Friday, June 30, 2023

Comic Cuts — 30 June 2023

The failure of Dolmen Editorial to pay money owed on work dating back over a year has left me in a somewhat perilous position. As most of you know, I use freelance work to pay for the time it takes to write the books I publish through Bear Alley Books. It's a system that has worked reasonably well for many years but one that, thanks to Dolmen not paying their debts and ignoring my emails, has now broken down.

Quite where that leaves me I have yet to figure out. With rent, bills and food all skyrocketing, this couldn't have come at a worse time. All I can do is try to work my way out of a hole that was not of my making, so this is going to be brief because I have been pulling some long shifts in front of the computer trying to get a new project together so I have something to show people before the end of July.

I can quickly update two projects: I have the new motorbiking book designed and back with the author; this week I've started on some minor revisions, mostly adding a few more photos, and I'll be working on captions next week. The Trials of Hank Janson text is done and I have dug out a couple of pictures that I want to include—it'll be a regular paperback, so there won't be many illustrations, but I'm thinking I might scatter a few images around.

Project three is under wraps, but it's a revamping of another old publication that will be more of a bookazine than a book, if my plans work out. I have been working on it flat out since Monday, revising old text, writing new text, compiling bibliographies and I'd be having a whale of a time if I was doing it through choice and not through necessity because I'm broke. I'm not as young as I used to be.

A quick note to end on. If you're contacting me using a gmail account, I'm having problems replying because gmail are being overzealous about blocking ISPs over spam. Until I fix this, there may be a delay in response times because I have to get Mel to post my replies and she already has enough on her plate.

(* The image at our column's head is from a Sexton Blake Library by Hugh Clevely. But not painted by Eric R. Parker. There are a handful of covers by other artists around this period (1953)... but who? I'll post the whole cover below.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 28 June 2023

The greatest future city is coming to the greatest show on Earth – Rebellion is pleased to announce an exclusive limited edition Judge Dredd fine art poster by Matt Ferguson is coming to San Diego Comic Con next month.

Fresh from promotional movie posters for Marvel Studios and Star Wars, Ferguson plunges us into the violent, crime-ridden megalopolis of Mega-City One as Judge Dredd stands ready to dispense justice – a hyper-cop for the hyper-future!

This is the poster drop for San Diego – a stunning 24” x 36” offset litho fine art poster printed on gorgeous 300gsm Accent Recycled stock, with each copy individually numbered and limited to just 400 copies in colour.

Also available will be a super-limited variant edition – a special ‘black, white and Dredd’ with vivid reds picked out against the monochrome of the nightmare urban noir, in an edition of 100.

It is the first time Rebellion has offered such a high-end poster as its exclusive Comic Con merch and copies of both variants will be available exclusively from the Rebellion booth (#2121) at San Diego Comic Con from Previews Night on Wednesday 19 July. Sales are limited to 50 copies a day for the colour edition and 10 of the black and white, available each day of the show, including Previews night.

For subscribers to 2000 AD, 150 copies of the colour edition and 50 of the black and white edition will also be available to buy direct through the 2000 AD webshop at from 12pm BST on Thursday 20 July.

To create his vision of the city created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, Ferguson has drawn on over 45 years of Judge Dredd comics from the legendary British comic book powerhouse 2000 AD. This poster comes packed with Easter eggs for fans old and new – from signs advertising the ‘ugly clinics’ of Otto Sump and Mega-City One’s ‘Smokatorium’, to a raging Block War, and including the names of the greatest creators to ever work on Judge Dredd such as John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, Brian Bolland, and Ron Smith.

A graphic designer and artist from Sheffield in the UK, Matt is best known for working with Marvel Studios and Disney, including designing key artwork for many MCU films and official Star Wars promotional posters. He is the co-founder and Creative Director of Vice Press, has had exhibitions at galleries in the US and UK – including Bottleneck Gallery – and is well known in the industry for his beautifully stylised creations for established film and TV properties.

Matt said: “I have been a long time fan of 2000 AD and Judge Dredd and I always love working in that universe of comics, so it was great to apply techniques I would typically use for a movie poster on a project like this. It's always fun to pack posters with easter eggs and Mega-City One is perfect for such a poster. Get wise! Get Ugly!”

The 24” x 36” offset litho fine art poster by Matt Ferguson is an edition of 400 with a black-and-white variant of edition of 100, available from Booth #2121 at San Diego Comic Con (19-23 July) and, exclusively for 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine subscribers, from from 12pm BST on Thursday 20 July.

The posters join Rebellion's other Comic Con exclusive – the brand new hardcover Judge Dredd: The Darkest Judge collection with a thrilling undead Dredd cover by legendary Batman artist Greg Capullo. 300 copies will be available at the Rebellion booth at San Diego, while the remaining 200 are available for 2000 AD subscribers to order online through the 2000 AD webstore.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2338
Cover: Colin Wilson / Chris Blythe (col).

