Friday, February 03, 2023

Comic Cuts — 3 February 2023


Not much in the way of news this week. I was hoping to have a batch of artwork finished for the next Steel Claw reprint in Spain and to have written the introduction. However, I had a message from the folks at The Guardian asking me to write a piece for them about Beano artist Donald Sutherland. (Seriously, that really was what they asked for. An easy typo to make, but it made me smile!)

Most of the other broadsheets had already published their obituaries of David Sutherland. Thankfully they're all behind paywalls, so they don't really influence what I'm writing. Since British comics are my thing (yes, really!) I try to go the extra mile and produce something beyond what you might get from rewriting the Press Association press release that made it in some shape or form into a number of papers. Also, I try to check everything to make sure mistakes aren't perpetuated or silly mistakes slip in. The Mirror, for instance quoted the editor of The Bean, and there being no sub-editors these days, it hasn't been corrected. See my comment above about easy typos... but this is the website of a national newspaper that ought to be a trusted news source. Typos in correspondence is acceptable. Typos in a blog are likely to happen  because mine at least is often written with some haste and I have nobody else here to cast their eyes over it. Typos in a national newspaper shouldn't happen and speaks volumes to the state of our national and local newspapers. Says the man who writes for the Grauniad.

I usually do a day of research, reading and listening to any interviews I can find (nothing like getting information from the horses mouth), and putting together a stripography if I don't already have one. Check reference books for information and insight. At the end of the day I usually have the whole planned out, with the most memorable things about a person's life noted – their biggest achievements, if you like – followed by biographical details of their life and other works. Sometimes finding out the commonly introduced details, like a mother's maiden name or how many siblings a person has, can take ages to discover.

I pull all of this together on day two, by the end of which I usually have a draft that could be twice the length asked for. Thanks to cuts in the number of pages dedicated to obituaries in newspapers, they tend to be a lot shorter than they used to be and may skimp on details. So I then trim, trim, trim until I have something in the region of the right length.


As this was David Sutherland, I also dug out some illustrations (Bash Street, Dennis the Menace, The Great Flood of London) and scanned them. Read through the final draft a couple of times and the whole lot was sent off on Thursday morning.

In between I have been dipping into the artwork that needs cleaning up so that I wasn't left with a hundred pages to do at the end of the week. I ended up with about forty, half of which I've worked through this morning. I should have them all done by end of play tomorrow, including the second pass that I give them. Not bad... I was hoping to have the artwork clean and the introduction written, but I've effectively done the volume of  work, albeit replacing the introduction with an obituary.

That leaves the introduction for next week. I'm thinking of talking about the history of invisibility in fiction and have a few bits and bobs to read on the subject. Hopefully the results will be better than this list which concentrates on ancient and literary texts and doesn't mention Sue Storm or Predators once.

Somewhere in this mix I'm hoping to have my laptop sorted. We had to give up on using a separate drive for the transfer and ended up copying direct from my PC last weekend. And that's where we're stuck. The laptop still needs all the programmes, settings, and bookmarks copied which I have no idea how to do. But I can play videos on it, and the 14" screen is better than my busted tablet's 10" screen, so it hasn't been a waste of money even if I can't actually work on it. In the meantime, everything I write and every file I download I'm having to store in a folder labelled "New Stuff", which I'll have to remember to copy across at some point. Now I come to think of it, I'd better make sure I have a back up of all the notes, scans and the two versions of the obituary I wrote this week, just in case...

Thursday, February 02, 2023

  • 6 Feb. Brian Bolland is dissects Batman: The Killing Joke for Cartoonist Kayfabe. (video, 1hr 50m).
  • 4 Feb. An interview with Tim Quinn. Tim is organising a new event in Liverpool and here is where you can find out all about it. (video, 1hr 14m)
  • 2 Feb. Accusations have been made that the Beano website is promoting high fat, salt and sugar junk food. "An investigation by the British Medical Journal found the website – promoted as a digital hub for six- to 12-year-olds – showcases products from well-known brands that are harmful to children, including fast food, confectionery, soft drinks and ultra-processed food." The original British Medical Journal article has a follow-up editorial in which editor-in-chief Kamran Abbasi says: "Inadvertently or not, the Beano is promoting junk food to children, to the detriment of public health, and it should stop. Today’s “innocent fun” is tomorrow’s health crisis."
  • 25 Jan. The Comics Journal's Tom Shapira investigates "A Very British Scandal" — the missing writer of the Captain Britain Omnibus. "The other name on the cover is Jamie Delano, and that is a rather strange choice. Delano doesn’t appear until about halfway through the book, and he doesn’t stay until the end."
  • 18 Jan.  AWA picks Peter Milligan as its creator of the month. "I think one of my problems is I didn’t have a real influencer either positive or negative. Thus have I remained rudderless, drifting from one disaster to the next.". (A late post from last August, but worth a read.)
  • 16 Jan. The Comicscene Awards 2023 voting form has been posted. So where am I... um... well, that'll teach me not to put anything out last year. Mind you, I was involved one way or another with two books in the Best Comic Collection UK (Captain Condor, Trigan Empire Vol IV), neither of which can match the sheer mightiness of my mate David Roach's two Apex Collection volumes. Even I'm voting for them... but which to choose...?

