Friday, September 22, 2023

Comic Cuts — 22 September 2023

Firstly, the above video is under two minutes long, so won't be taking up much of your day to give it a watch.

Sales for The Trials of Hank Janson have reached double figures, which might not sound like much, but given the soft launch and the wait for hardcover copies to arrive (which they now have... and copies with my scrawl in them are now in the post) I'm not complaining. Of course, I now need the book to sell more, so I'm ramping things up a little.

One thing I'm doing is ASK STEVE. You can ask me questions about the book, how I came to write it, how I researched it, why was Hank Janson persecuted for his novels... whatever you like. Just make a comment below (you won't see it appear immediately, because I have to filter out the huge amounts of spam that I get... this blog has been running for 17 years, so it's a target), or email me direct, or comment on YouTube or Facebook. I had Mel ask me some questions, so I have a couple of little videos lined up already; I'll put a new one out every couple of days, depending on how many questions I get, and I'll try to keep going as long as the questions come in.

If you're on Facebook or Twitter (sorry ex-Twitter) or other social media platforms, please share the video with your friends; maybe the biggest problem faced by small publishers is letting people know that a book has been published. It's not in the shops, so you don't get passers by seeing it, and getting reviews into papers and magazines is almost impossible these days—review pages have been slimmed down and Trials might easily slip under the radar. And review copies cost quite a bit to send out by the time you've coughed up for printing, getting them here, packaging them up and posting them back out.

I should add that I'm not planning to keep high levels of stock here at home, especially of the hardback, which is expensive to print (but looks gorgeous!). Don't let that stop you ordering... all I'm saying is that if you want a copy to give someone (or receive from someone) for Christmas, get your order in early!

I haven't mentioned the Badger Books history—Beyond the Void—for a couple of weeks. I haven't abandoned it, just taking a bit of time off while I try to give the Hank Janson book the bests send off I can. I have half the book laid out but have left some of the longer pieces still to do. I did it that way around because I didn't want to keep shifting pictures around, so better to start on something brief and use the necessary illustrations and then the longer pieces can mop up all the unused pictures. I'll post some examples in the coming weeks, but for now the above is the first spread I have shared.

Instead, I decided to write something that I could dip in and out of, so I have been having some fun researching the publication of Diana Dors in 3-D, which was a stereoscopic booklet with photos of Diana Dors semi-clothed but never nude but which was still taken to court in 1954. The reason for picking on this was because I had been looking at Curtis Warren and the Camera Studies Club who published DD in 3D shared offices with CW.

I was looking at Curtis Warren for a bit of fun, having recently written about the Assael family in the Badger book; Harry (Hamilton & Co./Panther Books), brother of Samuel (Badger Books) was the partner of Joe Pacey, who set up Curtis Warren. It's interesting to tease out how all these companies were interconnected. Another bit of research found a link between a short-lived post-war publisher and the World of Leather chain of furniture shops.

However, I'm planning to get back to Badger Books as soon as possible, even if only to put some of the piles of Badgers I have dotted around the office back on the shelves where they belong. The last thing I want is an obituary that tells everyone I died tripping over a pile of Lionel Fanthorpe's novels.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 20 September 2023

This week, Rebellion asks the question – what would 2000 AD have been like if it had merged with stablemate Battle Action in the 1980s?

2000 AD Prog 2350 and Judge Dredd Megazine #460 are out on 20 September and form a fantastic new stand-alone crossover event merging classic 2000 AD characters with those from its former stablemates: the groundbreaking Battle Picture Weekly and the controversial Action.

2000 AD Prog 2350 is a special bumper 48-page issue with Judge Dredd meeting Action's 'Kids Rule O.K.!' in 'Juves Rule OK', former slave turned gunslinger El Mestizo crosses over with a classic Judge Dredd story, Hellman of Hammer Force descends into the bowels of hell itself, Major Eazy searches for the Treasure of Solomon, and more thrilling strips merge with legendary titles!

The crossover action heads over to Judge Dredd Megazine #460, as Judge Dredd meets arch-sorcerer Cursitor Doom, the Rat Pack becomes 'Rad Pack' in the Cursed Earth, and the Falcon Squadron from Battle's Johnny Red becomes 'Strato Squad' – plus more Battle Action crossover strips – as well as Spector, Rogue Trooper, Johnny Red, Lawless and Dreadnoughts continuing their superlative runs!

