Friday, April 26, 2024

Comic Cuts — 26 April 2024

I have been slacking on the Bear Alley Books front for a few weeks following the release of BEYOND THE VOID: THE REMARKABLE HISTORY OF BADGER BOOKS, which is selling reasonably well. It's the eternal frustration of all small publishers that they can never get reviewed in any major media: I've sent books to newspapers and magazines in the past and its like throwing books into a black hole.

Privately and in person—at the recent Paperback & Pulp Book Fair, for instance—I hear from people who enjoy my books; I even get repeat customers. But that doesn't translate into reviews. No wonder a lot of self-published authors can be tempted into paying dodgy operations to post positive reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and elsewhere.

Bear Alley Books doesn't earn me a living. If I could get more books out I might get closer to it being a full-time job, but I also have to pay the rent. And that means taking on other jobs (a recent short run of writing for The Guardian, for instance), which pushes back book projects that I'd be happy to be working on. For a change of pace, I managed to write something for what will hopefully be the follow-up to the above mentioned Badger book; but now I'm back to work.

At the Book Fair I had a chat with someone about doing a new comic strip reprint and I'm pleased to say that it is now in the works—a collection of three historical strips by Jesus Blasco from the pages of Look and Learn. I have been wanting to reprint two of them for donkey's years, but had to wait until the original books they were based came out of copyright. That happened on January 1st last year, so I'm already a year late getting this together. (See my comment above about Bear Alley Books not earning me a living!)

It will take me a couple of weeks to put the whole thing together. I need to re-letter some of the artwork and there are introductions to be written, but it's in active production—I did a whole lot of scanning this week and reminded myself how tedious it is cleaning up artwork, however much you love the artist.

I've also committed myself to writing the introduction to another comic strip reprint. Not sure I should say what it is as I don't think it has been announced yet. But it's amazing!

The rest of my life is pretty dull by comparison. The brighter weather (I won't say warmer, 'cos it hasn't been) has meant I've had a chance to attack the garden; I'm on phase two of my efforts to re-seed areas of the lawn that were left to their own devices by a previous tenant and which, frankly, I didn't do anything about for some years when maybe I should. We try to be bee-friendly, so leaving weeds to grow at the far end of the back garden we thought was a positive thing. Unfortunately, it allowed a plant called green alkanet to run riot. Yes, the bees love it's tiny blue flowers, but it has these large spreading leaves that mean nothing else survives where it has taken root.

I started uprooting this menace last year and put grass seed down in a number of areas, and I'm pleased to say that it has worked, to a degree. Back of a fag-packet maths tells me I've reclaimed about twelve square feet of lawn, so this year I'm starting earlier (although delayed by the constant rain we've been having), and taking on the bottom end of the garden, which is stonier ground surrounding a pond, partly covered in ivy. The plan is to dig out the alkanet, clear a lot of the stones, strip away the ivy and put down a mix of grass seeds and wild flowers.

Let's hope that the garden doesn't suffer the same fate as one or two of my Bear Alley Books' projects, which are years late. I don't want to be discussing alkanet in the year 2030. Back to my re-lettering!

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Commando 5743-5746

Tanks, Mosquitos, Legionnaires and a grenade-wielding British Officer, all in Commando issues 5743-5746! On sale from today, Thursday 25th April, 2024.

5743: Frank the Tank

The M4 Sherman Firefly named Frank was a beast of a machine. Tough, stubborn, and a heck of a thing to drive. Corporal Ken Roberts, Frank’s driver, soon found out that if you upset Frank he would go nowhere and you would end up a sitting duck for the Germans!
    But there was a secret inside Frank, one that would save the lives of his entire crew — if you showed him some respect!
    The first of Brent Towns issues this Commando set, and it’s a super-supernatural issue featuring a ghost in the tank machine! With artwork by veteran Jaume Forns and newcomer Marco Bianchini.