Commando 5615-5618


Up and at 'em! Commando issues 5615-5618 are out today, Thursday 2nd February, 2023!


5615: Crossed Swords

William Kidd felt like a pirate with crossed cutlasses marked on his Sopwith Camel. During World War One, he shot down the ace German fighter with the broadsword on his plane... and then did the same to his son in the Spanish Civil War! Now a new war was on the horizon and the Cutlass and the Broadsword were destined to cross blades again!
 
This Commando issue from writer Suresh features not just World War Two, but spans World War One and the Spanish Civil War as a feud between one man and a whole family chases him across the continent and time itself! With outstanding art from Alberto Saichann and now veteran Neil Roberts — you won’t want to miss this!

Story | Suresh
Art| Alberto Saichann
Cover | Neil Roberts


5616: In for the Kill

The young pilot officer could hardly believe his ears. But there was no mistaking the grim seriousness on the face of the Air Commadore, no question that he meant exactly what he had said...“I want you to go over to France and kill my son.”

A classic Commando gets its first reprint since 1975! Featuring the amazing artwork of the two legendary artists, Gordon C Livingstone and Ian Kennedy, with a superb story by Gentry, well, what’s not to like?!

Story | Gentry
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 948 (1975).


5617: Ghost Run

It should have been a normal run for John Yateley and Jim Weaver, delivering much-needed supplies to the front line. But when an eerie sight appeared on a hilltop and the pair noticed it was the ghost of a tank from the wrong war... well, things were about to get very weird indeed!

This wacky, supernatural tale from the mind of Heath Ackley is brought to life by Jaume Forns! And that’s not even mentioning the cover by Neil Roberts which is a homage to Ian Kennedy’s cover for #1511 ‘Man of Mystery’!

Story | Heath Ackley
Art | Jaume Forns
Cover | Neil Roberts



5618: Tiger, Tiger!

When young Horace Harper was at school the newspapers had headlines about him... ‘Boy Defeats Tiger!’, ‘Schoolboy’s Amazing Courage!’ and so on. It was only a few years later that Horace had his courage tested again, by another tiger. But this time it had a capital ‘T’ — the dreaded Tiger Mark VI tank!

There’s a tiger in the tale in Commando Issue #5618! You’ll really want to get your claws into this roar-some story by CG Walker. With wild interior artwork by Carrion and Ian Kennedy — this issue is grrrreat!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Carrion
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1401 (1980)


Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 1 February 2023


The brand new graphic novel series from the legendary comics publisher began with a bang – going to reprint two weeks before publication and hitting #3 on the list of the UK’s best-selling graphic novels – and the volume two raises the bar still further with another 200 pages of pulse-pounding Thrill-power!

Featuring a brand new cover for the retail edition by Becky Cloonan (Gotham AcademyPunisher) and an exclusive cover for the 2000 AD webshop by The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard, as well as design by renowned comics designer Tom Muller (X-Men), Best of 2000 AD is the essential gateway into the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic for a new generation of readers!

Every volume 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.

In this volume: Judge Dredd hunts untraceable assassins firing ‘Magic Bullets’ by Al Ewing (Immortal Hulk) and Colin Wilson (Blueberry); even robots get the ‘Red Planet Blues’ from Alan Moore (Watchmen), Steve Dillon (Preacher) and John Higgins (Judge Dredd); not even Mega City One’s brightest can escape ‘The Vampire Effect’ by John Wagner (A History of Violence), Alan Grant (Batman) and Mick McMahon (The Last American); and join the front line of the resistance against intergalactic bigots in the Gothic masterpiece Nemesis The Warlock by the creative team behind Marshal Law, Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill!

Out now from all good book and comic book stores, as well as digitally from 2000 AD‘s webshop and apps, Best of 2000 AD Vol.2 is a must have for comic book readers new and old!

