Saturday, January 20, 2018

Halo Jones collected - and coloured!

The Ballad of Halo Jones is to be collected in book form again, but this time it'll be remastered in full colour! Here's the press release from Rebellion...

A new colour version of Alan Moore and Ian Gibson’s all-time feminist classic, Halo Jones, leads an incredible year of graphic novel releases from 2000 AD!

Coloured by breakout Italian newcomer Barbara Nosenzo and published in three volumes this year, Halo Jones is an ordinary unemployed teenager living on a crowded and oppressive housing project floating off the coast of Manhattan. Desperate to leave her humdrum life, she escapes as a stewardess aboard a luxury space-liner but a chance encounter has ramifications far beyond Earth. And after she enlists in a dehumanizing interstellar war she becomes embroiled in an unlikely and complicated romance, her humanity tested and strained as she matures.

The first progressive feminist character in British comics, Halo Jones is a mature masterpiece of characterisation and world-building, and heralded the extraordinary talent of the writer who went on to pen Watchmen and V For Vendetta. Ian Gibson’s superlative art is complemented and energized by Nesenzo’s pitch-perfect new colours in an ideal edition for those yet to dive into Halo’s incredible but utterly relatable world.
Volume 1 on sale 17th May 2018, £9.99

Coming up in 2000AD...

Reaction to these previews of 2000AD is usually very quiet or non-existent, despite the fact that my blog is often the first to show the pages. Is it worth my time to continue posting these previews every week, or do you prefer to wait until the comic is in the shops to see what's in it? Let me know by leaving a comment please.

UK & DIGITAL: 24th January 2018 £2.75
NORTH AMERICA: 24th February 2018 $7.99

2000AD Prog 2065
In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: ECHOES by Michael Carroll (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

SAVAGE: THE THOUSAND YEAR STARE by Pat Mills (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

BRASS SUN: ENGINE SUMMER by Ian Edginton (w) INJ Culbard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

BAD COMPANY: TERRORISTS by Peter Milligan (w) Rufus Dayglo (a) Dom Regan (c) Simon Bowland (l)

ABC WARRIORS: FALLOUT by Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l) 

Available in print from: UK newsagents and all good comic book stores via Diamond 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

TOXIC reaches issue 300 today!

These days, it's rare for a children's magazine to have such longevity, but Egmont's Toxic magazine for boys has just reached a milestone of 300 issues. The magazine began publication in September 2002, and is published every three weeks (it was originally monthly) so a run of just over 15 years (and counting) is very impressive for a contemporary publication. A top selling publication for its target audience, Toxic has spawned several rival imitators over the years. Even the legendary Dandy had a makeover at one point, as Dandy Xtreme, in an less than successful bid to try and capture the magic. 

Originally edited by Matt Yeo, then Andy Davidson, Frank Tennyson, and Simon Ward, Toxic's current editor is Paul Lang with Matthew Pratt as his Deputy Editor. Contributing artists and writers over the years have included Laura Howell, John Short, Alex Paterson, Jasper Bark, Paul Palmer, Nigel Kitching and Jamie Smart. The premise of Toxic is to provide its young readers with breezy news and features on the latest movies, toys, games and suchlike, with a strong sense of fun and irreverence. 

"Gross" humour abounds, particularly in the comic strips. Team Toxic has been in the mag since the very first issue, with its core characters Doc Shock, Bog, Sludge, Kid Zombie, and Krunk initially created by Matt Yeo and original artist John Rushby. I was invited to script the comedy adventures of Team Toxic from issue one, and also became the artist from issue 15 when John left the strip. I've been writing and drawing it ever since. The Team protect the city from numerous bizarre villains that I've created, such as Sick Squid, Frankendrac, Techno Troll, Antimatter Hari, and Butt-Face. The solutions usually involve the aforementioned "gross humour" such as Bog unleashing a mighty fart or Kid Zombie bowling the villains over with his detachable head. The style of humour, with monsters, crazy villains, and cringe-inducing puns, is similar in style to my old Combat Colin strips, but with more jokes about bodily functions. It's been a pleasure to write and draw Team Toxic for all these years, and long may it continue. 

The latest Team Toxic story, Birthday Bash, sees Butt-Face and Sand-Witch steal the Toxic collection from comics critic Grumpy McGrumpyface, which interrupts the Team having a slap-up feed to celebrate the magazine's 300th milestone. 

Also in this issue, stinky superhero Captain Gross, by Russ Carvell, who has also worked for the magazine for years, plus Ruined Ronaldo, drawn by Steve McGarry. 

