Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Heritage Comics presents Love and War!


Commando Presents… War At Sea Volume One: Spitfires of the Sea — available digitally on Kindle and comiXology from Wednesday 1st March.

For this anthology, we’ve sailed over the oceans of comics to bring you some of the best nautical Commandos on the seven seas! This volume is dedicated to Motor Torpedo Boats — the little but vital ships of the Royal Navy during World War Two.  

Fast, sleek, agile — the Spitfires of the Sea— Motor Torpedo Boats were able to race into battle gun’s blazing — taking on the enemy with their torpedoes, deck guns, and sheer speed! These were called the little ships of the Senior Service, and their crews were renowned for their bravery and grit in the face of the enemy.
This special edition collects four of the best Commando comics featuring the toy boats of the Royal Navy during WW2 in stunning black and white art. Collating classic Commandos #1080 ‘Full Speed East’, #1517 ‘Rescue!’, #1758 ‘Find Them, Sink Them!’, and #5195 ‘Spitfires of the Sea’, this volume is perfect for fans of British comics.  

Also included in this digital edition is a cover gallery, featuring the original artwork for each issue.
Look out for new Commando Presents… and Heritage Comics digital releases in the coming months!


From the 1960s until the 1990s, Star Love Stories entertained eager readers with book-length romantic dramas in comic strip form. Delving into these timeless tales — like revisiting long-lost love letters from the past — we bring you a classic STAR selection available digitally on Kindle and comiXology from Wednesday 1st March.

In this volume, intrigue, treachery, mystery, and cold-blooded revenge add a dash of spice to Star's usual blend of passion, heartbreak and romance...

Kelly Mason has big dreams of the big break that will take her to the top in the glamour game. But sometimes a dream come true can become a nightmare in the making!

Alison King had the cunning and determination to get ahead in modelling... whatever the cost! But maybe the cost of her success is a price too high to pay!

When Julie Denton met wealthy David Stockland, she couldn't have guessed that their whirlwind romance would quickly lead to the altar... and then to the graveside!

1815, Somerset... The beautiful Caroline Bennet has eyes only for Jarmyle Hall, her family home until it was lost to the man who shot her father dead in a duel.

Look out for new Commando Presents… and Heritage Comics digital releases in the coming months!

Friday, February 24, 2023

Comic Cuts — 24 February 2023

You won't notice any difference, but I am writing this on my laptop for the first time. While we were getting the various programmes downloaded and working with Windows 11, not always the easiest thing, I have continued to use my PC. But I'm trying to wean myself off the old system, which isn't easy after so many years. I have had the same monitor for at least fifteen years, and the same keyboard for as long... the lettering has worn away on so many keys that it's unusable to anyone but a touch typist.

Just getting used to the new keyboard is taking some time. It's slimmer, doesn't require the same amount of weight and there's no number pad on the side. I can no longer use Alt 0151 to create an em dashone of the finest tools in a writers vocabulary. I use them a lot, probably because I grew up reading British weekly adventure comics and there were a lot of sentences that ended suddenly with a !

I haven't been able to find a keyboard shortcut that will insert one: Microsoft Word will automatically turn two dashes (--) into an em dash (—), but I can't find a method to create them in Thunderbird (which I use for email) nor for Blogger (which is where I'm writing this). I always used Alt 0151 when I needed one.

The situation is only temporary, as my plan is to plug in (or wirelessly link with Bluetooth) a normal keyboard as soon as possible. Once I have that number pad back, it'll be em dashes every other sentence!

You may be thinking that migrating to the laptop is taking forever... it certainly feels like it some days. The problem is that I am limited by my knowledge of computers and needed help to get things started. Now that my email (for instance) is working, I have been able to sort out a few things on my own. On Tuesday I spent the morning trying to get my scanner
I think I got in around October 2005, which means it will be able to legally drink in six months time—to work with an up-to-date Windows 11 operating system.

It took an enquiry to the Epson support team in the States to help with the problem when the preview panel disappeared. Actually, their help didn't... help, that is. But I fumbled towards a solution and have produced some scans that I can use. The one problem I haven't resolved is orientation—the scans are coming out turned 90 degrees clockwise and I'm not sure how I can get them to scan portrait rather than landscape. I'll have another bash at resolving that one later.

