Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Christmas WHIZZER AND CHIPS (1969)

This was the first Christmas issue of Whizzer and Chips, and also No.11 of the series (as you can see by the number I added in felt tip back when I was ten). The cover strip, Sid's Snake, was drawn by Mike Lacey.

As I'm sure most of you know, Whizzer and Chips gave the illusion of being "Two Comics in One" by having its middle 16 pages posing as the pull-out Chips comic. Therefore I'll look at each comic individually...

In Whizzer, Little Saver was a gentle strip, miles away from the humour of the wildly boisterous Power Comics that Whizzer and Chips had replaced. This page was drawn by Les Barton...

At this stage, Leo Baxendale was still drawing Champ, although not for long as I recall. This was full of his trademark humour and would have been a good fit in Wham!  


Over in the Chips section, the cover strip Shiner was by Mike Lacey...

Whizzer and Chips had a good smattering of adventure strips in its early days. This one, The Space Accident, was illustrated by Ron Turner...


This page of Hetty's Horoscope required some digital remastering to get rid of the inks showing through from the previous page (a result of the cheap newsprint the comic was printed on). However, I decided to keep the crude colouring job I did on it back in 1969. Artwork by Terry Bave...

Although IPC had made the ludicrous decision to drop the popular spy spoof The Cloak from Smash! because it didn't suit their narrow parameters of humour, Mike Higgs stuck at it to create something new. The result was Space School, written and drawn by Mike...

One of the veteran artists on the comic was Denis Gifford, who had revived and updated his old Steadfast McStaunch character from the original Knockout comic to produce new stories for Chips. Denis' clever inclusion of puzzles into the strip was very inventive, and presumably inspired Jack Oliver to do likewise years later...

Next time: Another Christmas comic from the past! Which comic? Which year? Wait and see!


Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Christmas EAGLE (1956)

Here's what you've been waiting for; kicking off this blog's traditional look back at selected pages from Christmas comics of the past! Today, a few pages from the festive issue of Eagle that went on sale 61 years ago in 1956!

I bought this issue recently as I was attracted by the unusual Christmas trimming of the logo. Instead of the usual "snow on the logo" approach favoured by most comics, this edition of Eagle gave the illusion of having seasonal parcel tape stuck across it. Real tape similar to this was available back then, and might still be for all I know. Anyway, a very unique festive touch!

The Dan Dare strip, Rogue Planet, is the series in its glory days. Incredible artwork by Frank Hampson and his studio, and memorable scenes such as the arrival of the Kruells.

Most of the strips, being partway through serials, didn't bother with a festive theme, but some of the articles did. L. Ashwell Woods' marvellous cutaway drawing this issue used the seasonal increase in electricity demand to show how power reached the home from a nuclear reactor...

The editor's page had a nice header featuring Father Christmas and a selection of news, plus the Chicko strip by Norman Thelwell...

Harris Tweed, by John Ryan (creator of Captain Pugwash), has a brief mention of Boxing Day but no other such reference. However, it shares the page with a very festive looking Christmas Carols competition. (Anyone know who did this striking woodcut styled artwork?) 

On the inside back page, a feature on caring for wild garden animals in winter, plus a short strip about the a career in the postal service back then...

Next time: A different Christmas comic, a different year. Where, and when, will the Blimey-Timey Machine take us to? Find out soon!



Preview: JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE No.391

Courtesy of Rebellion, here's an advance preview of the next Judge Dredd Megazine, on sale this coming Wednesday. A great line-up of contents including all-new strips, a feature on Ken Reid, an interview with Mike Dorey, and a bagged reprint collection of Wagner's Walk that originally appeared in Tornado comic in the 1970s.

