Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Great news for fans of MISTY

With the agreement of copyright holders Egmont UK, Rebellion are to publish a collection of strips this September from the highly regarded Misty comic of the 1970s. 

Launched in 1978 as a weekly supernatural comic for girls, Misty ran for four years and found an audience with both sexes. Copies are very collectable today so this news is very welcome. The collection from Rebellion will collect two of the comics most popular serials, Moonchild and The Four Faces of Eve

The cover of the book re-uses a hauntingly stunning painting by the late Shirley Bellwood from the 1980 Misty Holiday Special, with a new logo designed by Sam Gretton.

To find out more about the book, see John Freeman's report on the Down the Tubes blog here:
http://downthetubes.net/?p=30928

Monday, April 25, 2016

Aces! COMBAT COLIN is back today!

The latest edition of online comic Aces Weekly has just gone live and it contains a brand new exclusive Combat Colin three-pager by me. This time ol' bobble hat is pitched against his best friend, Semi-Automatic Steve! What's going on? To read the whole story, sign up for Aces Weekly and see the strip in Volume 21, issue 7.
http://www.acesweekly.co.uk

Only £6.99 for a seven issue volume. Buy it through Paypal!  Use any card!  Grab any of the great Previous Volumes or get right on board the currently-running volume with an ongoing subscription for JUST £1 - or just over a dollar or a Euro - per week!  A new issue of Aces Weekly is uploaded every Monday night. Each volume consists of 7 weekly parts, and then future volumes right on after, till they run out of great comics (unlikely ).  As soon as you hear via email that your payment's been accepted - usually no longer than 5 minutes - you can log in with your chosen password and get Aces Weekly on your tablet, laptop, desktop, or SMART TV!

Each issue consists of six stories, and I'm pleased that Marc Jackson is on board this latest issue too with a new delightfully daft Duckless story! Don't miss it!

This is the fourth new Combat Colin story I've done for Aces Weekly. You can read about the previous ones here:
http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/combat-colin-lives.html

Sunday, April 24, 2016

DWM cover preview


Here's the fantastic cover for the next issue of Doctor Who Magazine which arrives in the shops this week. It re-uses the classic artwork by Chris Achilleos that he did for the Target Books adaptation of Genesis of the Daleks.

Doctor Who Magazine No.499, on sale Thursday 28th April 2016.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Timetable for the Birmingham Comics Festival




The Birmingham Comics Festival has published the timetable for Saturday's event at Edgbaston Stadium. I'll be on two of the panels so I hope to see you there! The rest of the day I'll be at my table doing sketches and selling copies of Brickman Returns! (Yes, still some left from the second printing. Don't miss out!) My table is in Hall 1, situated between Ian Kennedy and Laura Howell.

Here's the timetable for the panel discussions...

This year’s panels will be held upstairs in the 'Room with a View' which is adjacent to the Banqueting Suite.

11.00am - Must Be Something in the Water – Brummie creators and their Black County brethren explore the reasons the region’s given birth to such quality talent and draws others to come live here, creating comics read all over the world.

Guests include: Ian Edginton, Ian Richardson & Lew Stringer.


11.30am -God Bless America – Boom! Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, AfterShock and Image, all important publishers based in the USA, and we’ve got some of their fantastic creators ready to talk about the books they’re working on for them!

Guests include: Dan Abnett, Luca Pizzari  & Steve Pugh.


12.30pm - Diversity or Damnation? – “Is there any reason that character has to to be a guy?” Questioning stereotypes in comics, and the merits of shoehorning a situation to fit an untapped marketing demographic with star guests from across the spectrum of comics and cosplay.


1.30pm - Classroom Comic Capers - Literacy and low bow culture: Is there room for comics in the classroom? Can they teach or should they just entertain? A heated debate between teachers and those working on the frontline of creating comics for today’s readership.


2.30pm - Better The Devil you Know - What makes one collaborative team work and another fail? Is working for one publisher better than the other because of what they pay you, the characters you get to draw or the respect you’re given? Those on the receiving end, both good and bad have their say.

Guests include: Dan Abnett & Ian Edginton


3.15pm - British Intelligence – Sci-fi, war, superhero reprints and stripy t-shirted troublemakers. Find out what it takes to put your favourite British comics on the newsstand, by the people who make them.

Guests include: Jim Alexander, Ian Kennedy & Lew Stringer.


4-30pm - Cosplay Competition - It's your chance to shine like a star.  Entrants to our four categories have the chance to win trophies and prizes.

For full details of the event see the con website:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ACTION: The aggro issue (1976)

When IPC launched Action weekly in 1976 the violence in its strips caused some controversy from the start, and this escalated throughout its first year. However the most notorious issue was its 32nd edition, dated 18th September 1976. You're probably familiar with the cover, seen on Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD which was recently shown on Film4. Dramatic artwork by Carlos Ezquerra showing a chain-swinging kid in the midst of a riot. On the ground lies a terrified man. Beside him, a policeman's helmet. It's obvious that the man isn't wearing a uniform, but the colourist's choice of blue (same as the helmet) forged an unfortunate link in some reader's minds, giving the impression a policeman was being assaulted on the cover of a children's comic. (I think it also must be the only kids comic in history to have the word "disemboweled" on the cover.)

