Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Wall's WONDERMAN by Frank Bellamy (1970)

Frank Bellamy is well known in comics circles for his work on strips such as Heros the Spartan for Eagle, Thunderbirds for TV21, and Garth for the Daily Mirror, but (as some of you also know) he also worked in advertising. Some of those adverts appeared in the weekly comics too. In 1970, Bellamy produced two full page comic strips featuring Wall's Wonderman; a bespoke British superhero promoting Wall's Wonder Woppas ice cream lollies. 

The strip shown above is one I scanned from my edition of Tiger dated 30th May 1970. 

Another Wonderman adventure, Martian Inferno, appeared in Valiant dated 18th April 1970. I don't have that issue, but you can see it on Norman Boyd's blog here:

A Noble World

Mike Noble is well known for his fantastic comic strip work for TV21 and Look-In amongst other comics, but here's something that some of you may not have seen before. (It was a new discovery for me anyway, when I bought this book on eBay last week.) Mike's cover artwork for Boys' World Annual 1972 (published in 1971 by Hamlyn for Odhams Books). 

Sadly, there's no art by Mike inside the book, but for my money it was worth buying for the cover alone, so I thought I'd share it with you on my blog today. Mike Noble has been my favourite adventure comics artist since I was 5 years old.

The contents are a mixture of a handful of short complete adventure stories (some reprint) and features. Boys' World weekly only ran from 1963 to 1964, but the annual continued until this final one for 1972. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Barbarella is back!

The classic French comic strip popularised by the 1968 cult movie Barbarella, returns to comics in an all-new monthly scripted by British writer Mike Carey and drawn by Kenan Yarar.

Published by American company Dynamite, Barbarella No.1 will be available from comic shops in the UK and USA in December. Here's the info...

(W) Mike Carey (A) Kenan Yarar (CA) Joe Jusko
Earth's star-crossed daughter is back! When Barbarella wanders into a war zone, the theocratic rulers of Parosia arrest and imprison her. A prison break is brewing, but now that she knows what the Parosians do to their own citizens Barbarella decides to make this fight her own...
In Shops: Dec 06, 2017

Coventry appearance cancellation

I'm very sorry to say that I won't be able to attend Coventry Comic Con next Sunday. I'm behind schedule with several jobs which are needed by early next week so will be working over the weekend to meet deadlines. 

I was foolish to say I'd go to so many events this month (four within five weeks) but didn't realise when I accepted the invites how they would clash with comics deadlines. I'll pace things differently next year. I really enjoy going to conventions but I've taken too many on this year (15 which I've cut back to 12). My apologies to those of you expecting to see me at the Coventry show. My next event will be the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, over the weekend of 13th to 15th October. 

In the meantime, if you're free on Sunday, go along to the Coventry Comic Con and give it your support. Details at the link.

The name's Girl... Tank Girl

The third issue of the new Tank Girl series, The Wonderful World of Tank Girl, arrives after Christmas with a spy spoof theme. Even the logo is based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 

Here's the info...

(W) Alan Martin (A/CA) Brett Parson
The third in a series of four stand-alone stories!
Tank Girl goes undercover and Sub Girl goes under the covers in this spy-thriller epic! The gang find themselves at the mercy of Australia's nastiest crime syndicate, and there's only one way out - acting like a bunch of stupid secret agents!

Published by Titan Comics.
In Shops: Dec 27, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Champions to headline Mighty World of Marvel

Next month, The Champions takes over as the headline strip in The Mighty World of Marvel, the British reprint anthology. The last few issues have seen Guardians of the Galaxy on the masthead, but the arrival of the Champions team of teen heroes will herald a change to the comic. 

The Black Widow also returns in her own series that issue too. Personally I'd have thought that having her as the headline strip would have attracted more attention (with Natasha being one of Marvel's movie stars) but hopefully the Champions will bring in new readers too. 

The Mighty World of Marvel No.14 (featuring The Champions) goes on sale on 19th October.

Incidentally, September 30th will be the 45th anniversary of the launch of the first series of Mighty World of Marvel, back in 1972! Here's an article I wrote about that issue for its 40th anniversary five years ago:

Curiously, the cover of the next issue (shown above) does have some similarities to that very first cover, with today's versions of a Hulk, Spider-Man, and a stretchable superhero (Ms.Marvel)!

