Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 31 May 2023

Following the success of last year's hardcover special, this new series brings classic series from the legendary British comics Battle Picture Weekly and Action such as ‘Johnny Red’, ‘Crazy Keller’, ‘D-Day Dawson’, ‘Dredger’, ‘Major Eazy’, and ‘Hellman of Hammer Force’ back to life, courtesy of John Wagner (Judge Dredd), Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy), Torunn Grønbekk (Thor), Rob Williams (Suicide Squad), John Higgins (Watchmen) and Chris Burnham (Batman Incorporated)!

Available through comic book stores and the 2000 AD and Treasury of British Comics webshops, this first issue features the return of fan favourite World War Two flying ace ‘Johnny Red’ by Ennis and Burns, 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!

Each issue comes wrapped in a stunning cover by award-winning artist Keith Burns. A special exclusive edition of issue one, available only from the 2000 AD and Treasury webshops, features a breathtaking wrap-around cover of HMS Nightshade in action, while a Diamond retailer exclusive cover edition drawn the John Higgins is available only through comic book stores.

Battle Picture Weekly was where the 1970s 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.

2000AD Prog 2334
Cover: Boo Cook.

Judge Dredd: In The Event of My Untimely Demise Part 3 by Mike Carroll (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dlan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Void Runners Part 1 by David Hine (w) Boo Cook (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Enemy Earth: Book Two Part 9 by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Durham Red: Mad Dogs Part 9 by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley Part 9 by Garth Ennis (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Rob Steen (l)

Battle Action #1
Cover: Keith Burns.

In this issue:
Johnny Red: The Falcon 
by Garth Ennis (w) Keith Burns (a) Jason Wordie (c) Rob Steen (l)
HMS Nightshade by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Len O'Grady (c) Rob Steen (l)

Friday, May 26, 2023

Comic Cuts — 26 May 2023

Somehow all our days out in May have been condensed into the last week. Also, I have drunk more this week than the rest of the year combined.

On Saturday night, ACE Comics celebrated its 40th anniversary with a bash in one of the upstairs bars at a local brewery and pub, the Three Wise Monkeys, which has been quite a success since it opened... er... at least six years ago, since when it has expanded into what used to be Jack's, a general store where you could buy everything from nails and washers to four candles (that's one for us oldies!). There was a charity shop there, briefly, before the whole place was emptied and renovations began that took over three years to complete. Partly that was because it was discovered that the building was sitting on an ancient Roman baths and the Colchester Archaeological Trust excavated a deep pit where the floor had once been so they could

We were in the bar above the former shop which opened (I think) in 2021. A lot of the old timber roof has been preserved along with other original features, although the exterior has been overhauled completely. It's still a cosy bar on two levels and a good choice for a crowd to get together.

This was the 40th anniversary of ACE Comics, and I started going there in 1986, first visiting the shop when it was located in a narrow road that led up to the gates of Colchester Castle. I had been picked up by a comic-collecting pal of mine, John Clark, who had suggested a trip to visit the shop. John drove over from Maldon, picked me up in Chelmsford, and we headed for Colchester.

I remember it looking like it should be a dingy little place from the outside, but it wasn't. If I remember correctly, there was a copy of The Dark Knight Returns on the wall behind the counter. Although I didn't find any British comics, I had been reading 2000AD regularly at that point and knew that some of the creators had made their way across the pond, most notably Brian Bolland (Camelot 3000) and Alan Moore. I definitely bout back issues of Swamp Thing during that first trip, and filled in most of the gaps on a subsequent trip. #20 proved a bit elusive, although I did eventually find a copy. I think I picked up a Superman Annual drawn by Dave Gibbons on that second trip ('For the Man Who Has Everything'), which might have been the first superhero comic I ever bought, as I was never a fan of American comics when I was growing up.

From there on I followed most British creators as the invasion took hold in the wake of Watchmen, which had me taking regular trips over to Colchester by train so that I could pick up copies the day they arrived. I remember Cam Kennedy drawing the Wagner/Grant series The Outcasts, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's beautiful Black Orchid, the launch of Hellblazer by Jamie Delano and John Ridgway and then the mad rush of Vertigo.

