Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Starblazer Volume 2

Interstellar Space Fiction Adventure in Pictures! Beaming down from outer space and into your hands is Starblazer Volume 2! This astronomical anthology collects two classic Starblazer issues from DC Thomson’s extra-terrestrial archives!
    Collecting two vintage issues from 1979 and 1984 and blowing them up to full-graphic novel size, this volume also features an exclusive interview with legendary artist Carlos Pino (Commando, 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd), cover gallery, and foreword by Doctor Who screenwriter and comic author Paul Cornell.  

    Reprinted for the first time are:

The Web of Arcon

Reconnaissance ships patrolled the dark recesses of the Galaxy. As these ships were largely automatic, the crew spent long periods doing nothing. But on his first deep space trip, the newly commissioned Lieutenant Janus was about to encounter The Star Queen, a spaceship long thought lost and destroyed. Well, the truth about its fate was stranger – and more dangerous – than fiction!
    First published Starblazer #12, 1979.

The Death Reaper

Mikal R. Kayn was a policeman. He was forcibly retired by the Republic of the United Worlds’ Department of Justice, Star Cops, for methods to be found in no book… and a slight medical problem – he was all but blind.
    However, being medically blind didn’t stop Kayn from becoming a Private Investigator, in fact, the Justice Department were delighted, because it got him off their backs. Well, almost… on March 23, 2284, Kayn’s old partner, Affa, still a Galactic Policeman, was in the middle of an investigation and he needed Kayn’s help!
    First published Starblazer #127, 1984.

‘The Death Reaper’ is the next issue in Grant Morrison’s Mikal R. Kayn series and introduces another famous Starblazer character of their creation, Cinnabar. Enrique Alcatena is on art duty, with Keith Robson on the cover, both doing an out-of-this-world job.
    Grant Morrison MBE is an international comics legend known for their work on Animal Man, Batman, Doom Patrol and The Green Lantern. One of Morrison’s first writing jobs in comics was for DC Thomson’s Starblazer.
    The volume is once again capped off with an astronomical cover by Neil Roberts (2000 AD, Warhammer, Commando).
    The long-awaited Starblazer Volume 2 is out on Amazon, Magsdirect.co.uk and in WHSmith stores November 1st, 2023.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Comic Cuts — 27 October 2023

This week was nowhere near as exciting as the week I described in my last column—so exciting, in fact, that there were two columns!

I've had some problems with e-mail and I was unable to download any for a couple of days; the guy on the phone from my ISP was unable to help me because I couldn't get into my account and nor could he. This meant trying to recover my account with the ISP's recovery team, which ran into a number of immediate hurdles. I don't drive, so I don't have a driving license; nor do I have a current passport, because I haven't travelled abroad for many years and never bothered to renew it.

So proving who I was proved to be a problem because they wouldn't accept my election id, which is acceptable for voting a government in, but apparently not good enough for re-establishing my e-mail.

They also wanted proof of my address, so I sent over my most recent bank statement and a phone bill. That wasn't good enough because the bank statement was over three months old. I explained that my bank had turned my account "paperless" without my OK, so I sent a TV license. But that wasn't good enough... so I couldn't prove who I was or where I lived.

I couldn't get a new password, because they would be sending it to an e-mail address I couldn't access through my PC or my laptop.

After a fraught couple of days, I had a breakthrough. I was regretting that my tablet had stopped working about 18 months ago, as it had saved my life back in 2019 when our phone line was out of action for a month. Every day, I went down to a local Syrian cafe called The Olive Branch and used the tablet and their free wi-fi to access orders for my books and keep in touch with people. I'd jot down postal addresses in a little notebook... which is when I remembered that I had also jotted down the webmail address and password in that same notebook.

Miraculously, I was able to access my account and although I'm still having to sign in every couple of hours, I can at least see my mail now. They seem to be moving their system over to a "Generation 2" web system, which might be where my problems started and why they're still not 100% sorted.

I've temporarily moved some of my mail to a gmail address, which I'll also use for groups and one or two other things in the future. Until I can get someone to look at the set up I have, I'll have to keep stumbling along for a while, which is my usual mode of perambulation when it comes to technology.

I took Wednesday off to visit the Knife Angel sculpture with my mum. I had heard of it but didn't realise it was so tall – 27 feet – and made of around 100,000 knives that were seized by the police or handed in during amnesties. It has been on tour since 2018, and has been located next to the Jumbo Water Tower in Colchester during October before heading off to Bolton, Greater Manchester, next month. You can find out if it's coming to your town here.