Meanwhile, this month's issue has only just been published, along with the latest issues of Essential X-Men and Deadpool Unleashed. You'll find them in WH Smith and selected newsagents. Here's the info...

MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #13. On sale 21st September!
76 pages of Marvel Universe adventure! Three awesome stories! £3.99!
The Guardians of the Galaxy face the terrifying power of Mother Entropy! By Jim Starlin and Alan Davis!
A Civil War II chapter! Ms Marvel takes a stand in the conflict – and her life changes forever! By G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona!
Another Civil War II chapter! Nick Fury crosses swords with the Black Widow! More spy action from Declan Shalvey!
Featuring material first printed in GOTG: Mother Entropy #3-4, Ms Marvel #11 and Civil War II: Choosing Sides #4.

ESSENTIAL X-MEN #15. On sale 21st September!
76 pages of Mutant Mayhem! Three uncanny tales! £3.99!
At last the dark truth can be revealed: what happened between Cyclops and the Inhumans that led to disaster for the X-Men? Find out in ‘Death of X’ By Jeff Lemire, Charles Soule and Aaron Kuder!
Magneto discovers the power behind the new breed of weaponized mutants! By Cullen Bunn and Greg Land!
The Original X-Men battle demons in Miami! By Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley!
Featuring material first printed in Death of X #1, Uncanny X-Men #13-14 and All-New X-Men #16

DEADPOOL UNLEASHED #6. On sale 21st September!
76 pages of Marvel’s hottest hero! Three amazing stories! £3.99!
Why are homicidal maniacs dressing as superheroes?! Deadpool and Hawkeye are gonna find out – or die trying! By Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli!
Deadpool is now a duck – and he's taking Howard into space! More craziness from Stuart Moore and Jacopo Camagni!
Deadpool tries to rescue Negasonic Teenage Warhead! More action from Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello!
Featuring material first printed in Deadpool: Mercs for Money #4, Deadpool the Duck #2 and Hawkeye vs Deadpool #0-1.

A great day at Preston Comic Con!

My Twitter and Facebook feeds seem to be full of comments about the Leeds' Thought Bubble convention that's on this weekend, but personally I'm very happy that I chose to accept the invite to Preston Comic Con

Preston Comic Con took place yesterday in the city's Guild Hall. I'd heard good things about the show from previous guests, but I was concerned that attendance might suffer due to it clashing with other comics events in Leeds and Cardiff (and numerous SF events around the country). My fears were unfounded. Preston Comic Con was one of the busiest events I've been to this year.

Firstly, my thanks to Darren Wildman, Paul Dunne, and the rest of the Wonky Rocket team for their outstanding hospitality. We were collected at the railway station, wined and dined on Friday night, and looked after throughout the con on Saturday. The show had an equal balance of guests from comics and film/tv, and we were all treated the same, and it was good to mix with each other. A shining example of how a comics/media convention should be run. 

As I said, the event was very busy, and I was sketching most of the day. (Which is why I didn't have time to take many photos other than the view from my table.) I know that some people look down their noses at 'Comic Cons' that include actors, but in my experience it's a positive thing (as long as there are comics guests on the bill as well). The media guests attract a slightly different crowd to the comics-only events, and I find that people are pleasantly surprised to find "The Beano is still going?!" or "I remember Oink / Combat Colin!" so it enables comics guests to engage with members of the public we might otherwise never meet.

Someone asked me to do a Beano version of Judge Dredd, so here's how it turned out...

It was a real pleasure to attend Preston Comic Con, and good to catch up with friends such as Laura Howell, Phil Winslade and his wife Pippa, Trev and Simon, Clare Eden, and (far too briefly) John Higgins, Dave Taylor, and Martin Griffiths. Great to see artists Adrian Salmon and Tim Perkins too, who dropped by for chat, and also good to meet artists Dave Milgate and Karl Richardson. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Rogue Trooper returns to 2000AD next week!

There's a fantastic new Rogue Trooper strip by James Robinson and Leonardo Manco coming up in 2000AD Prog 2050 next Wednesday, 27th September. Sadly it's only a one off, but to my mind it's the best strip in this issue.

Not that the other contents are to be sniffed at of course! Celebrating 2050 issues, this is the perfect jumping-on point for new (and old) readers, with all new stories kicking off. Here's a preview of what to expect in this extra-sized £3.99 issue...