In 1987 I began writing for the ACE-backed fanzine After Image, and in 1989 I was involved in putting together the Comic Book Price Guide, which was co-edited by one of ACE Comics' staff, Lance Rickman (and which almost didn't happen due to a last-minute computer crash!), by which time the shop had moved from Museum Street to a much larger premises in St. John's Road. In 1992 I moved  to Colchester to make editing Comic World easier (I had been commuting for five months) and was in the shop most days for the next three years. Mel and I wrote news columns for the ACE Comics mail-order magazine Illuminations between 1996 and 2002.

I still think it's unbelievable that I have been visiting ACE Comics for 37 of its 40 years. Something definitely worth celebrating... and we certainly did! I was definitely a bit wobbly on my feet by the end of the evening. I don't drink much these days, so I'm a cheap date. Thankfully, Mel was my designated sober person and we got home safely.

We swapped roles on Tuesday and I was offering moral rather than physical support for a trip to the Job Centre and to an interview. As that's not my story to tell, I'll just say that both went well, although we don't know the results of either, yet.

And it was my Mum's birthday this week, so she came over on Wednesday and we had a very nice meal down at the Rose & Crown on the river front. Sunny, slightly breezy but no swarms of insects which can sometimes be the bane of eating outside. We sat in the park afterwards before heading back home for cake. All in all a lovely day.

We're out again tonight (I'm writing this Thursday afternoon), but I'll leave that for next week. One weird thing we did see when we were in town on Tuesday was this huge statue of a dog. Just standing there outside Elms Home Decor ("Your local, independent carpet and flooring specialist"). The significance of this giant gold Bulldog escapes us, but it is rather magnificent.

(Thanks to Biff, Tina and Kerry for organising the party — that's Martin 'Biff' Beeson and his daughter Kerry in the photo at our column head. Here's to another 40 years of ACE Comics!)

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Commando 5647-5650

Red-hot action in outer-space, the desert and Italy! Commando issues 5647-5650 hit the shelves today, Thursday 25th May, 2023!

5647: Zero-Sum

In the distant future of the 23rd century, humankind is fighting a war for survival, locked in a struggle against a new kind of enemy — machines. Controlled by an artificial intelligence known as Zero-Sum, these war machines are dedicated to one purpose — the annihilation of the human race!
The only thing that can stop Zero-Sum is a weapon capable of defeating its impenetrable energy shielding. To find it, a group of space marines has travelled across the galaxy to an abandoned weapons facility on a hostile alien planet. But what they find there may be more dangerous than Zero Sum itself!

Issue 5647 is an out-of-this-world Commando — literally! Dominic Teague’s interstellar storyline is sent to the stars by the excellent work of Starblazer alumni Carlos Pino! Set your ray guns to stun for this issue is stunning!

Story | Dominic Teague
Art| Carlos Pino
Cover | Carlos Pino

5648: Death in the Desert

“This ain’t no Boy Scout troop. There’s just one way to get out of Portland's Pirates, and that’s feet first!” Yes, being one of Portland’s Pirates could be as good as a death sentence! And when Lieutenant Neil Andrews found himself press-ganged into that bunch of ruffians, his welcome wasn’t a happy one. But Lieutenant Neil Andrews wasn’t ready to die yet!

CG Walker is on top form in this classic Commando. With intrigue and mystery in buckets, Issue 5648 drives you through the desert, with Galindo’s artwork holding onto you by the neck the whole way! What’s more, this issue has a Jeff Bevan special on cover duty — cracking stuff indeed!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Galindo
Cover | Jeff Bevan
Originally Commando No. 962 (1975).

5649: See Naples — or Die!

When Sergeant Gennaro Ricci returned to Naples, the city had been overrun by Germans who shot first and asked questions later. Plus, his sister had been kidnapped by the German major running the whole shebang! Well, with a little help Gennaro was going to show the Nazis four days in Naples they’d never forget!

Colin Maxwell’s story is inspired by the events of the famous ‘Four Days of Naples’, with Italian artist Paolo Ongaro lending authenticity to his tale. And that’s not even mentioning Mark Eastbrook’s amazing cover artwork that catapults you into the action!