Judge Dredd: In The Event of My Untimely Demise by Mike Carroll (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dlan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Void Runners by David Hine (w) Boo Cook (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Durham Red: Mad Dogs by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Azimuth by Dan Abnett (w) Tazio Bettin (a) Matt Soffe (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley by Garth Ennis (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Rob Steen (l)

Battle Action #2
Cover: Keith Burns.

The new series of Battle Action continues with the return of Crazy Keller from Garth Ennis (The Boys, Preacher) and Chris Burnham (Batman: Incorporated, Unstoppable Doom Patrol), as Keller finds himself in the aftermath of WWII dealing with the legacy of the Nazis and their indoctrinated soldiers.
    Also in this issue, Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Phil Winslade (Howard the Duck) tell the story of D-Day Dawson, the soldier whose mortal wound spurs him on to heroic deeds, as he stands against overwhelming odds to save French civilians from encroaching German forces.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Miniature Marvels: The Book-Cover Art of James E McConnell

If you collect fiction from the four decades between the 1930s and 1960s, ‘Jas E McConnell’ is a signature that most will recognise. Between 1931 and 1968, James Edwin McConnell – to give him his full name – painted over 2,000 book covers, over a third of which you’ll find in the pages of Steve Chibnall’s study of the artists’ work, Miniature Marvels: The Book Cover Art Of James E McConnell.  

At the beginning in the 1930s, McConnell was chiefly associated with crime novels, especially the works of Peter Cheyney, Berkeley Grey, Victor Gunn, Vernon Warren and Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu. His output in crime was only eclipsed by the 600 or so Western covers he produced for Amalgamated Press, Fiction House, Mills & Boon and T V Boardman. His 28 Western covers for Corgi Books, who had probably the best line of quality wild west novels in the 1950s and ‘60s, are a testament to McConnell’s incredible imagination, with no two covers alike (thematically yes, artistically no).

At the same time, he was producing romantic and historical covers – his covers for Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels and Raphael Sabatini’s romances of the Spanish Main for Pan may well be amongst his most memorable as they were so widely available in the 1960s.

McConnell’s heroes were square-jawed and he occasionally got into trouble for having the same face he imagined to be heroic on too many covers. Hiring models might have solved the problem; he hired costumes from a shop in Holborn and would have the model dress up, only occasionally photographing them for reference. For the most part he thought hiring models a waste of time, preferring his imagination and using reference material to make sure that details were authentic, although he was not above using an actress from the pages of Picturegoer as a model.

Chiefly he worked in gouache, occasionally in oils, his painting produced ‘twice up’ – double the size of the printed version. He didn’t do any of the lettering… just left enough space for it.

Steve Chibnall’s book expands on McConnell’s life, adding absorbing insights into his career thanks to a 1991 interview with the artist and the assistance of his daughter, Ann. This means that Steve has been able to include photos and many personal anecdotes that flesh out the story of McConnell’s life, which he does over eight chapters, including a running biography and chapters dedicated to various genres, crime, western, romance and others.

These include some fascinating details, such as McConnell’s introduction to Pan Books in November 1957. It is no coincidence that Reginald Heade had died a month earlier and McConnell was commissioned to produce the kind of realistic, delicately-hued covers that would previously have gone to Heade. McConnell and Heade had other connections, not only working for many of the same publishers but both starting out in the dust-jacket market in 1931.

Chibnall catalogues over 1,700 covers identified from McConnell’s own records, with over 750 of them included in this 350 page volume, which is a must-have for anyone who appreciates the art of the book cover.

Miniature Marvels. The book-cover art of James E McConnell by Steve Chibnall. Telos Publishing ISBN 978-184583210-0, 15 June 2023, 352pp, £44.99. Available from Telos.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Comic Cuts — 23 June 2023

You may have noticed that I haven't discussed doing any scanning for the past couple of weeks. There's a reason. The company I was doing the scanning for has failed to make the payments that they set out in an e-mail back in March. Some of my invoices are now a year old and I cannot get a response from anyone I have tried to contact.

Clearly something is up with the company and has been for some time. The copyright holder to the work I have been doing is aware of the situation, but that doesn't translate into money in the bank. So I'm working on things that will help my flagging bank balance. Rent must be paid, bills must be paid, food must be put on the table and I need new glasses. If I was paid the money owed, it would mean I could complete the next Bear Alley Books comic history project. At the moment I can't.

So you might be seeing some comics and stuff turning up on eBay while I try to sort this out.

Enough of that.

I have spent the week doing a it of revision on The Trials Of Hank Janson. To those of you new to Hank, the book chronicles how an author was cheated out of money by his publisher and spent the rest of his days trying to recover from the blow. The book has been out of print for a year or two and is currently available on Amazon for between £32 and £109. I should have an new edition out at a substantial saving on those prices in the not-too-distant future.

I'm also thinking of doing a companion publication that I can print in colour so that you get to see some of the covers related to 'Hank' and the author behind 'him', Steve Frances, who also wrote many other books. I'm still trying to work out the details — I haven't had much spare time this week — but I'll let everyone know when I've figured out what I'm doing.

