Friday, May 29, 2015

Here comes Summer!

Summer Specials for both The Dandy and The Beano should be arriving in the shops in June, or you could order them directly from the publisher DC Thomson. (Update: Available around June 16th.) 

Yes, although The Dandy sadly ended as a weekly in 2012 it still continues as a Summer Special and an Annual. I'm not sure how much of The Dandy Summer Special 2015 is new or how much is classic reprint, but I know some of its contents are new. (Nothing by me in there I'm afraid.)
According to the cover blurb, The Beano Summer Activity Special contains "All New Beanotown Adventures", but I haven't seen either Special yet so I don't have a clue as to the contents. Covers for both issues are by Nigel Parkinson.

I presume that, as with last year's editions, both publications will be in the squarebound 'bookazine' format with card covers. 

Summer has well and truly arrived!
D.C. Thomson have moved into merchandise quite a bit in recent years, with various items available using their comic brands. Amongst the items you can now buy are a Dennis the Menace long-sleeved stripey T-shirt, a box of 100 Beano postcards, and T-shirts featuring covers from Jackie comics magazine. Check out the DC Thomson Shop for more information.  

All images in this post are Copyright © D.C. Thomson and Co. Ltd.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The latest Doctor Who Magazine

You can't go wrong with Daleks on the cover and this new CG image of the original early 1960s style Daleks graces the front of Doctor Who Magazine No.487, on sale this Thursday 28th May.

The 84 page issue will be once again packed with features, plus another 12 page chapter of the comic strip Blood and Ice by Jacqueline Rayner, Martin Geraghty, David Roach and James Offredi. Jacqueline's script has been compelling so far and I'm keen to see where Part Three takes us.

There'll also be another Daft Dimension strip by me. Here's a little preview of one panel in the rough pencil stage and my completed version. Yes, The Doctor and Clara visit Blackpool... in 1894!

Can't tell you any more than that I'm afraid as my complimentary copy hasn't arrived yet due to the Bank Holiday postal delay, but look for the issue in newsagents and supermarkets this Thursday! £4.99. 

The official website will no doubt be updated this week with more info: 

New ICE poster

Here's the latest poster for the International Comics Expo (ICE 2015) event on September 5th (plus the Comics Uncovered event on the following day). I'm proud to be part of such a great line up and I hope that many of you will be there! To find out more, go to the website here: 

So... will I see you there? Are you a regular attendee of comic events or are you a cautious newbie? (These events are always friendly and informal so if you've never been to one, take the plunge!) Post your opinions below...

Monday, May 25, 2015


By the early 1980s Marvel UK had progressed considerably since the company's early days of reprint weeklies edited from New York and packaged by a London office. Now based in Kentish Town Road, Marvel UK had expanded its staff and its commitment to producing home-grown material. In January 1983 they launched The Daredevils, a 52 page monthly with a mixture of reprint and brand new material.

It's often thought that The Daredevils was intended to rival Dez Skinn's Warrior, which was likely to be the case. (Dez, an ex-Marvel UK editor, had set up Warrior the previous year.) I remember Alan Moore remarking that he and Alan Davis were in the strange position of competing with themselves, as they were doing Marvelman for Warrior at the very same time they were producing new Captain Britain stories for The Daredevils.

The Daredevils No.1 kicked off with a new cover by Paul Neary, and, inside, a new 8 page Captain Britain episode (which would increase to 12 pages in later issues). 

The comic's editor was Bernie Jaye, although Alan had a large influence in suggesting feature ideas which Bernie was happy to accommodate. For example, for the first issue Alan also wrote a six page article on Frank Miller's Daredevil (being a perfect accompaniment to the reprints of Miller's Daredevil strip in the comic), and a regular Fanzine Reviews column. 

I get a little annoyed when I hear some fans today claiming that Alan Moore hates fandom. In fact it's complete bol... well, to put it politely, nothing could be further from the truth, as proven in the pages of The Daredevils. Alan had his roots in comics fandom and was always encouraging new creators. With his Fanzine Reviews pages he went out of his way to promote fanzines he'd often paid for himself. This was a big deal for those of us starting out back then. No other British comic was promoting 'zines in this way, but here was Alan Moore giving us free publicity in a comic sold on the High Street. 

Another regular feature in The Daredevils was Frank Plowright's News Feature, looking at upcoming American comics. It even promoted those published by Marvel's rivals.

Humour was provided in the form of the Earth 33 1/3rd mini-strip by the ever-brilliant Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett.

There was also an Early Artwork feature, with each issue showing the very early work of top creators such as Dave Gibbons, Garry Leach, and David Lloyd...

The first few issues of The Daredevils also featured serialized Spider-Man reprints by Stan Lee and John Romita, although these were dropped after issue 4 to make room for more British material. The comic was rapidly developing into something unique and unmissable; a publication that not only featured comic strips but embraced them with well written articles and features. 

Every issue (except No.3) featured a full colour centrefold poster with new artwork by UK talent. I'll be showing these in more detail in a few days time. 

Issue 6 saw the start of a series of Night Raven text stories written by Alan Moore, with art by David Lloyd on the first chapter and Alan Davis in following issues.

The Daredevils No.7 (July 1983) has a personal significance for me because it's where my first professional comics work appeared. Again, this was due to encouragement from Alan Moore who introduced me to Bernie Jaye at a Westminster Comic Mart. Alan bigged me up, Bernie asked me to submit some ideas to her, I sent off a bunch of What If cartoons and they started appearing from issue 7. I'll always be grateful to Alan and Bernie for giving me my first break. Here's that very first one...

Issue 8 saw the publication of a great Daredevil spoof by Alan Moore, Mike Collins, and Mark Farmer. Grit brazenly parodied the Frank Miller Daredevil strips that were appearing in the same comic. This was Mike Collins' first professional work, again thanks to Alan Moore's input. Here it is...

Sadly, despite The Daredevils being one of the most unique and entertaining comics in the UK, it wasn't to last. With sales lower than hoped, Marvel UK pulled the plug with issue 11, merging it with The Mighty World of Marvel the following month. Disappointed, Bernie Jaye and Alan Moore quit, although some new material did continue for a while in MWOM. Other writers took over Captain Britain, Night Raven, and the comics/fanzine reviews. 

The Daredevils lasted just under a year, but what a year! If you've never seen it, the issues are worth collecting. Marvel UK went on to produce more new material of course (and I went on to do Captain Wally, Robo-Capers, Combat Colin, and more for the company) but they never did another publication with such a great mixture of strips and comics features. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rarest ACTION in Auction!

Back in 1976 when IPC were forced to suspend Action weekly because of its violent and anti-authoritarian content there was one issue that was halted at the print stage but never distributed. Only 30 issues of the issue dated 23rd October are thought to exist and one in great condition is currently on eBay!
The bidding ends on 31st May and at time of writing (23rd May) the bids have already reached £521. Far too high for my pocket but it'll be interesting to see how much it finally goes for. 

If you want to bid, or just follow the auction, go to the phil-comics page by clicking here

My thanks to Hibernia Comics for bringing this to my attention. Images taken from phil-comics' eBay page.

UPDATE 26/5/2015: On his Down the Tubes blog, John Freeman has dug a bit deeper on the background to this story and found that a full print run of this issue was printed, but the large majority were pulped. See here for the details:
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