Monday, September 15, 2014

FA the Comiczine

This will be old news to some of you, but for those of you who didn't already know, Britain's most enduring comics fanzine has a new life online these days. FA the Comiczine can be found here: 

FA started out as the fanzine Fantasy Advertiser way back in 1965, created by Frank Dobson as a way to sell his comics via mail order. When Frank emigrated to Australia in 1970 the editorial reins were passed on to Dez Skinn and Paul McCartney (not the Beatle). You can read Dez' fascinating anecdotes about it on his website here:

Although still heavy on the sales ads, Dez did include some great features too, such as in Fantasy Advertiser No.55 (April 1975) which carried an interview with Stan Lee by Charles Murray.
Cover art by Bryan Talbot.

By the time I first discovered the 'zine, in 1977, it was being edited by Colin Campbell and had a pretty even balance of features, strips, and ads. 
Cover by Trev Goring.
Cover by Jeff Anderson.

Martin Lock became the next editor/publisher in the early 1980s, giving the 'zine a good comics news section, and continuing the features and a lively letters column. 
Cover by Eddie Campbell.

Martin Skidmore took over in the mid-1980s, and abbreviated the title to FA because he felt 'Fantasy Advertiser' sounded a bit like a sex contact mag. It also allowed FA to cover material beyond the fantasy genre. 
Cover by George Perez.

FA was taken over by Trident Comics in 1988, retaining Martin Skidmore as editor, but unfortunately the mag closed when the company went bankrupt in 1991. However in 2010, Martin revived the title as an online 'zine with new material. 

Sadly, Martin Skidmore passed away a few years ago but his colleagues and friends have continued to keep FA the Comiczine going. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Fantasy Advertiser so hopefully there'll be something significant to mark the milestone on the website. It's the fanzine that seems indestructible. Check it out. There's some great articles by Nevs Coleman, Andrew Moreton and others, plus Martin Hand's bizarre strip World of Flimsy

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Jessica Martin event at Elstree

As many of you will know, Jessica Martin's debut comic It Girl has proven to be very popular with readers, often selling out at comic shops such as Gosh! (shown in the photo above). The comic, telling the true life story of 'It Girl' Clara Bow, has impressed a lot of us in the industry (see my review here) and I'm pleased to see that Jessica has recently produced strips for anthologies such as To End All Wars (which I'll review when I get the chance) and To Arms! Jessica is also working on a graphic novel, Elsie Harris Picture Palace, and the pages I've seen so far look great. 
A page from It Girl.
That's not all, because Jessica's talents extend beyond the drawing board. As many of you will be aware, she's also an accomplished performer on stage and TV and on Friday 10th October at 8pm Jessica will be giving a 75 minute talk at Elstree Studios about her career in light entertainment. Tickets (only available by booking in advance) are £12, and you'll also receive a signed copy of It Girl. Sounds like a bargain to me, and a good night out.  

Follow this link for more information:   

Current Commando comics

 Here's the PR for the latest four Commando comics that are in the shops now!

Commando Issues 4739-4742 – On Sale 11th September 2014

Commando No 4739 – Attack In Arabia

On the morning of the 28 June 1914, two pistol shots fired in a Sarajevo street had 
plunged the world into war and pitched men of all nations against one another. In the 
world’s first truly global conflict soldiers, sailors and airmen found themselves fighting 
in far-flung battlefields.
   In the arid wastes of the Middle East, British troops faced Turks, Germans and 
Austrians in battles just as wasteful of lives as those on the Western front. This is the 
story of five British soldiers prepared to put their own lives at risk to save thousands 
of others. 
   Men determined to blunt an...

Attack In Arabia


As a tribute to those who served during the years 1914-1918 — on land, sea or in the air; at home or abroad — Commando is producing stories of characters caught up in the tumult of the First World War. None of author George Low’s inventions are real people but we’d like to think that the experiences he has imagined for you will not be far away from what actually happened to so many.
   Last month, the miners of Messines were deep below the earth digging their way towards enemy lines. Other British soldiers, though, fought under the blazing sun of the Middle East where the land was as much an enemy as the soldiers of the Ottoman Empire who they faced.
   I hope you enjoy this and the other stories in the series as much as we have.

