Thursday, February 29, 2024

Commando 5727-5730

On sale from today, Thursday 29th February, 2024, Commando marks International Women’s Day with four special issues spotlighting on female contributors and characters.

5727: The Viper

Bacuit Bay, Palawan Island, Philippines, 1944. Imelda Hernandez, nicknamed “The Viper” is a schoolteacher turned guerrilla commander intent on annihilating the Japanese invasion with her bolo knife and lightning-fast strikes. When deserters of her guerrilla group are captured by the Japanese, Imelda must decide whether to continue her warpath towards the Japanese soldiers who killed her friends or risk it all to save the men who wouldn’t follow a vengeful woman.
    Hailey Austin’s female-fronted issue was inspired by the true and heroic story of Filipino Nieves Fernandez, a school teacher turned guerrilla, who terrorised the Japanese invaders with her band of resistance fighters. The issue is brought to life by Paolo Ongaro’s artwork and Anna Morozova — Commando’s first female cover artist — returns for her second-ever Commando cover!

Story: Hailey Austin
Art: Paolo Ongaro
Cover: Anna Morozova

5728: A Time for Justice

The end was near for Bertrand Duval. Since the days of the French Revolution, his family had wrongfully claimed inheritance of the Chateau de Lauronne, and the title and power that went with it. Now he had added another crime to his list... he had made friends with the German invaders of his country. But the French Resistance fighters were gathering strength. The time for justice was close.
    Commando’s second issue for International Women’s Day features a story from the prolific female writer Mary Feldwick, whose classic issue features that archetypical Commando theme — REVENGE! With amazing artwork from artist Enriquez and a classic Ian Kennedy cover!

Story: Mary Feldwick
Art: Enriquez
Cover: Ian Kennedy
First Published 1980 as Issue 1470

5729: Baba Yaga

Metal seared against metal, Tiger tanks burning bright in the glow of the inferno they spread over Europe. One soldier would face them, taking on the fiery demons. He needed help though, healed by a witch in the woods and given three tasks to complete. But could he trust this woman whose house stood raised above the earth surrounded by skulls on stakes — one left empty for her next victim?
    A supernatural Commando this way comes, as writer Kate Dewar casts a spell over her issue. Twists and turns aplenty enchant this issue inspired by Slavic folklore — but can you really trust a witch? What’s more, Carlos Pino works his magic on the cover and interiors!

Story: Kate Dewar
Art: Carlos Pino
Cover: Carlos Pino

5730: Boys’ War

It was the summer of 1940, and the whole of France was thrown into utter confusion as the invading German troops advanced relentlessly, leaving a trail of chaos and destruction behind them.
Trapped amidst all this turmoil were two British schoolboys — John and Will Browning. Fending for themselves in a foreign country, they were trying desperately to make it back to British lines... before it was too late.
    5730 Boys’ War is the second of the Commandos in the International Women’s Day set that features the indomitable work of Mary Feldwick. This time Feldwick turns her attention to boys’ adventures as two brothers flee the Commando Blitzkrieg of France! Artist, Ruiz’s boyish artwork is delightful and yet again Ian Kennedy is on cover duties!

Story: Mary Feldwick
Art: Ruiz
Cover: Ian Kennedy
First Published 1980 as Issue 1472

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Rebellion Releases - 28 February 2024


Air Ace Johnny Red and Angel of Death Nina Petrova face off against the Nazi invaders, lethal British agent Dredger deals with the abduction of the only person dear to his stony heart, and the louche Major Eazy must lead his men through the Devil’s Garden of El Alamein. There’s action aplenty with roguish British commandoes Rat Pack, along with Death Squad, their equally deadly German counterparts. And the hellish arctic ocean is the setting for HMS Nightshade, the classic tale of war at sea.

Writer Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys) is joined by an incredible roster of top-tier talent, with stories by original Battle Action writer John Wagner (Judge Dredd, Robo-Hunter), Torunn Gronbekk (Thor, Red Sonja), Rob Williams (Suicide Squad, Petrol Head) and Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy, Lawless), and featuring art by industry greats like Keith Burns (Out of the Blue), Chris Burnham (Batman, Doom Patrol), Henry Flint (Hawk The Slayer) and John Higgins (Watchmen, Dreadnoughts). There’s blazing Battle Action on every page!

Battle Picture Weekly was where the revolution in British comics began. Created in 1975 by writers and editors Pat Mills and John Wagner, it introduced new grittiness into comics with its cast of anti-heroes and misfits. Its bombast and energy sparked a sea-change in what comics could do, leading to Mills’ creation of the controversial Action and the globally influential 2000 AD.

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

This volume contains:

    JOHNNY RED by Garth Ennis and Keith Burns
    HMS NIGHTSHADE by John Wagner and Dan Cornwell
    CRAZY KELLER by Garth Ennis and Chris Burnham
    D-DAY DAWSON by Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade
    DREDGER by Garth Ennis and John Higgins
    MAJOR EAZY by Rob Williams and Henry Flint
    COOLEY’S GUN by Garth Ennis and Staz Johnson
    DEATH SQUAD by Rob Williams and PJ Holden
    HELLMAN OF HAMMER FORCE by Garth Ennis and Mike Dorey
    NINA PETROVA AND THE ANGELS OF DEATH by Torunn Grønbekk and Patrick Goddard

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2371
Cover: Cliff RObinson / Dylan Teague (cols).