I'm still trying to spread the word that The Trials of Hank Janson is available. Trying to get any publicity is proving to be a bit of a nightmare. I did an interview with Jules Burt, which was a lot of fun to do (and which has had nearly 500 views) but I've contacted three other people who do podcast/videos about paperbacks and I've not even had a reply. Maybe they're just not interested in a guy who sold 20 million paperbacks and was responsible for changing the law that allowed Penguin Books to publish Lady Chatterley's Lover.

In the meantime, I've waiting on publication of two pieces in The Guardian – on Keith Giffen and Tony Husband [UPDATE: published online Thursday evening] – and I also wrote a random short feature on Shenstone Press, the Mansfield-based publisher of the 'Glamour Girl Novels' series and did some research into the family behind Alliance Press, who put out a considerable number of paperbacks in the 1940s. I'll get back to work on Beyond the Void tomorrow and I'm waiting on approval of a proof before the button is pressed on A Laverda Journey. You can't hurry these things however hard you try!

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Commando 5691-5694

BEWARE, ghouls and monsters! The second of Commando Halloween special sets is upon us! Eerie Issues 5691 – 5694 are on sale today, Thursday 26th October! Catch them before they catch YOU!

5691: Commandos vs Zombies 0

Deep in Nazi-occupied Norway lies a dark forest and a shadowy factory hidden within. Inside its fetid walls, two Nazi doctors work feverishly, tampering with nature itself to create a German soldier like no other — stronger, faster… with an unyielding loyalty to the Third Reich. But what they unwittingly created was something far worse.

The British Commandos sent in to stop them didn’t stand a chance. They were doomed!

The dead are back, back, back again! The prequel to the Commandos vs Zombies trilogy written by the grisly Georgia Standen Battle is out soon! Find out how the story of Commandos vs Zombies the graphic novel (out now on MagsDirect.co.uk) began! Featuring the master of vile Vicente Alcazar on artwork with nefarious Neil Roberts on cover duty!

Story | Georgia Standen Battle
Art | Vicente Alcazar
Cover | Neil Roberts

5692: Phantom Pilot

When Ken Welsh’s Typhoon was shot down he made the sort of forced landing that nobody should have survived. But survive he did — or did he?

Something very strange had happened, for when Ken woke up, his sleek Typhoon had been replaced with an old-time biplane fighter — and it wasn’t 1944 anymore, it was 1918!

A classic Commando reprint has escaped from the crypts and crawled back onto the shelves once more! Issue 5692 Phantom Pilot featuring a time-travelling ghost! What will they think of next?!

Story | Brunt
Art | Peter Ford
Cover | Ian Kennedy
First Published 1970 as Issue 513

5693: Nightmare Express

At a mist-shrouded railway station, a quartet of mismatched troops are assembled, their recent actions marking them out as the ideal escort detail for a mysterious cargo.

But as they hurtle through the night, curiosity, greed, and terror lead them in turn to enter the cargo compartment, each to discover the eerie train of events that led them to this fateful assignment.

And as the journey detours through a series of nightmarish tales, can any of them hope to disembark before the night train reaches its final destination?

The DEMONIC Daniel McGachey makes his debut to Commando alongside artwork from the malevolent Mike Dorey! Dare you take a ticket to ride this horror train bound for doom?! Will anybody survive the eerie TRAIN of events about to unfold?!

Story | Daniel McGachey
Art | Mike Dorey
Cover | Mike Dorey

5694: Haunted Skies

The FW 190s dived confidently on the single Spitfire — it looked an easy target. In seconds the British fighter was lined up in their gun sights. But as the German pilots pressed their firing buttons, a blinding flash dazzled their eyes and suddenly there was another Spitfire in the sky — a phantom one!

We’re resurrecting another classic Commando for a reprinting! What's that in the sky…is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a GHOST plane! With ghostly but not ghastly artwork from Ken Barr and Mira topping off Bernard Gregg’s supernatural Spitfire story!

Story | Bernard Gregg
Art | Mira
Cover | Ken Barr
First Published 1974 as Issue 808

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 25 October 2023

One of the most admired artists in comics history, Steve Dillon is rightfully considered to be one of the definitive 2000 AD artists, with his extensive work for The Galaxy's Greatest Comic including pencils on A.B.C. Warriors, Bad Company, Judge Dredd, Harlem Heroes, Ro-Busters, Rogue Trooper and Tyranny Rex.

As an artist who set the standard for what comics could be, we are delighted to announce that 2000 AD will be publishing a collection of his stunning original artwork for the next volume of our Apex Editions.

The 2000 AD Art of Steve Dillon: Apex Edition contains pages from throughout his 30+ year career working at 2000 AD, including his art on Rogue Trooper and Harlem Heroes. His prolific and defining work on Judge Dredd is showcased with a range of stories including his incredible artwork for the classic Block Mania alongside the Emerald Isle storyline, one of his first collaborations with Garth Ennis.