Bizarrely, and for the first time in my life, I have been enjoying tidying up the garden. The last time I mentioned this, we were having a tree taken down; since then I have been digging out weeds and trying to grow grass in their place.

Back in April we had a huge problem with a green alkanet, a common wildflower that was starting to take over the garden. It had driven back the lawn by at least two feet and had swamped the area around the pond in the back garden. You'll see from these photos...

... how things have been progressing. First pic from April, second from May, and the third from June. I have been watering the new grass daily, which is why it looks so much greener than the rest of the lawn. I still need to dig out some of the weeds that managed to survive the cull, and seed some of the areas that are still a bit patchy, but I'm rather pleased with the way things have been going.

The are around the pond was a much bigger prospect, but I'm under doctor's orders to get some more vitamin D, and the recent spell of gorgeous sunny days — hot without being muggy — gave me the impetus to attack the jungle.

I spread the work over a couple of days, revising The Trials Of Hank Janson for an hour and then nipping out into the garden for ten or twenty minutes. It's keeping my stress levels manageable, my blood pressure down, gives my eyes a rest from the computer and my brain time to think about the book and what needs doing to it. Win, win, win, win.

And here's the results...

... the first photo from May, the second from yesterday (Thursday, 22 June). I've sown a whole box of grass seed and I'm keeping the area watered. Nothing showing yet, but it has only been a few days.

The one disappointment was my plans for the back end of the garden. For the first two yards at the front of the fence is a carpet of ivy that managed to keep even the green alkanet at bay.  So my plan was to tear up the ivy and seed that area with wild flowers — we try to be as bee- and butterfly-friendly as we can — so I asked Mel to pick up some seed. I was guessing that, as the boxes of grass seed was about £4, the wild flowers would be roughly the same, so I asked for £4 worth.

The four packets that came back looked quite substantial, each over 5 inches in height, but when I opened them, the seeds were a few grains at the bottom of the packet. If I scattered them in the same way as I had scattered the grass seed (35g per square metre recommended) it would have cost me a fortune. So that plan is on hold until I can figure out whether to just put grass down or I can find a source of cheap wild flower seeds.

I have received some excellent books over the past couple of days, plus my copy of the Frost* Island Live Blu-ray/2CD set, plus a bonus CD and a postcard signed by the inimitable Jem Godfrey. So that's the end of gardening news as I need to get this into the Blu-ray player without delay.

[[UPDATE: It's fantastic!]]

(* I'm still trying to solve this mystery: the cover for Auctioned is by Reg Heade, but the second cover, Persian Pride, is by another artist who has clearly taken some inspiration from the earlier cover. This second artist has never been identified; I think it's the same artist who did the Alexander Moring HJ covers, but I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts.)

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Commando 5655-5658

Calling all Commando fans! The readers asked for more reprint sets dedicated to artists and Commando delivered! Commandos 5655-5658 are four special issues devoted to the master of cover and interior artwork and fan-favourite, Jose Maria Jorge! Get your copies on sale from today, 22nd June!

5655: Hunger for Glory

Colonel John Devlin, USAF, had chased glory in three wars... but it had always passed him by. Now, in the savage air battles over war‑torn Vietnam, he saw his final chance to grab it when a new pilot arrived — a real hotshot, a born ace. There and then Devlin decided that this top gun was going to be his ticket to glory... regardless of the cost in men and machines!

First up in the Jose Maria Jorge set and what an opener — Ian Clark’s tale of glory hunting to the extreme leaves us on the edge of our seats. Jose Maria Jorge’s aviation artwork is in full play and a wonder to behold!

Story | Ian Clark
Art | Jose Maria Jorge
Cover | Jose Maria Jorge
Originally Commando No. 2663 (1993).

5656: The Kestrels

It’s said that the helicopter came of age as a weapon during the Vietnam War. Hauptmann Karl Enberg of the Luftwaffe’s Kestrel Staffel might dispute that, though. For, in the dying days of Germany’s Third Reich, he and his command of rotorcraft hammered British ground forces and ran rings around Allied fighter aircraft — despite the odds.
And those fierce battles were child’s play compared to the fight to destroy another fleet of helicopters intended as the ultimate kamikaze force...

Another classic Jose Maria Jorge issue — and what a cover! Helicopters aren’t often featured on Commando’s covers but Jorge’s amazing work on this issue couldn’t be overlooked!

Story | Alan Hebden
Art | Jose Maria Jorge
Cover | Jose Maria Jorge
Originally Commando No. 2917 (1996).

5657: Fatal Contact

From the first day it arrived in Korean skies, the F-86 Sabre was the boss of the air war over that country. Only the Russian MIG-15 could come close, but it was still outclassed.
Then without warning, entire formations of Sabres began to disappear without a trace. It was clear that they were being lost in combat — but what sort of enemy weapon had the power to cause such a fatal contact?

