Thursday, December 31, 2015

The New Year RADIO FUN for 1950

Published in the last week of 1949, Radio Fun No.586 rounded off another successful year for the long running comic and heralded 1950 with a selection of strips. The cover strip, featuring Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warris, was drawn by Reg Parlett.

The contents of the 16 page comic were, as ever, a 50/50 mixture of prose stories and strips but I've only selected some of the strips to show here. Just We Three was drawn by Bertie Brown. Although Amalgamated Press' humour artists were anonymous and encouraged to draw like Roy Wilson their own styles also became evident to regular readers.
The centre pages featured the thriller The Falcon, with excellent art by George Heath perfectly capturing the period. Those 1949 street scenes still looked very much like that in the early sixties when I was a kid.

Radio Fun packed a lot into its 16 pages, as you can see. The Derek Roy strip was by Bertie Brown, and the Archie Andrews strip was by Albert Pease.
I believe Albert Pease was also responsible for the Douglas 'Cardew' Robinson strip. An excellent humour style with some very fluid inking techniques.

Well, that's my final post for 2015. Thank you all for following my blog throughout the year. I know only a fraction of you post comments but I hope you've enjoyed reading it. May I wish you a Happy New Year of good health and prosperity!

Font-astic!

New Year's Day is an important day for comic creators and designers across the world. Why? It's the day of the annual Comicraft New Year's Day Font Sale of course! They're the absolute best specialized comic book fonts in the business and if you're designing a comic, or lettering your own strips, they have a fantastic range of fonts to buy. I used some of their fonts on the cover of Brickman Returns! and I have some in mind for my future projects. Professional fonts at great prices. Don't miss their sale on New Year's Day!
http://www.comicbookfonts.com/ 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The New Year WHAM! (1965)

Odhams' comics didn't make much of a fuss of the New Year celebrations. Perhaps Hogmany reminded them too much of their rivals D.C. Thomson. This 1965 issue of Wham! only mentions the New Year in a couple of strips but there's some nice stuff in there so let's have a look at a few pages...

The cover strip, Biff, is by Graham Allen. A reminder of the days when kids noted their escapades in personal diaries rather than broadcasting it on social media.

Inside, the New Year is forgotten, but Kelpie The Boy Wizard by John Burns is worth showing here...


The Tiddlers doesn't mention the New Year but it is set in winter, giving Leo Baxendale an opportunity to use visual gags involving snowballs...


Another winter-themed strip was Billy Binns and his Wonderful Specs, drawn by Bill Mainwaring...

With trees in full leaf, Frankie Stein is definitely not set in the season but who can resist a strip drawn by Ken Reid?


On the back page, the only other strip with a New Year theme; Footsie the Clown. I've no idea who drew it but it does the job...

This comic was published exactly 51 years ago, and yep, it certainly feels like that amount of time has passed. A few weeks after this issue, the first editions of TV Century 21 and Sparky were published, and Smash! was still a year away. Merseybeat was influencing the music scene and later in the year Thunderbirds would arrive on TV. It was a great time to be a child!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My look back at 2015