JUDGE DREDD // A BETTER WORLD by Rob Williams & Arthur Wyatt (w) Henry Flint (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
INDIGO PRIME // BLACK MONDAY by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Jim Campbell (l)
FULL TILT BOOGIE // BOOK TWO by Alex de Campi (w) Eduardo Ocana (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE FALL OF DEADWORLD // RETRIBUTION by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Simon Bowland (l)
THISTLEBONE // THE DULE TREE by T.C. Eglington (w) Simon Davis (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Battle Action Volume Two by Garth Ennis, Torunn Gronbekk, Dan Abnett, Rob Williams (w), Keith Burns, Chris Burnham, Henry Flint, John Higgins (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-183786096-8, 28 February 2024, 192pp, £24.99. Available via Amazon.

Air Ace Johnny Red and Angel of Death Nina Petrova face off against the Nazi invaders, lethal British agent Dredger deals with the abduction of the only person dear to his stony heart, and the louche Major Eazy must lead his men through the Devil’s Garden of El Alamein. There’s action aplenty with roguish British commandoes Rat Pack, along with Death Squad, their equally deadly German counterparts. And the hellish arctic ocean is the setting for HMS Nightshade, the classic tale of war at sea.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Comic Papers, Music Hall & Early Cinema by Alan Clark

In a brief foreword, Alan Clark notes that "It seems that comic papers and the stage have always been intertwined. What appeared on the 'boards' was soon seen on the pages of the comic weeklies." It was not a one-way street, as comic characters soon made their way into the theatre... so, while Ally Sloper would visit Augustus Harris's pantomimes in Drury Lane every year, Sloper himself was being depicted by actors on the stage.

As with all of Alan's books, this is one to dip into, the story he wants to tell built up in brief pieces on characters, on comics, on artists and, given the subject matter, actors who were depicted in comics or who played them on stage. Dan Leno (the star of the book's cover) covers the whole gamut of entries, as a star, as the subject of his own comic (Dan Leno's Comic Journal), and a look at artist Tom Browne.

The two main sections cover the theatre up to the Great War, although the cross-over into comics was at its height during the Edwardian era. The largest section covers the post 1920 launch of Film Fun as comics became enamored of the movies as much as the ticket-paying public. Charlie Chaplin was one of the biggest stars and his history in comics straddles the music hall and cinematic theatres, with Chaplin first appearing in Funny Wonder in 1915, although some of the illustrations are from the very scarce Charlie Chaplin Fun Book, which appeared two months after his Funny Wonder debut.

In theatreland you'll meet Marie Lloyd and Sir Henry Irving - as Ally Sloper did -- and mysterious (well, they were to me) cover stars of Merry & Bright and Firefly, Harry Tate, Nellie Wallace, Little Titch, Phil Ray, George Robey and T. E. Dunville.

At the flickers, you'll find the stars of Film Fun and The Kinema Comic and dozens of names from the days of silent comedy, from Harold 'Winkle' Lloyd to Fatty Arbuckle, and forgotten stars like Snub Pollard and Louise Fazenda, both immortalized in The Kinema Comic alongside Syd Chaplin (Charlie's brother).

There are biographical sketches of many of the artists involved in this work, from the well-known Tom Browne, to the little-known Tom Radford, all written in Alan usual breezy and informative style.

Privately published, the book can be purchased via eBay directly from the author, who also has a few of his other books still for sale.

Comic Papers, Music Hall & Early Cinema by Alan Clark
Alan Clark [no ISBN], (February) 2024, 314pp, £36.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Comic Cuts – 23 February 2024

My laptop problems are slowly being sorted out. I mentioned in a sitrep on Sunday that I had managed to reinstall the operating system. This completely trashed the original system and all the files, folders, programmes, preferences, bookmarks, etc., etc., that I'd built up over the year I have been using it.

The good news: I managed to copy all of my files and folders back onto the laptop, although I'm yet to copy across files that have been updated since the copy was made; I have managed to reinstall various Windows programmes that I paid for last year, so I can now open my documents and other files; I'm slowly repopulating all the programmes I used, including iTunes, 7zip, Messenger, and others.

The bad news: the 'clone' that was meant to have been saved to an external hard drive didn't work. I only recovered a handful of folders. Thankfully (good news), a straightforward back-up onto a different hard drive meant that I recovered all my files and folders. I copied them all into the wrong place (bad news) and I'm still gradually sorting out what should go where. The other annoyance is that I tried copying the bookmarks  from my PC browser and load them into the browser on the laptop, but it only partly worked – a bunch of them didn't show up (bad news)... but I can see them in the Bookmark Manager, just not in the Bookmarks Menu (mystifying news!). (Just to add to that frustration, I had recently spent a couple of hours going through a couple of hundred bookmarks to find out if they still worked, deleting those that didn't and shifting other around into folders where they might actually be of some use. That all disappeared when the new operating system installed – time I'll never get back... and the thought of starting all over again fills me with dread!)