If that wasn't enough to draw unwelcome attention to the comic, that same issue would also feature a story that caused an uproar in the media. More on that in a bit, but first let's have a look at some of the other contents...

Here's a reader's letter of the sort you definitely wouldn't have seen in Lion or Valiant...


Action wasn't all about the violence but that's what resonated with the readers. Here's Dredger facing some aggro...

...while Hook Jaw claims more victims...


...and Green suffers a bullet-riddled fate in the finalé of Green's Grudge War...


The controversial cover of this issue was only a symbolic image of the Kids Rule OK strip. No such scene actually happened in that week's episode, although there was still plenty of violence and images of a Molotov cocktail being made which no doubt raised some heckles...




The strip that caused the most outrage was that week's episode of Look Out for Lefty, (written by Tom Tully, drawn by Tony Harding) specifically the incident of the bottle being thrown at a player by Lefty's girlfriend Ange. It was discussed on the BBC's Newsnight and, inevitably, the Daily Mail who ran an article headed Comic Strip Hooligans. The mob had been enraged, and parents called for action, - if you'll pardon the pun. 




Action was facing condemnation from the media, pressure groups, and from within IPC's own management. The result was that a few weeks later, the comic was suspended for several weeks while many revisions were made to its content. The revamped Action, which returned in December of that year, was a pale shadow of its former self. 

Did Action go too far? Yes, it probably did in some ways. It wasn't just the violence that was cut when it returned though, but also the anti-authoritarian elements of some of the plots. (Kids Rule OK was just dropped altogether.) Britain's kids deserved a comic with guts, and it was a shame its recklessness brought about its demise, but I've a feeling it would have happened eventually even without scenes of bottles being flung or kids swinging chains. "Concerned" do-gooders were out to get Action from the start and sadly they finally succeeded.

In complete contrast to the rest of the issue, that edition of Action featured an ad for IPC's new Roy of the Rovers comic. Roy's wholesome visage was the antithesis of what Action was about but it was clear which direction IPC wanted their new comic to go in; traditional standards, formula characters, and a comic that didn't rock the boat. That said, RotR had a long run and was hugely popular, but for many of us it was the edgier Action that was the top comic of 1976.

New venue for MACC-POW!


The Macc-Pow! convention I plugged a few weeks ago now has a new venue. Here's the revised poster above, and I've also updated my old post about the event to avoid any confusion. Hope to see you there in June! 
Official con Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/maccpow/

Ian Kennedy cover on the latest COMMANDO

Here are the details of the four issues of Commando, on sale from Thursday 21st April. Issue No.4909 (Escape or Death) features a fantastic cover by veteran artist Ian Kennedy, - and you can meet Ian at the Birmingham Comics Festival this Saturday 23rd April. Why not bring along this issue of Commando for him to sign the cover? (See here for more info: 
http://www.thecomicfestival.com/ )



Commando Issues 4907-4910 – published 21 April 2016

Commando No 4707 – Tough To Kill
 With the German Blitzkreig in full flow, retreating British forces were headed for the evacuation at Dunkirk.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Campbell — a tough, impulsive Hurricane pilot who wasn’t so good at following orders — had ended up in the brig to teach him a lesson.
   His base overrun, Jimmy was determined to fight the enemy with whatever weapon he could lay his hands on — even a cricket bat!

Story: David Turner
Art: Vicente Alcazar
Cover: Janek Matysiak



Commando No 4908 – Gunboat Jim
 “Gunboat Jim” was the nickname he earned in the end. But for a long time before that young Sub-Lieutenant Jim Potter was “Calamity Jim” to everyone.
   He could never take the wheel of one of the high-speed flotilla’s boats without running her slap-bang into trouble.

Introduction
 Our endearing eponymous character always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and doesn’t have much luck. Therefore, he is seen as a “Jonah” — a jinx on the high seas.
   One particularly obnoxious fellow crewman is convinced that poor Jim Potter will bring down their ship but, since Jim is a true Commando hero, we know that he is made of sterner stuff.
   This is a solid, entertaining sea tale, nicely drawn by Sostres.
Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor
Gunboat Jim, originally Commando No 213 (May 1966)

Story: Clegg
Art: Sostres
Cover: Buccheri



Commando No 4909 – Escape Or Death
 Captain Jon Laker and Lieutenant Rodney Smythe-Simmons were stuck in a remote P.O.W. camp in desolate Poland. Both came from aristocratic families and this made them viable candidates for an important Nazi prisoner exchange operation.
   However, when the chance to escape unexpectedly came their way both men knew they had to seize it…or die trying.

Story: George Low
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Ian Kennedy


Commando No 4910 – The Long Chase
 The Sunderland hurtled in like an avenging angel and two depth charges fell from beneath her wings. Seconds later two explosions signalled the end of the U-boat beneath her. Flight-Lieutenant Jack Gregory and his crew were jubilant, for the weary months of training and patrolling had paid off.
   But they wouldn’t have been so happy had they known this was only the start of a long chase that would take them the length and breadth of a snow-covered Hebridean island…on foot!