Story | Colin Maxwell
Art | Paolo Ongaro
Cover | Mark Eastbrook

5650: The Camera Never Lies

His Tommy gun spitting a deadly hail of lead, Major Sam Fowler fought a glorious action through the shell-torn battlefields of France to the retreat at Dunkirk, earning himself a Victoria Cross for his acts of bravery.
Hailed as a credit to his regiment and his country, Fowler settled down to a life as a hero. But all good things must come to an end. It was not a German bullet that brought about his downfall, however — it was a movie camera!

Issue 5450 is a Commando selected ‘By Special Request’ by Commando readers themselves — and it’s a good job they did because this issue deserves another outing. With the masters-three CG Walker, Gordon C Livingstone and Ian Kennedy gracing this issue — it’s picture perfect!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1334 (1979).

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 24 May 2023

Not even hiding behind the sofa will protect you this Halloween – pre-order The Best of Tharg’s Terror Tales now!

From the deepest, darkest recesses of the Nerve Centre vaults, the eerie alien editor of 2000 AD known as Tharg the Mighty presents the creepiest tales to ever grace the pages of the galaxy’s greatest Comic!

This fear-filled anthology introduces one-off stories full of ghosts, demons, mutants and killers and is thick with atmosphere, dark humour and mind-blowing twists.

Written and illustrated by some of the biggest names in the comic book industry, this collection features strips by Mark Millar, Al Ewing, Simon Spurrier, Chris Weston, Richard Elson and Eric Bradbury amongst others.

Out on 12 October, pre-order now in time for spooky season this October – but make sure all your doors and windows are locked before unleashing the multiple faces of horror!

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2333
Cover: Mark Harrison.

Judge Dredd: In The Event of My Untimely Demise Part 2 by Mike Carroll (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dlan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Durham Red: Mad Dogs Part 8 by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Enemy Earth: Book Two Part 8 by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Out: Book Three Part 15 by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley Part 8 by Garth Ennis (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Rob Steen (l)

The Complete Diceman by Pat Mills, John Wagner, Alan Grant, Simon Geller (w) Bryan Talbot, David Lloyd, Glenn Fabry, Garry Leach, Nik Williams, Una Fricker, Mike Collins, Mark Farmer, Kevin O'Neill, Steve Dillon, Graham Manley, John Ridgeway, Hunt Emerson (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618941-7, 23 May 2023, 336pp, £39.99 / $49.99. Available via Amazon.

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 comic/game 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.
    With the stories and games created by Pat Mills and Simon Geller, and art from some of 2000 AD’s finest artists such as Kevin O’Neill (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Steve Dillon (Preacher), and Bryan Talbot (The Adventures of Luther Arkwright), this is an unmissable collection for any 2000 AD reader.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Comic Cuts — 19 May 2023

I think I might be close to figuring out when I started reading Valiant. I know it was some time in 1969 but I haven't nailed down a date. I can tell you the date of the first copy I ever saw, which I remember seeing at the home of a schoolfriend.

The last time I started thinking about this, I thought I must have started buying copies for myself in November or December of that year, but I have been working on scans of Mytek the Mighty and I'm now convinced that I remember reading the story which begins with Professor and Dirk going in search of a missing submarine, and there are panels that feature Mytek walking underwater and being tangled in writhing tendrils of seaweed.

Those episodes date from September 1969, so it might be around that time that I started buying Valiant. I've probably mentioned this before, but the way I came to read Valiant was due to reading James Bond. I had an eye operation when I was 7 and, with my eyesight corrected, I began reading everything I could lay my hands on, which meant my dad's paperback novels. He read John Creasey, Dennis Wheatley, James Hadley Chase and Ian Fleming, thrillers by Alistair MacLean, lots of westerns... bar the westerns, I was reading what he was reading.

A friend and I had been to see a James Bond double-bill at the cinema, so I was keen on James Bond and wanted to read Goldfinger, which my dad didn't have—he would regularly take the books he had read into work and hand them out to anyone who wanted them. Maybe it was seeing books that I wanted to read being disposed of that turned me into a hoarder.

The quest to find that Bond led me to visit another schoolfriend whose brother was said to maybe have a copy. I don't remember whether he did or not, but he did have some old Valiants, which I borrowed and read from cover to cover in short order. The first issue I read was dated 8 February 1969... and this is the Steel Claw story from that issue that I remember so clearly...