Another slight annoyance: some programmes have updated since I last installed them and got all my preferences in place so they worked efficiently in the way I wanted them to. That's all gone... I'm back to default settings and rediscovering why I changed them as soon as I could.

Truth be told, I could have just taken a few days off and sorted all this out, but I didn't want to sit here thinking about it all day, so I have been doing a bit here, a bit there and just slowly bringing everything back, checking it out (as much as I can) and trying to get the settings how I like them.

I've now completed work on an article for a Japanese magazine, which was submitted the morning that the laptop crashed so spectacularly. I had some additional images that needed to be cleaned up and those have now been sent over to the editor. I'm now waiting on a proof of the layout.

I've also been helping with a German book that is reprinting some Don Lawrence material, and two Spanish books, one on artists who worked for British war libraries, and a second that concentrates on the work of Joao Mottini.

And there have been other distractions, like a glitch in Amazon's two-step verification that saw them trying to send text messages to my land line rather than call it. It just seems to be one thing after another with technology at the moment. I discovered, for instance, that my mobile reception in the office is almost zero, so switching from land line to mobile isn't the big help I thought it would be! I did eventually resolve the problem, but to an outsider it would have looked like something out of a Chaplin film as I pressed a link to get a code and then immediately dashed out of the room waving a mobile around hoping for reception fast enough for me to get back and type in the code before it timed out. (A similar thing, but in reverse, happened on Saturday, as mentioned in the Sunday update.)

I'm also still waiting for my last print order to arrive, after being told a week ago that it was running late. Chasing people up for missing books or missing payments can lose you half an afternoon. (I had to pop out to the post box, and nipped into our second-hand book shop on the way back. The owner asked how I was and I had to admit that I was in "full grump" and had dropped in for some retail therapy. Spent a whole £3 on a book.)

In the meantime, I have been writing a long piece (too long, to be hones) for the local Wivenhoe History society, a side project to the article that I was actually planning to write until I noticed a local connection. I've now written over 9,000 words about a family that a handful of people are going to find interesting due to the fact that they bought a big house on the High Street. Talk about easily distracted!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Codename: Warlord reprint released

Heritage Comics and Commando Comics presents… Codename: Warlord the graphic novel collection! Featuring the original adventures of Lord Peter Flint from Warlord alongside the Commando reboot of Codename: Warlord!

In 1974, British comics publisher DC Thomson launched WARLORD, bringing a weekly anthology of action and adventure to comic readers across the UK and further afield. Amongst the most popular strips was Lord Peter Flint — Codename: WARLORD. The eponymous character continued to thrill readers every week until the comic ceased publication in 1986, after an incredible 627-issue run.

Then, in 2019, Britain’s top-secret agent returned in the pages of the legendary long-running Commando comic. These most recent adventures are collected in the brand new graphic novel alongside the first six issues of the classic WARLORD comic as DC Thomson’s Heritage Comics and Commando present... Codename: WARLORD Volume 1.

The wartime Scarlet Pimpernel is back. Nazis beware! A defecting German professor in need of rescue. A plan to build the biggest ‘Fuhrer’ class warship of all time uncovered. Though branded a coward, there can only be one man for the job — Flint, Lord Peter Flint... Codename: WARLORD!

Collecting over 170 pages of action-packed comic artwork and a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic colour covers and spreads that featured in the legendary WARLORD, this graphic novel is not to be missed! 

Published on 14 February, Codename: Warlord is a Valentine’s Day gift for your loved one full of action and adventure! Order a copy now here at Mags Direct or from Amazon.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Rebellion Releases - 21 February 2024

The official 2000 AD podcast is back! We switched Molch-R on and off again, and it did the trick – the Thrill-Cast again takes you behind-the-scenes on the Galaxy’s Greatest Comics!

We launch the first episode of 2024 with a special chat for readers new or unfamiliar to 2000 AD – newly minted droid Steve Morris talks to comics critics Rachel Bellwoar and Zack Quaintance about the best ways to get into reading the legendary weekly.

Then we welcome Rob Williams, Arthur Wyatt and Henry Flint, the creative powerhouse behind ‘A Better World’, the current Judge Dredd story running in 2000 AD which sees an experiment diverting resources from the Judges and into education and welfare threatens the very existence of Justice Department. How will the Judges react? We dive into the processes and ideas behind this groundbreaking story, and ask whether this is it for Judge Dredd!

The 2000 AD Thrill-Cast
is the award-winnng podcast that takes you behind-the-scenes at the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic with creator interviews, panels, and more! You can subscribe to the Thrill-Cast on your favourite podcast app, iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can also listen now at or you can watch at

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2370
Cover: Clint Langley

JUDGE DREDD // A BETTER WORLD by Rob Williams & Arthur Wyatt (w) Henry Flint (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
INDIGO PRIME // CRACKED ACTORS by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Jim Campbell (l)
FULL TILT BOOGIE // BOOK TWO by Alex de Campi (w) Eduardo Ocana (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE FALL OF DEADWORLD // RETRIBUTION by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Simon Bowland (l)
THISTLEBONE // THE DULE TREE by T.C. Eglington (w) Simon Davis (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Judge Dredd Megazine #564

