Saturday, February 28, 2015

More Baxendale Beezer Brilliance

Following on from the previous post about The Banana Bunch, here are a few more pages by Leo Baxendale that appeared in the (undated) Beezer Book that was published in 1963. Above are the superb endpapers from the book, with the characters creating chaos in the Beezer office. It's interesting to see Leo's versions of other artist's characters here.

The Gobbles is an often forgotten strip that Leo drew for the weekly Beezer from 1962 to 1964. Here are the two strips that appeared in The Beezer Book published in 1963...





Leo Baxendale's 'The Banana Bunch'

The Banana Bunch began in The Beezer No.1 way back in 1956 and proved popular enough to continue throughout the comic's run until 1993. The strip has been revived a few times since by various artists and was last seen in The Dandy in 2012 drawn by Nigel Parkinson.

Most of us will probably have grown up with the version drawn by the excellent Bert Hill, but the original artist was Leo Baxendale, who drew it from issue 1 in 1956 until No.438 in 1964. Here's a few examples of Leo's brilliance with the huge full page above from The Beezer No.295 (September 9th 1961).

Now the one from the following week, September 16th 1961...

Finally a couple of full colour pages from The Beezer Book 1964 (published in 1963). 


Truly funny stuff and some of the best material to have appeared in British humour comics. As always, click on the pages to see them much larger.

Friday, February 27, 2015

David Leach Conquers London

David Leach Conquers the Universe, the comic written and drawn by artist/editor David Leach gets a special variant cover for the London Super Comic Convention on March 14th and 15th.

Publisher Dead Universe Comics are re-releasing six of their titles, each with an exclusive London landmark-themed variant cover. These exclusive editions will only be on sale at the convention.

I reviewed David Leach Conquers the Universe No.1 (with its original cover) last summer and thoroughly recommended it. You can read the review and see more about the comic here:
http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/david-leach-conquers-universe-so-you.html

David is currently working on issue 2. Something to look forward to!  

Information on the variant covers for the other titles will be released on the Facebook page of Dead Universe Comics:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dead-Universe-Comics/411695270458

For more info about the London Super Comic Convention, visit their website:
http://www.londonsupercomicconvention.com/

David Leach is also the creator of Oink! character Psycho Gran who now appears in her own digital comic. You can read more about that here:
http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/psycho-gran-returns-in-her-own-comic.html

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The new Doctor Who Comic is here!

Today saw the launch of Titan's new Doctor Who Comic in UK newsagents (although so far I've only seen it in WH Smith). I was surprised to see that the format is A4, rather than the US format of the Titan and Panini comics. Also, Smiths are displaying it in the young children's comics section with The Beano, Dora the Explorer, Angry Birds Magazine etc rather than alongside Doctor Who Magazine, 2000AD, and the aforementioned other Titan and Panini comics. I can't help feeling its intended age group may pass it by as Doctor Who Comic is aimed at a more sophisticated reader than the juvenile titles it's sharing its shelves with but presumably Titan have good reasons for doing it. 

The comic itself is a squarebound 84 page publication with exactly the same paper quality that Titan's CLiNT comic had. The content repackages the first issues of the recent individual Doctor Who comics that are sold in specialist comic shops. So we get long episodes featuring the 12th Doctor by Robbie Morrison and Dave Taylor, the 11th Doctor by Al Ewing, Rob Williams and Simon Fraser, and the 10th Doctor by Nick Abadzis and Elena Casagrande. Excellent value for £3.99 considering each story would cost around £3.00 each in its original format. 

These are top quality stories by top people in the comics industry, most of whom are based in the UK. I'm reluctant to call this publication a 'reprint comic' in the same way that, say, The Mighty World of Marvel is because the strips have only very recently appeared in their original format a few months ago, also by the same publisher. I'd rather consider this a 'British edition' than a reprint, in the same way that books have editions in different countries. But I suppose most will still regard it as a reprint comic so each to their own of course. 

In any case it's good to see another comic on the UK newsstands. Let's hope it proves to be a success! If you have trouble finding it in newsagents you can subscribe to it here:
http://titan.subscribeonline.co.uk/subscriptions/doctor-who-comic?offerCode=DWC1TM

***********************

By the way, to correct an assumption a few have made, this new comic does not replace Doctor Who Magazine or Doctor Who Adventures, nor does it feature the same strips. They're three different publications by three different publishers. 

Introducing the new Lady Penelope

Click to enlarge.
ITV have today revealed images for how Lady Penelope, Parker, and Brains will look in the brand new Thunderbirds Are Go series that begins on CiTV in April. It's quite a makeover for Penelope but her old style was very 1960s so change was inevitable. Parker remains distinctly Parker, albeit in a new outfit.