Story: Brent Towns
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Marco Bianchini

5744: Valley of Flame

Sergeant Bull Moore, a tough veteran who’d been in more tight corners than he could remember, had never met an officer like Lieutenant Stephen Wylie before. Stephen wore glasses, was timid as a mouse, and wasn’t even sure how to fire his own revolver! He’d even been known to chuck grenades at Nazis without taking the pin out! Bull could never have imagined a guy like that would save a whole battalion from total disaster!
    Gentry weaves together all the elements that make up a fantastic classic Commando in issue #5744 ‘Valley of Flame’: a hapless officer turned hero with a capable sergeant by his side! With art by Franch and Penalva, what more could you want?

Story: Gentry
Art: Franch
Cover: Penalva
First Published 1970 as Issue 548

5745: Recon Hoodoo!

Pilot Officer Bob Carter had a hoodoo on him — that’s what everyone said. Any navigator that climbed into the unarmed De Havilland Mosquito reconnaissance plane with that jinxed pilot was marked for death! First, it had been Flight Sergeant Jim Morris, then Riley Nash, and by Mike Croft, it was confirmed. Bob had a hoodoo — one that was deadly for anyone who flew with him!
    What’s more classic in a Commando than a hoodoo on the main character? Well, that’s exactly what Brent Town evokes in his story about the jinxed Aussie pilot of an unarmed recon plane during World War Two. With moody interiors by Alberto Saichann, with a lush cover by Neil Roberts.
Story: Brent Towns
Art: Alberto Saichann
Cover: Neil Roberts

5746: Legion Vendetta

A first-class soldier in the French Foreign Legion and a crack pilot in the RAF – Jeff Daly had been both during his exciting, hectic life. He’d been to many places and met many people, but the one man he would never forget was his brutal Legion sergeant. If their paths crossed ever again, one of them would die!
    Issue 5746 features everything that makes a really good Commando — an Ian Kennedy cover, Gordon C Livingstone interior artwork, and a tale of revenge written by Gentry!

Story: Gentry
Art: Gordon C Livingstone
Cover: Ian Kennedy
First Published 1981 as Issue 1573

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Rebellion Releases — 24 April 2024

Constanza’s Vampiric War Continues! Pre-Order Fiends of the Eastern Front Vol 2 Today!

The second omnibus in the Fiends of the Eastern Front series, collecting Ian Edginton and Tiernen Trevallion’s thrilling horror tales into a new, definitive edition!

Fiends of the Eastern Front is one of the bloodthirsty crowns in 2000 AD history, a vampiric epic which spans multiple eras and travels across bloody battlefields as it follows the enigmatic Captain Constanza: vampire, leader, and warrior! Created by Gerry Finley-Day and Carlos Ezquerra, the acclaimed series continues on into a second volume which brings the Fiends into the modern era of The Galaxy’s Greatest!

In 1970, Lieutenant Tim Wilson is haunted by the memories of war – not just the bloodshed of the battlefield, but the horrors witnessed at the hand of Captain Constanta, who rescued him after a gruesome encounter with the King-Bats of Maximilian Von Klorr – the Black Max himself!

Years later, Lt. Wilson sets on a journey to hunt down Constanta in his native Romania, and uncovers his origins among beasts and creatures of magic. Who is Constanza really, and what is the long game he’s playing?

Collecting the work of Ian Edginton and Tiernen Trevallion, the second omnibus of Fiends of the Eastern Front follows Constanta’s bloody trail across history, and brings monstrous terror from the skies of wartime France to the streets of 1960s London. Pre-order either the Standard Edition or Webshop-Exclusive cover from superstar artist DaNi today!

2000AD Prog 2379
Cover: INJ Culbard

JUDGE DREDD // REND & TEAR WITH TOOTH & CLAW by Rob Williams (w) RM Guera (a) Julia Brusco (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
INDIGO PRIME // BLACK MONDAY by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Jim Campbell (l)
AQUILA // THE RIVERS OF HADES by Gordon Rennie (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
BRINK // CONSUMED by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
PROTEUS VEX // DEVIOUS by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Lowborn High by David Barnett (w), Anna Morozova, Mike Walters (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-183786109-5, 24 April 2024, 112pp, £12.99. Available via Amazon.