Judge Dredd Megazine #465

Cover: Mike Dowling

JUDGE DREDD: RAVENOUS by Mike Carroll (w) Anthony Williams (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
DEMARCO, PI: NO SMOKE by Laura Bailey (w) Rob Richardson (a) Simon Bowland (l)
MEGA-CITY 2099: INSIDE MAN by Ken Niemand (w) Conor Boyle (a) Jim Campbell (l)
THE CRIMSON SEA by Fred Baker (w) Hugo Pratt (a)
HOOKJAW by Si Spurrier (w) Conor Boyle (a) Giulia Brusco (c) Rob Steen (l)
JUDGE DREDD: UNDER SIEGE by Mark Russell (w) Max Dunbar (a) Jose Luis Rio (c) Simon Bowland (l)
DEVLIN WAUGH: NIGHTCLUBBING by Aleš Kot (w) Steven Austin (a) Matt Soffe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
HARROWER SQUAD: CALHAB COUNTRY by David Baillie (w) Steve Yeowell (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Comic Cuts - 18 February 2024 -- Laptop Update

A quick update on the laptop. I eventually pressed the button on the nuclear option and downloaded a new operating system -- or, rather, a new version of the old operating system (Windows 11). In so doing, every file, programme and preference stored on the laptop was utterly wiped. 

There was, before the button was pressed, a recovery option for me to clone the contents of the hard drive before eradicating it. Which I took. But which doesn't appear to have worked... but I didn't know that.

OK, so the download took ages, and was chuntering along during our weekly Zoom games, which meant I signed in on a back-up laptop while Mel used her office PC. When it completed, I was able to sign in, which got me as far as the very basic Dell desktop image. At which point I gave up and went to play games for an hour. We won one game of the three we played, so not too shabby.

Later, I was able to switch from the admin screen to a user screen (in this case Steve) and set up facial recognition; I also now need a pin number rather than the old password, apparently.

Now, the retrieval from the external hard drive didn't seem to go too well -- it was rather quick and when I checked, there was a limited number of folders retrieved. Not sure why, but it certainly wasn't the full "clone" that I was expecting. The second drive where I had also "cloned" the laptop hard drive just won't open. I have no idea why.

However, in my panic during last week, I had copied all my files onto a third hard drive, and these I have managed to restore to the laptop. Of course, I don't have Word for Windows 11 on the laptop at the moment, so the files are unreadable, but I can see them! I just opened up a file that was saved as a rich text file, and it is definitely the latest version of that essay.

I will have to reinstall all the various programmes I use, such as a programme for recording and editing me, a video editor which I used for the 'Ask Steve' videos I did for f Trials of Hank Janson and about a dozen more that I normally have pinned to the task bar. At the moment I'm installing Windows updates, so I thought I'd update everyone on how things were going. It will take me a while still to sort everything out -- I had hoped that everything would magically appear as it was, but that hasn't been the case; it took me a year to get everything just so

All I can say is, make sure you do regular back ups.

Oh, and if you're trying to prove who you are to Microsoft, make sure you're sitting next to where they're sending the security code. I had the laptop (and was under strict instructions NOT to turn it off) in the living room; so I pressed the link so they would email me a security code; ran around to the office where my PC is, waited for the email, opened it, wrote down the security code and then ran back into the living room; looked at the blank screen; waggled the mouse and was returned to the screen asking if I wanted them to email me a security code. 

I did this three times before interrupting Mel's gameplaying to have her waggle the mouse to stop the screen where I needed to type in the security code from disappearing. We managed it on that -- my fourth -- attempt. I'm guessing they're expecting you to read your emails on your phone, sat in front of the laptop and it just didn't occur to them that some people might still have landlines that can't receive emails.

OK, that's all the news that's fit to print. The Windows update seems to be stalled at 25% but I'll wait and see what happens. Hopefully I'll be back to somewhere near normal by the next Comic Cuts.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Comic Cuts – 16 February 2024

my laptop... and I'm rather fearful that I might also be saying vale to my new laptop – the one I bought last January (pictured above), so I've only had it for a year. It took me that long to get it all set-up the way I wanted, and now it looks like I might have to go through the whole process again.

The laptop that died was an old Dell Inspiron that I've had for twenty years. I used to watch films on it as I could plug in an external DVD player. It worked fine until a couple of weeks ago and then the screen just went black when I turned it on. It has now retired to the floor.

But it was twenty years old and still running Windows XP. I'm surprised it was usable for as long as it lasted.

The new one, on the other hand... I've no idea what has gone wrong. It was working one minute – I was having a break and playing an audiobook on it – but when I went to get back to work, I couldn't get into the files on the desktop. I didn't panic, just turned it off and on again. Nothing happened. The little set of circling dots didn't appear.  Windows didn't launch. Tried again. Nothing happened. The little set of circling dots didn't appear.

I managed to open the help screen, but I have no idea if there's a way to open Windows in a safe mode. I ran various diagnostic tools and they all seem to think that the machine is OK. There's an option to restore the system to a previous working configuration, which I've clicked on, and it tells me it has done it. But still no joy. Windows doesn't launch.

No, it isn't!

