Friday, March 23, 2018

Secret Empire comes to the UK

If you missed the controversial Secret Empire story arc when it appeared in U.S. Marvel comics last year, you can now jump on board from the beginning with the latest issue of Avengers Universe from Panini UK. 

The event will cross over into the other Panini comics over the next several months. 

Personally, I don't think it was Marvel's finest hour but a lot of fans did enjoy it. Make up your own minds by buying Avengers Universe No.4, out now! 

AVENGERS UNIVERSE #4. On sale 22nd March!
100-page special! £4.50!
Captain America is now Hydra's greatest warrior – and he's about to betray the entire Marvel Universe! The epic ‘Secret Empire’ saga has begun! Don’t miss a storyline that will cross over into the other Collectors’ Editions! By Nick Spencer, Daniel Acuna and Steve McNiven!
Featuring material first printed in Secret Empire #0, 1 and 2.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Charley's War The Definitive Collection Volume 1

As a child growing up in the 1960s I used to avoid war stories in comics. They often seemed too gung-ho, treating war as a great adventure. To be fair, IPC's Battle Picture Weekly portrayed a grittier side to war, but I was already swerving it because I thought it'd be like previous war comics. Plus I was in my mid teens by the time Battle arrived on the scene so had eschewed most British comics in favour of the adolescent power fantasies of Marvel and DC.

Somehow or other though I did pick up Battle (by then renamed Battle-Action) in 1980 and was immediately hooked by Charley's War, clearly an anti-war strip, there in the middle of a war comic. The fact that it had the superb writing of Pat Mills and art by Joe Coloquhoun (whose Football Family Robinson I had admired in Jag back in 1968) made it even more compelling. This wasn't the light-adventure style he'd employed on the Robinsons though. This was a more brutal and realistic approach. (I've since bought the first 250 issues of Battle as back issues and can now appreciate what a great comic it was in its early years.)

Charley's War quite rightly won the admiration of thousands of readers, and has been reprinted a few times over the years. Now, Rebellion are to collect the entire World War One saga in three chunky volumes as part of their Treasury of British Comics line, and Charley's War The Definitive Collection Volume 1 will be published on April 18th.
The 320 page first volume is certainly true to its definitive title. The artwork has never looked as sharp and clear as this. It's also been re-lettered by Jim Campbell, as the original printing used typeset (Battle's only real mis-step was that use of typeset). The few pages that were in full colour were greyscale in previous reprint books, but here they are in colour as intended. 

There's also a couple of bonus items at the back of the book in the form of full colour Battle covers that featured Charley, and seven pages of Pat Mills' commentary on the stories.

Charley's War is the war story for people who hate war stories... but it's also for those who love war comics too, because it respects those soldiers who endured so much suffering and made great sacrifices. It's a war story that champions bravery and condemns cruelty, whether that be the sadism of the enemy or that of some British officers Charley encounters. It's a true epic of British comics, starting with Charley Bourne as an idealistic, very naive 16 year-old and taking us through his journey of hardship and courage. There's humour too, - the black humour of the trenches that was part of the necessity to survive such conditions. 

Charley's War is an essential read. Buy it.

Here's the PR from Rebellion...

    •    CREATIVE TEAM: Pat Mills, (w) Joe Colquhoun (a) John Aldrich, Jim Campbell (l)
    •    REGIONS: UK, worldwide digital
    •    RELEASE DATE: 18th April 2018
    •    PAPERBACK, 323 pages
    •    PRICE: £19.99 (UK) TBC (US)
    •    ISBN: 9781781086193
    •    DIAMOND: FEB181726

Considered by many as the most important war story to appear in comics, Charley’s War follows the working class Charley Bourne who eagerly signs up to fight on the Western front in 1916. The idealistic sixteen-year-old experiences a hellish world of trench warfare where every day is a bitter fight for survival. Charley and his friends soon realise they have been thrust into a conflict where ordinary people are expected to throw away their lives to serve the selfish interests of those in power! Written by British comics legend Pat Mills and featuring the breathtaking artwork of Joe Colquhoun, this first volume of Charley’s War includes Charley’s harrowing participation in one of the bloodiest encounters in human history - The Battle of the Somme.