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 somehow finds himself dumped 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!

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Eagle Times v37 no1 (Spring 2024)

Another year, another volume of Eagle Times, the remarkable magazine dedicated to the original Eagle.  Remarkable because the original lasted 19 years (1950-69) and ET is heading towards double that in 2025 but still has new things to say about the paper that inspired its launch back in 1988.

Truth be told, much of this issue is only related to Eagle glancingly, although there are enough features that tie directly to the classic comic for hardcore fans who want their Fifties fix. Things kick off with a look at the copyright battles of Captain Marvel and how this affected the British reprints by Len Miller – famously the origin of our own Marvelman, who became entangled with his own lengthy series of legal battles forty years later that dragged on for another 25 years.

David Britton covers another American comic named Eagle (having covered one last issue), this one featuring a character named Richard Eagle whose adventures Britton found difficult to follow. Hopefully he took solace in writing about Lily Renée, an artist I coincidentally discovered two days before Eagle Times dropped through my letterbox. She had a fascinating story: born in Vienna to a privileged Jewish family, who escaped the Nazis via the Kindertransport that brought her to England in 1939., working as a nursing assistant during the Blitz.

Her parents had escaped to America and Lily joined them in New York. She found work with an advertising agency and then in comics, at Fiction House, where she drew for Wings Comics, Rangers Comics, Planet Comics, Fight Comics and others, and later for St Johns Publications. Later she wrote children's books and plays and lived to 101, dying on 22 August 2022.

I learned of Lily while writing about Trina Robbins, who wrote a graphic novel biography of her exploits in 2011.

Lily is the second artist associated with American comics covered this issue, following part 2 of Adam Goodman's look at Milton Caniff. This episode covers the end of his time on 'Terry and the Pirates' and his creation of 'Steve Canyon'.

Other features that glance on Eagle include Eric Fernie's thoughts on thinking in comics and an obituary for Margaret Walker, Frank Hampson's youger sister, who attended various Eagle-related events.

Definitely centred on Eagle are articles by Jim Duckett on the 1960s strip 'Knights of the Road', Alan J. Palmer's discussing his favourite Dan Dare story, and a P.C.49 tale by Steve Winders.

The year is off to a good start.

The quarterly Eagle Times is the journal of the Eagle Society, with membership costing £30 in the UK, £45 (in sterling) overseas. You can send subscriptions to Bob Corn, Mayfield Lodge, Llanbadoc, Usk, Monmouthshire NP15 1SY; subs can also be submitted via PayPal to Back issues are available for newcomers to the magazine and they have even issued binders to keep those issues nice and neat.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Comic Cuts – 19 April 2024

I have been keeping busy with a third commission from The Guardian, this one on the late Trina Robbins, which took me four days to complete: Sunday gathering information, Monday listening to some audio interviews and making notes, Tuesday reading her autobiography and various interviews. During this period of information gathering, I was also writing notes that I eventually pulled together into something I hoped was coherent.

On Tuesday night I had a draft that was 1,900 words. The commission  was for 900 or so, which meant Wednesday was spent slashing, rewriting and rewording until I had something I could submit.

Thursday was definitely more relaxing: I read Eagle Times (a review will appear on Saturday), got started on a little essay about Joan the Wad (the lucky Cornish Piskey) and... well, if you're reading this, I must have written it.

It hasn't been a mad rush all week: we managed to get a little gardening done on Sunday morning and I've started on a new book (The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, which was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award a few years ago; and was the first in a 4-book series that won a Hugo in 2019. Mel has already read them and recommended them and what I've read so far has been enjoyable. I'm still being introduced to the mixed-species crew of the Waylander, which made me think not of Star Trek as most people would, but of Eric Frank Russell's Jay Score stories, with its human / Martian crew.