Because the memory of the machine is fine, I have managed to rescue and dump my two main areas of work (the desktop and documents folders) onto an external hard drive. At the moment everything else is, as far as I can make out, still on laptop, just inaccessible to the laptop.

This morning I found another another way to diagnose problems, so that's currently running, with another 72 minutes to go.

As you can imagine, this has been a most frustrating week. I'm back on my old PC which, over the past couple of months, I've only used for scanning and working on Beyond the Void. That, incidentally, is safe. I have a handful of copies on order and hopefully I'll be in a position to plan the release of the book shortly. The files for the Forgotten Authors book have been rescued and I'll be getting back to that next week, hopefully.

Two things I'm thankful for... any orders I'd had for Bear Alley Books were processed and in the post that morning; I didn't have access to my spreadsheet where I record sales, but thankfully I had a back-up only a few days old, so I can update that one. New orders I can see coming in.

The second thing is that I'd just that morning finished writing an article that I'd been asked to write; I'd posted it off around 11am and then did some scanning so there were some illustrations. I sent off some sample illustrations via We Transfer, and then decided to have a break... and you know the rest. Those scans are on this PC, so not affected by the crash.

Copying files for Bear Alley's Rocket index... wonder how long it'll take...
Oh... bother!

Unfortunately, at the moment, I've lost access to a year's worth of stored e-mails, because I move a lot of them to "local" (i.e. on my hard drive) folders which I can't access via my e-mail provider. I might be able to get them back – they are stored, after all, but I don't know how or when. Also things like recently bookmarked pages, settings for various programmes, cookies for a lot of websites that I'm going to have to go through all over again (I'm pathological about turning off as many as I can), and a whole lot of etceteras that will slow me down over the coming however long it takes to fix the laptop.

OK, so the diagnostic has run and it found no problems. But a reboot hasn't opened Windows. All I can do is go back to square one and see if there's anything I missed.

When this all happened, I couldn't get to the most recent updates of the Forgotten Authors documents, and rather than end up with different revised versions on different machines, I started writing something entirely new – a piece about something I've been meaning to write about for years but never got around to. Yes, it's the history of Joan the Wad!

If you collect Fifties paperbacks you'll have seen the adverts for this lucky Cornish piskie. It turns out that the people involved have an interesting history and, as I dug deeper, I discovered that they even have a connection to Wivenhoe, where I live. I'll try to write some of this up shortly, although I'm still digging at the moment.

So there's an option to download the operating system for the laptop, although that will wipe everything. However, there's also an option to 'clone' the hard drive on the laptop, so I've cleared an external hard drive and, fingers crossed, the the cloning process is now under way. This is terrifying!

OK, I've chickened out of downloading the new operating system. I need to check that the hard drive has copied everything and I really should get some advice about this before I go for the nuclear option.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Commando 5723-5726

Commando's latest issues are on sale from today, Thursday 15th February, 2024, with new contributors joining the Commando ranks – including Commando’s first female artist!

5723: Tomasz and the Top-Secret Engine

Tomasz Zielinski had escaped Poland and the German Blitzkrieg in 1939 by hopping aboard a Polish armoured train headed for safety. That was then, and now, in 1940, he was itching for action, but he and his division were in reserve in the west of France away from the fighting. That was until he was approached by a familiar face with a top-secret mission to head straight into danger to steal an engine right from under the Nazis’ noses! Tomasz was about to ride that train once again!
    Colin Maxwell’s intrepid Polish protagonist returns in another train-filled tale of derring-do! With outstanding artwork on both interiors and cover by Manuel Benet, you’d better get your copy before this train leaves the station!

Story | Colin Maxwell
Art | Manuel Benet
Cover | Manuel Benet

5724: Operation Caveman

Like almost everybody else, Corporal Barney Newman didn’t know whether a stalactite grew up or if a stalagmite hung down. And to him, it didn’t seem very important... until he found himself dodging about in an underground cavern with only stalactites and stalagmites between him and hot Nazi lead.
    But what was Barney, a tank driver, doing in this grotto? It was all part of Operation Caveman!
    Classic Commando from 1970 incoming! In Allan’s thrilling story, a tank crew take shelter from a storm in a cave only to find the Nazis rolling in behind them. Can they keep hidden before they’re found, or will the cave be their grave?! Find out in Issue 5724!

Story | Allan
Art | LS Lucas
Cover | Penalva
First Published 1970 as Issue 517

5725: Madame Revenger!

The Nazis kicked the hornets’ nest the day they rolled into Collette Sauvage’s farm in France. Then they had really gone and done it when they strong-armed her off of her land, using her barn to store their ill-gotten goods. But with a little help from a downed RAF Airman, the Germans would rue the day they messed with the woman known as Madame Revenger!
     Commando 5725 is an issue of firsts – with two brand-new artists making their debuts! Commando is delighted to welcome Alberto Navajo on interior artwork and 2000 AD’s Anna Morozova on cover duty. What’s more, Morozova joining the ranks makes her Commando’s first-ever female cover artist!