My choice of what I read hasn't changed much since I was seven! I'm reading Mytek the Mighty as I clean up the artwork, and I have just started reading an old hardboiled paperback, One Is A Lonely Number by Bruce Elliott that was reprinted a few years ago by Stark House. How tough is this book? "Even Cornell Woolrich and David Goodis would find this book a downer," says Ed Gorman in his introduction. That's a book that I need to read.

The reason I managed to get hold of a copy is because I have just written an introduction for an upcoming Stark House reprint. It is for Sinister House by Charles G. Booth, who was one of the pioneers of hardboiled crime writing. I did some research into Booth a few years ago when I was thinking about updating The Mushroom Jungle, an ongoing project that won't be happening any time soon, but which I would love to get to at some point. What interested me was that Booth was English, but made it in America writing stories for the likes of Black Mask.

You'll have to wait until February next year to find out what I discovered about him. That's when the book is due. In the meantime, I might look into Bruce Elliott, who turns out to have been a friend of magician Walter B. Gibson (of The Shadow fame) and spiritualist skeptic Bill Gresham (of Nightmare Alley fame). He certainly kept good company.

The grass we sowed a couple of weeks ago has grown in patches, so I'm planning to sow some more. I knew this wasn't going to be easy and I'm very pleased by the fact that any grass has grown at all, but by following the instructions on the last box, I may have spread the seeds too thinly on the ground. I have another box, and we can, apparently, sow seeds all the way up to September. Hopefully by then the bald areas of former grass will be lush with new growth!

With Mel working from home, we have dropped back into our old ways. I'm making more stews and I even baked a banana bread... it feels uncomfortably like lockdown again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 17 May 2023

It’s one of the most iconic panels in comic history – and now“Gaze into the fist of Dredd!” is being brought to life as an action figure set from HIYA Toys!

The two-figure 1/18 scale PVC action figure set of Judge Dredd and Judge Fear will be coming to stores in early 2024.

Judge Fear is the terror-inducing member of the Dark Judges, the alien superfiends from a dimension where all life has been declared a crime – and a single look behind the gothic windows of his helmet visor reveals his victim’s worst fear, scaring them to death!

But in the 1981 Judge Dredd story ‘Judge Death Lives’, drawn by the legendary artist Brian Bolland, when Judge Fear invites Dredd to “Gaze into the face of Fear!” rather than succumb to terror Dredd instead smashes his fist straight through Fear’s head and declares “Gaze into the fist of Dredd!”.

Regularly cited by fans as one of Dredd’s greatest ever moments, the Exquisite Mini Series 1/18 Scale 4 Inch Judge Dredd: Gaze Into The Fist of Dredd Action Figure set will retail at $39.99 (USD) and will be available to pre-order from retailers from 10 May.

The Judge Fear figure comes with 13 points of articulation and Dredd with 16 points, plus shoulder and joint pads, and chains and badges of office. Judge Fear’s helmet has been remodelled to allow you to set up the classic pose, with a fist-sized hole for Dredd to punch through!

And now, this week's release...

2000AD Prog 2332
Cover: Toby Willsmer.

Judge Dredd: In The Event of My Untimely Demise by Mike Carroll (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dlan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Durham Red: Mad Dogs by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Out: Book Three by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Enemy Earth: Book Two by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley by Garth Ennis (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Rob Steen (l)

Friday, May 12, 2023

Comic Cuts — 12 May 2023

I have spent most of the week scanning episodes of various comic strips from Valiant this week and buying up copies that I'm going to need for future volumes. The biggest of the three volumes I'm working on is the fourth and final volume of 'Mytek the Mighty', which wraps up the story of the giant robot ape. I think this will be the first time that I have been able to read the whole story in order, because it was already well underway when I started reading Valiant as a youngster.

I came to Valiant in 1969; I can't remember the precise issue, but it was during the story where Mytek travels to the Planet Umbra. I also remember The Scarecrow appearing in the Steel Claw story and reading The Shrinker and The Secret Champion, so it must have been the latter half of that year, when I was seven years old.

The earliest copy I have which was definitely mine is the first issue from 1971, which has "Holland calls" written on it. That means I had it on order at our local newsagent, who had the annoying habit of calling me Mr. Netherlands when I went to pick up our papers on a Saturday morning. Most annoying when you're eight years old.