Again, if it seems like I'm moving at the speed of a tortoise over solving these problems, it's because I'm still trying to keep up with work. I have finished two books this year so far and have the artwork for another two scanned, both of which need to be finished in the next six weeks. I was also trying to update an old Forgotten Authors essay as I was contacted by a relative who added a lot to my knowledge of an obscure author, including some ghost writing for a once popular writer of secret service thrillers. I'm still trying to figure out who wrote what, but I'll let you know the results as soon as I have everything figured out... I've had to buy a couple of books for reference. I'm trying not to fill up the house again, and one of the two I bought on Kindle. Never bought a Kindle book before. This could be a slippery slope.

I'm hoping that Bear Alley will have another book out soon, a project dating back to 2008
—another example of me moving at glacial speed. At the time I was experimenting with print on demand services and a friend had scanned and OCRd an old penny dreadful. I turned it into a book, which I was very pleased with and thought deserved to be more widely seen. But I've just never had the time to proof the text, which was full of OCR errors. I have roped Mel into helping, so the text should be error free; and I need to revise the author biography I attached to it as I know a bit more than I did 15 years ago... but hopefully we'll have that out in the spring and I can start looking at the next comic reprint.

I have my eyes on reprinting some Jesus Blasco. How's that for a tease?

(* Yes, these are the scans I mentioned... a few books I have picked up around town this week, including a William Gibson I already have, although in a different edition, and a book new to me by an author new to me... apparently HB Lyle's 'irregular' spy thriller features the Baker Street Irregulars, which was enough to intrigue me. The Bradbury I remember having a copy of back in my younger days, but it disappeared when I culled my SF collection in the early 2000s. The Tracing the History of Your House is from the Public Records Office and I sometimes find some useful tools in these kind of books that I can use to discover more about book and comic creators.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 22 February 2023

Battle Action
is back and it’s bigger and better than ever!

Rebellion are proud to announce that following the huge success of 2022’s Battle Action special, bestselling writer Garth Ennis returns to once again reintroduce and reinvigorate the legendary British comics combo in a new series.

He is joined by some of the greatest talents in comics – including John Wagner (Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog), Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy, Warhammer 40k), Torunn Grønbekk (Thor, Punisher: War Journal), Rob Williams (Suicide Squad, Judge Dredd), John Higgins (Watchmen, Judge Dredd) and Chris Burnham (Batman Incorporated, Unstoppable Doom Patrol) – to bring new life to even more characters from the pages of Battle Picture Weekly and Action!

Launching 31 May in 2000 AD-size magazine format, and available through comic book stores and the 2000 AD and Treasury of British Comics webshops, the new five-issue miniseries will feature the return of fan favourite World War Two flying ace ‘Johnny Red’ as well as the return of Battle Picture Weekly’s co-creator John Wagner to ‘HMS Nightshade’, the series he co-created with artist Mike Western in 1979, which tells the story of a Royal Navy warship protecting Allied shipping from the U-Boat menace.

Wrapped in stunning covers by award-winning artist Keith Burns, each 32-page issue will feature two incredible stories of daring, courage, and action, such as ‘Crazy Keller’, ‘D-Day Dawson’, ‘Dredger’, ‘Major Eazy’, ‘Hellman of Hammer Force’, and ‘Nina Patrova and The Angels of Death’.

Garth Ennis said: “So it looks like my cunning plan worked, and there will indeed be more Battle Action. I’m delighted to welcome writers Rob Williams, Torunn Grønbekk, Dan Abnett and in particular original Battle creator John Wagner on board for the new series, alongside ten (count them) fantastic artists – some returning from last year’s special, some newcomers to our noble endeavour. Having John produce the first ‘HMS Nightshade’ script in forty years is the icing on the cake.”

Editor Oliver Pickles said: “The Battle Action special last year was a huge success for us, so it’s a delight to be able to return to these classic titles. We have a really first class line-up of creators who don’t just understand the legacy of these characters but how to bring them forward in new and exciting ways.”

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

Battle Action #1 is out on 31 May from comic book stores and will be available for stores to order through Diamond Distribution’s Previews magazine. It will also be available in print and digital from the 2000 AD and Treasury of British Comics webshops and digitally through the 2000 AD app.

Issue 1 on sale: 31 May

  • JOHNNY RED by Garth Ennis and Keith Burns
  • HMS NIGHTSHADE by John Wagner and Dan Cornwell

Issue 2 on sale: 28 June

  • CRAZY KELLER by Garth Ennis and Chris Burnham
  • D-DAY DAWSON by Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade

Issue 3 on sale: 26 July

  • DREDGER by Garth Ennis and John Higgins
  • MAJOR EAZY by Rob Williams and Henry Flint

Issue 4 on sale: 30 August

  • COOLEY’S GUN by Garth Ennis and Staz Johnson
  • DEATH SQUAD by Rob Williams and PJ Holden

Issue 5 on sale: 27 September

  • HELLMAN OF HAMMER FORCE by Garth Ennis and Mike Dorey
  • NINA PETROVA AND THE ANGELS OF DEATH by Torunn Grønbekk and Patrick Goddard

And now, this week's birthday issue... Happy 46th, 2000AD!