A few of the titles I worked on in 2015.
(Reposted from my other blog.) Looking back at my workload over the past 12 months it's been an interesting year with some diverse jobs. At the start of 2015 I was still freelancing for The Beano on a short series of Joe King mini-strips and another series of Rasher
During the course of the year my Beano strips reached the end of their runs and I moved on to other work, but I hope to produce something new for the comic again in 2016. 
The year had begun with the appalling attack by terrorists on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine's offices in Paris, leaving several of its staff and cartoonists murdered. The world's comics/cartoon community quickly showed solidarity by producing artwork to convey in whatever way we could our disgust at such a sub-human atrocity. This was my contribution...
I set up a new Facebook page early in the year which I'm pleased to say quickly attracted several hundred followers with more people discovering it every week. You'll find it at the following address and I'd be chuffed if you could give it a 'like'...
I had a change of pace by being commissioned to write an article on the Marvel UK Incredible Hulk stories for the Marvel Fact Files (issue 97). I've also done another article about Marvel UK for an upcoming issue of the partwork, so more news about that soon.
I continued to produce new Team Toxic strips for Toxic magazine throughout 2015 and I'm pleased to say that continues into next year. I've been working for Toxic since issue 1 way back in 2002 (apart from a period between 2012/13 when it used reprints of my work) and I still enjoy coming up with new villains for Team Toxic to clash with as well as reviving older baddies. Toxic is still the top selling boys' magazine in the UK with sales higher than most American comics.
Another regular strip is The Daft Dimension that appears in every issue of Doctor Who Magazine. It's really a privilege to be part of a magazine I've been reading since the first issue many years ago. More Daftness in 2016!
I was pleased to produce another brand new Combat Colin three-page story for the online comic Aces Weekly during 2015, and hope to do more next year. Aces Weekly features a fantastic range of talent from the UK and overseas and at £6.99 for seven issues is well worth buying. Check it out:
Combat Colin © 2015 Lew Stringer.
A pleasant surprise in late 2014 was being commissioned by top comics writer Alex De Campi and her editors at Dark Horse Comics to produce new self-contained comic-horror strips for the American comic Grindhouse. The brief was to create trash cinema type stories for a mature audience so I came up with Kung-Fu Cheesecake (vengeful martial arts daftness), Snowmanic! (supernatural snowman with murder on his mind), and in 2015 I did Sex Pest (loathsome insect gets his just desserts) and Hell Hole (redneck sacrifice). 
Sex Pest! © Lew Stringer 2015
It's true that compared to decades ago there aren't as many annuals around featuring comic strips now, so I count myself very fortunate that I was a contributor to The Beano Annual 2016 and The Dandy Annual 2016 (still available in the Christmas sales if you're quick). I wrote/drew Lord Snooty for The Beano book, while for The Dandy book I scripted/drew The Smasher and Keyhole Kate. I'm currently working on the 2017 dated Dandy Annual, which will be out next July. 
It was a pleasure again to produce more artwork for the Stikkums app, with two new sets, 'Family' and 'Christmas'. This inventive app gives the player the ability to place characters on various backgrounds, move them around, resize. recolour them etc. Primarily a 'reward app' for the young, but fun for all ages. Hey, if you're a fan of my daft creations download it today! 
It was also fun contributing some one-off stuff to a few graphic novels this year too. I did a beatnik illustration for Hunt Emerson's Hot Jazz, a depiction of Octobriana for John Short's Octobriana The Underground History, and three pages of my Suburban Satanists strips for Time Bomb's Bomb Scares anthology. Buy 'em all!



Suburban Satanists © Lew Stringer 2015
Much as I enjoy producing strips and art for various publications I was determined to get some of my older characters back into print in 2015. I started out my career in self-publishing over 30 years ago and the desire is always there to have full control over the production of a comic, editing and designing it as well as creating the strips. It's something I'd intended to do for years so in September I launched Brickman Returns! at the International Comic Expo (ICE) in Birmingham. The 32 page comic collected all the full-colour Brickman pages I'd done for Image Comics' Elephantmen and as a bonus featured a 1980s Combat Colin story and a selection of my early Suburban Satanists strips. 
I was really pleased with the top quality printing by UK Comics Creative and the reaction to the comic was fantastic, so a big thank you to all of you who bought a copy. (Special thanks to Nigel Parkinson and Nika Nartova for selling copies at conventions they attended.) I swiftly had to order another batch to be printed. Who says indie comics don't sell? 

Copies of Brickman Returns! are still available from my website, along with my previous collection, Brickman Begins:

A few copies are also still on sale at Nostalgia and Comics, 14 - 16 Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham. I'll also be taking copies to the various conventions I'm guesting at in 2016, along with my next comic production. (I'll reveal more about that soon!) 
Speaking of conventions, I thoroughly enjoyed the six events I attended in 2015:  Milton Keynes, Sheffield, Birmingham, and three in London. It really is very rewarding to meet readers past and present, and it's genuinely uplifting to meet people who read Combat Colin, Tom Thug, Robo Capers and other old strips of mine when they were growing up. 
My apologies for letting people down by pulling out of the Birmingham Comics Festival and the Showmasters Bornemouth Film and Comic Con due to various viruses. My thanks to organizers Steve Tanner (Birmingham) and Mike and Cassandra Conroy (Showmasters) for being so understanding. I'm pleased to say I'll be at the Birmingham Comics Festival this coming April though, and several Showmasters events throughout the year. 