JUDGE DREDD: MAGIC BULLETS

  • Writer – Al Ewing
  • Artist – Colin Wilson
  • Colorist – Chris Blythe
  • Letters – Annie Parkhouse

BRINK BOOK ONE, PART TWO

  • Writer – Dan Abnett 
  • Artist – INJ Culbard
  • Letters – Simon Bowland 

CRITICAL ESSAY: THE DEVIANT TRIUMPHANT

  • Writer – Tom Shapira

NEMESIS THE WARLOCK: BOOK ONE

  • Writer – Pat Mills
  • Artist – Kevin O’Neill
  • Letters – Steve Potter & Tony Jacob

A.B.C. WARRIORS: RED PLANET BLUES

  • Writer – Alan Moore
  • Artist – Steve Dillon
  • Colours – John Higgins 
  • Letters – Steve Potter

JUDGE DREDD: THE VAMPIRE EFFECT 

  • Writer – Alan Grant
  • Artist – Mick McMahon 
  • Letters – Tom Frame

D.R. & QUINCH’S AGONY PAGE 

  • Writer – Jamie Delano 
  • Artist – Alan Davis 
  • Letters – Steve & Jack Potter

And now, this week's releases...


2000AD Prog 2317
Cover: Mark Harrison.

In this issue:
Judge Dredd: The Hagger They Fall
 by Arthur Wyatt, Rob Williams (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Out: Book Three by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Joe Pineapples: Tin Man by Pat Mills (w) Simon Bisley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Order: Heart of Darkness by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Proteus Vex; Crawlspace by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)


Best of 2000AD Volume 2 by Al Ewing, Dan Abnett, Tom Shapira, Pat Mills, Alan Moore, Alan Grant, Jamie Delano, Alan Davis (w) Colin Wilson, INJ Culbard, Kevin O'Neill, Steve Dillon, Mick McMahon, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618872-4, 31 January 2023, 192pp, £14.99 / $22.99. Available via Amazon.

Best of 2000 AD is a 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. In this volume: Judge Dredd hunts untraceable assassins firing Magic Bullets by Al Ewing and Colin Wilson; even robots get the Red Planet Blues from Alan Moore, Steve Dillon and John Higgins; not even Mega City One’s brightest can escape The Vampire Effect; join the front line of the resistance against intergalactic bigots in Gothic masterpiece Nemesis The Warlock! Boasting brand new covers from an all-star line-up of artists including Becky Cloonan (The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys) and Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead) with designer Tom Muller (X-Men), Best of 2000 AD is the essential gateway into the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic.


Strontium Dog: Search & Destroy 2 by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618835-9, 2 February 2023, 192pp, £24.99. Available via Amazon.

Strontium Dog Search and Destroy 2 - The 2000 AD Years, collects the earliest SD strips to appear in 2000 AD after the sci-fi comic it originally appeared in, Starlord, was merged with the 'galaxy's greatest comic!' Co-created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, the team behind Judge Dredd, this collection includes the beautifully-coloured spreads that appeared in the original 2000 AD run and includes the classic Strontium Dog story, The Schicklgruber Grab, in which mutant bounty hunter, Johnny Alpha and his partner travel to the past to capture Adolf Hitler!


Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 41 by Gordon Rennie, John Wagner, Simon Spurrier (w) Karl Richardson, Andrew Currie, Phil Winslade, Carlos Ezquerra, Kev Walker, Cam Kennedy, Dave Taylor, PJ Holden and Boo Cook (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618774-1, 2 February 2023, 288pp, £24.99. Available via Amazon.

In Mega-City One the Judges are a hardened police force acting as judge, jury and executioner. Toughest of them all is Judge Dredd. He is the Law, and these are his stories. This latest collection of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files sees Dredd continue to track down the murderous PJ Maybe, take the Scottish artist Kenny Who to court, and stop the angry war veteran-turned-Mandroid Nate Slaughterhouse. Written by John Wagner (A History of Violence) and drawn by a host of acclaimed artists including Kev Walker (The Eternals), Cam Kennedy (Star Wars), and Carlos Ezquerra (Preacher), this is Judge Dredd at his pulse-pounding best!

Friday, January 27, 2023

Comic Cuts — 27 January 2023


It's too early to describe my efforts to backup my files from the PC to the new laptop as a "saga", but it's starting to feel like it. There's a backup of everything on an external hard drive, but getting it off the drive and onto the laptop is proving to be a bit tricky.

I can see the files on the external hard drive... I can even see from the laptop that the external hard drive has some files on it — almost 300GB of "other files" — but it doesn't recognise them as backed-up data files.

Until the files are copied across, the laptop is unusable except for accessing the internet while I'm in the living room, which I used to do on my tablet. Note the use of the past tense, because on Friday, the tablet stopped working. Fine in the morning, couldn't get it to work after lunch. I'm putting it down to jealousy since I have no idea why this should be the case,and it's as good a reason as any I can come up with. The tablet is jealous of the laptop and is throwing a strop.

This comes in a week were electrical goods have had it in for me. My toothbrush stopped working (stone dead). And our Karcher vacuum stopped working (won't recharge). It's turning into a Winter of Discontent as far as electrical goods are concerned.