Most of those earlier issues that I bought in 1969/70 have gone, as the copies I have I bought in the 1980s and 1990s, when I was able to build up a nearly complete run of the paper from the 1960s. I then have quite a few issues bought at the time with my name penciled on the cover. I gave up in 1974 when most of the stories that I liked disappeared: The Steel Claw and Star Trek in 1973, and The Wild Wonders, Kelly's Eye, Raven on the Wing, Janus Stark, Yellowknife of the Yard all disappearing in a night of the long knives when Valiant merged with Lion in May 1974. It gave me an excuse to cut my ties to Valiant and switch my regular Saturday order to Speed & Power, which had just started.

I did keep up with comics, buying Top Secret Picture Library when it launched in July 1974, and Vulcan when it came out nationally in March 1975, which meant I found myself buying Valiant again in 1976 when Vulcan was merged. That same year, I discovered copies of Analog and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for sale at the Chelmsford railway station Smith's, and was buying those regularly for the next few years.

Happy days!

Thanks to the patchy rain we've had all week, we haven't managed to do much in the garden. But there is good news: in the areas where we cleared the weeds, we now have tiny grass shoots showing. I fully expect it will take a couple of goes to reseed the whole area, but we are off to a good start, and (fingers crossed) it might mean it doesn't take quite so much effort to keep on top of the gardening in the future. Being a non-driver, we have to rely on the council removing green waste at a rate of four bags every two weeks and that means the garden can look a bit untidy at times during the summer when every job we do fills up out green waste quota for another fortnight.

We're making progress on the upcoming thriller books. We have proofed text for five now and I'm on the second introduction... in other words, I'm the one holding things up. We have potentially another five titles that we can do, which will all depend on how much time Mel can devote to the text. I have no idea when I will have time to do my part, but hopefully it won't take forever and I can write the introductions between the comic collections.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Commando 5643-5646

issues 5643-5646 go on sale today, Thursday 11th May, 2023, featuring World War One hi-jinks, RAF backstabbers, Werewolves, and the Battle of Britain!

5643: Warr and Pease

What happens when a frail, young “school swot” becomes a British officer in the trenches of the First World War? Well, he has to learn hard and fast if he wants to keep his head free from bullet holes! But don’t judge this book by the cover, he shares his wacky ideas on strategy while his loyal sergeant and Gurkha comrades show him a thing or two about brawn. In the end, they might just make a soldier out of that officer.

This rip-roaring World War One story from writer Suresh, with gritty interiors by veteran artist Jaume Forns, is topped up with an explosive cover by Neil Roberts!

Story | Suresh
Art| Jaime Forns
Cover | Neil Roberts

5644: Beware Your Friends!

It’s a dicey business attacking Nazi armoured columns. When you’re flying at 400 mph, hurtling over hedges and trees and dodging the flak, your reactions have to be lightning fast, your decisions made in split seconds. Danger is ever present, but there’s double danger when rockets and cannon shells start coming at you — fired from behind!

A classic Commando from 1975! With an amazing story by RA Montague which has twists and turns brought to life by Ibanez’s interior artwork! And with Ian Kennedy on cover duty — what more could you want?!

Story | RA Montague
Art | Ibanez
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 961 (1975).

5645: The Lab Rat Club

Jim Cope was an excellent pilot — but a reckless one. He charged into dogfights headfirst without stopping to think about the consequences. This was doubly dangerous considering it was 1940, during the peak of the Battle of Britain! It was inevitable that Jim’s luck would run out. After a disastrous sortie, he became trapped in a blazing Hurricane, flames licking at his flesh, burning him badly and putting him out of action. But all was not lost as this is the story of how Jim Cope became a member of The Lab Rat Club!

Stephen Hume’s poignant tale is inspired by the true stories of the men of ‘The Guinea Pig Club’ and Manuel Benet’s masterful art lends itself beautifully to this excellent issue!

Story | Stephen Hume
Art | Manuel Benet
Cover | Manuel Benet

5646: Fire in the Forest

They called themselves Werewolves. They dressed all in black and operated only at night, in the forests of southern Germany. Riding powerful motorcycles, they swept into British camps and fuel dumps, killing, wrecking and burning, then vanished. Where did these devils of the dark come from and where would they start the next fire in the forest?

