Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas comics: Buster (1969)

This was one of my favourite Christmas covers as a child. Firstly, the logo was a different colour than the usual red-on-yellow background design, then it had a large image as opposed to just a full page strip, and thirdly all that snow! It's a simple illustration, but very effective. Artwork by Angel Nadal, who was the regular artist on Buster's Dream-World, with Buster being a sort of backstreet Little Nemo for the duration of the strip.

There were many Christmas themed strips in this issue. Here's just a few of them, starting with an episode of Crabbe's Crusaders, a sort of powerless British X-Men. Art by Carlos Cruz...


Over the page, it's The Twitopians, drawn by Gordon Hogg...

A few pages further on and here's Big Chief Pow Wow by Leo Baxendale...

I was never a fan of Tin Teacher but I know some of you liked it so here he is. Drawn by Peter Davidson...

Finally, The Astounding Adventures of Charlie Peace with art by Jack Pamby. Charlie's exploits usually backfired on him (and the character was an inspiration for my Tom Thug strip years later) but, as it's Christmas, Charlie has a happy ending this week...



I hope you're enjoying this dip into the festive archives. Another one soon! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas comics: Eagle (1965)

Reg Parlett's Fidosaurus makes an appearance on the masthead of this Christmas edition of Eagle from 1965, relating to the cover strip about the poor dogs who were forced into a human's war. Those dogs did good work and I'm not sure if the story of them receiving a party in 1945 is true or not but they certainly deserved it. 

This issue's 20 pages featured a variety of adventure strips, not all of them festive, so I've only chosen some of the Christmas-themed ones. Here's a lighthearted Can You Catch a Crook? episode, drawn by Paul Trevillion. Can you spot the clues?

Next up, Fidosaurus by Reg Parlett. These strips were reprinted a few years later in Buster, and retitled Pongo The Prehistoric Pooch...

To place this issue in some sort of historical context, here's an ad it contained for the first film Norman Wisdom did in colour, The Early Bird...

A seasonal true war story in Bids for Freedom. I don't recognise the art style so I can't tell you who drew it unfortunately. If anyone out there knows, please post a comment.

The Guinea Pig, with artwork by Gerry Haylock, has nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas until the final panel when suddenly it's party time! I suspect some slight editorial amendment to the script was involved...


Finally, the back page strip isn't festive whatsoever, but it's such a barmy plot that I couldn't resist including it here. I haven't read too many episodes of Blackbow the Cheyenne but I don't recall this Western strip having science fiction elements in it before. A giant plant-hand tears its way through town, - and that 'Professor Relson' is a dead ringer for William Hartnell's Doctor Who! Brilliant artwork by Frank Humphries. 

Where's the next stop for the Blimey-Timey Christmas Time Machine? Find out soon! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas comics: The Dandy (1998)

Throughout its 75 year run The Dandy was a top class comic, and the Christmas issue of 1998 was no exception. A fantastic front cover by Keith Robson served as a perfect taster for an excellent edition. 

There was so much good material in this issue that it wasn't easy narrowing it down to a few to show here but here we go, starting with an Owen Goal page by Nigel Parkinson and a really nicely designed festive logo...
On page 10, Beryl the Peril by Robert Nixon, who excelled at Christmas scenes. Just look at that final panel, crammed with festive iconography...
Next, The Smasher drawn by Brian Walker. Just about as Christmas as it gets. Excellent stuff.
This issue had a number of special one-off strips, such as The Night Before Christmas by Ken Harrison...
There were three pages of jokes in this issue under the title Tis the Season to be Jolly, all by different illustrators. This one was by veteran artist Ken Hunter...
Finally, a text story, Bedtime Tales by Bradley Bedsock. Actually it was illustrated by Dave Sutherland...
Another Christmas treat soon. Which year will the Blimey-Timey Machine choose next? 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Final Commando comics of 2014


Here's the info on the last four issues of Commando to be published for this year: issues 4767-4770 – On Sale 18th December 2014. My thanks to DC Thomson for supplying the text and images. 

Commando No 4767 – Armistice!
On the morning of the 28th of June 1914, two pistol shots fired in a Sarajevo street had plunged the world into war.
   A little over four years later the guns finally fell silent. An armistice had been agreed. Now the surviving soldiers, sailors and airmen could return home and resume their lives. For some it wouldn’t be as simple as that, though. For some there were still battles to be fought — even if they couldn’t fight them for themselves.

Introduction

   As a tribute to those who served during the years 1914-1918 — on the Home Front or at Front Line — Commando has produced a series of stories of characters caught up in the tumult of the First World War. None of them are real people but we’d like to think that the experiences they have will not be a million miles from what actually happened to so many.
   Over the last 11 months, Jimmy Lomas has been selling newspapers to passing servicemen from his pitch on the railway station. Now, finally, he has been called up and pitched into action in the trenches. How will he fare in this most hostile of environments, facing angers he could only imagine from the snippets passed to him by his uniformed customers. 

Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Our Great Warriors series is now finished. We have enjoyed putting it together for you and hope that you’ve enjoyed it too. Perhaps you’d like us to do other series like this, perhaps not. Either way, let us know it’s always good to hear from you.

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




Commando No 4768 – Night Fighter
Above all things, AC1 Bert Barnet, wireless operator, longed to fly a plane.
   Bert got his wish — but in a way that made his worst nightmares seem tame!
   Three thousand feet up in hostile night skies, alone with an unconscious pilot in a shot-up Beaufighter, the completely untrained Bert got his chance to fly a fighting plane — or to die trying! 

Introduction

   While we try to keep Commando as authentic as possible, we have taken liberties over the years. Sometimes the plots are well over-the-top, sometimes — like here — they’re just the tiniest bit far-fetched. It’s still very believable but... For all that it is a good yarn, one that’ll have you rooting for the main character. Let’s hope the author doesn’t let you down.
   Inside artist, Medrano, is up there with the best of war aviation artists and his crisp, precise eye for detail adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the story. He’s also not afraid to use a lot of black ink, and does so to good effect.
   No doubt it was Ken Barr’s cover that drew you in, rest assured the contents of the book live up to its promise.

Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Night Fighter, originally Commando No 140 (November 1964)


Story: Parlett
Art: Medrano
Cover: Ken Barr

Preview:  http://www.commandocomics.com/latest-issues/18th-december-2014-collection?issue=4768 



Commando No 4769 – Out For Justice
By Summer 1945 the war in Europe was over but there was still much work for men like Military Police Lieutenant Grant Sim. He helped to keep the peace in a shattered Germany where danger lurked in the form of unexploded bombs, and crime was rife on its ravaged streets.
   Grant had unfinished business, too. His brother, an RAF pilot, had been callously executed after being shot down. Now, with an unlikely ally to aid him, the Redcap was poised to capture his brother’s killer. He was…
OUT FOR JUSTICE

Story: George Low
Art: Vila
Cover: Janek Matysiak



Commando No 4770 – Too Old To Fight
Regimental-Sergeant-Major Burnham Bulworth had been a soldier for forty years. Built like a tank, he was an ogre on the parade ground, a legend on the battlefield; his whole life dedicated to the army.
   Some said he could chase off entire enemy divisions on his own. But the greatest threat to his career wasn’t the Germans…it was a short-sighted clerk with the devastating news that Burnham was now…

TOO OLD TO FIGHT 

Introduction

 If “Too Old To Fight” were a movie, it could be described as a “Buddy Cop” action film — featuring two characters who initially dislike each other but who, when circumstances force them to work together, resolve some of their differences along the way.
   This is a terrific Commando adventure — script, interior art and cover are all top-notch, thanks to a team of the comic’s finest freelance creators. There are plenty of thrills and spills but at the heart of it is the most important thing of all — wonderful characters.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Too Old To Fight, originally No 2262 (March 1989), re-issued as No 3788 (February 2005)

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

Christmas comics: LOOK-IN (1971)

Kicking off a short series of festive blog posts, here are a few pages from the first Christmas issue of Look-In, dated 25th December 1971. (Click on images to see them larger.) Dubbed the 'Junior TV Times', Look-In was published by Independent Television Publications Ltd (as was the TV Times then) and featured strips based on popular ITV shows. The wraparound cover above is by Arnaldo Putzu, who was the comic's regular cover artist and an illustrator of film posters of the day.

The comic's 24 pages contained a variety of humour and adventure strips but it's only the humour strips I'm showing here as the adventure serials didn't have a festive theme. First up, here's Crowther in Trouble, featuring ex-BBC Crackerjack star Leslie Crowther, drawn by the prolific Tom Kerr...

Please Sir! was a popular comedy series and to me seemed to be a mixture of the movie To Sir With Love and The Beano's Bash Street Kids! The strip in Look-In was drawn by the versatile Graham Allen...


A spin-off from Please Sir! was the TV series The Fenn Street Gang, about Class 5C's adventures after leaving school, featuring the actors who could no longer convincingly play 15 year olds. Artwork for the strip by that man Tom Kerr again, a familiar artist of seventies comics...

The strip version of On the Buses was drawn by Harry North, an excellent artist, although Olive's reaction to being blasted in the face by a shower in the last panel seems oddly static. 

Look-In also carried several feature pages. Curious as to what was on TV back then? Here's a selection of ITV highlights for Christmas 1971. I seem to remember watching the Mike and Bernie Winters All Star Christmas Comedy Carnival which contained new mini-episodes of various comedy series (a bit like Children In Need does now). 


More festive fun soon! 
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