Calum Laird, Commando Editor

The series continues in four weeks with In Flanders Skies… Commando No 4747

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

Commando No 4740 – Portrait Of Death

These men had recklessly pursued the blood-cursed painting for itself, and for the military secrets hidden in it. But it hadn’t been called “The Portrait Of Death” for five centuries for nothing…


So, what have we here? A cursed portrait whose evil has brought death throughout history. That seems straightforward enough, but keep your eye on the plot because there a few extra threads woven into the canvas of this one. Eric Hebden’s stories usually give full value and this one’s no exception. The inside art by Cortes — one of some 29 he did for Commando — you’ll be pleased to her is a lot clearer than the plot. Crisp, definite lines and shading only where it’s absolutely needed give a very clear read.
   Ken Barr’s cover couldn’t be clearer either. It tells you exactly what you’re going to get.
   Every picture tells a story…as they say.

Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Portrait Of Death, originally Commando No 120 (Jun 1964), re-issued as No 655 (June 1972)

Story: Eric Hebden
Art: Cortes
Cover: Ken Barr

Commando No 4741 – Mistaken Identity

Second-Lieutenant Ashley Windsor was a good-natured type but a bit naive and impulsive. Serving with an infantry regiment in India, he was the butt of many a joke amongst his fellow officers — especially when he hinted that he was a (very) distant relative to Queen Victoria.
   This silly remark set off an extraordinary chain of events, including a small war against a scheming local tribal leader — who thought he would end up rich if he could capture a member of the British Royal Family!

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Vila
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4742 – Jet Pilot

The photo-reconnaissance Spitfire flew so high and so fast, that it was considered safe from German fighters. Except, that is, when the enemy was an Me262 jet piloted by Max von Mellenburg.
   Max had flown Luftwaffe planes over Britain and Russia with deadly success. Now he was preparing to defend the skies of his homeland as the Allies closed in for the final battle.


Brought to you by a trio of top Commando contributors, this sterling air story features a premise which, when used sparingly, can be very effective, as Alan Hebden shows here. For a change, we are firmly on the side of a German hero — a Luftwaffe pilot who has no allegiance to the arrogant and cowardly Nazis.
   There are stunning aircraft illustrations throughout from Jose Maria Jorge, and Ian Kennedy’s Me262 jet is so dynamically drawn that it looks set to practically soar off the front cover.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Jet Pilot, originally Commando No 2263 (March 1989), re-issued as No 3787 (February 2005)

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: J.M. Jorge
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Thursday, September 11, 2014

To Arms! - Launch party at Gosh! comics store

To Arms! is an all-new anthology of comic strips themed around World War One. The independent project gained its funding via Kickstarter and will be unveiled at a special launch party at London's Gosh! comic shop on Friday night (7pm to 9pm, September 12th, at 1 Berwick Street, London W1F 0DR.)

From what I've seen, To Arms! looks like a great collection of small press creators, with contributions from Jessica Martin, Karim Iskander Flint, Matt Duncan and more. You can read more about it here: 

...and visit the Gosh! comics website here:

Jonah, - Plug's Uncle!

I'll keep it brief as I should be at the drawing board but I thought some of you would be interested in hearing that the seafaring calamity known as Jonah has a guest-starring role in this week's Bash Street Kids story in The Beano... as Plug's uncle! 

There's certainly a bit of a family resemblance with the teeth, but is this the first time it's been mentioned? Curiously, the old Beano character Jinx was said to be Jonah's sister, so I guess that makes her Plug's aunt! 

The Bash Street Kids is written by Stu Munro and drawn by Dave Sutherland (who has now been drawing the strip for 52 years!).

For the few of you unfamiliar with Jonah, it was one of The Beano's greatest strips of the 1950s, illustrated by the brilliant Ken Reid. Here's a couple of classic examples of some of the best British comics work to have seen print.

From The Beano No.852, dated november 15th 1958...

From The Beano No.928, dated April 20th 1960...

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