Monday, October 31, 2016

Korky's Halloween (1981)

Back in the days when Halloween wasn't such a big thing in the UK, this cover strip by Charlie Grigg was The Dandy's only mention of Halloween in the entire comic. And not a bat or spooky cosplayer in sight!
The Dandy No.2084 (1981).

Happy Halloween!

Art by Lise Myhre.
Rather than dig up a Halloween strip from a British comic, I thought I'd do something different this year. I'm a bit pushed for time as I have quite a few deadlines over the next few days so for this quick blog post, here's the cover of Nemi No.151, the Halloween issue that is on sale in Norway right now. 

As many of you will know, Nemi is the creation of Norwegian cartoonist Lise Myhre and has been running in newspapers over there since 1997. Egmont Norway also publish book collections of the strips. (The daily strip used to run in the Metro newspaper in the UK.)

The monthly Nemi comic, which recently celebrated 150 issues, is a really nice 44 page publication featuring Nemi strips by Lise, plus other material such as contemporary syndicated newspaper strips. (Collections of U.S. newspaper strips are a big thing in Norway.) It's a pity there's not a UK edition because we're missing out on a really good humour comic anthology. That said, at least we did have four hardback Nemi books several years ago, courtesy of Titan Books.

Anyway, I hope my Norwegian friends enjoy the latest issue of Nemi! The rest of us can only dream of what might have been if a British publisher had taken it up.

The official Nemi Facebook page:
https://en-gb.facebook.com/Nemino-207588812589578/

Friday, October 28, 2016

My apologies....

I'm very sorry to say that I won't be at the Nottingham Comic Con tomorrow. I've had a virus the last few days and was hoping it would pass but no sign of that yet. I was looking forward to the con and really hate letting people down. I can only apologise to the organisers who have been great, and to those of you who were hoping to see me there. 

I hope all of you attending have a great day. There's a brilliant line up of guests including Laura Howell, Rachael Smith, Abigail Bulmer, The Etherington Brothers, Dan Berry, Roger Langridge and more. 

It's GHASTLY!

It's Ghastly! No, that's not some out of touch middle-aged herbert's view of modern comics, but the title of a brand new publication covering the history of the short-lived Scream! comic. Out now from Hibernia Comics, the 64 page magazine is packed with features and interviews, all well illustrated with permission from Scream's copyright holders Rebellion. 

Here's the contents page to whet your appetite...

Scream! was published back in 1984 by IPC but only lasted a short time before falling victim to industrial action that affected its printers. (Along with some other IPC titles, Scream! was off the shelves for a few weeks but never returned when the others did. It was later merged into Eagle.) As well as the articles, there's also exclusive gems such as the covers that were never published...
...and the strip The Nightcomers that never made it to print...

I'll be reviewing It's Ghastly when I've more time next week, but in the meantime here's the link for you to buy a copy of this excellent publication:
http://www.comicsy.co.uk/hibernia/



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

101 years ago this week... CHIPS No.1313

With no mention of Halloween (as the custom wasn't a big thing in the UK then, and was probably still frowned upon by many) here are a few strips from the issue of Illustrated Chips No.1313, published 101 years ago this week in 1915. The Great War was raging, and there are wartime references in the strips, but Chips was a light distraction from worries of the horrors of the front line.

As ever, the cover stars were Weary Willie and Tired Tim, drawn by Percy Cocking, who would illustrate the strip until the comic's final issue in 1953! 

The format of Chips was the then-traditional 8 page tabloid; half prose stories, half strips. The centre pages featured tightly packed sets of short strips and cartoons. Here are a few of them. (I'm afraid I don't know who illustrated them but if I find out I'll add credits.)



The adverts in the issue suggest that Chips was still aimed at all ages at this time, with an emphasis on the older reader (an advert for a rupture cure!). The Charlie Chaplin Fun Book was a compilation of his strips from The Funny Wonder by Bertie Brown, plus new cartoons. So the 'comic album' or collected edition is nothing new!

On the back page, the eternally popular Casey Court drawn by M.C. Vietch, plus various mini-strips.

The creators of these strips (and sadly all the original readers) are all long since gone now, but artifacts such as this have survived the decades to give us an insight into those times.  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Floor plan for Nottingham Comic Con

The organizers of the Nottingham Comic Convention have revealed the floor plan for the event, which takes place at the Nottingham Conference Centre next Saturday, 29th October. 

The show is on two floors. I'm on the lower floor (shown above) and you'll find me at table 34. Here's the banner to look out for...

I'll be available to do sketches of my characters on request, and I'll be selling my self-published comics and prints to anyone who's interested. I believe I'm also on a discussion panel at some point in the day. 

There's a great line-up of guests from the comics industry: Roger Langridge, Rachael Smith, The Etherington Brothers, Dan Berry, Chris Baldie, Abby Bulmer, Dean Beattie, Improper Books, Laura Howell, Marc Laming, and Avery Hill Publishing, along with loads of exhibitors, so why not have a day out in Nottingham and pay us a visit? 