2000AD 2320
Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (col).

Judge Dredd: Taking Doors by Ken Neimand (w) Kieran McKeown (a) Matt Soffe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Out: Book Three by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Joe Pineapples: Tin Man by Pat Mills (w) Simon Bisley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Order: Heart of Darkness by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Proteus Vex; Crawlspace by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)


Friday, February 17, 2023

Comic Cuts — 17 February 2023

The good news is that I have the artwork for another book cleaned up and I'll be spending the next week writing a couple of introductions. I've managed to throw myself out of sync: I got one day into researching the introduction that I was planning to write at the beginning of last week and stumbled upon a book on the subject of invisibility – the very subject I'm planning to talk about as this is for the next Steel Claw book. But my week has been so broken up that it made more sense to work on artwork, which I can dip in and out of, and wait until I had a couple of days free to skip-read this book.

My new laptop has been keeping me busy. We (and by 'we' I mean someone else) managed to migrate my emails across from the PC pretty much intact. I need to check everything, but at the moment the only thing that didn't copy across was 11 draft emails. I've no idea why, or how I fix the problem. Not that it's a major problem, as some of those drafts date back to 2006.

Just to give you an idea of the size of the task ahead, let me begin by saying that I tend to do things on an industrial scale. So there was over 20gb of emails to transfer from version 5 of my email programme to the laptop, on which we put version 102 (!!!) of the same programme.

Throughout the week I have been loading up various programmes. Not a vast number, but to a non-techie like myself getting a USB connector into the right socket is a breakthrough and doing something as complex as downloading a programme is like wizardry. Installing the programme once it's downloaded is Dark Arts stuff that I'm not sure I should be involved in.

Getting a programme to run is just the first salvo of my problems. For instance, on iTunes I currently have links to 713 albums and subscribe to 54 podcasts (I refer you back to my "industrial scale" comment above). Getting that lot set up again is going to take a while. I did, however, manage to install Windows Office all by myself and it works! I was so proud I emailed Mel at work to let her know she was living with a genius.

Talking of which... I mentioned some bad news last week. Well, Mel's place of work — and my former employers on and off for thirty years — are shutting up shop. Aceville Publications was the home of Comic World in 1992-95, and I was also editor of various other titles for them over the years: Model & Collectors Mart, a short-lived spin-off about radio controlled models, a 4x4 magazine (and me a non-driver!), Science Fiction World in 2000, a few titles that never made it, and most recently Hotel Business. My last work for them was in 2018-19, writing material for their What Franchise? website.

When I started, just before Christmas 1991, the firm was in a ramshackle building at 89 East Hill, Colchester, with three floors. I was tucked away around a corner at the back of the top office and pretty much left to my own devices. This was in the days of typesetters, waxing strips of text to board and doing colour markups on sheets of tracing paper. Graham Baldock, our designer, did that on the kitchen table of the house where I was living, and then we would race across town to the railway station to send everything off by Red Star to the printers in Leeds. When I started, I was the only employee with a computer and I was able to give our typesetters most of the magazine's text on a 5 1⁄4-inch floppy.

We moved to Castle House, literally carrying desks up the hill to get to our new home, where we had more space and the company began to expand beyond the range of 'Mart' titles filled with advertising on crappy newsprint, to glossy mags like Teddy Bear Club International and Telecard Collector International, both of which I wrote for. I remember there was an offshoot company based down on the south coast which published Making Money, which I also wrote for — often early issues to help get them off the ground until they could build up a stable of writers.

The technology was changing: the editorial staff now had computers and we used Zip drives to take our computer files to designers and then to outputters where we could get a colour cromalin proof printed off.

Freelancing from home, meant having a second phone line installed so we could access this new thing called the internet. I remember staying up all night trying to download pictures to accompany movie articles. Aceville were expanding into crafts magazines and business publications and sold off their Mart titles to Trinity Mirror (publishers of the Daily Mirror), who set up Trinity Publications in Birmingham. I worked for them and then for MS Publishing, another Aceville spin-off which had big plans to launch a slate of magazines but which folded four issues into their two debut titles.