This is one of CG Walker's best-ever issues and an often-cited fan-favourite. But not only that — this hotly anticipated reprint features artwork by Blasco and a fiery Ian Kennedy classic!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Blasco
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1440 (1980).

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 10 May 2023

The Strontium Dogs are the mutant bounty hunters taking on the scum of the galaxy – and Johnny Alpha and Stern Wulfhammer are the best Search/Destroy agents there are!

Forty-five years ago, one of the most iconic strips in the history of British comics debuted in the short-lived weekly comic Starlord. Created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra, after Strontium Dog transferred to 2000 AD it quickly established itself as one of its most popular strips, with the adventures of Alpha and Sternhammer thrilling Squaxx Dek Thargo for four and a half decades.

To celebrate the strip’s major milestone, not only can you get up to 45% off collections and browse the zarjaz new line of merchandise on the Rebellion store, but Rebellion are giving Earthlets the chance to read the very first Strontium Dog story from Starlord – ‘Max Quirxx’ – as well as an interview profile of Johnny Alpha himself from ‘in-house’ magazine ‘In The Doghouse’!

Discover one of British comics’ most enduringly popular series and celebrate 45 years of taking down the galaxy’s criminals with Alpha and Sternhammer!

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2331
Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (col).

Judge Dredd: Flusher by Ken Niemand (w) Nick Dyer (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Durham Red: Mad Dogs by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Out: Book Three by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Enemy Earth: Book Two by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley by Garth Ennis (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Rob Steen (l)

Best of 2000AD Volume 3 by Michael Carroll, Gordon Rennie, Tiffany Babb, Ian Edginton, John Wagner, Jamie Delano, Alan Davis (w) Mark Sexton, Frazer Irving, D'Israeli, Ron Smith, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer (a).
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618994-3, 9 May 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: Spend a night on The Graveyard Shift with Judge Dredd; Gordon Rennie and Frazer Irving tune in and drop tab of superpowers before Storming Heaven; get lost in the darkness lying in the belly of the good ship Leviathan from Ian Edginton and D’Israeli. Boasting brand new covers from an all-star line-up of artists including Erica Henderson (Dracula, Motherf**ker!) and Declan Shalvey (Moon Knight) with designer Tom Muller (X-Men), Best of 2000 AD is the essential gateway into the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic.

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Fleetway Picture Library Classics

They're like buses... you wait for ages and three come along at once. I'm talking the latest releases from The Book Palace, of course.

The latest trio are collections of pocket libraries, namely a second volume of Larrigan westerns entitled Larrigan Rides Again, a gathering of four of Gino D'Antonio's Frontline War Stories, and Captain Blood, which brings together four pirate yarns.

I can cover all three at reasonable pace, because we have seen quite a few of these volumes in the past - I think there has been ten volumes already, bringing together scarce issues of Thriller, Super Detective, Lone Rider, War and Battle picture libraries. The slight difference here is that these latest volumes are proper hardcovers rather than the flexiback covers of earlier volumes, which makes them even sturdier.

The first Larrigan collection brought together episodes drawn by Arturo Del Castillo for Lone Rider Picture Library (with one episode being slipped into the Cowboy Picture Library when Lone Rider folded). This volume picks up the remaining four episodes that appeared in Lone Rider and Cowboy, three drawn by Emilio Frejo and one by Carlos Roume. Frejo did his best to keep some continuity of look with Del Castillo's issues, but frankly need not have bothered; he was shaking off the influence by his last story ('Ghost Town') and it's my favourite of the three. Roume's rugged, square-jawed cowboys are always welcome.

Larrigan was one of those drifting cowboys who would arrive in town and finds himself caught up in a feud between cattlemen and rustlers or a local sheriff and invading gunfighters long before Sergio Leone filmed A Fistful of Dollars, which owed a debt to Kurosawa's Yojimbo, which itself owed a debt to Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest.

Captain Blood is also a sequel - to Pirates! - but this volume concentrates on Rafael Sabatini's classic pirate yarns, Captain Blood: His Odyssey (1922) and two collections The Chronicles of Captain Blood (1931) and The Fortunes of Captain Blood (1936). The Thriller Picture Library versions of the latter two adapted four  (of ten) stories from the first and two (of six) from the second. The artwork changed from issue to issue: C. E. Drury, Robert Forrest and Guido Buzelli drew these, with Forrest also drawing The Black Swan adapting another Sabatini pirate novel from 1932.