Also included in this book is the complete art for Alan Moore's sole A.B.C. Warriors story, Red Planet Blues, with painted colour by Watchmen artist John Higgins.

The 2000 AD Art of Steve Dillon: Apex Edition will be released in 2024 both as a Standard Edition available from comic book stores via Diamond Distribution and the 2000 AD webshop; and as a webshop-exclusive edition with special slipcase. 

The Apex Edition series is a deluxe, over-sized facsimile edition reproducing his original art pages at their actual size. Each page of this book has been scanned directly from Steve Dillon's art and presents each page as if you were looking at it in person.

Steve Dillon is one of the best-loved artists to have ever put pencil to paper. Reaching international superstardom as a result of his work on DC/Vertigo's Preacher, which he co-created with frequent collaborator Garth Ennis, he remained one of the most in-demand artists in comics throughout his career, redefining characters including The Punisher. Having previously made his name as a hugely popular writer and artist for 2000 AD, he was the creator of both Hap Hazzard and the Irish Judge Joyce: he also wrote several stories for the Prog over the years, including Future Shocks and Rogue Trooper.

Measuring a huge 19 x 14 inches, this is a landmark collection of some of Dillon's most admired artwork from a storied career in comics, running across 128 incredible pages. With this posthumous release of his artwork, he rightfully takes his place amongst other masters of the form, including Kevin O'Neill, Brian Bolland and Mick McMahon. 

The Steve Dillon Apex edition is released on 19th June 2024, with pre-orders available now on the 2000 AD webshop.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2355
Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (cols).

Judge Dredd: Poison by Rob Williams (w) PJ Holden (a) Peter Doherty (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Helium: Scorched Earth by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Devil's Railroad by Peter Milligan (w) Rufus Dayglo (a) Jose Villarrubia (c) Jim Campbell (l)
The Fall of Deadworld: Retribution by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Feral & Foe: Bad Godesberg by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Upcoming Releases

I'm sorry to say that I don't always have the time to dedicate to promoting comics the way I'd like to. Back in the days of Comic World we tried to cover the small press with reviews every month and occasional interviews. Well, today there's as vibrant a small press as there ever was, and whole new ways of publishing that mean the small press (and I count Bear Alley amongst their number) can produce some stunning books. Here are just a few that have caught my eye...

Ian Gibson's Lifeboat
by Ian Gibson
The 77 Publications, Autumn 2023, £25 (hc) / £18 (pb) / £10 (digital).

Ian Gibson's Lifeboat is the long awaited 60 page book by the artist behind The Ballad of Halo Jones (with Alan Moore), Robo-Hunter and Judge Dredd (John Wagner) and Miracle Man (J.M. DeMatteis).
    Following a hugely successful crowd-fundeder earlier in the year, this special edition of Book 1 of Ian Gibson' Lifeboat contains the first three chapters of his 'Magnum Opus' and offers the reader an exclusive and extensive analysis of Ian's techniques and character development.
    The book features reflections and commentary from those who best know Ian's work and also foreword by long time collaborator, John Wagner with contributions from Steve MacManus, David Roach and Steve Parkhouse.

Candy, Andy & The Bearandas by Alan Dein, foreword by Jamie Anderson.
Four Corner Books ISBN 978-190982921-3, 26 October 2023, 92pp, £15. Available via Amazon.

‘Candy and Andy is such a strange and wonderful sixties time capsule combining off beat creativity, captivating photography, an incongruous narrative, and material that, through a contemporary lens, often borders on the harrowing!’ – Jamie Anderson
    Living in a picture-perfect English village, two panda bears, Mr and Mrs Bearanda, bring up their plastic children, Candy and Andy…
    Devised by Gerry Anderson’s Century 21 Productions (Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet) for the 1960s comic book market, the images created for the Candy and Andy photostrips are a surreal, unique look at domesticity, the family and childhood. Their unusual nature meant they never reached the popularity of other Anderson characters, and the photo story comics were abandoned after just a year.
    Candy, Andy & The Bearandas presents the best of the surviving original transparencies from Gerry Anderson’s brilliantly bizarre project: driving their striped Mini, preparing for Bonfire Night, or going for a boat ride, Candy, Andy and the Bearandas live in an unforgettable, dreamlike world. The carefully restored images are lovingly presented in a faux leather-bound hardback (with foil-blocking and tipped-in cover image).
    It also features a Foreword by Gerry Anderson’s son, Jamie Anderson, and an introduction detailing the history of the Candy and Andy project by historian and broadcaster Alan Dein.

Sherlock Holmes and the Empire Builders Volume 1: The Gene Genie
by Joel Meadows & Andy Bennett
Tripwire Comics ISBN 978-139996075-5, 27 December 2023, £25.00 Available via Amazon.

