the skies cleared while we were making our way there and it managed to stay dry until we were coming back home, when we ran into a very sharp shower storm that soaked everything for five minutes and then abruptly stopped. Thankfully we were sat in a cozy, dry train carriage for the whole shower.

With schoolkids back in class, the beaches were for the most part empty, apart from what looked like five coach-loads of day-trippers up from London, who were clustered together in one stretch of beach. The rest of the front was quietly colourful, lots of beach huts and one or two (generally elderly) folk taking in the last of the summer sun. We got talking to a little group who were renting a cottage in town, and, as is often the way, it turned out they were from just around the corner from where my Mum lives.

The pier had been closed down all summer, so we didn't take a walk along its length. We did have some very nice fish and chips and pottered around the High Street for a bit, although we found only two charity shops. All in all, a very pleasant day.

It was nice to relax as I had had a couple of days at full pelt, one trying to sort out illustrations for a book to (potentially) be published in Germany. If it happens I've already done the work; if it doesn't I don't get a penny. Just one of the perils of freelancing.

I'm also still copy-editing this book about a world trip by bike. I'm hoping to have it finished by the end of the week, as I have another scanning job already lined up and a deadline.

Last weekend was the annual Invasion Colchester event, with the centre of town invaded by cosplayers, a fantastic way of collecting for charity and a fun day out for youngsters, who like to dress up as their favourite heroes, whether that's Spider-Man or Elsa. This was the first since 2019, and town was packed. Maybe because it was the most crowded I had experienced for three years, I was finding taking photos incredibly frustrating... by the time my camera had focused you could bet pounds to pennies that someone had wandered into the foreground of the shot, or the character you were trying to photograph had turned because a little kid wanted a selfie.

Luckily, Mel was also in town, and managed to fill a few gaps, so the regular Invasion Colchester photo selection isn't too bad. I see I have been posting these for ten years now. The first was in 2011. Looking back through the Comic Cuts columns for that period, I didn't even mention it as it coincided with a period when I was busy with one of the early books that appeared from Bear Alley (the C. L. Doughty collection, which took ages to complete), but I was there... I just forgot to take my camera. Same goes for 2013, when I had the release of the Boys' World book to distract me.

Thankfully, I have been better organised for the other eight years the event has been held. And there's always the Facebook page, which has a gallery of over 200 images from this year's event. Scroll down to see mine and Mel's photos. If you've arrived from Facebook to this specific post, just click on the Bear Alley banner and that will take you to the home page where you can see all my recent posts. I don't know if that works on all blogs, but that's the way I set mine up!

Invasion Colchester 2022

Photos from Invasion Colchester 2022, 3 September 2022. For more information, see the latest episode of Comic Cuts.


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