It's a very popular series and, digging around, I discovered that it has its own Wayfarers Wiki website. That's where the cartoon of the crew is from, drawn by Elsa Varland; there are plenty of other images of aliens, of the Wayfarer ship... I'm a little wary of exploring too far, just in case the site begins to infect how I see the characters, but it's certainly something I'll explore once I've read the book(s).

We watched 3 Body Problem, which ended too quickly and there will now be a long wait until the next tiny batch of episodes. Apple have done one series right: Slow Horses has had seasons filmed one after the other in pairs, so release dates have been relatively close together: three seasons broadcast in two years, season four already filmed and the fifth already commissioned.

I appreciate it would be impossible to do this with all shows, but I do find the waits between seasons frustrating, especially as I have a lousy memory for faces and plots. Great for rewatching Poirot and other detective shows, but not so for Foundation where it was twenty months between seasons. (And as I like to save up a show until we have all the episodes, it was another three months waiting for the finale before we got started.) I think our longest wait was for the second season of Carnival Row, which we watched 43 months after season 1.

Of course, my other frustration is shows that end without a proper ending... so good news that Snowpiercer season 4, its last, which was filmed and ready for broadcast by TNT, has been picked up by another channel and will be available from early next year. Now I can watch season 3, which I have been sitting on for a year or two, safe in the knowledge that at some point I'll have the opportunity to try and figure out how to watch season 4 as it's gone to AMC, which was on Sky until 2019 when it became a BT TV exclusive before disappearing from there last year. Didn't bother me at the time (I'm not a Walking Dead fan), but now...

Now I need a lucky Cornish piskey...

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Rebellion Releases – 17 April 2024

The latest episode of the 2000AD Thrill-Cast is not for the nervous! At least that’s what Ghastly McNasty, the editor of Scream! might claim! With a brand new hardcover collection publishing all the stories from the 1980s horror comic in order out in May, the Thrill-Cast talkes to its editor Ian Rimmer, sub-editor and writer Simon Furman, and SFX editor and Scream! reader Darren Scott about the history of the short-lived title and its enduring influence.

And if Hogwarts is the posh magical school, where do the comprehensive pupils go? We gain an education in conjuration with Lowborn High writer David Barnett and artist Mike Walters, talking about the all-ages series that’s getting its first collection.

You can find the 2000AD Thrill-Cast at your regular podcast provider and is also available on Soundcloud.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2378

Cover: Patrick Goddard / Dylan Teague (cols).

JUDGE DREDD // REND & TEAR WITH TOOTH & CLAW by Rob Williams (w) RM Guera (a) Julia Brusco (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
INDIGO PRIME // BLACK MONDAY by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Jim Campbell (l)
AQUILA // THE RIVERS OF HADES by Gordon Rennie (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
New! BRINK // CONSUMED by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
PROTEUS VEX // DEVIOUS by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine #467
Cover: John McCrea / Mike Spicer.

JUDGE DREDD: ESCALATION by Mike Carroll (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
DEMARCO, PI: NO SMOKE by Laura Bailey (w) Rob Richardson (a) Simon Bowland (l)
New! ARMITAGE: BULLETS FOR AN OLD MAN by Liam Johnson (w) Warren Pleece (a) Jim Campbell (l)
SCREAM: LIBRARY OF DEATH by Barrie Tomlinson (w) Cam Kennedy (a) Mike Peters (l)
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: HOME AWAY FROM HOME by Aleš Kot (w) PJ Holden (a) Jack Davies (c) Simon Bowland (l)
HARROWER SQUAD: CALHAB COUNTRY by David Baillie (w) Steve Yeowell (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Weird Planet audiobook

If you're read BEYOND THE VOID: THE REMARKABLE HISTORY OF BADGER BOOKS, you'll know that I've nominated Barney Ward as probably the worst science fiction writer of all time. I reprinted an extract of his story 'Weird Planet' in the book to give you a taste of his writing style... now here's the whole story in audiobook form, presented in three 15-minute-or-so episodes. It's the most bizarre story you'll ever hear... and possibly the ultimate way to enjoy/endure some of this publisher's terrible output.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy episode one of 'Weird Planet'...