All I can say is Thank Dog my PC is still growling away (thanks to the fan that was the start of this need to get a new computer) because it was already past my usual time for doing my tax returns. I'm usually pretty good at doing them in early January, as the deadline is the 31st and sometimes the old HMRC servers can take a little time to register an online tax return.

This year took longer than usual because I did my returns early in 2021 in order to qualify for a grant. So working out my incomings and outgoings for 12 months turned into doing so for 18 months and I spent two days chasing through old emails and bank statements trying to match book sales to payments (Bear Alley Books is work) and exclude Ebay sales (which isn't work, except for a handful of sales which are).

Anyway, I managed not to drown in all the numbers and filled out the form online on Wednesday afternoon, a week ahead of the deadline. I still have some filing to do (bank and pension statements, etc.), but I'm hoping that won't take too long and I can get back to work again.

... that work being 600 odd pages of scans that all need to be straightened, cleaned up and tinkered with. So don't expect much excitement from the next month or two's worth of Comic Cuts columns.

The fruit of my pre-Christmas bibliographical labours has bloomed over on the FictionMags Index. I published an illustrated list at the beginning of the month, but you can now discover what it inside all of them. This was a far bigger undertaking than I originally imagined (so many things are!) and Phil, who runs the site, told me the listings I had sent him (which included a couple of my own fanzines and a couple of other paperback fanzines) added 443 new names to the index, some of which I have put dates to, but I still have quite a way to go before I'll be anywhere near finished.

For those of you interested, here's the list of books. Click through to see what's in them. This link will take you through to a list of my articles and books that are currently indexed on the FM Index — and, no, I haven't counted how many there are. There's also a chronological list.

The book covers I'm using for decoration this week are a couple of titles that I have picked up recently from a public book swap box to be found in the village. I don't often find much, but every now and then something nice will turn up. The Stroud I picked up because I'm looking forward to seeing the new Lockwood & Co. TV series (although this one isn't part of the series). The Christie I nabbed because it's in slightly better condition than the copy I already have. Before anyone starts getting on to me about filling up the house with books again after my pre-Christmas efforts to slim down the collection, I will just say that I've sent out another box of books this week, so the house is 37 more books emptier... 35 now, but that's still on the debit side.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 25 January 2023


The latest collection of the classic British comic book anti-hero is out now, with a thrilling story of noir espionage!

Louis Crandell was a lowly lab technician who, through a bizarre accident, has the power to turn his body invisible – except for his steel prosthetic hand! He is now The Steel Claw, sometime crook, other times hero, but always one of British comics’ most popular characters!

In this new collection from Super Picture Library from the late 1960s, Crandell is assigned by the chief of the Shadow Squad to protect the four most important nuclear scientists as they meet for a secret conference. The assignment goes badly wrong, as the scientists are frozen solid, and their assassin chooses death over arrest The Steel Claw must redeem his reputation and find out who ordered the assassination.

This cold war thriller is pure sixties spy adventure, written by Tom Tully (Mean Arena) and drawn in a graphic noir style by Jesús Blasco (Capitán Trueno).

And now, this week's release...


2000AD Prog 2316
Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (cols).

Judge Dredd: The Night Shifter by Ken Niemand (w) Niccolo Assirelli (a) Peter Doherty (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Out: Book Three by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Joe Pineapples: Tin Man by Pat Mills (w) Simon Bisley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Terror Tales: Rites by Honor Vincent (w) Steve Yeowell (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Proteus Vex; Crawlspace by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Commando Presents... The Gurkha Files


Commando
Presents… The Gurkha Files — available digitally on Kindle and comiXology from the 25th of January.

Kafar hunu bhanda marnu ramro — “It is better to die than be a coward.” This is the motto of the Gurkhas who fought with the Allies. This collection of four classic Commando issues honours those brave warriors with tales of their valour and unquestionable heroism, focusing on the prowess of these daring fighting men.

Renowned for their bravery and bold fighting, the Gurkhas fought in both World Wars and were an integral part of the Allied victory. Commando, "The Home of Heroes", has featured these proud warriors in numerous stories over the decades. This special edition collects four of the very best, selecting vintage issues from the ‘60s and ‘70s, as well as more modern adventures from the ‘90s and beyond.

Marvel at masterful artwork from celebrated comic legends Ian Kennedy, Phil Gascoine, Manuel Benet, and Gordon C Livingstone, and immerse yourself in gritty stories from veterans like Alan Hemus and Major Eric Hebden as they reel you into the action!

Also included in this digital edition is a cover gallery, featuring the original artwork for each issue.
 
Look out for new Commando Presents digital releases on the final Wednesday of every month, and even more digital releases from Heritage Comics in the coming months!

Friday, January 20, 2023

Comic Cuts — 20 January 2023


I've been talking about getting a new computer for some time while. Well, it's here!