Aliens? Secret Weapons? Ferg Handley’s mystery unfolds in the third Jose Maria Jorge special Commando issue. His artwork is like no other and so distinctive, it’s easy to see why Jorge was and remains a fan-favourite!

Story | Ferg Handley
Art | Jose Maria Jorge
Cover | Jose Maria Jorge
Originally Commando No. 3177 (1998).

5658: Divided Aces

Squadron Leader Jack Pearson was beginning to wonder if his first command might be his last. English‑born Jack was determined to make the most of his posting to a base outside Edinburgh — even if the locals were less than friendly about his, and his fellow countrymen’s, presence.

As if that wasn’t enough, added to the mix were some veteran Polish flyers who didn’t like the way their new skipper was running things... Jack would have his work cut out for him if he was going to unite these Divided Aces!

The final of the Jose Marie Jorge four reprints, ‘Divided Aces’ was picked because it is a fan-favourite issue and also because it was the last complete Commando Jorge illustrated. Jose Maria was a master of his trade, and he has been sorely missed since his death in 2010.

Story | Ferg Handley
Art | Jose Maria Jorge
Cover | Jose Maria Jorge
Originally Commando No. 4329 (2010).

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Comic Cuts — 21 June 2023

Azimuth is a city. It's THE city. It's always been there and it always will be there. It's not magic, it's not science. It's a place of miraculous reinvention, and it's where you've been going since the very start…

Coming to the legendary 2000 AD this June, ‘Azimuth’ is the brand new series from writing powerhouse Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy, Warhammer 40k) and break-out art talent Tazio Bettin (Doctor Who, Sinister Dexter).

Beginning in 2000 AD Prog 2337, on sale from all good newsagents and comic book stores on 21 June, this new eleven-part series launches with a stunning cover by Bettin, colours by Matt Soffe and letters by Jim Campbell.

The city of Azimuth is a data-driven metropolis where anything is possible. Ruled by an aristocracy of the New Flesh, such concepts of life, death, and body-forms are fluid. Anyone can take any shape, if it can be conceived by the imagination.

Suzi Nine Millimetre, for example, is a cadavatar, whose existence is given purpose by the jobs she undertakes for her New Flesh masters…

Dan Abnett said: “Azimuth is the city where anything is possible... and almost everything is lethal. I'm delighted to be paying it a visit with the wonderful artist Tazio Bettin, who's done such a tour de force on Sinister Dexter recently.”

Tazio Bettin said: "I have been a fan of Dan's work for years, from his Warhammer novels to his work in comics. Brink is one of my favourite titles of all times, so when he offered me to work on a title that would showcase my work I felt like I had to bring in the best I could create visually.

“Having worked with Dan for over a year and having solidified our relationship, we felt like it was time for us to create something new together. What he proposed blew my mind, and I knew I had to give it my absolute best, filling the world of ‘Azimuth’ with details, to make it look like a living place. Hopefully I succeeded in that attempt!"

Matt Smith, 2000 AD editor, said: “Dan Abnett and Tazio Bettin have created a stunning new series in ‘Azimuth’, a city steeped in the power of the imagination. Drawing influences from Euro comics, every page has new ideas and details to immerse yourself in. I guarantee it’s a metropolis you’ll get lost in.”

‘Azimuth’ begins in 2000 AD Prog 2337, which is on sale from today ... see below for more details of other strips in the same issue.

2000AD Prog 2337
Cover: Tazo Bettin.

Judge Dredd: In The Event of My Untimely Demise by Mike Carroll (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dlan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Void Runners by David Hine (w) Boo Cook (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Durham Red: Mad Dogs by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Azimuth by Dan Abnett (w) Tazio Bettin (a) Matt Soffe (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley by Garth Ennis (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Rob Steen (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine #457
Cover: Kieran McKeown / Quinto Winter (cols)

Judge Dredd: One-Eyed Jacks by Ken Niemand (w) Kieran McKeown (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Spector: Incorruptible by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Dylan Teague (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Dark Judges: Death Metal Planet by David Hine (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Anderson, Psi Division: The King of the Six Sectors by Matt Smith (w) Carl Critchlow (a) Shawn Lee (l)
Johnny Red by Garth Ennis (w) Keith Burns (a) Jason Wordie (c) Rob Steen (l)
Lawless: Most Wanted by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Simon Bowland
Dreadnoughts: The March of Progress by Mike Carroll (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Features: Bogieman, Kevin O'Neill Apex Edition, Jerry Siegel's The Spider, Interview: Rob Davis, Interview: Kieran McKeown

Essential Judge Anderson: Shamballa by Alan Grant (w), Arthur Ranson and Mick Austin (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618935-6, 20 June 2023, 144pp, £21.99 / $26.99. Available via Amazon.