The newsstand edition of 2000 AD Prog 2350 – available from newsagents, comic book stores, and the 2000 AD webshop – features a superb character line-up cover by Cliff Robinson and Dylan Teague, while subscribers to 2000 AD will automatically receive an exclusive edition featuring a cover by Batman artist Andy Clarke homaging 1976's notorious ‘Kids Rule O.K.!’ Action cover by Carlos Ezquerra.

It's the explosive crossover multiverse that time itself cannot tame – the 2000 AD / Battle Action mega-crossover is out on 20 September from all good stockists in the UK and in North American in October!

2000AD Prog 2350
Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (col)

Judge Dredd: Juves Rule OK! by Ken Niemand (w) Simon Coleby (a) Matt Soffe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Death Game 2049 by Geoffrey D. Wessel (w) Nick Dyer (a) John Charles (c) Jim Campbell (l)
El Mestizo: Demon With A Six-Gun by Chris Weston (w+a) Simon Bowland (l)
Dredger: Time To Kill by Karl Stock (w) Paul Marshall (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hellman of Hell Force: Fiends of Ungeistwelt Ost by Arthur Wyatt (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Major Eazy: The Treasure of Solomon by Gordon Rennie (a) Dan Cornwell (a) Dylan Teague (c) Jim Campbell (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine #460
Cover: Henry Flint

Judge Dredd: Return to Billy Carter by Kenneth Niemand (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Rad Pack by Karl Stock (w) Kieran McKeown (a) Quinto Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Strato Squad: Convoy Strike! by Mike Carroll (w) Staz Johnson (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Anderson, Psi Division: The Wolf & The Dragon by Alec Worley (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Jim Boswell (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Spector: Incorruptible by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Dylan Teague (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Rogue Trooper by Brian Ruckley (w) Alberto Ponticelli (a) Stephen Downer (c) Tom B. Long (l)
Johnny Red by Garth Ennis (w) Keith Burns (a) Jason Wirdie (c) Rob Steen (l)
Lawless: Most Wanted by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Dreadnoughts: The March of Progress by Mike Carroll (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Commando Presents: Commandos vs Zombies

The living dead rise again in Commando Presents… Commandos vs Zombies, the graphic novel collection!

Blending war and supernatural horror in a classic British Comics black-and-white format, this collection brings together the three bestselling Commandos vs Zombies issues from Britain’s longest-running war comic, Commando.

The stunning artwork is blown up to full graphic-novel size and features all the original covers as well as a brand-new wrap-around by Neil Roberts. A never-before-seen prose story is also included as a bonus, alongside an interview with the creator, and contributor biographies.

Written by Georgia Standen Battle, Commando’s first female writer in 30 years, alongside master comics artist Vicente Alcazar (Archie Comics, Red Circle Comics, DC Comics, Marvel Comics), and with covers by Neil Roberts (2000 AD, Warhammer), and British Comics legend Ian Kennedy!

What’s more, find out how the horror all began in the prequel to the best-selling Commando trilogy in 5691 Commandos vs Zombies 0, on sale the 26th October!

Pre-order your copy of the Commando vs Zombies graphic novel on Magsdirect today ahead of its release on 4th October.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Comic Cuts — 15 September 2023

You may have noticed from the constant mentions I've made of the fact to everyone, everywhere (and probably all at once) that The Trials of Hank Janson is out and available to purchase. I'm pleased to say that a few people have actually bought the book and I have a couple of other customers waiting on hardback copies to arrive so they can have them signed. As of Monday, I should also have some paperback copies to sign, too.

Most of the week has been spent sorting out all the things you have to do when you swap your writer's hat (a battered old flat cap) for my publisher's hat (a silk top hat, of course) and sorted out uploads to printers, writing a payment page for the Bear Alley Books website, digging out some reviews for the original edition of the book, and putting together a short, 30-second promotional video for the book (above).

I have also been involved in producing a second book which is coming close to publication. I had a meeting with author George Coates on Friday and we're both close to signing off on the book; with proof copies to hand we have found a couple of typos that need to be sorted out, but we're almost at the point of pressing the "print" button.