A friend suggested that it might be worth looking at a laptop rather than a PC, which would give me some flexibility and allow me  to move around the house and even outside the house should our internet pack up again. There was talk of docks and monitors... and I'm not so out of touch with the computing world that I don't know what they are. However, my first suggestion of a cheap laptop that I spotted on Amazon was greeted with derision. It would not do the job I want it to do.

The laptops that had the oomph to run everything I need it to were priced in the region of £1,200-1,500, so it looked like I was going to have to give the idea a hard pass. My budget wouldn't stretch that far — it's only thanks to having had regular work for the past year that I can even think of buying a new computer, made necessary by the grinding noises coming from the fan inside my PC, which tells me it isn't going to last forever.

I still hadn't made any decision by the time Black Friday came and went, ditto the Boxing Day sales, and we were into the January sales before I even gave it another thought. This was prompted by another friend who had recently bought a couple of cheap laptops second-hand and fixed them up. He came up with a set of specs that a laptop would need to meet if it were to be any good.

With that information, I was able to find a model that was a fit and one that was being offered barely used for a very good discount. There was even an option to make an offer, which I did... so I now have a laptop valued at around £1,650 that cost me a third of the price.

Since it arrived I have turned it on, linked it to the internet... at which point there was a Windows update to download. I then turned it off. I'm now waiting for heads far smarter than mine to tell me how to move all the stuff off the computer I'm writing this on onto the laptop. If I remember correctly from the last time I did this, it is going to take at least a day, and I might be fiddling with programme updates and drivers for some while, so if I go quiet all of a sudden, don't panic.

Once I know the machine works, I'll start thinking about buying a dock (through which I can connect all my external hard drives) and a new widescreen monitor. If I can get reasonable deals on those, I'm hoping that I can then afford to have my PC looked at and the fan replaced. That'll give me a back-up should I need one.

The other bit of excitement has been completing a huge block of scanning, leaving me with an afternoon's worth before I can switch to the next task of cleaning up the scans that I have. I'm writing this on Thursday morning because I'm hoping that, once I have the scans done, I can then spend Friday doing a back-up of my computer ahead of trying to get the laptop up and running. Belt and braces!

Hopefully I'll have more good news next week.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Commando 5611-5614


Men riding torpedoes, a doggy war hero, vengeance in Vietnam, and a truce hanging by a thread off of a cliff! All this in Commando issues 5611-5614 are out today, Thursday 19th January, 2023!


5611: Free Strike

In the dense jungles of Vietnam, just after the infamous Tet Offensive, Sergeant Donnie Michaels leads an elite team with their new Kit Carson scout —codename “Monty”. But as they're led into ambush after ambush, tensions are running high, and Donnie doesn't know whom he can trust anymore!
 
This blinding issue is a classic Commando in the making – featuring the oppressive jungle brought to life by Vicente Alcazar alongside a tense, gritty story by R Tate, what more could you want?!

Story | R Tate
Art| Vicente Alcazar
Cover | Mark Harris


5612: Wagger’s War

How about this little chap for a war hero then? Don’t let his looks fool you... this scruffy mongrel had more adventures than most soldiers ever did, and if medals had been given to dogs, he’d have won a whole row of them!

This Commando from 1977 is a firm favourite among fans and it’s easy to see why! CG Walker’s poochie plot is a canine caper and no mistake! With FETCH-ing interiors by Ferreira and Ian Kennedy’s pawesome cover art — this issue will hound you if you miss it!

Story | CG Walker
Art | Ferreira
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1106 (1977).


5613: Operation Precipice

Dick Hammond’s life was hanging by a thread. Above him was Grace Baird, holding on to the sheer face of the cliff for life, and below him was his doom. He would have trusted Grace with his life... if only he hadn’t killed her brother five years before!
Issue 5613 is Mario Morhain’s final Commando issue after he sadly passed away in May, 2022. He was a valued member of Commando, known for his striking interiors. He is sorely missed by all at Commando.

Story | Brent Towns
Art | Morhain
Cover | Neil Roberts


5614: Silent Danger

Out of the murky depths, they came wreaking havoc in Gibraltar harbour, bringing death and destruction to the British Fleet. In silence they appeared... then vanished. They rode on torpedoes, faceless phantoms of the deep!

Issue 5614 is a Commando to be excited about — with a story by Bill Fear featuring underwater knife fights brought to life by legend Gordon C Livingstone, topped off with an Ian Kennedy cover!

Story | Bill Fear
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 1397 (1980)

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 18 January 2023

Jane Bond, Secret Agent, is the finest spy on Worldpol’s roster. Armed with her wits, her fists, and an array of futuristic tech, she is our last line of defense against a international criminal underworld. From fighting a school of super villainesses, to foiling plans to melt to Artic ice caps, to escaping the clutches of a giant mechanical lobster, there’s no shortage of dangerous missions Jane must undertake for Queen and Country!