Friday, April 12, 2024

Comic Cuts - 12 April 2024

After last week's late-running Comic Cuts column, I was convinced I wouldn't have any similar problems this week. Of course, I wasn't taking into account trying to hit a deadline with a piece I'm writing for The Guardian that I want to get out of the way before my birthday. So yesterday was dedicated to getting a first draft finished rather than my usual sit back, feet up Comic Cuts ramblings.

I won't mention the subject, as I'm writing a file obituary, which will be held on file by the paper so they can get it into print promptly when this person dies. It's a bit ghoulish, but this is how I earn a living.

Sales of BEYOND THE VOID are going OK at the moment, and I've finally managed to put together a bit of information about the book that has gone up on the Bear Alley Books page. For various reasons, I wasn't able to post this earlier — basically it boils down to how quickly Amazon and Ebay want you to supply books when an order comes in. All my orders have to be filled within three days and sent out using a service that allows tracking. If I was to wait for Lulu to print the book every time one was ordered (which can take up to five days), I'd be thrown off both platforms.

Following a successful trip to the Paperback & Pulp Book Fair, I had sold out, so I had to wait until I got another batch of books in, and as they were running late, I put in a second order so that they could be working their way through the system while I was waiting on the first batch.

So I had a couple of boxes of books land at chez Bear Alley during the week, so I'm stocked up to the max and I'm doing a stock take this weekend so that I'm not short of any other books. This is what writing obituaries pays for!

The pre-publication special offer on BEYOND THE VOID has come to an end now that the books are more widely available — you can now get copies through Ebay (you can see all my books at my Ebay store) and on Amazon. The varied price reflects how much those two platforms take out of every payment. Amazon also underpays postage and then takes a percentage of it, so that has to be added to the cover price: Amazon swallows up almost 30% of the cover price + postage, and I'm left to pay the true postage & packaging, printing costs and the costs of getting the book to me here; I also have to print out a postage label, which costs 4p but takes ages, because I have to do it on my old PC, which is old and cranky, like me.

Look at me and my middle-class problems!

That's it... I've got to get back to filing this obituary.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Commando 5739-5742

issues 5739-5742 are on sale from today, Thursday 11th April, 2024, featuring aerial hi-jinks and jeep hijacks!

5739: King and Aces

All Maude Graham wanted was to help the Royal Flying Corps during the Great War. She was tired of the ammunition factories and knew she could make a difference.
But when she arrives at the airfield with glowing references, all she is met with is laughter and prejudice. Well, she might be limited on the ground, but Maude knows the
sky’s the limit!
    Commando welcomes brand-new writer Petri Hanninen with his first tale in Issue 5739. With a little help from newcomer interior artist, Marc Viure, Hanninen weaves a wonder of a World War One story with a twist!

Story: Petri Hanninen
Art: Marc Viure
Cover: Neil Roberts

5740: The Bamboo Cage

To the crump of grenades and rattle of machine guns that echoed through the Burmese jungle in World War Two, a new sound was added... the twang of bow strings and the hiss of arrows flying through the air. And to the Japanese that sound brought terror. It meant Captain David Heywood and his fierce Kachin tribesmen were on the warpath!
    Classic Commando incoming! CG Walker’s great yarn is deep in the thick jungle in Burma, with magnificent artwork from Victor de la Fuente and Jordi Penalva.

Story: CG Walker
Art: V Fuente
Cover: Penalva
First Published 1970 as Issue 503

5741: Ramsey’s Raiders: Hijacked Jeeps!

Ramsey’s Raiders: the ragtag group of mavericks on wheels! The mounted Special Raiding Force were carnage on a chassis but what are the Raiders without their jeeps?
    Well they were about to find out as they returned from an ambush to find their jeeps missing in action!
    Ferg Handley’s rag-tag group of high-risk mavericks return in a brand-new adventure! This time the wheeled menaces are taken off the road when their jeeps are hijacked! Will the raiders recover — or will they be infantry from now on?!