I had some great times at Aceville with some fantastic people. The company was greatly expanded when I went back to work for them in 2015. They were in a new building at the Hythe, which I knew because Mel had been working there for many years. The company was taken over in its entirety by DC Thomson in 2018 and everyone thought they were going to be able to weather any problems that the print industry was facing — primarily rising costs and falling advertising revenue. At the time, Aceville had about 50 magazines (up from the 17 they were publishing in 1996); but that figure had fallen to around 35-40 when I went back briefly in 2018/19.

Now the whole company is to close, with Thomson also closing half a dozen titles edited at their Dundee HQ. It's a sad end for Aceville, especially as the company was doing well, as far as we knew. DCT called it "one of the fastest-growing publishing houses in the UK" only five years ago, but now they're making £10m in cuts... presumably because they could only pay their shareholders £24m in dividends last year.

What we need is for Aceville's founder, Martin Robinson, to buy the company back, re-employ the hugely skilled teams – editorial, design, the IT guys, the photographers, the advertising staff – that made the company one of the fastest-growing publishing houses in the UK, and let them get back to producing magazines.

(* Illustrations this week are some of the magazines I worked on at Aceville. The only one that isn't is Books, Maps & Prints, which had already folded by the time I arrived, although I found some back issues in storage. Comic Collector was where I started in 1991; Teddy Bear was edited by Nikki Smith, whose boyfriend I employed on Comic World towards the end of its run; Telecard Collector was run by a weird guy called John Walters, who had to be bailed out of trouble more than once; Period Ideas I worked on for a couple of months, filling-in for the sub-editor who had broken her leg.... all I really remember of it was running around the streets of Colchester photographing rotting window frames for one of the articles I wrote; and What Franchise was my last job there in 2018-19, writing 120,000+ words for their website rather than the print mag. We were (I'm bound to say) overworked and underpaid, but I have so many happy memories – all of them about the people we worked with in house or as freelancers. It's sad to see it all pass on to that great editorial office in the sky.)

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Commando 5619-5622

The latest Commando issues are out today, Thursday 16th February 2023!

5619: Achtung, Destroyer!
This is where it all began, in the Mediterranean Sea, 1941.
John Griffin and Martin Beaumont were two Aussie skippers poles apart in nature. One was a stickler for the rules, the other had but one — do whatever it takes. However, a German raider was about to bring them both together to form an unlikely alliance. That was, if they didn’t sink each other first…

Following Mario Morhain’s sad passing last year, Esteve Polls takes the artistic reins of The Wombat The Tiger series, doing his predecessor proud. Towns’ prequel telling all about the pair’s origins and vendetta does not disappoint either, and with another cracker of a cover from Keith Burns, this sensational series strikes again!

Story | Brent Towns
Art| Esteve Polls
Cover | Keith Burns

5620: Moment of Truth

The two Royal Engineers sprang to their feet and sprinted down the tunnel, heading for the open air and safety. Behind them came a menacing chatter as the German armoured car opened up with its machine gun, the heavy bullets whining and spattering off the concrete walls. At any moment a ricochet might hit the carefully-laid demolition charges, bringing down the roof and burying them in a tumult of crashing rubble and choking, swirling water. Could they make the last vital yards to safety?

This 1970s classic is a tense tale from Golden-Age Commando writer Bernard Gregg, with stunning interiors from Mira and an action-packed cover from the master himself, Ian Kennedy.

Story | Bernard Gregg
Art | Mira
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 953 (1975).

5621: North Sea Fury
In 1940, Erik Jacobsen and his father Harold worked on a fishing boat called “Agnetha”. Their life was peaceful until one day, it was spotted by a German Heinkel 111 hellbent on vengeance!
For not long before, this Heinkel had been forced to crash-land after being shot up by a fishing boat named “Agatha”. Well, this case of mistaken identity was about to become fatal!

A classic yarn from Steve Taylor, reminiscent of traditional Commandos, Carlos Pino’s terrific artwork brings the characters and action to life.

Story | Steve Taylor
Art | Carlos Pino
Cover | Carlos Pino

5622: The Fighting Swordfish

With the stick pulled right back and the engine screaming, the plane missed the heads of the startled Germans by mere inches.

For a day and a night, this Fairey Swordfish had been grounded in hostile territory, all for the want of a piece of copper tubing and a soldering iron. And they still weren't safely away yet...