This collection of campy espionage adventure from 1960s girls’ comic Princess Tina is lovingly restored to its full glory, and is lavishly illustrated throughout by Mike Hubbard, the artist of iconic Daily Mirror strip Jane.

Available in standard paperback or in a gorgeous webshop exclusive hardcover, these are British comics at their best!

And now, this week's releases...


2000AD Prog 2315
Cover: Neil Roberts.

Judge Dredd: The Night Shifter by Ken Niemand (w) Niccolo Assirelli (a) Peter Doherty (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Joe Pineapples: Tin Man by Pat Mills (w) Simon Bisley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hope by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Jim Campbell (l)
The Out: Book Three by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Proteus Vex; Crawlspace by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)


Judge Dredd Megazine 452
Cover: Laurence Campbell / Quinton Winter (cols).

Judge Dredd: One-Eyed Jacks by Ken Niemand (w) Ian Richardson (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Storm Warning: Dead & Gone by John Reppion (w) Clint Langley (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Dark Judges: Death Metal Planet by David Hine (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Devlin Waugh: Karma Police by Aleš Kot (w) Rob Richardson (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Judge Dredd: Year One by Matt Smith (w) Simon Coleby (a) Leonard O'Grady (c) Chris Mowry (l)
Judge Dredd - Mega-City Two: City of Courts by Douglas Wolk (w) Ulises Farinas (a) Ryan Hill (c) Tom B. Long (l)
One-Eyed Jack by John Wagner (w) John Cooper (a)
Surfer: Book Two by John Wagner (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Features: A Very British Affair, Chris Standley interview, Mike Western retrospective.


The Complete Halo Jones Full Colour Omnibus by Alan Moore & Ian Gibson
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618770-3, 17 January 2023, 240pp, £39.99 / $69.99. Available via Amazon.

The ultimate edition of Alan Moore and Ian Gibson's feminist space opera! Halo Jones is bored. Trapped in The Hoop, a futuristic world where jobs are scarce and excitement non-existent, Halo sets out to see the galaxy any way she can and to rewrite her destiny. From drudge work on a glamorous cruise liner, to serving in a brutal war zone, Halo experiences love and loss and she grows up into the woman who will change the course of the galaxy's history. Radical and revolutionary, Rebellion is proud to present Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta) and Ian Gibson’s (Star Wars: Boba Fett Adventures) ground-breaking feminist space opera and science fiction classic in a full colour omnibus for the first time. A cultural icon and a high mark for British science fiction, this timeless tale of one woman’s endurance amidst a sea of dead-end and deadly jobs remains one of Alan Moore’s most beloved sagas. Restored and lovingly coloured by Barbara Nosenzo, and featuring a new introduction and bonus content, The Ballad of Halo Jones remains essential reading.


The Steel Claw: The Cold Trail by Tom Tully & Jesus Blasco
Rebellion ISBN 978-178618659-1, 19 January 2023, 128pp, £16.99. Available via Amazon.

The Steel Claw, Louis Crandell, is assigned by the chief of the Shadow Squad to protect the four most important nuclear scientists as they meet for a secret conference. The assignment goes badly wrong, as the scientists are frozen solid, and their assassin chooses death over arrest, The Steel Claw must redeem his reputation and find out who ordered the assassination. This cold war thriller is pure sixties spy adventure story drawn in a graphic noir style by Jesus Blasco.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Comic Cuts — 13 January 2023


I have been wondering over the past couple of weeks whether I should set up a Substack account to publish material to. I'm not necessarily looking at the subscription side of it, although that would be worth looking at in the future, but as a way to publish content that people can receive by e-mail. I only subscribe to one Substack (Pat Mills) and it strikes me as an easy way to get things like the weekly Comic Cuts column out to people.

We shall see. I have been on Blogger for 16 years and have never quite understood how the information gets out to readers. Take this week, for example: the most popular post for the last seven days is one about Bruce Cornwell, which received one hit on Sunday, followed by 169 hits on Monday and nothing since. I'm guessing somebody posted a link somewhere. The Comic Cuts column, meanwhile, received 125 hits. Not bad, as long as it isn't all robots parsing the post for Google, Bing and other search engines.

Over its lifetime, Bear Alley has had 5.7 million hits, the most popular post clocking in at 37,900. The most popular author is Norah Burke (6,600 hits) and the above obituary of Bruce Cornwell has been viewed 5,300 times. I have 118 followers!