For full details, visit the convention website:
http://www.nottinghamcomiccon.co.uk/

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Steve Dillon

I'm very sorry to hear of the news that artist Steve Dillon has passed away today, at just 54 years of age. I hadn't seen Steve for many years but I first knew of him back in the late 1970s when he published his stripzine Ultimate Science Fiction. The work was astonishingly good, and Steve was just 15 at the time. 

I think Steve published three issues of Ultimate Science Fiction in all, and contributed spot illos to fanzines before being discovered by editor Richard Burton and embarking on his professional career at 16 in 1978 drawing Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD for Dez Skinn's Hulk Weekly and back up strips for Doctor Who Weekly, including Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer. More work followed as Steve's style developed, and he was soon on Warrior right from the first issue in 1982, drawing Laser Eraser and Pressbutton, and on 2000AD drawing various Future Shocks and Judge Dredd.  

Since then, Steve had illustrated numerous strips, finding himself in much demand in the USA on award-winning comics such as Preacher (which he co-created for Vertigo) and on The Punisher. Steve had a natural talent for drawing pages that were easy on the eye and told the story superbly with a fantastic drawing ability. 
This small tribute doesn't do justice to the man or the amount of work that Steve created over the last four decades. I'm sure there will be many more tributes to this well-respected, well-liked artist over the coming days from his friends and his legion of fans. 

R.I.P. Steve Dillon, one of the greats.

Banned ACTION up for AUCTION!

The genuinely rare banned edition of Action is currently up for auction on eBay! This was the issue that would have been published 40 years ago last week when the order came down from IPC to suspend the title. An estimated 30 copies were printed, which I understand were only circulated in the office. An issue previously owned by ex-2000AD art editor Robin Smith fetched £2,555 on eBay last year (see story here) and this one is expected to rival it, if not exceed that price.

As I write this, the bidding is up to £750, and it closes in three days. It looks to be in very nice shape and has obviously been well looked after. If you wish to bid yourself, or just to follow the excitement, here's the link:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ACTION-BANNED-ISSUE-23rd-October-1976-/361776241756?hash=item543b8b5c5c:g:3MYAAOSw8gVYBln8

As Rebellion now own the rights to Action, here's a suggestion: How's about publishing a facsimile edition for the direct market of this un-circulated issue? Add a wraparound section detailing the history of the comic, and charge a tenner? Heck, charge £20 for it. It'd still be cheaper than buying the real thing. Even better, bag it with Judge Dredd Megazine and watch the sales of that issue soar!












Friday, October 21, 2016

More early work by Dave Gibbons (1976)

Concluding my look back at strips from 40 years ago, here are some examples of strips drawn by Dave Gibbons for the D.C. Thomson comics. The visual storytelling skills and dynamism of Dave's work was evident even then, and it was inevitable that he'd go far, as indeed he did. 

The Spy in the Sputnik was a typical D.C. Thomson yarn, improved considerably by having Dave Gibbons as the artist. It ran in Hotspur from the issues dated September 11th 1976 to October 30th 1976. Although it only a very short-lived series (8 episodes) it was awarded the cover slot from the first episode. 


During this period, Hotspur's editor implemented the baffling practice of moving the toplines (that traditionally ran across the top of each story page) to big flashes slapped in the middle of the artwork. This strange idea was very distracting and took the reader out of the story. (It was one reason I stopped buying Hotspur in the mid-1970s so I never saw these strips until I bought the comics on eBay recently.)








After The Spy in the Sputnik, Dave's next published serial for D.C. Thomson was The Flying Tripehound for The Wizard. Thankfully, a comic that kept the toplines at the top. Here are the first two episodes from December 1976. (A "tripehound" was aviation slang, and not the abusive term it is today.)





A while back, on the Comics UK Forum, comic historian Ray Moore kindly provided a list of Dave's strips for these comics. I've shown examples of the Simon Gaunt stories and Year of the Shark Men on this blog in the past (check out the links after this list). 


"Dave Gibbons full list of work for Wizard is as follows:

The Wriggling Wrecker 20/7/74 - 21/9/74
The Year of the Shark Men 24/4/76 - 10/7/76
The Deathless Army (Simon Gaunt mystery story) 14/8/76
The Last Torpedo (Simon Gaunt mystery story) 28/8/76
The Flying Tripehound 18/12/76 - 12/2/77
Cat and Mouse 13/8/77 - 8/10/77
Cat and Mouse 3/12/77, 17/12/77, 24/12/77

He also did occasional work for Hotspur inc

The Spy in the Sputnik 882(11/9/76) - 889(30/10/76)"




Ten years after these strips were published, Dave would be at the top of his game illustrating Watchmen, one of the greatest graphic novels in the history of comics.


NOTE: Interestingly, The Spy in the Sputnik was actually a redrawn / revised version of a strip that Ian Kennedy had drawn several years earlier. Colin Noble has the details on his blog:
https://nothingbutafan.wordpress.com/2015/12/09/the-spy-in-the-sputnik/
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