Story | Heath Ackley
Art | Alberto Navajo
Cover | Anna Morozova

5726: Desert of No Return

Off they went on another mission, heading steadily into the burning wilderness of the North African desert. They had made many trips like this... but today was different because this time they had a spy in their midst, reporting their every move to the enemy.
    Hardly any of these brave men were going to come back again.
    A classic Commando from the 1980s returns to bring you action and excitement! Bernard Gregg’s intricately woven yarn is brought to life by excellent artwork from Carmona and a burning-hot cover by Ian Kennedy!

Story | Bernard Gregg
Art | Carmona
Cover | Ian Kennedy
First Published 1981 as Issue 1561

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Rebellion Releases - 14 February 2024

Reprinting the immediately sold-out Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition this Masterpiece Edition is expanded and reformated for a wider audience

Acclaimed as one of the greatest artists of his generation for his work on such titles as Camelot 3000 and Batman: The Killing Joke, Brian Bolland’s work on Judge Dredd helped catapult both the series and Bolland himself to international acclaim.

This book will include high resolution scans of original art pages from Judge Dredd epics such as ‘The Cursed Earth’, ‘The Day the Law Died’ and ‘The Judge Child Quest’, as well as Bolland’s masterpiece, ‘Judge Death Lives’. Also included is a gallery of covers ranging from 2000 AD to the 1980s Judge Dredd reprints published by Eagle Comics, which brought Bolland to the attention of American readers and show off his inventiveness and sardonic humour.

This new paperback collection, measuring 307 × 231 mm, follows 2022’s sold out Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition and reformats the stunning oversized collection into an affordable and shelf-friendly paperback edition.

This new Masterpiece edition features the same original art pages as The 2000 AD Art of Brian Bolland Apex Edition, plus the following extra pages: Starlord Annual cover; Prog 77 page 1; Prog 86 Page 6; Prog 96 page 2; Prog 120 page 3; Prog 225 cover; Prog 225 Page 3; Cursed Earth Book One Illustration; Judge Child Quest (Eagle Comics reprint) issue 2 cover; Revolver Romance Special cover; Prog 2000 Tharg page; Prog 2270 cover.

Available to pre-order now. Due to be released 18 June 2024.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2369
Cover: Luke Horsman

JUDGE DREDD // A BETTER WORLD by Rob Williams & Arthur Wyatt (w) Henry Flint (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE ENGLISH ASTRONAUT by Paul Cornell (w) Laura Helsby (a) Matt Soffe (c) Jim Campbell (l)
FULL TILT BOOGIE // BOOK TWO by Alex de Campi (w) Eduardo Ocana (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ENEMY EARTH // BOOK THREE by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Simon Bowland (l)
THISTLEBONE // THE DULE TREE by T.C. Eglington (w) Simon Davis (a) Simon Bowland (l)

The Best of 2000AD Volume 5
Rebellion ISBN 978-183786092-0, 13 February 2024, 192pp, £14.99. Available via Amazon.

In this volume: Judge Dredd raises only the law when Mega City One's super-rich consider themselves above it all in Elevator Pitch; crash-land on a Death Planet as Al Ewing (The Immortal Hulk) and Henry Flint (Eerie) introduce the monstrous, weaponized (but dead polite) Zombo; go Swimming in Blood with occult detective Devlin Waugh as he investigates a vampire outbreak in an underwater prison by John Smith (Hellblazer) and Sean Phillips (Reckless, Night Fever); ride out into the Godless wasteland of the Cursed Earth and witness Gordon Rennie (Doctor Who) and Frank Quitely (All-Star Superman) preach faith through firepower in Missionary Man.

Friday, February 09, 2024

Comic Cuts - 9 February 2024

I have been cracking on with the Forgotten Authors book, having now completed the last essay... I hope it's the last essay, anyway. I then spent a day double-checking information in another one and attempting to cut it down. I snipped out about 400 words that I thought were wandering off-topic, and then added about 600 as I checked sources that expanded on some of the story I was trying to tell.

I find it very difficult to keep these essays lean; in truth, they're an indulgence. I write them and publish them with no other editorial hand involved, so I not only throw in the kitchen sink, but a few utensils as well. I don't want any of the research I do to go to waste. It was one of the reasons I started Bear Alley in the first place.

I'm also an obsessive hoarder of odds and ends. I'm trying to sort out some stuff so that I can move my desk and one tiny pile that I moved this morning had three random issues of Fortean Times, some old Christmas cards, flyers for comedy gigs, a book by Ronnie Barker about postcards, some blank sheets of A4, two folders, random issues of film mags Premiere and Empire, some comics, a local newsletter from three years ago, a John Bolton vampire trading card, and more. Much more.

I hope I'm not quite as obsessive as Sid Birchby. He was a long-time science fiction fan and with an interest in Fortean phenomena. The story goes that Birchby's home was destroyed when a bomb made a direct hit on his house iand he spent three days scouring the neighbourhood for the fragments of his Weird Tales collection. An example of the fannish lore about the incident can be found here, where the author notes: "A powerful sense of the fans priorities comes from the fact that the possibility of Birchby’s mother dying in the attack was an aside. (I don’t know if she was killed or not; one source mentions it.)"

The "aside" possibly references J. Michael Rosenblum in Futurian War Digest, who offered the sympathy of all fans both home and abroad to Birchby over the death of his mother when a direct hit was sustained during a day raid. The house was reduced to rubble, and Rosenblum then quotes Birchby as saying...