UK & DIGITAL: 20th December 2017 £5.99
NORTH AMERICA: 20th January 2018 $13
DIAMOND CODE: OCT171755
COVER: LEIGH GALLAGHER

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: CONTRABANDITS by Rory McConville (w) Leigh Gallagher (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

TALES FROM THE BLACK MUSEUM: FAKE NEWS by Rory McConville (w) Neil Googe (a) Simon Bowland (l)

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

LAWLESS: BREAKING BADROCK by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

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


FEATURES: Faceache, Mike Dorey interview


BAGGED REPRINT: Wagner's Walk from Tornado by RE Wright, R Tufnell (w) Lozano, Mike White (a) 
Available in print from: UK newsagents and all good comic book stores via Diamond 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Review: HOW COMICS WORK

If you're in a mad rush to get your pre-Christmas plans sorted, I'll sum up this review in seven words: If you like comics, buy this book!

Here's a slightly more in-depth analysis for those of you already roasting your chestnuts by an open fire...

How Comics Work is an 192 page softback book by Dave Gibbons and Tim Pilcher detailing the whole process of comics creation in a very relaxed and absorbing way. Under lesser hands, such a book could be tedious and dry, but Dave and Tim are articulate and affable chaps whose personalities shine through to make this a very accessible read for all. 
Dave Gibbons has always been an all-rounder in comics, having mastered all the skills such as writing, pencilling, inking, colouring, and lettering, and he takes us through each process with helpful tips and anecdotes. A great advantage is that Dave has saved so much material over the years that he's able to illustrate each chapter with numerous previously-unseen sketches, roughs, page breakdowns etc, and a good helping of finished art too. 
There are also chapters on the creators who inspired Dave, and those whose techniques he respects, to aid in the demonstrations of comics creation. 

Tim Pilcher, a writer and editor of long standing, also knows his stuff, and supplies his own commentary alongside Dave's teachings. This approach works considerably well, and adds to the enjoyment of the book. 
This is a book that should be an essential read for everyone working in comics, or with ambitions to be a comics creator, and also for any fan with an interest in the behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts of comics. Even if you might not use all the techniques yourself, it's important to know what goes into constructing the finished product.
An absolutely fantastic book that everyone reading this blog needs on their bookshelf. Click here to order a copy. 



Prepare for PARASSASSIN

From the press release:

Three futures hang in the balance.
Two end in total annihilation.
One assassin’s bullet will decide.

On the planet Sedulon, a rogue band of renegade time travelers and scientific misfits fight to save the futures of two worlds.
Doc Hydrabus - a brilliant scientist whose body splits into a crowd of his past and selves, he lives in one present and many futures all at the same time
Cassindra - 900 years old, impossible to kill and every bit as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s travelled back in time to change the world.
Rushaar and Shartara - alien beings made entirely of gas with one simple plan, to use time travel to assassinate the leader of Sedulon and save their planet Eidolonia.
The Parassassin - he will take the shot that decides the destinies of everyone in the galaxy.


Politics and parody collide on the bleeding edge of science fiction, in the most shocking and unexpected thriller you’re going to read this year.

The review:
This is one of the best UK independent graphic novels of the year. Scripted by seasoned writer Jasper Bark and illustrated by Indonesian artist Alfa Robbi, Parassassin first appeared in digital comic Aces Weekly, and now it's been revised and expanded in print for this superb softback book.

The artwork has a feel of a European comic album to me, which is a positive thing for international sales I think. It also makes a refreshing change to the numerous comics influenced by Manga or American comics. Jasper's script is inventive and polished, and a delight to read. 

Published by UK indie company Markosia, Parassassin is available to buy from Amazon. Don't hesitate! 

Amazon UK:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Parassassin-Jasper-Bark/dp/1911243330 

Amazon US:
https://www.amazon.com/Parassassin-Jasper-Bark/dp/1911243330



More intrigue in Hex Loader No.2

The second issue of Hex Loader has been out for a few months now, so my apologies to creator Dan Whitehead for only just getting around to plugging it.

This issue continues to develop the intrigue in a captivating manner, with writer Dan Whitehead and artist Conor Boyle bringing us 27 pages of story. Dave, a computer wiz finds that Combat Wombat, a character he created for a game, has manifested itself in our world (although, as in Randall and Hopkirk Deceased, only Dave can initially see or hear him). This isn't family teatime viewing though, as practically every page drops the F-bomb, and the story itself has more depth than your average comic.