In this issue:

JUDGE DREDD: ICON by TC Eglinton (w) Colin MacNeil (a), Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

ROGUE TROOPER: A SOLDIER’S DUTY by James Robinson (w) Leonardo Manco (a) Simon Bowland (l) (See image at the top of this post.)

GREY AREA: HOMELAND SECURITY by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

SLÁINE: ARCHON by Pat Mills (w) Simon Davis (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

INDIGO PRIME: A DYING ART by John Smith, Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Simon Bowland (l)

SINISTER DEXTER: DOWN IN THE DUMPS by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

THE FALL OF DEADWORLD: HOME by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

plus a short ZENITH feature by Martin Howe and Steve Yeowell.

Available in print from: UK newsagents and all good comic book stores via Diamond 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

See you in Preston this Saturday!

Wow, there are at least four comics events around the country this weekend (who sez the UK comics community is dead?). You'll find me at Preston Comic Con on Saturday 23rd September, at the Guild Hall, along with all these fine folk. Come along and say hello! I'll be bringing my comics and doing sketches on request. 

More info on Preston Comic Con here:

Hammer Glamour for Captain Kronos

Titan's upcoming Captain Kronos comic will feature special 'Hammer Glamour' variant covers showcasing Caroline Munro, whose long film career included the role of 'Carla' in the 1974 Captain Kronos movie. Caroline will be one of the guests at Preston Comic Con this Saturday (23rd September) so come along and meet her! (I'll be there too, but I'm nowhere near as glamourous.)

Titan's Captain Kronos monthly comic launches very soon. Here's the info for issue No.4, scheduled for December...

(W) Dan Abnett (A/CA) Tom Mandrake
In the depths of Eastern Europe, the legendary vampire hunter, Captain Kronos and his two assistants, Grost and Carla, are called upon to help rid a town of its vampire plague. 
However, beneath the surface of the beleaguered town a malevolent force far more evil and deadly is awakening and it might just be the match of Kronos...
In Shops: Dec 27, 2017

Here's the standard cover for that issue, by Tom Mandrake...

Retro Tales!

If you're at the Cardiff Film and Comic Con this weekend, don't miss your chance to buy Retro Tales No.1 from its creator, Simon Williams! This fantastic first issue features the Discotronic Funk Commandos as well as YMCAgent in thrill-packed fun fests that are so retro they'll make your clackers go crazy! 

You may remember Simon Williams as one of the artists on Panini's home-grown Marvel comics of a few years ago. I really think he's one of the best superhero artists in the UK. Heck, he could teach some of the U.S. artists a thing or two too. A man perfectly suited to draw The Incredible Hulk. Are you listening, Marvel? 

At present, Retro Tales will only be available from Simon at the Cardiff show, but hopefully it'll be available via mail order or something soon. 

(I won't be at Cardiff myself but I'll be up in Preston at the same time for Preston Comic Con. So many comics events around these days!) 

Find out more about Simon Williams' amazing artwork at his website:

COMMANDO No.5055 to 5058 out this week

Here's the latest info on the four issues of Commando that will be out this week. In answer to a few who expressed surprise that "Command os still going?", D.C. Thomson publish eight issues a month (four every fortnight) of this, Britain's longest-running adventure comic! Every other issue is brand new, alternating with a reprint.

5055: Home of Heroes: Falsely Accused

 May, 1940. The Third Reich invades France, unstoppable as they progressed over the unforgiving French soil. Forced to retreat to the coast, the British Expeditionary Force faced intense struggle from the invading Nazis. That’s when Private Bill Greaves’ unit was obliterated by an incoming Junkers, leaving him the sole survivor. Desperate to regroup, Bill’s worries are far from over when, seeking shelter, he finds more enemies in the form of two deserters looting a French Manor…

Written and drawn by Jaume Forns, with cover art by David Alexander, the story and art merge perfectly, complimenting each other under Forns’ auteuristic control, while Alexander’s traditional art cover shows the claustrophobic intensity of the ruined French village.

|Story | Jaume Forns | Art | Jaume Forns | Cover | David Alexander |

5056: Gold Collection: Dangerous Dawn

“Name – Laker.
Rank – Petty Officer.
Number – 178305. And that’s all I’m supposed to say.”