Sherlock Holmes and The Empire Builders is an epic alternate world sci fi adventure featuring The World’s Greatest Detective as people have never seen him before.
     When Watson leaves Holmes to help Crick unravel the DNA helix and finds himself in the employ of England’s most evil man, Holmes is forced to team up with an unlikely group to defeat this monstrous figure and return England to its status quo. With your support here we can get the first part of this exciting graphic novel out to readers!
     Testing the waters with three shorts which ran in Tripwire magazine, we felt that now was the time to debut this in its own graphic novel series. This will be a hardcover with a dust jacket running at 88 pages with 68 pages of story (much of which will be new material) plus character sketches, script pages and an interview offering extra information on the series.
     Covers by Mark Chiarello & Walter Simonson

The Tomorrow People — The Complete Look-In Comics: Volume Two by Angus Allan, John M Burns, Mike Noble, Bill Titcombe, Leslie Branton
Oak Tree Books / Chinbeard Books, February 2024, £39.99.

Oak Tree Books and Chinbeard Books are pleased to announce that ‘The Tomorrow People — The Complete Look-In Comics: Volume Two’ is slated for publication in February 2024 and is available to pre-order today. The collection is released in association with Rebellion and the Treasury of British Comics.
    In collaboration with series creator and writer Roger Price, the team of Robert Hammond and Barnaby Eaton-Jones (the creative forces behind the award-winning ‘Robin of Sherwood — The Complete Look-In Comics’) alongside writer and expert Andy Davidson, have joined forces yet again for the second volume of beautifully restored Tomorrow People strips from the pages of Look-In magazine.
    This announcement follows the successful release of ‘The Tomorrow People — The Complete Look-In Comics: Volume One’ earlier this year.
    “I always think of the comic strip version of The Tomorrow People as demonstrating what it could have been if it had a decent budget,
and with today’s technology.” says series creator, Roger Price.
    This is Volume Two of a two-volume collection featuring every Look-In strip of The Tomorrow People, showcases the creative flair of John M. Burns, Mike Noble, Bill Titcombe, Leslie Branton, and Angus P. Allan.
    It includes pages lovingly restored from the original art boards, concluding articles, features, and posters, as well as a foreword by actor (and Tomorrow Person) Nicholas Young.
    ‘The Tomorrow People — The Complete Look-In Comics: Volume Two’ is available to pre-order now in limited edition hardback from AUK Direct.
    For those that missed out on ‘Volume One’, there are a limited number of copies left available here.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Comic Cuts — 21 October 2023

A bonus 'Comic Cuts' column!

Because I spent my usual Friday column talking about last weekend's comic swap meet, I didn't have room for my usual boring-ass ramblings about my boring-ass life, and for once there were a couple of things worth mentioning. Hence this bonus blog post.

I spent most of Sunday dealing with the fallout of the swap meet — not as bad as it sounds. For instance, I keep a spreadsheet of sales for every one of Bear Alley's books, which needed to be updated, and as I had forgotten to note the books as they sold, I spent ages trying to figure out a way of using the photos Mel and I had taken of the table to work out how many books I'd taken, and then take stock of what I bought back to figure out what had sold. It worked out at twenty-one copies of ten different titles. I then had to order more copies to replace those that had sold.

Between that and catching up on my mail took most of the day.

I spent Monday and Tuesday writing a piece about the late Keith Giffen for The Guardian, which didn't overrun nearly as long as I usually manage. Because the paper is a different size now (it shrank from broadsheet to 'Berliner' to tabloid over a period of 13 years), there's less room for the obituaries desk staff to indulge my rambling essays. It isn't just The Guardian... I remember being told off by the editors of Starblazer back in 1989 that my panel descriptions were way too long—another example of my "everything plus the kitchen sink, oh, and some kitchen utensils, too" writing style. I just don't like leaving anything out.

Anyway, in this instance I managed to keep it down to 40 words over the requested length, and after they queried a couple of points, they added another ten words that I'll get paid for! There's only one response anyone could make to that: "Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!"

I have some tidying up to do on A Laverda Journey, which is the next Bear Alley release, and then I should be able to get back to Beyond the Void, the book I'm writing about the history of Badger Books. I also need to keep up the promotion of The Trials of Hank Janson, which is selling OK—by which I mean double figures each month so far, not Rowling levels!—but which will inevitably tail off. I want everyone to be aware what a nice Christmas present a signed hardback copy would make...

I also had a nice big parcel in the post on Wednesday containing the first two volumes of the Fleetway Comics Archives from Book Palace. I first heard of the new series back in the spring from publisher Geoff West when he asked if I would be interested in writing a couple of introductions. I was and did, the first for Don Lawrence's Billy the Kid back in May and the second, for Jet-Ace Logan: The Complete Comet Stories, in September.