As a taster, here's the first chapter, originally published in Battle-Action No.200, dated 6th January 1979...

Available in print from: book stores, Amazon, and comic book stores via Diamond

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Beano No.3927 preview

D.C. Thomson have released the cover to this week's Beano, drawn by Nigel Parkinson. There's a preview of some of the contents over at which you can see by clicking here:

There's also another Big Eggo strip by me. Can Eggo escape from Terry Tuff?

Beano No.3927 goes on sale on Wednesday 21st March. £2.50.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Busy day at Bath

It was a very busy day at Bath Comic-Con last Saturday. If you haven't already seen my con report you can read it here:

Commando comics on sale March 22nd

Here's a preview of the four issues of Commando that will be out later this week...

5107: Home of Heroes: Toe to Toe

Trading one fighting field for another (of sorts), our Tommy heroes, Jake Reilly and Tony Parsons, may appear allies, but when they’re captured in North Africa and taken to an Italian POW camp, old feuds flame up. Bitter rivals, Reilly was a top striker (and penalty pusher), while Parsons was a hard-headed goalie for a rival team. When the war broke out, they thought their playing days were over, but they were wrong…

In a perfect pairing, George Low combines two great British favourites, Commando and football, in a charming satire of European rivalries, transposing the battlefield for a football pitch. Janek Matysiak’s cover also adds credence to this, showing the pivotal match through the barbed wire of the the POW camp fence.

|Story | George Low | Art | Morhain | Cover | Janek Matysiak |

5108: Gold Collection: They Flew by Night

J-for-Jig or J-for-Jinx? The RAF were notorious for their superstitions, but when one Lanc. bomber caused the death of every pilot who flew her, everyone agreed the aircraft was hoodoo.  Everyone, that is, except Titch Bradbury. A daring pilot, who was maybe just a tad too cocksure, Titch didn’t believe in that tommyrot, and he’d prove it or die trying!

Penned by the editorial team at DC Thomson, who certainly knew a thing or two about the RAF, with Commando’s own editor Chick Chetley flying with them from 1941-46, and interior art by Gordon C. Livingtone, this Golden Age reprint will delight new and old fans alike.

|Story | Staff | Art | Gordon C. Livingstone | Cover | Gordon C. Livingstone |
Originally Commando No. 488 (July 1970).

5109: Action and Adventure: Doctor’s Orders

Captain Tom Stewart never thought he’d find himself stranded in Iraqi-occupied territory in Kuwait, bleeding internally, closer and closer to death each second. He never thought his only chance of survival would lie in the hands of US Navy Captain Doctor Jane Daly, or that she would save his life with the only tools at her disposal: a torch, a pen tube, and a penknife. It was going to be one long night…

Iain McLaughlin’s Gulf War story is one of survival, as time and terrain pose as much of a threat as the Iraqi soldiers who track our heroes. This exhilarating cat and mouse tale is then combined with an effectual cover, featuring our trio of heroes, and pristine interiors by Manuel Benet.

|Story | Iain McLaughlin | Art | Manuel Benet | Cover | Manuel Benet |

5110: Silver Collection: Fools’ Gold

Mike Barclay signed up to fight for his country – not cook for it! He only wanted to see combat, but after his squadron was attacked by Jerries, Mike was forced to flee with a group of Tommies led by Sid Blacke. Mike was in for another shock though, as he discovered that Sid wasn’t leading them back to Allied lines – but to hidden treasure, buried deep in ruins in the North African desert. Now, surrounded by deserters, with war crimes mounting, Mike’s chance of escape was dwindling, as friend and foe raced towards the fools’ gold!

With stunning interior illustrations by Keith Shone, highlighted by the white lettered captions on the deep blacks of the tomb interiors, Anthony Knowles’ treasure hunt adventure is full of twists and turns, as greed turns everyone against our hero.

|Story | Anthony Knowles | Art | Keith Shone | Cover | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No. 2730 (January 1994).

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Preview: Judge Dredd Megazine No.394

It'll be in the shops next Wednesday but here's an advance look at Judge Dredd Megazine No.394, courtesy of the publishers...