The third volume is a collection of four stories drawn by Gino D'Antonio. I love D'Antonio's work in War and Battle picture libraries and reprinted quite a bit when I had the opportunity a decade or so ago. His war work is simply amazing and any collection of his 34 full-length war stories is a winner in my eyes.

D'Antonio was drawing these stories through the studio of Roy D'Ami and even there he was admired by his fellow artists for the skill with which he depicted men in the middle of fighting mayhem.

Captain Blood (Fleetway Picture Library Classics)
Book Palace Books ISBN 978-191334842-1, 2023. 272pp, £25.00. Available via Amazon.

Gino D'Antonio's Frontline War Stories (Fleetway Picture Library Archives)
Book Palace Books ISBN 978-191334834-6, 2023, 272pp, £25.00. Available via Amazon.

Larrigan Rides Again (Fleetway Picture Library Classics)
Book Palace Books ISBN 978-191334841-4, 2023, 268pp, £25.00. Available via Amazon.

Friday, May 05, 2023

Comic Cuts — 5 May 2023

The week seems to have flown by, thanks (no doubt) to the bank holiday on Monday, which we spent pottering around. We even did some gardening, which is something I don't expect to say as our gardening efforts are usually kept to the absolute minimum of stopping the plant life turning into triffids and taking over.

The problem is that, when we moved in, the garden was in a terrible state, overgrown and uncared for, even tho' we were assured that our landlady had been hiring a gardener to look after it. We left it as it was for a couple of years, not knowing how long we would be here. However, once we put down our own roots, we decided to attack the garden and see if we could get it sorted out to the point where it wouldn't need so much work. The first big job wasn't down to us as it involved cutting back some very large trees. The unkempt hedges were more our size, hacking back the ivy that was running rampant, and trying to push the overgrown plant-life back to the actual garden as it was spilling over into where the lawn should have been.

Cutting back the plants meant we uncovered what was basically a two-foot wide weed patch of green alkanet all around the lawn, and the pond where it merged with the ivy that clad the trees, blocked the gate and smothered the small shed at the bottom of the garden. Tearing that off revealed a hole in the fence that was allowing a badger (we think) to come into the garden and dig there were mystery holes appearing in what was left of the lawn one summer that we think was a badger. Getting the fence fixed solved the problem.

It didn't solve the weed patches. Last year I let them grow out because, y'know, rewilding, helping the bees and the butterflies. Unfortunately, it also meant we had to deal with nettle patches and spent a fortune on weed killer at the end of last summer.

This year we have a new plan, stuff the butterflies and bees (sorry, but it won't be for long), and dig out the weeds early and put down grass seed in the hope that we will be able to get the lawn back where it ought to be. Over the next couple of weekends, weather permitting, we will dig up more of the weeds and around the back of the pond scatter loads of wild flower seeds so that they (a) help keep down the weeds; (b) help the butterfly and bee populations, and (c) brighten up the garden, which hasn't really got much colour to it. We have some Spanish bluebells (which I'm told is an invasive species, and we ought to dig them up!), some grape hyacinths (more little bluey flowers) and some lilac.

Again, just the fact that I can name these plants will astonish my family because I find it impossible to remember plant names... because I have no interest in learning them. I can remember comic strips and their creators, and who wrote books under pseudonyms, and obscure science fiction novels, but point a finger at a plant and expect me to name it and you're going to be disappointed.

So we have some grass seed down and I'm keeping those areas well watered; in a couple of weeks I'm hoping that we've annihilated the weeds and we're watering wild flower seeds. I have a feeling this will take a couple of years to achieve, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will mean less work in the long run.

That's enough gardening. If someone would kindly develop an AI that could sort out the lawn, I'd sign up tomorrow. Talking of which, I had a play around with ChatGPT to make sure that my occasional work as an obituarist wasn't in danger of being taken off me by an algorithm. I generated a couple of Barry Humphries, who died recently, but the results were mixed. They might be the sort of thing you find in a local paper where you might get a 200-word outline of someone's life; it couldn't generate a piece substantial and factually detailed that a broadsheet would require. And there were factual errors.