Tuesday we went to see Urzila Carlson at Colchester Arts Centre, a birthday present from Mel that I have been looking forward to since April. She's a South African living in New Zealand, best known to the wider world for a Netflix special (Overqualified Loser) and maybe her podcast (That's Enough Already). We first saw her on the NZ panel show 7 Days, a kind of Kiwi Mock the Week but funnier. Urzila was also a regular on Have You Been Paying Attention and was in the second season of Taskmaster NZ — please don't ask how we're watching all these shows, but there's almost no panel shows in the UK these days that compare for series length (many have 20+ episodes a year) and quality (however much I like Have I Got News For You (and I do!), an episode of 7 Days has five or six times the laughs).

I love seeing live comedy shows because there are always moments that will never be repeated elsewhere. Urzila's surprise at doing a gig in a de-consecrated church, or spotting a woman in the second row waving around a dildo (it wasn't, it was a fan); magical in-the-moments unique to that gig. We laughed for a solid hour and forty minutes without a break.

The good news is that there is a full-length live gig on Youtube if you want to see what she's like. I have yet to watch it, but there's likely to be some language and content that you'll be spending quite some time explaining to your kids; so no children in the room if you want to avoid that.

Back at Hank Janson, I'm planning to answer a few questions about the book and how I came to write it, so if there's anything you'd like to know, just drop me a line, here or on Facebook. At the same time I'm trying to sort out a small backlog of books that I've had for sale for a while but never managed to put up on Amazon — whatever you might feel about them, they are the world's biggest marketplace for books and if I'm to make a living I have to embrace them, albeit in a manly, backslapping way of barely touching and backing away quickly. More news on that as and when as there are some time-consuming hoops that you need to jump through to get a book in front of readers.

  • 16 Sep. Rob Williams and Pye Parr talk Petrol Head, due from Image on 8 November. " In a climate crisis-ravaged future metropolis, an old, grumpy, obsolete, smoke-belching, cigar-chomping, HOTROD-RACING ROBOT is one 12-year-old girl’s only hope. Together, can they outrace the chasing Robo-Cops with an invention that might just save humanity?" (video, 44m)
  • 14 Sep. The Telegraph has interviewed Alan Moore on the occasion of the release of his short story collection in paperback. “I’ve always had, I think, a fairly decent visual imagination, and when I was working in comics the visual descriptions would be going into the lengthy notes that I was writing just for the artist.”
  • 11 Sep. Rob Williams describes his perfect Sunday. "Favourite all-time comic? Oof. Too many to choose. I might go for Moore/Davis' Captain Britain, or Year One, or Wagner and Exquerra's The Apocalypse War, or Justice League International, or the Arcudi and Guy Davis run on BPRD. I re-read that pretty recently, and it's extraordinary."
  • 9 Sep. Gosh! are hosting a sale of books from the estate of Kevin O'Neill on Sunday, 1 October between 10.30 am and 7 pm, all proceeds to benefit the estate. You will have to go in person as there will be no catalogue nor will there be any mail order or online sales.
  • Retailer Ocado and Beano Studios have teamed up to launch the Food Waste Book, with advice from a range of Beano characters on how to help families make their food go further and includes recipes and other fun things. You can download a free PDF copy here.
  • 5 Sep. Grant Morrison returns to comics writing a text story for Ahoy Comics... actually Chapter One of a "round robin" tale which will appear across 13 issues between September and December. Morrison's opening chapter of 'Partially Naked Came the Corpse' appears in Project: Cryptid #1, with various writers continuing the story, which is rounded off by Kek-W in Captain Ginger: The Last Feeder #2. You can read the opening of the story at the link. 
  • 1 Sep. The New York Post interviews Mark Millar. “I remember when I started out, they were like ‘He’s the guy who does family friendly stuff.’ Then the next thing I did was the opposite, and people were like, ‘He’s the guy who does the sweary violent stuff,'” he said. “So I was like, ‘Now it’s time to do something thoughtful, with no action.’ As soon as people think they have me pegged, I like the idea of doing something different.”