The master of aviation artwork is back in this set, as Ian Kennedy does what he does best — painting planes in peril!

Story | Ross
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1422 (1980)

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 15 February

Originally published during the adventure gamebook boom of the 1980s, Dice Man has never been reprinted in its entirety before, but now the complete run of the popular magazine is presented in this massive collection.

Using dice and a pencil, you will become Judge Dredd as he faces off against the Dark Judges, or guide Nemesis the Warlock as they race through the Torture Tube, or help Sláine steal the Cauldron of Blood from the Tower of Glass!

Written by John Wagner, Pat Mills, and Simon Geller, with art by Bryan Talbot, Garry Leach, Graham Manley, John Ridgway, Kevin O’Neill, Mark Farmer, Mike Collins, Nik Williams, Steve Dillon, David Lloyd, Glenn Fabry, and David Pugh, this is the definitive collection of these fantastic dice-based role-playing games.

Out on 24 May, The Complete Dice Man is available in standard hardcover or a special limited edition webshop hardcover, signed by Pat Mills.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2319
Cover: Simon Coleby / Jim Boswell (cols).

Judge Dredd: The Hagger They Fall by Arthur Wyatt, Rob Williams (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Out: Book Three by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Joe Pineapples: Tin Man by Pat Mills (w) Simon Bisley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Order: Heart of Darkness by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Proteus Vex; Crawlspace by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 453
Cover: Nick Percival.

Judge Dredd: One-Eyed Jacks by Ken Niemand (w) Kieran McKeown (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Storm Warning: Dead & Gone by John Reppion (w) Clint Langley (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Dark Judges: Death Metal Planet by David Hine (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Devlin Waugh: Karma Police by Aleš Kot (w) Rob Richardson (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Judge Dredd: Year One by Matt Smith (w) Simon Coleby (a) Leonard O'Grady (c) Chris Mowry (l)
Judge Dredd - Mega-City Two: City of Courts by Douglas Wolk (w) Ulises Farinas (a) Ryan Hill (c) Tom B. Long (l)
Treasury Classic: Romance Comics by Carlos Ezquerra (a)
Surfer: Book Two by John Wagner (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Features: Gerry Anderson retrospective, Honor Vincent interview, Michael Molcher interview

Friday, February 10, 2023

Comic Cuts — 10 February 2023

Reading Festival, August 1983. l-r: Simon, Sue, Anita, Andy (bottom of frame), Mark and Spencer
We had a nasty shock mid-week which has rather thrown us for a loop. It's not my story to tell, but I'll get to it once the news is out.

Until then I was having quite a jolly week, doing a bit of research and writing on Monday for the fifth Steel Claw volume from Dolmen before switching to cleaning up artwork for the third Mytek book. A bit of back and forth with editors at The Guardian meant that we signed off on the David Sutherland obituary on Sunday and it appeared online on Monday.

I was having a bit of a new music week, which I do every now and then to see if I can expand my horizons rather than listen to the same bands day in, day out. I usually do this by looking through music news sites and listening to podcasts. There was one called The European Perspective which covered non-US prog bands where I first heard current favourites Big Big Train and Frost*.

I'm not surrounded by people influencing me in the way I was at school. Friends had favourite bands that I latched onto, mostly heavy rock or prog rock. Our little group of pals included Judas Priest & Genesis fan Mark Hinkly, Deep Purple & Rainbow (basically Ritchie Blackmore) fan Mick Jones and UFO fan Fred Weeds; Mark Sedgwick got me into Hawkwind, Gong, Here & Now and others; I went out briefly with someone who was into Jimi Hendrix; and I brought Rush to the mix, thanks to hearing them on Tommy Vance's Friday Night Rock Show.

It was under a tenner to get up to London, so we went to a lot of gigs, seeing a lot of heavy metal bands (Motorhead, Girlschool, Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, Saxon, Samson and a lot of NWOHM bands), and prog bands (Marillion, Magnum, Pallas and others during the prog revival of the early 1980s).

Going to watch bands all but disappeared when everyone split up and went to university; I started going to festivals – Donnington, Reading, Knebworth – when we got together during the summer, which meant I got to see Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, and dozens of other bands. People disappeared into jobs and were no longer around; I was working during the day and tapping away at a typewriter in evenings, and eventually I stopped going to gigs.

Which brings me back to this week. I was looking for some music to listen to while I'm writing introductions, writing my blog, doing bits of research. Podcasts are great, but not while I need to concentrate – you use the same bit of your brain to decode what someone is saying that you use when you are creating your own sentences, so you either tune out people talking while you're writing, or you're not writing!