I revisit my cover galleries regularly when I stumble across additional covers. I added one to the Alfred Bester Cover Gallery yesterday and a photo of Eardly Beswick earlier in the week. But nobody would know if I hadn't just mentioned it. Perhaps setting up a Substack will encourage me into updating some of these old posts and getting them out to readers again. Putting together my book list (published a few days ago) made me realise that I have tons of published stuff that people will never have seen. I have also been turning up quite a lot of unpublished stuff. For instance, when I did the introductions for the Karl the Viking books, I also wrote a history of Vikings that, because the pagination was changed at the last minute, had to be dropped. I have the first few essays for another Forgotten Authors book, biographical sketches written over the years for various projects, lists of old paperback publishers and partial indexes to various comics that won't see the light of day until I can fill the gaps — but, even incomplete, they're still going to be useful.

Somewhere on the computer are partly finished books about Action, Valiant, 'Pirate' publishers, drafts of interviews... I have transcripts of interviews I did back in the days of Comic World and PBO, even some surviving audio from interviews. I'd love to get this out somehow.

(You can tell I'm in a "sorting stuff out" mood at the moment!)

I shall ponder on all of this while I'm scanning more pages next week. I have done a few hundred over the past week, working on the principal that while I have a comic on the scanner, I may as well scan other strips that I'm going to need during the next few months or maybe later. I think I now have the necessary scans for two of the books I'm working on, and I'll be completing the third next week, hopefully. At that point I might stop scanning and start cleaning up and restoring some of the scans I already have.

... which seems to be a good point to bring this to a close and get back to the scanning.

(The pics are some of the covers that have recently been added to various cover galleries.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Rebellion Releases — 11 January 2023


The first collection of 2000 AD‘s new sword-and-sorcery hit series º from the minds of Dan Abnett (Warhammer) and Richard Elson (Thor) – is out now!

It is five years after the Last-of-All-War, when the Monarchy succeeded in defeating the Malign Lord. With their leader dead, his minions are scattered, fleeing retribution from the Wretchfinders. Necromancer Bode and warrior Wrath are two such beings, and were offered a deal — hunt and kill their own kind or be declared FERAL & FOE.

This brand new fantasy series, which brings back together the creators on the hit 2000 AD series Kingdom, is a must read for fans of Lord of the Rings and Games of Thrones, and players of the legendary Dungeons & Dragons!

And now, this week's release...

2000AD Prog 2314
Cover: Mark Harrison.

In this issue:
Judge Dredd: The Night Shifter episode 2
by Ken Niemand (w) Niccolo Assirelli (a) Peter Doherty (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Joe Pineapples: Tin Man episode 3 by Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Out: Book Three episode 3 by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Hope: ...In the Shadows Reel Two episode 11 by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Jim Campbell (l)
Proteus Vex; Crawlspace episode 3 by Mike Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Friday, January 06, 2023

Comic Cuts — 6 January 2023


The first post for a new year ought to be momentous, but this will be more self-indulgent than anything else.

I spent a couple of weeks on the run up to Christmas trying to compile a list of all the books I had been involved in, which you can see some of the results of in the cover gallery that appeared on New Year's Day. The list I compiled was actually far more detailed, and the listed contents will hopefully be appearing on the FictionMags Index at some point.

A lot of what I have written is long gone and forgotten – a lot of it rightfully so – but most of it I'm still quite proud of. I'm constantly tinkering with old features here in Bear Alley as they're on public display, but older articles I tend to overhaul thoroughly when I get a chance to update something with new information.

Probably the most revamped piece has been about journalist and crime writer Dail Ambler, who has become something of an obsession. I first wrote about her in "The Lady Holds a Gun" in 1994 for the fanzine Pseuds Corner, a piece I revised for an appearance in Crime Time in 1997. I revised the article again when I reprinted all my Crime Time pieces in a very short print-run collection Mean Streetmaps (2011), which was something of an experiment at publishing a hardback in the early days of Bear Alley Books.

I was planning  to publish the collection through Create Space on Amazon, but ran into some problems with getting the contents published how I wanted them. Instead, I published some of the articles individually as e-books in 2013. I took down the e-book version of "The Lady Holds a Gun" when I revised it once again for an appearance in Forgotten Authors Vol.1 (2017).

The latest version is almost unrecognisable from the original piece written 23 years earlier, but you can follow the evolution of the article through its five appearances. The bibliography of her novels has expanded from 51 to 82 and added a number of teleplays and screenplays.

The first appearance was in a fanzine I produced in 1994 about pseudonyms and house names. There have been a great many books that list pen-names, but there was one that particularly bugged me because it misrepresented information from one of my bibliographies and attached my name to batshit falsehoods like American horror writer Seabury Quinn being the author of British gangster novels that appeared under the name Hans Lugar.