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Commando 5679-5682

Honouring the legendary comic artist Carlos Pino, Commandos 5679 - 5682 are a one-off reprint set dedicated to the fan-favourite Spanish artist. The set was asked for specifically by readers and Commando was only too happy to oblige! All the issues were specially hand-selected by Carlos himself as his favourite Commandos he’s ever illustrated. Get your copies today, Thursday 14th September, 2023.

5679: Demon Driver

The flickering flames, the searching burst of German bullets, the creaking of the old bridge. It all added up to dangers to be overcome, no doubt about it.
     But for Corporal Tony Wiggins the biggest threat was in his own head where a demon lurked which, so far, he had not been able to control. And if he failed again, the Germans were going to wreak havoc!
      #5679 Demon Driver was one of Carlos’ first solo issues for Commando as he often worked with fellow Spanish artist Vicente Alcazar under the pseudonym ‘CARVIC’. This issue sparked a long and illustrious career with Commando.

Story | Alan Hebden
Art | Carlos Pino
Cover | Carlos Pino

5680: No Score Nixon

Rookie pilot Tim Nixon was keen to open his account against the Luftwaffe. But somehow his score sheet stayed blank — and he began to wonder if his lack of success was due to bad luck, or if he was just a no-hoper.
     Somehow he had to prove himself and silence the taunts of his squadron mates who called him… No-score Nixon!
     #5780 No Score Nixon was hand-picked by Carlos as one of his favourite issues he’s ever done and with good reason! Carlos’s art brings you classic RAF action with dogfights galore!

Story | Ian Clark
Art | Carlos Pino
Cover | Carlos Pino

5681: Super Soldiers

It just was not possible. No soldier, no matter how well-trained or fanatical, could keep pace with a speeding jeep — and then run even faster. But that is exactly what had been witnessed by the sole survivor of a badly-mauled British unit.
     The war was all but won, the German forces on their knees and ready to surrender… yet all that could still change if this unit of Nazi super soldiers got even the slightest chance to turn the tide.
     Weird Commando incoming! Carlos specially selected this off-the-wall issue where science fiction meets war comic, something Carlos’ has been doing for years. Whether it was his work on 2000AD, Starlord, or Commando, time and time again Pino proves he is a master artist who can turn his hand to any genre!

Story | Alan Hebden
Art | Carlos Pino
Cover | Carlos Pino

5682: Operation Nachthexen

The German forces that invaded the Soviet Union had much to fear once the Russians’ fightback got into its stride. For the Russians are fearsome warriors when roused.
     What the Germans feared more than anything was the night. For that was when the Nachthexen — the night witches — flew. Because, you see, when the Nachthexen flew, they carried death on their wings.
     Commando issue Operation Nachthexen was a notable favourite of Carlos Pino, who sought it out specifically for reprint in this set devoted to his amazing Commando career!

Story | Mac MacDonald
Art | Carlos Pino
Cover | Carlos Pino

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 13 September 2023

2000 AD Announces Mega-Signing Day on 23rd September 2023

Six stores and 19 creators – don't miss the 2000 AD Mega-Signing Day on 23 September, Earthlets!

2000 AD are beyond zarjaz to announce a Mega-Signing Day on Saturday 23rd September 2023, taking place across the UK and featuring some of our most beloved current and classic creators!

The event celebrates not just the release of the 2000 AD/Battle Action crossover on the 20th September, taking place across both 2000 AD Prog 2350 and Judge Dredd Megazine 460, but also September's releases of The Best of Tharg's Terror Tales and The Thirteenth Floor Vol.4.

The mega-signing day is the chance to meet your favourite creators and get them to sign copies of your favourite comic!

Check out the creator lists for stores in Cardiff, London, Birmingham, Leeds, Brighton and – for the first time – Dunfermline in Scotland, get the day in your diary, and head along for a mega time!