When Petty Officer Gordon Laker is captured by a Japanese patrol boat, surrender is never an option – but neither is escape. Hell-bent on revenge for his sunken submarine crew, Laker isn’t ready to give up and if his Japanese captors think he’s going to a P.O.W. camp, then they don’t know their port from their starboard! No, Laker is ready to take that boat, sail for the nearest Allied port and get back to battle.

With artwork by Gonzalez, whose minimal shading and refined attention to facial expression makes Lester’s rag-tag prisoners come alive. Complimenting is Lopez Espi’s 1960s cover, with a blood red sky and jagged waves thrashing against our brave hero.

|Story | Lester | Art | Gonzalez | Cover | Lopez Espi |
Originally Commando No 380 (January 1969) Reprinted No 1099 (February 1977)

5057: Action and Adventure: Jungle Heat

Patrolling the South Pacific in their Catalina, bickering R.A.A.F. pilots Dave Keating and Roger Smith’s plane crashes into the Papua New Guinea jungle, an island occupied by the Japanese. The survivors manage to radio for help – but it will be two days before reinforcements arrive. Until then, they must face tropical heat, poisonous wildlife, dehydration, booby-traps, Japanese patrols and each other…

Manuel Benet’s interior and cover art is, as always, dynamic with crisp lines, distinct shading and memorable character design, adding to the roguish rivalry of Colin Watson’s leading duo.

|Story | Colin Watson | Art | Manuel Benet | Cover |Manuel Benet |

5058: Silver Collection: Escape Line

A series of lifelines run by French Resistance men, “COBWEB” helped ferry downed aircrew back to Britain by crossing the Pyrenees into neutral Spain. Helping them is Marcel Dupont, a former French journalist recently released from captivity in Spain after being betrayed when escaping the Civil War. Now, leading a group of Allies across the perilous mountains, Marcel’s guide seems hauntingly familiar… Could he be the same man who led him to capture so many years ago?

A twisting story that will keep you guessing, Alan Hemum’s Silver Age issue takes inspiration from classic westerns, with artwork from Garijo that really draws from the beauty and danger of the Pyrenees– and all wrapped up in an Ian Kennedy cover to boot!

|Story | Alan Hemus | Art | Garijo| Cover | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No 2650 (March 1993)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

When blogs go wonky

Seems my blog behaved strangely last night, repeating a post from years ago as a new post. I've only just noticed, and deleted it, but subscribers may have already received it, wondering what's going on, so I felt this explanation was necessary. Sorry for any confusion. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

POPEYE Sweet Cigarette Cards (1960s)

Just for a change of topic, let's look at something different, but kind of related to comics. "Sweet Cigarettes" were a very popular treat when I was a kid and there were numerous brands associated with them. Today you'd know them better as "Candy Sticks" but back in the 1960s they had a dob of red colouring on one end to give the illusion of a lit cigarette. 

They became "Candy Sticks" later because it was deemed inappropriate for little kids to mimic smokers. Although they never inspired me to start smoking, they did encourage a sweet tooth! 
There were loads of characters who had their own Sweet Cigarette packets; Doctor Who, Thunderbirds, Huckleberry Hound, and many more. Each packet had a free full colour card inside, encouraging kids to collect the set of 50 or thereabouts. This was, as you may know, a junior version of the cards given with packs of real cigarettes in the early to mid-20th Century. 

The examples I'm showing here today are from the Popeye sets produced by Primrose Confectionary of Slough. I think there were four sets in all, but I only have the few shown here. (I doubt anyone ate their way through over 200 packs to get every card!) They originated from the early 1960s but they must have been reprinted as I had these in the late '60s.
As for their relevance to comics, I believe that some Popeye cards (if not all) were drawn by Denis Gifford. That certainly looks like his lettering, and he could mimic the style well enough to do a convincing Popeye. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

Monday, September 18, 2017

New DWM out this Thursday

Here's the cover to Doctor Who Magazine No.517, which will arrive in shops on Thursday 21st September. It features another 84 packed pages of interviews, news, reviews, and features, plus the regular 12th Doctor comic strip, and another Daft Dimension strip from me. 

Here's a preview of one panel. It's always a thrill to draw the Daleks for the official magazine! 

You'll find Doctor Who Magazine in WH Smith, Asda, Tesco, and various other stores. 