Both books have now been released and they're gorgeous! The Don Lawrence shouldn't need any introduction as there are plenty of examples of Lawrence's exemplary work on western strips already published (I put together Wells Fargo & Pony Express for Book Palace back in 2011 and Don also drew episodes of Longbow, still available from Bear Alley). The book runs to 136 pages and includes strips from Sun, Lion, an episode from Cowboy Picture Library and a couple of colour strips from Valiant Annual 1966.

The Jet-Ace Logan book is just amazing, reprinting the complete run of stories from Comet in one 376-page volume. It's easily my second favourite hardback released in the last two months (The hardcover of Trials of Hank Janson is a thing of beauty and I'm 100% biased in its favour!). It's typical of the fists-first action yarn that was so popular in the 1950s, but well-written by Mike Butterworth and David Motton, who could both tell a good story. The artwork was taken over by newcomer John Gillatt with the second storyline, and you can see how his talent and style developed over the next fifteen stories.

It's rare nowadays to find a complete run of the original Comet comics, so this will be the fist time many (including me) will have a chance to read Jet-Ace's adventures in full. They're seventy years old and they show their age, but you can forgive that in the same way that Flash Gordon serials are still watchable. I'm already thinking that a marathon reading session might be an excellent way to spend the weekend.

Also increasingly rare: finding pre-decimal paperbacks in the wild. I've only found a couple in the past month, and thought would make nice illustrations.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Comic Cuts — 20 October 2023

There seems to be a problem with uploading images to Blogger, so for a while I thought the above might be the only picture this week. But it's a good 'un, taken by Mel at last weekend's comic swap meet.

It's the first swap meet to be held in Colchester for thirty or so years—I remember there was an attempt to hold one back in the days when I was editing Comic World, so around 1994, which was held next to the Town Hall... the room might even have been part of the Town Hall, although that wasn't the most memorable thing about the day. Which was that nobody turned up.

My memories of the event are vague, but I think we were there just to give away copies of the magazine. I wonder what we did with all the leftover copies? It was only a walk along the High Street to get to the Aceville office, so maybe we just drove them back. Who knows; I seem to have blanked the whole event.

The latest was far more memorable and way more successful. This was the first time Bear Alley Books has made a public appearance;  I don't drive or have any other way of getting around except public transport, so lugging around a few dozen books isn't something that I can easily manage. But when I heard that the Commando and British Weekly Comics Swap Meet was coming to Colchester, it was an opportunity I didn't want to miss.

I gather this was the 12th Swap Meet run by the group, which began running meets six years ago. I was late to the game as usual but organiser Karl Kennedy told me that I was in luck as a table was available after someone had dropped out. I borrowed a shopping trolley from my Mum (only Mums and Grans have them!), which was the perfect size to fit my large (A4-sized) books; I already had a large bag that I could fit a small box into, which protected the copies of Trials of Hank Janson and other trade paperback format books I've done.

The idea was to bring as wide a selection as possible, so people could see what Bear Alley has published over the past twelve years. Also, I don't carry much stock, so this was pretty much everything I had to hand, including a couple of copies of Arena and Frontline UK—both out of print—that I had on my shelf.

Because I generally sell direct, I had to compile a price list for the books I was taking and make sure I had plenty of change. A visit to the bank after I had my Covid and flu shots last week fixed that problem. We were all ready to go.

And it all worked out incredibly well. Mel was in charge of the trolley, I had the bag slung over my shoulder, the bus wasn't crowded and was on time, we got to the venue (the Baptist Church in the town centre) with plenty of time to spare and had the table set up without incident.

How do you measure success at these kind of events? I didn't expect to sell a lot of the books as a comic mart was unlikely to attract a Hank Janson crowd. But you can't measure the good it can do to let people see the full range of titles we have published. A back-of-a-fag-packet calculation told me that I wouldn't need to sell that many books to cover my costs (the tables were a usefully cheap £15, plus £4 bus fare, plus what I spent on the day).

To make a reasonable living out of Bear Alley, I've always said I would need to sell forty books a day. However, I set my bar low for Saturday and said that I'd count it as a good day if I sold ten. Well, the good news is that I doubled that and sold twenty-one books! I offered most with a "swap meet discount", but I still took £287—although probably half of that was from the other dealers in the room. (Just to show you how the economics of self-publishing works, I put in an order to restock on Sunday and spent £223. The margins are pretty tight! 

Even better than a useful handful of sales was the chance to chat to everyone. Apart from Martin Averre and Kerrie of ACE Comics, I only knew a few people by name, so it was nice to put faces to names; had some fascinating chats with many of the other dealers and signed quite a few books, too. I was amazed to see so many of the old Prion war library collections still in circulation! Commando writers Stephen Walsh and James Swallow were on hand to sign copies of their books.