Imagine my horror! The land’s premier collection of Weird Tales scattered over the entire neighbourhood! A Brundage cover in every back garden! Can you wonder that I was forced to flee the vicinity when my dreadful secret became known? Three days of frantic grubbing under the ruins led to the salvage of about 30% of the collection. Much of it was the worst 30%; stuff by the cheapjacks of s-f; while Lo! and the best Astoundings went to feed the earthworms.
I think Birchby has been hard done by; after all, who knows what else he had written in his letter to Rosenblum. People grieve in different ways and it was mentioned in passing, he may simply have been trying to work through the death of his mother in his own way and he kept his letters to his friends on topic while he was processing his loss.

There was also a question mark about the truth of the story...

A little digging later, I discovered that Sidney Leonard Birchby was born on 4 May 1919, the son of Leonard Birchby and his wife Ethel Emily (nee Goode), who were married a few months earlier (registered in 1Q 1919). Now, sadly, Ethel died in 1922, aged only 24. So it looked like the story was not true.

However, Leonard married again, to Christabel Beatrice Beeston in 1929 and in 1939 the family, including Sidney, who was working at a local chemist's shop, was living at 38 Nightingale Avenue, Waltham Forest. Waltham Forest was peppered with high explosive bombs during and after the Blitz (see here for some statistics). Christabel, a BRCS (British Red Cross Society) nurse, was killed in the bombing raid of 16 December 1940, aged 43.

Writing in Futurian War Digest, Birchby said:

It was only a little one. Just about the smallest H.E. that is made, no doubt. But of its efficacy one could not doubt.
    It arrived at a most inopportune time, at 12 a.m. on a Monday morning before I had completed my ARP for stf. The plan was grand. Everything in one room and in that room, everything into drawers and trunks with the most valued possessions in the safest containers.
    Unfortunately, I had only got as far as having everything in one room, and the bomb had to choose that room to fall in. Result: some valuables survived but much more basically useful stuff perished – instead of lots of relative rubbish that remained intact.

What a sad tale. I don't want to get all maudlin, but I'd hate to see my collection go up in smoke, and I'm of an age where I do need to start thinking about what will become of my library of books. A lot of it is second hand paperbacks of questionable worth; but there's some stuff I have that I think I need to offer to our local university... as long as I can still have access to it!

Something to think about.

In the meantime, I'm reading through the last few of the essays for the book and I'll hopefully see the back of them by next week. Then I can think seriously about Beyond the Void and how best to get some publicity for it. So, something else to think about.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Rebellion Releases - 7 February 2024

Collected in its entirety for the first time since it originally appeared in Wham! sixty years ago, Kelpie the Boy Wizard is an exciting, magical adventure illustrated by British Comics’ legend, John Burns.

In days of old, when King Arthur reigned over Britain, there was at royal Camelot an apprentice sorcerer by the name of Kelpie.

Together with his venerable master, the great and powerful Merlin, Kelpie uses his magic to protect the kingdom from evil doers including The Raven and the Weird Sisters of Doon!

First published sixty years ago by Odhams press in Wham!, the complete saga of Kelpie the Boy Wizard channels Arthurian legend through a Harry Potter filter, written by Ken Mennell and featuring the gorgeous black and white artwork of legendary British artist John Burns.

Stories included: 

  • Kelpie the Boy Wizard, originally printed in Wham!, 20th June 1964 – 29th June 1964 – 5th September 1964
  • The Beast with Seven Heads, originally printed in Wham!, 12th September 1964 – 20th February 1965
  • Kelpie strip, originally printed in Wham! Annual 1966

And now, this week's release...

2000AD Prog 2368

Cover: Simon Davis

JUDGE DREDD // A BETTER WORLD by Rob Williams & Arthur Wyatt (w) Henry Flint (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE ENGLISH ASTRONAUT by Paul Cornell (w) Laura Helsby (a) Matt Soffe (c) Jim Campbell (l)
FULL TILT BOOGIE // BOOK TWO by Alex de Campi (w) Eduardo Ocana (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ENEMY EARTH // BOOK THREE by Cavan Scott (w) Luke Horsman (a) Simon Bowland (l)
THISTLEBONE // THE DULE TREE by T.C. Eglington (w) Simon Davis (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Friday, February 02, 2024

Comic Cuts - 2 February 2024

February hasn't been a good month so far, and we're only one day in. On Wednesday we noticed a leak under the kitchen sink, so I have spent this morning (I'm writing this Thursday afternoon) trying to fix it. Unfortunately, it isn't a blockage, as I'd hoped (because that means unblocking it makes the problem go away). Rather, the seal has perished, so now, if you pour a bowl of water into the sink, it weighs the (horizontal) plastic pipe down just enough for water to leak from where it joins the other (vertical) plastic pipe. No amount of tightening has resolved the problem.

This means we'll be seeing the useless plumber our landlady uses, who took four attempts in recent months to fit a new bath tap. It's working OK (as of this moment) but still needs a part fitted... and he busted the panel at the side of the bath, which hasn't been addressed. I'm filled with dread about letting him loose on the kitchen sink!