One of the biggest problems was that every time researchers tried to correct something and have it removed from circulation, someone would come along and simply take all the old pseudonyms books and reinsert the wrong information into their book — size trumping accuracy every time. Pseuds Corner involved trying to find credible sources for information and to point out wrong information rather than just dropping an entry.

Anger propelled me through four issues between January and November 1994, but changes at work—the launch of a new magazine for which I was managing editor—meant that I simply didn't have time to continue. A few months later I took over the newsletter of the British Association of Paperback Collectors (BAPC) and launched PBO, which I managed to keep going for three years and nine issues, some of them quite substantial.

I spent a couple of days during the week between Christmas and New Year indexing those two titles, and as I have been trying to tidy my shelves ahead of moving my desk out of the office and into the living room, I have managed to index a few other minor mags. relating to paperback collecting.


I'm back at work, now. Scanning is the order of the day as I begin work on the next batch of books for Dolmen. When you're scanning on what might be considered an industrial scale (!), it can get a bit boring, and I have found myself wandering off onto the internet rather too regularly. I think I've figured out a good way to help me from growing bored: it involves a tablet, some speakers and youtube videos of concerts, which I can stream as I work. On Wednesday, I watched the last performance of Genesis at the O2 Arena on 26 March 2022 and a Deep Purple concert also at the O2 on 22 October with Simon McBride replacing Steve Morse.

(It was rather sad to see Phil Collins so unwell, having to be helped onto the stage and singing while seated, but I'm glad the band have been able to retire on their own terms, rather than through the death of a member. I'm also glad that the concert was available on Youtube, as I'm sorry to say that I don't think it was strong enough to merit a DVD or BluRay release.)

Watching a concert on a tablet isn't exactly like being in the venue, but it's a great way to hold my attention while I'm scanning. Next up... The Scorpions, The Prodigy and Iron Maiden!

Thursday, January 05, 2023

Commando 5607-5610


Fleet Air Arm feuds, sulking Superfortress pilots, spooky spectres and sneaky sailors all abound in this set of Commandos — out today!


5607: Combat Air Patrol

Tony Heywood is a talented pilot in the Fleet Air Arm with a feisty attitude — just what his team needs in their air battles against the Japanese. But when observer Bill Downey bails out after Heywood’s heroics get them shot down, Walrus skipper Roddy Baxter fails to pick him up before he runs out of fuel. As Heywood blames Baxter for his friend’s unfortunate death, the pair find themselves fated to work together against Japan’s most deadly special attack force.

This stellar issue marks Esteve Polls’ first of many Commandos. Having worked on several prestigious titles from Edifumetti, Planet, Marvel France to Disney Europe, as well as ‘Mega City Noir’ (2004) for Judge Dredd Magazine, Commando proudly welcomes Polls to the ranks.

Story | Steve Taylor
Art| Esteve Polls
Cover | Keith Burns


5608: Superfort

The B-29 Superfortress was the heaviest aircraft of the Second World War. It was designed for high-altitude bombing and it carried a crew of a dozen men. So what the heck was this one doing dodging around over an enemy airfield at zero feet with only a couple of blokes on board? Well, this wasn’t just any old B-29, this was ‘China Rose’ herself!

Selected by special request from Commando fans, it’s easy to see why this is a readers’ favourite from the ages. A terrifically gritty story quintessential of Alan Hebden, with crisp interiors from Maidagan and an striking cover from John Rideway, this is not a Commando to be missed!

Story | Alan Hebden
Art | Maidagan
Cover | John Ridgeway
Originally Commando No. 1033 (1976).


5609: Finnegan’s Ghost
Sergeant Michael Finnegan was a veteran of the desert war, he and his crew forged in the flames of the scorching sun. But on D-Day +7, his life was shattered as his crew was ruthlessly gunned down by an enemy Panzer while climbing out of their disabled Sherman Firefly tank.
And yet… whispers spread about a ghost wandering the battlefield, as time and time again Finnegan was spotted, hellbent on revenge, searching for the tank that had killed him!

A supernatural story from Brent Towns — or is it? The mystery of Sergeant Michael Finnegan comes to life in Jaume Forn’s artwork and Neil Roberts eerie cover.

Story | Brent Towns
Art | Jaume Forns
Cover | Neil Roberts


5610: Into the Attack
Commanded by Lieutenant Terry Horton, the sleek motor torpedo boat sped into the attack, guns blazing and torpedoes ready to launch at the German convoy ahead.
But he didn’t just have the enemy to contend with, for in this crack flotilla there was another skipper who was doing his best to blacken Terry’s name — and if he didn’t do something about it his career would soon be over!

More stunning artwork from Gordon C Livingstone, and who else on naval cover duty but the maritime master, Jeff Bevan, all contributing to RA Montague’s classic Silver Age story.

Story | RA Montague
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Jeff Bevan
Originally Commando No. 1549 (1981)

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