The best-selling Essential Judge Dredd collection expands with a new line dedicated to iconic science fiction heroine, Judge Anderson!
    Judge Cassandra Anderson of Psi Division is one of the greatest minds on the Judges' roster. As a precognitive telepath and empath, her quirks, such as her sense of humour, are tolerated by the otherwise oppressively strict Justice Department. However, Anderson's sense of justice and morality soon calls her to question the Law of the Judges in these landmark adventures, written by Alan Grant and featuring jaw-dropping art by Arthur Ranson and Mick Austin. As Anderson battles to save Mega-City, psychic twins, and her friend Judge Corey from psychic attacks and their inner demons, her faith in the systems around her begins to crumble. And when the world is teetering on the brink of an apocalyptic collapse, it will take everything Anderson has to save the world at the ancient temple Shamballa.
    Grant’s run on Anderson, Psi Divison showcased a new depth for both 2000 AD and Anderson, as his stories took in the gamut of human emotion and spirituality. 'Shamballa' is to many, the quintessential Judge Anderson story, and it serves as the perfect opening volume of Rebellion’s new Essential Judge Anderson line.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Comic Cuts — 16 June 2023

I've had a busy and enjoyable week, split between sorting out a number of different projects. The easiest was pulling together the scans I needed for a German publisher who wants to include the Longbow episodes drawn by Don Lawrence in a compilation of Lawrence's work, a sequel to the German-language edition of my Don Lawrence Scrapbook. That book was slightly different to the UK edition (which was published as an Illustrators Special); as well as printing all the material I had gathered (the UK version dropped 16 or so pages), the German edition was a very nice hardback, as you can see from the cover to the right.

It may be a while before the follow-up appears, but I've done most of my bit — the supply of 59 pages of Don Lawrence artwork. That just leaves a little introduction to write, but I'll wait to see what else the editor chooses to include before I settle down to put pen to paper... or fingers to keyboard... or let ChatGPT scan my brain and produce what it thinks is an introduction.

For various reasons I'm concentrating on paying work at the moment, hence the design job I have been doing for George Coates' memoir of his trip around the globe by motorcycle that I mentioned last week. The good news is that I have the whole book laid out and we had a meeting and he was happy with the results. We both still have work to do — I left him to write the dozens of captions the book will require, and he left me with some additional photos that I want to scan.

I wasn't far off when I said it would run to 160 pages. The current last page is 156!

So while I'm waiting on the next round of work on that book I have finally taken the plunge and began going through my book The Trials of Hank Janson so that I can get a new edition out this year ahead of the 70th anniversary of poor Hank being condemned for obscene libel.

I'm not expecting to make many changes; just a little tinker here and there where I have made some additional discoveries. I was looking at Steve Frances's family tree on Thursday and discovered that his maternal grandparents had nine children, not eight, for instance. And Julius Reiter was sent to Australia, not (as Steve Frances remembered) Canada, to be interned during the war. It's that kind of level of correction for the most part, although I will probably include some extra material about his publishers in later chapters.

The book is now nearly twenty years old and I have some incredibly fond memories of it. It was written in a kind of white heat at the rate of a chapter a day, so that the whole 100,000+ words was completed in three weeks. Of course, I had been researching the book for twenty years so I knew the history like the back of my hand, but that was still some going.

I also remember Mel and I travelling up to London to attend the dinner and award ceremony when the book was shortlisted for the Gold Dagger for Non-fiction by the Crime Writers' Association. We met some amazing people, including the woman whose book beat Trials, which was about how she had been trafficked from Africa... it really was a harrowing story and deserved to win.

I need to get some work out in pretty short order because funds are low thanks to one company being so incredibly slow in paying invoices. Hence pulling out all the stops to get a couple of books on the market. If the blog or my Facebook feed goes quiet (although I'm trying to keep up with everything) you'll know the reason. (I have to confess I'm finishing this rather late on Thursday because I derailed my good intentions of getting it written early by pulling Stephen Walker's Hank Janson Under Cover off the shelf and spending way too long staring at all those glorious Heade covers. And me trying to keep my blood pressure down!)

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 14 June 2023

A master artist at the height of his talents. A collection of art unparalleled in its startling style and inventiveness, presented at original size in a stunning hardcover.

Rebellion is proud to announce that The 2000 AD Art of Mick McMahon Apex Edition is to be published in November 2023.

This unmissable book presents high-resolution scans of stunning original art pages by artist Mick McMahon – at their actual size – in a deluxe, over-sized hardcover facsimile edition. As well as his brush and pen work, these pages include original titles, word balloons, printer’s marks and other ephemera, giving fans the chance to see art by one of 2000 AD‘s biggest talents in all its glory.

In addition to the standard retail edition, fans can order a special slipcase edition exclusively through the 2000 AD webshop that comes in an attractive slipcase, adorned with one of McMahon's epic wraparound Sláine covers. This edition also comes with an extra bound page – individually numbered and signed by McMahon – with brand new art created exclusively for this edition.

2000 AD webshop pre-orders for both the slipcase and standard editions will close at 8pm BST on 31 July 2023. The standard edition will also be available to pre-order from comic book stores through the August edition of Diamond Distribution’s Previews magazine.

Mick McMahon is one of the most influential artists in British comics and this volume features eagerly-anticipated pages from his groundbreaking 1980s work on 2000 AD’s legendary barbarian, Sláine.