UK & DIGITAL: 21st March 2018 £5.99
NORTH AMERICA: 21st April 2018 $13

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: KRONG ISLAND by Arthur Wyatt (w) Jake Lynch (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

THE RETURNERS: IRMAZHINA by Si Spencer (w) Nicolo Assirelli (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

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

CURSED EARTH KOBURN by Rory McConville (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Simon Bowland (l)

DREDD: THE DEAD WORLD by Arthur Wyatt & Alex De Campi (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse(l)

Features: Charley's War and interview with Robert Bliss

BAGGED GRAPHIC NOVEL: Outlier by TC Eglington (w) Karl Richardson (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

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

Jumping-on point for the Spring for 2000AD

The next issue of 2000AD has 20 extra pages as it's a bumper-sized 52 page issue containing the start of a new line-up of stories. The perfect issue for new (and lapsed) readers to hop on board. Here's a few preview pages and the content details...

UK & DIGITAL: 21st March 2018 £3.99
NORTH AMERICA: 21st April 2018 $7.99

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: FIT FOR PURPOSE by Rob Williams (w) Chris Weston (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

JAEGIR: IN THE REALM OF PYRRHUS by Gordon Rennie (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

FUTURE SHOCKS: FREEDOM WEARS TWO FACES by James Peaty (w) Dylan Teague (a) Simon Bowland  (l)

SINISTER DEXTER: by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) john Charles (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

ANDERSON, PSI DIVISION: UNDERTOW by Emma Beeby (w) David Roach (a) Jose Villarrubia (c) Simon Bowland (l) 

JUDGE FEAR: MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS by Kek-W (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

STRONTIUM DOG: THE SON by John Wagner (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

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

Friday, March 16, 2018

Beano Annual 2019 - Cover revealed

D.C. Thomson have today revealed the covers of Beano Annual 2019, which goes on sale around August of this year.

The covers feature artwork by Nigel Parkinson and include iconic characters such as Dennis the Menace, Billy Whizz, and even Big Eggo. (In case anyone was wondering, no I didn't draw the Big Eggo strip inside it. This book was done and dusted long before I was commissioned to do the character for the weekly.)

The Beano celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, and the annual's cover reflects that. 

You can follow The Beano on Twitter:

...and at their website:

...and of course by buying the Beano comic every Wednesday!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

This week's BEANO

Beano No.3926 is in the shops now, still going every week and building up to its 80th anniversary in July. It's never needed to reboot with a new No.1 and sales have even climbed over the last few years. Plus, unlike most other kids' comics today, it's very rarely bagged with a stack of gifts. Beano sells on its own merits.

At £2.50 for 36 full colour pages it's the best value comic on the stands too. Here's a list of this week's contents... 

Cover by Nigel Parkinson.

#SoBeano strip drawn by Laura Howell.

Roger the Dodger
Script: Danny Pearson. Art: Barrie Appleby.

Script and art: Nigel Auchterlounie.

The Bash Street Kids
Script: Andy Fanton. Art: David Sutherland.

Dangerous Dan.
Script and art: Paul Palmer.

Big Eggo.
Script and art: Lew Stringer.

Tricky Dicky.
Script: JD Savage. Art: Laura Howell.

Diary of a Prankster.
Art: Laura Howell.

Calamity James.
Script and art: Leslie Stannage.

PingPong. (Activity page.)
Art: Leslie Stannage.

Gnasher and Gnipper.
Script: JD Savage. Art: Barrtie Appleby. 

Minnie the Minx.
Script: Nigel Auchterlounie. Art: Nigel Parkinson.

Create a Minx-terpiece (activity page).
Art: Nigel Parkinson.

Rubi's Screwtop Science.
Scriot: Nigel Auchterlounie. Art: Emily McGorman-Bruce.

Learn to Speak Gnasherese.
Art: Barrie Appleby?

Dennis and Gnasher.
Script: Nigel Auchterlounie. Art: Nigel Parkinson.

Billy Whizz.
Script: Andy Fanton. Art: Wayne Thompson.

You're SO Beano.
Reader's pages.

Script: Tommy Donbavand. Art: Wayne Thompson.

Wisecrack the Code. (Activity page.)
Art: Steve Beckett?

Script: Nigel Auchterlounie. Art: Wayne Thompson.

Betty and the Yeti.
Script and art: Hugh Raine.