So I poked around and have come up with three (actually four) bands that I'm trying out. First is an old prog band that was around in the early days of Marillion and the likes: Solstice. As well as the usual keyboards and guitars (lead guitarist Andy Glass is excellent), they also have a violinist and a very good female lead singer in Jess Holland (no relation). The band have had quite a few ups and downs, and I've picked up their latest two albums, Sia and Light Up. Both are at the folkier end of the prog scale, but have the musical complexity you would expect of a prog band. The latter album has only just come out and I've only heard it once, but Sia I've now listened to a few times, and it's a delight. There are also a few videos of them performing songs from both albums available on Youtube if you want to give them a try.

I'm waiting on the first album (The Architect, reviewed here) from a band called eMolecule, who have released a couple of singles that I liked. I didn't know anything about them, but it turns out that the two members, Simon Collins and Kelly Nordstrom, are both ex-members of a band called Sound of Contact. I managed to track down their album Dimensionaut and it's great... a bit of Genesis, a bit of Pink Floyd. It was only later that I discovered that Simon Collins is the son of Phil Collins and I'd actually seen him playing only recently when I watched the final Genesis gig that was posted to Youtube.

The last band I've picked up on is Crown Lands, their name a bit of a clue to the indigenous Canadian background of lead vocalist and drummer Cody Bowles. You can hear Geddy Lee and Robert Plant in his voice. Guitars, keyboards and pedals are provided by Kevin Comeau, who doesn't need anybody else to fill out the sound. I'm still getting to grips with them... there are two albums plus a live album and some EPs and their latest single – Fearless Part II – sounds like a Rush epic.

I'm adding these three to my playlist alongside Pure Reason Revolution, a discovery from last year. We shall see who survives as the switchover to my laptop from my PC (yes, that's still going on!) will mean that all my music will have to be stored on external hard drives and I'll have to relink everything in iTunes. I probably won't... I'll probably let Windows Media Player take care of the music and leave iTunes to deal with podcasts. First world problems, eh?

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 8 February 2023

Relive your childhood by going back to the classic comics from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Whether you were reading them under your covers with a torch, or getting a sneaky read in class, we have the classic comics and characters on a range of t-shirts to give you that nostalgic hit when you need it.

Order from here.

And here's this week's release...

2000AD Prog 2318
Cover: Toby Willsmer.

Judge Dredd: The Hagger They Fall by Arthur Wyatt, Rob Williams (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Out: Book Three by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Joe Pineapples: Tin Man by Pat Mills (w) Simon Bisley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Order: Heart of Darkness by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Proteus Vex; Crawlspace by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Friday, February 03, 2023

Comic Cuts — 3 February 2023

Not much in the way of news this week. I was hoping to have a batch of artwork finished for the next Steel Claw reprint in Spain and to have written the introduction. However, I had a message from the folks at The Guardian asking me to write a piece for them about Beano artist Donald Sutherland. (Seriously, that really was what they asked for. An easy typo to make, but it made me smile!)

Most of the other broadsheets had already published their obituaries of David Sutherland. Thankfully they're all behind paywalls, so they don't really influence what I'm writing. Since British comics are my thing (yes, really!) I try to go the extra mile and produce something beyond what you might get from rewriting the Press Association press release that made it in some shape or form into a number of papers. Also, I try to check everything to make sure mistakes aren't perpetuated or silly mistakes slip in. The Mirror, for instance quoted the editor of The Bean, and there being no sub-editors these days, it hasn't been corrected. See my comment above about easy typos... but this is the website of a national newspaper that ought to be a trusted news source. Typos in correspondence is acceptable. Typos in a blog are likely to happen  because mine at least is often written with some haste and I have nobody else here to cast their eyes over it. Typos in a national newspaper shouldn't happen and speaks volumes to the state of our national and local newspapers. Says the man who writes for the Grauniad.

I usually do a day of research, reading and listening to any interviews I can find (nothing like getting information from the horses mouth), and putting together a stripography if I don't already have one. Check reference books for information and insight. At the end of the day I usually have the whole planned out, with the most memorable things about a person's life noted – their biggest achievements, if you like – followed by biographical details of their life and other works. Sometimes finding out the commonly introduced details, like a mother's maiden name or how many siblings a person has, can take ages to discover.

I pull all of this together on day two, by the end of which I usually have a draft that could be twice the length asked for. Thanks to cuts in the number of pages dedicated to obituaries in newspapers, they tend to be a lot shorter than they used to be and may skimp on details. So I then trim, trim, trim until I have something in the region of the right length.