That's the real worry... enough false information circulates as it is, but imagine an AI making a mistake that is then picked up by other AIs as they trawl the web for information. Before you know it, the error has been perpetuated so widely that trusted sources begin to repeat the same factual errors. I always had this problem with books of pseudonyms, which are prone to repeat errors because nobody points out in Book B why certain attributions in Book A have been excluded. So the next person comes along, copies all the information from Book B, adds anything that has been discovered since that title was published, and then adds back all the missing information from Book A, thinking that they are improving Book B. And so the cycle goes on, with wrong information dropped in some titles and returned to print in others. I can speak with some authority on this because I published a fanzine called Pseuds Corner many years ago where I tried to determine what attributions were safe and which were wrong. I got from A'Beckett to Cobb in four issues before my editorial and writing workload meant I couldn't continue.

One of the reasons I started on that madcap project was because a book of pseudonyms came out that credited me as the source of some weirdly wrong information caused by the author of the book misreading a list of author's names. There's no way that wrong information isn't going to make it into someone else's book of pen-names in the future unless every subsequent compiler goes back to the original source (a listing in a paperback fanzine). Eventually these things will become as accepted as the spelling of dilemna and helpful publishers will correct your work by reinserting a load of wrong information that you had spent ages carefully removing... which has also happened to me.

It hasn't been all gardening and algorithms. I'm getting the groundwork laid for the next couple of books for Dolmen, so I'll be spending time working on volumes of Mytek the Mighty and Kelly's Eye over the next few weeks. Of the upcoming thriller reprints, we now have four out of five of the texts finished. I have one pair of introductions written and another started. And I finally got a bunch of reviews written, which have been appearing over the past few days with one more to come this weekend, which will hopefully keep you entertained over the Coronation weekend.

Thursday (when I'm writing this) is Star Wars Day, so... may the fourth be with you. Back next week when we'll have a new King.

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 3 May 2023

Gosh Comics has announced a special fundraiser print in honour of the legendary artist Kevin O’Neill, who passed away last year.

From Gosh Comics:

Last November saw the passing of our friend and sometime collaborator Kevin O’Neill, a loss we’re still coming to terms with. As a small act of remembrance, and with all profits going to Kevin’s estate, it’s our privilege to be able to offer this A3 print, limited to an edition of just 200 copies.

Working closely with Pat Mills for many years, Kevin was instrumental in the birth of 2000 AD. He and Pat created the ABC Warriors and Nemesis the Warlock, and later developed the leather-clad, ultra-violent superhero cop Marshal Law. Then in 1999 Kevin embarked on what was to prove a 20 year long project: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with fellow UK comics legend Alan Moore.

Kevin was admired among the international comics community, a truly unique voice in the field whose work inspired readers and creators alike. The outpouring of love for the man and his work in the wake of his death was testament to this.

Gosh! is honored to have this unique opportunity to offer an A3, Indigo press, digital print on 175gsm Colourplan paper, featuring many of Kevin O’Neill’s best known creations. Kevin originally produced the piece to illustrate an online interview with the Comics Journal, but it was very unlikely to ever see print due to rights issues. Our most sincere thanks to Pat, Alan and the good people at Rebellion, who have given us kind permission to print this edition, limited to 200 copies, with all profits going to Kevin’s estate.

You can now pre-order the print from our webstore for mail order or in-store collection.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2330

Cover: Luke Horsman.

Judge Dredd: The Disciples of Death by Ken Neimand (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Durham Red: Mad Dogs by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Order: Heart of Darkness by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Enemy Earth: Book Two by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley by Garth Ennis (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Rob Steen (l)

The 10,000 Disasters of Dort by Mike Butterworth (w), Luis Bermejo and Jose Ortiz (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618949-3, 4 May 2023, 80pp, £14.99. Available via Amazon.

The aliens from Dort have lost their world and now they want Earth!

It is the year 2000. In fifty years' time the planet Dort will collide with its sun and be destroyed. Ratta, the dictator of Dort has chosen Earth as a new home for his people. But first he is creating ten thousand disasters to wipe out all human life!

Only Britain's best scientist, Professor Mike Dauntless, has the mind and spirit to stop Ratta from destroying humankind.


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