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Carlos Pino
Cover: Carlos Pino

5742: Butterfield’s Battle

An easy-going manner and interest in history, plus a name like Claude Butterfield... they don’t seem to add up to the stuff that heroes are made of, do they?
But Claude could be as fierce as a tiger if something made him angry — and then whoever was responsible had better look out!
    Don't be fooled by this light and calm Ian Kennedy cover — for inside this Commando is a tiger of a story by CG Walker, full of hot-blooded action and adventure brought to life by Gordon C Livingstone!

Story: CG Walker
Art: Gordon C Livingstone
Cover: Ian Kennedy
First Published 1981 as Issue 1568

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Rebellion Releases — 10 April 2024

Battle Action Force Treasury Editions

Battle Action Force was published weekly from October 1983 to November 1986 by IPC Magazines limited, and brought together some of the greatest talents in the British comics industry of that time, both on the editorial and illustrative fronts including names like Gerry Finley-Day, Geoff Campion and Cam Kennedy. Included within its pages were the adventures of “Action Force”, created by British toy manufacturer, Palitoy.

Four heroic Action Force teams: infantry specialists Z Force, ocean based Q Force, infiltration specialists the SAS and orbital guardians Space Force protected the world against the evil machinations of Baron Ironblood, The Black Major and their army of brainwashed Red Shadows.

Now, for the first time in over forty years, Total Toy Books, with kind permission from Hasbro and in collaboration with Rebellion Publishing and Skeletron, are proud to announce an officially licensed reprint of the Action Force tales from Battle Action Force collected in a series of deluxe sized ‘treasury editions.’

With original issues difficult to find and expensive to purchase in full, this is a collection not to be missed by fans of the original series or for those who only discovered the existence of the comic in more recent times.

More details about this exciting series will be revealed in the coming weeks. Sign up to Total Toy Books' mailing list to be the first to find out more about this forthcoming series.

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2377
Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (cols).

JUDGE DREDD // REND & TEAR WITH TOOTH & CLAW by Rob Williams (w) RM Guera (a) Julia Brusco (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
INDIGO PRIME // BLACK MONDAY by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Jim Campbell (l)
NEW: AQUILA // THE RIVERS OF HADES by Gordon Rennie (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE FALL OF DEADWORLD // RETRIBUTION by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Simon Bowland (l)
FULL TILT BOOGIE // BOOK TWO by Alex de Campi (w) Eduardo Ocana (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Joe Pineapples: Tin Man by Pat Mills (w), Simon Bisley & Clint Langley (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618493-1, 10 April 2024, 96pp, £16.99. Available via Amazon.

Stranded for millions of years on an asteroid is hard work – especially when you only have a sewage droid for company! Joe Pineapples, the hotshot robotic sniper who never misses and former member of the A.B.C. Warriors - a team of war robots sent to first conquer and then protect Mars - looks back over his life as he seeks to unravel the mystery behind an I.D. plate that he has carried around since his days as an X-terminator fighting in the Volgan War.
    This brand-new, stand-alone A.B.C. Warriors story marks the return of Simon Bisley (Lobo, Batman/Dredd: Judgement on Gotham) to the characters for the first time with 1988's classic Black Hole story, which kickstarted his comic career, but now in glorious painted colour reminiscent of Bisley's work on Slaine: The Horned God. Clint Langley, who has drawn A.B.C. Warriors stories for the last 15 years, completes this final tale of Joe Pineapples in his own unique style.

Saturday, April 06, 2024

Comic Cuts — 5 April 2024

Um... where do I start? I had planned to take a couple of days off — just relaxing — because it has been a rough couple of weeks, thanks to the stress of preparing for the Book Fair and then going down with Covid and still having to work through that. Don't get me wrong... I've enjoyed most of what has been going on (the Book Fair especially), but it has been a full-on couple of weeks.