There was a terrific gallery of original artwork including many war library covers by Graham Coton, Oliver Frey and others, a really nice couple of pieces by Keith Burns, Paddy Payne artwork by Joe Colquhoun, and much, much more. The art was curated by Stuart Steele and Edward Walker, with the help of James Bacon, Stephen Hume and Bruce Scott, and it was a joy to see it well displayed in the hall.

I stupidly forgot to charge my camera, so I only had my phone to take pictures with, and by the time I got around to it, the light was streaming through the ceiling windows, meaning that most of the shots I took aren't that good, with bands of light and shade angling across the artwork. I should also say that my attempts to capture some of the excitement of the day didn't quite work out, as the only chance I had to take photos of the dealer's tables was when the hall was virtually empty and everyone was wandering around looking at each other's stock, using the loo or buying bacon sandwiches. I'll add a couple of the most OK-ish pictures from the day below.

All in all I had a fantastic time. For most of the books it was a day out and they've yet to find their forever homes, but, you never know, maybe next time...

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 18 October 2023

Revealed at the 2000 AD panel at New York Comic Con 2023, take a look at the brand new cover for the next graphic novel from the 2000 AD Regened Series, Lowborn High! This magical graphic novel for teens, brought to you from the mind of David Barnett and the artistic talents of Anna Morozova and Mike Walters hits shelves in April 2024 ready to enthral a generation of readers looking for their next teen reading saga or mystic fix.

So you’ve seen the cover, but what is Lowborn High all about? For as long as anyone can remember, Wychdusk Manor has been the school to which all the top magical novices are sent, where they are trained to become the world’s greatest wizards. Androgeus Frost, part of one of the wizarding worlds’ most esteemed families, always thought it was a sure thing he’d get in, but a bad attitude and even worse grades soon land him instead at Lowborn High.

A struggling inner-city comprehensive school for those with mediocre magical talent, Androgeus finds himself with all the other duds, drop-outs, and those who don’t have the upper-class wizarding family background. Making friends with Maisy, Ali and Dril, soon the group of friends find there are mysteries to solve and the pupils of Lowborn High can still be capable of some truly amazing feats!

After starring in the All Ages Takeover issues of the 2000 AD Megazine, this magical new addition to the 2000 AD Regened series bring something different to the table of wizardly universes. Inspired by Grange Hill and the idea of what happens to those that don’t make it into the grand wizarding schools, Lowborn High is ready for a generation of teen readers wanting something beyond Harry Potter.

Lowborn High is released on 23rd April in the US and 25th April in the UK, and is available to pre-order now on Amazon, the 2000 AD webstore, and wherever books are sold.

And now, this week's 2000AD releases...

2000AD Prog 2354
Cover: Richard Elson.

Judge Dredd: Poison by Rob Williams (w) PJ Holden (a) Peter Doherty (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Helium: Scorched Earth by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Devil's Railroad by Peter Milligan (w) Rufus Dayglo (a) Jose Villarrubia (c) Jim Campbell (l)
The Fall of Deadworld: Retribution by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Feral & Foe: Bad Godesberg by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine #461
Cover: Colin Macneil.

Judge Dredd: Risk Assessment by
 Mike Carroll (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Spector: Incorruptible by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Dylan Teague (c) Jim Campbell (l)
Tales from the Black Museum: The Tooth Will Kill Ya! by Guy Adams (w) Gary Welsh (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Rogue Trooper: Last Man Standing by Brian Buckley (w) Alberto Ponticelli (a) Stephen Downer (c) Tom B. Long (l)
Johnny Red: The Ghost Lands 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 (l)
Dreadnoughts: The March of Progress by Mike Carroll (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Smash! #1 by Paul Grist (w), Tom Foster & Anna Morozova (a)

In Victorian London, when Janus Stark traps a demon in a stone idol he creates a prize too alluring for criminal masterminds to resist, and 60 years later the King of Crooks organises his Crime Syndicate to heist the statuette. However, The Steel Claw and Jane Bond are assigned to halt the theft, but they encounter a mysterious stranger who throws both sides' plans into disarray.
     A fast-paced action-adventure miniseries written by Paul Grist (Jack Staff) and with art by Tom Foster (Judge Dredd) and Anna Morozova (2000 AD) featuring a host of classic British comic book characters brought back to life in this 3-part miniseries.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Comic Cuts — 13 October

While I complain about the odd ache in the knees, I'm generally fairly healthy and haven't suffered from anything since our brush with Covid a year ago. So I was especially annoyed by developing... something, and I'm still not sure what it was, but something wrong with my stomach which started with pains on Saturday and continued to cause a lot of discomfort for the next three days.