Introduction
 This is a fantastic air, land and sea story. I love it when Commando combines all three basic genre types and The Long Chase is a master class in doing so with complete success.
   The remote Hebridean island here is an excellent, imposing setting for an adventure tale that never lets up. There’s a great script by Bill Fear, a dynamic cover by Ian Kennedy and fellow veteran interior artist Gordon Livingstone delivers stunning page after page, all rendered in his trademark style.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor
The Long Chase, originally Commando No 1210, (March 1978), re-issued as No 2515 (November 1991)

Story: Bill Fear
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

WARLORD shakes things up (1974)

British comics based around one theme were nothing new but in the 1970s they began to proliferate. IPC's all-football comic Scorcher proved popular for a few years, but comics in general were looking dated and tired. In 1974 came a weekly that would give the industry the kick up the pants it needed. Published by D.C. Thomson on Wednesday 25th September 1974, Warlord No.1 blasted onto the stands.

British comics at the time looked quite refined in comparison to Warlord's dynamic cover. Its logo looked like it was daubed in blood, the colour palette was condensed to bold orange-reds and yellow (the colour of fire) and it featured one single figure, gun blazing, charging towards the reader. The side banner used three key phrases in cover design: "No.1", "NEW", and "FREE" all boldly set to be noticed halfway across a shop. How could any young lad resist this comic? 

Inside, even the editorial page looked exciting with "ACTION" the remit of the comic. 
The story pages had a radical design too, for a British comic. Usually in those days, there'd be a banner or boxed in header and around eight panels on a page. Warlord's strips used big splash panels and huge logos that yelled out to the readers. Design wise, this was a loud comic, befitting a war weekly. 
The strips played up the action angle too, although by and large they retained many of the traditional and pro-establishment approaches to comics such as the more staid Victor. There was also an element of familiarity by using some long-established D.C. Thomson characters such as Braddock and The Wolf of Kabul, but that was a sensible move on D.C. Thomson's part. 



The main strip was Code Name: Warlord, often running to eight pages, and given nine pages for his debut episode. Lord Peter Flint was the Warlord, so not exactly someone for working class kids to relate to but he still proved popular. 
Warlord's impact on the UK comics industry was just what it needed. It inspired IPC to commission Pat Mills and John Wagner to create a rival comic, - Battle Picture Weekly (see here) which in turn led to the gritty Action, and then 2000AD. The latter's influence on comics and movies has been immense. 


As a bonus, here are the front and back covers of issues 2 to 4. D.C. Thomson's designers were the masters of the compelling house ad...







Meet the gang this Saturday!

Click to see the image larger.
This fine gathering of top comics talent (plus me) are the guests of the Birmingham Comics Festival this Saturday, 23rd April. An event that's all about the comics. If anyone was in any doubt that the comics creators of today are not on a par with those of yesteryear, this mighty assemblage proves it wrong. If you need any more convincing, come along and be amazed by the diversity of their work. If you've already booked your tickets, see you there! If you need more info, here's the link...
http://www.thecomicfestival.com/

Two new specials from Panini UK

Two new specials were published last week from Panini UK. First up there's the Captain America: Civil War Official Movie Special, a 64 magazine packed with features on the upcoming film. There's also a new 22 page comic strip called Road To War set in the Marvel Movie Universe which acts as a prequel to the film. (This strip will be reprinted in the USA later this week in a one-off comic.) 

Features in the magazine include interviews with the cast and directors, concept art, pull-out posters and more. 


At £4.99 the Captain America: Civil War Official Movie Special comes bagged with a Panini sticker album for the film and a set of stickers to start the collection. (Further stickers are available to buy in shops.) The mag is on sale until 6th July.

Also published last week was the 100 page Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition No.43 focusing on special effects of the show.

The magazine contains all new articles covering the history of special effects created for Doctor Who over the past 50 plus years. To find out more, visit the mag's website here:
http://www.doctorwhomagazine.com/doctor-who-magazine-special-special-effects/




The Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition is on sale in WH Smith and other shops now for just £5.99.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Super Stoke!

I spent a very enjoyable day at Stoke Con Trent yesterday. A well organized event and a nice atmosphere to the whole thing. Thanks to everyone who stopped by my table including the young lad in the photo above who was very enthusiastic about comics. A promising talent too, as this drawing he did for me shows. It's full of life and fun, as cartoons should be.


Another person I met was Sam Smiff, a student who's produced his own mini-comic, Sin the Sloth. Some genuinely funny cartoons in here. Stick at it, Sam! 




All in all, a great weekend catching up with old friends and meeting new people. Great to hang out with Mike Collins, Steve Marchant, Simon Donald, Paul Grist, Marc Jackson, Grant and Eva Perkins, and even Trev and Simon off the telly.  My thanks to Adrian Tooth, John Charles and the team for their hospitality and smooth organization. 
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