Cardiff: Forbidden Planet International
Patrick Goddard
Dylan Teague
David Roach

London: Forbidden Planet
Rob Williams
Simon Davis
Keith Richardson

Birmingham: Forbidden Planet
John McCrea
Ian Edginton

Leeds: Travelling Man
Nick Percival
Peter Doherty
Staz Johnson

Dunfermline: Little Shop of Heroes
Gordon Rennie
Tom Foster
Karl Stock

Brighton: Dave’s Comics
John Higgins
Guy Adams
Boo Cook
Sally Jane Hurst

All signings taking place from 12pm - 1pm. Lineups could be subject to change.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2349
Cover: Simon Fraser

Judge Dredd: A Fallen Man by Ken Niemand (w) Tom Foster (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Tharg's 3rillers: Die Hoard by Eddie Robson (w) Nick Brokenshire (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hershey: The Cold in the Bones by Rob Williams (w) Simon Fraser (a) Simon Bowland
Azimuth: A Job For Suzi Nine by Dan Abnett (w) Tazio Bettin (a) Matt Soffe (c) Jim Campbell (l)

The Thirteenth Floor Vol.4
Rebellion ISBN 978-183786018-0, 14 September 2023, 80pp, £14.99. Available via Amazon.

Max, the A.I. superintendent of Maxwell Towers has found a kindred soul in one of his residents, a young, disturbed boy call Sam Bowers. Together they work to rid the building of all the ne'er do wells who lurk in the dark corridors of the block, luring them to the dreaded thirteenth floor. But this power has started to corrupt Sam, surprising even Max – and their activities have not gone unnoticed, as WPC Hester Benedict becomes more aware of the sinister events taking place at the building.
    The breakout star of legendary British comic Scream! Max and his thirteenth floor are back in a brand-new story written by Guy Adams (Heavens Gate) and includes art by Frazer Irving (Batman and Robin), John Stokes (Star Wars), Tom Paterson (Sweeny Toddler), Kelley Jones (The Sandman), VV Glass (Dr Who) and Vince Locke (A History of Violence).

Friday, September 08, 2023

Comic Cuts — 8 September 2023

It has been proofing week at Casa Holland, with the usual interruptions. An eye test on Monday resulted in... nothing, so good news. My prescription hadn't changed enough to require new glasses, so I've avoided that cost for another couple of years. The eye strain is down to too much time in front of the computer, I was told, and I need to take more breaks — so from now on I can claim my innate laziness is actually medical advice from a trained optometrist.

My proofs arrived late on Friday and I spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday reading a physical copy of The Trials Of Hank Janson from cover to cover for the first time — I was darting around the text somewhat when I was doing the revisions and checking everything on screen, so this has been a real pleasure. I think it's a damn good book. It was good when it appeared in 2004 and was nominated for an award by the Crime Writers' Association, the prestigious Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction; I've been able to add more information that wasn't available to me back twenty years ago and I have reinstated a chapter that was cut from the earlier edition. I keep telling people the new version is 5% better because it's 5% bigger, but it's actually 7% (better and bigger!).

Physically, the book is taller than the old edition, so it has 26 fewer pages despite being 6,800 words longer, meaning that each page is 16% better. And that's scientifically provable!

The read-through highlighted a few odds and ends that needed to be cleared up, mostly typos but one weird glitch that meant that when I converted footnotes to endnotes for the Kindle edition it mysteriously added a blank note. Fixed now, but I still don't know why it happened. Everything was uploaded on Wednesday and Amazon takes up to 72 hours to publish.

Of course, the moment I hit the "publish" button, I became aware of a typo, a Spanish word that I had managed to misspell. Unfortunately, you can't do anything about it until the book goes live, so I've had to re-upload the text. All very time consuming.

Good things come to those who wait, and I'm now looking forward to getting my hands on some finished copies of the book and getting them into the hands of reviewers. I also need  to sort out a page for the Bear Alley Books site, post various links and start promoting the book wherever I can. Spread the word to your friends! And don't forget to mention: it's 16% better than the first edition. You can't argue with maths!

While I'm expecting most sales will be done through Amazon, I'll only be able to supply signed copies from here, so if you think that's something you would like, drop me a line at the usual address (the one just below the photo, top left) and I'll get one sent, post haste, once I have copies in stock.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Invasion Colchester 2023

This year's Invasion Colchester cosplay for charity event took place on Saturday and I, for once, wasn't there as I was proofing my Trials of Hank Janson book while everyone was out enjoying themselves. But Mel stepped up to the (photographic) plate and snapped a few pictures for me to share. Not sure what she got up to, but it seemed to involve the police if the picture below is anything to go by...



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