His work on Sláine – including ‘Warrior’s Dawn’, ‘Heroes Blood’, and the incredible ‘Sky Chariots’ – contrasts with the chunky shadows and bold shapes of his art on Judge Dredd, using inks and markers to create a style akin to woodcuts. From the gritty savagery and character work of ‘Warrior’s Dawn’ to crafting long ships in ‘Sky Chariots’ that appear to float effortlessly in the air, McMahon imbued Pat Mills’ saga of fantasy and legend with a quality that is both epic and dynamic.

This volume also includes pages by McMahon from Mills’ classic robotic-team series Ro-Busters and its successor A.B.C. Warriors, as well as the complete first episode and original concept art for Gerry Finley-Day’s fan favourite space war series The VCs.

McMahon is perhaps best known for his seminal work on Judge Dredd and this Apex Edition explores his colour work for the 2000 AD and Judge Dredd annuals, such as ‘The Fear That Made Milwaukee Famous’ (presented in its entirety) and ‘Mega-City Rumble’, with bold markers and bright shades competing to create pages bursting with light and energy. It also features pages from Mills’ Judge Dredd story, ’The Return of Rico’, in which Dredd’s evil twin brother is revealed. The story inspired the 1995 Judge Dredd movie starring Sylvester Stallone as well as providing the storytelling spark that would lead to some of Judge Dredd’s biggest stories.

This stunning collection closes with one of his most important works outside of the pages of 2000 AD. Created for Marvel’s Epic imprint, The Last American is a profound meditation on loss and hope at the end of the world. Written by John Wagner and Alan Grant just as their legendary writing partnership was drawing to a close, McMahon’s pages sing with colour and clarity, his post-apocalyptic landscapes filled with despair and emptiness as its lead character, Ulysses S. Pilgrim, searches for what remains of humanity.

Following last year’s Judge Dredd by Mick McMahon Apex Edition this second Apex Edition showcases McMahon’s near-constant state of evolution and change, from his early roots in mimicking the great Carlos Ezquerra on Judge Dredd to the bold, impressionistic style of his later years. It charts his career in unprecedented detail and gives fans and admirers the chance to see just why McMahon became one of the greatest 2000 AD artists of all time and influenced generations of comic book artists.

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

And now, this week's release...

2000AD Prog 2336
Cover: Rob Davis.

Cadet Dredd: Animal Instincts by Liam Johnson (w) Neill Cameron (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Lowborn High: Buried Secrets by David Barnett (w) Mike Walters (a) Pippa Bowland (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Future Shocks: Tempus Fugitives by Geoffrey D. Wessel (w) Zander Cannon (a+l) 
Finder Keeper: The Substitute by John Reppion (w) Davide Tinto (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Eagle Times v36 no2 (Summer 2023)

A very pleasant early arrival, Eagle Times has the usual mix of articles that relate to the older Eagle of  the 1950s and 1960s. The magazine may have been celebrating that famous comic for over a third of a century, yet it still manages to find something new to say four times a year. The only worry is that, should Steve Winders break his typing fingers, we might be seeing some slim issues until he recovers.

Winders opens the issue with two very different offerings. The first is a look at 'Cavendish Brown, M.D.', the comic strip that ran for two stories in 1958-59, written by Bill Wellings and drawn by Patrick Williams (son of Eagle's regular back cover artist Norman Williams). The first tale sets up a mystery by having the doctor find a sick man by the side of a road; attempts are made to prevent Brown from delivering the man to hospital... and the story is off to a running start. Unfortunately, the storyline has a number of flaws and, while not the worst thing to appear in Eagle, it hasn't received much love from Eagle fans, who rejected the strip after a second, very short yarn.

The Eagle Society's York Gathering in 2023 takes centre stage, with Winders' opening address and a report on the event by Reg Hoare. Although I have never managed to get to one of these annual dinners, I did attend (many years ago) one of the Eagle Days, so I know how much fun it can be to mix with fans and dealers all dedicated to one subject. It sounds like it was a most enjoyable 3-day event.

More from Winders... this time the second part of his coverage of 'The Baden-Powell Story', picking up from last issue with Robert now in the middle of the Boer War and involved in the defence of Mafeking. It is interesting to note that Geoffrey Bond, who wrote the comic strip biography, researched his subject deeply, contacting his subject's widow and gathering enough detail and information to later write two books on B-P. (Incidentally, the artwork was by previously mentioned Norman Williams.)

David Britton's epic study of 'Charles Chilton and the Indian Wars' reaches episode 19, picking up the story of 'Jeff Arnold and the Fugitive Indians' and exploring the story of Little Wolf and his band of Cheyenne, who offered his services to the army as a scout, later living in exile after drunkenly making inappropriate advances to an Indian girl and shooting her father. (The latter isn't the subject of the 'Riders of the Range' strip, by the way.)