The plan was to wind down after writing last week's column, although that turned into an epic two-parter and we were still working on the Vernor Vinge piece that went live at 5.40 on Friday afternoon. Between shopping, hair cuts and games, I didn't manage to get my feet up on Saturday and I had promised to read someone's book, with an eye to seeing how it could be published, which took up most of Sunday, making a few additions and working out possible prices.

So I thought I'd take Monday off, and I was pottering around when I got a phone call from our landlady saying she wanted to come over on Wednesday. So that meant doing a lot of box shifting that I had promised to do but hadn't quite got around to. I'm now out of the old office and have parked myself up the far end of the living room. It's a sweet spot, right in front of the French windows. I moved in one of my shelves from the office so I have a lot of reference books behind me, and the scanner is still next to me, sitting on a little chest of drawers to my left; I moved a small shelf into the gap between the desk and curtains to the right, just to extend the desk top for various bits and bobs — a tape dispenser, calculator, pair of scissors, a box of rolls of sticky labels, a tiny fluffy lion, a mammoth and a squirrel with a busted ear.

Thanks to the rain (and, frankly not having enough time) we couldn't do any of the gardening, so that will be the next job when I have a chance. Meanwhile, I was thinking that Thursday would be a great opportunity to take a rest day, let my muscles relax and just generally chill.

I have been playing around with a programme called Gimp as an alternative to Photoshop. It's pretty good, and it'll be useful for little jobs that need doing on the laptop — like joining together pages for the column header on this very blog, which is beyond abilities of anything that comes with Microsoft (Photo and Paint are OK for pictures that just require a crop and resize, but nothing more). My first effort was the column header for Wednesday's Misty 2024 Special news.

However, I still need the old PC, so I set that up on Thursday morning and plugged it in and... nothing. There was none of the usual whir and clatter of the hard drive and fan coming to life and I feared the worst. My laptop was still working, but... hang on, the internet was down. I checked the phone, and that, too, was dead. I checked the fuse box and ran around the house with a hair dryer, the easiest thing I could think of to plug into a socket and see if it worked.

At the end of this little experiment I found that the lights downstairs and in my old office worked, the lights upstairs didn't; none of the plug sockets in the whole house worked, except in the old office, which is a converted garage, so it's on a different circuit. At nine I was thankfully able to get through to an electrician and he was able to rearrange his schedule. My laptop had stayed on thanks to the battery, but I wouldn't be able to run it all day, so I relocated to the old office, moving in a chair and using a box as a table.

Some years ago, I had bought some copies of Boy's Cinema from a friend, so I used my sudden free time to index them. Inadvertently, I was taking a day off and doing something I wouldn't normally have time for!

The electrician was here just after mid-day and left six and a half hours later, having worked his way around every plug socket in the house, switching everything off — just when you thought everything was off, there was still something connected, like the microwave, or the extractor hood above the cooker — and checking every one, then switching bits on and trying isolate the problem. We found out where the problem was at around five when he was getting some weird readings from one of the sockets and sending some power through it made it go bang. "Well, that was proper scary," he said in what I thought was quite a calm way.

Cutting to the chase, we got a new plug socket installed and fired up the electrickery (there's one for Catweazle fans) and was able to plug in my PC and fire it up once again, rattle and all. So this (Friday) morning I was able to get out a few orders and catch up with some mail. Overall it hasn't been a bad day — maybe I should count this as my day off?

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Comic Cuts - 4 April 2024

OK, so there's no column for Friday as we had an electrical blow-out this (Thursday) morning that still isn't completely fixed as I write this at 6 o'clock Thursday evening. Basically, at 8 o'clock in the morning, all the electrical sockets died in the house -- but I'll write more Friday and post something either Friday afternoon, or, more likely, Saturday morning, because my first job for Friday will be to catch up on what I've missed today (Thursday) through lack of internet and email.

More soon.

(* Column header image by nuraghies on Freepik.)

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Rebellion Releases — 3 April 2024

Dare You Read It Alone? A classic horror series rises from beyond the grave in 2024, featuring four brand-new chilling adventures from some of the most terrifyingly talented creators in comics!