Published by Zebra Comics, it's a nicely produced comic and the story moves along well thanks to Dan Whitehead's believable dialogue and Conor Boyle's artwork. My only reservation is the same one I have with any serialised comic that only appears occasionally; the absence of a recap page or caption. I think most readers will have forgotten some plot points in the intervening months, so a resumé caption, perhaps on the credits page, would be a big help.

That said, Hex Loader is one of the best UK indie comics around these days, so give it your support. Order copies from the site at this link:
http://www.comicsy.co.uk/hexloader/store/products/category/comics/





Reverend Cross returns!

Issue 4 of Reverend Cross is out now, published by UK indie outfit Kult Creations. This time we get four short stories featuring the supernatural heroine, all written by series creator John A. Short, and illustrated by Anna Susanne (who also did the cover), Richard Pester, and Gabrielle Noble. 

Each strip is snappy and well constructed, proving that the art of short-storytelling in comics is still alive and well. It's nice to see Reverend Cross handled by different artists, each giving their own take on the character. All in all, another good issue!

John A. Short appears at various comic cons around the country where you can buy the comics directly from him, or you can order a copy from his website here:
http://kultcreations.blogspot.co.uk



A Star Is Drawn!

Most of you will be familiar with the work of Jessica Martin by now; a talented actress, singer, and impressionist, Jessica added creating comics to her repertoire a few years ago with It Girl, Vivacity, Elisie Harris Picture Palace and more. 

Jessica's latest work is A Star Is Drawn, an A4 sized softback book which moves away from comic strip into illustrated portraits of movie stars from the past to the present. Charlie Chaplin, Clara Bow, Brigette Bardot, James Mason, Gal Gadot and many more are all here, scanned from original pencilled and inked artwork, with each portrait given a full page. 

It's a really nicely produced showcase of Jessica's talents and her clear affection for the subject matter. The book is one that should appeal to collectors of Hollywood memorabilia and would make an ideal Christmas present.

Order your copy today, to make sure you receive it before Christmas! Pricing info and more details at Jessica's website:
http://www.artymisspublishing.com/a-star-is-drawn

UPDATE: You can see Jessica Martin on your TV screens on 23rd December, Channel 5, 5pm when they'll be screening Elf - The Musical, filmed from the stageplay of the show at the Lowry in Salford. It's repeated on Christmas DAy at 6.00pm, also on Channel 5. 

Charley's War re-collected in 2018

One of the greatest British comic strips of all time, Charley's War, by Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun, is to be reprinted again in three chunky books next year. Previously collected by Titan Books, the rights are now with Rebellion who will be representing the stories in brand new Definitive Editions, and presenting the full colour pages in colour as they were originally in Battle Picture Weekly. (The Titan books reprinted them in monochrome.) 

More information over on the Boys Adventure Comics blog that broke this welcome news:
https://boysadventurecomics.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/charleys-war-re-collected-in-3-new.html

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Umbrella Men (1965)

One of my favourite adventure strips as a child was The Umbrella Men, illustrated by Charles Grigg, that ran in The Dandy from No.1255 (December 11th 1965) to No.1290 (August 13th 1966). Not a particularly long run, but a very memorable one, and just the right length for a young reader before they grew tired of it. (Time seems slower when you're young, mainly because there are so many new experiences I guess. Every day is an adventure.)

The Dandy had a brilliant knack of taking something ordinary and turning it into something menacing in their adventure strips; a ball (The Crimson Ball), a cactus (The Red Wrecker), bees (The Stinging Swarm), and the humble brolly (The Umbrella Men). It's a wonder we didn't all turn out paranoid! Thankfully, most well-adjusted kids know the difference between fantasy and reality so these strips were just exciting escapism we looked forward to every Monday.

Here are the first two episodes of the serial, from The Dandy Nos.1255 and 1256, way back in December 1965... 