Apart from the Team Toxic strip, the magazine doesn't make a fuss about the 300th issue, focusing instead on features on superhero movies, Star Wars, a Thor Ragnarok pull-out poster, and puzzles.

As is expected of kids' magazines these days, Toxic comes bagged with a mixture of toys, cards and stickers. Here's what to look for in the shops...

Toxic No.300 is on sale now from newsagents and supermarkets. £3.99 


New from Rebellion's Treasury of British Comics imprint comes The Beatles Story, reprinting the serial written by Angus Allen and illustrated by Arthur Ranson that ran in Look-In during 1981 and 1982.

Although Look-In is not one of the comics that Rebellion now own, The Beatles Story is unique in that Angus Allen and Arthur Ranson own the rights to the strip.

Sure to be a hit with fans of the Fab Four, The Beatles Story is an affectionate photo-realistic take on the saga of what many of us consider to be the greatest band in music history. 

CREATIVE TEAM: Angus Allan (w) Arthur Ranson (a)
REGIONS: UK, worldwide digital
RELEASE DATE: 22nd February 2018
HARDCOVER, 57 pages
PRICE: £12.99 (UK) $17.99 (US)
ISBN: 9781781086179

The very first graphic novel to chart the creation, evolution and breakup of the fab four, first published in 1981. The Beatles Story is an exceptionally drawn account of the band from one of the UK's leading artists of his generation, Arthur Ranson (Judge Dredd, Button Man). It includes fascinating insights into Paul McCartney and John Lennon's first encounter, their early gigs in Hamburg's Kaiser Keller, through to the recording of the legendary Abbey Road album and the band's break-up. First published in the pages of legendary UK youth magazine Look In, this beautifully illustrated account is a treat for both the devoted Beatles admirer and new fans alike.

Available in print from: book stores, Amazon, and comic book stores via Diamond

Available to pre-order now from the Treasury of British Comics shop:

Monday, January 15, 2018

35 Year Flashback: SPIKE No.1 (1983)

D.C. Thomson launched a new weekly comic 35 years ago, when Spike No.1 arrived in newsagents on Friday 14th January 1983. Although Thomsons had attempted a few tougher styled boys' comics with WarlordBullet and Crunch a few years earlier, this new comic was playing it comparatively safe and was more of a mixture of traditional comics like Victor and Buddy. That said, Spike did have its own style and felt more casual than its companion comics, helped considerably by the comic's mascot, Spike himself. 

Under a nicely designed logo, the cover of issue 1 featured two proven methods to hook the reader; an exciting announcement that the comic contained a free gift, and the opening panels of the lead strip, Iron Barr (art by Mike White). The perceived wisdom at the time was that if a reader picked up a comic to read the cover strip, you were almost guaranteed a sale. Whether this worked in practice was debatable, as Spike only lasted for 67 weeks before merging into Champ.

Inside, the comic contained a nice variety of adventure strips, including sci-fi hero Starhawk (who had previously starred in Crunch) fighting the Powerbeast. (Art by Terry Patrick.)
A D.C. Thomson boys' comic wouldn't be complete without a war story, and Spike gave us The Ghost in the Cockpit (art by Gordon Livingstone)...
The main draw of Spike started in the centre pages. The Man in Black told the story of a mysterious, seemingly ageless athlete with extraordinary strength and stamina. The clues to the man's identity were revealed over the weeks that followed, eventually identifying him as William Wilson, the Wonder Athlete who had appeared in Thomson story paper The Wizard many years earlier, and in The Hornet in the 1960s. His revival in Spike acted as a sequel to those earlier stories but was also a retelling, using updated scripts as I recall. The artist of the strip was a Wilson too; Neville Wilson...

The Bleak Street Bunch was a traditional school strip, but with a contemporary setting. Art by Peter Foster...
Ticker Tait, the Man with a Time Bomb in his Heart, was also drawn by the very-busy Neville Wilson, and was the spy thriller of the comic's line up...
Spike also featured a few articles, a text story, plus a strip featuring Spike himself, drawn by Brian Walker...
On the back page of the 36 page first issue was an ad for future issues and the free gifts to come! 
...and if you wondered what the Ghostly Glow Badge in issue 4 looked like, here it is...
...and yes, it did glow in the dark!
Spike was a very enjoyable, well produced comic but sadly it arrived at a time when traditional adventure comics were on their way out. Had it been launched in the 1960s it might have stood a better chance, but not in 1983 when it faced so much rivalry from comics based on toys and tv shows. The comics industry was changing and publishers soon found they had to adapt to survive.

All of the images in this post are my own scans and photographs, but I'm indebted to Jeremy Briggs at Down the Tubes for his excellent article on Spike which you'll find here:  which enabled me to identify the artists.

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