It didn't quite fit the profile of food poisoning, or the usual stomach problems (I'm trying to avoid saying "trapped wind" and "constipation" but it's just not possible). Not to get too medical, but I had some pain, was wanting to go to the loo but not doing anything when I got there, but was not nauseous or off my food, was not unable to work or go for a walk. What floored me more was that I had barely slept Sunday night and spent two days with jet lag trying to get myself back to regular sleep/eat/poo patterns. (This is not the hard-hitting comic/paperback content that most of you sign in for, for which I am deeply sorry.)

I managed to get most of the rest of Beyond the Void: The remarkable history of Badger Books finished on Friday and Saturday. There's just a bit of front matter and I need to sort out the index and a cover, but it looks like it will be about 174 pages in total.

Feeling jet-lagged on Monday, I decided to take the day off and read, which was useful as it meant I was able to post a couple of reviews this week, by Tuesday I was picking up the threads of work again, but had to take Wednesday off for my diabetic eye test. This involves having Tropicamide drops in your eye which sting like hell and cause the pupil to expand, so that a camera can take photographs of the retina (the light sensitive cells at the back of your eye). It also causes blurry vision for a couple of hours, so I thought I'd kick around town and make use of the day: firstly to a pharmacy that was taking walk-ins for the Covid jab; and while I was there they offered me the flu jab as well, so I had that. Fizzing with drugs and blurry-eyed, I staggered around a few shops and then into Sainsbury's and then caught the bus home.

Had some food and slept like a baby for three hours solid. So not a bad day at all.

It's now Thursday and I'm trying to get back up to speed, but I've spent half the morning watching videos (albeit of Badger Books!) and pottering around the internet looking for a cheap external hard drive, as I noticed that my main back-up drives are all showing signs of filling up--due entirely to my inability to throw anything away, even scans of old comics that I've sold on Ebay! I just copied over 3gb of scans that are probably never going to be looked at again... but I work on the theory that I've got them should I need them at some point in the future.

I'm 7tb into an 8tb drive, so there's no great hurry, but I know it'll nag at me until I get something sorted.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Commando 5687-5690

Welcome, foolish mortals, to the beginning of Commando’s Halloween spook-a-rama set of comics! We hope you’re not afraid of the dark because Commandos issues 5687 – 5690 go on sale today, Thursday 12th October, 2023!

5687: Beneath

When the Nazis thundered over Europe they took control of the people and the land. But they did not know what horror lay beneath the earth, hungry and rage-filled from the last war that had ravaged those soils. It had tasted human-flesh and it craved more…
    Now spooky season has officially begun, Commando is kicking off the horror with Kate Dewar’s subterranean horror brought to your grubby hands by Alberto Saichann’s gritty artwork with eerie cover by Keith Burns! You’ll want all the lights on for reading this one!

Story | Kate Dewar
Art | Esteve Polls
Cover | Keith Burns

5688: The Haunted Woods

It was a place shunned by every living creature. No man would go into that wood, no animal hunted there, no insect stirred.
    For centuries an atmosphere of evil had brooded amongst those trees, while an ancient mist shrouded the terrible things that had happened there.
    Next in our fear-fest is a DREAD-ful yarn by Bernard Gregg from 1975. There’s always something CREEPY about the woods but the art by ‘Haupt’ is sure to make you wet yourself in fear! Topped off with an iconic cover by Ian Kennedy – you WOOD not want to miss this issue!

Story | Bernard Gregg
Art | Haupt
Cover | Ian Kennedy

5689: Dawn of the Gorgons!

In 1956, the Egyptian government seized control of the Suez Canal. In response, British and French forces launched ‘Operation Musketeer’, a joint offensive to reclaim the canal, transporting troops and aircraft across the Mediterranean Sea in preparation for an invasion.

On its way through the Med, HMS Wyndham, encountered a strange, abandoned vessel filled with a mysterious cargo. The inexperienced marines sent to investigate were about to unwittingly stumble upon a nightmare that had been slumbering since 1943!
    Gorgons return to the pages of Commando! You may remember the foul beasts from Issue 5589 ‘Night of the Gorgons’ also written by the demonic Dominic Teague! Dan Barnfield takes over the monstrous mantle of artwork as he’s featured on interiors and cover art!

Story | Dominic Teague
Art | Dan Barnfield
Cover | Dan Barnfield

5690: Renegade Sergeant

After he escaped from the police in London, safecracker Bert Devlin changed his name and joined the army in an attempt to shake off his past. He thought he’d managed it too — until he was stopped by an MP one day who turned out to be the policeman he’d clobbered while escaping!
    For those who like a more classic kind of Commando is Issue 5690 ‘Renegade Sergeant’ but that’s not to say there isn’t something sinister contained within the pages written by CG Walker! Yes, it may not look like the creepiest Commando for Halloween but looks can be deceiving! For what horrors await you inside this issue has to be seen to be believed!