Britton also pens an interesting look at rocket ships from Buck Rogers to Dan Dare. He mentions a cover by Ed Valigursky for the American SF magazine If (April 1955) perhaps being inspired by a Hampson-drawn Treen fighter, but I doubt this is the case as Valigursky was painting generically similar ships earlier for the same magazine.

Back to Steve Winders for the second episode of a P.C.49 story, set at the International Motor Show at Earl's Court and involving the Crown Jewels of the Netherlands being stolen and smuggled to Britain. A new article, 'The Great Charlemagne', continues Winders' look at the back cover biographies of Eagle, the latest from 1956 and drawn (again) by Norman Williams. The article points out that nothing was recorded of Charles' childhood, so Chad Varah had to invent some scenes to get the story started and Charlemagne's wars with the Saxons can begin.

The contents should be diverse enough for all tastes.

The quarterly Eagle Times is the journal of the Eagle Society, with membership costing £30 in the UK, £45 (in sterling) overseas. You can send subscriptions to Bob Corn, Wellcroft Cottage, Wellcroft, Ivinghoe, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 9EF; subs can also be submitted via PayPal to Back issues are available for newcomers to the magazine and they have even issued binders to keep those issues nice and neat.

Friday, June 09, 2023

Comic Cuts — 9 June 2023

A nice change of pace this week. I was writing introductions last week and have four to hand, although there is one that I want to revisit once I've had a chance to read an abridged version of the book. Once the text is finished, I need to sort out some covers and once I have a clue as to when the books will be out I'll reveal all. About the books.

I've switched over to designing the next publication from Bear Alley, which is a second motorcycling book following on from And the Wheels Went Round, published back in 2019. That came about because the author, John Chisnall, is my uncle and when he was looking for a way to publish the book, he went through a few online options. When he mentioned the price that these vanity publishers wanted to charge, I (perhaps stupidly) said that I could do it for half the price. And, in fact, I did it for a third of the price.

The book has sold reasonably well for what is essentially a self-published autobiography — John and his co-author Tony are responsible for selling the book, although it is available via Amazon, which I supply — and it inspired a friend of John's  to write his own book.

Back in the 1970s, George took a trip around the world by motorcycle, snapping photos along the way and keeping a daily diary. George began writing up his adventure during the pandemic and had a first draft finished last year. The final version was finished last month and we had a nice lunch to celebrate. In the photo, taken about three weeks ago, you can see John, Mel, George and I and Dillon the dog.

Since then I have put together about 100 pages, with probably another 60 or so to go. I've no idea what the eventual price will be as we are printing in colour rather than the black & white of the previous volume, but it won't be outrageous as I don't think George is motivated by profit as long as he can cover his costs.

In another life, I occasionally collect old 1940s and 1950s gangster paperbacks and recently filled one of the big holes in my collection, the almost impossible to find Deep South Slave by Darcy Glinto. I had to pay quite a bit for it, given that it does not have an illustrated cover — by far what most collectors of those old books are after and by far the main reason why some books now go for three figures, which is way out of my league.

It puts me one step closer to getting back to a project I've long wanted to do, which is to thoroughly overhaul The Mushroom Jungle. That said, I'm not in a position to do it financially at the moment as it would involve quite a bit of time and probably some travel and it would take years to recoup its costs. Let's hope that, by the time I get around to it, books aren't a thing of the past because the nature of the covers means I would probably be arrested if I was to try uploading those old Heade covers directly to your brain!

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Commando 5651-5654

Tally-ho, chaps! Commando takes to the dank jungles of Vietnam, black skies over Britain, the terrifying and tropical Philippines, and dark forests of Europe in this action-packed quartet. Get your copies on sale from 8th June!

5651: LURPS!

Davie Chandler has successfully led his Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol in Vietnam for five long years. But now his professionalism — and loyalty — is put to the test when he must rescue the man responsible for the death of his younger brother. Deep in the boonies, the Viet Cong are closing in fast, and Davie has only minutes to make the right decision. Should he rescue the colonel, or leave him to his fate?

A gritty and psychological story from Richard Davis, which perfectly lends itself to the Vietnam war setting, complemented by Muller and Klacik’s packed interiors and Neil Roberts’ blood-red cover, this Commando captures the mettle of a Golden age issue with modern storytelling.

Story | Richard Davis
Art | Muller and Klacik
Cover | Neil Roberts

5652: Demons of Darkness

Twenty thousand feet up in the black void of the night over England. Nerves tense, mouth dry, hand clutching the control column, thumb hovering over the firing button, eyes straining out into the dark as the thundering engines pull you into the nothingness ahead of you. That’s what it’s like to be a night-fighter pilot… to be one of the Demons of Darkness!

With a cover like that, it’s easy to see why the Commando Team picked the piece to feature in The Art of Ian Kennedy — showcasing the master of aerial art at the height of his powers!

Story | Lomas
Art | Wright
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 964 (1975).

5653: Walk, Talk… and Fight!