A more radical change for Brains as he's no longer white. No doubt there'll be cries of "Political Correctness gone mad" from some corners but I can't see why it'd be a problem myself. We live in a multicultural Britain and it's good that the new series is reflecting that. 
Lady Penelope is voiced by Oscar-nominated Rosamund Pike while David Graham reprises his role as Parker. Brains is voiced by Kayvan Novak. ITV report that Sylvia Anderson (who voiced the original Lady Penelope) will voice a new character in one episode as Penny's Great Aunt Sylvia. 

To keep up with the developments of the new series follow the official Thunderbirds Are Go Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/ThunderbirdsHQ?ref=ts&fref=ts

A regular Thunderbirds Are Go magazine will be published by DC Thomson this year. 

Commando Nos.4787 to 4790 out today


My thanks to Commando HQ at D.C. Thomson for the images and info....

Commando Issues 4787-4790 – On Sale 26th February 2015

Commando No 4787 – Deadly Drop
After a “friendly fire” incident cost the lives of his comrades, Private Ron Allan clashed violently with a fellow paratrooper, Corporal Alec Brown, the man he held responsible.
   Tensions were still high between them when, en route to a drop zone, history repeated itself. Alec’s Horsa glider smashed into Ron’s sending both spiralling downwards.
   Alec’s life was now in as much danger from his supposed colleague as it was from the Germans — provided they both survived the drop to the hungry sea below…
Story: George Low
Art: Olivera
Cover: Janek Matysiak


Commando No 4788 – Giant Killer
It was a blood-feud in the skies — a fight that began in the First World War between a British ace in a string-bag of a plane and the commander of a huge German Zeppelin…
   It had to be settled in World War II by their sons; sleek Spitfire pitted against merciless Messerschmitt 109, their guns chattering a song of death.

Introduction
Don’t be fooled by Ken Barr’s cover — this is not a First World War tale. That zeppelin that only just fits on the cover is soon replaced by a Bf109; the SE5 becoming a Spitfire. With Peter Ford in charge of the inside art, that means you’re in for a treat as his flying scenes are so well-rendered. His ground scenes are just as good and those of you with good eyesight (or magnifying glasses) may just be able to make out some little extra details in the backgrounds of the scenes. Check out the walls of the crew room and perhaps the notepad on the ground controller’s desk.
   Better not forget Brunt’s “sins of the fathers” script, without which none of this showmanship would be possible. Thank you, sir.

Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Giant Killer originally Commando No 153 (February 1965), re-issued as No 771 (September 1973)

Story: Brunt
Art: Peter Ford
Cover: Ken Barr


Commando No 4789 – Frozen By Fear
Most jungle firefights are fought over short range and are over in a few minutes. Vision is limited and snap shots at targets are the order of the day.
   Australian Army Corporal Jerry Warner was caught up in one such skirmish. With night falling and his life in jeopardy, he blazed away, knocking down attacker after attacker. Then he was blown unconscious by a mortar blast.
   He survived but that night continued to haunt him — and he couldn’t work out why!
Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Rezzonico
Cover: Janek Matysiak


Commando No 4790 – Flak Fever
Flieger Abwehr Kanone — a German mouthful that was shortened to “flak”, a word dreaded by every Allied pilot. It meant anti-aircraft guns, those multi-barrelled cannon and deadly 88-millimetre guns that could blast attackers out of the sky. Every important target in Nazi Europe bristled with them.
   Mosquito pilot Terry Franklin had met his fair share of flak and it terrified him. Yet here he was in a new squadron whose job it was to attack only the most difficult targets!

Introduction

I imagine that if a current Commando author submitted the idea for “Flak Fever”, he or she might begin by writing something along the lines of, “Our hero is a pilot with PTSD…”
   Because of our modern-day familiarity with military terms such as the one mentioned above, we now know that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious condition which Armed Forces personnel acknowledge could happen to any one of them. 
   However, back when this story was originally scripted, in the mid-1970s, the fictional hero believes that he has simply lost his nerve, and that his own perceived “cowardice” is something that he must hide. It’s an interesting story point, but it is not laboured, and seems all the more realistic for it.        

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Flak Fever, originally Commando No 1102 (February 1977), re-issued as No 2428 (December 1990)

Story: R.A. Montague
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2000AD - 38 and a bit

2000AD is celebrating its 38th birthday today. An amazing achievement for any comic and, equally as remarkable, that it has kept an incredibly high standard of scripts and artwork throughout all those years. 