As this was David Sutherland, I also dug out some illustrations (Bash Street, Dennis the Menace, The Great Flood of London) and scanned them. Read through the final draft a couple of times and the whole lot was sent off on Thursday morning.

In between I have been dipping into the artwork that needs cleaning up so that I wasn't left with a hundred pages to do at the end of the week. I ended up with about forty, half of which I've worked through this morning. I should have them all done by end of play tomorrow, including the second pass that I give them. Not bad... I was hoping to have the artwork clean and the introduction written, but I've effectively done the volume of  work, albeit replacing the introduction with an obituary.

That leaves the introduction for next week. I'm thinking of talking about the history of invisibility in fiction and have a few bits and bobs to read on the subject. Hopefully the results will be better than this list which concentrates on ancient and literary texts and doesn't mention Sue Storm or Predators once.

Somewhere in this mix I'm hoping to have my laptop sorted. We had to give up on using a separate drive for the transfer and ended up copying direct from my PC last weekend. And that's where we're stuck. The laptop still needs all the programmes, settings, and bookmarks copied which I have no idea how to do. But I can play videos on it, and the 14" screen is better than my busted tablet's 10" screen, so it hasn't been a waste of money even if I can't actually work on it. In the meantime, everything I write and every file I download I'm having to store in a folder labelled "New Stuff", which I'll have to remember to copy across at some point. Now I come to think of it, I'd better make sure I have a back up of all the notes, scans and the two versions of the obituary I wrote this week, just in case...

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Commando 5615-5618

Up and at 'em! Commando issues 5615-5618 are out today, Thursday 2nd February, 2023!

5615: Crossed Swords

William Kidd felt like a pirate with crossed cutlasses marked on his Sopwith Camel. During World War One, he shot down the ace German fighter with the broadsword on his plane... and then did the same to his son in the Spanish Civil War! Now a new war was on the horizon and the Cutlass and the Broadsword were destined to cross blades again!
This Commando issue from writer Suresh features not just World War Two, but spans World War One and the Spanish Civil War as a feud between one man and a whole family chases him across the continent and time itself! With outstanding art from Alberto Saichann and now veteran Neil Roberts — you won’t want to miss this!

Story | Suresh
Art| Alberto Saichann
Cover | Neil Roberts

5616: In for the Kill

The young pilot officer could hardly believe his ears. But there was no mistaking the grim seriousness on the face of the Air Commadore, no question that he meant exactly what he had said...“I want you to go over to France and kill my son.”

A classic Commando gets its first reprint since 1975! Featuring the amazing artwork of the two legendary artists, Gordon C Livingstone and Ian Kennedy, with a superb story by Gentry, well, what’s not to like?!

Story | Gentry
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 948 (1975).

5617: Ghost Run

It should have been a normal run for John Yateley and Jim Weaver, delivering much-needed supplies to the front line. But when an eerie sight appeared on a hilltop and the pair noticed it was the ghost of a tank from the wrong war... well, things were about to get very weird indeed!

This wacky, supernatural tale from the mind of Heath Ackley is brought to life by Jaume Forns! And that’s not even mentioning the cover by Neil Roberts which is a homage to Ian Kennedy’s cover for #1511 ‘Man of Mystery’!

Story | Heath Ackley
Art | Jaume Forns
Cover | Neil Roberts

5618: Tiger, Tiger!

When young Horace Harper was at school the newspapers had headlines about him... ‘Boy Defeats Tiger!’, ‘Schoolboy’s Amazing Courage!’ and so on. It was only a few years later that Horace had his courage tested again, by another tiger. But this time it had a capital ‘T’ — the dreaded Tiger Mark VI tank!

There’s a tiger in the tale in Commando Issue #5618! You’ll really want to get your claws into this roar-some story by CG Walker. With wild interior artwork by Carrion and Ian Kennedy — this issue is grrrreat!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Carrion
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1401 (1980)

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 1 February 2023

The brand new graphic novel series from the legendary comics publisher began with a bang – going to reprint two weeks before publication and hitting #3 on the list of the UK’s best-selling graphic novels – and the volume two raises the bar still further with another 200 pages of pulse-pounding Thrill-power!

Featuring a brand new cover for the retail edition by Becky Cloonan (Gotham AcademyPunisher) and an exclusive cover for the 2000 AD webshop by The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard, as well as design by renowned comics designer Tom Muller (X-Men), Best of 2000 AD is the essential gateway into the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic for a new generation of readers!