Ever since he was a kid, Gene Yorke had been obsessed with radios. Then, in 1942, when he found out his brother had been killed in action, Gene enlisted to do his part and honour his memory. However, instead of the combat role he yearned for, Gene got booted to a desk job working on the radios at HQ.

But everything changed when the US advanced in Luzon in the Philippines and finally Gene was posted to the front lines. It was nothing like what he had expected — things were far tougher, and the enemy was way meaner! If he was going to survive, Gene had no choice but to walk, talk and fight!

This is Guillermo Galeote’s first Commando and his art takes centre stage, with crisp details on the jungle backgrounds and clearly defined and focused characters. This, plus his dynamic action scenes mark the young Spanish artist as someone to watch out for!

Story | Ferg Handley
Art | Guillermo Galeote
Cover | Neil Roberts

5654: Roar of the Tiger

The German King Tiger tank rolled out from the cover of the trees and a shell screamed from the menacing barrel of its 88mm gun. Not many of these heavy, well-armoured tanks were ever to see action but the ones which did were very formidable indeed.

Yet there were four of these monsters that found themselves in big trouble, up against something they had never reckoned on. For a dying man had laid a curse on them, and for all their massive strength there was not the slightest doubt that from that moment they were doomed.

A classic tale with a supernatural twist, as expected of the great CW Walker, this Tiger is cursed by the dead skin of its namesake animal, as more forces than the warring Allies and Nazis are at play.

Story | CG Walker
Art | Carmona
Cover | Cox
Originally Commando No. 1447 (1980).

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 7 June 2023

For over a century, the comic book annual has been an essential Christmas stocking filler for British children and Rebellion is delighted to announce its newest edition to this proud tradition – The Treasury of British Comics Annual 2024.

Arriving on 8 November in a gorgeous hardcover, the Treasury of British Comics Annual will arrive just in time for the festive period and feature both lovingly restored classic comics and brand new high-octane stories!

Available from comic book stores, the Treasury of British Comics Annual 2024 will come in a retail edition with cover by Henry Flint (Judge Dredd) and an edition exclusive to the Treasury of British Comics webshop featuring a cover by David Roach (Anderson, Psi Division).

The team behind the Treasury of British Comics imprint have dived deep into the archives of IPC, one of the world’s biggest publishers of comic books, to select slick and exciting stories from such legendary British comic book titles as Lion, Starlord, Misty, Action, Wham!, Scream!, Smash!, Battle and Valiant!

Featuring the best of British talent such Brian Bolland (Batman: The Killing Joke), Joe Colquhoun (Charley’s War), Steve Dillon (Preacher), Pat Mills (Nemesis the Warlock), Leo Baxendale (Bash Street Kids) and many more, the Treasury of British Comics Annual will bring the magic back to this great British tradition with a veritable newsagents’ shelf full of classic stories from annuals, specials and titles of the past, lovingly restored and reprinted comics will sit alongside three brand new strips.

Famed Transformers writer Simon Furman pitches two of Britain’s greatest characters – The Leopard from Lime Street and The Spider – against each other. Artists David Roach and Mike Collins (Doctor Who) bring to life the titanic head-to-head between the feline powers of young Billy Farmer against the inventive but ruthless master criminal and anti-hero!

There is the thunderous return of the wandering warrior, Black Beth, with writer Alec Worley (Durham Red) once again teaming up with breakout artist DaNi (Coffin Bound) to deliver another tale of Beth’s quest to punish evildoers, with stunning pages evoking the work of master artist Sergio Toppi but with a dynamic, gothic edge and startling colour.

And, on the Eastern Front in the dying days of World War Two, Sergeant Holstein and his battle-hardened unit of men (and one mighty beast) face off against cutthroat Cossacks in Gustav of the Bearmacht by Kek-W (The Order) and Staz Johnson (Dark Legacies).

With something for all ages, the Treasury of British Comics Annual 2024 is the perfect Christmas gift for fans of classic British comics and a perfect introduction to a world of action and adventure for the next generation.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2335
Cover: Luke Horsman.

Judge Dredd: In The Event of My Untimely Demise by Mike Carroll (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dlan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Void Runners by David Hine (w) Boo Cook (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Durham Red: Mad Dogs by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (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)

Monster Fun Dino-Scare Special
Cover: Matt Baxter.

Gums by The Feek (w) Brett Parson (a+l)
Kid Kong by Alec Worley (w) Karl Dixon (a+l)
Hell's Angel by Chris Garbutt (w+a+l)
Space Invaded! by John Lucas (w+a) Barbara Nosenzo (c) H.A. O'Millar (l)
Steel Commando by Ned Hartley (w) Dan boultwood (a) Leila Jess (L)
Witch vs Warlock by Derek Fridolfs (w) Rebecca Morse (a) Hadrien Yannou (c) Ozwaldo Sanchez (l)
The Leopard from Lime Street by Simon Furman (w) PJ Holden (a) John Paul-Bove (c) SquakeZz (l)
Martha's Monster Make-Up by Dave Bulmer (w) Abigail Bulmer (a+l)


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