Misty, the classic horror series for young women, has been resurrected by megastar writer Gail Simone, who is being joined by a murderers’ row of talent for an all-new 48 page anthology special publishing on the 17th July 2024.

First published in 1978, Misty was the brainchild of legendary writer and editor Pat Mills, offering thrills and chills for a generation of young women in the UK and featuring stories from creators including Shirley Bellwood, Jesus Redondo, Jordi Badía Romero, and Mills. Running for over 100 issues in total, each issue was hosted by Misty, who acted as a guiding voice for her young readers – and in this new anthology we’ll be telling stories featuring Misty herself for the first time!

This anthology features three brand-new chilling stories written by Simone, with art by Carola Borelli (The Deadliest Bouquet, Spider-Woman), Aly Fell (A Trick of the Light) and Marianna Ignazzi (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), alongside a fourth story written and drawn by rising star Letty Wilson (Owl People). Completing this spectacularly spooky package is a cover from Eisner-winning artist Tula Lotay (Barnstormers)!

The four stories included in this collection are:

In Eleven Lonely Deaths. a true-crime podcaster visits a decades-old crime scene where eleven women lost their lives at the hands of a vicious strangler. There, he meets a mysterious young woman who knows more about the crimes than should be possible…

At The Pub at the End of the Road, an unscrupulous landlord of a dreary pub in the English countryside makes his gifted daughter work her fingers to the bone, and turns a blind eye to the customers’ wandering hands. She seeks solace in a secret love… until she’s forced to use her extraordinary gifts…

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Parker is set in a small English town where nothing’s been quite the same since the murders of eleven women some years ago...

The Cracked Glass – a tale too terrifying to even tell you about! Writer/artist Letty Wilson has some dark surprises in store for readers…
The Misty 2024 Special is coming to a newsagent or comic book shop near you on 17th July 2024 – lock the doors twice, make sure you’ve drawn the curtains, and BY ALL THAT’S HOLY don’t forget to pre-order your copy!

And now, this week's releases...

2000AD Prog 2376
Cover: RM Guera.
NEW: JUDGE DREDD // REND & TEAR WITH TOOTH & CLAW by Rob Williams (w) RM Guera (a) Julia Brusco (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
INDIGO PRIME // BLACK MONDAY by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Jim Campbell (l)
NEW: TERROR TALES // ANTUMNOS by Jon Lock (w) Richard Elson (a) Simon Bowland (l)
THE FALL OF DEADWORLD // RETRIBUTION by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Simon Bowland (l)
FULL TILT BOOGIE // BOOK TWO by Alex de Campi (w) Eduardo Ocana (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Monster Fun #18
Cover: Dan Boultwood.

GUMS by Stacey Whittle (w) Brett Parson (a+l)
KID KONG // KID KONG GOES ON SAFARI by Alec Worley (w) Karl Dixon (a+l)
HELLS ANGEL by Chris Garbett (s+a+l)
SPACE INVADED // MURPH CONTAINS MULTITUDES by John Lucas (w+a) Barbara Nosenzo (c) H.A. O'Millar (l)
PEACHES' CREATURES // THE WEREWOLF OF WALL STREET by Ned Hartley (w) Dan Boultwood (a+c) Sarah Fimm (l)
DRACULASS // RARE BATS by Dave Bulmer (W+l) Abigail Bulmer (a+c)
ZORTHRAX THE UNFORGIVABLE by Alec Worley (w) PJ Holden (a+c) Ozwaldo Sanchez (l)
REX POWER by Ramzee (w) Claude TC (a+c) Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (l)
FRANKIE STEIN // FRANKEN CRITTER by Steve Roberts (s+a) Harvey Caldarone (a+l)

Monday, April 01, 2024

Paperback & Pulp Book Fair — 24 March 2024

Here's Jules Burt's latest video covering the recent Paperback & Pulp Book Fair at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury on Sunday, 24 March. I'm interviewed briefly early on, so you'll get to see my BEYOND THE VOID t-shirt that I had made especially for the show.


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