Make Me a Menace.
Script: Nigel Auchterlounie. Art: Hunt Emerson.

You can see a preview of this issue at here:

Out now from Panini UK

The very first UK Spider-Man title was Spider-Man Comics Weekly, launched in 1973. Although he'd previously appeared in Pow!, Smash!, TV21, and The Mighty World of Marvel, (and various Alan Class comics) Spider-Man Comics Weekly was the first British comic named after the character.

That title went through various changes; Super Spider-Man, Spider-Man TV Comic, Spidey, and others.. and led to other Marvel UK comics such as The Exploits of Spider-Man. The current one, The Astonishing Spider-Man, has been running since 1995, and has been the most consistent. Apparently it's the most popular of Panini's Marvel Collectors Editions as it's the only one published fortnightly instead of every four weeks. It's had various re-numberings, and the current issue is Volume 6, No.42 which goes on sale today.

Astonishing Spider-Man Vol.6 #42. On sale 15th March! 
76 pages packed with arachnid-adventure! Only £3.99!

Peter Parker is on the run and hunted by the NYPD! (So, business as usual.)
Also: How did Normie Osborn become the CEO of Oscorp, and what does he have planned for Spider-Man?!!
Plus: The Wall-Crawler vs. The Sleeper! ‘Nuff said!
By Chip Zdarsky, Adam Kubert, Juan Frigeri, Ryan Stegman, Nathan Stockman, Mark Waid, James Robinson and Gabrielle Dell’Otto.
Includes material reprinted from Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #297, Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #10 and Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business: Original Graphic Novel.

There's also a monthly Spider-Man magazine for younger readers that features some comic strip material. This has also gone through a few title changes and for several years it featured all-new Spider-Man strips by British creators. Sadly, it now features American material.

Cover image of the junior Spider-Man comic from this site:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Updated convention list

I'm "on tour" again for 2018 and it kicks off this Saturday with Bath Comic Con. Here's the full list of comic conventions I'll be a guest at so far this year. If you're attending any of these, please drop by my table for a chat. I'll be bringing along my comics to sell plus drawing sketches on request. See you there!

Saturday 17th March 2018
Bath Pavilion
North Parade Road

Starting off my con calendar with a new event for me, and my first visit to the town. Looking forward to it!


24th/25th March 2018
Still waiting for the official announcement on this one.


Staffordshire University.
Sunday 15th April 2018

Returning to Stoke again this year to see friends old and new.


Saturday 12th May 2018
Oldham Library and Lifelong Learning Centre

Another new show for me, and a new place to visit. An impressive guest list with loads of comics creators!


Saturday 26th May 2018

My first visit to Wigan! Looking forward to it!


South Manchester
9th June 2018

A brand new show! Honoured to be their first announced guest!


Saturday 23rd June 2018

My third trip to Macclesfield's comics event! Always good fun!


ICE 2018
Saturday 15th September

Always a pleasure to attend this show! 


More dates to be added later!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Bath Comic-Con next Saturday! 17th March

I'll be attending my first convention of the year next week when Bath Comic-Con gets underway on Saturday 17th March. If you're coming along, please drop by my table and say hello. I'll be bringing along my comics to sell, and doing sketches on request. 

Bath Comic-Con is a new one for me, and will also be my first visit to the town. I'm looking forward to starting off my convention calendar for the year with this show. See you there!

Saturday 17th March 2018
Bath Pavilion
North Parade Road

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Jinty Vol.1 cover revealed?

Amazon and other online stores are showing a cover for Jinty Volume 1, the upcoming collection to be published by Rebellion in June. I don't know at this point if this will be the finished cover or just a mock up for the trade, but no doubt the publishers will reveal more in a few months. 

This particular cover is a composite of two cover images from Jinty weekly, showcasing the two serials that are collected within its pages. To find out more and pre-order your copy of the book, visit Amazon. Alternatively, you could wait until it's available to buy directly from the publisher here:

Speaking of Jinty, on Jenni Scott's blog she has just uploaded an interview with Christine Ellingham who was an artist on the comic. Follow this link to read it:

UPDATE: Incidentally, although Pat Mills wrote Land of No Tears he wasn't the writer of The Human Zoo, and the book cover doesn't make that clear. My thanks to Jenni Scott for the info. 