In 2010, for the final issue of The Dandy, (No.3610, 8th December 2012), the comic revived a lot of old characters for one last appearance, and I had the honour of writing and drawing The Umbrella Men as a not-too-serious final mini-strip...

  

This week's Marvel comics from Panini UK...

Here are the Marvel Collectors' Editions that you'll find in WH Smith and discerning newsagents from Thursday 14th December. Published by Panini UK, these 76 page full colour comics are great value and are published every four weeks.

MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #16. On sale 14th December!
76 pages! Three outstanding stories! £3.99!
The Champions travel to the Middle East to help a group of endangered women! By Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos!
The Guardians of the Galaxy face the wrath of the Grandmaster! By Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder!
The Black Widow and the Winter Soldier battle the deadly Recluse! By Chris Samnee and Mark Waid!
Featuring material first printed in Champions #3, All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #2 & 4, and Black Widow #9.

ESSENTIAL X-MEN #18. On sale 14th December! 
76 pages of Mutant Mayhem! Three uncanny adventures! £3.99!
An ‘Inhumans vs X-Men’ chapter! The X-Men invade Attilan as the fight for survival begins! By Jeff Lemire and Leinil Francis Yu!
Karnak battles to break free from Marvel Girl’s psychic trap! By Cullen Bunn and Edgar Salazar!
Storm faces tragedy as the mutant death-count grows! By Jeff Lemire and Eric Koda!
Featuring material first printed in Extraordinary X-Men #17, Uncanny X-Men #16 and Inhumans vs X-Men #2.

DEADPOOL UNLEASHED #9. On sale 14th December!
100-page special! Four awesome adventures! £4.50!
An ‘Inhumans vs X-Men’ crossover! In the future, the Terrigen Mists have choked the world – now its only hope lies with Deadpool and the Mercs for Money! By Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello!
Deadpool the Duck confronts the diabolically insane Doctor Bong! By Stuart Moore and Jacopo Camagni!
Deadpool and the two Hawkeyes tackle the Black Cat! By Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli and Jacopo Camagni!
A new story begins: Back in Black! The Venom symbiote wants Deadpool! By Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin!

Featuring material first printed in Deadpool: Mercs for Money #7 & 8, Deadpool the Duck #5, Hawkeye vs Deadpool #4 and Deadpool: Back in Black #1.

PLUS... Don't forget that Panini UK also publish DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE, and No.520 (the Christmas issue) goes on sale this week too!
https://doctorwhomagazine.com/doctor-who-magazine-520/

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Commando comics out this week

On sale from Thursday 14th December...


5079: Home of Heroes: Brothers

Latvian brothers Maris and Andrejs Vejonis joined the Wehrmacht after the Baltic States were annexed by the rise of Communism. However, it didn’t take them long to realise their mistake, as they witnessed first-hand the brutality of the Waffen S.S. But they were about to discover that the Russkies were just as callous, as Andrejs swaps sides and takes up arms with the Red Army. Now, fighting on either side of the battlefield, more than once Maris and Andrejs find themselves staring down the barrel of their brother’s rifle…

Colin Watson’s thrilling story of fraternal friction perfectly fits into the Eastern Front setting, while the brothers’ chalk and cheese personas are rendered charmingly in Castro and Morhain’s art in both the old and young versions of the men, as well as the insets on Ian Kennedy’s cover.

|Story | Colin Watson | Art | Castro & Morhain | Cover | Ian Kennedy |


5080: Gold Collection: Winged Dagger

Left behind by one of his own men after being shot through the leg by a German sniper, S.A.S. Major Jeff Turner was rescued by Italian villagers – but it wasn’t enough. Though saved from death, Turner was pronounced an invalid, meaning his days in the S.A.S. were over as he was reassigned to a firefighting detail. However, it wasn’t long before Turner came face to face with the man who left him to die… The man now in charge of his S.A.S. regiment.

