Friday, April 18, 2014

This week in 1969: TIGER AND JAG


It's been a while since I featured Tiger on this blog so here's a quick look at the issue that was on sale from 19th to 25th April 1969. This was the 4th combined issue of Tiger and Jag, with IPC having taken over the Fleetway comics and trimming back the weaker selling titles. The Roy of the Rovers cover is by Yvonne Hutton, whose linework still looks fresh and modern even today. Tragically, Yvonne died in a car accident in the early 1990s. 

The following Skid Solo story is drawn by John Vernon. It's a significant episode because it introduces 'Sparrow' Smith, who became a regular supporting character. (Click on all pages to see them much larger.)



The Nosey half-pager at the end of the Skid Solo story was drawn by Alf Saporito, who a year later became the regular cover artist on Gus Gorilla for Cor!! 

Since its merger with Jag, Tiger had inherited that comic's web offset printing process which was a higher standard of printing, and allowed artists to paint their colour pages instead of relying on the flat colour overlays that the newsprint comics used. Just look at the quality of this full colour Football Family Robinson centrespread by Joe Colquhoun...


Tiger later became an all-sports comic, but in 1969 it still featured a variety of subjects. One such strip was Saber, King of the Jungle, illustrated by the excellent Denis McLoughlin...


Here's a few snippets of some of the other strips in Tiger and Jag that week, starting with Typhoon Tracy drawn by Graham Allen using a less cartoony style than that which he'd used on The Nervs for Smash!

Custer by David Sque...

Black Patch the Wonder Horse by Sandy James...

...and the long-running Johnny Cougar by John Gillatt.

Finally, to add to the flavour of the year 1969, here's a few of the adverts that appeared in that issue, including one of the legendary "Great News, Pals!" announcements for two comics joining forces...




By the way, - you can see more classic ads from other comics in previous posts on this blog. Here's a few links:









Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Classic British comics up for auction

On 29th April at 10.30 a.m. Mullock's Specialist Antiques and Valuers will be giving comic enthusiasts a chance to win some classic British comics. The auction includes a wide range of titles from across the rich history of UK comics. I've taken a look at the lots online and there seems to be something there for everyone who's interested in British comics and story papers, whatever your age.

Here's just a handful of the many items in the auction...











There are some American comics too, including this early issue of Action Comics from June 1945...



If you can't make it to the auction, it seems you can place an absentee bid via the website. To find out more info, and to see all the lots on offer, visit this website:
http://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/auction-catalogues/mullocks-specialist-auctioneers-and-valuers/catalogue-id-2901933/lot-21876797

If you can make it to the auction, here's the address:

  • The Clive Pavilion
  • Ludlow Racecourse
  • Bromfield Ludlow
  • Shropshire
  • SY8 2BT
  • United Kingdom

10.30am. Tuesday 29th April. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Marvel classics for a new generation

As most readers of this blog will know, Panini UK publish several 76 page comics every month which reprint various recent Marvel titles. What's not so well known, because they're not so well advertised, is that Panini also occasionally publish books that reprint older, classic tales from Marvel's early days, with around 200 pages each.


The two latest books are out now. Both are softback, digest-size (130mm x 200mm) full colour editions with excellent printing, featuring some great material. Thor: In the Shadow of Mangog reprints Thor Nos.189 to 198 (June 1971 to April 1972). Stories by Stan Lee and Gerry Conway with fantastic artwork by John Buscema (and a cover by John Romita). Captain America: The Coming of the Falcon reprints Captain America Nos.111 to 119 (March to November 1969). Classic end-of-sixties material by Stan Lee, Jim Steranko, Jack Kirby, John Romita, John Buscema, and Gene Colan.


Those credits are almost a who's who of Silver Age Marvel. Both books feature material from an interesting period of the company's history. The initial surge of the 'Marvel Age of Comics' was winding down and the comics were coasting a bit, - except for the dynamic and creative Steranko pages of course, which are worth the price of the book alone. However, even the other material (especially the superb John Buscema Thor pages) has a freshness and excitement often lacking in contemporary superhero comics. 


What these stories display is the fine skill of keeping a story lively whilst advancing the plot. Admittedly the plots are paper thin, and quite childlike at times, but they still feel more substantial than today's 'decompressed' storytelling techniques of extended dialogue sequences. It's also just... well, nice, that there's no sadistic violence and gore in these old stories. If, like me, you prefer comics as an hour or two of light escapism from the depressing real world, then these books are for you. 


Both books should be available in bookstores now, at £6.99 each. You'll find them cheaper to buy online though. However, if you want to order them from your local Waterstones or Smiths, heres the ISBN...

THOR: In the Shadow of Mangog
ISBN 978-1-84653-191-0

CAPTAIN AMERICA: The Coming of the Falcon
ISBN 978-1-84653-192-7

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gerald G. Swan's SLICK FUN


There are certainly a lot of independent comic publishers around these days, but the concept is far from new. Small UK publishers have been around throughout the history of British comics, and many back then it seems made a healthy profit and had their comics distributed to newsagents. 

One such enterprising independent publisher was Gerald G. Swan (1902 - 1981) who began publishing magazines in the 1930s. Sensing the impending war at that time, he stockpiled paper so that when wartime paper restrictions came into force he was in a good position to continue and expand. Not only did he distribute his titles to newsagents, he also had a street market stall, similar I suppose to the way that today's indie publishers have tables at various comic events. Swan's publications included mystery, crime, and science fiction magazines and books. He also published comics. 