And today saw my proofs arrive with one slight flaw: there was a sticky mess on the back cover of one of them. It looks like somone accidentally stuck some packaging tape on the book and tried to peel it off, but left the sticky bit of the tape behind. But it can't be that because there's some stickiness to the front cover as well. To damage both covers you'd need to be Frank Spencer, wallowing in a big tub of packaging tapes, or maybe having a gun fight using packaging tape dispensers.

It makes the book unsaleable. I can't even send it out to a reviewer, so it will have to be replaced... causing more work... pushing back my schedule... delaying work on other things...

You can understand why I'm frustrated. I'd had quite a fun week up until then I spent two and a half days recording something for release in the coming weeks (it's part of a little promotion package I'm trying to put together for when Beyond the Void comes out). I had to work around the roadworks outside. The gas pipe fitters have returned after disappearing last year before they reached us. It had something to do with shutting down the junction and needing traffic lights and I'm still not sure whether we'll be getting new gas pipes this time around or whether we'll have to wait for a third visit from the same company just to do the last two or three houses along our road.

I'm also looking forward to this (Thursday) evening as we're going out to a book launch for the new James Henry novel, The Winter Visitor, a spin-off from the Nick Lowry series set in and around Colchester. This one is set in February 1991, a year or so before I moved to Colchester to make editing Comic World easier.

I'm rattling through a bunch of novels so that I can write up the author for my next Forgotten Authors collection. So far I've read four of five that I intend to read in full; I'll skip-read a couple of others that I read forty-or-so years ago in an effort to speed things up. I'm amazed at how much I read in January, I finished one book that I was reading for pleasure (rather than work) and started another, which I'm a third of the way through already. My for pleasure reading has been very limited in recent years, sometimes as few as four or five books a year.

Not like my younger days when I could race through a book in half a day, leaving time to read another. Dhalgren (an unheard of 879 pages) took three days, and that was only because we were child-minding during the summer holidays. Nowadays, I'm actually put off by the length of some novels, because 500-600 pages means a committment of many months, and I doubt I'd get twice the pleasure compared to reading a 300 pager. No, I'm happy to read two shorter books and leave the likes of Peter F. Hamilton and Neal Stephenson -- two authors whose early novels I very much enjoyed -- for my retirement.

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Commando 5719-5722

Globetrotting action and adventure in Commando Issues 5719-5722 — on sale from today, Thursday 1st February, 2024!

5719: The Spy of Sweslik Castle

In the Bavarian mountains perched Sweslik castle. In times past, the castle had been a monastery, but in 1943 it was an impregnable fortress which housed Allied prisoners of war. Its German guards claimed that any and all escape was impossible, and they were determined to keep it that way. For there was a spy among the POWs imprisoned at Sweslik Castle… and no-one would escape until he was exposed!
    Newbie writer Rossa McPhillips returns in his third Commando issue which harks back to Escape Colditz and The Great Escape! With gritty interiors from Vicente Alcazar and an outstanding cover by brand-new Commando artist Marco Bianchini! Get your hands on this issue before it escapes!

Story | Rossa McPhillips
Art | Vicente Alcazar
Cover | Marco Bianchini

5720: Arctic Ace

The Fairey Swordfish wasn’t much to look at. Not many men would have chosen to risk their lives in these slow, obsolete kites that looked as if a sparrow could knock them out of the sky. But the Swordfish could carry a torpedo — evil, menacing, packed with high-explosive. And with an ace like Sub Lieutenant Duncan Payne at the controls, the Swordfish could even become a match for a mighty German cruiser...
   Issue 5720 ‘Arctic Ace’ is everything you’d want in a classic Commando: an eye-catching Ian Kennedy cover, a snappy story from RA Montague and outstanding Jose Maria Jorge interiors!

Story | RA Montague
Art | Jose Maria Jorge
Cover | Ian Kennedy
First Published 1970 as Issue 510

5721: Roll Depth Charges!

The HMAS Hibiscus had to be the worst Bathurst-class Corvette in the whole Royal Australian Navy. Its crew was slow and lacked discipline, and its officers weren’t much better. But they were in for a shock, for Commander Bill Turner had been sent in to straighten them out — and he didn’t care how many backs he had to break to do it!
    Resident Aussie writer Brent Towns is back again with another Royal Australian Navy yarn! This time the boys from down under are depicted by Alejandro Perez Mesa in his debut on Commando interior artwork! With a bright and bubbly cover by Neil Roberts!

Story | Brent Towns
Art | Alejandro Perez Mesa
Cover | Neil Roberts

5722: Behind Enemy Lines

How do invasions begin? Most people reckon they begin with a naval bombardment, massive air raids and soldiers wading ashore onto shell-torn beaches.
    But the truth is that before these things happen there are certain people — heroes — risking their lives behind enemy lines, secretly paving the way for the armies that will follow them...
    Issue 5722 is a rip-roaring yarn from 1981, featuring more action than you can fill your pockets with –—for there’s a spy among the ranks of the British and they have to find out who before he destroys this vital mission!

Story | Staff
Art | Ruiz
Cover | KCG Walker
First Published 1981 as Issue 1552


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