With spectacularly moody interior art by Gonzalez, the sheer grit of Spence’s story becomes apparent from page one. Topping this all off is a dynamic red and green cover from Penalva with thick oil strokes, really adding to the bulk of the S.A.S. figures.

|Story | Spence | Art | Gonzalez | Cover | Penalva |
Originally Commando No. 437 (November 1969) Reprinted No. 1255 (September 1978)


5081: Action and Adventure: Fire Fight

Their mission was to hold an oil refinery in the middle of the Kuwait desert. Reinforcements were due at dawn, but that was a long way away for ex-firefighter Carl Strode and his team, especially when Iraqi trucks pulled up, infiltrating the facility with guns… and bombs. This would be the hottest situation Strode had ever been in – but was he up to the task?

With each page of Dominic Teague’s story more tense than the last, the stakes are raised along with the thermometer in this mighty issue. Expect blinding flames and dark shadows from Rezzonico, as well as a terrific first Commando cover from Neil Roberts, showing Strode overcast with purples, the flames changing from orange to white-hot behind him in an explosive panorama.

|Story | Dominic Teague | Art | Rezzonico | Cover | Neil Roberts |


5082: Silver Collection: Special Delivery

An ex-postman and stickler for the rules, when Corporal Johnny Bishop’s squadron is destroyed by a Stuka bomb, honour and determination meant one thing: he would deliver the surviving letter – even if he died in the process. But the British Expeditionary Forces’ retreat to Dunkirk was not the easiest route to navigate, as Junkers, Panzers and Nazi soldiers in their deadly Blitzkrieg chase Johnny right to the French coast.

In Mike Knowles ‘Saving Private Ryan’-esque story of finding one soldier amongst an army of men, Knowles juggles action and tongue-in-cheek humour, with C. T. Rigby providing superb accompanying artwork to both aspects. Ian Kennedy’s cover is a real treat too, with our hero reaching out to reader, the eponymous letter clutched in his hand.

|Story | Mike Knowles | Art | C. T. Rigby | Cover | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No. 2661 (May 1993)




Monday, December 11, 2017

The Christmas DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE (2017)

Here's a cover preview of Doctor Who Magazine No.520, the Christmas issue, which goes on sale this week from Thursday 13th December at the usual price of £5.99.

This is the image of the polybag, so I don't know what the actual cover will be yet. The Christmas one always comes bagged, because it contains a free giant poster; this year featuring the 13th Doctor, who makes her brief debut on Christmas Day as Peter Capaldi bows out as the 12th Doctor (accompanied with David Bradley as the 1st Doctor). There won't be a new series of Doctor Who until Autumn next year, so tune in BBC One on 25th December at 5.30pm for this unmissable episode! 

I haven't seen this issue yet, so I can't reveal the contents (apart from what's described on the polybag cover) but I do know there's a festive Daft Dimension, 'cos I did it! Here's an exclusive preview of the first panel...

Saturday, December 09, 2017

The Christmas 2000AD - Big preview!

Thanks to the publishers, Rebellion, here's your first peek at the bumper 100 page Christmas issue of 2000AD (Prog 2061), - on sale from this coming Wednesday, 13th December...

UK & DIGITAL: 16th December 2017 £4.99
NORTH AMERICA: 16th January 2018 $13.50
DIAMOND CODE: OCT171754
COVER: STAZ JOHNSON & CHRIS BLYTHE

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: ECHOES by Michael Carroll (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)


BRASS SUN: ENGINE SUMMER by Ian Edginton (w) INJ Culbard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)


SAVAGE: THE THOUSAND YEAR STARE by Pat Mills (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)


BAD COMPANY: TERRORISTS by Peter Milligan (w) Rufus Dayglo (a) Dom Regan (c) Simon Bowland (l)


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


ACE TRUCKING CO. by Eddie Robson (w) Nigel Dobbyn (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

ABC WARRIORS: FALLOUT by Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l) 



STARLORD: WATCH THE STARS! by Kenneth Neimand (w) Henry Flint (a) Simon Bowland (l)


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


Remember that this issue will be on sale for three weeks, so the following issue won't be on sale until 3rd January!


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