2000AD Prog 2072: Everything ends!

Don't worry. 2000AD itself is carrying on as normal but all the stories reach their climax next Wednesday when Prog 2072 arrives in the shops. Yes, it's time to make way for the regular Spring revamp, which will see a bunch of new stories begin the following week. More on that next time. For now though, here's a preview of the upcoming issue...

UK & DIGITAL: 14th March 2018 £2.75
NORTH AMERICA: 14th April 2018 $7.99

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: LIVE EVIL by Ian Edginton (w) Dave Taylor (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

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

FUTURE SHOCKS: SUNDAY SCIENTIST by Laura Bailey (w) Paul Williams (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

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

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

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

Next Saturday, a preview of this one...

Friday, March 09, 2018

A new start for The Mighty World of Marvel

The Mighty World of Marvel (Vol.6) No.19 is in the shops now, with Black Panther on the masthead again for the second issue running. Here's the info...

MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #19. On sale 8th March!
76 pages of Marvel Universe adventure! Four awesome stories! £3.99!
The Black Panther faces an unexpected challenge to the Wakandan throne! By Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr!
The Champions clash with a deadly new superteam: The Freelancers! A new adventure by Jeremy Whitely and Ro Stein!
The Black Widow fights a lethal final battle with her old rival Recluse! By Chris Samnee and Mark Waid!
Doctor Strange takes on Baron Mordo! A 1960s Marvel classic by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee!
Featuring material first published in Black Panther #2, Champions: MU #1, Black Widow #12 and Strange Tales #117.

I don't know what sales have been like across the UK but last month's MWOM which began the Panther's adventures sold out quickly in towns around here. Curious then than next month, the Silver Surfer replaces him as the main star of the comic. As good as those Dan Slott/Mike Allred Silver Surfer stories are, making him the cover star is a seemingly strange move considering the Surfer isn't currently in a movie or game. It coincides with MWOM starting a new volume with a new No.1, but it would have been nice for the Panther to remain the masthead star for a little longer, considering the movie is still out and he's in Avengers Infinity in cinemas next month. That said, the Black Panther stories will continue in the new volume so fans of T'Challa should still be pleased.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

A look back at SCOOP (1978)

The rivalry between D.C. Thomson and IPC was quite intense in the 1970s, although the creators and editors themselves often had a mutual respect for their counterparts at the opposing company. Both publishers turned out a lot of different titles in the heyday of "traditional" UK comics, and in 1978 D.C. Thomson published Scoop, clearly intended to rival IPC's Tiger.

It was the era of "theme" comics, and, like Tiger, Scoop's theme was sports stories and features. It was a classy looking comic. Scoop had 32 glossy pages printed in the top of the range photogravure method, meaning that photographs and painted artwork would reproduce at their best. 

It also had a lot of full colour pages (12 out of 32), but unfortunately some were not used to their best advantage. For example, each three or four page strip would lead with a full colour page, but sometimes the colour was only used in one or two panels, or for the title. It seemed a wasted opportunity. 

The design of the strip pages followed the standard that Thomsons had set with Warlord a few years earlier (and which IPC had imitated with their adventure comics); a big splash panel and huge logos for dramatic effect. Quite a robust "in yer face" approach but it gave the pages more impact than the more sedate layouts of comics like Hotspur or Victor. Here's a selection of pages from issue No.3 (the only one I have)...

Art: Neville Wilson.
Art: Barrie Mitchell.
Art: Tony Harding.

The early issues of Scoop had a nice balance of strips and features but as I understand it, later issues gave more room to the features, making Scoop more like a magazine (and perhaps an intended rival to IPC's Shoot). Some strips remained though, and after 194 issues it merged into Victor

A run of nearly four years is not to be sniffed at, and Scoop was certainly more successful than some of Thomson's other boys' comics of the time such as Spike and Crunch. All the more so when you consider that Scoop's glossy format made it more expensive to produce and necessitated a higher cover price than most of its contemporaries. 
One of the later issues. Photo from eBay.
I rarely see Scoop mentioned by collectors or historians but I presume it must have some loyal fans who remember it fondly. It did well in a crumbling market, before licensed comics became the norm, so it deserves to be respected alongside the other long-gone D.C. Thomson comics. 

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