Every volume 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 hunts untraceable assassins firing ‘Magic Bullets’ by Al Ewing (Immortal Hulk) and Colin Wilson (Blueberry); even robots get the ‘Red Planet Blues’ from Alan Moore (Watchmen), Steve Dillon (Preacher) and John Higgins (Judge Dredd); not even Mega City One’s brightest can escape ‘The Vampire Effect’ by John Wagner (A History of Violence), Alan Grant (Batman) and Mick McMahon (The Last American); and join the front line of the resistance against intergalactic bigots in the Gothic masterpiece Nemesis The Warlock by the creative team behind Marshal Law, Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill!

Out now from all good book and comic book stores, as well as digitally from 2000 AD‘s webshop and apps, Best of 2000 AD Vol.2 is a must have for comic book readers new and old!


  • Writer – Al Ewing
  • Artist – Colin Wilson
  • Colorist – Chris Blythe
  • Letters – Annie Parkhouse


  • Writer – Dan Abnett 
  • Artist – INJ Culbard
  • Letters – Simon Bowland 


  • Writer – Tom Shapira


  • Writer – Pat Mills
  • Artist – Kevin O’Neill
  • Letters – Steve Potter & Tony Jacob


  • Writer – Alan Moore
  • Artist – Steve Dillon
  • Colours – John Higgins 
  • Letters – Steve Potter


  • Writer – Alan Grant
  • Artist – Mick McMahon 
  • Letters – Tom Frame


  • Writer – Jamie Delano 
  • Artist – Alan Davis 
  • Letters – Steve & Jack Potter

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2317
Cover: Mark Harrison.

In this issue:
Judge Dredd: The Hagger They Fall
 by Arthur Wyatt, Rob Williams (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Out: Book Three by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Joe Pineapples: Tin Man by Pat Mills (w) Simon Bisley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Order: Heart of Darkness by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Proteus Vex; Crawlspace by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Best of 2000AD Volume 2 by Al Ewing, Dan Abnett, Tom Shapira, Pat Mills, Alan Moore, Alan Grant, Jamie Delano, Alan Davis (w) Colin Wilson, INJ Culbard, Kevin O'Neill, Steve Dillon, Mick McMahon, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618872-4, 31 January 2023, 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 hunts untraceable assassins firing Magic Bullets by Al Ewing and Colin Wilson; even robots get the Red Planet Blues from Alan Moore, Steve Dillon and John Higgins; not even Mega City One’s brightest can escape The Vampire Effect; join the front line of the resistance against intergalactic bigots in Gothic masterpiece Nemesis The Warlock! Boasting brand new covers from an all-star line-up of artists including Becky Cloonan (The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys) and Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead) with designer Tom Muller (X-Men), Best of 2000 AD is the essential gateway into the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic.

Strontium Dog: Search & Destroy 2 by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618835-9, 2 February 2023, 192pp, £24.99. Available via Amazon.

Strontium Dog Search and Destroy 2 - The 2000 AD Years, collects the earliest SD strips to appear in 2000 AD after the sci-fi comic it originally appeared in, Starlord, was merged with the 'galaxy's greatest comic!' Co-created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, the team behind Judge Dredd, this collection includes the beautifully-coloured spreads that appeared in the original 2000 AD run and includes the classic Strontium Dog story, The Schicklgruber Grab, in which mutant bounty hunter, Johnny Alpha and his partner travel to the past to capture Adolf Hitler!

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 41 by Gordon Rennie, John Wagner, Simon Spurrier (w) Karl Richardson, Andrew Currie, Phil Winslade, Carlos Ezquerra, Kev Walker, Cam Kennedy, Dave Taylor, PJ Holden and Boo Cook (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618774-1, 2 February 2023, 288pp, £24.99. Available via Amazon.

In Mega-City One the Judges are a hardened police force acting as judge, jury and executioner. Toughest of them all is Judge Dredd. He is the Law, and these are his stories. This latest collection of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files sees Dredd continue to track down the murderous PJ Maybe, take the Scottish artist Kenny Who to court, and stop the angry war veteran-turned-Mandroid Nate Slaughterhouse. Written by John Wagner (A History of Violence) and drawn by a host of acclaimed artists including Kev Walker (The Eternals), Cam Kennedy (Star Wars), and Carlos Ezquerra (Preacher), this is Judge Dredd at his pulse-pounding best!


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