The unrivalled Phoenix?

I was pleasantly surprised to see the latest issue of The Phoenix in my local Sainsbury's yesterday. Apparently it's a four week experiment in certain areas to see how it fares in those supermarkets. The comic is already available in WH Smith and Waitrose, (as well as many comics speciality shops), so let's hope it does well. 

The Phoenix is fast approaching its 300th issue (out in two weeks time) so there's no doubt that it's a successful comic. Its 32 pages feature all-new comics content every issue from some of the UK's top creators. It has clearly engaged with its readers, and proved that today's kids still like comics. 

To my mind though, the big question is; where are the rival publications? The closest is the perennial Beano of course, still the king of comics, and there are numerous children's magazines, some of which, like Toxic, feature a few comics pages, but aren't devoted to comics content like Beano and The Phoenix are.

Years ago, competition between comics companies was fierce, with publishers imitating each other to capture the attention of readers. IPC and D.C. Thomson would compete with their own lines of comics, and, later, the soaring popularity of Viz saw numerous imitators on the stands. Yet here we have The Phoenix, almost 300 issues old, and nothing new has yet attempted to imitate its successful format.

I would guess the reason is in the way The Phoenix has been a "slow burn" title; starting with subscription-only availability, then very gradually widening its distribution, firstly into Waitrose, then Smiths (and even then, only selected branches). That's not a business model that would be rewarding for the major publishers. They're more geared up to publish titles that need to start big from the outset (and if they don't, they're dropped). 

It's understandable then, why Egmont or Future Publishing haven't released their rival to The Phoenix. At present, The Phoenix probably isn't seen as a threat to them. However, if the Sainsbury's experiment works, giving The Phoenix even more exposure, who knows what might develop? 

As I understand it, The Phoenix is an independent comic, but one with a lot of money behind it thanks to David Fickling. What's needed is another entrepreneur willing to take the same risks with a new comic. There doesn't seem to be anyone on the horizon at the moment, but as The Phoenix continues its upward climb, the evidence strengthens that there is a market for more children's comics in this country.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dan Dare No.2!

Here's Chris Weston's variant cover to Dan Dare No.2, coming soon from Titan Comics! 

(W) Peter Milligan (A) Alberto Fouche (CA) Chris Weston
The classic British hero returns for brand-new adventures, written by Peter Milligan with art by Alberto Fouche! Featuring cover by superstar artist Christian Ward (ODY-C, Black Bolt)! For the first time in human history,the Sol system is at peace and Dan Dare, pilot of the future, is bored out of his mind - and praying for something to break the monotony of peace. When an unknown alien vessel of biblical proportions arrives in the solar system and obliterates a moon of Saturn in a show of strength, Dare finds himself thrust back into a new adventure that threatens not just Earth - but all life in the entire universe!
In Comic Shops: Nov 08, 2017
...and here's the cover by the interior artist, Alberto Fouche. (Cover number is incorrect. It's No.2).

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Preview: Judge Dredd Megazine No.388

Courtesy of Rebellion, here's a preview of Judge Dredd Megazine No.388, which arrives in shops on Wednesday 20th September!

UK & DIGITAL: 20th September 2017 £5.99
NORTH AMERICA: 20th October 2017 $13

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: COLLATERAL DAMAGE by TC Eglington (w) Nick Dyer (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

ANDERSON: NWO by Alan Grant (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Boland (l)

DEVLIN WAUGH: BLOOD DEBT by Rory McConville (w) Mike Dowling (a) Simon Bowland (l)

DREDD: FURIES by Arthur Wyatt, Alex De Campi (w) Paul Davidson (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

DOMINION by John Wagner (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Comic Auteurs: Frank Miller by Colin Smith
New Comics: Dave Gibbons & Tim Pilcher interview by Karl Stock
Alfonso Azpiri obituary by Karl Stock

Bagged graphic novel: Whatever Happened to...? by Pat Mills, Gordon Rennie, Simon Spurrier, Alan Grant (w) Chris Weston, Garry Leach Graham Manley, Rufus Dayglo, Roger Langridge, Carlos Trigo, Steve Roberts, Robin Smith (a) Tom Frame, Roger Langridge, Annie Parkhouse, Ellie De Ville

Available in print from: UK newsagents and all good comic book stores via Diamond 
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