If you've managed it this far though this extra-long posting, thanks for your patience! Thanks also for your interest and support of my work over the past year and I hope the strips I'll be producing in 2016 will also make you chuckle. Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!

It's Doctor Strange!

You've probably already seen this Entertainment Weekly cover elsewhere online but for those who you who haven't this is the first released photo of Benedict Cumberbatch in his outfit for the Doctor Strange movie!

I was very pleased to see they've more or less retained the right look for the costume as I feared they'd just go for an all-black suit or something. The outfit that Strange wears in the comics wouldn't look great on screen if they'd followed it too closely but this looks like a very close compromise.

You can find out more, and see more images, at Heidi MacDonald's excellent The Beat comics news site here:
http://www.comicsbeat.com/benedict-cumberbatch-conjures-doctor-strange-on-the-newest-ew-cover/  


Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for Strange Tales in 1963, Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts wasn't always one of Marvel's most successful strips but it did gain a faithful following by readers who preferred its more mystical and surrealist stories. I was a great fan of the Doctor Strange strips of the sixties and seventies, ever since first reading his early adventures reprinted in Terrific and Fantastic weeklies in 1967/68. I've enjoyed all the Marvel Studios movies so far and this is one I'm really looking forward to. We have a long wait though! It's not released until next November!

Monday, December 28, 2015

New Comics-related Partwork for 2016

On January 6th Hachette are launching a new partwork magazine in newsagents across the UK. Draw the Marvel Way presents tips and guidance on how to draw dynamic illustrations in the Marvel style. 

Every issue of the magazine will also be accompanied with tools of the trade. Issue 1 has a metal rule, a 2H pencil, a fineliner pen, and a kneadable putty eraser. Some may think this is quite archaic in an age where many artists use digital methods, but I think it's good for newcomers to learn a traditional 'hands on' approach. (Besides, a lot of us do still use pencil, pen and paper. I only use the computer for corrections and colouring for example.)

As well as drawing tips, the magazine will also spotlight the work of various artists. 

Issue 1 is just 99p, with £4.99 being the regular price with later issues. John Freeman has more info on his ever-reliable Down the Tubes website (the best blog on the UK comics scene in my opinion):
http://downthetubes.net/?p=27815   

You can also find out more, and subscription details, at the Hachette website:
http://www.marveldrawing.hachettepartworks.com/

Commando Nos.4875 - 4878

On sale from New Year's Eve (or possibly earlier) are the latest batch of Commando titles from D.C. Thomson. What does Britain's longest running adventure comic have in store this week? Here's the PR direct from Commando HQ....

Commando No 4875 – Deadly Pursuit
Cut off from their unit, Second-Lieutenant Bob Holbeck and Private Vic Jolly were trying to get out of battle-ravaged Malaya for the relative safety of Sumatra.
   Hooking up with a rag-tag group of survivors, they commandeered a Model T Ford pick-up truck and fled.
   In a retreat already fraught with danger, they would also have to escape from the clutches of the Kempeitai — the feared Japanese secret police, and they were hot on their tail.
Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Morahin
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Commando No 4876 – Night Prowl
Jim Fraser was a born Commando. Tough, dependable, daring. But there came a day when they stripped him of his Commando shoulder flashes and his beloved green beret. They took away his tommy gun and gave him a shovel.
   Almost before he knew it he was transferred to the pick and shovel brigade, the Pioneer Corps. Rough treatment for a fellow who had made just one mistake.
   You can’t win battles leaning on a shovel, but Jim soon had those pioneers chucking away their shovels and desperate to get at Nazi throats.