Story | C G Walker
Art | Blasco
Cover | Jeff Bevan

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 11 October 2023

Superheroes from across the ages – assemble! A brand new comics mini-series is unleashing the power of some of comics’ greatest characters of all time!

    Rebellion is pleased to announce that Smash!, new three-issue US-format mini-series, arrives on October 25th.
    Written by renowned artist/writer Paul Grist (Kane, Jack Staff), this fast-paced action-adventure mini-series features the very best and the most outlandish heroes, superheroes, and anti-heroes that comics can offer!
    From two very different 1960s secret agents – Jane Bond and The Steel Claw – to mechanical menaces Robot Archie and the murderous AI Max from The Thirteenth Floor, and villainous anti-hero The Spider and supernatural avenger Cursitor Doom, this is a series a whole century in the making.
    With each issue featuring brand new art from Tom Foster (Judge Dredd), Anna Morozova (Lowborn High), Jimmy Broxton (Hope), and V.V,. Glass (Mega-City Max) and stunning covers by Andy Clarke (Batman and Robin), Smash! #1 arrives in comic book stores and on the 2000 AD webshop and app on 25 October, retailing at £4.99 (UK) and $7.99 (US).
    This brand new mini-series unleashes the power of some of the last century’s greatest comic book characters. Having been inspired by them to create his acclaimed self-published series Jack Staff, Grist now realises his vision with the original versions of these legendary characters.
    In Victorian London, when the legendary elastic-limbed escapologist Janus Stark traps a demon in a stone idol, hoping to seal away the malevolent monster for all time – yet he has just created a prize too alluring for criminal masterminds to resist!
    Sixty years later, terrifying high-tech thief The Spider organises a heist for his Crime Syndicate to the steal the statuette. But heroes from across the ages unite to confound the king of crime, and prevent him from unleashing the demon hidden inside. Can they succeed and keep the evil of the stone idol contained?
    However, The Steel Claw and Jane Bond are assigned to halt the theft, but they encounter a mysterious stranger who throws both sides’ plans into disarray.
    Paul Grist said: “The Spider is, without doubt, my favourite British comic character. There are others that are more famous, more heroic, or just longer running, but it’s the Spider that’s been living rent free in my head since I first came across him in the pages of a ‘Summer Special’ whilst on a caravan holiday with my family many summers ago.
    “So to be asked to write a bunch of stories of his battles with his more ‘heroic’ contemporaries wasn’t something I was going to turn down! At least I could finally get him to earn his keep!
    “The three-issue that make up this series of Smash! give the Spider a chance to cavort across 60 years of British comics history, crossing paths with the Steel Claw, Robot Archie and Adam Eterno, as well as a few surprise ‘guest stars’ along the way. I even get to write a Janus Stark story to kick things off!
    “But don’t worry, it doesn’t require the reader to have read years of British comics in order to appreciate it. But I hope that it will give the you, the reader, a flavour of the range, variety and, quite frankly, the sheer bonkersness of British comics over the years!”
    Smash! #1 is out on 25 October, with subsequent issues released monthly.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2353
Cover: Alex Ronald

Judge Dredd: Poison by Rob Williams (w) PJ Holden (a) Peter Doherty (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Helium: Scorched Earth by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Simon Bowland (l)
The Devil's Railroad by Peter Milligan (w) Rufus Dayglo (a) Jose Villarrubia (c) Jim Campbell (l)
The Fall of Deadworld: Retribution by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Feral & Foe: Bad Godesberg by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Jim Campbell (l)

The Best of 2000AD Volume 4
Cover: Marguerite Sauvage
Rebellion ISBN 978-183786043-2, 12 October 2023, 192pp, £14.99. Available via Amazon.

The fourth volume of Best of 2000 AD – the best-selling 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.
      When Judge Dredd investigates a potential whistleblower, it’s hard to avoid paranoia when information is this Mega-City Confidential; from medieval Prague to the streets of Elizabethan London, Kek-W and John Burns sound the call to battle extra-dimensional Wurms and join The Order; a rolling stone gathers no mousse as Pete Milligan and Jamie Hewlett tangle you in Hewligan’s Haircut, a shear reality-warping victory roll that’s just the tonic; quake to the Cry of the Werewolf with an all-time Dredd classic by Alan Grant and Steve Dillon.

The Best of Tharg's Terror Tales
Rebellion ISBN 978-183786019-7, 10 October 2023, 112pp, £16.99. Available via Amazon.

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.


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