To be strictly accurate the anniversary itself was actually last week. 2000AD No.1 was published on Saturday 19th February 1977, although its official on-sale date was Monday 21st February. 

Back in 1977, the cover date on 2000AD was the following Saturday not the day it was published. This applied to all weekly comics in those days. In more recent years, 2000AD began using the actual day of publication as the cover date so perhaps someone at Rebellion simply didn't realize they'd been celebrating the wrong day for a good few years now. After all, there probably aren't many of us original readers who are still buying the comic nearly four decades later. 

Here's a scan I posted in 2007 that some of you who are new to this blog may not have seen. It's the brilliantly exciting four page advert for 2000AD No.1 that was printed in Battle comic in 1977...



So, Happy 38 Years And One Week Anniversary to the Galaxy's Greatest Comic! 


Dan Dare celebrated in his Southport birthplace

My thanks to Sara Teiger for this information and for the photographs.....

This imposing metre tall fibreglass Mekon peers down at visitors to a new local history museum in Southport.

The Mekon and his nemesis Dan Dare were of course created in the Merseyside seaside town by artist Frank Hampson.

The new permanent exhibition at The Atkinson celebrates Hampson and his work alongside other local notable figures, including Frank Hornby, the inventor of Meccano, Dinky toys and Hornby model trains.
Memorabilia on display includes artists’ models of some of the main character heads, including a large colour bust of Dan Dare. The models were used by the artists when they were drawing the cartoon so that they could accurately draw the heads from all angles.  Other artists’ models on permanent loan to the museum number a space ship and a Mars space station.

Much original artwork is on show, alongside Dan Dare merchandise from the 50s and 60s and an Eagle artists’ spraygun.
Peter Hampson, son of Frank said: “The idea to produce a new sort of comic for boys was the brain child of Marcus Morris, an Oxford-educated vicar with a parish in Southport.

“Morris deplored the influx of cheaply produced American 'horror comics' with their crude and senseless violence, and he wanted to combat their influence with a high quality strip cartoon publication, promoting wholesome, Christian values.

“But that his great idea was ever realised - and with a brilliance that must surely have exceeded his wildest expectations - was due entirely to the creative genius of Frank Hampson. My father always stated that the title, story, drawings and inventions were all his and that my mother christened the new publication Eagle.

“Production began in 1950 in a studio set up in a ramshackle old bakery in Churchtown, near Southport and my father set about assembling a team of artists: Joan Porter, Greta Tomlinson, Harold Johns, Jocelyn Thomas and Bruce Cornwell. 

“My grandfather, soon known to everyone in the studio as 'pops', now retired from the police force, became a willing general helper, as well as the very recognisable model for the Controller of the Space-Fleet, Sir Hubert Guest.”
Between Land and Sea – 10,000 years of Sefton’s Coast
New permanent exhibition opened February 2015
The Atkinson, Lord Street, Southport PR8 1DB

http://www.theatkinson.co.uk/

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Veteran artist John Cooper passes

I've just heard via editor John Freeman that veteran comics artist John Cooper has passed away after a short illness. Born in 1942, John's first adventure comic strip was drawing a Special Agent 21 story for the TV21 Annual published in 1968. (Source: An interview by Terry Hooper at this link.) His long career saw him illustrating numerous strips for many comics over the years including several Judge Dredd stories for 2000AD but he's probably best remembered for One Eyed Jack in Valiant in 1975 and taking over the Johnny Red strip in Battle - a strip which he made his own.

John's work was also seen outside of comics, such as illustrating scenes for TV news stories. 

Here's a short selection of John's work, starting with his very first comic strip from the pages of a TV21 Annual (undated on the cover but according to the indicia inside the book it was published in 1968)...





A page of a Joe 90 strip from the Joe 90 Annual published in 1969...

The first episode of One Eyed Jack (script by John Wagner) from Valiant dated 20th December 1975...



Part of a Goalmouth strip from Roy of the Rovers comic...

Another of John's excellent covers for Battle-Action...
John's work must have been seen by millions who grew up on boys comics from the late 1960s to the end of the 20th Century and his dynamic layouts and action-packed style brought a lot of pleasure to those readers. I only met John once, briefly at a convention in Norway years ago, but the easy going Yorkshireman was good company. My sincere condolences to his family and friends on their sad loss.

There's an excellent tribute to John Cooper on the Down The Tubes blog:
http://downthetubes.net/?p=20091

All bids welcome

I'm selling a few items on eBay again this week. Something that may interest fans of Alan Moore is a copy of Fantasy Express No.5, a fanzine I published in 1983. This issue features one of the first (if not the first) interviews published with Alan, and runs to 12 pages. Plus Alan Davis drew an exclusive cover for the issue. The 'zine itself has 36 pages in total and is unread and in excellent condition.