Swan published various hardback comic albums but his weekly comic (sometimes fortnightly or monthly) was Slick Fun, which ran from June 1940 to January 1951. From issue 35 it added colour, which presumably is when it changed its title to Coloured Slick Fun. I don't know what the early issues were like but as you can see from No.84 shown here, the "coloured" aspect was just spot colour on some pages. Although, to be fair, even that would make it stand out amongst rival comics such as AP's Film Fun which were solely black and white.

This issue of Coloured Slick Fun (dated 14th October 1950) had just 16 pages, and was printed on rough, cheap paper, but it did the job. It still packed in a lot for its 3d (1p) cover price. The strips in Swan's comics were often derivative in style to those of their mainstream rivals Amalgamated Press and DC Thomson, and in comparison the scripts and art were considerably inferior, but even today Swan's comics are very collectible. Their rough and ready aspect was part of their charm. As Phil Clarke and Mike Higgs said in their book Great British Fantasy Comic Book Heroes, "they were so bad they were good".  

Something Swan's comics had in their favour was the artist Harry Banger, who signed his pages 'Bang' (although his surname apparently rhymed with ranger). You can see a cover above by 'Bang' that leads off this post. His style was easily on a par with most humour artists, plus it had a very likable look of its own. Interestingly, the everyman character Stoogie, seen on the cover, was anything but an everyman in some strips as he was flying around in costume as Stoogie the Superman in the Slick Fun Comic Album, thanks to a magic elixir. 

Here are a few more pages from this 1950 issue shown. I'm unsure of the artists as the pages are unsigned (except for Jim the Gym Instructor by 'Robbie'). You'll notice a couple of British superheroes amongst this selection too, - T.N.T. Tom who seems as powerful as Superboy, and The Phantom Raider, who simply seems to be an adventurer in a mask.







Slick Fun was about the proportion of an American comic, but I've enlarged the pages for you to read them easier. Click on the images to see them bigger.

I'll show some other Swan publications soon. You can also see a lot of 1950s independent strips from Swan and other publishers reprinted in the hardcover book Great British Fantasy Comic Book Heroes, published by Ugly Duckling Press. (Which I reviewed here: http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/review-great-british-fantasy-comic-book.html

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Commando Nos.4695 to 4698


Britain's longest running adventure comic, Commando, has another four issues in the shops this Thursday. Here's the info from DC Thomson...


Commando Issues 4695-4698 – On Sale 10th April 2014

Commando No 4695 – ANZAC Cove
On the morning of the 28 June 1914 two pistol shots fired in a Sarajevo street would plunge the world into the most destructive war it had ever known as a spider’s web of alliances set Great Power against Great Power.
   In the far corners of the British Empire, men flocked to the flag, ready to do their bit in the European war. For the blokes of the Australian and NewZealand Army Corps, though, it wasn't France they ended up in, it was a place called Gallipoli and a particular spot always mentioned when tales of bravery are told...

ANZAC COVE

Story: George Low
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Ian Kennedy



Commando No 4696 – Sudden Death!

Mountain men — each one of them — a sergeant, a corporal and a private, all trained for war, but each a highly skilled mountaineer in his own right.
   Their difficult and dangerous mission was to find a VIP Brigadier who had been kidnapped by the Germans and hidden high in the Italian mountains before being hustled to Berlin. Within hours the British mountain troops were hot on the trail.
   But when men who climb together fall out, when accidents breed suspicion and distrust, every sheer rock face can spell — sudden death!

Introduction

If there’s one thing that the 63-page format and our style of story-telling allows, it’s plenty of twists and turns in our plots. This one is about mountaineers, so why is there a floatplane on the cover?
   A cracking cover it is too. Ken Barr’s use of light and shade to lead the eye to the main characters lifts it from good to great. Inside artist Solbes isn’t found wanting either; the faces in here are full of expression, the figures full of energy and movement.
   The explanation for the floatplane? Ah well, you’ll have to read this book to find out. And preferably buy it too!

Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Sudden Death! originally Commando No 114 (April 1964), re-issued as No 631 (March 1972)

Story: Parsons
Art: Solbes
Cover: Ken Barr



Commando No 4697 – Desert Heroes

Somewhere in the Horn Of Africa, three Italian tanks bore down on a single British two-pounder gun. behind that gun's shield were three soldiers who had only every fired an anti-tank gun in practice...foe an emergency.
   Well, this was that emergency and those men were not going to back down.
   No wonder they called these men...
DESERT HEROES

Story: George Low
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Janek Matysiak



Commando No 4698 – Rescue Mission

Nigel Goodman of the Commandos had a big problem on his hands. In fact he had several problems. They were: three Allied generals, one German general, one Russian paratroop major, one major in the US Rangers. Quite a party! And he had to get them all safely to British lines in Italy.
   Oh, yes, there was one other thing — he had a large chunk of the German army chasing him as well!

Introduction

One of Commando’s great strengths is the diversity of its story-telling — although, of course, we’re mainly known for tough, sometimes gritty, war tales. On occasion, however, it can be a welcome change of direction when an author – here veteran scribe Alan Hebden — presents a breathless caper story such as this. The pace just never lets up, rather like a speeding train — which, as you’ll soon see, is entirely appropriate. Featuring wonderful art from Gordon Livingstone and a superb cover from Ian Kennedy, this is one to savour.
Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor
Rescue Mission, originally Commando No 970 (September 1975), re-issued as No 2300 (August 1989) 

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Ian Kennedy
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