Introduction
Ken Barr’s fantastically moody cover really sets the scene for this gritty tale of a Commando who is thrown out of his unit and forced to join the Pioneers because of one unfortunate mistake. 
   Our hero, Jim Fraser, has undoubtedly been wronged, and the story of how he strives to overcome injustice and hostility is well-written and, in turn, well-illustrated, with dynamic line work by Bielsa.
Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor
Night Prowl, originally Commando No 188 (November 1965)
Story: Magee
Art: Bielsa
Cover: Ken Barr

Commando No 4877 – Tunnels Of Death
When he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam war, young Joe Wright was nicknamed “Stumpy” because of his small stature. However, his lack of height unexpectedly became an asset. 
   Recruited to join the ranks of Rat 6 – the elite “Tunnel Rats” who fought the Vietcong enemy in a labyrinth of claustrophobic caverns, Joe soon discovered that lethal danger lurked beneath the surface as well as above it.
Story: Richard Davis
Art: Olivera
Cover: Janek Matysiak


Commando No 4878 – Polish Pilot
Rounding off this year’s complement of Silver Collection issues is this curio from November 1990. Obviously, the clue is in the title as to what this story is all about. Our eponymous hero, Lieutenant Karl Latek, is an endearing, if slightly eccentric figure — but he is a man who will never give up. His determination to keep fighting the enemy, no matter the cost to his own personal safety, makes his apparent recklessness all the more interesting.
Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor
Polish Pilot, originally Commando No 2383 (November 1990)
Story: Allan Chalmers
Art: Terry Patrick
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Christmas HOTSPUR (1933 and 1939)

This is the last post in my flashbacks to Christmas past for this year so I thought I'd do a mammoth post and blog about two issues instead of one. Both are issues of The Hotspur story paper, one from 1933 and the other from 1939. Admittedly not a comic, but as UK adventure comics grew out of the story papers they're very important to the history of comics.

Starting with the 'Big Christmas Number' of The Hotspur No.17, dated December 23rd 1933 (above). This issue hasn't weathered its the last 82 years very well and is in quite a poor state with tanned and dusty pages but I've tried to restore it in Photoshop as best I can. I'm not sure who drew the cover (possibly Jack Glass?).

Although this issue's 28 pages mainly consist of illustrated prose stories there are a few comic strips included on page two...
The text stories in this issue kick off by mixing Christmas with that old UK comics/story paper custom of corporal punishment in When Santa Claus Was Caned. Strange days...
The issue also contained a competition to win 'Rolo-Boko Sets', the 1933 equivalent of the X-Box...
The School Amid the Snows was another story in this issue...
...as was The Big Stiff. Innocent times.
Another piece of artwork from The Big Stiff...
Here's an interesting one. Black Wolf, a super villain who dressed as a wolf, long before such characters took America by storm. "He was Black Wolf, the cruelest and most remarkable criminal ever known in the North West." That's the North West of America by the way, not Lancashire. 
Another mini-strip; Absent-Minded Alfie. I'm sure this character appeared in a comic later but I've forgotten which one.
On the back page, an advert for three D.C. Thomson annuals on sale in 1933. Interesting that the phrase "dandy Annuals" is used by coincidence four years before The Dandy comic was launched.

Moving on six years, here's the Christmas issue of The Hotspur from 1939. This issue is still in excellent condition so didn't need much Photoshoppery. Very nice cover with new scenes of four of the stories inside...
No comic strips inside but of course in 1939 the same publisher now had The Dandy and The Beano to cater for that, plus the Fun Section in The Sunday Post. There's a nice variety of prose stories inside though, starting with a Western The Thunderer Takes Down his Guns. Art by Jack Glass I think, later to draw The Crimson Ball and The Stinging Swarm for The Dandy in the 1960s...

Next, a science fiction story The Last Rocket to Venus...



Then it's back to Earth for the lighthearted Tongue-Twisting Champion of Britain...


The tone of the issue shifted to a much darker theme with a new story, The Face At The Window, set in a harsh sadistic school...
Bearing in mind that World War 2 had begun only a few months earlier, Reckless Men of Q Squadron must have felt very up to date for the readers...
Finally, another story in the popular Red Circle School saga in Is He Letting Red Circle Down?

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

My thanks to those of you who have followed my Christmas posts throughout this month. I hope I've shown some of your favourites as well as introduced you to some stories you may not have seen before. Unless any important comics news breaks I'm having a rest from this blog for several days now so I'll wish you all a Happy Christmas and hope you have something comics-related as a present. 
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