I'm also selling a few pages of my original artwork from Viz and Oink! For more info see my eBay page here:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/graphite47/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=&_trksid=p3686

All bids are very much appreciated. The auction ends on Sunday 1st March. Good luck!

DC Comics UK

On sale 12th March.
Like Marvel, the association with DC Comics and the UK has been going on for decades. In the 1950s there were British (and imported Australian) editions of DC (National) Comics on sale in British newsagents as import restrictions remaining from WW2 were still in place. (The original American DC comics didn't resume proper distribution in the UK until 1959.)

In 1969 Top Sellers launched Super DC as a monthly which ran for 14 issues and an annual. (See here.) In the 1980s there was The Super-Heroes monthly, and various UK editions of Batman, Superman and others. 

These days it's Titan Comics who have the license to publish British editions of DC material, and they currently have four titles: Batman, Batman: Arkham (both published every four weeks), Batman/Superman and DC Universe Presents/Justice League Trinity, which appear every 8 weeks. These comics follow the Panini format of US-sized comics with 76 pages (occasionally 100 pages), full colour throughout, with card covers. Each issue reprints three American comics for £3.50.
On sale now.

On sale 26th February.

On sale now.

You'll find the comics in WH Smith and selected newsagents but subscriptions are also available directly from Titan. Follow this link to find out more:
http://titan.subscribeonline.co.uk/subscriptions

My thanks to Titan Magazines for sending the cover images.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

This week in 1965...

I haven't done one of these for a while, where I look back at several comics from years ago that were published in the same week. Above is my photo of how a newsagents counter may have looked this week exactly 50 years ago when all of these issues were on sale! Half a Century ago! Blimey!

Let's start off with the issue of Valiant that went on sale Saturday 20th February 1965. Cover by Mike Western which looked back on other events of this week in times past...

Inside, the dark, tense artwork of Solano Lopez with the latest Kelly's Eye chapter. These old strips certainly knew how to deliver a great cliffhanger!


As the topline on the cover promised, this issue saw the start of a new adventure with The Wild Wonders, drawn by Mike Western...



A good horror/mystery serial in Valiant at that time was Jack O'Justice, drawn by Tom Kerr... 


That issue also carried a half page ad for that week's Buster and The Big One which featured a free gift...


Monday 22nd February 1965 saw the publication of The Dandy No.1214 with a very amusing Korky the Cat strip drawn by Charlie Grigg...

Inside, Dudley D. Watkins proved what a master comic artist he was with a Desperate Dan strip with 17 panels on one page...

The Smasher was up to mischief as usual, drawn by Hugh Morren. Note the advert at the foot of the page, heralding the start of Greedy Pigg the following week! (Greedy Pigg would replace George Martin's Sunny Boy which ended that week.)

The Dandy carried a regular feature page back then called My Home Town. Humour illustrations by Frank McDiarmid, with the 'straight' artwork by Thomson staff artist Alan Gibson. (Thanks to Ray Moore for correcting me on that.) Note the ads for that week's Bimbo and Diana at the bottom of the page...


The same day saw the publication of Wham! No.37, with a cover by Graham Allen doing his best to 'ghost' Leo Baxendale's style...

This issue of Wham! saw the debut of two new strips. In actuality they were both reprints from Swift. Western serial Johnny Straight by Don Lawrence was a re-lettered reprint of Wells Fargo...

...whilst The Bouncers by Peter Maddocks was also reprinted from Swift.

The rest of Wham! was still all-new though, and worth every penny. Especially with Leo Baxendale's glorious centre-spread strip Eagle Eye: Doomsday School...

This week in 1965 saw the publication of TV21 No.6. (Apologies for my copy having a bit missing from the cover.)

An important issue as it saw Mike Noble's arrival to TV21, taking over the art duties on Fireball XL5...


On the back page, The Daleks were proving to be more devious and cunning than they'd be portrayed in some of their TV appearances. Artwork by Richard Jennings...

Sparky was also on issue No.6 that week. Cover by Ron Spencer. My apologies if anyone is offended by the strip. Presented as it was in different times. Thankfully things have moved on since.

The centre pages featured another adventure with Dreamy Dave and Dozy Dora with artwork by George Ramsbottom. (Thanks to Ray Moore for that info.) One of the weirdest things about this strip was that every week the sleepy siblings shared the same dream


On the back page, another nice Moonsters strip by Bill Ritchie...

Just a few examples of the wide variety of strips from the many British comics that were available 50 years ago. It was a great time to be a child!
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